After settling our differences, we returned to the training yard. Jonathan excused himself, having to return to work with his father in the village.Along the way trying to lighten the tension, Erik asked as he glanced down at me,
“So...what weapon did you choose?”
“The sword.” I replied looking up at him.
“Really? I use the sword too. My father trained me to use various weapons.”
“That’s nice, but I didn’t ask who trained you.” I said calmly.
“Ouch!” he replied as if my comment fazed him, “Now that one hurt.”
Walking in silence, I felt it wasn’t necessary to be rude. I paused, watching as he walked steps ahead.
“Look, Erik I’m sorry.” I said softly,“I’m not normally like this. It’s just when I’m around you, I feel so defensive. I didn’t mean what I said or how I said it.” and Erik stopped, turning to me as I continued,gazing into his gray eyes, “It’s wonderful that you know how to fight and use various weapons. I could use all the help I could get, so can we please put aside the childish tantrums and act like adults?”
He smiled and answered calmly,
“Yes. Yes, we can. And I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean the things I said either. My father raised me in the Chinese culture, teaching me to never be rude, unless it’s necessary and to respect all. Especially women. Now, I’d be more than happy to help. Since you asked so nicely.” as he gave a slight bow, in a jokingly manner.
“Don’t push it...jackass.”
“And there she goes...pissant. But I do have to ask one thing.”
He leaned in close…too close,
“What are you? I sense human but something else underneath.”
“Oh, that?” I answered as I too leaned in, “Nothing. But if you really want to know…I’m a demon.”
“You heard me. I’m…a demon.” I said jokingly, “A fire one, to be precise which means you should be careful around me. I wouldn’t want to burn that…” I walked around him, “butt of yours.”
He turned, looking down at me.
“Are you checking me out?” he asked.
“What if I am?” I answered, “There’s a lot to look at. I mean…have you seen yourself!?” as I gestured at him up and down.
“Everyday, love. Every-damn-day.” then he changed the subject, “So, you’re a demon huh? Huh. That explains why you’re so…” he walked around me then leaned in whispering, “hot.”
“Are you checking me out?” I teased as I faced him.
“What if I am?” he answered, “It’s not everyday you meet a demon. Besides, there’s a lot to look at.” as he gestured at me up and down, following the curves to my form with his hands in the air.
“Uh-huh. Good one. By the way, I don’t go around telling everyone I’m a demon so can we keep that between us for now? Jonathan, Sarah, Marxus and my mom are the only ones that know, so…”
“My lips are sealed. Not my secret to tell and besides, I’m good at keeping secrets.” he smiled.
“Mm, I bet.”
We chuckled as we continued our walk to the training yard, talking about things in general. He told me about his father; an ex Chinese warrior and all the training he’s been through. As he spoke, I could tell this was something he was passionate about and that interested me greatly, as I have always been fascinated by the Chinese culture. I admired his way of explaining things, let alone his marvelous accent for he had a soothing masculine medium toned voice. Our conversation seemed to lighten our mood and attitude toward each other greatly.
Approachingthe training grounds, we heardblades clashing together, as Nathan and Anthonyfiercely sparred. Even though I hated him, Nathan was an excellent swordsman, fighting with dual swords, and his movements were swift. But Anthony gave him a run for his skill. As we stood there watching, Nathan grew the upper hand, knocking the sword from Anthony’s grip. Kicking him hard in the abdomen, Anthony fell to the ground. Nathan held his practice swords under Anthony’s chin taking the sparring session too far.
For a moment, Nathan became distracted lowering his swords, ashe looked over his left shoulder, sensing Erik and I. Anthony seeing the opportunity to get back at Nathan, he made his move; slowly standing, picking up his sword laying nearby, then glared at Nathan who turned to see Anthony standing upright; sword in one hand and the other holding his lower stomach. Seeing Anthony didn’t accept his defeat only made Nathan fume with anger.
“First thing about combat, Nathan...never take your eyes off of your enemy.”Anthony lectured then resumed sparring.
Anthony’s fighting technique reminded me of a Musketeer with that whole elegant ItalianRenaissance vibe.
Anthony and Nathan had a moment; face-to-face with swords crossed in front of them, giving each other a stare down. Anthony sneered as he pushed Nathan backwards causing him to lose his balance, giving Anthony the perfect opportunity. Never mind flipping the swords out of Nathan’s hand, Anthony returned the gesture; kicking him in the abdomen, causing him to fall to the ground; hands placed on his lower stomach.
“You’re lucky I didn’t kick you any lower or you’d be laying in excruciating pain.” Anthony said as he looked down at Nathan, reaching out his hand to help Nathanfrom the ground.
Nathan brushed Anthony’s hand away helping himself to his feet.
Getting into position readyto make another strike, holding his swords high in the air, he hesitated taking a whiff of the air around him.Catching the scent of vampire, he looked at Anthony noticing his eyes glanced over his shoulder. Lowering his swords, he turned seeing Erik and I observing their practice session.
“What do you want, Bloodsucker?” Nathan asked, holding his swords down by his side, “And what do we have here? The Keeper herself, hmm? Where’s your wolf?”
“Pleasure to see you too, teen-wolf.” I snapped.
Nathan grimaced; Anthony smiled as he glanced away momentarily.
“We didn’t come to see you, don’t worry.”Erik replied, “We’re training.” he quickly glanced down at me, “Come on…let’s come back later.”
“No.” I retaliated, “I’m staying to train. Either you join me or I train myself.”
“Train?” Nathan mocked as he titled his head, “You’re training? For what!?”
“That’s none of your business.” Erik added.
I looked up at Erik and said strongly,
“Look, I appreciate the fact that you’re standing up for me, but I do of course have a mouth, which you’ve accused me of having,so I can definitely speak up for myself okay?”
Erik stood back; hands held up, remaining silent.
Nathan decided his session was finished, dropping his swordsto the ground without returning it to thecabinet.
“Whatever.”he said,“It’s all yours.”he bowed sarcastically, waving his right arm outward, then walked away shaking his head, leaving Anthony to pick up the weapons.
After placing the swords back in place Anthony turned, commenting,
“I apologize for that, young Yzavela.He’s just such a...”
“Go ahead...say it. Don’t hold back on my account.”
“A downright son-of-a-bitch.” he finished with a sigh. “He does this all the time, expecting others to pick up after him!”
“That he is. Are you alright? He kicked you pretty hard.” I asked.
“I’ve had worse but I’m fine, thank you lovely lady. Now, I’ll leave the two of you to practice. I’m heading to the pub for a drink. If you need anything, you know where I’ll be; but it looks like you are in good hands. Good luck.”he added as he nodded at both Erik and I, then ventured toward themanor.
Erik watched as Anthony strolled away, hissing under his breath.
After Nathan and Anthony left, I couldn’t help but ask,
“Why do you do that?”
“Do what?” he answered with a shrug.
“Hiss? At everything?” I smiled.
“Not everything…just the mutts. It’s a vampire thing. Anthony is a bit more tolerable than the others.” he returned the smile, “Now, come on…let’s train shall we?” he approached the weapon’s cabinet.
“Mm.” I nodded as he handed me a sword.
Beginning with verbal instructions of how to hold my stance with weapon in hand,we took it slow. After grasping the beginner’s level (so to speak) for at least two hours, Erik grew confident in my learning ability. Taking a moments’ pause, he decided tomove onto the next level; whatever that might have been. He too was impressed on how fast I learned the movements.
“You’re a natural.” he said, resting his sword’s tip on the ground.
“Thank you.” I replied as I breathed deeply.
“What...no nasty remarks?” he added.
“Don’t push it.”
“Mm. Now, this next part…I’m going to show you some basic-to-advanced attacks, then I want you to replicate them, okay? Just remember, there’s no rush to learn them, so take it easy.” then he paused, hearing my heart racing, “Are you alright?”
“Because your heart’s racing.”
“I’m fine. You just...take my breath away.” I joked then thought, “LITERALLY.”
Heshook his head then showed me how to twirl, plunge, attack, parry and block. During these specific movements, I noticed he added his Chinese martial art techniques that were beautiful to watch. Such elegance and grace in a masculine manner. As I watched; swords’ tip plunged into the thick grass, I couldn’t helpthe thoughts running through my mind, “I GUESS HE’S NOT THAT BAD. HE’S JUST SO...WOW. I MEAN, HE HAS THOSE DREAMY GRAY EYES THAT ARE SO SEXY AND RAVEN COLORED HAIR LIKE MINE, THAT SHINES AND GLISTENS. OH GOOD GOD YZA, GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF. BUT WHO AM I KIDDING? HE’S SO DANGEROUSLY F***ING SEXY. AND HE’S NOT AS BAD AS HE PRETENDS TO BE. A GOOD-BAD BOY. ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!”
“Yza?” Erik asked breaking my train of thought, “Yza!?”
I looked up seeing him standing directly in front of me.
“Hmm?” I replied, “Yeah, sorry. Got distracted. You say something?”
“Didn’t you see anything I just showed you?”
“No, I’m sorry. I was...um…”
“Distracted? Yes, you said that.” then he used his vampire speed appearing directly behind me, I didn’t see him move but felt a slight breeze, “It’s nice to know I affect you that way. Now, let me show you the proper way to hold your sword.” he continued in a flirtatious manner as he reached his arms around my waist from behind, grabbing both my hands. He gently placed them on the sword’s hilt showing me the proper grip and as he did, he leaned his head closer to mine and I could feel his breath on my neck. Momentarily, I could tell he was tempted to bite for I heard a very low quiet hiss.
As I turned my head glancing up at him, I stared right into his gray eyes once again. He released my hands, stepping back, as he stared at me intensely; alluringly. I gathered my thoughts then said as I lowered my sword,
“Is this a training session or a class on flirting? Because your vampire charm and your...” as I gestured at him up and down, “your...compulsion, isn’t working on me.”
Who was I kidding? I was completely mesmerized. He definitely had a hold on me.
He stood there totally confused because this was the first time he really unleashed all his vampire charm and compulsion. He couldn’t believe I wasn’t falling for it. Blinking his eyes a few times, he walked toward me looking down at the ground and replied,
“I laid out all my vampire charm on you, so are you wearing…I don’t know…special contacts that block my compulsion?” he stared into my eyes, examining them.
“So you admit you WERE flirting, instead of training. Wow. Typical guy. And no. I’m not wearing contacts. Just glasses.” I removed them from my pocket, holding them in front of him for a moment, placing them back on.
“No, I’m not a typical guy. I’m a vampire who knows what I want. I feel an attraction to you that...that...oh, never mind. I don’t even know why I’m wasting my time with someone who doesn’t even probably like men.” and he threw his arms up.
“Excuse me!?” I argued as I stepped toward him, “Let me tell you something...you jackass! I love men thank you very much! So, maybe I’m just not into jackasses like you! And just because I don’t fall at your feet and melt like butter which I’m sure other girls have, it doesn’t mean I’m not attracted.”
“So you are.” he replied in a sexy tone; leaning in while I continued to stare into his pale gray eyes, feeling flushed, “You’re blushing.” he continued.
“I…have high blood pressure.” I blurted then I looked away, taking deep breaths.
“Wow! You just have an answer for everything, don’t you!?”
“That’s because you have all these questions! And I was serious. Are we done here because we didn’t do a damn thing except flirt. On your part mostly. I just admired the view.”
He started to say something but no words came out.
“There’s a sentence just dying to come out.” I said.
Instead, he stood with his hands in the air as if he wanted to strangle something...well, me, watching as I returned my sword.
I walked by him, returning to the manor.
“Pissant!” he shouted over his shoulder.
Stopping in my tracks, I slowly turned around and snapped,
Guards on the wall looked down, watching as Erik and I argued. They laughed, talking as they pointed down, making bets on who’d walk away the winner of the argument.
“You know, if you weren’t so busy checking me out like all the others, you would’ve been more attentive to what you were doing!” he hollered.
“I thought you wanted to stop with the comments!?” I remarked as I walked back toward him,“And you’re not God’s gift you know.”but before he could say something in retaliation I continued, “This practice session never went anywhere, so I think it’s over for today.”
Turning away and within an ear’s reach, Erik hollered out after me once again, this time with more intent.
“Wow...you sure give up easily don’t you? What kind of Keeper are you going to be, huh? One that gives up, surrenders and is a chicken shit!? Or one that’s strong and fights; doing her best to protect herself and others!? You’re too distracted and need to focus more!”
“Oh…no…he didn’t!” Nick whispered, “He didn’t just question her integrity as a person.”
“Yes, he did.” Caleb replied, “He’s in deep shit. Ten pounds on him.” he smiled.
“Yeah? Well, I bet ten pounds on her.”
“Deal.” then they shook hands returning their focus on our argument.
I stopped in my tracks; again turning around, staring at him.He saw the expression on my face and fierceness in my eyes that were filled with tears. No one has doubted me so far, except Nathan. Hearing Erik say those words, hit home.
I said firmly as I walked straight over standing directly in front of him, once more,
“Let me tell you something, you egotistical asshole!”I pushed him back causing him to lose his balance slightly,“Vampire or not...I may be small or as you say a pissant, but I don’t give up. I don’t surrender and I’m definitely not a chicken shit! Those who say things like that to someone, shows a lot of insecurity and they’re really talking about themselves! As far as strong is concerned, I have shown a considerable amount of strength having to put up with Nathan’s unwanted advances, your arrogance and smug remarksand on top of that...you have no idea what my job will have laid out for me, taking care of this place and handling all the responsibility Marxus will leave me. And another thing, Erik?” I continued looking at him right in the eyes with tears now running down my cheeks but flames in my eyes and steam emanating from my pores, “You have no idea what I’d do to protect everyone here. If it meant sacrificing myself, I’d do it if I had to. I’ve grown to love this place and the people even after being here for a few days. Now I think; no, I know I’ll be a good Keeper for this community. If you don’t like me, that’s fine. Then stay away from me. I’ll train with someone else. Maybe Anthony. Now he’s one that knows how to treat a woman. Some respect you have. Your father, even though I’ve never met him...I’m sure would be extremely disappointed. Now stay the hell away from me! And yes...I was a bit distracted. I am afterall, a woman viewing a cute guy. So what!”
Before I could say anything more, a large bush nearby caught fire, out of nothing. Knowing that I had done it, I turned my back walking away, leaving him standing there perplexed; without a word. He turned his head, examining the bush as guards appeared, putting it out but were left confused as to its combustion.
“Bloody hell.” Erik mumbled, “So it’s true. She is a fire demon and she wasn’t kidding when she said she’d burn my ass.”
The guards watching the wall, paid their bets but were disappointed in Erik.
Nick teleported next to Erik and revealed softly,
“You’re a fool, Erik. That girl has a lot of weight on her shoulders and she agreed to train with you, from what we’ve heard from Jonathan.You weren’t nice to her. So, what...she was checking you out. She’s a woman. It’s what they do. It doesn’t mean she’s like the rest. Of course she’s going to be defensive towards you. I don’t blame her one bit. And besides, you were flirting with her.” as he looked at Erik who stood staring at the ground, “And do you know what happened to that bush?” his eyes jumped from Erik to the bush, in a cute wide eyed puppy dog expression.
Erik remained silent, staring at Nick’s expression then glanced away.
Nick shook his head, then turned away appearing back to his post.
Erik looked up quickly at the wall, the weapons, then back down at the ground, feeling like total shit.Releasing a few hisses of frustrationhe too, replaced his weapon and left, walking around the grounds hoping to find me and apologize.
When I wasn’t found, he returned to his room. He wasn’t the kind of person that deliberately hurt others.
He whispered as he held his hands to his chest over his heart,
“Ouch, but oh she’s such a…little pissant! I just want to bite her on that little chicken neck!” he again, held his hands in a strangling gesture then lowered them, realizing what his father would think of him, “Oh, f*** me sideways. Erik, you dumb bloke. What’s wrong with you? She’s right and you know it. What will your father think?”
After spending time in the entrance hall’s bathroom crying, I splashed cold water on my face, then headed to the dining hall looking for Jonathan and Sarah.They weren’t present, but sitting at one of the tables were Margaret and Belle. I rehashed what occurred and they couldn’t believe the things Erik had said.
After listening to them explain that Erik was really a nice guy, though a bit arrogant at times, that they had never heard him mouth off to anyone, except the lycans, and of course, the women who make constant derogatory sexual advances toward him. They told me he wasn’t that type of guy who slept around either. I felt guilty because maybe I had started this whole thing. I wanted to be alone so I excused myself,heading out to the atrium to contemplate everything.
This place is so beautiful, it definitely had a calming effect, making me forget my anger and occasional frustrations.
Entering the atrium, there were flowers of every variety planted in beautiful pots, surrounded by greenery everywhere. A small fountain sat in the center with fish; benches encircling around it for peace and quiet. The roof above, was an interesting structure. A glass Pyramid supported by heavy iron beams, letting in afternoon light, illuminating the atrium. It felt so serene and tranquil, before potted plants caught fire.
“Oops.” I blurted as I poured water onto them, “Yza…get a hold of yourself. Control yourself or this place WILL end up in flames.” then I looked down at the burnt plants, “Sorry.”