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   Chapter 32 31.

On Her Knees By Chyna McCartney Characters: 19604

Updated: 2018-07-12 20:07

I stepped carefully with Teryn in my arms, mounting the stone staircase once more as her breathing became more even. From the fluttering of her eyelashes against the skin of my neck whenever she blinked, I was aware that she was awake but, barely. At this point I could not distinguish the beating of her heart from that of my own-- for my heart beat with nearly the same intensity.

Her declaration of love for me had given me a degree of life that nothing before ever had; not the thrill of battle or the elation of conquest or even the exhilaration of feeding. None of those things had filled me with the vitality that I felt now with her so close to me.

"I will need my hands for this, love." I told her when I stood in front of the heavy metal. In compliance, Teryn re-positioned herself against my body, turning her torso so that both our chests pressed firmly against each other and her legs wrapped around my waist. Her delicate fragrance was more pronounced with her head pressed against my neck; I felt her even breaths like tendrils of fire whispering against my skin.

Reaching out with both hands, I pressed my palms against the iron edges and sent the fire out from within me. Despite all my centuries of practice with this gift, I only managed to liken the experience to that of an electrical current. First it was, merely like the gentle ebbing and flowing of hundreds of tiny tendrils of static. I thought of myself, or rather my metaphysical power as something of a flint sparker: at any given moment, with even the smallest excursion of will, the spark within me ignited into a roaring flame.

From whence this power came-- The Dragon's Breath as my kind would prefer to term it, neither vampire or other eccentric being could quite comprehend. Decades ago, a few of the more powerful councilmen and arguably those with the most foresight, thought to reach out to the human race for answers; perhaps, the brightest of their minds would see something in our nature that would explain this phenomenon that our race was by far, too arrogant to admit. Of course, that thought was not well received by the Court.

So, the mystery remained as to the cause of the mechanism for this talent but, that had never made me reluctant to employ it. I have yet to encounter a situation where wielding these flames had ceased to be useful. This moment was such an incident.

The heat as it passed through the thick metal, travelled like scarlet ripples on the surface of a still pond. The ripples liquefied whatever they touched and the raw, metallic order permeated what little space there was around myself and the woman in my arms. Soon, what had once been 7 or so feet of solid iron had been reduced to a structure barely a foot high. I stepped over what was the left of the door, careful not to step in the puddle of molten metal of my own creation and into the silence of dimly lit hall.

I scoffed under my breath. "Will they really make it this easy, my dear?" I spoke out loud, half to myself and half expecting a response from Teryn.

She complied with the latter, speaking with her lips pressed at the base of my neck. "You flatter yourself in thinking that Armand would view you as being a bigger threat than that which can be subdued by a few feet of silver chains and a locked door." Her response was concluded with a peck on my skin.

"Vampires lesser than myself, who have not endured this life for nearly as long as I have and with less... "talent"-- I suppose you might call it-- would be just as offended as I am by this blatant lack of effort."

The farther I walked down the empty hall, the more convinced I was that they were convinced that I was no threat to them. It was as if no thought had been put into what would happen if I somehow managed to regain my strength after being subdued by the proverbial kryptonite of my kind and then proceeded to escape this room. I was under the impression that there was no possibility in their minds that this might happen.

"But I think, therein lies the issue, " She continued. "They take notice of your affection for me. They're aware of it but they don't understand it. It's like to them, your love for me has turned you into something foreign in their eyes-- something foreign and completely inferior. They don't fear you because in their minds, your ability to experience emotions other than those that are purely carnal in nature, makes you weak.

It's like a vampire with a heart is no vampire at all..."

"Perhaps, " I acquiesced, the sound of the sole of my shoes against the marble tiles echoed after our voices with some unjustified air of foreboding.

"Do all vampires think that way? Is it as much a strange thing to care for others of your kind as it is for Armand and his pack of lap dogs?"

"What a despicable race of monsters we would be if that were the case, wouldn't you say?" The memory of her previous opinions stung like the bite of silver on my flesh. "Or rather, as you have already said."

"Giovanni." She cautioned, fisting the front of my shirt in one small hand.

"I know." My hold on her tightened, pulling her frame impossibly closer to my chest. It was utterly childish of me to hold prior utterances over her at this point, not after she had already explained herself. But in truth, the past few moments seemed so surreal. Oddly enough, it was easier somehow for my ancient mind to believe that she hated me than to believe that she might actually love me.

"No, you don't." Her voice was the manifestation of my fears. She released her vice grip on my shirt to grab a hold of my hair in a move so sharp and sudden that an involuntary hiss of warning escaped my lips.

But she did not seem startled. She did not pull away or leap from arms, running into the darkness ahead of us for fear of the monster that I was. Instead, she remained still

re was a rosiness to her cheeks that I had missed. "Can you put me down?"

"You do not have shoes, Teryn. Why would I do that?"

"I would very much like to greet your friend probably, Giovanni. Only for a second and then you have permission to carry me if it bothers you that much." Her tone of voice was exasperated and I rather enjoyed it. She needed to know that I was more concerned about her safety than I was about anything else and I always would be, no matter how frustrated she became as a result. It was really a small price to pay.

But I was willing to allow her that much and placed her on the ground with my arms still loosely wrapped around her waist.

"Giovanni, " she scolded me, twisting fractionally in my hold.

"You asked me to put you down, Teryn. I have done as much. You only need but to shake his hand anyway. He is not deserving of much more." I smirked.

"You are being extremely childish, " she muttered, stretching out a hand in Berthold's direction.

He gave me the same exasperated look, rolling his eyes for dramatic effect. "Well I believe..." he began, reaching out before my mind perceived what he was doing and scooped Teryn up into his arms and out of my hold. "...that this takes care of the issue of your bare feet." Teryn's yelp came an eighth of second too late, her neural functioning even more primitive in comparison to our own.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Berthold, " she murmured, sounding a little breathless. Her arms lay limply around his broad shoulders.

Berthold gave her a gentle squeeze around the waist, repaying my angry scowl with a smirk. "The pleasure is all mine, my dear. I am truly delighted to meet the woman who makes my brother so happy and yet, act so foolishly at the same time. At the moment, though you cannot see it, he is barely containing his rage for me."

Teryn laughed, her gentle peal of bells at his antics.

"Would you be completely averse to my placing you in the car?" He attempted to whisper close to her ear.

"Not at all, " she replied and Berthold moved swiftly, opening the rear door with one hand and depositing her onto the leather seat with the other. He then proceeded to scurry, like the rat he was, to the driver's seat, slamming the door hastily behind him.

Grumbling rather childishly to myself, I followed after them, sliding into the backseat with Teryn while Berthold chattered animatedly at her about the model of the jeep in an attempt to ignore me. I attempted to do the same, retreating to my own thoughts about the events that had previously taken place without reflecting to my surroundings; except of course, for the warmth of Teryn's hand when she finally decided to take hold of mine in hers.

Aside from their chatter, everything was still far too quiet for my liking. The very air around me seemed charged with malevolence; or perhaps, that was only a manifestation of my own paranoia.

"You're worried." It was more of a statement of fact from Teryn than a question and I looked down to see her golden eyes peering up at my face with interest. Whatever anger I had been feeling had since been lost to my thoughts. I had not even noticed that Berthold had since fallen silent, focusing only on his driving and getting us safely to my home at the heart of Rudalia.

"I am, " I whispered back, pulling her closer to me. Her small frame nestled against my shoulder, the palm of one delicate hand splayed across my chest over the dress shirt.

"There is nothing more to fear, Giovanni. We're out of that awful building; away from the men who pose a threat to us. We're safe. I'm safe with you."

"Perhaps we are, my love." I pressed a kiss to her forehead, fighting against the nagging feeling of foreboding that would not allow me to enjoy this moment with her.

"Yet sadly, I have since lived far too long and seen too much to believe in the prospect of happy endings."

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