The chamber was bold and bleak. Even the fire in the hearth felt cold, despite the dancing flames casting orange about the room.
“My Lady,” Xavier said with a show of his hand that invited her in. Before she could snap a retort, the door closed, leaving her in the vacant room.
“Well, this is creepy,” Aria muttered gazing at the black drapes, matching linens, and thick plush carpets as deep a red as crimson blood. She hugged herself, rubbing her arms as one of the extra thick curtains moved. Aria paused a moment then nearly ran to the open window hidden behind the curtain. She threw open the drapes and gasped.
The window was in fact a set of glass French doors left open to a stone balcony. Aria’s mouth was agape when she stepped out onto the terrace.
Ahead was a river so wide as to hide the horizon behind the shadows.
Night blanketed the world in beautiful black all save for the moon above, as clear and perfect and whole as ever. In that moment, she lost herself in the silence and worries of her father carried her away from the splendor of the view.
A harsh crash jerked Aria back from that world and she spun about in time to see a small woman in English frocks from the 18th century. She was dangerously thin, almost clumsy as she straightened a silver tray laden with, what looked like the fixings of a lavish meal. Beef, red wine, ripe cheeses, and fruits dressed the platter. She lost her appetite though when a cold, gentle hand touched her shoulder. She didn’t have to see him to know Caius stood behind her.
“Leave us, girl.” Caius’ silk voice climbed her spine.
Aria moved to take a step as the English maid bumbled off. In a hurried state, she closed the doors behind her as if too frightened to raise her eyes from the floor. Aria turned to face Caius.
“I had a platter brought up for you.” His voice was too soft.
“Do you really expect me to thank you?”
“It would be nice,” he purred.
“Thank you,” she sneered.
“You’re welcome.” Caius smiled. In the moonlight, like this, she could too easily make out the fine white rows of his teeth. And the over pronounced canines that were only visible with a full smile.
With an amused scoff, Aria shook her head. “What is this?”
Caius tipped his head in question.
“You can’t possibly expect me to believe that they…” Aria made a motion toward the door.
“Ugh.” Aria felt her stomach flip with the stupidity of it all. “And that you…” She looked Caius up then down.
Overall he was quite stunning to look at. She would have found herself flirting shamelessly had she not been so worried about her father or the fact that she was standing in a 17th century Dracula mock-up. And a rather convincing one too. She wasn’t sure what she was trying to say.
“And what am I?” Caius asked.
“I don’t have to answer that,” Aria said.
Caius inhaled and took a step toward Aria who insisted she stand her ground.
All he has to do is move and he can break you. She repeated the mantra over as he stood tall so close she could smell his sweet musk and feel the power he harbored. So close, her chin nearly grazed his chest.
“You are quite beautiful,” Caius whispered and slid a finger down her jaw line.
Aria slapped it away.
“If you don’t mind,” Aria said. “My dinner’s getting cold.”
“As is mine,” he whispered.
Aria stiffened. Her blood ran cold.
“I can wait,” Caius said, gliding to the door. “I’m not getting any older.”
And he closed the door behind him.
* * *
Aria ran toward the door and yanked on the handle. Convinced it was locked, she stumbled back a bit when it swung open. She recovered her balance and shoved her head out the door. Caius was gone.
Of course he was, she mused.
Without hesitation, Aria returned to her chamber and closed the door. With how fast he could move, she was certain he was watching. If she was going to escape, it would have to be planned. Thought out. Carefully plotted.
Aria all but jumped out of her skin and turned to a woman lounging too comfortably on an armoire shoved into the shadows against the stone wall. The umbra masked most of her presence, but not enough that Aria couldn’t make out the slender body wrapped in form fitted black leather. Slick leather boots stopped at her knees, and her lush brown hair dyed purple with subtle blue tips fell to her thighs. The woman affectionately clutched a flask with a sleek manicure that left her nails painted black. Their sheen was striking in the shadow and slivers of moonlight as she tipped the flask back for a drink.
“Who are you?” Aria asked uncertain who or what the woman was.
“Call me Cin,” she said putting the stopper on the flask and casually shoving it into her boot.
“Sin,” Aria repeated. “Are you one of them?” Aria asked a bit more snarky than intended.
Cin slid down from the armoire.
“Hardly,” she said. “No.”
“What are they?” Aria asked. “Where am I? Do you know where my father is?”
“Vampires—or the closest thing to what you would call vampires, the St. Lawrence River, and No. I don’t know where your father is,” Cin said.
Paying no mind to the first two answers, Aria’s shoulders dropped. She dug her hands into her eyes and crushed the tears that burned there.
“Are you alright?” Cin asked.
“I don’t…” Aria was running out of shock. She felt her strength wane and, as her body began shaking, she started crying. Any moment now she would fall to the floor blubbering.
“Hey,” Cin said, gently hushing Aria. “You’re okay. Here.” Cin held a flask to Aria that Aria accepted and threw back, taking one long gulp.
A moment later she was hunched over in a fit of coughs.
“What—” Coughs cuts Aria off. “Is this?”
“Absinthe,” Cin said.
After a moment, Aria’s coughing calmed down enough for her to stand upright again.
“Better?” Cin asked.
Aria nodded with a final cough.
“Good. Ready to go?”
“Go?” Aria asked as Cin walked to the terrace.
“Unless you want to stay here.” Cin paused for a moment as if unsure what Aria wanted. “Do you?”
“No,” Aria said.
“Alright then. This way.”
Aria followed Cin to the terrace and looked down where a long nylon rope secured with something that resembled climbing equipment hung. Aria studied the rope system with question.
“We have a guy who works for it. This is one of his own creations.”
Aria nodded her understanding and listened to the instructions Cin gave as she secured the pulley system to her waist.
With Cin leading the way, Aria followed suit.
“You’ll kick and slide,” Cin said. Aria nodded.
“Kick and slide.”
Cin was already on her way down.
“Ready?” Aria took a deep breath. “I got this.”
A cold hand slammed down on Aria’s holding her there on the terrace. Gasping, Aria looked up into Caius’ eyes.
“Aria let go!” Cin called.
But Caius had his fingers twisted in Aria’s hair.
Before Aria could call out, Caius was on her. His teeth sunk into her neck. Aria battled a surge of sleep as her grip tightened on the rope, but Caius had his hold on her.
“Shit,” Cin said from the ground. “Aria, let go!”
But already Aria was unconscious.
Pulling a small contraption from her belt, Cin snapped her wrist, and the contraption unfolded into what looked like a child’s flying toy. Cin threw the device and, propelled by internal mechanics, it sailed up to the terrace. The climbers’ equipment released itself from the balcony at the same moment the device release a line of electricity that fired at Caius’s chest. With a growl, he released Aria and she fell.
Last edited and updated 15 August 2016
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