“Well, this feels familiar,” Cain muttered, staying where he was. I watched him, confused. Why didn't he try to disarm or attack me?
“I'll shoot,” I threatened, suppressing the urge to turn and run. Run away from the situation, the confrontation. I'd never felt so cowardly in my life.
“Go ahead. I was actually hoping we could talk before the fighting part,” Cain replied. I seriously considered the first choice. Fighting was straightforward. Talking involved too many thoughts and feelings.
“Why should I talk? I'm not interested in anymore stupid mind games,” I threw back, aware how strained my voice was with emotion. Cain blinked, his brows furrowing in confusion.
“Is that all you really thought I was doing?” he asked, hurt obvious in his voice. I forced myself to ignore it. Everything with Cain had been an act. A horrible, cruel one that I needed my heart to understand.
“What else could it have been Cain? You were after info on my people. We both know I only played along so I wouldn't die,” I replied, my voice hard. My crossbow still not lowered. A simple press was all it would take to kill him. Then he'd be nothing more than another pile of dust.
“Maybe at first,” he started. “But everything we talked about wasn't a lie. Everything we-” Cain finished abruptly, starring away from me. His breathing looked as crazy as mine.
“None of it mattered Cain. You're just another vampire. I only came back to kill you. Sergio just happened to present himself as a more desirable target,” I explained. My voice thick with the lie, harshened by my need to make him hate me. But all I saw was more hurt as his eyes met mine again.
“So that's it. None of it meant anything to you?” he asked, his voice sobered and his expression unreadable.
“None of it,” I lied, barely maintaining eye contact as I did. His jaw tightened as he looked away, watching the fighting happening behind me. I wanted to look too, but too many internal conflicts held me in place.
“I guess that's it then,” he murmured. I guess I should've seen the attack coming, afterall I'd been asking for it. I barely dodged him but misjudged my footing. Momentum did the rest. I groaned as I landed on the floor in a tangled heap. Luckily it had only been two storeys tall, so no broken bones.
“Are you okay?” Cain asked from above. He jumped down, landing with ease. I muttered another curse about unfair vampire advantages and stood up. I gritted my teeth as sharp pain flared up the moment I put pressure on my right ankle. I placed one hand on the wall to support me and grabbed my dagger with the other.
“Why do you care?” I yelled at him, feeling my cheeks flush. He seemed thrown by the question. Even now, when he'd been the one to cause it he was checking. I couldn't stand it anymore.
“I tried to kill your father Cain. So I repeat. Why. Do. You. Care?” I half yelled, pulling out each word slowly. My hand turning into a fist against the wall. Cain's expression hardened, obviously the logic had escaped him until now.
“I don't know,” he replied. The answer surprised me, reflecting so many of my own recent thoughts. I opened my mouth to say something, what I didn't know.
“Nicole!” Matt's yell stopped me. Of course, we were on the ground and people could see us. He was running over, sword ready in one hand. He wouldn't hesitate, he thought I was in real danger. I stepped forward, ignoring the spikes of pain with a grimace. I wouldn't get there in time. Cain avoided Matt's first attack easily with his own blade. I looked between them, unsure who I should be vying for. Matt ducked and tripped Cain. I saw what was going to happen before it did.
“Stop!” I yelled, throwing myself between them. I heard Cain's own yells and felt his hands grab my shoulders, trying to move me. No one reacted fast enough, I saw shock on Matt's features, then pain bloomed. My legs gave way under me and the bitter taste of sand filled my mouth.
“Nicole!” My name was shouted so often I couldn't tell who was saying it.
“Get help!” that was Cain I realised. I expected Matt to shout back but instead I heard his frantic footsteps moving away.
“Don't worry, you'll be fine,” Cain murmured in my ear. Then his footsteps moved away too. I heard his voice, as if from a distance. He was yelling at his men, calling off the attack. It was completely suicidal. But then, so was what I just did. That was my last thought before darkness claimed me, a thankful release from the tortuous pain wrenching my body.