Sun Kissed (Guardian Angel #2) - Page 16
With a gentle whoosh, the door closed and Hunter was gone.
Rules and Regulations
I cried hysterically into one of the white silk pillows. I was so torn; I didn’t know what to do. As a friend I should be there for Hunter. I should try to help him but my past wouldn’t let me.
My head began to pound. I winced in response. The pain flared, pulsed, and travelled down along my skull to the back of my neck. I took a deep breath that shuddered in my lungs because I’d been crying so hard. Dinner would start shortly, although I couldn’t imagine that vampires could cook a decent parmigiana or steak and chips.
A soft knock sounded upon my door. My body automatically tensed. Please don’t be a vampire, please don’t be a vampire.
“Ruby?” a soft, feminine voice asked.
I turned over and looked at the girl, who appeared to be around my age, If not slightly younger. Her skin was beautiful and tan, on closer examination, she was human. She didn’t have the dark, soulless tunnels the rest of them did. Instead, she had pretty grey eyes and full pink lips.
“Are you okay?” she whispered, walking slowly towards me. Her long straight dark blonde hair draped over her shoulders.
“I’m fine.” I sat up and crossed my legs on my bed. I was too caught up in my own problems to be jealous of her natural beauty, although it did sting a little.
“You have a headache? Can I help?”
I watched her curiously. Unless she had some Advil on her, I didn’t think she could do too much for me. “No, thank you. I’m fine.”
“You know, I remember when I was first brought here.”
“You were kidnapped?”
She nodded and my stomach twisted at the thought of her being taken from her home.
“He took your boyfriend from you?”
“You know about Hunter?”
“Yes, he’s a nice boy. He doesn’t want to be a vampire, but he doesn’t have a choice.” She had a slight accent, it seemed Russian, but then again, I was never was good with languages. The girl sat down on my bed and straightened her long black skirt.
“That headache must really hurt. Please, let me help you.” Slowly she pulled a horseshoe from a pocket in her skirt. I watched cautiously as she brought it closer to my head. I pulled away from her.
“What are you doing?”
Strangely enough, I did trust her, even though she lived here with Lucian. Somehow I just knew I could trust her. She pressed the ends of the horseshoe to my forehead.
“Listen and then say it with me — good metal loosed, from horse’s hoof, draw from my brain, these nails of pain: cast them away, rust them away, keep them away.”
I stared skeptically at her, maybe she wasn’t fully ‘there’ in the head.
“Don’t look at me like that. If this is going to work you’re going to have to say it with me.”
Just say it!
“Fine.” I sighed in defeat. We began to chant together.
“Good metal loosed, from horse’s hoof, draw from my brain, these nails of pain: cast them away, rust them away, keep them away.”
The pounding in my head didn’t go away.
“Didn’t work,” I said in a told-you-so tone.
“Wait.” She closed her eyes and began murmuring in a language I couldn’t make out. A few seconds later her eyes opened and my headache was gone. The hairs on my neck and arm stood on their ends, and chills prickled along my skin. A trickle of fear mixed with curiosity warmed the core of my body.
“I’m a witch. My name’s Anna.” She smiled innocently. Her smile began to curve downwards “You’re freaked out, aren’t you?” Her eyes had a regretful gleam to them and I felt sorry for her. She probably only wanted to make a new friend.
I nodded. “But it’s okay … It isn’t your fault.” And then it hit me. I was so willing to befriend this girl even though I know she was different, but I hadn’t even given Hunter a chance. Being a vampire wasn’t his fault. If I really wanted to point a finger at someone, I should point it at myself. If only I hadn’t led him on or used him for comfort when Eli was gone.
“I came to tell you dinner is almost ready. They’re having a party and would like for you to dress accordingly. In the cupboard over there are lots of different gowns. Choose one.” Anna rose from my bed and strolled casually over to the door.
“You’re leaving?” Despite the fact that she was a witch, she was still the most normal person here, besides Eli.
“It was nice to meet you. You live here now, so we’ll see each other again.”
When she was gone, I climbed off my bed, ignoring my stiff leg muscles, and opened the cupboard. I was taken aback by the array of gowns. Some were poufy and others were tight. I had so many to choose from. Red was a definite no, the last thing I wanted was to resemble blood. With that in mind, I settled on a salmon colored, halter neck gown. The chiffon fabric was so light it barely touched my skin and when it did, it felt so soft and delicate. I stood in front of the mirror on a stand that was beside my bed. Even I had to admit the dress was gorgeous. I ran my finger along one of the lines of jewel beadings and appliques that ran around the waist. Despite the beauty of the gown, I had a few small issues with it. One was that it was too low cut. It still covered my breasts well, I suppose. The other issue was that it was backless; the only thing that touched my back was the three straps of silver jewelled beadings. It looked gorgeous but it might be uncomfortable to sit in. Maybe I should change.
I turned around and took a step toward the cupboard again. A cool breeze brushed my thigh. And there is issue number three. There was a long slit up the leg of the dress, exposing my thigh when I walked.
I sighed in defeat. I wasn’t trying to be sexy, I didn’t want to attract the wrong attention. I looked through the cupboard again. It looked like I didn’t have a choice. It was hard to believe, but I chose the dress that concealed the most flesh.
“You have two minutes,” the girl called through the door.
Crap. I didn’t have time to change or accessorize with a jacket. I couldn’t afford to waste another minute. If I was late, I didn’t know what Lucian would do. I grabbed a diamond encrusted bracelet off the vanity. I didn’t know if it was real or not, either way, I didn’t care. It slid over my hand smoothly and matched my outfit perfectly. I freed my hair from my ponytail and let it drop over my shoulders; it was messy, so I ruffled it a little bit. If I was going to have messy hair I might as well make it look like I did it on purpose. I stole one last glance in the mirror before I left the room.
Classical music filled the halls of the castle. Why did this place seem so normal? Where were the cobwebs, the melted candles, the coffins? Regardless of how normal these people seemed, they were still monsters. No amount of pain, classical music, or material items was going to change that.
I found myself at the bottom of the staircase by the front door. Music was coming from every direction; I didn’t know which way to go.
“This way, ma’am.” An old man offered me his arm. The old man walked me through a living room full of paintings. They depicted Latvia; I recognized them because they matched those Eli had in his house back at Sage Sanctum. The room was spacious; only three or four chairs decorated the room. There was a fireplace on the far left wall, although it looked like it had never been used. Vampires were scared of fires, or so I read. Maybe that’s why it looked so pristine.
I peeked sideways at the old man, he seemed human. His skin was normal and his eyes were a deep blue. Why would a human be willing to stay here? Maybe he was under lure?
When I was a vampire, I used lure to get out of things and to get what I wanted. Kyle’s face entered my mind. It had been such a long time since I’d even thought about him. I hope he’d made new friends or found a girl who appreciated him.
“My, my, don’t you look … delicious.” Lucian smiled as the old man led me into a wide open sitting room.
I returned his smile with an awkward one of my own.
“C’mon now, there is no need to be so uptight. No one here is going to hurt you.”
I bit my tongue, forcing myself not to reply with a witty response. What would happen if he wasn’t around and one of his ‘pals’ got hungry? What if I accidently cut myself? It could start a frenzy. I doubt even Lucian was strong enough to take on a swarm of angry, hungry, frenzied vampires. My eyes scanned the room and I couldn’t find Eli.
“Slow your beating heart, my dear.” He ran a long index finger across my chest, stopping above my heart. “I didn’t hurt him.”
It took a lot of effort, but I managed to keep from cringing. If I had any food in my stomach it would have been hard to keep down. His skin was slightly warm, meaning he’d just fed.
“There are so many humans here,” I commented, stepping back slowly. A few more humans were socializing with and grinding on vampires in the spacious room.
“Yes. Most of them are feeders and the others are servants. They stick around in hopes of becoming immortal.”
“And do they?”
“No.” Lucian chuckled. “They’re merely disposable help. The lot of them.”
I wanted to be mad at him for saying that, but I couldn’t be. These humans chose to be here. They were either addicted to the bites or hoping to become immortal. It was stupidity at its finest.
“Ahh, Mr De Luca, just in time.” Lucian called, gesturing behind me.
I turned around and my mouth almost hit the floor. Eli was wearing a tuxedo. I’d never seen him so formal. I drank up his appearance as he crossed the room. His black jacket was unbuttoned, revealing a collared, white shirt. His long black pants were tight, not too tight, but tight enough to make a fight more difficult for him. Usually he wore clothes he could maneuver and fight in. As he walked toward me, I forgot where I was, forgot that I was surrounded by dangerous monsters. It was just me and him.
“Did you get much rest?” he asked me as he adjusted his long black tie.
“Not really, no. Did you?”
“No.” The corner of his mouth twitched slightly and his eyes warmed as he looked at me. The electricity emanating off him was hard to ignore.
“Well, if you two are finished, I’d like to discuss the plans over dinner.” Lucian led us away from the room. I tried to relax. It was evident by now that Lucian wouldn’t hurt me but I couldn’t trust him, his word, or his cronies.
Lucian led us into a dining room. The floors were tiled a nice rusty-brown color and a long dark wooden table rested in the middle. Twenty big wooden chairs were spaced evenly along the span of the table. I fell into step beside Eli, my eyes resting on the silver, unlit candelabra that decorated the table, and then onto the food. There were mountains and mountains of all kinds of foods. Chicken wings, mashed potatoes, salads, bread rolls, and vegetables. My stomach growled. I hadn’t eaten since Eli and I had stopped off at the diner.
Lucian dashed over to the seat at the head of the table. It was bigger than the rest of them, like a throne. A servant took me by my arm and guided me to the opposite side of the table. Another servant sat Eli down across from me.
“The others aren’t joining us?” I asked.
Lucian clicked his fingers and a short Middle Eastern woman poured him a glass of red… wine? Blood? I couldn’t tell.
“I don’t like to share the details of my plans with too many people.”
“But there’s so much food,” I countered, barely meeting Eli’s face over the salad.
“Eat what you can. The rest will be disposed of.”
I couldn’t help but be a little sad. There was so much starvation in the world and yet here I sat with literal mountains of food in front of me.
“Shall we begin?”
As Lucian spoke, servants scooped piles of food onto our plates but I was past the point of hunger. Nausea was the most dominant feeling in my stomach now.
“As of tomorrow, you will start your training.”
“I don’t need training.”
“You need training,” Eli interrupted. “You’re impulsive, uncertain, and scared. Not to mention you have no idea how to use the elements properly nor do you have any control over your Heelian side.”
“But I —”
“You need to train.”
Eli wasn’t playing around, he was serious. His usual bright green eyes were dark and they narrowed in on me.
“Fine. I’ll train.”
Lucian rubbed his index finger along his top lip, watching us intently. “Good. It’s settled, Ruby you will receive training and we just happen to have —”
“I’ll train her.”
Lucian chuckled. “No, that isn’t going to happen.”
“I wasn’t giving you an option.”
Lucian leapt from his chair in a blur too fast for my eyes but Eli was ready for him. Lucian came to a stop and they were inches apart. Vampires busted in through the surrounding doors, hissing and growling. Lucian raised his hand in a gesture for them to stop.
“I’m her guardian. I will decide what’s best for her,” Eli warned him.
Then I saw the thick piece of wood pressing on Lucian’s chest, directly above his heart. In the heat of it all, I hadn’t realized I had risen from my seat as well.
“Eli can teach me how to defend myself and you can sort out who helps me with both my sides of magic. Deal?”
“That’s fine with me,” Eli replied, not taking his eyes of Lucian.
“I suppose that would be okay.” Lucian grinned.