Death Has No Dominion

Death Has No Dominion

Status: In Progress

Genre: Thrillers


Status: In Progress

Genre: Thrillers


Hand to sword he serves his king. Brothers in blood and conquest they bend and shape the world to their collective will. From the ashes of a brutal civil war they built an empire, and their hand-picked tyrants, rule without mercy or pity. A kingdom with no borders, it exists within every continent, country, and city across the globe. Hand to sword he stands with his king. Once defenders and protectors, their disillusionment became disdain then hate. They embraced the predator and declared humanity a means to end, chattel to do with as they wish. At war with their ancient enemy they are unaware of the threat that lurks in the shadows. Loyal to the light, their brethren rose from the ashes and swore to defend humanity from the Thirty Tyrants and their world order. A rebellion, pitting evil against evil has raged for over two hundred years. On one fateful night three people are drawn into this world, one from the top, the other from the bottom, and the third as a means to an end. A soldier, a thief, and a librarian set on their paths to a collision with the Thirty Tyrants, their Hand, and his King.


Hand to sword he serves his king. Brothers in blood and conquest they bend and shape the world to their collective will. From the ashes of a brutal civil war they built an empire, and their hand-picked tyrants, rule without mercy or pity. A kingdom with no borders, it exists within every continent, country, and city across the globe.
Hand to sword he stands with his king. Once defenders and protectors, their disillusionment became disdain then hate. They embraced the predator and declared humanity a means to end, chattel to do with as they wish.
At war with their ancient enemy they are unaware of the threat that lurks in the shadows. Loyal to the light, their brethren rose from the ashes and swore to defend humanity from the Thirty Tyrants and their world order. A rebellion, pitting evil against evil has raged for over two hundred years.
On one fateful night three people are drawn into this world, one from the top, the other from the bottom, and the third as a means to an end. A soldier, a thief, and a librarian set on their paths to a collision with the Thirty Tyrants, their Hand, and his King.

Chapter4 (v.1) - Part One Chapter Four

Author Chapter Note

Part One<br /> <br /> “Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her; but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.”<br /> Voltaire <br /> <br /> Chapter Four<br /> “We cannot learn without pain.” <br /> Aristotle<br /> <br /> “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” <br /> Winston Churchill<br /> <br /> <br />

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: November 24, 2016

Reads: 269

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: November 24, 2016



It was dark, not just dark, pitch black. Serena waited for her eyes to adjust, but they didn‘t. Panic blasted through her, and she bolted upright. Her head started pounding and she almost threw up. Once you panic you have already lost. Remember, panicked people die, calm people live. Her mother said that to her all the time. She would be pleased to know her daughter took it to heart.

The darkness was impenetrable. She waved her hand in front of her face and couldn’t see it. The panic was coming back. She had always been afraid of dark corners. Dark corners.

“Vampires,” she breathed.

Vampires were real. Her hand shot up to her neck. Tender to the touch, were four, small, razor thin scabs. She shifted and it felt like all the injuries she'd sustained flared at once. Her neck was stiff and her back ached all over. Then she remembered being slammed into the wall.

He'd been incredibly strong, lifting her up as if she weighed no more than a child. That myth was true, so was drinking blood, and the puncture wounds. Cataloguing her injuries, and what she now knew about vampires was helping her keep calm. The more she knew, the better chance she had of getting out alive.

She tried to remember details about the man. He'd been five, maybe six inches taller, although it felt like he towered over her. He was from England, and from what he was wearing, wealthy.  The silence of the room made fighting the panic that much harder. She tried not to let her imagination run wild, but her surroundings were not conducive to that.

A room has to have a door. The idea of venturing through an unfamiliar, pitch black room, was too much. She imagined reaching out to touch the wall and feeling a face instead. Her heart started pounding so hard it was deafening. Over and over again she told herself to hold and there was always a way. The silence thickened and terror beat at her from all sides.

Panicked people die. Calm people live.

She needed to keep it together and be strong, because eventually someone would come.


Paul groaned. Pain throbbed behind each eye, and it grew until it felt like his head was being slammed into the floor. "Oh God," he said through clenched teeth.

Suddenly there was heat. It started in his chest and spread to his stomach. He opened his eyes, and his heart skipped a beat it was galloping so fast. He turned over and pushed himself up to his hands and knees.

A noise to his right startled him and he froze. The girl from the photos. She looked strange, like she was in an old black and white film. He realized the light in the room was off and, rubbing his eyes, looked around confused. Everything had that black and white look except for a few items, a red pillow, a blue throw, and other items with bright, bold colors. A faint light was coming in through the bottom of the door where it didn't quite reach the floor, but it wasn't bright enough for him to see her so clearly.

"Hey," he said, gently, trying ignore the pounding in his head. 

She jumped and closed her eyes, straining at the rope around her wrists.

"It's alright," he said, crawling over to her. "Let's get you untied, and we can get out of here."

His hands shook as he reached around her head to untie the gag. The moment he touched her, she whimpered and a strange smell filled the air. 

"It's ok," he said, soothingly. "I'm not going to hurt you."

The smell intensified, and two others invades his senses till he was practically in a daze. He pulled the gag out of her mouth and his eyes were drawn to her throat. Her heartbeat pulsed under her skin, pushing it outward a touch, hypnotizing him. Then the smells clicked, fear, her particular scent, and overwhelming all others was food. His mouth started watering, and he licked his lips.

She opened her eyes and the look on his face must have said it all. Tears welled up in her eyes and she said, "Yes you are."

"No," he breathed. "I...I..." 

"Please don't," she whispered. “Please.”

She stared at him, tears rolling down her cheeks. He wanted to help her, he really did. But he was starving. His stomach twisted into knots, and his heart spasmed making it difficult to breathe. His whole body felt like it was being roasted over a fire, and her heartbeat resounded through his mind, pounding at his senses in time with the hammer behind his eyes. He reached out, taking hold of her head.

"No, no, no. Please don't hurt me like the others. Please."

Paul felt a sharp pain as fangs broke through his gums for the first time, and he tightened his grip moving closer. 

"Please," she cried. "Don't."

He could barely hear her over the sound of her heartbeat. It filled his head until it was echoing of the walls and pulsing underneath the floor boards. She jerked away, and he reacted instinctually. His fangs punctured her artery, and her blood flowed into his body. Instantly his heartbeat regulated and the pounding in his head ceased. She kept crying and pleading for him to stop, but he couldn't. The more he drank, the more he wanted. The high, coupled with the rush, could only be compared to stealing a million dollar car, and great sex. Sex.

Another smell suddenly intruded, and Paul heard his sister crying and pleading, whispering in the dark. The memory was so strong and so real it shook him to his core. He jerked back, dropping the girl, and scrambled away. She lay unmoving but alive. He could hear her heart beating faintly, trying to replace what he'd taken. It got louder and he crawled back over to her, still so hungry. He reached for her shoulder and stopped. All he'd wanted to do was help her, and now, more than anything, he wanted to drain her of every last drop of blood she had.

He curled his shaking hands into fists, and backed up until he hit the door, his eyes on her. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I only wanted to help, I swear."

He heard a click and the door moved. He jumped to his feet, ready to fight, and was surprised to see Leah. She'd wound her hair into a bun, and changed into a pair of sweatpants and a form fitted pink t-shirt.

Glancing furtively over her shoulder, she said, "Kai and Leon are gone, and Connor and Corey are passed out drunk. They killed the mother and are planning on saving the older sister for later." She looked past him at the girl and said, "Kai put her in here for you to kill. But you stopped, and you apologized to her."

"Please Leah, we need to help her."

She examined him closely for a moment, then shook her head. "Forget it, you can't help her."


"Look," she said, a touch of fear in her voice. "We need to get out of here now. She's dead, too much blood lost."

"How do you know...Wait, we?"

"I'll let you out if you take me with you," she said hurriedly.

"What? What about Kai? You're his girlfriend."

"No I'm not," she spat. "Do you want to get out of here or not? And don't think for a moment you can get by me. You're too new."

Paul looked back the girl. He couldn't help her if they were both locked up. And her heartbeat was still pulsing through him. He wanted her blood, all of it. "Fine," he said through gritted teeth. "Let's get out of here."

"You'll take me with you? Swear?"

"I swear."

She cocked her head slightly to the side, and then said. "Ok, c'mon."

They made their way silently through the house and out the back door.  "Where's my car?" he asked.

"Gone until Kai was sure of you," she replied.

"Motherfucker," Paul said under his breath.

Leah took him to the nearest car and handed him the keys. When he looked at her curiously, she said, "I can't drive stick."

Paul nodded and opened the door, taking one last look at the house. He wanted to go back inside and finish his meal. It horrified him. He'd drive a short ways then call the cops. Maybe there was a chance the girl's life could be saved.

"First," he said, starting the car. "We need a phone." He was surprised when Leah handed him his wallet and phone. "Thanks, but we still need to borrow one to call the cops."

She smiled and handed him Connor's.


Dumping the car and acquiring a new one was easy. Deciding which direction to go was proving to be more difficult. Leah was convinced Kai would come after her, and Pail figured he'd be coming after them both. But he was stumped on where to go. Anywhere in California was too dangerous. Every person he knew had a connection, in some way or another, to Connor.

They were sitting in a park eating fast food, which was doing nothing to assuage his hunger. He ate it anyway, doing his best to ignore the other people around them. Occasionally he caught the scent of blood, and he was afraid if he looked at any of them, he wouldn't be able to control himself.

Leah was quiet, and her eyes kept drifting to a family of five, who were joking and laughing with one another as they prepared a meal. "I miss my family," she said suddenly.

"Why don't you go home? Or are you afraid of what Kai will do to them?"

"He killed them already." She looked at him, the pain and loss reflected in her eyes. "I met Kai at a party. He was tall, dark, handsome, and dangerous. Not at all what I usually go for, but for some reason I was completely taken with him in a way I've never been before. I know the reason now, but then I thought it meant something, that it was fate. God, I was so stupid. Kai wasn't happy when I had to go. But I was still living at home and was expected to respect curfew, set a good example for my brother and sister." She looked back at the family, and in a much quieter voice said, "Kai, Corey, and Leon followed me home. They broke in, dragged us from our rooms, and killed my parents. I begged them to spare my brother. He was only ten, but it didn't matter. Kai said my mortal life was over and all the dead weight needed to be shed. Corey and Leon killed him while Kai covered my mouth, muffling my screams. The only reason they didn't kill my sister was because she was at camp."

"Holy shit," Paul muttered. 

"Kai told me I was beautiful and he always wanted me to be beautiful. He told me he was saving me. Then he raped me and turned me into a vampire. He said I would come to love him, that I wouldn't be able to help it, and that I would come to crave his touch. Can you believe that?"

"From that asshole? Yeah, I can. Where is your sister now?"

"Uncles. And as long as they think I'm dead too, she'll be safe." She looked at her hands and said, "Katlyn came back. She was looking for you, and..." 

"They killed her," he finished. His blood literally felt like it began to boil as fury roared through him.

"Connor was so drunk," she said. "He lost control and bit her. When Kai ran in and saw her holding her neck, he killed her."

"Why are you telling me this?" Paul demanded quietly. "I can't do a goddamn thing about it now."

"Because you're different. You're not like them. They feel no compassion, empathy, or remorse. Becoming vampires brought out every cruel and sadistic urge in them. Connor was a completely different person before Kai turned him. He was shy, and sweet, and sincere. Now he loves to rape, torture, and murder, just like the others."

"Why didn't you run before?" Paul asked bewildered.

"Kai told me I belonged to him," she replied, staring at her hands again. "That a woman is owned by the vampire who made her until he says otherwise. He said if I ran, he'd chase me down and no one would help me, not even the cops. Vampires have connections everywhere, and they would return me to my owner. Its vampire law. I had no way to check whether that was true, but I'd never believed vampires were real before, so..."

Paul noticed a couple tears slide her cheeks, and he hesitated, unsure if she'd accept comfort after what she'd been through. He gently rested a hand on her arm, and said, "I am so sorry."

She wiped the tears away and said, "I won't be his slave anymore. I'll die before I let him touch me again."

He nodded and she gave him a small smile. Gathering their trash together, she dumped it in the nearest garbage can. "We need to find a place to shower," she said, joining him by the car. "I feel grimy."

Paul opened the door and stopped. A man was running along one of the many jogging routes, and the scent of his blood saturated Paul's senses completely. As he passed, Paul was overwhelmed by the urge to run him down and feed.

"Paul." Leah stepped right up to him and grasped his face with both hands, forcing him to look at her. "Your eyes are black and shining. Get in the car."


Serena had no way of keeping track of time, which made every moment stretch and drag until the fear of complete abandonment started taking hold. Then, very faintly, footsteps coming down a staircase. They were slow, steady and deliberate. A clichéd scare tactic, but an effective one nonetheless. The darkness pressed in, and the footsteps got louder and louder until they were thundering through the room.

Please God, please help me.

A dim light came on, leaving the corners drenched in shadows. She was on a sheetless mattress against the wall of a fairly large room. To the right, about six feet away, was a lidless toilet. That was all she make out, the darkness had been so complete her eyes were still trying to adjust.

A door swung open on her left, and another wave of anxiety rushed through her. She could tell it was a man, and he was standing on a landing, but otherwise he was a blur. He walked softly down the steps and came towards her. The only sound was a quiet humming in the air. Then she saw why and her heart almost stopped, the chain and manacle swinging next to his leg snapping her vision right into focus. Closing her eyes, she tried to melt into the wall. He reached the mattress, and she pressed her chin to her chest and prayed. Neither of them moved, and the silence stretched until she wanted to scream.

She felt the hum of the chain swinging back forth, and then it lightly grazed her ear. The jarring smack of the manacle slamming into the wall vibrated against her cheek and she jumped. Pressing herself harder to the concrete she imagined seeping through the cracks and escaping. He smashed the manacle into the wall again, so close she could feel the rush of wind, and the tug as he got some of her hair. 

"Ask yourself, will this man, from what little I know of him, hesitate to bash my skull in?" His voice was silk being dragged across a blade, soft and threatening.

Serena pulled together what little courage she had left and lifted her head up. Standing over her was the vampire. He didn't say another word, just studied her. She found herself studying him in return. She was usually good at pinpointing age, and while she thought mid to late forties, she wasn't positive. His light brown hair was no longer perfectly in place, it was shaggy and a bit longer than it had seemed before. With full lips, a strong jaw, and a slightly larger nose, his face didn't look like it should fit together, yet it did. But the two features that drew her focus were his green flecked amber eyes, the depth of them at once mesmerizing and terrifying, and a small scar just above the left side of his mouth. 

While he was swinging the manacle with one hand, the other was in his pocket, and at first glance he appeared relaxed. But on closer examination he was taut with tension. The muscles on his hands and arms were continually contracting, causing the veins to bubble up from the strain. He was exerting an enormous amount of control over his body and she already knew he could strike quickly and with great force. Seconds stretched into minutes, and other than swinging the manacle, he didn't move, he didn't speak, he didn't even blink. He was testing her, the intense stare, the manacle, making her crane her neck to look up at him. Power and intimidation, which struck a nerve in her. It always had. She sat up taller and met his gaze head on.

His eyes narrowed briefly and the corners of his mouth turned up a touch. Suddenly he swung the manacle up and caught it. "So, your world got a lot bigger and smaller in the same day."


He shrugged and cocked his head to the side. "Because I can, because I felt like it."

Serena glanced at the manacle. "And now?"

"Now?" He knelt down and grabbed her wrist. "Now the fun begins."

She tried to pull free, and the look that passed over his face made her blood run cold. This was a man who expected to be obeyed. He jerked her close and stared into her eyes as he wrapped the manacle around her wrist. The click of the lock sent terror surging through her and he almost smiled.

Moving to her ear he said, "There were no witnesses, no cameras. Not a single soul knows what happened to you or where you are. I want you to understand what that means." He pulled back and caught her gaze, driving his point home. "You're mine to do with as I wish."

His hands were suddenly scorching hot and his eye feral, reflecting the dim light above. The color drained away, and two black pools surrounded by white stared at her from beneath his tousled hair. Quick as lightening, he grabbed her shoulders and drove his teeth into her neck. She struggled, or tried to. But he was a slab of marble, no matter how hard she pushed, she couldn't budge him. He shifted his grip, pinning her arms to her sides. Struggling further was useless, so she closed her eyes and held on.

Just as quickly as it began it was over. He stopped and stood in one fluid motion, letting her fall to the mattress. Her entire body felt heavy, and each breath was shallow and ragged. She kept trying to open her eyes, but they wouldn't budge. He was moving around next to the mattress, and then there was a tug on her arm. The sound of the chain being dragged across the floor was a prison door sliding shut, and her heart twinged. After securing the chain to the wall, his footsteps retreated toward the landing. She finally managed to get her eyes open and saw him standing in the doorway, his feral gaze on her.

"Welcome home my dear." He pulled the door shut and the light went out, plunging her back into darkness.

She wanted to cry, and scream, and rail against her fate with everything she had, but she could barely breathe. Now the fun begins, echoed through her mind. She'd never believed in hell until this very moment, and the devil was real. She'd seen him, spoken to him, and felt him. Now she had to find a way to escape him.



Paul couldn't control the eye shine, and the more he looked at people the harder it was to keep the color in his eyes. Stopped at a red light, Paul watched two women cross the street. He couldn't take his eyes off them. He wanted their blood and so much more.

Leah laid a hand on his arm, and said, "The light is changing, focus on the road. You can do this, you're stronger than the others."

It took every effort to drag his eyes way from the women. Easing off the clutch, he accelerated away from them. Leak kept a hand on his arm after that. She spoke softly, in the same soothing voice, and he felt calmer, better able to fight the urges the bloodlust was bringing to the surface.

Leah had to pay for the motel by herself, he couldn't get out of the car. Across the parking lot, he saw a yellow Lab laying in front of a dirty, ramshackle trailer, on the ass end of a rundown trailer park. A man stumbled out the door and dropped his cigarette. When the dog got between him and the cigarette, he lost it, cursing and smacking the dog until it crawled away whimpering.

His temples throbbed in fury, Paul's mind bombarded with memories of his own father turning his dog into a vicious beast no one could get near.

I should look the bastard up.  A smile spread across his face, and he started cataloging the myriad ways he could punish the man.

Leah got in, and seeing his eyes, rested her hand on his arm. "Our room is in the back. Let's go."

He looked at the drunk one more time, then drove around to the back of the motel. When he pulled into a spot, he looked at Leah. The fire intensified with every breath and hunger twisted his stomach violently. "I can't," he breathed. 

"I know what you're going through." Leah covered his hand with hers and held his gaze. "It will pass, I swear."

She talked continuously, telling him about her first day of college, the campus, classes, and people. Her voice was hypnotic and he caught a subtle change in the air, a scent that eased the tension in his shoulders. The color returned to his eyes, and he was able to unclench his fingers and let go of the steering wheel. They got out of the car and Leah took his hand. She led him to the room, humming softly the entire time. Once inside, Paul dropped onto the closest bed and gripped the faded floral bed cover till his knuckles were white.

"Paul," Leah said, putting a hand on his shoulder. "We'll find game tomorrow. From what I saw on the map, there's a place we can hunt not too far from here. You can do this."

He nodded and before she could step away he grabbed her hand. "Thank you."

She smiled and he encircled her in his arms. Her body went completely rigid and he could smell her discomfort, and then, much to his relief, she hugged him back. More tension melted away, and he focused on her warmth, her heartbeat, and the sweet scent of her. Suddenly his nose was cloyed with her, and he breathed deeply tasting her on his tongue. Turning his head into her stomach he took another deep breath, arousal flooding every inch of him. Leah tried to step away and he tightened his grip, kissing her stomach through her pink t-shirt.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" she demanded, shoving him away. "I'm not trading one slave master for another. I won't be your whore."

"I'm sorry," he said, holding his hands up. "I didn't mean...look, I'm really-"

"Are planning on raping me too?"

"God Leah, no!" He jumped up and tried to explain. "I don't know what came over me. All of a sudden you smelled so good, like sex-"

She slapped him hard, making his ear ring. "Never say that to me again!"

The side of his face throbbed and his eyes watered. He stared at her completely shocked, then anger roared to the surface. "I said I was sorry! What the fuck else do you want?" 

She backed away from him, shaking her head. "I thought you were different. But you're not, you're just like the rest of them."

"That's bullshit!" he barked, making her jump. "That's like me saying you're a bitch, because all women are bitches."

Her eyes got really wide, and then she ran into the bathroom. Paul started at the door enraged. He wanted to tear it down and show her how different he was, he'd make her see it. He walked over to the door, just to knock and ask her to come out. If she refused to be reasonable, then he'd be forced to break it down and drag her out by her hair. The thought of overpowering her, seeing the fear in her eyes turned him on in a whole different way. 

"Oh God," he breathed. That wasn't him, it had never been him. Horrified, he let go of the knob and tried to get himself under control. After a minute he knocked, but she didn't respond.

"Leah, I'm sorry. I don't know what's happening to me, and I have no idea how to handle or control it. Please trust me. I won't hurt you, I could never..." Never suddenly sounded like a lie. Yesterday it wouldn't have, but today he was someone else. Something else. A vicious, impulsive vampire who'd gotten turned on by the idea of brutalizing the woman on the other side of the door. "Please Leah. I-"

"Leave me alone Paul."

Rage surged through him and he slammed his fist against the door. "Fine. Be a bitch!" He punched the door even harder, and yelled, "Stay in there all night!"

He tore out of the room, and went back to the car, intent on finding the nearest bar. Peeling out of the parking space, he drove around to the front of the hotel. He was just about to turn onto the road when the wind blew, carrying with it a smell that triggered every childhood fear. Whisky. He backed up and parked in an unlit corner of the lot.

The drunk was sitting outside his trailer listening to talk radio and yelling at his dog. Every so often he refilled his white plastic cup with the whisky he had in a yellow pitcher behind his lawn chair. The drunker he got the nastier he became. After the Lab tried to lay at his feet for the fifth time, he smacked him so hard across the head the dog yelped.

Paul's blood boiled and he felt his eyes change. The tip of his fangs just poked through his gums and he watched his prey, biding his time. Finally the drunk stood up and stumbled inside the trailer. Paul looked around, picking out every window, car, and door. No one was watching, and sticking to the shadows, he slipped silently through the parking lot. As he got closer the dog growled low in its throat. Paul jumped the short chain link fence, and the moment his feet hit the ground the dog started barking. Paul darted towards the door, and the dog backed up as far the leash would allow, barking wildly.

"Shut the hell up!" the drunk yelled.

Paul opened the door and slipped inside. The man was standing by a small table holding foil in one hand, and a new pack of cigarettes in the other. "Who the hell are you?" he demanded. "Get out of my house!"

"You should never hit a dog," Paul said. "People who hit animals are cowards."

The drunk dropped the cigarettes and yanked open a drawer next to the sink. He picked up a gun, but Paul grabbed his wrist, and covered his mouth with his hand. Leaning in close, Paul smiled, letting him get a good look at his eyes and fangs. "My father was a coward."

The drunk reeked of terror and he struggled, trying to get the gun free. Paul slammed his wrist against the counter, enjoying the yowls vibrating against his palm. Pushing the man's head back Paul latched onto his throat. Unlike the girl he wanted to hurt the man, and fangs broke through his bottom gums. He screamed, and Paul pushed his fangs in deeper, relishing the man's agony. The sound of rushing wind began behind his ears, and it got louder, until it consumed everything and he blacked out.


The motel room. Everything was out of focus, and he felt almost drunk. Blood coated his tongue, and the man's eyes were suddenly staring at him, full of pain and terror. The excitement he'd felt, and the rush from killing made him sick. He couldn't even look in the mirror, he was too afraid of what he'd see.

The bathroom door was still shut, and there was no sign of Leah. He stared at the door for a good five minutes, not sure what to do. He was about to knock when he noticed the trails of blood running down his fingers onto his jean jacket, soaking the cuff. His other hand was the same. 

"You should never hit a dog," he mumbled and dropped to the floor.

Leah opened the door, and when she saw him on the floor staring at his hands, she immediately turned around. His hands were blurry, and no matter how hard he tried he couldn't see them clearly. Then Leah began wiping the blood from his knuckles with a warm wet rag. He looked up, but she was blurry as well. Seeing his face, she wrapped his hand in the rag and gently wiped the tears from his eyes. "I'm here Paul, I'll help you."

"I don't want to be a monster," he whispered. 



There's no such thing as monsters, only people who do monstrous things. Her father, right about so many things, missed the mark on that one entirely.

The last attack had been the worst yet. Serena's neck burned incessantly, and a bandage covered the wounds. The vampire had bitten her so hard she couldn't lift her arm more than an inch without agony shooting through her arm, neck, and shoulders. The loss of blood had her so weak, she couldn't even roll onto her back. If he escalated his attacks further she wasn't going to survive long.

Light illuminated the room and the fear that washed over her was paralyzing. The door opened, and she wanted to yell and scream. She wanted someone to save her from the monster. She tried to call out, in the hopes that someone up those stairs would hear her, and they'd help, but it only came out a raspy whimper. She thought of her parents and the pain they'd be going through for the rest of their lives, and tried again. But she may as well have been trying to yell in a dream.

The vampire knelt on the mattress and slipped an arm around her waist. He pulled her to her knees and held her against him. Touching her lip with a cup he told her to drink, and without waiting, poured some of the liquid into her mouth. It was revolting. She spit it out and tried to squirm out of his grasp.

He tightened his grip and said, "If you prefer, I can restrain you and force the tea down your throat. Your choice."

"Tea?" she whispered. "It’s vile. I can't. I won't be able to keep it down."

"Yes you will." Then in a softer tone he said, "Your body needs the nutrition in the tea to recover. It's awful, but you will drink it."

Without waiting for a response he poured tea into her mouth. At first she thought it was going to come right back up. He had the same thought. "If you vomit, you'll eat it."

She kept swallowing until the urge to throw up passed, and he waited patiently, holding the cup a couple inches from her face. When he felt she was ready he poured a great deal more into her mouth. She managed to swallow it all, but the nausea was getting harder to control. He held the cup to her lips again and she turned her head. "I really can't. Anymore and I will throw up. I-"

She was jerked to the side as he pulled the chain taut and knelt on the links, immobilizing her right arm. Switching his grip, he pinned her left arm to her side, grabbed her chin, and poured the rest of the tea into her mouth. She struggled, but he clamped a hand over her mouth, holding it closed. After a few attempts Serena managed to choke down the tea. He held her there another minute, making sure she wasn't faking, and then let her go. She collapsed onto the mattress, her head spinning and mouth watering. Her warning that puking was imminent.

"We can do that as many times as necessary, so I suggest you keep the tea down."

Heat rushed through her body in ever increasing waves, and she wanted to tear her clothes off and lay down on the freezing floor. Her palms were already slick with sweat, and she could feel drops rolling down her back. The touch of his hand on her forehead was fuel on fire, she recoiled instantly. Just as quickly, he got a handful of her hair and pulled her head back. He felt her forehead and neck, then rested two fingers on her throat. After a moment he grunted in disgust. "You're fine. But you won't be, if you don't do what I tell you to do when I tell you to do it. Do you understand?"

Without waiting for a response, he let go of her hair and headed for the door. She listened to him retreat up the stairs and then slid off the mattress. The cold floor felt good against her boiling hot skin. Her heart raced, beating erratically, but it was a familiar feeling. Then she remembered taking a coworker’s herbal diet pills. She’d gotten so dizzy, nauseous, and short of breath, she'd called her husband to come pick her up. It made her wonder exactly what nutrients were in the vampire’s tea. She wanted to crawl over to the toilet and throw it up, but she fully believed he'd follow through on his threat. Instead, she tried to think of something that would take her mind away. Pleasant thoughts were elusive in this dungeon, so she sifted through her memories until one jumped to the fore.

One of the last happy days of her marriage, just before life kicked them in the teeth. They’d gone to the zoo to see the butterflies. There’d been a big hatching and the house was full of them. As they’d walked the path, a monarch alighted on her hand, and then two more landed on her arm. All three stayed with her the entire time, and so had her smile. The butterfly on her hand had been the largest, and she did her best to visualize it. She painted the black outline of its wings, with the clusters of white dots all around, and tried to fill in every different shade of orange, brown, and yellow she could recall. It was a wonderful memory, and for the briefest moment she found respite.

The heat was still surging through her, but she couldn’t stay on the floor. The cold, coupled with the sweat, was giving her the chills and she could barely keep her teeth from chattering. She gingerly pushed herself up, and crawled back onto the mattress. Her head swam from the effort, and she curled up in a ball, fighting the fresh upsurge of nausea. Help her recover. All he’d done was pile on more misery.

She focused on the butterfly, building it piece by piece. Each time it shattered, and she’d methodically start again, getting more detailed. Eventually she drifted off into a half sleep, aware of the room around her, but dreaming at the same time.

The butterfly house was darker than she remembered, and she was laying on a mattress. She couldn't remember ever seeing one before, but she was the only one there so the zoo must allow it after hours. A soft breeze blew through the enclosure, and the butterflies danced around the flowers and shrubs. Serena smiled and lifted her arm. A monarch landed lightly on her hand, its wings gracefully opening and closing. She heard an odd noise and sat up. The monarch sprang from her fingers and circled her before flying up and out of the now roofless butterfly house. The darkness thickened and the zoo faded, the walls of the building dissolving before her eyes. She could just make out four tree trunks, and the branches appeared to breathe, pulsing and swaying in the dark. The noise tickled her ears again and she stood, the excitement building within her. A smile spread across her face and she looked over her shoulder, just barely seeing two figures on the edge of the darkness.

Suddenly the butterfly reappeared, spiraling around her. Then another flew from the breathing trees, and another, and another, swooping and diving till hundreds filled the air. She raised her arms up high and they surrounded her, their soft wings kissing her skin and ruffling her hair. She laughed, the childlike wonder a rare gift. One of the figures came towards her, wading through the flurry. His face was shadowed and he was dressed all in black, but she felt no fear. She knew him, she loved him. Her took her hand and rested the other against her cheek, the warmth of his touch a promise. Love encompassed her, and she closed her eyes, living in this perfect moment, emblazoning it on her soul.

She felt his lips on her forehead, and then his hand drifted down her cheek and disappeared. She opened her eyes and he was changing. The darkness pulled and stretched, his arms becoming wings, and his legs shrinking into talons. Before her was a black hawk, majestic and proud. He leapt, flying through the butterflies, the black of his feathers broken with silver and white, shimmering against the starless sky. As he reached the tops of the trees, the hawk cried out to her, his heart touching her own. The mattress was suddenly back at her feet and she laid down. Butterflies landed one by one, covering her like a blanket. High overhead the hawk soared and she floated.

When she woke later, to her surprise, she was covered by what felt like a hospital blanket. She pulled it up over her head, and drifted back to sleep, feeling the butterfly on her hand and hearing the cry of her hawk.



© Copyright 2018 Lucinda Paige. All rights reserved.


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