The room falls into a comfortable silence, the feel of each other’s presence bringing a sense of comfort to everyone, Kyri, Abel, and I being the only ones left within the space, Eileesha leaving to take over Abel’s spot for security. I am not surprised when my mind strays away from the world. Abel’s reassuring words of Maddie’s well-being did little to keep the anxiousness from rising.
I knew in my heart that she was getting the best care she needed, the lost memories of the two rising: it was hard to miss the way Adrian’s eyes would seek her out among the rest, even when he thought he could hide it, despite their bickering. He looked at her in a sort of short, mesmerizing way, and almost in disbelief that she stood before him — existing and breathing the same air as him.
It was a look I have become too familiar with.
I lift my head from staring at the covers, finding Abel’s sprawled-out figure on the couch, gazing at me.
Broken away my thoughts, I give him my full attention, propping my hand on my cheek with the twins beside me, fast asleep after being fed.
“How are you adjusting?” he asks me, sitting up.
I raise a brow. “To what?”
“Being a vampire.”
Even as he says it, the word does not affect me as much as I thought it would, my mind finally accepting what I have become. I don’t answer his question right away, mulling each word into the groves of my mind. Once again, I’m dragged to the floating memories that lived inside me, placing me back in the heat of the battle that partook outside the castle walls.
I revisit the way my limbs moved in a way I did not know they were cable of doing, speed and agility fueling my movements to take down Victoria, the quickness that took hold of my feet came to me naturally in my plan to destroy her and her allies.
The bloodlust that coursed through my veins awakened that beast, hungry to rip any threat to me or my children. I let my mind replay the act of ripping Victoria’s head off, with her body bounded with the help of Delano, her life lied within my control. The way the flesh of her neck stretched until it couldn’t anymore, each piece of skin disconnecting from her shoulders like wet paper until her head separated from the rest of her body rang a deep satisfaction through me, my nerves singing with contentment.
I would have preferred to use my teeth, but my hands worked just as fine. Subconsciously, I ran my tongue over the points of my fangs, refocusing my eyes on Abel who looked at me with raised brows.
“What is going on in that head of yours?” he chuckles.
“Thinking back to the fight with Victoria and those creatures,” I admit, “but to answer your question, I’m adjusting quietly nicely.”
“I’m still wondering how I was able to fight when I don’t have a lick of fighting skills in my body.”
Abel smiles, eyes twinkling, “Instincts. It comes naturally when you’re trying not to end up dead.”
My lips make a downward gesture, head tilting to the side, in agreement with his words. “That makes sense.”
(a/n: you that face you make when you taste something you thought would be nasty then it turns out not to be after a few smacks of your lips and you’re like hmn, that’s what I tried to describe 😂😭)
“Which, by the way,” he pushes himself up from the couch, eyes holding the look of astonishment as if he were reliving the moment himself. “you looked completely badäss out there, being that you were newly turned too — bonus points.”
A rise of heat takes place on my cheeks, not sure how to take the compliment. It was still the first time I’ve executed any sort of violence to the extent that I did. “Thank you.”
“I have a question,” I say as he reaches where I lied, his knee dipping the bed with this weight as he slides on his stomach the length of the bed, sighing at its softness: still placing enough space between us.
Scratching the back of my ear, I ask; “What happened with Victoria’s body?”
“We burned it,” Kyri’s voice drifts from across the room not even a second later after my own words caressed the air.
I direct my attention momentarily towards her, her frame taking a spot on the sofa that faced away from us, her head settled in the crook of her elbow that rested on the sofa’s back. Those eyes burned, like blue flames mingling with orange, their intensity revealing the anger that shone from the abyss, causing them to darken and mingle with the hint of red that bleeds its existence into her eyes.
“Why should someone, responsible for the death of my parents, be buried when she can simply burn in the pits of hell; where she belongs?”
Abel suddenly whistled, “You both are a bunch of she-devils, you know that?” he chuckles to himself, shaking his head.
Smirking slightly at his comment, I hold gazes with Kyri. “You’re right, she got what she deserved.”
She bobs her head slightly, the anger that brewed slowly diminishing, the normal hue of baby blue returning.
“On a serious note, there was a reason I asked how you were adjusting,” Abel begins.
He draws my focus once more, the mirth-filled look in his eyes, gone and replaced with slight seriousness that changed the atmosphere, articulating the atoms in the air to tightly compose together, a tension now existing.
“I’m pretty sure Delano has informed you about the war that soon to hit the castle.”
I nod, reaching forward to grab ahold of Adelia’s hand, spreading her fingers and inspecting their shape and size, to ground me to reality to keep myself from worrying about the war that was soon to take place.
“That’s another reason, Eileeshsa and I have been gone for so long, we were training the others for what was to come,” his eyes take on a distinct look of grief.
“There hasn’t been an attack to the kingdom in centuries,” he informs, “our borders were weak with the notion that nothing big will come of the castle.”
“We lost so many people. . .”
A faraway look consumes his irises, his mind reeling him back to the battle, his face sullen with a dark expression. As I observe him, I begin to question his story, never really knowing how he came up to this point in his life, vampire or not. Something dark lies beneath that friendly he always wore.
I’m moving before I register it, my hand reaching across the space that distanced us, gripping his free hand that was within reach. He snaps away from his thoughts, that haze has fallen over his eyes disappearing as he regards me; softening when our eyes collide. Through my eyes I tell him it’s okay, squeezing my palm with his for extra measure.
A gentle smile returns to his lips, the color in his eyes brightening as he takes a deep breath. When I know he won’t return to the dark place in his head, I retract my hand and wait for him to continue.
“Knowing Delano,” Abel starts, “and how protective he is of you; he probably hasn’t mentioned the idea of you training.”
Surprise causes my brows to shoot upward, the emotion leaving a tingly sensation down my spine. Abel was right in a sense, the thought has not crossed the own valleys of my mind, the childish thought of relying on these vampiric abilities as I had previously made my cheeks burn with embarrassment. Delano suggesting that I train was completely unheard of, as Abel mentioned, only depending on Delano would get me nowhere but to an early grave if I don’t give myself enough credit. Knowing him, I doubt he would mention it anytime soon.
“What are you suggesting?” I ask him, interested.
I rise from my position, careful not to wake Adelia or Cassius as Abel follows my movements, sitting up as well. His silver orbs burn with determination, gauging my expression before he begins to smile almost slyly.
“How about I train you,” he declares, excitement seeping from his pores, “that way, whenever the time comes, you’ll be prepared.”
Kyri’s giggle floats through the air, carrying to where we sat, our gaze shift to her form; feet propped up, one ankle over the other, on the back of the sofa as she held a book above her head.
“Delano will not be happy about this,” she sings, amusement laced with every word, eyes sliding away from the book and to us.
Abel rolls off the bed, standing to his feet and straightening out his clothes before he rested his hands on his hips, glaring at Kyri, accusation deep in his eyes. “What are you going to do, tell?”
“No, but this will be fun to see play out.”
Abel waves his hand as if to dismiss her, lips tilted to the side in a small pout before he returns his focus back to me.
“So, what do you say?”
I mull over his words, looking away from him to the twins, their sleeping figures unfazed with everything that went on around them. A part of me knew that these instincts will only get me so far if I wanted to protect these small souls, proper training would benefit me in the long run, whether Delano didn’t seem fit for me to train, we won’t always be in the same space of each other for him to protect me.
I could take care of myself and I will show him that I will. With my head held high, I look Abel in the eyes.
“All right, I’m in.”
“We’re going to start with something basic, to see where your strength is at.”
Abel took me to an area of the castle that I was unfamiliar with, somewhere near the back, he pointed out all the rooms that we passed, the end of the castle mostly for the armor, weaponry, sleeping corridors for the maids and servants, and training rooms for the castle’s guard system. Luckily, we didn’t run into anyone on our, everyone out and heeding to their tasks. Abel informed me that Eileesha had taken the other guards, the ones they’re training, outside to the back of the castle where another training other was, leaving the room to us.
The room he brought me to resembles the room Delano and I occupied during the ball; the walls replaced with mirrors that reflected our images. Punching bags hung from the ceiling, rips, and dents obvious signs of usage with treadmills lined up against the walls, mats littering the floor; in other words, this seemed like a typical gym that you would find in the human world.
I shoot my gaze to Abel, he laughs at the look on my face as he ties his hair back into a bun at the top of his head before adjusting the pad on his hands.
“It won’t hurt me,” he tells me, “that’s why I have these on,” for an effect, he smacks both the paddings together, the noise resonating through the room.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes! Come on, hit me!”
Looking him over once more, I reach up and separate my ponytail and pull the strands apart to tighten it, then pulling the hem of the shorts and sports bra, the material tight on my body. Rolling my neck a few times until satisfied when it cracked, I stepped toward Abel, raising my hands.
“When punching, curl your fingers and keep your thumb tucked— not inside! But until it’s resting on the tops of your fingers.”
As instructed, I copy his instructions, again taking a stance; angling my body sideways with my feet spread apart to stand firm and strong.
Behind the padded mitts, he smiles. “Now, hit me as hard as you can, keeping you can.”
Without a second of waiting, I drive my fist forward, putting as much force as I can into the punch, extending my arm; aiming for the white circle on the mitts. A loud smack! echoes throughout the room, Abel’s body tensing as he slides a few inches from his original spot.
He removes the mitt from over his hand, shaking it in the air once it was freed.
“You have one hell of a punch, girly,” he laughs, looking at me with astonishment.
“Are you okay? I didn’t hurt you, did I?” I question, stepping forward and taking his hand into mine out of concern.
The palm of his hand was starting to turn red and blotchy, the same spot I had aimed for, and almost immediately the color begins to fade, his abilities healing the area.
“It’s fine, you’re pretty strong for your size,” he says, taking off the other glove.
“What are you trying to say?”
“Nothing bad!” he laughs. “Now that I know where you stand, we can start with exercising, again, with something basic until I come up with a plan to match your strength.”
I nod, finally taking in his words, sort of proud of myself.
“You may never,” Abel calls from over his shoulder as he walks toward the treadmills, “you might come to spar with Delano.”
I snort, loudly, “Yeah, no, that’s never happening.”