Five: A Maor Novel (Maor series) (31 page)

BOOK: Five: A Maor Novel (Maor series)
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Chapter
52

 

Tenacity

Tastes like: Peanut butter.

Smells like: Cigarette
smoke, clinging to the inside of a car.

Sounds like: A musical
scale, repeated over and over again.

Feels like: A persistent
itch.

Looks
like: A cat, hanging onto a curtain by sheer force of will.

 

My second return to consciousness is not a gentle process.
I wince as I’m hauled up and bounced onto a hard shoulder.

‘You imbecile!’ a deep, velvety voice hisses, ‘Be
careful with the merchandise!’

The one who is carrying me grunts, walks a few more
paces and then lowers me with slightly gentler hands to the ground. I get the
feeling he would have preferred to fling me down, but any satisfaction from
doing so would not have been worth the punishment likely to be meted out by the
owner of the deep voice. That voice, soft and yet chilling, holds a promise of
darkness that makes me shiver involuntarily.

I groan, painfully aware of my aching body.

‘She awakes!’ the deep voice says as I force my eyelids
open.

I shrink back from the body bending over me and stare
into his face. For a moment, it is just a blur, but I blink and his features
swim into focus. A harsh, pale oval-shaped face with deep-set, almost black
eyes and thin, blonde hair left unfashionably long, peers back at me.

The man smiles, not unpleasantly but his smile turns the
blood in my veins icy. The black of his irises appears to be ringed with a
thin, ruby outline. I close my eyes briefly against a bout of nausea and then force
them open again.

I lift my undamaged hand instinctively to the back of my
head and realize, with relief, that they are no longer tied together. There is
a large lump at the back of my head and my hand comes away sticky and wet. As I
bring my hand around, to examine the moisture, the man leaning over me grabs my
wrist and brings it to his own face.

I try to pull back, but his grip is vice-like and I can
do nothing but watch with dawning horror as he lifts my hand to his nose and
lets his eyelids droop as he draws in a deep breath.

‘Exquisite,’ he whispers on an exhale. His eyes drift
open again and I recoil at the excitement I see there. ‘You certainly smell
like a princess,’ he says.

He lets go of my wrist and cocks his head to the side. I
snatch my hand back and cradle it, and my injured wrist, against my chest. My
eyes catch the glitter of blood on my fingers as I curl them into my palm. My
breath catches. There’s only one creature I can think of that would call the
smell of my blood ‘exquisite’.
 

‘You know, there is something oddly familiar about your
face,’ he says, gaze raking over my features. ‘Yes, I’ve definitely seen it
before.’ He taps his chin as though trying to remember and his eyes light up
with recognition.

‘The one that got away – that’s it. But that was a
number of years ago, so you must be a descendant of some kind. A daughter? Granddaughter
perhaps?’

It takes a moment for his words to sink into my still
muddled brain, but I gasp as the puzzle pieces click together.

‘You’re the vampire who attacked Nan,’ I whisper.

‘Ahh,’ he smiles, ‘the granddaughter then. I must admit,
I was rather annoyed she got away that night but perhaps it was a blessing
after all.’

I struggle to sit up, but he stays me with one hand on
my shoulder.

‘Don’t get up on my account,’ he says, in an absurdly
polite tone. ‘I’m afraid you’ve hit your head rather hard and you’ve lost a lot
of…blood.’ He pauses on the word and licks his lips as his hand travels upward
to the base of my skull. I freeze, as he lifts his hand toward his face again,
black eyes glued to the ruby moisture that now stains his fingertips. ‘We
wouldn’t want you passing out and injuring yourself further, now would we?’

He raises the blood-stained fingers to his mouth and
touches the tip of one to his tongue. I have to stifle the urge to retch as he
shivers, as though in ecstasy. He shakes his head slightly and gives an almost
giddy laugh. Then he frowns and sends an irritated glance in the direction of
the cavern entrance.

‘What’s taking him so long?’ he mutters.

He glances back at me, inky eyes focused on the moisture
on my hands. Instinctively, I shrink backwards, but the black-eyed monster
reaches out with incredible speed and strength and clamps one hand over mine,
and the other, under my chin.

‘Patience, Princess,’ he says, with a twisted smile.
‘I’m just as excited as you are to get the fun started, but alas, there are
matters to attend to first.’

He tilts my chin up and forces my eyes to meet his. His
gaze is searing, like he’s trying to see right through my eyes into my soul.
Whatever he sees there displeases him. He frowns and crooks a finger at his
lackey.

‘Sedate her again,’ he says.

I want to shake my head, but his other hand is still
under my chin.

‘We don’t want to give that bodyguard of yours a free
GPS, now do we?’

The man who attacked me earlier returns and hands his
master a syringe.

I stare at the needle with growing dread. If I have any
hope of escape, I’ll need to be in full control of my faculties. I pull back,
but the vampire snakes his arm out quickly and before I can even think, he has
pierced the crook of my arm with the sharp point and depressed the plunger.
 

‘Sleep,’ he says, and I do.

 

I wake with a start, what feels like hours later,
although I have no way of telling how much time has passed. For a moment, I
blink my eyes and try to identify what has startled me awake but the cave is utterly
still, except for the sound of my own breathing.

My hands have been tied once more, but my feet are unfettered.
I sit up cautiously, with my back against the rocky wall and try to quell the frustrating
dizziness that hangs like an unwelcome guest.

It’s almost impossible for me to focus on any one
thought, but my instincts drive me to my feet. I lean against the rough wall of
the cave, take a deep breath and listen. No voices. It’s almost too good to be
true.

I use the wall as a crutch, ignoring the way my damaged
wrist burns, and make my way unsteadily to the entrance of the cavern. There, I
pause again and peer around the corner.

Outside the entrance to my cavern, is another, albeit it
almost twice the size of the one I’d woken up in. This cave too, is brightly
lit with floodlights and one side of the cavern floor, sloping toward the wall,
is covered with greenish water that drips down intermittently from the stalagmites
on the cave ceiling with loud, eerie plops that echo in the silence.

Once I’ve ascertained that this cavern, too is empty, I
begin to make my way toward the entrance on the opposite side, trying to move
stealthily but failing miserably. I stumble twice, unable to shake the hazy
exhaustion and only the wall keeps me upright.

I have no idea what I’m going to do if I manage to
escape the cave and doubt I will be able to get far in my condition, but I
forge on, certain only that my best chance of survival hinges on getting as far
away from my captors, as quickly as possible. I try to ignore the voice in my
head that warns this is too easy. Even if my captors are just outside the cavern,
or watching me, I have to try.

When I reach the entrance of the cave, my body is ready
to collapse and my head aches like a compressed rugby ball, but I force myself
flat against the cavern wall, try to quiet my harsh breathing and peer into the
darkness.

The night air is frigid against my sweaty skin. I listen
intently but all I can hear is the slow drip from the cavern behind me and the
slight rustle of leaves. My heart is pounding audibly as I take the first step
into the darkness, certain that I’m going to be tackled to the ground at any
moment.

But there is no tackle, no movement. With a sob of
relief at my stroke of luck, I stumble into the night, make a beeline for the
nearest row of trees and disappear into the brush.

I stumble through the bushes, heedless of the branches
that claw at me, leaving bloody scrapes across my arms and face. My vision swims
in and out of focus and it takes all my strength to remain upright as I crash
through the brush. Twice, I stumble to the ground and each time, it takes me
longer to drag myself to my feet again, but the primal need for survival drives
me forward. I need to put as much distance as possible between myself and that
cave. I won’t have long before my captors realize that I’m gone.

The wound at the back of my skull is bleeding profusely
from the battering of tree branches that keep knocking me in the face and
against the back of the head. I can actually feel the blood dripping down the
collar of my torn blouse and the nausea and dizziness has become almost
unbearable by the time my feet hit tar.

I stumble into the road, hear the squeal of tires and
look up into the blinding lights of a car as it skids across the tar and
hurtles toward me.

 

Chapter
53

 

Distress

Tastes like: The bitter
after-taste of medicine.

Smells like: A gas leak.

Sounds like: Sandpaper on
wood.

Feels like: Rough hemp,
drawn over sensitive skin.

Looks
like: A huddled figure in a dark corner.

 

‘Shaylee!’

I hear my name being called from somewhere far away, but
my eyes are riveted to the oncoming lights. The smell of burning rubber and the
sound of tires skidding against loose gravel grow louder as the car nears.

I instinctively close my eyes.
What a way to die
. After all I’ve survived these past weeks, it
hardly seems fair that my life is about to end in a
car crash
?
 

When the impact finally comes, it feels oddly subdued. My
body flies through the air and lands with a thump on something that makes a
strange groaning sound, and gives slightly under the force of my weight.

My head hits against something hard and an all too
familiar blackness hovers at the edge of my consciousness.

‘Shaylee!’

The ground beneath me whispers my name in a voice filled
with a mixture of relief and horror. I can’t see anything, but the voice is
comforting and my body recognizes it as I sag helplessly against, what I
vaguely recognize is a hard chest. A strong pair of arms encircles me and I
breathe in the familiar scent of musk and earth.

‘God, Shaylee, what happened to you?’

The corners of my mouth lift slightly and I attempt to
lift my eyelids.

‘Kael,’ I whisper, through dry, cracked lips, ‘you
came.’ Then I hear another voice, from behind me and I stiffen.

‘Two for the price of one.’

Kael’s arms tighten protectively around me, but it’s too
late. Something soft is pressed against my nose and the familiar, pungent odor
of chemicals sends the world spinning into darkness again.

 

 

I wake to the sound of disjointed voices, pleas and
high-pitched cries. My wrist feels like a crushed mess and the throbbing at the
back of my head has intensified to an agonizing drumbeat that makes it
difficult to think, let alone move. When I attempt to lift my head slightly, I can’t
hold back the involuntary whimper as pain lances through my entire body.

‘Ah, princess! You’re awake.’

A cold foul-smelling breath tickles my cheek and my eyes
fly open. I squint up at the outline of a face, hovering over me, shadowed by
intense light from behind. I wince at the brightness and try to focus on the
features of the face.

The figure shifts slightly and for a brief instant, I’m
able to make out black, red-rimmed eyes and a sharp chin that sends the chaotic
memories of the past few hours tumbling through my brain in an unwelcome
torrent. I recoil in horror and instantly regret the action as the drummers
resume their rhythm at the back of my head with vigor. My soft groan is met by
an urgent cry from somewhere behind the looming face.

‘Leave her alone!’

The enraged voice is accompanied by the sound of
chain-links rattling together and my heart sinks.

‘Kael…’ I whisper.

‘Shaylee? Are you okay?’ His anxious voice comes from somewhere
behind the pale face.

‘Get her up,’ my captor orders, ignoring Kael and
keeping his eerie, hunger-filled eyes on me.

The Russian accented man steps into my vision and I
instinctively recoil, but he pulls me to my feet, using my injured arm. The
pain sends my head spinning and as blood rushes from my head to my toes, I
stumble, unable to take my own weight. I try not to throw up as the world swims
around me. The lackey hauls me back, steadying my body against his. The mere
feel of his chest against my back sickens me, but his grip is too tight to
allow even a few inches of space.

‘Shaylee?’ Kael says desperately, accompanied by another
rattle. I swallow hard and peer around the cloaked figure, blocking my vision
of the cavern.

‘No...’
 

I gasp as my eyes light on Kael, arms spread-eagled and
tethered with thick chains to the stone cave-wall opposite. His legs are
shackled in a similar fashion to the floor and a long, angry red gash oozes blood
across his left temple, stark against his unusually pale face. Our eyes meet
across the empty cavern.

The look in his eyes is so intense, that every
conviction or care I’ve had regarding my own survival vanishes, and all that
matters is him. Kael’s betrayal, my anger, my pain, my life – none of it
matters, save that I love him and I will do anything, give everything to save
him.
 

‘Let him go,’ I say, in a voice that comes out
surprisingly even, despite the panic surging up inside me at the vision of Kael,
prostrate and helpless against the opposite wall. ‘It’s me you want.’

The vampire glances at me in surprise and his eyes
narrow as he examines my expression.

‘Mmmmm.’ He glances reflectively from me to Kael, and crosses
the cavern, sending my heart thumping to my stomach.

I struggle against my captor’s hold with a sudden burst
of strength but he remains steadfast.

‘Leave him alone!’

The vampire turns and regards me with a curious smile.

‘I wonder,’ he says. He taps one hand against his chin. I
cringe as he moves closer to Kael and lifts the other hand. In it, is a long, silver
dagger. With a twisted smile, he drags the tip of the blade across Kael’s naked
torso, watching as a trail of blood wells up from the wound. Kael flinches but
it isn’t he who cries out.

‘Stop it! Please stop it!’ I scream, struggling forward
when I see my
seastnan’s
face twist
in repressed agony.

The pale-faced man gives me a smug smile but thankfully,
drops his hand from Kael’s body. His gaze lingers for a moment on the blood
dripping from the dagger wound and comes to rest on me. He takes a long, deep
breath and licks his lips.

‘Please don’t hurt him,’ I beg. ‘I’ll do anything you
want -’

‘No Shaylee!’ Kael’s strained voice interrupts me but I
continue:

‘Just leave him alone.’

‘What an anomaly,’ the vampire says, walking back across
the empty cavern to me. ‘The princess places her servants life above her own,
it seems.’

His piercing eyes bear into mine. I force myself to hold
his gaze. My body goes rigid as he steps closer and grabs my chin with a cold,
hard hand. I feel his cold breath against my skin as he eagerly sniffs the
sensitive, warm skin of my neck. A shudder of revulsion courses through my body.

He exhales heavily and shudders with what can only be
described as pleasure.

‘Delicious,’ he murmurs, stepping back to consider me
again.

‘But are you the one?’

‘Leave her alone!’ Kael says hoarsely from the opposite
wall but the man before me just smiles.

‘I’ve never been much of a believer,’ he says, ‘but seeing
is believing.’

With one movement, he takes hold of the top of my blouse
and rents the material all the way down to my waist. I gasp in shock as the icy,
damp air kisses my exposed skin.

The man lets out a groan of triumph and satisfaction as
his gaze travels to the butterfly on my stomach.

I hear the clank of metal chains as Kael struggles viciously
against his bonds.

‘Don’t you dare touch her you filthy beast!’

The vampire steps closer to me; I can feel the cold
radiating from his skin.

‘I’ve been waiting for you for a long time, princess,’
he says. I flinch as he trails one icy hand from my neck, down the side of my
ribs to the black butterfly. The vampire’s gaze slithers over my exposed torso.
He steps forward, presses his repulsive body against mine, slips his hand into
the hair at the back of my neck and puts his lips against my ear.

‘The virgin’s blood,’ he says, almost shivering in
anticipation. ‘I can think of two ways to shed yours, both equally pleasurable.’

Another shudder, this time of pure terror shakes my body
at his words. Death, I can handle but the thought of those ice-cold hands on my
body...

‘I’ll kill you first!’ Kael shouts, at last catching the
attention of my tormentor. His eyes flicker with irritation before he turns
back to Kael, dagger in hand.

‘I do enjoy having an audience,’ he says, ‘but I’m
afraid there are still certain activities that should be performed in private.’

‘No! Please!’ I beg.

Horror renews my struggles but the man holding me
tightens his bruising grip and I’m forced, once again, to watch helplessly from
the sidelines as the menacing figure descends on Kael.

‘No!’

‘Save your breath, Princess,’ the vampire says, and
without hesitating, he plunges the dagger into Kael’s chest.

I scream and my eyes fly to Kael’s face. He stares back,
wide-eyed, lips moving soundlessly, trying in vain, to speak and draw breath at
once.

‘I’m sorry…’ he mouths and then his head drops
lifelessly to the side.

BOOK: Five: A Maor Novel (Maor series)
13.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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