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On Her Knees By Chyna McCartney Characters: 24022

Updated: 2019-01-08 10:51

The anger I felt then, walking away from so much failure was incomparable to any fury I has ever felt before.

I was reminded of what it felt like to see Marcus' face after he had nearly killed me. I remembered the Allens'—or rather Denise's pathetic justification for my abduction and sale into slavery.

Supernatural or otherwise, this was exactly that, slavery. The realization also made me angry but still not as angry as I felt now.

Even worse was than the pain I felt seeing all those girls lying dead or the hatred I thought I would feel for not only my captor but also for myself if I had failed Melanie.

I had never felt this angry and lost—the two emotions all seemed to be rolled into one balloon that was steadily inflating with concrete in my chest. The stony fury hardening in my chest to seemed to make it harder to breathe, the pressure threatening to collapse my lungs.

Giovanni's palm pressed to the small of my back as I moved forward in the trance-like saunter of the mindless undead, was the only proof I had of reality.

Everything else held the bitter taste of failure because for once, I had hoped. I had hoped that months of an unceasing struggle would eventually produce change. Yet, the fruits of mine and Giovanni's labor tasted like ashes in my mouth and the pain with it was suffocating.

I couldn't expect to feel anything less than this though. Hope inevitably begets despair. The two would never exist without the other. I had hoped, and I had failed, and the resulting despair was crushing.

"You did all that you could, " Giovanni whispered, close to my ear. Somehow, we were already outside of the court house standing on the edge of the stone with the descending steps below.

I heard his words but couldn't believe him. In an empty voice, I replied, "Not everything."

"But you have given more than anyone else has in your position. Even more than you can afford to lose, you have voluntarily forfeited. There is nothing else that I can ask of you. This was never meant to be your fight."

"And this is how I am rewarded for fighting?" As I exhaled, his arms encircled my waist, pulling me gently into his embrace. I ignored the way the cloth of the dress caressed the healing wounds on my back in an uncomfortable way. Seeing the tears soak into the collar of his shirt was the only way I realized I has started crying.

"I won't stop, " I told him. "There are ghosts in that place—behind the eyes at every girl there and phantoms skating down the halls. Nothing I can do alone will cleanse that place."

"You must not accept every crisis as your own burden, my love. It will turn you mad and worse even, it will blacken your heart. Not every victory is secured by hard work, perseverance and pure intentions, but we will win the wars that count.

Now cleanse your conscience; guilt and despair are for bitter men with unchanging hearts. Matthias' arrogance is only a reflection of his own regret."

"I need you strong, " he declared. It was utterly authoritarian, like the hook to a military cadence. It made me feel like a soldier as opposed to a business partner and it was more empowering than I would have thought.

Warm sunlight tickled the back of my neck, a precursor to Giovanni's cod lips pressing a warm kiss there. In that same moment, he then laced the fingers of his left hand with those on my right.

"Never forget that you are, and have been to this point, the only person willing to do what others are more than capable of doing. You are defying not only the evil that exists here but also the complacency that undoubtedly perpetuates it. You are turning this world on its head, bringing stronger men to their knees and stealing the cards directly from their deck.

I could not have envisioned a more brazen crusader. Believe that you can, and you will, my dear. Believe and I will make it a reality, "

"Careful, " I cautioned him, giving his hand a squeeze. "You are in danger of making promises that you have not the resources to keep. Wouldn't want you having to put your foot in that pretty mouth of yours."

His initial response was a chaste kiss to my forehead and to guide me down, one chiseled slab at a time. "There is nothing that I would not do for you, " he reminded me as if it was always an unspoken truth. With his cool fingers wrapped around mine, it was easy to forget how many dozens of stories up we were the ground. It was even easier to lay aside any morbid thoughts as to how painfully obvious my own mortality seemed when I contemplated an unplanned descent to the asphalt below.

I mean I wasn't afraid of heights per say but I was sure that the possibility of fatal endings in any scenario would give anyone license to be more than a little anxious.

Yet, Giovanni's presence took all of that away. I felt invincible.

Soon we were approaching second step from the bottom and I could see the war lord's accomplice Berthold leaning casually against the hood of the matte black SUV next to Melanie. She lounged on the hood of the car, her dainty, bare feet almost completely obscured by a long, lavender colored sundress.

It was the first time I had ever seen her hair in a ponytail and with her chestnut locks finally pulled away, it was easier to see the smooth lines of her face; she was truly a delicate beauty.

The sun seemed to love the smattering of freckles on her cheeks and so did the man beside her. They lounged in complete silence, hopelessly staring into each other's eyes as if they had finally found something that words alone had always been insufficient to express.

Berthold traced ever curve of her face with the edge of his large fingers while remaining completely oblivious to our approach until we stood only a few feet away.

"Did you always know that lavender was your color?"

Melanie turned to me, immediately understanding that my question was addressed to her. The pastel color of the dress seemed to bring warmth to her skin as if she was absorbing the light in the atmosphere. Somehow it complemented the red and blue undertones of her pale skin and invited the observer to gaze more intently at the bright steely color of her eyes.

"I never knew, " she confessed, holding Berthold's empty hand in two of her smaller ones. "If you've met Maribelle, you know that she seems to know what compliments everyone."

I gave into the impulse to look down at myself and at my body in the dress." Yeah. This was also one of her brilliant ideas.

"And its perfect on you." Her response seemed sincere, but I wasn't quite sure how to respond to her.

Giovanni wrapped an arm around my waist, tucking into his side. "Still rejecting compliments, are you?" His cool breath whispered against my cheek and he spoke close to my ear.

I sighed, "Yes, with every ounce of my being."

Giovanni smiled, "You truly are one with your own habits."

"No one's ever asked me to break them."

Giovanni looked at me incredulously, as if he was not at all convinced, that I would simply become a less self-conscious person simply because he had asked nicely. "You would just forsake your struggles with impossibly low self-esteem simply because I

nt to the door, immediately turning to me as I exited.

It was impossible not to notice him observing me once I stood before him. His blue eyes followed the lines and curves of my body, observing the way my breasts filled out the bodice of the gown—the way the fabric fell in over my waist and down around my hips. The vampire swallowed convulsively, and I would not have thought that it was possible for him to look as uncomfortable as he did.

Raising his palm, he showed me the familiar tin of salve—a prescription that Raphael had personally provided and filled. "I thought I might assist you with applying this, " he said, a roll of gauze dangling from one of his fingers. "And show you which drawers might be yours."

I nodded, reaching for one of his hands. He wrapped his larger fingers around mine with a sigh of relief, as if he were afraid that he would not be allowed to touch me again. He then led me into the huge walk-in closet. "Some of Maribelle's best work, " he remarked with a small smile as he placed the dress on a hanger with one hand. He refused to let go of mine.

He then brought me out to the chest of drawers near the wall adjacent to the balcony doors and pointed to one on the right, of a pair of two smaller drawers at the top of the chest before opening it. "For your underwear, " he said, showing me some of the lace in blues, reds, burgundies, greys, purples and blacks that lined the inside of the mahogany. "Maribelle has already begun supplying you with things you might like."

I nodded, watching him open the second drawer below the ones on the top to reveal clothing in the forms of t-shirts in blues, blacks and forest greens and dark was jeans. "There is very little for you to sleep in, I am afraid. Maribelle considers what a woman sleeps in to be even more intimate than her undergarments. I would believe that she would prefer to approach you in person about what you are most comfortable with. Better you than I, " he added with a chuckle. "If it were I making the decision, there would no need for you to wear clothing to be at all."

I blushed, easily recognizing the comment for what it was meant to imply. It seemed like he was just speaking aloud now, without the use of his usual filter to sensor the thoughts before they became words. Still running my fingers over what looked to black silk pants, I sensed rather than I saw his embarrassment.

"I apologize, " he breathed, releasing my hand slowly to turn toward his bed. "I should just help you with the salve should I not?" he asked, more to himself than to me.

Pushing the drawer closed, I followed him, sitting on the edge of the bed with my back to him as he walked around to the other side. I chose not to speak. Instead, I listened to his movements: the sound of the tin's lid toppling and rolling over onto the sheets, the groan of the mattress as his body lent closer to mine. The salve was cool and thick on my skin but thinning as it succumbed to my body heat. It smelled both old and new: of old tradition and new earth, but also very strongly of sage.

It soothed the raw skin on my back or quelled its fire rather. I felt the firmness of his palms kneading into my flesh and lulling away my anxiety. I collapsed into the feeling of it; fell backward—back, back, back until my shoulder met his chest and I could no longer feel his hands upon my skin.

Giovanni held still, fighting, as I too fought, the endless ocean of desire that was spread out between us. He fought it and lost—or surrendered to it—with his fingers tracing the skin of my bicep and my shoulder and finally brushing the hair away from my neck. He lost with the press of his lips in a chaste kiss against my neck and a tentative arm around my waist.

He was gentle but still so very afraid of my rejection and just as I had begun to relax against him, he started to pull away. The thought of there being any more distance between us made me fearful in a way that I had never experienced and in an act of desperation, I grabbed onto his hand before he could pull it away from me. I spoke with my heart and with all the intensity and passion of a drowning man beholding the surface of his watery prison overhead and the heavens just above that.

"Stay, " I begged, firmly grasping his large hand. "Stay."

I held him by his eyes, making him captive by my unwavering stare and slowly lowered my body down on to the mattress. He followed me down, watching me cautiously for any sign of reneging or protest.

While I lay on my side, his slender arms curled around me; enveloping and drawing my essence into him as he physically drew me closer. With his face nestled gently into the space where neck and shoulder met, he inhaled deeply.

"Tu sei amore."—The vampire's epiphanic utterance.

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