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Authors: Courtney Lyn Batten

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BOOK: The Corollaria
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Emily
smiled uneasily, and Allison turned back to her group, her dark hair, streaked with purple, hiding her face. The girls sat down at a table reserved for them at the front, right next to the stage.

Emily looked back up at Lu
ke, and saw him wink at Lindsey.  Her responding giggle echoed in Emily’s ears, even though she was sure no one else could even hear it over the din of the bar. Emily glanced in Kim’s direction again. Her friend’s hands were cupped around the blonde guy’s thick neck, their lips melded together. Emily rolled her eyes, tossed her drink in the nearest trash, and hurried to the exit.

Emily
stepped outside onto the sidewalk. The frosty air slapped her hard in the face. She crossed her arms and shivered. Her thin jacket wasn’t really enough for such a chilly October night. She could still hear the heavy beat of the drum, Luke’s rough fingers strumming the guitar, and his scratchy voice singing her favorite song. She closed her eyes for just a moment, willing herself not to cry.

Emily hated that Luke had never seen her as anything more than a
little sister. His parents had taken her in after her Aunt Lucinda had fallen ill, when she was fifteen.  Luke had been sixteen at the time. That was three and half years ago, and she had been hopelessly in love with him ever since.

Aunt Lucinda had told
Emily that Luke’s grandparents had been good friends of hers, and had even known her parents—who died when Emily was just a baby.  She promised they would look after her, since she no longer could.

“Emily, my dear,” Aunt Lucinda said raggedly.  She was so pale, her white hair brittle and thin around her face.  “He’ll protect you.”

Emily frowned, “Who?”

The old woman sighed, closed her eyes and
lay back against the pillows.  Emily wrapped her hand around Aunt Lucinda’s frail fingers.

“Aunt Lucy?”

“Luke,” her Aunt said simply as she fell asleep in her bed.

The words and the sentiment were sincere, and seemingly normal, but Emily couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more behind it. The look in her aunt’s crinkly green eyes, the hard set of her weathered face, caused a cold fist to clench in Emily’s gut.

Sharp cold air blasted into the drafty bar. Luke looked around, panic and guilt clawed at his throat.  He frowned. He should have been paying attention. 
Where did she go?

The minutes that she was gone seemed to drag by, and he felt something constrict in his chest. His hands were shaking, his breathing labored.
The walls were closing in around him. The hum of the bar became unbearably loud and disorienting. Nausea rolled in his gut. He shook his head, mumbled an apology to the audience and his band, and jumped off the stage. 

“Kim,” his voice cracked as he peeled the burly
blonde guy practically mauling her off.  “Where’s Em?”

Kim furrowed her brow.  Her annoyance was obvious.  “I don’t know, check the bathroom.”

Luke huffed, agitated about her nonchalance and rushed in the other direction, towards the bathrooms.  He pushed open the door, thankful it was empty and peered under the empty stalls.  The panic in his chest expanded, crushing his lungs.

“Emily?” he called out.  No answer.  He rushed back through the noisy club, his breathing was ragged and his hands shook as he made his way to the front door.

“Hey cutie,” a deep familiar voice broke through Emily’s reverie, and she turned to see a tall slender guy, with devastatingly good looks, and a shock of spikey black hair leaning against the brick wall. His dark eyes seemed to sparkle in the city lights.

She smiled, a little self-consciously, and walked over to him. The collar of his leather jacket was popped up, covering his neck, and as she got closer, she noticed a tear in the sleeve.

She frowned, “Curtis?”

Curtis smiled, a smile that would have normally made her feel calm and reassured that her friend—her boyfriend (she was still getting used to that) — was alright, now made her heart start to beat furiously against her chest with equal amounts of fear and relief pumping through her veins.
  She hadn’t heard from him in almost three days.
Where had he been?  Why hadn’t he answered her calls?
She started to ask, but her throat was suddenly dry and she couldn’t force the words out.

              He pushed himself off the wall, running a hand through his ruffled hair. The way he sauntered over to her, almost circling her, like a hunting lion, made her feel exposed and vulnerable.

“Hey, Em. Sorry I did
n’t call you back. I’ve been...” he grinned, flashing his sharp white teeth, “...busy.”

Emily swallowed hard.
Why is he so...so different tonight?
Scary almost. “Oh, well, I just didn’t know you changed your mind and decided to come tonight.”

Curtis reached out and took her hand in his, smoothing his thumb over her knuckles. It was a sweet gesture, one that he’d been doing a lot these last few weeks.

She had met Curtis nearly a year ago, through another of her and Kim’s friends, Curtis’s younger sister, Ramona.  Curtis was a year older and had gone to high school with Luke.  At first, it was just hanging out. He was a little awkward and shy, but funny and sweet too.

And then, just a few weeks ago, he had kissed her. It was soft and sweet, warm and a little lingering. It felt nice to be wanted, nice for her hand to be held by a boy’s, and for simple sweet kisses stolen on her front steps. But it still couldn’t stop her from feeling things she probably shouldn’t for Luke.

Tonight, however, there was something not so sweet.   A glint in his dark eyes.  Something sinister. Something that made a shiver race down her spine. His touch was cool, cooler than usual. She fought the urge to jerk her hand a way.

But he could see her flinch, ever-so-slightly, and his eyes narrowed, his lips curled into a snarl.
Curtis slipped his hand up, his fingers wrapping around her wrist in a vice like grip and yanked her roughly forward.

“What’s the matter, sweetheart?”

Somehow his voice was still soft, but his eyes were so dark, black against the night sky. Terrifying.  Emily swallowed hard, her bright eyes wide, her bottom lip caught between her teeth.

“Why are you acting so...
so strange?” she whispered, her voice shaking.

His grip on her wrist loosened, and he pulled her towards him. His face softened.

It was so bizarre, one minute he seemed almost angry, menacing, the next soft and tender, like he was fighting with himself. There was a flicker in his eyes, but it could have just been the city lights. He leaned forward, his cool breath causing her skin to erupt with gooseflesh. He inhaled deeply, and rubbed his nose along her jawline.

“I’m just tired honey,” he whispered, and something about his proximity, his smell, his cool breath against her skin, seemed to
melt away her fear.  She started to feel high, her body singing with sensation. She was drunk off his voice, trapped by his gentle caresses. And stuck in a haze, like part of her was relenting, part of her screaming to run away.

She had to swallow hard before answering in a nearly inaudible whisper, “Why?”

“I just want you, Em. I’m tired of competing with
him
,” he jerked his head in the direction of the bar. “I’m tired of pretending.”

His voice trailed off.
She was barely breathing when he kissed her neck. In an instant he had her pressed up against the damp brick wall in the alley next to the building. Her head spun with the sudden rapid movement. She tried to speak, tried to shove him away, but she was like a bird trapped beneath a grinning cat’s paw.

“You smell so good, Em,” he murmured.
That same rush of dizziness, like a hit of some mind-numbing drug washed over her. She stopped fighting. Her eyes fluttered close, her hands went slack where she had grabbed onto his leather jacket.

There was catch in his breathing,
like a strangled sob breaking free. She could feel his body trembling slightly, but she was too far gone to move or really be aware of what was happening. And then she felt something sharp against her neck, a wave of pain as something pierced her pale skin, a warm liquid gushed out. She struggled to scream, but she was stuck, like a ghost watching herself from afar.

Luke pushed through the doors, the cold air a welcome reprieve to his flushed face. He felt hot, like he had a fever, and it was scorching his skin. He looked around franti
cally. Then he heard something. Something low and soft like a whisper. The smell of blood and fear, and something else that made his stomach twist, was heavy in the fall air. He walked around the side of the building, and froze.

A
sharp bolt of heat licked up his spine, and a bitter metallic taste coated his tongue. A red haze clouded his vision. Luke clenched his hands into tight fist at his sides. His whole shape was vibrating, trembling and shaking with rage, with instinct. He swallowed hard. He had that same tightness constrict in his chest, but this time it felt almost too much to bear. Like something was about to break through, clawing its way to the surface. 

Everything was suddenly in slow motion. He saw Curtis—Emily’s boyfriend—leaning over her, he saw some movement, two sharp fangs
suddenly exposed, gleaming like knives in the moonlight. He heard Emily’s sharp intake of breath and saw a thick red liquid dripping down her pale skin.

O
ne drop splashed on her collar.

Something inside him unleashed.

Suddenly Emily was knocked to the ground, her head hitting the pavement with a hard
thwack!
She tried to sit up, her hand fluttering to cover her neck, now slick with blood. She looked through blurry eyes at the scene in front of her. Curtis was on the ground, hissing through his clenched teeth. Emily gasped as she took in the large looming creature, growling and snarling above him, snapping its huge jaws, its massive paws pinning Curtis’s arms to the ground.

Emily was frozen both with fear and surprise. Distantly she wondered what the hell a wolf was doing in Brooklyn. Its fur was a pale gray, and it shimmered in
the street lamp’s buttery light. Its eyes were fierce and as dark as the steely surface of the East River. But when it lifted its large head and looked at Emily, the expression in its eyes looked anything but animalistic. It was shockingly familiar.

Curtis seized the
wolf’s momentary distraction and kicked at its massive chest, launching the large ferocious beast across the ally. It slammed into the wall, going limp as it fell with a hard thud against the ground. Curtis looked once at Emily with a pained expression.  His face crumpled and he ran out of the ally, so fast he was barely a blur of pale skin and dark leather.

Emily’s eyes flashed back to the large gray wolf, and s
he gasped in surprise and shock. Her hand covered her mouth when she saw Luke’s naked body, lying seemingly lifeless against the dirty stone wall, in its place.

Chapter 2

 

 


L
uke!” Emily screamed, rushing to his side. The fall to her knees was jarring and bruising but she barely registered it. Luke groaned, and tried to lift himself up as Emily’s hand fluttered uselessly in the air above his bare back. She watched as the dark purple bruises where he had hit the wall faded almost instantly. She stared in awe as they disappeared, his skin turning from a sickly green to its normal sun-kissed golden-brown.

S
uddenly, Emily was very aware of Luke’s nakedness. The tattered and shredded remains of his clothes littered the ground.  She watched the muscles of his back and arms twitch with his strained movements.

Luke
hauled himself up into a sitting position, and Emily turned her face away, a bright red blush creeping into her cheeks. She could feel them burning, and she pressed the backs of her knuckles against the heat.

“Emily?” Luke coughed out, reaching for her instinctively. His large warm hand
encircled her bicep and he pulled her against him. She fell against his bare chest, her arms automatically wrapping around his neck, hiding her tear streaked face in his shoulder. Emily took a deep shuddering breath. The lingering smell of sweat and smoke from the bar clung to his skin, but underneath she could smell that scent that was uniquely him—like clean soap and fresh limes.

Luke slowly brushed her matted hair back from her neck, tentatively checking the wound. Miraculously, the two deep puncture ma
rks had already started to heal. They faded into two angry pink scars as he tenderly touched her neck. Emily winced slightly when his fingers touched her bruises. Luke was almost unaware of his actions. He couldn’t even think of anything but Emily’s well-being at the moment. He was completely oblivious to the world around them. The dank alley way, the sickening smell of blood, even his own nakedness was of no importance compared to her.

Emily could barely breathe. Her chest was tight and constricted. She was very much aware of Luke’s warm breath tickling her skin, his gentle fingers ghosting along her neck and collarbone. He lowered his head,
lightly pressing his lips to her neck, to the puckered pink scars that marred her skin.

BOOK: The Corollaria
7.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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