Posts Tagged ‘Chapter 33’

5.33

I was a mother now…

They say that when you hold your baby for the first time, your whole world shifts, and your priorities change. But I hadn’t had that yet. Three months later, and my entire world hadn’t imploded on itself and been resigned to just Luca, and diapers, and baby bottles.

I still cringed at changing diapers, and pulled unenthused faces over story time. I dreaded watching kids shows, and felt my temperature rising to the shrill sounds escaping the little devils mouth. And boy, could he scream, and cry, and wail… And some of the god awful sounds that the kid could make, I shudder just at the memory.

Regardless of the time or day, or the exhaustion in my limbs. Sometimes it seemed that Luca was born just to prove how bad at this I truly was. It seemed that he was born just to hate me, and he did. But that was stupid, the kid was three months old, and it wasn’t like the little brat could smell fear…

Right?

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Of course not. That would be stupid.

I watch the swing rocking back and forth while Luca balls his hands into fists, and screeches. The sound pierces my ears, as hot little tears roll down his face. He was clean, fed, warm, dry, everything was perfectly okay and yet the little bugger insisted on screaming. Non stop. All day. Until of course, Cassiel came home to him, to us.

He knew, he already knew… I suppose it was for the best. Panic momentarily coils into the pits of my stomach, Arkin would be back. For me. And where I was going, Cas, and Luca, they couldn’t come with me, and perhaps… Perhaps I wouldn’t be coming back either. No this was for the best, that the kid had chosen Cassiel over me. Because where I failed as a mother, Cas excelled as a father, the second he entered the room, the little brat’s eyes were on him.

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“It’s for the best.” I say to myself, reinforcing that mindset. Somehow I find my hand stroking the warm fabric of Luca’s blanket to silence the anxiety running through my veins. His heart beat was soft, and steady beneath my touch, even despite his sobbing. “Where I’m going, I don’t want you comin, not now, not for a while, not ever.” As I said it, I didn’t imagine Arkin’s fangs, but ice, and darkness, I imagined his tiny face, contorted as his shrill wails echoed through empty forests, I imagined dark shadows stalking his warmth in the night. Luca’s golden eyes flare open, as if to tell me that he understands, but he doesn’t: Because he’s just a baby, and he won’t remember the sound of regret in my voice.

“If I can give you Cas… If I can keep him alive, and safe, promise me that you won’t hate me later on.” I withdraw my hand, and sigh. There was every chance that I was going to survive this, and that there would be a world after it all happened. That like always, the sun would shine, and humanity would rebuild, a brighter, better world. “It’s better this way, because I’m not… I’m not mom material.And he’s…” I can see Cassiel in my mind. “He’s perfect, he’ll love you in all the ways I can’t.” I can’t live like I’m dying, like I’ve got an expiration date because then Cas will know, he’ll know and he won’t let me do what I need to do to protect them both. “And it’s for the best that I don’t. So don’t hate me cause I’m bad at this, I’m tryin’ the best I can. Sometimes though, that’s just not enough.”

 I rock back on my heels, cradling myself in my arms for comfort. My eyes droop as I continue to watch him screeching, and despite it, I want nothing more than to close my eyes and lay down to sleep. For a whole week. My body jolts as I hear the front door click open, followed by heavy slow footsteps to the doorway to the room. My body relaxes and I breathe a sigh of relief at the sound of Cassiel’s warm voice. The sound even stills Luca. “What are my two favourite people doing?”

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I take a moment to gather myself, my body feeling heavy as I stand. I quickly wipe my eyes, and hide the forming tears that had almost begun to fall. “Oh, you know, the usual. Him screaming, and me slowly losing my mind.” The laughter that escapes my lips afterwards sounds fake, and forced, even to my own ears, so I fake an even bigger grin. I throw myself into Cassiel’s arms, burying myself into his neck, savouring the warm scent of sunshine on his skin.

“Hey, are you okay?” Cas whispers as his lips caress my forehead, I melt into his neck for another long moment. It amazes me how well our two bodies fit together, like two pieces of a puzzle. Even if our union was the work of something bigger, I’ve decided that I don’t care. I’ve decided that all of that other shit doesn’t matter when we’re locked into an embrace. This is what matters. As I look up to face him, a wide smile bubbles on my lips, cracked only by exhaustion.

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“It’s just been a long day…” I murmur against him, brushing my hand against his face. I wonder if I’d miss those golden eyes when I was locked in a world of eternal darkness, I was kidding myself if I thought I wouldn’t. Even here, in reality, in the warmth and light, he was the only light I needed. “I’m just glad that you’re home.” This time I laugh for real as Luca screams again, reminding us that he’s still here.

“We’ll finish this off later.” Cas grins, wide and bright, as if the exhaustion of the work day meant nothing when compared to his kid. Releasing me from his hold, he reaches down, scooping up the bundle of blankets into his arms. His eyes crinkle, a warm grin covers his face, serenity. Cas would be okay, in the end he’d be okay.

“When will that be exactly, tonight? Tomorrow? Next week?” I give him a knowing smirk, but it doesn’t quite reach my eyes.

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*

As I walked into the room, I felt my stomach flip momentarily. It was the second anniversary of my father’s death, and my family was sitting quietly, almost awkwardly in what used to be their living room. One that my father’s laugh would so boisterously fill, or my screaming arrogance would encompass. It seemed a different lifetime ago, like I had died and been reborn a thousand times since then.

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I remember the way my father would sit, shoulders hunched forward, and breathing tense when he thought that no one could see him, when he didn’t have to be strong. I was already forgetting the strength of his voice, and the warm determination in his eyes, time was ravaging my memory of him, stealing pieces of him with every passing month. One day, I was afraid that I would remember him only in photos, and his voice only in recordings.

I watch my mother, sitting lonely and forgotten on the sofa. Swallowed up by the pristine fabric. I couldn’t help but notice that age, and grief had stolen her beauty. Deep lines had formed on her forehead, and cheeks, and the colours she wore hung loosely on her pale, thin frame. I was glad that Sampson had seen to her before I’d arrived, otherwise she’d be in black again, her hair knotted, and face heavy with shadows.

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There wasn’t a lot that we could do for her, I’d found, because she believed that she needed the pain, or it would be an insult to his memory. Only by reliving him, constantly, could she remember him. Only through reopening the wound, could she keep his memory alive. But some ghosts deserve to be buried, I’d found out. Sometimes the only way to respect their life was to move on from it, an act she was incapable of.

As a tribute to mothers lack of attention, Sampson had invited his boy toy, barely under the pretense that they were just friends from the same squad. Sampson wore home guard all over him, from his soft demenour to the shaking in his boots, but somehow the hunk of muscle at his side wore mercenary proudly all over him, even on the uniform that he wore today. In the beginning it was understandable that she hadn’t taken the time to really notice anything about him, but now, two years on..

They’d gotten lazy too with the whole charade. Not that they exactly had to pretend around mother. I was almost sure that they could start a heavy make out session right in front of her and she’d barely process the information, much less act on it. Congratulate him, yell, scream, whatever, anything. I don’t even think Sammy would care if she was disappointed at this point, I think he just wanted a reaction. So he let his eyes linger longer than they would if it was anyone else, and their hands would seek comfort with each other.

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And she never soaked it in. Not today, not two years ago at the hospital when they met, or the funeral, or the dozens of times they’d met between now and then. It bothered me, more than I ever thought it would, because she was our mother, and she always noticed everything. The small things, the cuts on our knees from falling over on the playground, and the meaningless glares that siblings gave. But now she couldn’t look past her own pain, and grief. She couldn’t see what was right in front of her. That her son was begging for her to see him, clearly, as he saw himself, he was desperate for her to accept him.

Somehow though, it was my fault. By changing fate as I had, I had changed my parent’s fate as well. Arkin was meant to kill the cure, my grandfather and Cassiel both. A few months later, my mother was meant to follow, outraged by the loss of the cure, terrorists were going to put a bomb in the cars of politicians sympathetic to our cause. One of them was meant for my mother. But instead, my father had been killed by Arkin before he’d launched a desperate half baked attack against us. We kept the cure, and mother had never left town again, never spoken up again, and would hopefully never be a target again.

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But if dad were here, things would be different. He would have moved on, not to say that my mothers death would have been easy, for anyone. But dad would have done what needed to be done to move forward again. To make this family feel whole. Sammy wouldn’t be dangling his love life in front of anyone, desperately waiting to be noticed. Not that I cared, of course. It was just Sammy…. I didn’t. But I did. And I missed my father. And I loved Cassiel, of those three things I knew way deep down inside of myself.

Waking up again, feeling things again, it sucked.

They don’t tell you that, that when you decide to heal yourself, to feel, that you decide to feel the good and the bad. That you leave yourself vulnerable and open, to the broken pieces of everyone around you. And you collect guilt, and remorse, like honey catches flies. And somehow, it didn’t matter, because you lived with it, and it was worth it. Somehow.

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“Daaaa!” Luca squawks running through the room, before tripping over his own feet. I expect the water works to start as I watch his limbs squirming, and groping the floor awkwardly. When he finally manages to push his face up from the ground he flashes a lopsided grin and giggles again, obviously happy to have all eyes on him. And for a brief moment, everyone in the room smiles, even mom. “Gahh vrmm. Chi bo?” To say that he talked was an overstatement, but he made noise. A lot of it.  “Kah bo ta!”

I reach down, scooping him up into one hand, dangling him by the ankle. Luca squeals again, a train of giggles on his lips as he squirms. “Say hi to everyone, kiddo.” I say, lifting him into my arms properly, so that I can trace my fingers down his neck, tickling the sensitive skin. I hope by doing so, his bubbling energy will continue to fill the room, and everyone will stop being so bleak, and act like normal people again.

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“Gam gam.” He squeals from in my arms, throwing his head back to escape the onslaught. Despite the loud childish giggles, the room remains tense as I knew it would. “Unc niiii! Sha bow too.  Amps.”

“You know, you don’t have to be here.” Mother says quietly, her eyes trained on me like a hawk, not even glancing down at the child in my arms. Her soft voice is almost harsh, and cold. Of course today, of all days, she wanted to wallow in self pity. She didn’t want us to help her, to be here.

“Of course, Miss Vivian.” Sammy’s boy pipes up in a diplomatic voice. I was surprised that even though he wasn’t officially a part of the family, that he spoke as though he already was. That just by being with my brother, he was willing to deal with this… Deal with my mother. “But it’s a very important day. Your husband was a great man, and an excellent father. And Vivian, his kids miss him too. Sam misses him too. What better way to celebrate the man, and his life, than all being here today, as one.”

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She gives him a hard glare, before nodding curtly. “Fine then, be that way, but don’t expect me to go out of my way.” She understood, but she just didn’t care. At least she wasn’t going to make today harder than it already was. “I was going to go down to the grave today after lunch, you can stay til then, but after that, I want to be alone.”

A part of me wants to go to her, and to wrap my arms around her neck. I want to hold her for a moment, and to tell her all the things that dad had told me before he’d moved on from this world. I want to tell her that he looked at her like she was his world, and that all the things he did was for her, and us, his kids. But she would never understand my words, or the ways that I knew them. And I was too weak to go through with it. I wanted to be that type of daughter that could comfort her, but my words always fell short, and my touch was always too cold.

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“You know, I was thinking…” I begin slowly, feeling my cheeks darken with awkwardness, and shy embarrassment. It was a stupid request I was about to ask, and yet I felt compelled to. “That maybe today, we could take a new family photo.” I watch my mother’s reaction carefully, we hadn’t taken one in years, even before dad’s death. I never wanted to be included in them, and everyone was always busy. There were a million reasons that we had all neglected each other, and it was too late to change that, the past, and how we were.

But I wanted a new future, and I wanted Luca to have a better childhood than I had, even despite the world outside of these walls. The book I was editing, and adding onto, the Ravenwood Legacy, it would be decorated with our lives, and faces. I wanted Luca to remember who I was, to remember my face, and know what I was willing to do for him. For us.

“I mean, it’s kinda lame, but-“

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“No, it’s a good idea.” Nick says, his eyes burning with some strange intensity. The look in his eyes made me feel something, like he somehow might be proud of me, like the last two years have actually meant something. The smile on his face, is slow, but steady. “Things are changing, the trials are going well-” Cas pulls a face, like the mere mention of the trials are to be kept under lock and key. “- We’re starting to take back some of the territories that we lost to the war. And lycans aren’t deemed an unnatural species… Yet. So there’s a lot to celebrate. We’re all still here, we’ve got new additions to the family, a baby, and we’ve still got hope.” He turns to my mother, and looks at her softly. “Dad would be proud of how far we’ve all come.”

We can all see what she’s going to say next, that it isn’t right to do without him, because we aren’t a real family without him. Her face twists for a moment, switching from face to face as though she thinks that we’re ganging up on her. And maybe we are; Because we’re sick of seeing her in so much pain.

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“After you get your silly photo out of the way, and we’ve eaten, Larka, would you mind coming to the cemetery with me?” Her request shocks me, because not only is she agreeing to the photo, but she’s never let anyone go with her. Her delicate hand sits atop her cheek as she watches us quietly. With a sigh she takes a step forward. “Lets just get this over with.”

“I guess I’ll take the photo, if you’re all ready.” Sampson’s boy says slightly stiffly. He might feel a part of this family, he might even act like it, but it’s still not official. Sam’s jaw stiffens as he moves over to the fireplace, to stand by mother, but he doesn’t speak up, because now isn’t the time to mention it.

“No.” Nick sighs, as though even he’s sick of it. With a roll of his eyes, he continues. “It’s been two years, you’re basically family now, you too Cas, get over here.” As he sets the camera up, we all stand awkwardly around each other. “I wouldn’t have this photo any other way.” He says thoughtfully, looking up at us. We can’t change the fact that dad isn’t here, but we can live with it.

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“So this is our family now…” I say quietly, looking down at the photo after we take it. It was a mixture of sadness and awe. I was sad that my father wasn’t here, smiling bright, and warm. And I was sad that mother looked so robotic in the photo. But this was us, broken, and fractured, lost, and alive. This was my family. Hot and cold, hard and soft, and full of love.

There was a storm raging outside these walls, but we were brave enough to face the storm and survive it.

We were going to be okay.

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We could heal.

We could move on.

We would survive…

Chapter 4.33

Posted: November 7, 2013 in Generation 4
Tags: , ,

Chapter 4.33

“Is it really you?” Lucian’s voice is faint, and soft, his arms tightening around me momentarily. Frowning slightly, I snuggle into him, pondering the thought against my bleak mind. I wanted it to be true, god, I wanted it to be true. And I didn’t want to think about it, and that I might still not be my own person. “Vivian?” He whispers softly, drawing me from the recluse of my mind.

“I want nothing more than for this to be real, for me to be real.” I turn my head so that I can see his handsome face behind me. And my fingers play with the hem of the sheet that we sit on. The deep bruising that still haunted him like the ghost of Halloween was the the only thing that was needed to keep me as, well, me. “This is where I want to be, who I want to be. But I’d be lying if I said that it’s over… I tried to kill A.. Aleksi, and I tried to hurt you too, Luc. I’m dangerous, I know that, but I’m trying. And if you can stand by me, Luc, if you don’t give up on me just yet, I think I can fight this. Hell, I know I can…”

For a moment, our heart beats seem to meld together in the silence of our words. Heavy gunfire sounds from below the mountains and echoes throughout the city. The confusion of this war was imprinted upon every face I had seen, and in every word spoken. But it wasn’t my war. No, everyone fought for someone, and something.

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“I’m not leaving you again…” Finally the words pass Lucian’s lips, as his brow deepens, and his jaw tightens. Wincing slightly, he stretches, and the pain behind his eyes grows wild. “All of this, from the moment that you came back into my life, until now, for better or worse, has proved to me how much I really need you at my side. And after meeting your… Your… Dark Prince in those halls, and hearing the venom of his lips, and seeing the poison in his eyes, I know that you need me too. Maybe not to banish the darkness of your world, but to heal it.”

“I can feel him, Luc… Vladimir is so close, and I can feel him getting closer.” I whisper, my hands reaching for him in fear, as a child reaches for her mother in the thunder of a cold, dark night. The feeling was claustrophobic, closing my throat and turning my skin blue, but I held it together. “And I can feel Aleksi too… And it’s taking everything I have not to run from here, and hunt him down.” I gulp painfully, trying to release the tightness in my throat, and the tears forming at my eyes. “And I’m cursed, Lucian… I just want this to be over. I want to go back to living my life… To start living my life. With you…”

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Using his strength, he pulls my body up to his, almost at eye level, my hands caress his face with a slight smile. “Love, no matter what he did to you, the things he said, whatever, he’s not going to hurt you anymore. I won’t let hi-” Moving my lips in protest to his words, he hushes me, his fingers trailing down my lips. “I didn’t do a good job, I haven’t..” The edges of his lips curve into a lackluster smile, brimming with hard memories that stung his mind. “I’m gonna get better, I promise. And… I’ll learn to bloody well fight if that’s what it takes-“

“Shhh.” I whisper with a quiet chuckle, pulling his face inches from my own. Breathing in his musky scent, my heart dances on the wind of his breath that makes my head swim. “The further away you are from him, the better. I don’t want this happening to you again, or worse…” Now that I had gotten him back, the thought of losing him made me grow cold. The emptiness of just the thought sent me into panic. “Vladimir is as strong as he is cruel, and he’d make you suffer given half a chance.”

“What on earth do you expect me to do?” Lucian moans, pulling his head back to get a better view of my solemn face. “I can’t fight him because I’m too weak, maybe I am, but, I don’t want you anywhere near him. At all. And your the one that he wants. Not me. I’m just the topping on the cake. If I can’t fight him, if I can’t protect you? I sure as hell won’t just hand you over, you know that, don’t you?”

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“Well…” I think out loud, self destruction burning through my veins as I swing my legs off of the bed. Immediately I feel muscles behind me stiffen, as if he already knew the plan in play in my mind. “Vladimir won’t be easy to take down, we know that, look at you, you know that. But… And hear me out-“

“No-“

“You haven’t even heard what I was going to say!” I huff at him, my eyes narrowing in on him dangerously. Lifting his hands up as if to say he didn’t want trouble, I continue. Not completely sure what would come out of my mouth next. “He’s an impenetrable force of manic control. He’s faster, and stronger than anyone that we have here willing to fight. But what if there was someone willing. Someone who was willing to get close to him, and strike when his guard is down.” The more words that pass my lips, the wheels in Lucian’s mind begin to turn. “What if-“

“Vivian…” A husky whisper draws past his mouth. A soft hand clutches my shoulder, forcing me to look him into the eyes. “I can’t let you do this… If you go, you’ll never see the light of day again…”

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“He trusts me…” I mumble, as he pushes his feet off of the bed. His groans slightly with the movement on his ribs, but stays quiet all the same. “Luc, he won’t see me coming, I promise. Vladimir would do anything to get me back, for me to… Want him back-“

“And that’s the problem, Viv.” He snaps, before dropping his gaze towards the floor. “He wants you too much. It’s obsessive, it’s a compulsive need of his to have you at his side. Who’s to say he won’t use his bloody vamper powers to make you stay? To make you into his little plaything? Vivian, he is unstable, and if he can’t have you, then don’t be dumb enough to think he’d let anyone else have his little prize.”

My mind recoils like a hard slap, and I don’t understand why. All of it was true, yet the fresh bruising turned my brain red and sore. “Vladimir likes dominance, and pain.” I hiss under my breath, vivid images of our past flashing before my eyes, like an old time movie, where we were the stars. “He’d let me die, before he’d compel me to stay. I’d fade away before he take away the torment. Luc, if it was that easy do you think I’d have come back at all. Never mind what I was ordered to do.” A crystallized tear forms and floats down my cheek. Slowly glistening in the light. “He’s the torturer, and he loves the god damn game.”

“What did he do to you…?” Is his only response, in a low, painful growl.

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Crawling into his lap, I’m careful not to disrupt his healing ribs, but I entwine myself around him, as he does to me. “If he hurt you, if he touched you…” Lucian’s voice almost verges of desperation. Softly, my lips find his cheek, and I smile weakly at him. My heart beat racing in my chest uncomfortably.

“What he did, what happened between us, it doesn’t matter anymore, Lucian.” I reply afraid. Scared that he was lurking outside. But I push it down and outside the walls of my heart. “One day, I’ll tell you about it, but right now, all that matters is taking that bastard down.” My own bravery momentarily surprises me. The force of my voice, and the surety of the words. “Maybe I’ll still have to fight for what little sanity I have left, what we all have left. Maybe this war will keep raging. But, he’s just one more obstacle in the way. And I for one, would love to see it eliminated. I don’t want to be afraid anymore…”

Another long pause between us ensues. And I feel Lucian’s grip on me tighten. “Are you asking permission, or telling me?” He finally breathes out. A nervous laugh rumbles in his chest, causing him to cough in pain. I already knew the answer, and so did he. It was a painfully obvious truth between us that we seemed to draw out for longer than need be.

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Without a word, I place my lips on his softly, feeling the heat rise to my cheeks as the kiss deepens. The urgency in our lips makes me weak in the knees, and I lose all sense of time. His hands slowly slide down my back, and up again, before pulling me tighter, closer. And my fingers comb through his hair, as I lose my breath in his embrace.

Sheepishly pulling away. “I love you.” I state as if the only thing I could possibly be sure of in my life, as sure as I was that the sun would rise tomorrow, and that the sky was blue. I was sure of him. Wiping my tears away, I stand up, and rub my arm awkwardly. I knew the words that were on the tip of his tongue. And the thoughts racing dangerously through his mind. “But I’m sorry… I have to do this. There’s no other way…”

“Why’d you have to be so bloody stubborn, Vivian?” Lucian grunts through gritted teeth, before his lips find mine again. His hands slide under my legs, and he lifts me into the air, his tongue exploring my open mouth. And then as quick as the kiss starts, and the intensity driven red hot, I’m back on the ground, and my own two feet. And his body steps forward, closing in on me, his hands around my wrists, and his lips less than seconds away from mine.

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“Marry me..?” His warm breath intoxicates me, but my heart skips a beat. The blood floods into my cheeks, and noticing his bold lack of fear or hesitance towards what was being asks, sends me into a panic once again. His golden eyes search mine serenely, and I bite my tongue. “Marry me, Vivian, so I know you’ve something to come back to. So I know that this meant something. Marry me, Vivian, so I can spend the rest of my days loving you, and being loved, by you. If you’re going to leave me here today, hell bent on ideals of revenge, just give me something… Don’t go…”

My breath catches in my throat, and grows dry, like the desert in the wrath of the summer sun. And in my mind, I see myself, white dress draped over my thin, fragile body, black roses in hand. And I walk, to the beat of a drum, in tune, in time. A black suit waits at the end of the aisle, and I follow the rose petals. As I reach him, my hand reaches to his shoulder pulling him around, but he’s not my groom, not my happy ending. The last thing I see is the roses whither to dust, blood staining the flawless white.

Taking a quick step back, I feel claws at the back of my neck, and a sinister laugh blowing in the wind. Gulping harshly, I blink back the tears. “I… I can’t be.. Belong to someone like I belonged to h.. Him. I’m sorry Lucian… But I…” The shock burns on my mind, as I try to find the reasons to stop the racing of my heart. “I love you, and I know that you… I need to find out who I am… I need to find myself, and take back Vivian. I can’t just sign my life away. Not now that I’m so close.”

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“Vivian… That’s not what I’m trying to… I don’t want to…” Lucian stutters as I try to slip from his grasp, but his arm curls around my waist, stopping my escape. “I would never use your love for me as a tool to keep you at my side, Vivian, you know that, don’t you? If you want to leave, then I’ll tear these halls apart until you get home again, if I don’t follow you there myself. But, I would never marry you to keep you here, or to control you. Going to Vladimir is a crazy idea, and I could never ask you to do it, but your right, he’s too strong, and he needs to go. Does that mean I’d push this idea of yours to be the one to do it? Does that mean I’d force you to stay? No, just no. I want to marry you because I can’t imagine my life without you, and I want you to know it, I want everyone to know it.”

“Lucian, I know you’re not trying to force my hand, but I…” I try to nuzzle into him, but my muscles tense against his touch. “I’ve followed orders my whole life it seems, back home, and since I’ve been gone, I’ve stood at the side of two men who’ve owned me completely. All in the name of love. By an act of miracle I still believe in love, and it has gotten me through, but the sanctity of marriage is all but lost.”

“I can ch-“

“Vivian… Your here?” A strange voice whispers, turning my head to his direction, I already know his name. “But how? W… Why?”

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“A.. Aleksi…” I cough out, bracing myself against the influx of adrenaline. Immediately, my head starts to throb, and my vision starts to dance. But my hand reaches to Lucian’s, and I squeeze onto it tightly. “I…” Focus… My breath turns ragged, as I face the ground. “I want to.. To help with th.. The war…” Gritting my teeth together, I let out a shallow breath and look up to him briefly. “I just want to.. T… To help.”

“Vivian, this is no place for you to be.” Straightening his shirt, and playing with the cuffs nervously, his eyes might of bore into Lucian’s with confused intensity. “Your in no shape to be in a war zone, especially if you want to fi-“

“Fa.. Father.” I moan slightly, trying to control the overwhelming urges, boiling my blood, and turning it vicious. “This war does n… Not offer a.. Anyone reprieve, or opt.. Tions. I’m stronger than you th.. Think, and I…” Kill him… Do it now… My brain sings, but I ignore it. “I can get to Vladi… Vladimir, and I can stake him through his cold, d.. Dead heart.”

Chapter 4.33 (11)“Vivi-“

“No!” I snap, turning my head to stare both the red haired vampire, and Lucian directly in the eyes. “This is my war too! You can’t protect me forever… You can’t…”

The flawless forehead of my father seems to deepen, producing heavy set lines detailing the depths of his worry. And despite the anger, the rage engulfing my body, I knew damn well that he had tried over the years to do as much as protect us. Yet, when it came down to it, the plan failed, he failed. “I told your mother to run, when the council first came for us, and you know what happened, her love made her naive, and she died for their enjoyment. So I left, Vivian, to offer you some protection from this life. And it seems, despite going against my own wishes to protect you, you’ll do what you think is best, even if it’ll get you killed. You and Rafe both.”

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“Where is he?” I growl, my thoughts on the twin that resembled my father, with his vivid hair, and pale complexion. The pain in my stomach and head seeming to dim as I tried to trace back my memory to the last time that I had seen him. And then, like a kick to the stomach, it returns once again. He was shot, and because of the V.D.F. and Vladimir, I never got a chance to see him, to find out how he had fared. “Luc, where is my brother?” I question turning around.

“Everybody is looking for somebody, Vivian.” Lucian mumbles quietly, melancholy deep within his soft, golden eyes. “Battle is still being fought, and everyone here is looking for a friend, a neighbor, a father. The survivors, they’re being questioned by everyone, and we can’t put our own needs first. I’m sorry.”

“I have to fight.” I whisper, a tear struggling at the surface of my forest green eyes. “For him. For everyone who’s lost somebody.  For me. Aleksi, Luc… I’m your best shot at Vlad, right now. If you want to keep me safe, then, getting rid of him is number one priority, because he won’t stop til he gets me. So to take my life back, there has to be some sacrifices, and fortunately, I already know the punishment fit for that barbarian. And you can’t stop me, so the better choice would be to plan for this night.”

*

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The pale white dress clung to my thin body in the fading light. With each sway of my narrow hips, I sung his name through my painted lips, and high into the mountains it called to him. Begging him to find me with each step that I took. But no fear trailed behind me, except for the nervous pitter patter of my heart. I was strong, and I was angry.

And maybe that was a facade.

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Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…

I almost smirk to myself, hiding futilely behind the idea that I might be brave enough. Vladimir had me scared half to death and beyond, and I knew exactly what I was risking. But I wanted this to come to an end. I wanted to be able to stray from the safe side of the road, to be able to smile, and truly mean it.

I don’t want to be afraid.

“Welcome home, darling.” Vladimir coos, appearing as if out of the darkness itself. “I’ve missed you. We’ve a lot to catch up on, my love, but first-” He purrs, inches from my face, his hands cupping me softly. “- Let me just remind you of whom you belong.”

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This was it, there was no backing down now.