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Authors: Courtney Lyn Batten

The Corollaria (4 page)

BOOK: The Corollaria
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“Shit,” Luke muttered. He turned his head to face Emily. “I lost my cell phone.”

“I grabbed it,” she said, pulling the small silver phone from her pocket.

Luke grinned and took it from her, his fingers punching a few keys and then holding it to his ear.  His smile was short lived. His parent’s phones both went straight to voicemail. He dialed his older brother Carson next, only to be disappointed when he didn’t answer. He clicked the end button and looked up with worry etched into the
lines and creases of his face.

“Nothing?” Emily asked, even though she already knew the answer. Luke shook his head, furrowing his brow as if deep in thought.

“Maybe,” Emily said after a few awkward seconds ticked by.  “We should try to get some sleep and find Carson in the morning? I don’t think whoever that was is coming back.”

“Maybe we should call the police,” Luke said, still staring at her.

“And say what exactly? That I was attacked by a vampire? That you exploded into a wolf? That now your parents are missing and something or someone attacked us again here?” Emily shook her head, her mind quickly forming a plan. “No, I say whoever that was, whoever is apparently after me, isn’t going to return tonight.  And maybe Cara and Tristan are just out late. We’re safer here.”  Emily felt certain Luke would protect her.  The knowledge was a tangible force in the air around them.


Let’s rest, and um, change our clothes...” Emily trailed off, again diverting her eyes from Luke’s naked body. The side of Luke’s mouth twitched slightly in amusement as she blushed.

He turned to walk into his room, again stopping and turning back to her.
  Anxiety gripped him at the thought of letting her out of his sight.

“Em, maybe you should, I mean, I just, I can’t—”

Emily stepped closer, her expression serious, and her eyes curious. The air between them was heavy, heated, and electric. She could feel the confusion, the fear, the all-consuming need for her rolling off him, tickling her skin. His brown hair hung in his eyes and curled around his ears. She traced the lines of his face with her deep blue eyes.

After a long pregnant moment, s
he ducked inside his room.

Emily didn’t even bother to look around much, her whole face she was certain looked like a lobster.  She
kicked off her shoes and took off her jacket before lying down on his bed and turning her back to him.

Luke took a deep breath.  He closed
his eyes momentarily and ran a shaky hand through his shaggy hair.
What the hell was happening here?

Luke pulled on some clothes and settled onto the small bed next to her, his mind reeling. His fingers twitched at his side and he could hear her breathing start to slow. He reached over to take her hand, curling his fingers around hers.

It felt like only moments later that Luke sat straight up in bed, sweaty, breathless, pure panic swelled in his chest. His eyes darted around the room. The first rays of dawn were sneaking in through the curtains.

Emily was gone.

Chapter 3

 

 

C
arson Lyall sat at the edge of the bed. His elbows were propped up on his knees, and he rubbed his face with the palms of his calloused hands. His shaggy dark brown hair was disheveled as he combed a shaky hand through it.

Something soft and warm shifted next to him. He glanced behind him. The cute red-headed
girl made a quiet sleepy noise and rubbed her cheek against the lumpy pillow. Carson sighed, and reached down to pull on his boxers.

“Carson?” Jenny’s soft bell-like voice was
only a whisper but it seemed so loud in the quiet space. He swallowed and turned to her. Stormy gray eyes focused on her face. And for a moment he lost himself all over again. Her eyes were this rich golden hue that reminded him of the color leaves changed to in the fall. Jenny’s brow knitted together and absentmindedly he reached out to smooth the lines that formed between them.

He l
eaned forward, his lips brushed tenderly against her forehead. Carson sighed heavily, letting his mouth linger for a second before moving slowly down the bridge of her nose and then capturing her lips wetly with his.

“Don’t,” she mumbled against his mouth.
He exhaled heavily. Warm breath tickled her lips. His hand came up to cup the back of her neck as he pulled slightly away from her. He let the word and her sigh hang in the air. The moment stretched out silent and heavy with unspoken things.

He sighed again, dropping his head to her shoulder. Carson climbed back under the sheets with her, their naked legs tangling together as he wrapped his arms around her middle. Jenny softly
kissed his cheek, running her hands up and down the smooth broad expanse of his back in soothing long strokes.

“I’m so sorry,” he said raggedly against her skin.

“Shhh,” she soothed, “I’m okay.”

H
is warm salty tears dripped down her shoulder, and she tried to press herself closer to him, until every single inch of her was touching every single part of him. 

Carson’s shoulders shook a little, and she worried when it seemed l
ike his whole body was trembling.  He held on to her tighter, like a life raft, and fell asleep with her whispered words in his ear.

When Jenny woke up the sun was just barely rising, trickling in
to her room with soft pinks and the yellow-orange light of early morning.  Carson’s strong arms were still wrapped around her, her chest pressed up against his. She managed to wiggle free, and slipped out of the warm sheets.

Jenny made her way to the bathroom and stood for a long moment studying herself in the mirror.

Her short dark red hair was a messy nest on her head. She tried to smooth it down with her hands and tucked a few strands behind her ears. It was just barely long enough for her to be able to do that. She twisted to the side, taking in the purple and red marks along her hips and ribcage. He hadn’t meant to hurt her. She knew that. And the bruises had already started to fade.

She traced a finger over one of the marks on her side. She could almost make out the exact shape of his fingers where he had grabbed her to move her out of the way. Her bronzed skin looked a little more yellow today underneath the fluorescent lights, a shimmering gold like her almond-shaped eyes.

Jenny closed her eyes briefly, her long eyelashes still clumpy with mascara brushed against her cheeks as she remembered the altercation the night before.

Carson was a serious guy. Serious, stubborn, and quiet.  He was tall with broad shoulders, a square jaw, and crinkly dark gray eyes with dark brown hair. He really wasn’t one for loud parties, but Jenny had managed to drag him out for her friend’s birthday celebration on the rooftop of an o
lder apartment building on the Lower East Side.

Jenny was smiling, her red lips were curled up in
a sexy grin, and her arm wrapped around Carson’s. She leaned against his side, facing the other direction as she listened to the banter between her friends.  Her long fingers drew small circles on his bicep. There were twinkling lights strung around the party, and in the distant the steely gray of the East River reflected the glow from the city.

Carson took a long sip from the strong clear drink in his hand, his eyes lazily drifting around the party as he watched more people arrive. 

That’s when he spotted her. A dark figure, almost motionless, stood near the edge of the roof. Carson’s eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared. A sick cloying scent filled his lungs.  His muscles jerked in protest. It was the smell of decay, rotting fruit left out in the summer heat.

When the figure looked up, Carson could see that it was a woman. Dark hair framed her pale face, and her onyx eyes locked on his.  For one long minute they stared at each other. Carson could feel
a familiar heat lick up his spine, and a bitter taste fill his mouth.  His teeth were clenched tightly together making the muscle in his jaw jump and twitch.

After a moment, the woman raised her le
ft hand and beckoned for Carson. Then she disappeared through the stairwell. He frowned and turned to Jenny. Her wide eyes were a burning liquid gold, bright and alive and focused on the spot where the mysterious woman had stood.

“Come on,” Carson said roughly, grabbing Jenny by the hand and pulling her to the door that led back downstairs. He would have gone without her, made her stay safely inside the party, but he knew her better than that.  Jenny followed wordlessly, but her face was scrunched into a tense worried frown. They made their way down the dark eerily quiet stairway. After a few flights, they paused when they saw a door that led to the alley left open.

Outside in the dirty alley, the same slender woman stood still, her long impossibly straight black hair spilled down her back. She turned to face the couple, the side of her thin unnaturally blushed lips curved up into a frightful smirk. Her eyes were dark, framed by thick black lashes.  Her narrow heart shaped face was edged by curtains of thick hair on either side.

A heavy sense of foreboding sunk in Jenny’s gut. Carson stepped forward, partially shielding Jenny with his body. This did not escape the mysterious woman’s attention, as her eyes flashed,
and her lips curved into a grin.

“Carson,” t
he woman said pleasantly, her voice was sweet and as smooth and thick as honey. “You don’t need to be so protective. I am sure Jennifer can handle herself.”

Both Carson and Jenny were taken aback by the woman’s knowledge and keen eye.  They kept silent, but Carson didn’t change his stance.

The woman continued, “Besides, I am not here to hurt anyone. I am just a messenger.”

Carson frowned, and cleared his throat to speak. “A messenger? For me? From who?”

The woman pressed her lips together and smiled a sad smile that seemed like she was feeling sorry for him. It made the hard lines of her face soften. Some of the fierceness from her striking features faded. She almost looked gentle and approachable.

“Yes, for you Carson,” the woman said with equal parts irritation and amusement. 

“How do you know my name?” he asked. His voice was surprisingly even.

Jenny’s eyes narrowed as she watched the lithe movements of the woman moving forward. It’s almost as if she floated, her movement was so smooth and soundless as
she glided across the alleyway.  She stopped so close to Carson he could feel her cool breath on his skin. It was unpleasant and made the animal caged inside him pace furiously back and forth.

He recognized a vampire when he saw one.

“I know a lot about you,” she smiled, but there was something about the seemingly sweet expression that tasted tart and made Jenny’s face pucker. At the edges of the woman’s sharp thin lipped smile, Jenny could see the dim moonlight glinting off two razor sharp fangs as she continued to speak, “You are the rightful Alpha, after all.”

Carson frowned, his steady voice dropping to a deep timbre, “What is the message?”

The woman frowned, and Jenny’s grip on Carson’s arm tightened. She felt uneasy, her stomach twisted and knotted. She felt his muscles shuddering in response to the woman’s presence. Or maybe it was her words. She wasn’t sure.

“Samuel seeks the girl. Her wolf failed to protect he
r already. I’m here to warn you.”

The woman’s fe
atures had sharpened once again. She looked fierce and deadly. Her voice was grave.

Carson’s brow knitted together in confusion. “The girl? What girl?”

“The Corollaria,” the woman said, the smooth foreign word rolled off her tongue effortlessly.

Jenny had heard that word before, somewhere, but the memory tugged just at the edge of her
grasp. It was a fleeting moment of recognition. Carson did not understand, but beneath his human skin, the wolf inside growled ferociously.

Carson was silent as the woman shook her head with disappointment. His hand that was still clasped together with Jenny’s squeezed her fingers. 

“I was hoping, as Alpha, you would take some responsibility in this sensitive matter,” the woman’s dismay was evident in her dark eyes, and for the first time, Jenny could sense there was an undercurrent of fear to the woman’s voice.

“Alpha? I don’t—”

The woman waved her hand effectively cutting Carson off. A harsh heavily accented male voice bellowed from the entrance to the alley.

“Vanessa,” the shadowy figure said, his tone chastising. 

Something Jenny couldn’t quite name, waves of emotions flashed across the woman’s face, briefly before she composed herself. It prickled Jenny’s sensitive skin.

A huge mountain of a man stepped out of the shadows and into the small amount of light that filtered into the dank alley. He was tall and terrifying.  His eyes were the same impossible black of Vanessa’s and narrowed into tiny slits. He wore a long black trench coat and a gray felt
hat. His eyes flashed to Carson and lingered on Jenny. The corner of his lip twitched slightly before his gaze returned to Vanessa.

“Jackson,” Vanessa’s cool voice addressed the man. “What are you—
?”

BOOK: The Corollaria
3.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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