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   Chapter 40 39.

On Her Knees By Chyna McCartney Characters: 17857

Updated: 2018-11-24 08:08

It was strange to see Giovanni's world in this much daylight. I had only ever seen the landscape under the silver, pallid moonlight with either real or imagined hissing shadows behind looming buildings in direct contrast with a countryside.

But now, the world around me seemed to cast any a different, more deceptive light. It was as if the morning was beautiful Rudalia's mask and the city hiding horrendous secrets, appeared welcoming. Giovanni sat next to me in the backseat of the large jeep, silent and thinking with his Berthold rambling on his cellphone at the wheel. Every so often Berthold would disrupt the eerie silence in the car by laughing boisterously at something Melanie said on the other end of line and it would startle me enough to make me jump out of my seat.

Giovanni's reaction was simply to run a hand down my back in an effort to soothe me but the action seemed without feeling. He responded automatically as if he felt that he was expected to but his detachment was apparent to me nonetheless. I worried that he was still silently worrying about me. "What are you brooding about?" I asked, reaching over to touch his knee.

Automatically, he draped his larger hand over mine where it rests on his leg but he didn't look at me. He stared out, at the rolling hills of the country side on the other side of the glass as it blurred past us. "I am not brooding; my kind do not brood, my dear."

Rolling my eyes, I replied, "Then whats on your mind? What's bothering you?"

"Nothing of consequence. Just the safety of the only woman I have ever cared for but of course, there are always more important things to concern one's self with are there not?" He was sarcastic and almost condescendingly so. I sighed in response and scooted closer to him so that I could look him in the eyes.

"I will do as you say; go where you go. I won't leave your side-- not even for a moment if that's what you want. It will be fine; its only one meeting."

"But it's not just one meeting, " he breathed, pulling me into his side. He exhaled deeply and the motion reverberated across his chest. "This may never end, Teryn. Had I thought for a moment that what I was asking of you would require your physical testimony, I would never have asked but now it's far too late to change of it. It's even more impossible now to change your mind about being involved but if I, in anyway, cause any risk to your life Teryn I--"

I kissed him, grabbing the end of his braid to hold him close to me. The little rant of his was endearing but bothersome.

"You are a fool, Giovanni, " I breathed against his lips as I pulled away. "... to think that I would ever feel endangered by my affiliation with you or even blame you for anything that should happen to me as a result. I told you for the thousandth time that this is the choice that I've made."

He didn't actually respond immediately, apart from a speculative looking on his face. Pulling me closer, he kissed with just as much fervor, if not more and the tip of his

Tongue danced deliciously along the edge of my bottom lip.

"As you wish, " he acquiesced as I lounged in the circle of his arms, still reeling from the passion contained in his kiss. I had forgotten, for a moment, what it meant to breathe normally.

"Come, " Giovanni held one hand out to me as the other was stretched behind him, reaching for the door handle. I hadn't realized that we had arrived at our destination, or that the car had stopped moving.

I cooperated, allowing his larger palm to encircle mine, and pull me along with him as he exited the vehicle. Berthold was oblivious to us from the front seat, still chattering animatedly into the receiver of his cellular device.

Without warning, Giovanni pulled me so swiftly against him that, I fell literally and rather ungraciously into his embrace. He held me close, his arms like bands of steel as they crushed me to his chest. It was like, he was wrestling to hold me closer-- as if he wanted to take me into his body; to absorb my essence and produce one being from two rational souls.

There was a younger there like some desperate longing for intimacy that I could feel throbbing in the center of my chest, though I could not determine whether it originated with me or was something that I felt from him and was reciprocating. Of course, the possibility of both of those things happening simultaneously didn't seem that far from the truth either.

"Lend me your strength, " he murmured very weakly and it was perhaps the most vulnerable that I had ever heard him sound.

I wanted to ask "why." Why would someone as confident and powerful and self-aware need a pick-me-up from someone like me. What could ever make someone like him, ever feel weak? Why now, most importantly? What about these very circumstances made him in more of need of strength than he had ever been and what did it mean that he has decided to ask me for strength as opposed to someone more qualified in that regard; someone whom he knew far longer than he knew me? Why would he trust me with that kind of vulnerability?

More than a dozen questions fueled the gears in my mind yet, all I couldn't manage to ask one. All I could think to do was nod against him, using whatever air I could manage to get into my lungs to say, "It is yours and more."

I wasn't sure

nter of the room, resisting its siren call to come closer.

"You are wondering if it is a trap, yes?" The man at the center asked. He rested his chin on one palm, the edge of his nail on his index finger just barely tracing the faint blush of his lips.

I presumed he was the man in charge, since he was the only one to address the both of us.

"I can see the gears turning in your walnut brain, " he continued. "You are wondering if we our worth the expenditure of your trust. Our perhaps, it is your energy-- which ever you value more."

He shrugged, a feat I would have thought impossible for his stiff frame. I expected it to be awkward to hear the audible creaking of ancient bones rolling in his joints. Yet, the movement was graceful, as was the standard for all range of motion for his kind.

"I suppose, your skepticism is within reason, " he offered. "Tiny little things that you are, there is always good reason to be afraid is there not?"

He spat the word 'afraid' into my face, even from across the room and like acid, it burned something in my pride.

In one fluid motion, he rose from his seat, long arms extended outward from his body with his palms turned upward in a gesture that was meant to be inviting.

Now that he was standing, I could clearly see that beneath his robe, his chest was bare-- a faint crescent shaped scar over the ribs under his right pectoral muscle. Black satin pants fit the rest of his body like a glove.

In a triumphant voice, he declared: "But fear not! You are here bearing gifts and we welcome you into this humble gathering. Come forward."

The last was obviously a command spoken with such fierce authority that it shook the room. I could feel every member of the audience sink lower into their seats. I could see smirks on the stony faces of a few of the council members, others with inquisitive stares and all the life seemed to be drained from the room.

I looked to Giovanni beside me, who either stood silently because he was not fazed by the encounter or he was seething with so much rage that he was afraid that uttering a response would destroy his careful composure.

I was certain however, that he was not afraid of this would-be master.

The vampire tore his eyes away from the man at the center of the room to look down at me; first at my face and then at our entwined fingers.

He seemed to weigh the consequences-- a thousand possibilities replaying out in his mind and judging by his final expression, he was not at all comforted by the odds he found.

Yet, he nodded anyway, perhaps, deciding that all eventualities were unavoidable.

"I know that you will do what you need to do, Teryn, " he added, stepping close enough to press a chaste kiss to my forehead. "I trust you."

Those words were the only affirmation I needed.

On the word of his approval alone, I stepped into the illuminated space at the center of the room and breathed.

I took in a breath long enough and slow enough to feel the oxygen gradually saturate every inch of skin, every muscle fiber and every cell in my entire body.

I let it all leave my body and welcomed the sense of weightlessness that enveloped me.

To my surprise, the courage to address the courtroom was manifested in the smile that spread across my face.

Collective grunts and growls of annoyance probably because I even dared to speak, floated upward to the high ceiling like a sinister choir.

The grin on my face spread wider. "I can assure you that what I'm packing is at least slightly bigger than a walnut."

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