Offspring

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Chapter LXXI

K A I T L Y N

The slaps of my fist slamming against the material of the punching bag echoes throughout the room, my breathing drifting with its alliance. Smack! Smack! I keep my arms close to my chest, as instructed by Abel, tensing the muscles in my arm before it makes contact with the punching bag.

It has been close to a week since I have started training with Abel, luckily with no appearance from Delano. The castle seemed to be in an uproar of activity this particular day, bodies rushing around the corridors as if preparing for something that has not yet arrived. I push dark thoughts to the back of my mind, returning my attention to the punching bag. I hiss out a breath through clenched teeth that hungrily search for a lung to relieve the tightening pressure in my chest as I bounce on the balls of my feet.

My fist drives forward, connecting with the weighed bag, the other quickly following afterward in a quick motion of fluid repeated advancements. I gaze harshly at the brown leather, allowing an image to slick from the back of my consciousness to the forefront and replace the assaulted bag as motivation.

โ€œSilly girl,โ€ her sickened voice echoes within the walls of my mind.

Her disembodied voice brings forth a rush of emotions, my fist connecting with the material at an unreeling fast rate. Each connection made with the bag resonates in the room.

Smack! Smack!

The image of the bag soon transforms from Victoriaโ€™s face to the creatures that rained havoc upon the castle. My blood rushes through my veins like a war of soldiers charging headfirst into battle, my movements soon creating a rhythm of ruthless advancements until finally, the sound of cracking drywall pulls me from the claws of memories.

Jumping a couple of paces away, my chest rises with fast intakes of breathing, my vision clearing from the assaulted images. Beads of sweat roll down the sides of my temples, my gaze lifting to the ceiling where the leather bag swung from silver chains. Cracks in the ceiling stretched, revealing how much power my fist was pounding into the bag; pieces of drywall falling onto the mats below.

A whistle whips my gaze over my shoulder.

โ€œWell damn,โ€ Abel chuckles, seemingly out of breath from his own workout, โ€œwhat has you so angry?โ€

I shake my head, catching my breath and adjusting the mitts on my hands before reaching to the floor to pick up my water source. โ€œNothing in particular, just reliving past images.โ€

โ€œI know not to fรผck with you then.โ€

โ€œHey!โ€ Kyri calls from the corner of the room, โ€œstop cursing, we have children present.โ€

Abel turns in her direction, flicking his ring finger as if to shoot her the finger but still being mindful of the twins that laid out before her on their bellies. A small snort of amusement escapes from the seams of my mouth as I press the water bottle to my lips, gulping the cool liquid.

โ€œAnywho,โ€ Abel turns back around with a glint of excitement in his eyes. โ€œHow does sparring with me sound?โ€

I lift a brow from over my bottle in question, lowering the object as I swallow the rest of the contents in my mouth.

โ€œSparring?โ€

โ€œYeah! You know,โ€ he makes the motions of jabbing the air in quick, short fluid movements, โ€œfighting each other.โ€

I toss my bottle to the side, refreshed, calm after my small workout, basking in the throb that consumed my muscles.

โ€œAre you sure?โ€ I inquire, neither backing down from the suggestion.

He grins from ear to ear, noting at the approval in my tone, โ€œWhen am I not?โ€

โ€œOn the contrary. . .โ€ Eileesha chimes from the entrance of the room, a rare smirk gracing her lips at her hidden joke.

Abel whips around and hisses, squinting his eyes in her direction, ceasing any further words from her. She doesnโ€™t seem fazed as she shrugs her shoulders before crossing her arms as she leans her weight gassing the opposite wall of the door.

Satisfied, he begins to lead me to the middle of the room, positioning ourselves in front of each other. I begin to stretch out my limbs, twisting my back until it pops then reaching for my toes in a downward bend to expand my hamstringsโ€” heeding Abelโ€™s advice in stretches and using them to my advantage. He follows along and does his own stretches, still, grinning as if heโ€™s been waiting for this moment.

โ€œDonโ€™t be afraid to strike me,โ€ he mentions, โ€œI can take a hit.โ€

I laugh, โ€œSame goes for you.โ€

He lowers himself to his ankles, extending his right leg out and grabbing at his shins to twist his waist. We both occupy ourselves with stretches for a couple of minutes, readying our bodies for the sudden movements we will soon commence.

โ€œAre there any rules to this spar?โ€ I ask.

โ€œNone too complicated; the first to be pinned to the mat loses.โ€

โ€œSounds simple enough.โ€

โ€œWeโ€™ll see.โ€

Those silver eyes glint with mischievous deeds as I adjust the bandages around my knuckles. I stand to my full height, planting my bare feet firmly into the mat taking on a sturdy stance. Abel finds his own stance that he feels comfortable with, raising his hands to line with his sight.

โ€œReady?โ€

I follow his action, clenching and raising my own.

โ€œReady.โ€

Before I knew it, Abel soon becomes a flood of colors as he zips towards me. Everything slows within time as he motions for a right-handed swing, I barely dodge the assault, his speed unmatched to mine. I counter the action with a block; crossing my arms in front of my face. The sound of flesh connecting with flesh creates a sickening slap that echoes off the surfaces of the room.

The true, unhidden strength behind his advance sends me staggering backward. I lock my knees momentarily to keep myself from falling over, keeping my stance steady as I clench the rest of my body for his next expected blow.

Left! right! left! right! left! right!

He overwhelms me with a series of blows, each connection growing stronger as they make contact with my forearm, heat flaring from the assaulted spot. Gritting my teeth, I calculate his next set of blows, timing the swing of his left fist to match the movement of my body as I sidestep away from him.

I heave out of breath before charging forward, using my size to my advantage. Tapping into my ability of speed, I drive my fist to connect with his lower half, making contact with his ribs and catching him off guard. He wheezes briefly, catching himself a moment later as he retaliates my attack with an upward swing of his fist, barely missing my jawline as I avoid it with a tilt of my head.

Now centimeters from each other, he grapples my shoulders in a strong grip, bringing my top half down toward his knee with alarming speed. I was barely able to disable his attack, locking my fingers together to push his knee away and twist out of his hold, his nails scratching at my skin.

I retreat back a few steps when out of his hold, breathing deeply and eyes locked on his form. I notice the change in his demeanor, brows arched downward and gaze hardened with concentration. The moment of observing was short-lived as he advances forward, leaving no room for me to catch my breath; his left foot leaves the floor as he shifts his weight to his right leg, his hip twisting with the swing of his kick.

Raising my arm in defense, I once again block his attack, our forms becoming a blur of motion: attacking and defending each other, landing a few blows to one another. Throughout the spar, we fly across the room, the sound of breathing and connecting blows the only thing resonating in the spacious area. Before long, the sound of the training roomsโ€™ door opening breaks my concentration as I mistakenly slide my gaze to the intruder.

My eyes are soon met with thrilling blue ones, that stare upon my form with mild shock. Taking the distraction, Abel knocks my legs from beneath me while mid-air, driving his fist into my stomach and slamming me to the groundโ€” laying on top of me in a pin.

A groan escapes me, my eyes screwed shut at the obvious pain in my being and at defeat.

โ€œI win,โ€ Abel sings.

I lay sprawled out among the mat flooring, arms raised above me, somewhat embarrassed. My chest rises with heavy breaths, sweat beading along my skin as the air condition circulates within the room now brushing along my flesh in a cooling sensation. I huff, finally opening my eyes to find Abel holding himself above me with a sly grin: fangs glinting.

โ€œThat doesnโ€™t count,โ€ I say with a snicker laced in my words, โ€œI was distracted.โ€

He tsks, shaking his head as sweat coats his face, โ€œFirst rule of fighting, little human, never take your eyes off your opponent.โ€

โ€œYeah, yeah.โ€

I lightly place my hand on his chest, indicating that I wanted to sit up but also not removing the small fact from my head that the man of the hour has walked into the room, his presence immediately bringing forth a rush of tension to my body. Abel flops to the side of me, lying on his back as he catches his breath.

โ€œDo I wish to know what I have walked into?โ€ his voice travels the mile of distance between us, sending a rush of tingles down my spine and amplifying my need to breathe.

Abel darts up into a sitting position, his gaze cutting over toward Delano as he stands by the threshold of the room.

โ€œUh, oh,โ€ he mumbles to himself.

I lift myself into a sitting position as Delano stalks past Eileesha, her once relaxed stance reverting back to her usual stoic stance as she assumes the duty of her title. He crosses the distance of the room within seconds from his long strides, coming to stand a few feet away from where we sat. His eyes held an undertone of darkness in itsโ€™ depths as he focuses his attention on Abel.

Taking in his appearance, the air that separates us accumulates with hidden desires, my gaze floating across his clothing and features. Nothing seems different besides the growth of his hair as it tickles the tips of his ears, naturally parted down the middle as he wears his usual attire. A fitted white dress shirt hugged his muscles in ways that my fingers itched to caress, reminding me of the barbaric thoughts that plagued my head: with him being the only living structure within. He finished the outfit with grey slacks and dress shoes, his aura reeking of authority as it touched a deep part inside of me.

โ€œWell,โ€ Abel breaks my attention, standing to his feet, โ€œI was teaching Kaitlyn a few skills in close combat.โ€

Delano hums, the noise ringing through my being and rushing to parts of my body that I wished never woke. I rise to my full height, pulling at my training wear; shorts and a sports bra. He shifts his focus from Abel to me momentarily, his eyes trailing a blaze of fire as he took in my appearance, his pupils expanding at my attire; noticing the way they lingered on my curves before locking gazes with me.

I donโ€™t shy away from his stare, holding eye contact for the short while until he returns his gaze back to Abel.

โ€œGood thing I came at a good time then,โ€ he starts, โ€œI have a few things that I need Eileesha and you to do for me.โ€

Abel nods, suddenly assuming the title of second in command of the castleโ€™s protection force. Eileesha blurs from across the room, coming to stand beside Abel as they await orders from their king, throwing all familiarities out the window.

โ€œThereโ€™s going to be a meeting within the next few hours,โ€ he informs them, โ€œthe visiting purebloods will be attending so gather up a few other guards to stand watch outside of my office until then.โ€

โ€œYes, your majesty,โ€ Abel and Eileesha sync.

โ€œYouโ€™re dismissed.โ€

With one final nod, the both walk off toward the door and just before they pass over the threshold, Abel glances over his shoulder; the seriousness still present in his eyes as he graces me with a smile.

โ€œWeโ€™ll continue this some other time.โ€

He winks, earning a glare from Delano as his form disappears, his laughter ringing behind him. Iโ€™m soon left in the awaiting presence of the man before me, his full undivided attention now given to me as he turns around to eye me up and down.

โ€œYouโ€™ve been training?โ€ he questions, raising a sculpted brow.

โ€œYes,โ€ I reply, shrugging casually. โ€œWhat else could I do? Staying in that room any longer would have driven me mad.โ€

My statement seems to amuse him as his eyes crinkle around the edges. His scent begins to engulf me, surrounding me in its claws and filling my being with his smell as it causes an ache to form in my belly, yearning for something to scratch the itch that was I couldnโ€™t rid myself of. Busying myself, I turn on my heel to reach for my water, unknowingly bending down in front of Delano.

Once I turn back around, I catch his eyes rising and leveling from mine, catching him in the act of staring at my รคss. We hold gazes for a moment as I hold in a snort, no shame in his eyes at being caught.

He clears his throat, shifting his weight, โ€œThat wasnโ€™t the only reason for coming down here.โ€

I raise my brows, egging him to continue. He seems to mull the words over in his head before his lips form the sentence.

โ€œI was wondering if you wished to accompany to the meeting?โ€

To say I was shocked was a slight understatement, him inviting me to a meeting with other vampiresโ€”other purebloods at thatโ€” was far from the crates of my mind.

โ€œMe?โ€

โ€œYes.โ€

โ€œAre you sure?โ€

โ€œKaitlyn,โ€ my name rolls off his tongue like honey, one of those rare smiles splaying across his mouth, โ€œIโ€™m positive.โ€

The simple action creates a tremble throughout my body, a heat starting from the core of my being and spreading to the very tips of my fingers as I tightly hold my water bottle; gritting my teeth as if to cease myself I knew I would not regret.

โ€œItโ€™s only fair that you are included in the release of information for the upcoming battle.โ€

I once again find that organ within my chest, cracking open and spilling with the unnamed emotion, pouring over my veins and scorching the very essence of my soul to be named and called upon. Finally, in response, I wet my lips to speak.

โ€œWell then, yea, I accept your invitation,โ€ I tell him with a nod.

โ€œBut first, I would like to change.โ€

He again smiles, the darkened, desired look never leaving his eyes as he accesses me up and down once more. Shamelessly letting his gaze lock with the tips of my nรญpples as they protrude due to my wandering thoughts.

"Of course.โ€

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