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   Chapter 36 35.

On Her Knees By Chyna McCartney Characters: 25269

Updated: 2018-08-19 15:05


I laughed in spite of myself, at the theatricality of it all. "Brava Raphael." It seemed like a well-deserved ending to his story.

The doctor gave a small bow. "So very glad that I could amuse you." He grabbed the straps of the leather bag, looking as though he was prepared to leave.

"But still, I don't get it, " I continued. "What's a fleeting moment of altruism to an entire lifetime; or at least multiple where you're concerned. You're a vampire. How could you possibly care about human lives so much as to change the course of your own because of an experience with one of us? I understand the sympathy, the guilt even but I didn't think... it shouldn't be possible for a vampire to..."

"To be so selfless?" he finished, holding me to the very spot where I stood with his deep, blue eyed stare. "Of course, you do not understand. It is because you view the differences between our species as some insurmountable cleft. It is not so; it has never been and that is the truth of all truths which I found.

At our very cores, apart from our differences in diet and perhaps general susceptibility, we want the same things; we deserve the same things. Our desires are founded upon the same principles and everything you are is proof of that."

He touched my cheek with the fingertips of one hand. "If humans were dwarfed so completely as you believe, by the shadows of vampires, how then do you, a human, stand so equitably in the path of a vampire? How does Giovanni love you as deeply as he does and how do you feel the same?"

I opened my mouth to speak, to protest--the relationship Giovanni and I have was, even to me, somewhat shrouded in obscurity; it seemed a bit too early to be subject such a relationship to comparisons-- but Raphael stopped me.

"Before you attempt to deny it or at the very least, explain it, please know that there is no need. I have seen what that looks like with my own eyes, felt it with my own heart. His ability to love you is only proof of our similarities at our core.

I hoped to remedy those notions of inferiority and superiority with my work but, my only satisfaction has only been limited to the prolonging of countless human lives. But I have hope as to the eradication of these archaic notions with the knowledge of your budding relationship. Whatever it is that I am selfish or self-serving-- a martyr looking to be called righteous or simply lost, nothing I have ever done will compare to you.

You will change things by the example your love will set; you belong together and there is nothing more beautiful or more powerful than that."

I didn't know how to respond to him, or the faith he had in something I could not classify. I knew that I loved Giovanni, yes but did I want to stay here? Did I really want to live in the setting of my worst nightmares, to be haunted by them daily with every breath I took? I had promised Melanie and I had promised myself that we would leave this place...

I clutched at my chest, a sudden pain there swallowing up the world around me until the only sounds my mind registered were Raphael's retreating steps and my ever quickening heartbeat. Pain at the thought of leaving-- of abandoning Giovanni...

I swallowed, my throat convulsing too quickly for it to be considered real breathes, and felt the world come into clearer focus as I willed the thoughts away.

"Wait, " I heard myself call out to Raphael, waiting for him to stop before I spoke again. "Did you ever find it? Your purpose-- what you are meant to live for?"

He shook his head without turning to me, one hand gripping the door handle. "For that, I am still searching, but sometimes I think I see it in the faces of the people I treat; especially those who are so close to death.

I see all the passions that they would otherwise have been unable to pursue until I... saved them." He gave the barest of shrugs, "I suppose I am just a facilitator of their dreams." He turned only to give me a compassionate smile. "Goodnight, Teryn."

"Goodnight Raphael, " I replied, watching him open the door. Giovanni stood on the other side and the doctor merely handed him a small, silver tin that I didn't realize he had been holding before brushing past him.

My vampire entered the room without another word, his eyes wary and darting about my face. "How are you feeling?" he asked, touching my cheek tentatively.

I nestled my cheek against his palm and shrugged. "I'm alright, but I'd like to ask you something."

"Anything, my love, " he replied, tossing the tin somewhere on the bed behind me and beginning to unbutton the cuffs of his dress shirt.

"What am I to you?" The words nearly threatened to strangle me as they left my throat.

His eyes again met mine, burning with bright blue fire. "Everything, " he whispered and my heart stuttered in my chest. Giovanni reached out to caress my cheek and for a moment I was almost, too lost in his intense stare to reply.

Almost...

Yet, still I stumbled over my words. "Everything is--" I shook my head. "That's not a title."

I didn't want to seem unappreciative or detached. His admission of such strong feelings for me left a strange fluttering of my bones but even despite having never felt anything like this before, I'd seen love turn messy. I just wanted clarity. I trusted him but, he had lied about his feelings before and he wasn't actually being transparent now.

"You're interested in a title?" he asked, his head cocked to the side speculatively.

"Of course!" something within me shouted.

Outwardly, I shrugged, feigning nonchalance. "Titles are... concrete, for lack of a better word. Look, if I'm going to be pulled farther down into your world than I ever intended or at least, wanted to be, then I should understand why."

His gentle smile quickly turned into a scowl and I knew that I had made a mistake. He turned abruptly, walking into the huge closet.

The vampire spoke with his back to me as he moved, "You speak of this as though it was something you were dragged into. If you feel that I am compelling you to be here with me then speak the words, I will take you home, Teryn, back to your world. Heaven forbid I force you to stay where you're not comfortable."

He had stripped himself of the coat, hanging it up neatly amongst others and was now bending to angrily pull at the laces of Oxfords. The shoes came off with just as much rage and he placed them carefully in a row beside similar pairs.

I sighed, turning away and folding my arms across my chest over the towel that was still hanging awkwardly from my shoulders; it seemed impossible to say what I wanted to say-- to be so frank with him while looking at his face. He always saw right through me.

"It's not that Giovanni. I don't feel like a prisoner here; I want to be here with you. I just don't understand why. I hate this place-- this realm, whatever this crypt of monsters is. I hate it because of what I had to endure here but..."

One hand closed into a fist around the cloth of the towel right above where my heart should be. "My heart, the thought of walking away from this world-- the thought of walking away from you causes me so much pain. I love you so much, " my voice broke then.

"...I couldn't bear the thought of leaving you but I don't understand why I am so willing to intertwine my life with yours. I don't know what you've done to me, Giovanni and that's so frightening to me."

I felt him step closer to me from behind, wrapping one arm around my waist and the other hand closed around the fist I ha

owel down. Her movements were slow-- deliberate but without any real fervor or purpose. She was unwilling but even more than that, she was defeated.

No matter how I tried to separate the two images of myself: the one before me and the one I held in my mind; no matter how difficult it was to comprehend, she was me. That was undeniable. Unless there existed some other doppelganger of myself who had fallen and had her heart broken by the same beautiful vampire; another identical woman who had been betrayed by her parents, who had been abused at as I had and starved and mutilated-- I refused to believe that the world was cruel enough to allow two people to suffer such a fate.

She was me and I was her and no matter how strong I believed myself to be, it was impossible not to admit to myself that this was a pain I could not ignore. And it was hope dashed that had crushed me.

Not the beatings or the helplessness but, the thought of finally having an end to my suffering within my grasp and then having it stolen from me; feeling like my heart would never belong to another when that man couldn't even bring himself, for whatever reason, to admit that I had some significance to his life.

So, I dressed slowly, in the silk underwear and matching shorts and clothed my upper body in only the backless shirt that still smelt of Giovanni's musk. Cool air whispered against the skin on my back where there was no cloth to protect it and I knew with certainty then that as much as I disliked the position, I would be sleeping on my back.

Sleeping.... in the same bed as Giovanni...

The knowledge that Giovanni, in fact, was on the other side of the door was what stopped me from turning the handle, one hand hovering above the metal knob.

I had never slept in the same bed as anyone else before; I valued being alone in that regard--and the certainly applied to the company of a male.

I suppose one could take into account my allowing my foster mother Denise's nephew, a little blonde-haired boy named Theo to sleep in my bed when he visited his aunt but he was a six-year-old who was frequently plagued by nightmares.

This, on the other hand, was so much different.

Despite how confused I felt about the status of our relationship, there was no denying that Giovanni was someone whom I had a keen romantic interest in; I felt things for him that I could safely categorize as sexual desires. I mean really, one look at him and who wouldn't feel the same way?

However, I wasn't sure-- no, I was certain that I did not want to go there with him just yet; it would only further complicate an already complicated situation and I simply didn't know that I was comfortable going there with anyone for that matter.

Yet, instead of feeling helpless again, I was met with a strange anger; anger that I had somehow allowed a man, whom I barely knew but had wholly sincere yet wholly irrational feelings toward, to cut me so deeply.

Giovanni had no real claim to sway my feelings; he only wanted me-- a seemingly blind and shallow desire that did not seem to reciprocate the love I had for him. He had given me nothing and thus, had no right to the satisfaction of being the reason for any heartache.

I would not lose sleep tonight over this; in fact, I would sleep just fine whether he shared a bed with me or not.

Having come to that conclusion, I mustered enough courage to open the door and stepped into the bedroom to find the vampire standing beside the bed exactly where the doctor, Raphael had stood. In his left hand, he held the crumpled and bloodied towel with the used gauze and debris from my wounds piled on top of it and nearly falling over- in fact, it was rather precarious to do so.

I stared almost hypnotized as he passed his empty right hand over the air above the pile, his skin never touching it but leaving a trail of orange and blue flames that burned hot enough to incinerate all of the waste within a matter of seconds.

Subsequently, closing his fist seemed to send the flames back from whence they came, and then he stretched his fingers out again.

Giovanni must have known that I was standing there because he spoke without looking at me. "Do not be afraid, " he whispered, still staring at his empty hands.

"And I'm not, " I replied, walking to the bed and sitting down on its edge.

The distance between us-- never mind, the physical distance but the theoretical difference, the fact that we did not seem to stand on common ground seemed, palpable; it charged the air in the room and it made me more than a little uncomfortable but I was in no position to make that known to him.

As easily as I could, I settled onto the bed, laying on my stomach with my hands folded upon the pillows to cradle my head. As best as I could, I tried to be comfortable, and then I heard Giovanni sigh heavily, the mattress shifting as he came closer to me.

I felt him gently caress my hair. "So, it is a title you want, is that it?" I heard him say, as I fought the fog of drowsiness.

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