My heart was pounding in a most uncomfortable way. As much as I hated to admit it, I believe I was developing a bit of a crush on Lord Cian. I also enjoyed the nickname he had given me even though it was a bit of an insult. I sighed quietly. No more entertaining those thoughts. My lessons with him were over and I would only be at the palace twice a week again. The chances of us running into each other were slim. Besides, there's no way the feelings were reciprocated.
"I'm going to go for a walk," I said when I got home and changed into a simpler dress.
"Are you okay?" my mother asked.
"Just a little.... I don't know." I ran a hand through my hair. "I will be back soon."
"The sun has set," my mother said uncertainly.
I smiled reassuringly at her. "I'll be fine, Mother."
"Okay," she said hesitantly. "Be careful."
I left again, grabbing a different shawl. I wrapped it around my shoulders tightly as I walked. My orange hair kept flying about me but I didn't mind. My feet were taking me wherever they wanted to. I was outside the farmlands pretty quickly. I continued on, though, not wanting to run into Chester. I knew he would be ready to give his final verdict on Lord Cian. After he found out it was Cian that had made the bruise, his opinion about him had darkened.
I went around the back only to have someone grab my shawl.
"Hey!" I said and turned to slap whoever it was.
A man grabbed my wrist before I could. I glared at him. He had black eyes and long black hair. He leaned forward and inhaled deeply.
"Let me go!" I snapped.
"You're the thrall," he said with a smirk. "Well, no wonder Cian wanted to keep you hidden. You are quite beautiful."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," I spat. "Now let me go!"
I looked around but we were completely alone and no one was within hearing distance. I was a fool to go on my own! I should have brought Chester!"
"So strange," he murmured. "Your mind, I cannot reach it."
"You're hurting me," I said, still struggling.
It was true. The circulation in my right wrist was starting to be cut off. He pushed his body against mine.
"Get off of me!" I shouted.
"No markings," he was muttering, his free hand pushing my hair away from my neck. "How can you be a thrall without any markings."
"I said let me go!"
I tried to kick him with my knee but he caught it just as easily as Cian had. He pushed me to the ground and pinned me down.
"I do not believe you are really his thrall," he snarled and I shook under him. I tried to get out but he just tightened his grip. "I believe you are there to spy. You humans; that's all you care about." He smirked and I saw... pointed teeth? He laughed when I stopped struggling. "It would seem Cian has not been honest with you." He leaned forward and put his nose on my neck, inhaling deeply again. "Now, just one bite and I will prove he does not have the-"
Suddenly, his body was thrown off of me with a loud snarl. I scrambled to my feet to run but a young woman caught me.
"Let me go!" I screamed.
"It's okay," the woman said. "You're safe now."
"I said let me go, damn it!"
I pushed her and she let me go out of shock. I tried running again but this time it was Queen Darcey who stopped me. She grabbed my upper arms. I heard fighting behind me.
"She speaks the truth, Viveka. You are safe now."
"What are you doing out here? And why was that man-?"
I turned and gasped, stumbling back. The man and Cian were locked in a fight. Cian had pointed teeth, too. They were snarling and scratching at each other with long nail. Cian didn't have long nails, though....
Cian was under the man who had accosted me. I couldn't see what he was doing. The man on top yelled in pain, though, and I saw a splash of blood fly from the left side of his face. Taking advantage of his surprise, Cian rolled him onto his back and snarled, trying to slash at him again.
"Cian!" I shouted but the queen stopped me from running over.
Then I saw something that almost made me faint. Cian grabbed the man from the front of his shirt and plunged his teeth into the other man's neck. The man fought against him but Cian's grip was too strong. It didn't take long before the other man was overwhelmed and passed out. Cian stood, wiping the blood from his face and kicked the other man.
"Take him to the palace, Karayan," he said in a gruff voice to the girl who caught me.
"Did you kill him?" she whispered.
"No. I just took enough of his blood to make him weak."
"Okay," she said in a small voice and picked the man up with ease.
Cian was looking at me sadly. There was still blood on his chin. He started walking to me. I backed up into Queen Darcey until I was as close as I could get.
"D-Don't come near me," I said in a shaking voice and he stopped walking.
"Wait, Viveka," he said, "just calm down first."
"Please," the queen whispered. "Hear us out."
"Us?" I repeated in a high pitched voice. I pushed myself away from her. "You're a-a-a-a vampire, too?"
"Yes," she said quietly.
I looked between the two of them, my chest heaving. This can't be true. Vampires are legends and things of nightmares. They're what little kids dress up as when they want to scare someone. I tried to run but my legs were frozen and I was feeling lightheaded. My breath was coming in hitches and Cian and the queen were saying something to me. I couldn't hear them but it didn't matter.
"Make sure Chester and Mary are brought here," I heard King Nelo sigh. "If she knows, they might as well, too."
"How are we going to explain this to her?" the queen asked.
"We'll figure it out when she wakes up," the king answered. "I hear her stirring."
I opened my eyes and looked around. I was in a fancy room on top of a velvet blanket. Sitting beside me, constantly running his hands through his hair, was Cian. I immediately tried to run from him.
"Slow down," King Nelo said, coming up behind me.
"Stay away from me," I breathed. "Just let me go. I-I won't tell anyone. I'll keep your secret. I swear. Please don't kill me!"
"We're not going to kill you," Queen Darcey said. She sighed. "But your life is about to change drastically, Viveka, unless...."
"What are you talking about? Where am I?"
"You're in my bedchambers," Cian said. "It's the safest place for you right now."
"No," I snapped at him, my hatred returning. Had I really been developing a crush on this monster? "I'm safest with my mother and Chester!"
"They're being summoned as we speak," the king said. "When they get here, we will explain everything."
"There's nothing to explain!" I snapped. "You were using me!"
"No," the queen said quickly. "No, Viveka we weren't. I swear to you."
"I come to give Lord Cian a test and a few hours later I'm attacked!" I screamed. "You wanted him to kill me, didn't you?" I accused Cian. "I had gotten on your nerves so you had one of your... your... monsters hunt me down!"
Cian looked sickened. "I would never do such a horrible thing!" he shouted. "Just lay back and wait for your mother and Chester to get here!'
I glared around at them all. I wanted to run but I knew that I wouldn't make it very far. I crossed my arms but refused to lie back down. I sat in the middle of the bed, trying to make myself small. Cian was glaring at me but I didn't care. All I cared about was that I was surrounded by vampires.