The Devil's Grace

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Chapter 6: still on that weird nickname?

G r a c e

"Hello, Rapunzel,” I grinned wickedly.

“Still on that weird nickname?” A gentle gleam of grinning grief purchases on my wet lips as I look absently around as drops of rain float along with my tears down the haggard face of my beast.

“For me, you’re my special, lovely Rapunzel. You were always like a princess...You had that—How to say? The spirit of warrior princess. . . a blissfully kindhearted one, but deeply, the fire shed in the darkness of your own blood. Of course, the cuteness is inevitable just looking at you.” There was a quiet chuckle behind my back that was not at all filled with corruption—it was completely opposite, the warm one. Little joy was striking my chest, although my coldness stagnated. I laughed halfheartedly in depression, uttering just the opposite.

“I was never blissful at first place. That adjective doesn’t have a place in my classification. I’m a seed of an misfortune, I don’t get to be happy, even if I tried. Life is unfair for someone of us...old man.”

“Why do you make a fool of yourself, dear Grace, you do not need it at all... Not a bit.” I sighed deeply, looking at the obscure domain of contemporary London. So many things have changed, but this riverbed of Thames is still here, waiting for someone to devote time to it. And it is a being like all of us, although it does not breathe nor have betting heart, at least it has the living memoirs.

“Friend, sometimes you do not ask questions that you already know the answer. If I would throw myself of this old bridge and die, nobody would be sorry...maybe somebody would feel a little regretful, but it would not develop out of pain, but only because of severe conscience or pity. Nobody would truly be sorry. However, I know it’s not possible because I–I can not kill myself.” The scene I met in Nefcease still does not get out of the head. Just constantly spinning in the subconscious to make me even more struck by fate that lays before me. Really blissful, indeed. I through.

“Dear Grace, come on.” And I felt giving to the request. By turning back, I felt a solid ground once again under my feet. With a head moving upward, I saw him finally after so many centuries, standing on the opposite side of the bridge as I was expecting—waiting patiently for me. With a huge black umbrella that covered his face from the curious views of a few walking people, but I could perceive a smile among lustrous hair that circled around his anfas as an aureole.

“Hello again, Lord Rikyendaure.” With the soft greeting, my trailing to him was accompanied by the cries of thunder above us. Fiery sky played its symphony in tones that came with a revelation of his devilish face. Those brown, almost black eyes wrapped in long black lashes were carefully following every step I took to get closer to him.

“Good evening, my little princess.” That astonishing smile, as always, was enclosed in the grin of benevolence I have known for a long time.

Thateccentricoldbuffoon. I missedhim. ′Ignis grinned.

Me too, Ignis.′ I replied her.

“You have not changed from outside, all. You still have those little mustaches...and still, have long hair. You’re literally, a copy of Louis XIV like that,” the laughter came out of me suddenly when I eyed him all over. Although he carried an antiquated air around himself, Maximus always had a style that fits with something exalted—like a highly positioned nobleman, which, of course, he is. To put on a sack, he would still be above all with his regally holding. But, even if I don’t know I single thing about modern clothes, he has the expensive one. I’m not that clueless not to connect two and two.

“Please do not you mention him to me. He copied me, don’t you remember?” Maximus rolled his eyes while I started snickering at his reply. Even underneath his small whiskers and all this dark, I could recognize a mischievous smile embedded on his stern face.

“How could I not? From the young age, he was literally attached to your side and grasped everything you do...” The very thought of the junior Louis XIV at Versailles flashed through memories. He was a spoiled brat and that Maximus knows firsthand since he was one of the main actors in the court. Even though he never indulge him, little Louis was by his side. There were countless times where this stern man tried to push him away, but in the end, I know that Maximus himself adored him even though he did not tell anyone about it. Only with careful eyes, it would not elapse from the observations.

A great enthrall is anywhere Lord Rikyendaur makes an entrance. Everyone knows about him and stories about his cruelty, sometimes even about his sadistic torturing, but nobody knows him thoroughly. Nonetheless, a few people have ever tried to make this thousand-year-old man—of course, only old in the soul—an action that is comparable to the little outburst of sympathy, let alone love and as such he is always observed from hungry-for-the-power eyes. He was even for ordinary humans, a true portrait of the tyrant aristocrat...sometimes the timeless Casanova is one of his domestic characteristics.

"Yes. . .” he responded mildly. Although I was all wet in front of him now, he cautiously embraced me with his strong hands in which I could again find a felicitous solace from the turmoil that spilled within my soul. The powerful fragrance of a muscular perfume that resembles those colorful fields of the Provence has calmed my tense heart, stabilizing my rapid heart.

I slowly removed my head from his firm chest and looked at him better, but again I did not find any new changes like the world around me has. Only a small spark was now playing within his black pupils who were watching me closely. Realizing that I had found something on him, he just shrugged with a short nod and whispered in a quiet voice that he would tell me everything once we rest.

He changed...slightly. He has freshness in his eyes—they are no longer detached away from emotions. They have the warmth that was not present before, but which is now mostly blossomed like the March’s violet that he himself adores.

Receiving the black umbrella out of his hands, he lifted me into his arms like a newly born young girl, dropping a brotherly kiss on my forehead that speaks only one message—do not worry. I’m here. And with that, everything around us has become a mixture of darkness, while Maximus passes through the streets with his supernatural force, which adorns him as a vampire lord.

After a few minutes of running, we arrived in front of a beautiful residence that had all the peculiarities to be called a small palace. Lowering me in a slight movement on the muddy soil of a small garden that surrounded us, I tried to discern things around. Under the light of high black street lamps that looked like old ones, the path made of white stones stretched right up to the front door of this estate. Some warm tranquility could be felt in the air. It exuded like...home.

“Come on, princess. Let me show you your new room.” Recognizing my curious eyebrows that I raised as a question because I know that he did not tell me everything, but he just greeted. I knew that we aren’t longer in London, but near it.

“We’re near Berkhamsted, Grace. I need to introduce you to someone important,” replied Maximus, as his little cheeky smile overwhelmed him accompanied by a tiny blush that could not pass under my firm scrutiny. (A/N: Berkhamstedis town 26 miles/42 km northwest of London. Also, Lucifer and Apollo are in New York, atthe moment. Grace teleported from nightclub Nefcease (NYC) throughher flamed mirror atthe end oflastchapter.)

Wow. Really. . .I have no words. First Apollo, and now this stubborn man whom I consider to be a stone rather than a softie. ′ Ignis’s words were followed by a little giggle that burst accidentally out of me, but Maximus was too forward thinking to take me to my room while going through the large labyrinth of quarters that this seemingly small village mansion has.

“Here, this is your room. There you will see the bathroom. The clothes will be placed on your bed shortly.”

“Thank you, X,” I replied fastly I saw him retreating away. He playfully winked at me.

“As I said earlier, don’t make yourself a bigger burden than you have on your shoulders, little princess,” and with that greeting he came out of this large room, leaving me alone with my wild thoughts.

* * * * *

With every heavy inhale I took, one tear comes down from the depths of my eyes waiting only for the moment when the pain stops with its torture. Stepping out of the shower and wrapping my body in a large white towel, I excited to get dry clothes and undergarment that was resting on the silk duvet. Shifting in the short-sleeved shirt that was covering almost the entire surface of my body, I felt finally warmness. Regardless of all this, I still wore long cotton pants that were smooth under my touch.

Lucifer. Yes, he was constantly coming on a mind, joining Rachelle in their lustful game. Playfully, my brain is towering over my conscience with those vivid images. How faith has a game from me, right in the back pocket of pants.

“Yeah, blissful life...totally,” I murmured miserably, getting thoughts outside my head.

Nefcease, as long I can, I won’t put a step in it again. I sighed aloud, consuming energy to say next words. About...him, well. I’m not going back to New York, just saying,′ I told Ignis inwardly. In short and quite replay that isn’t common - at all - for Ignis, she respects my choice. Just as I proceeded back into the bedroom, there was a slight knock on the wooden door of this room. By opening them with caution, I met with a sharp yet gentle glare.

“May I come in, Rapunzel?” I rolled eyes teasingly at Maximus’ soft voice, full of softness as if he is afraid that only one loud tone would break me.

“It’s your house, X. And please, not that pet name. You know that I hate it.”

“But it your room. And as a fine gentleman that I am, I must ask a young lady. And secondly, I don’t care. I called you like that back in the day and will surely continue that tradition,” he playfully grinned at me as I groaned annoyingly at his attitude.

“Just shut up, X,” I elbowed him smiling and with a tiny gesture of my hand, I directed him to the bed where he took his place. By closing the door behind me, I casually sat next to him leaning against the leather back of the bed.

“With pleasure...princess,” I rolled eyes again thinking just about how his perky personality really didn’t change. “Now I want to ask you...”

“Yeah, Maximus?”

"It happened again. . .right?” Maximus broke down the comfortable silence that was upon us. I looked up towards his face that was getting lit by soft lamplight of my bed.

“Do you mean that somebody else has demolished my sanity again? Did someone again break it? If you think about that, Maximus, then yes. Again someone had the honor to do it, but someone that is more important than others because he. . . he--” And that moment I just stopped. I couldn’t utter a single word either to pronounce a single letter as my emotions twirl around.

“Your real mate?” He asked with slight concern, but he could wrap something else beneath my closed eyes as I tiredly exhaled.

“Yes, I’m sorry for my sudden release. I didn’t want to yell at you. Sorry. . .” I came to him as he opened his hands toward me as if he had the feeling that the tears would flow. “I-I’m s-so sorry.” I only knew one thing then—to embrace his hug, although only the cold could settle on the body of the vampire.

“Do not apologize for anything, my princess. Remember when we first met?” At the very thought of our first encounter, I immediately sorted out my tears brushing them away.

‘He changed the subject to help us.’ Ignis stated, but silently revealed. I just laughed lightly at Maximus who was replying me with the same dose of pleasant mockery.

“You mean when did you try to get rid of that grime Claudius by making him dance with me all night? That was bad of you! Perhaps I’m immortal, but dear Moon, my legs were, seriously, hurt,” I elbowed him making an angry grimace.

“Hey, don’t do that, wrinkles affect aging. And secondly, you made me look like a bad guy in the whole story.” Maximus hit me with a fist in the shoulder, which did not hurt at all, but he pretended to be innocent, rolling black orbs in quasi-annoyance.

Actually, he looks an angry poodle withallthathair. I beamed at him while the smile still lingers on my lips.

Ignis is right, he looks like the poodle.

“A poodle?! A freaking poodle you compare with me! And Ignis! You just didn’t, princess!” And like that, this so unimaginably warm moments turned into a ferocious fight between us.

Although defending myself from my non-so-gentle attacks with a pillow, Maximus could not catch a breath, but every word that came out of his mouth was like a consolation. This cold-blooded lord whose name only causes fear in the bones of the vampires of any era throws at me a pillow, treats me as a family whose traits I have never experienced before and which I try, from day to day, to find...but now I know. Family isn’t thing that you find. No, you gain it. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t blood-related. Family is where lays happiness, carefree and wishing for just one more day to be with them. Trust bulled by the walls of love is what can keep you strong in the room full of masked people where you feel alone and distract from feelings of freedom, but again, you remember who is waiting for you when you come back...back to home.

“Has anyone told you. . . said you are crazy?” Maximus asked me, amused. We were dreamy lying down next to each other, still laughing on the bed and panting for a brisk oxygen while the white feathers floated around us at their own pace.

"Maybe,” I laughed softly because the air almost did not reach my lungs.

“Maybe not!” And again, I hit him with the rest of the pillow from which the white feather, but halfway to his face, his arm stopped me. Our pupils carefully watched each other in this short break of the battle.

“I give up!” He shouted in a serious tone, but with a smile lingering on his face. Our titter echoed through this not so big room as we tried to inhale the non-existing fresh air. Rising from this large bed and moving away drapes of baldachin, Maximus opened the glass doors of a small balcony, living beside him long white drapery to dance on the wind. Allowing the feathers to fall off my clothes, after a few minutes I got up to join him in the evening fresh air.

The tensed silence stood up between us.

While the stunning scenery of misty woods aroused my eyes to explore every millimeter of it, for a moment I looked to the left, at my friend’s side face. A tenebrous look was filled within those dark brown eyes that can only be described as the color of the darkest part of the midnight when the Moon is hidden in its bed of always-migrating clouds. His built body was in a constant cramp. Looking down at his hands, his hands held the stone pillars of the balcony in an incredibly severe distress that even the bleak white traces over his knuckles were seen.

“What’s wrong with you, X?” I asked anxiously, seriousness began to manage across my features. I tried to free his fingers from a deathly grip, but that was near impossible, even to me. He continued to look at some unknown spot, without even uttering a single word. I did not ask for more answers and just went a little away, but staying beside him. Putting hands gently on the white stone of the balcony, I just waited patiently watching Moon made its re-entry this night.

The rain had long ago ceased, leaving behind only freshness behind the plants. The scent of the pine trees surrounding the villa was played on a cold breeze caressing my naked skin. Gently lowering my own head to Maximus’s shoulder, I closed my eyes in the peace that he sought for. Brotherly arms clutched my back in a stronghold, not letting me move. Neither did I want at this moment to let go. His right hand caressed gently my scalp going through all those half-wet blonde, ushering me to give in. My deep breathing could be heard next to all the silent and soft sounds of nature while we were standing here on a balcony, with my head resting peacefully on his muscular chest. Maximus sighed tiredly, closing eyelids that are hiding those mesmerizing depths.

"Why are you again...” His question sounded as if it was not directed at anyone to answer but to plain nothingness. I know it’s about me, I feel it. I tightened my arms around his waist, dragging my face into his lush hair, yet unusual fragrance. Tears wanted to create their rivers again, but I did not allow them. His answer was just one. Kissing me gently on the crown of my head, he expressed his feelings in only a few words that were still playing upon my insights.

“I’ll keep you—No,” he stopped in second, but continue in a second later. “I will always keep you safe even if you step into the pits of hell or the heights of the heaven,” replied Maximus warmly as his large hands were enclosed around my head. He left something more than all these words can describe—the tear he tried to hide from sight, the feelings everyone through that he cannot possess, but I believe in that they’re somewhere and that this man of steel is more than the portrait of selfishness. But all that now goes in vain. I saw it.

“Always, my dear Grace. . .always. You’re not alone.” With the fluffy movements of his white fingers, he rubbed my half dry hair. ”Not more.”

’This man...he’s our family,′ Ignis finally spoke after a whole night of silence, ’whatever someone said.′ And she is absolutely right.

He is ours, I inwardly proclaimed.

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