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   Chapter 23 22.

On Her Knees By Chyna McCartney Characters: 19295

Updated: 2018-02-10 18:55

I could hear the small human girl's laughter from the hall when I entered the front doors. Guards-- men of my kind, closed them behind me. Since I had first accepted a seat on the council nearly half a decade ago, I had never accepted the High Chancellor's offer to have guards protecting my home. Maybe a few enforcers from the military I commanded came to carry out perimeter checks but I had never truly needed the protection.

Berthold and I were more than men enough to defend ourselves; not that anyone dared to test the validity of the rumors regarding our savagery.

But now that we were looking after fragile and rather precious cargo, I felt it was somewhat useful to have a few extra pairs of watchful eyes around.

Well as for the matter of just how precious the woman in question was, I was beginning to realize that the concept varied in intensity, between Berthold and myself. Melanie was more precious to him than I could have imagined. For the past two days since we brought her to my home, he has lavished her with his time and affection; spending countless hours gazing at her as if she herself was the one who placed the moon and the stars in the heavens.

We were yet to speak formally of it but I had begun to suspect that Berthold had realized that Melanie was to him what Teryn was to me. Except, he seemed more willing to capitalize on that fact.

I on the other hand, still wallowed in my own self pity since the events of two days prior. I should have known.

Berthold had warned me that committing to this lie that I was with another woman would not work as well as I had hoped and he had been right; although, I do not think I would risk inflating his ego by admitting that. I had not imagined that I would meet someone with whom I wanted to be honest but now I had. I was finally in a position to bring her closer-- to cease holding her at arms length and that little lie got in the way of it all.

I could see her face; the anxiety and fear in those honey brown eyes when she stopped me from kissing her. She was afraid of me perhaps. Afraid of what I wanted. Or afraid of what I was. I do not truly know which it was but I know that I do not want her to be afraid when I am with her.

I desired her happiness and nothing more. Although, I cannot clearly say that I have ever seen her happy, given the place she is forced to live in but I do intend to see to it that she gets out of there and that she is happy; preferably with me; in my arms.

I found Berthold and Melanie on the south balcony: my friend was lounging on a chair, with the girl on his lap. He held her close to his body, staring into her grey eyes--now alight with mirth as she still laughed at something he must have said.

He wore his usual casual attire: a navy colored polo, the sleeves clinging tightly to his bulging biceps and paired with loose khaki trousers. Blonde hair tied in a bun at the back of his head and his feet were bare on the deck. I was pleased to see that the women I sent out had finally found something she seemed comfortable wearing. It was such a difficult task finding things here that fit her tiny frame. I suspected that I might have to personally hire a seamstress and have her clothes made but I had no qualms with it nonetheless. For one so innocent and someone who was so dear to the one who was dearest to me, I would do anything.

The two were immersed in each other; so swept up in their moment that they did not notice me until I coughed, rather harshly to announce my presence.

"You're back brother." Berthold said "How was the council meeting?"

I moved past them, to stand near the white pillars on the balcony and gazed down at the shimmering sea just beneath the cliff's edge a few hundreds yards north of this, the south end of my home. No one in Rudalia would have dared to live somewhere this close to the open water. Being vampires did not seem to make most of my kind anymore embracing of the elements than any other creature. In actuality, the majority of us were angry, brooding beasts drunk on power-- not much different from any of the other species we considered inferior to ourselves.

But the sea reminded me of my childhood home in Sicily-- of the bay that I ran to whenever I wanted to get away from my stepfather and my mother's unwillingness to challenge his ill treatment of me. The sea, even now was my escape.

I replied with a sigh. "Tedious. Uneventful. You know; as meetings often are."

He chuckled. "Of course; of that I am aware. I have accompanied you on enough occasions to have personal experience. I meant to inquire about your plans for the remainder of the evening before you left but since you are here now..."

"I have no where else to be, Bertold. I do not require your protection; not that I truly needed it in the first place." I snapped, it came out harsher than I had intended it to.

He scoffed behind me. "If it has been offending you all this time that I consider your well being to be of significant importance to me, then all you needed do was say so." Berthold sneered, the usually discreet German accent becoming more pronounced. I knew him well enough to understand that his native tongue held the floodgates to his anger. It was not my intent to upset him.

I turned, giving him my most sincere and apologetic face. His brown eyes were narrowed into slits and the hand that was wound around Melanie's waist clenched tightly onto the fabric of her lavender sundress. She pressed herself into his side, caressing his cheek with one, tiny hand in some attempt to soothe him.

"I apologize. That was not the meaning I wished to imply. I simply do not want to you to feel obligated to protect me." I gestured with one hand toward the two of them. "In some fortuna

ment away from her after this, then you have not done your job."

The sound of his laughter was the last thing I heard before he left.

I stripped out of the suit jacket, placing it on a padded hanger in the huge walk-in. The size of my closet was actually very misleading in terms of the perception of myself that it created. Literally, from the outside without looking in, I must appear to be more than a bit vain. In actuality, the majority of the internal area was empty space. The total number of my tailored suits and the occasional polos and dark wash jeans did not even occupy half the space within the closet. I suppose subconsciously, the size of my closet was also a reflection of my decision to have such a large bed, despite having been alone for so many years.

A part of me always wanted someone to share this with. And if I approached this situation the right way, there was a possibility that I would have just that.

I could see it before me-- a vision of the life I wanted in front of me. I could see Teryn, padding barefoot across the carpet. I could see sifting through her clothing in the closet, hung on hangers next to mine. Again I could see her in my bed. I could imagine waking up to her, the morning light accentuating her natural glow and burnishing her black curls.

The more I thought about it, the clearer the images became and with the clarification of those images came the ease with which I acknowledged my feelings for her. I was still afraid that anything between us would never go farther than the relationship my own biological parents had. Yet, I realized that I was at the point in my life where I could not afford such fear.

I wanted more. I wanted what mortal men fought to maintain because they knew their single lifetime was not sufficient time. I wanted happiness. Love. I wanted her...

Again, I found myself walking to the balcony outside my bedroom without thinking. In the late evening, the light of the setting sun cast orange and amber hues on the petals of the roses beneath me. The roses in Christa's garden..

Christa always knew what was best to say. She was young but possessed wisdom beyond her years. Admittedly, I depended on her to be the voice of reason. She would know what to do if she was here. She would know what was the right way to profess my love for someone who had no real reason to trust me or to even reciprocate those feelings.

A guard dressed completely in black crossed the courtyard beneath the balcony, walking between the rose bushes with a rifle tucked tightly to his chest by one arm and a gleaming spear in the other. I knew that the rounds in that gun were silver. So was the blade of the spear.

Vampires were impervious to most of the classical, stereotypical weaknesses. We were not affected by garlic or holy water. Not weakened by the sight of crosses or wooden stakes.

But a wound, to a vital organ like the brain or the heart with an object purely made of silver was sufficient to end our existence. The guard's hands were covered in leather gloves so as to not handle the bullets directly with his skin.

Marcelle, when he was alive, had always resented the idea of wearing the gloves. He would not forfeit the connection he felt with his weapon when he could feel the grooves of each bullet with his bare hands, despite how much the contact burned him.

After he met Christa, that changed. I remember the moment he bought his first pair of gloves: black leather with the words 'Christa Amelia' in gold stitching on the palms.

Again I was reminded of the circumstances that afforded me the opportunity to meet Teryn. I wanted justice for the lives that had been lost and I would have it but not before I liberated Teryn. Not until she was mine.

I suppose it can be said that my objective for the duration my mission had changed.

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