Merlin was wrong. Not once did I feel my bones break, my skin slice, or even the pull of the twine sewing my mouth shut when he had grown tired of my rebellion. All of it had been blissful moments of feeling Cedric somewhere beyond Avalon still searching. He kept his promise and never wavered.
Pausing from her thoughts, she took a sip of the drink Tony had made for her. The flavor was sharp and sweet thanks to the pineapple juice added into it. There was so much she was clueless about in this new world, so many new flavors. She was raised in a time without electricity, without the technology which made up the everyday life she was surrounded by. What once was believed to be only plausible by magic was happening in daily routines such as communicating across the world or flying from region to region. These habits seemed meaningless compared to what she recalled in a world where storing food for winter and tending to your horses were high priorities. Looking back at the glass door, there were no more horses and food was anywhere and everywhere.
Cedric gripped her thigh, a playful wave of arousal coming from his touch. He gave her a forced smile and she knew he had felt her fear and panic while recalling her last time outside of Avalon. Taking in a slow steady breath, she returned her own obligatory grin. She took another sip of the overwhelmingly tart drink, reassuring him she was having a good time. His smile faded. Huffing at her, his jaw muscle twitched and she knew her deceit had failed.
Leaning over to her, his breath tickled at her ear. “We won’t be staying here for much longer. You’re doing good, my Angel.”
Nodding, she looked away from his sharp green stare. Her fingers fidgeting with one another while keeping their hold on the rocks glass between them. He continued his conversation with Tony and she dove back to her thoughts, drowning herself once more into the past.
Merlin. He called himself Kronos more times than not. Whoever or whatever he was, his real power only came through with the help of the Amulet of Avalon. Several times he called it Mother’s Eye or Eye of Gaea in such an affectionate manner it sent shivers through me. So much of my memory has holes. Most of all, I am missing the first year I was there. Everyone insists that I was in shock, but something grips my soul when I try to remember it. There was something horribly important in that first year as his prisoner. Even now my heart aches to remember even a droplet’s worth.
Swallowing, her attempt to break her thoughts failed. She was thrown to a time of when a needle and twine was pushed through her lips once again. Kronos had tired of her chatter, but even now she forgot why she had fought so hard. His look of disgust and terror of her flashing fangs for the first time had given her the small chance to be more brave, and her time of leaving the dungeon dwindled shortly after. Those cerulean eyes were cold and cruel, the magic from the red stone wicked.
Was he afraid of being bitten? Or was it the fear I had inherited some of Cedric’s abilities? If so, if I had fed on anything, would I have had a chance of escaping?
“Here try this.” Cedric slid away her half empty glass and gave her a shot glass full of a clear liquid. “It’s vodka, and unlike the mixed drink, straight liquor. You might like it better.”
Looking down, she stared at her own reflection with disdain. Her eyes were tired, even empty from her ordeal on Avalon with dark bags reflecting how she still had trouble sleeping. Worse, her hair tickled at her chin, forced to cut it only added to her sense of losing who she once had been. Cedric had scolded her for cutting it so short, but the amount of tangles and years of being unable to bathe herself had destroyed her long brown locks. There was a phantom-like essence about her reflection, her skin pale from not seeing the sun for so many centuries. Her stomach twisted. She hadn’t aged at all but her hardships had changed her appearance. The person wavering in the vodka was once human, and now, not even Cedric could answer the question of what am I?
Taking in a deep breath, she gulped the sharp liquor down, eager to rid herself of the broken girl. She grimaced as it burnt down her throat and warmed her belly.
Cedric laughed. “It’s got a bite, but I like that warm sensation at the end.”
Again, she mustered a smile. “Indeed, warm.”
“Cedric,” Morrighan’s voice caught their attention as she approached. “Romasanta is calling a meeting for tonight.”
He scowled, protesting. “What for?”
“His past with the stone.” His eyes widened and he stopped himself before he dared lock eyes with Angeline at Morrighan’s reply.
“The old man has more secrets than I care to acknowledge.” He wasn’t sure how much of this would pull Angeline’s connection with Romasanta into the light.
A smile snaked across Morrighan’s lips. “Agreed, but he has very good reasons for it all.”
“I never said he didn’t have a good reason for it all…” Mumbling into his rocks glass, Cedric finished his drink.
Morrighan turned, leaving out the door and he caught the amber glare of Romasanta from across the room. The old man nodded, a discreet motion for him to come and talk out his frustrations in private.
Cedric’s jaw tensed and he squeezed Angeline’s leg to call her back to the present yet again. “I’ll be right back, I need to ask the old mutt something.”
“O-ok.” She blinked, his tension not only visible, but she could feel him trying to hide his panic. “I wonder what has him so worked up?”
“Ugh, I never know with those two.” Scoffed Tony, watching Cedric march off. “And it’s a hundred times more intense when Lillith shows up.”
“Lillith…” Flashes of the Queen Succubus’ toothy grin filled Angeline’s mind.
Chills made her shoulders shudder. The arrow hitting its mark, the smell of the decaying land in Williamsburg were sharp. Lillith’s face turning, eyes gripping her soul with a wicked smile. The sense of arousal she had released over the distance between them as she pulled the shaft out, licking her lips. Angeline bit her lip, her eyes out of focus as her hands balled in fists.
Tony blinked. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you…”
“No, it’s just.” Shaking her head, clawing herself back out of the memory. “I only met her once.”
“Oh, that time she fought Cedric?” Tony had remembered Cedric’s story well, especially after being hurdled into being his descendant. “I am fortunate to have never seen that side of her…”
A wave of frustration from Cedric brought her eyes in his direction. “I wonder what they are discussing. Cedric’s not happy about it…”
“I’d rather not know.” Tony replaced the shot glass with a glass of ice, filling it from a strange hose-like contraption. “Here, some water to wash away those drinks.”
“T-thanks.” The cool water was a refreshing burst, something more familiar and welcoming to her taste buds. “What is she like?”
“Lillith?” Angeline nodded and Tony rubbed the back of his neck, wanting to answer the question with the greatest of caution. “Powerful. I suppose it’s a given for those who are aware of what she is, but even then, the way she walks and talks is unmistakable. You can’t help but feel she could take over the world. I can also say from a man’s point of view, she’s sexy. Again, it’s not just her looks, though they help, but she’s the epitome of confidence. Every move seems graceful and planned. It’s, it’s terrifying to watch from behind the bar at times.”
“I see…” Another gulp of water and she continued her own confessions. “I’ve avoided her. Or rather, Cedric might be keeping her at bay for my sake. I feel bad since I know we are staying in her apartment but the thought that they…” She shook her head, swallowing and asking what it was she was more concerned with. “Do you think they have feelings for one another after that?”
Tears were welling up in her eyes, no one had hid the fact a new brood had been produced between the Cedric and Lillith. Worse, the reason solely for the purpose of gaining access to Avalon in order to rescue her. It was a bittersweet fact, leaving her mind numb and pained all at once to think Cedric had made that decision for her sake.
“Oh God no!” Tony could feel a heated glare from Cedric as he peered over his shoulder. There was no doubt he felt the panic and sorrow boiling out of Angeline. “I think he would kill her before he would allow it to happen again. He only did it in desperation to find a way to get to you, Angeline. To be honest, I think there’s something between her and Romasanta. And please don’t repeat that… I pray he couldn’t hear me say that.”
“You think so?” She sniffled, the notion baffling to her. “Why Romasanta?”
“I, I just know that look people get in their eyes, the one that says I’ll see you later on tonight. Comes with bartending for nearly ten years. They may not be affectionate in public, but I have the feeling there’s a behind closed doors love affair that’s been going on for some time between them.” Sighing, Tony realized he was failing to calm her down, though he did pull her attention from her worries. “Just don’t repeat that suspicion. I’d end up as wolf food for sure…”
Tony looked to Cedric and gave him an apologetic shrug. Grunting, Cedric hurried to finish his discussion with Romasanta. It wasn’t the first time Tony had failed at calming her since Angeline had come back to the world. She had a long hard struggle ahead, far as anyone could see in regards to adjusting and accepting things, physically and emotionally.
“So you do plan on leaving out her connections to you?” Sweat was running down Cedric’s temple as Angeline’s sorrow pressed down on him ever heavier. “I just need to know that this secret will still hold until she’s, she’s ok again.”
“You’re ever annoying, pup,” snarled Romasanta. “You do realize the sorceress sisters already know. I am sure by now Nyctimus’ nose has revealed the truth and as for Lillith, she has her own secrets to track, but I am confident she too is aware of the circumstances if not more than all of us combined. The only one not aware of this secret is Angeline herself. No one will tell her willingly, at least not in her current state.”
“Fine.” Cedric’s jaw twitched, annoyed so many could easily let it slip that Romasanta was her blood relative. “Is there something I should be aware of? Any secrets still kept from me, perhaps?”
“If there is, you’ll hear it at the meeting.” His brown eyes gleamed amber, addressing the condescending tone Cedric’s voice carried with it. “Now go take care of her. She is not invited to the meeting anyhow.”
Cedric snorted, no longer patient enough to entertain the banter any longer with the old werewolf. Angeline was sobbing audibly at the bar top where Tony failed to calm her down, losing her in his final attempts to simply change subjects. Marching towards them, Tony flinched with each angry stomp. Cedric’s green eyes ripped through him and the ice cold sweat of Tony’s fear trickled down his back.
“What did you say to her?” Hissed Cedric.
“She asked a question and I, I.” Tony tripped over his tongue and decided nothing he could spit out would appease Cedric. “I don’t know what to do, honestly.”
Cedric reached down, gripping her upper arm. Yanking her off the barstool with a commanding jerk, his jaw tight and he remained silent. Dragging her still sobbing out of the bar, the bell clanked loudly overhead as he flung the door open. Wincing, she tried to dig her fingers under his own, but he refused to budge. He hadn’t even glanced down at her, his muscles taut and anger waving out of him calling her attention, making her ever more alarmed.
“Stop it, you’re hurting me!” She fussed, bewildered by the aggressive actions unfolding.
Angeline’s heels skidded across the concrete, unable to slow his momentum. Cedric was dragging them between the buildings, away from prying eyes. Around another corner they met a dead end, all three sides of it nothing more than windowless backsides of commercial buildings. Her chest ached, heart pounding in her ears. Desperate to break free, she tugged, attempting to jolt pass him. His grip tightened, twisting her around, pushing her against the cold concrete block wall. Her head rung from banging against it and she glared up at him, the fear washed away. Anger was pouring from her, cheeks red with frustration. Huffing she opened her mouth to argue, but his lips locked onto hers. His tongue pushed playfully into her mouth, skillful and alluring her own to come join. Waves of arousal flooded into her from their bond, leaving her breathless and wanting. The sting of his grip eased, his hand gently caressing her jaw. He pulled away and her heart swelled. His green eyes sparkled at the wave of sorrow. Grinning down at her, he was satisfied he had broken her out of her panic attack.
“Feel better?” He cooed, relishing in the emotions stirring within her, thirsting to feel more through their bond. “I couldn’t think of anything else to do but to drag you out here.”
“And kiss me?” She knew he could feel the excitement it brought her, but part of her was still infuriated. “Wasn’t there a better way to do this?”
“Not exactly.” Nuzzling her ear, whispering with the heat of his breath flowing over her neck and shoulders sending chills of euphoria through her. “But you got so angry that it reminded me of the woman I lost and hope to bring back…”
“…I’m sorry.” She mumbled. “So sorry…”
Leaning his forehead on her shoulder, he continued whispering to her in a delicate tone. “Sorry? For what? Shouldn’t I be the one to apologize for taking so long to get you back?”
“I broke my promise.” She leaned her cheek against his head enjoying the oaky musk of his cologne. “I’m not supposed to cry over you anymore.”
He laughed, “Not this again...”
Her arms wrapped around him, fingers clinging to the back of his black hoodie. Burying her face in his shoulder, he froze. The sorrow she let lose in that very second had left him stunned and breathless. She was struggling to talk, feelings knotting with one another as the echoes waved through them both along the ropes of their bond. The core of their emotions ached with such ferocity within his soul, Cedric found himself lost in her emotions. Biting his lip, he held in his own sorrow, fearful of only adding to the storm raging between their souls.
“I was crying over losing you.” Gasping, she squeezed into him tighter. “Why did you come back for me? You could have anyone, even Lillith.”
Blinking, he wrapped his arms around her, trying to keep her from shaking. She was too deep into her panic once more to see his smile.
So true, my Angel. I could have had anyone in this world, even taken them against their will, but you, you are something special. Despite the rage and hate you held for me in the beginning, you accepting me for what I was, a monster, a devil, an abomination. No one before you, no one after you has ever loved me for what I saw myself as the way you do, and still do. To think you even feel jealousy in knowing I can be with someone else only adds to my desire to never let you go, never let anyone bring you harm, never let pain rattle your soul. You are mine and mine alone, my pet.
He cuddled her, indulging in the jealousy which bit at her. When silence washed all her sadness away and shifted into a level of fear, he took his chance, confident his words would reach her soul.
“Don’t cry about what you think I might do,” Angeline stilled, her fear and jealousy melting as Cedric’s words hit her ears. “Be angry at the choices I made.”
She took a long inhale, her emotions muddled and losing their peak, dulling with each second as she fought with the words echoing in her mind.
“I did some very dark things to get you back,” His arms tightened around her. “And if you think I would let you go so easily, you are mistaken, my pet.”
Gasping, a wall of affection slammed into her from Cedric through their bond, something he had never allowed to seep through ever. It was an emotion he hid deep within him, never truly letting her know it even existed. Realizing he had failed to let her feel this protected part of his inner self, he let it flow freely into her, hoping to tear down any lingering doubts. Tears of joy washed away the ones left behind from sorrow. She began laughing as they held onto each other in the back alleyway.
“What’s so funny?” Pulling her away, she was wiping the last of her tears away.
“I cannot tell you how relieved I am to hear that.” Another giggle rippled through her, watery brown eyes looking up into his own eyes.
Raising a brow, he questioned, “That I’ll never leave you?”
“No.” Sniffling, she sighed. “For once, I am happy to hear you call me pet. Never in my life did I think I would prefer such a ridiculous nickname...”
Bursting into laughter, he took her hand. “Let’s go home, my pet.”