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   Chapter 45 44.

On Her Knees By Chyna McCartney Characters: 45990

Updated: 2020-05-08 21:12

If the entirety if our date was only the car ride to this restaurant, I would have been completely satisfied. Rudalia came to life under the cover of night and we passed hundreds of previously dormant buildings, now lit up by bold, neon lights. Figures traveled alone or in groups along sidewalks and through dark alleyways while others, like us, traveled by vehicle.

The only way I knew how to describe the scene before me was modern, gothic elegance. Every supernatural being was dressed in their finest gowns and suits but, in the deepest and darkest shades of fabric imaginable and thus, adding to the ambiance of other-worldliness. The scene would have seemed inherently sinister if Giovanni's company didn't make me feel as secure as it did.

He was extremely affectionate during the ride, while answering whatever questions I had about the buildings in the inner city. The ride was filled with tender kisses which we shared at every red light or bit of traffic we encountered. Our fingers remained interlocked over the center console the entire time.

After about a half an hour of driving, we breached the city's limits entirely, where a single wide stretch of road way was surrounded by thick trees and was sparsely studded by a few street lights on either side. We seemed to be the only vehicle that had ventured out this far and for another twenty minutes or so, we followed every winding curve in the road until it led us up the side of a small mountain.

The ascent up the mountain side culminated in a large metal gate that swung open with the help of unseen hands as we approached it. The roadside beyond the gate was studded with more ornate gas lights and before long, a huge Victorian castle came into view. Giovanni brought the vehicle to a halt a few meters away from the castle and directly in front of its entrance.

The castle itself still felt ancient. Its exterior looked like it had retained most of its old world charm, having been left mostly unchanged and it stood like a mausoleum to some forgotten age of chauvinism and colonial aristocracy.

Once we were standing outside of the vehicle, I was able to clearly see the details of the stone structure. The ancient trees embracing the fortress on all sides. The lattice of moss and vines that scaled and crawled across and into every stone crevice and the way the outermost conical spires atop the castle's towers seemed to disappear above the clouds. As we walked closer, hand in hand, I noticed that the castle was still equipped with an old draw bridge and at the moment is was lowered over a shallow moat.

Tiny Japanese pagoda lanterns in the water below illuminated the bodies of dozens of juvenile koi fish and the sound of their tails splashing was like a symphony I never knew I needed to hear.

"We can feed them later if you wish, tesorina." Giovanni offered as we stepped carefully across the bridge.

I looked up at him: "We can?"

"Of course, " he smiled. "I requested it in fact. I suspected it would be something that you might enjoy."

"I would love that. This is beautiful Giovanni."

"It is even more beautiful on the inside, I can promise you that. I tried to retain most of the structural integrity when we did the renovations."

I glanced up at him again, intrigued. "You were involved in renovating this place?"

"Well, " Giovanni replied, "To be clear, I oversaw them. This castle belongs to me. It has been in the Moretti family for nearly seven centuries. In the days of its youth, when it was a home and stronghold for the royal family it was known as: 'Trono del drago, ' that's Italian for 'Throne of the Dragon.' Now as it presently stands as a restaurant, we simply call it---"

"La Rosa, " a sultry voice finished Giovanni's sentence. I glanced forward to find the source of the voice and my eyes landed on the body of a woman standing in the stone archway that led to a set of bamboo doors which I only assumed opened up to the restaurant.

The woman was tall, nearly as tall as Giovanni was with a head full of short, fiery red curls and hazel eyes set in a tanned, heart shaped face. A fitted blue pant suit accentuated an athletic, boyish frame and she gave Giovanni a wide grin, with all fangs bared.

"Buono Sera, Lord Moretti." Again, she seemed to struggle with the pronunciation of the Italian words. Two discernible accents seemed to overpower the words every time. The first I immediately recognized as Albanian. In my final year of high school, I had been lab partners in my Biology class with the only Albanian exchange student. Everyone called him Lou in place of their inability to pronounce his given name: 'Lulezim.' He was a sweet kid-- tall and extremely well built for a 17 year old and we bonded over a mutual love for Japanese animation. Since meeting him, I've always been able to distinguish the Albanian accent because I remembered the overly harsh way he pronounced the word 'Kakarot' in his natural lilt.

The second accent in the female vampire's voice was one I could only describe as sounding like 'sex.' It was particularly perplexing for me, a virgin, that I was only able to associate her tone with seduction. Her voice sounded like the whisper of silk sheets in a dimly lit room and of desperate moans reverberating off of bare skin. Her pale brown eyes were arresting and unnerving and her stare made me uncomfortable in my own clothing as if she was actively imagining me without them.

"Good evening Estelle, " Giovanni replied. Noticing the woman's lingering stare, he released my hand and instead wrapped his arm around my waist, pulling me closer to his body. The simple gesture spoke clearly: 'She is mine.'

I relaxed in his embrace, ever grateful for the possessive display.

"Its been a very long time since I've seen you with a woman on your arm, My Lord. In fact, I can't recall you ever having a dinner guest before, " she cooed, still staring at me. This time she made a point of licking her lips when our eyes met again, her serpentine tongue pierced with a small silver ball at the center.

To me, Giovanni said, "Estelle is the Maître d' of La Rosa and a rather competent head of security."

To Estelle: "This is Teryn: my inamorata."

Without even knowing the meaning of that word, a kind of joy seemed to wash over me. It was a personal kind of satisfaction akin to what I felt when he called me his paramour. It was gratifying not just to hear him clarify my position in his life but, also because he was willing to proclaim that openly.

"Inamorata, " Estelle mused, rolling the word around on her tongue. "Well then it is certainly a plea-sure to me you, Lady Teryn." She offered her hand to me.

I didn't like the way she exaggerated the pronunciation of the word 'pleasure' and it was obvious that my date didn't either. Giovanni quickly dismissed her outstretched hand. "Not necessary, Estelle." He guided me past the Maître d' as the bamboo doors were opened from the inside by men similarly dressed in blue suits.

"I sense a significant lack of trust, My Lord, " Estelle said in a hushed voice, chuckling as she followed close behind us.

My vampire scoffed, "How delusional you are, Estelle. Behind Berthold, Teryn has been more faithful to me in the time that we have known each other than any man or woman has ever been. Whats more is that she has been faithful by choice and without any assurances or promises of compensation---it would have actually been in her best interest to forsake me, but she has never wavered. It is you that I don't trust. I have not once trusted you with a woman in all the years that I have known you. Especially when you have the ability to take by force, what is not given to you voluntarily."

"I have never taken anything from anyone by force, " Estelle retorted, sounding indignant. Immediately the sensuous tone was removed from her voice.

"No you have not, but she is human and you are not. I am not willing to take that gamble with her safety. Not with you or anyone else." Giovanni's tone was stern and authoritarian, but still undeniably sexy. Hearing him be so firm with her sent the most delightful tingling sensation down my spine.

Sensing that this was the end of the conversation, the woman retreated with a small bow, muttering under her breath: "As you wish, My Lord."

"I wonder if I have made a wise decision in bringing you here, " he blurted out after a moment of silence, sighing in exasperation. "Come, my love."

With the bamboo doors now open to the room within, I could appreciate his earlier comment about the room being more lovely within. It was designed much like his home, with carved marble columns that drew attention to the castle's immensely high ceiling, at the center of which was a massive glass window that lit the room with natural, silvery moonlight. The room boasted of two different types of flooring: a wide circle of pearl white marble in the center of the room where couples waltzed under the moonlit glow and deep red carpeting that surrounded the marble where others dined on tables covered in white table cloths that were elegantly embroidered in gold.

The centerpiece of each table was a single red rose in a circular vase made of what looked to be cherry oak wood.

Waiters and waitresses similarly dressed in blue suits traversed the line of tables on either side and handed glasses and covered trays to guests enthralled in their own quiet conversations. Two marble staircases on the far left and right of the room climbed upward, finally connecting at a raised platform upon which an enormous orchestra played.

As Giovanni led me further into the belly of the castle, through an aisle between the tables on the most far right-side, I was privy to the dozens of face that greeted him as we passed. I recognized the pale faces of vampires, some of whom smiled up at him with retracted fangs. Yet other, more timid faces seemed warm and more full of... well 'life' for a lack of a better word. I noted the faint blush color of blood beneath some of the guests' cheeks and wondered for a moment if some of them were human.

"They are, " Giovanni responded to the question I had not asked as if he was reading my mind. "Some of the guests are human, tesorina. I built La Rosa for vampires like myself who do not despise human company. Many are here with their human donors or lovers--all of whom accompany them consensually. That is my only rule: that no human be brought here against his or her will."

"That's very reasonable, " I remarked impressed but not at all surprised. I expected nothing less than this kind of humanitarianism from him. It was this kind of compassion that attracted me to him.

"If you stay with me long enough, tesorina, you will find that I am can be very reasonable indeed."

We now stood in front of a closed door, with only the word 'Reserved' printed on it in gold letters. Again a door opened for us upon command and another male waiter bid us good evening.

Giovanni greeted him and thanked him, addressing him by the name Pierre. With the door closed again the room was just sound proof enough to block out the conversations outside, while reducing the orchestra's symphony to a soothing hum.

The back wall of the room was one giant window, in front of which there hung gold curtains, only partially drawn. A small sofa upholstered in grey was close to the window and tastefully decorated with white and gold embroidered throw pillows. A few books were stacked off to one corner of the couch.

A single table that was similarly dressed as the ones in the dining area also sat in the middle of the room, but this time, there were a few tea lights positioned around the single rose. Giovanni pulled out one of the two chairs for me and helped me to sit before taking his seat in the chair across from mine, at which point the waiter, Pierre placed a menu in front of me. He did not speak, but simply gave a nod to Giovanni before exiting the room.

"I don't think you made a bad decision at all, " I said, responding to his comment from earlier. "This is all very beautiful, Giovanni. I didn't know what to expect. I've never been on a date before but...I can't imagine that it gets more romantic than this."

"I only want to give you the best, my love, " he responded, reaching across the table to take my hand. "I thought you might like the intimacy, this is my private dining room."

I raised an eyebrow. "You have a private dining room but, you've never brought anyone here?"

He chuckled, "I never considered that privacy could be shared with anyone else, Teryn. Not until I met you. Some evenings I just enjoy time away from everyone, even Berthold despite how inseparable we might seem."

"I suppose I can understand, " I replied, satisfied with the answer until another question came to mind. "Is inamorata another word for lover?"

Giovanni paused for a moment, his sapphire eyes twinkling. "No, not particularly. 'Inamorata' is a term to refer to a woman with whom you have a deep intimate relationship. It would not have been fair to refer to you as my lover when firstly, we have yet to engage in any sexual activity and second, you mean so much more than that to me. 'Paramour, ' as difficult as the implications of that word may be for you to grasp, is precisely an adequate descriptor. Your existence completes the landscape of my soul, Teryn."

The last sentence was a fervent whisper, holding more reverence than I felt I deserved.

Giovanni's eyes held a kind of smoldering sincerity, painfully honest and wholly too intense. Try as I might to maintain the eye contact, I just had to look away, staring down at our intertwined hands on the tablecloth instead.

Sensing my uneas

ne to the same irrational emotions of fear and pride. Nevertheless, I was grateful that he allowed me to see this deeply into the most vulnerable recesses of his soul.

Now we lounged comfortably in the couch near the large window. I had long since relieved myself of the heels, with my bare feet now resting in Giovanni's lap. He was sifting through the small pile of books on the opposite end of the couch to explain something to me about the origins of their realm when I had the sudden urge to use the bathroom.

"My love, " I called, interrupting his search.

"Si, tesorina?" he looked up at me, his eyes gentle and filled with pure adoration. Adoration all for me.

I think I stopped breathing at the tender look in his eyes and I nearly forgot what I had been wanting to ask him.

The vampire smirked knowingly, as if aware of the effect he had on me. "You were saying?"

"The ladies' room, " I replied, slipping out of my trance. "Can you show me the way?"

"Certainly, tesorina." He rose from couch fluidly, reaching out for my hand and pulling me upright with him.

Hand in hand, he led me to the door. "The restrooms are through a small corridor directly ahead once exit this room. Would you like me to accompany you?" he offered with a mischievous grin.

I giggled. "No, I think I'll be fine."

"Even without shoes?" he asked.

"Yeah, I think I should be okay." I glanced down at where my feet should have been, obscured as they were by the hem of the dress. "I doubt that anyone will notice."

Giovanni bent down to press his lips to mine. "Return to me quickly, my love. I miss your presence already."

"I'll be back before you know it, " I promised as he opened the door for me. With hurried steps, I made my way towards the corridor just ahead, above which the word 'Lavatory' in gold letter hung.

To their credit, most of the vampire staff did their best not to ogle at me. They tried smiling meekly as I passed, muttering a symphony of excuse-me's, pardon-me's and sorry's as I squeezed between them. But almost immediately as their nose flared, perhaps smelling what I was, their quick glances became exaggerated stares with interest written clearly on their faces.

I ended up keeping my eyes downcast as I walked the last bit of the way, not wanting to meet another lingering stare and I could not have been more relieved when at long last, I entered the corridor, pushing open the door on which the word, 'Femme' was artfully stenciled.

The room within was decorated in white and gold and completely sound proofed from the environment beyond it. Practically skipping across the tile floor, I entered one of the three vacant stalls. As beautiful as dresses like there were, no one ever talked about how difficult it was to go to the bathroom in one of these things, especially a dress as form fitting as this one.

The majority of the time spent in the stall was devoted to hiking the dress up inch by inch and then finally, back down again once I was done doing my business. I was poised to exit the stall, pausing for a moment to ensure that the face of my watch was turned outwards, when I heard a loud banging on the stall door.

For a brief second, I was confused. I never truly knew what to do or say in situations like this. I was never one to knock on a closed stall in a public restroom. I always felt it was awkward and just the tiniest bit rude to do so. The stall being closed seemed to scream occupied without the need for words and should one still be unsure, a quick glance at the ground directly under the door usually sufficed to dispel any confusion. Seeing a pair of feet usually meant "keep it moving/go away."

But the people who felt the need to knock despite the obvious visual cues, were some of the worse kind of people in my book. Anyone willing to so callously disturb the sanctity of another person's time in the latrine, could simply not be a very good person.

Even as I thought of how awkward it would be for me to shout 'occupied' in response, the person on the other side of the door knocked again, louder this time.

'Definitely an asshole, ' I thought to myself. "Occupied, " I called back. "Try another stall."

There was a brief pause again, as if the person on the other side was considering whether or not to take me seriously before resuming the pounding on the door, this time with so much force that the door rattled on its hinges.

"I said its occupied, you freak. Go away, " my voice was louder this time, the result of my annoyance and on some level my fear winning against my social anxiety. Two things happened as soon as the words left my lips: (1) the pounding stopped immediately and (2) I looked at the ground for only a brief second but that what just long enough for me to clearly see a pair of black Balmorals, shiny, sleek and laced tightly.

Immediately, the situation felt all the more wrong. I didn't think that a male would be daft enough to enter a female restroom by accident. This was obviously intentional and I felt my blood chill in my veins.

I had a moment of thinking, grasping for straws of hope as I was that there was a possibility that these shoes could be worn by a female, which would explain why they had entered the bathroom. I mean who was I to restrict genders to a particular style of dress.

An image of Estelle confident in her form-fitting blue suit and loafers, came to mind at that but so did the overwhelming realization that regardless of the gender, the energy I felt on the other side of that door was obviously aggressive.

Was Giovanni right? Had he unintentionally made me a target by bringing me here? Was Estelle really as intrigued with me as she seemed? Would she really go to such lengths? Giovanni seemed to have known her for sometime, at least long enough to be able to accurately judge her character. He would never have let me go to the restroom alone if he was aware of any threats to my safety.

Which meant that he wasn't aware and I was in much deeper shit than I thought.

The pounding started again and I stepped back away from the door as it seemed to rattle more violently. Now, the sound seemed to come not just from the door in front of me. The noise encircled me, deafeningly loud and I felt my mind--the vulnerable part of psyche, retreat inward to that fortified place that I had built to escape the trauma that I had endured these past few months.

Its walls were made of twice baked brick and reinforced with steel. Iron bars protected the heavy steel doors and in times of distress, I could imagine steel shields coming down over the storm proof windows. I ran to that place now, sinking to my knees on the bathroom floor. I closed my eyes, hands clamped tightly over my ears as I screamed at the creep on the other side of the door--screamed to be left alone.

More than I heard it, I felt it when the door to the stall finally exploded from the outside in, with jagged splinters of the wood raining down on me and getting caught in my curls.

I had a moment to behold the form of my attacker: a lean man who was not much taller than myself. He was definitely shorter than Giovanni so I would have estimated his height to be between 5 foot 9 or 5 foot 10. His hair was a dark blond, greasy and streaked with grey and it fell just above his shoulders.

His features were plain and unremarkable and his eyes, a shade of pale grey were wide and sunken into his pale face. He looked starved like a walking corpse and it was hard to believe that he even had the strength to dismantle the door the way he had. Dressed in a similar blue suit, he could have easily been mistaken for a member of the restaurant's staff, thus concealing his more nefarious intentions.

The man gave me a wide toothy grin with all of his fangs bared and I had a moment where albeit irrational, I obeyed the urge to call out to Giovanni--not with words but with my mind. I screamed out to him, subconsciously believing that if our souls were bound to each other like he claimed, then some mental connection seemed equally likely. He would hear me, or some bizarre twist of fate would draw him to me.

But it seemed that it was not meant to be. One wide hand with long fingernails that were curved like talons on the end of his bony fingers, reached out to grab me by my hair. His nails scratched and scraped my scalp as I was pulled upward into the vampire's arms. He held me tight to his body, his arms encircling my waist with my feet dangling in the air as if I was a dear friend or lover.

Struggling was futile. His grip kept my arms pinned at my side and I screamed for help for what seemed to be the last time.

In a low croaking voice, he murmured close to my ear: "Just as he promised..." before I felt his fangs puncture the skin of my throat and heard the wet sucking sounds that followed.

In that moment, I wondered if only briefly, if my eyes were as wide as Maple's had been as she lay there completely helpless while Marcus sucked the life from her body. I wondered if she had felt the same fear that I was now feeling. I wondered if the look of terror on my face was the same as hers...

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