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Chapter 31

I laugh gleefully as I twirl around in Rolan’s arms, skipping with him, trying to keep up with him as he shows me a native russian dance.

“That’s it, my love,” Rolan says as I move my feet.

“Really?” I ask.

He laughs and shakes his head, “Stop taking the piss.” I reply, laughing once again.

The past two days have been amazing, full of feasts and dancing and laughing. Barely any other thought has crossed my mind since the start and honestly I’m grateful for it.

“Can we sit down” I say, legs aching, “I’m knackered.”

Rolan leads me from the dance floor to where his family and close friends sit.

“Tired?” His mum asks as I take a seat beside her. “Very,” I reply as I reach for a slice of one of the cakes in front of me. Chocolate, of course. It tastes delectable as I place it in my mouth. It’s a gateaux of sorts, very creamy and light. I immediately go for a second slice before finishing the one on my plate scared that it might suddenly disappear if I didn’t. Mr Clarke gives a hearty laugh as he watches me scoff my cake greedily. I would look away ashamed but I regret absolutely nothing.

“So, Mae how are you enjoying everything so far?”

I swallow a mouthful of chocolate cake before answering, “Everything has been great so far!”

“Well we’re glad that you are enjoying yourself.” Angela says as he takes her mates hand, looking lovingly into his eyes. I smile hoping that one day me and Rolan will get to that point.

“Would you like another dance, my love?” Rolan asks as another hearty melody is struck up by the court musicians.

“I think I’ve had enough dancing for one day.” I say as I sit back in my chair, “My feet are killing me.”

“Yes, with all the extra steps you were taking in between the beats, I suppose they would be.” Vrey says, her face full of faux mockery.

I pretend to be affended, hand going to my heart, “I think I’ve just been shot.” I say as I slide down the back of my chair. Vrey’s face lights up with mirth as she begins to laugh and I soon join in with her.

“So Mae, we were thinking of taking a family vacation to Paris. I was wondering when you were free so you could come along.” Mr Clarke says.

“Well school finishes in two weeks and me and my mum don’t really have anything planned. I could ask her if I’m allowed to come.” Mr Clarke nods his head as he takes a sip of his champagne.

“It’s been ages since I went to France.” I say, “Last time was so beautiful when I went with my mum.”

“Do you have any photos?” Angela asks.

“Yeah they’re on my phone...” I pat down my sides expecting to feel the rectangular object pressed somewhere against my skin. The image of my phone resting on the top of my bedsheets at home pops into my head and I sigh, “I left it at home.” I say.

“I’m going to be passing through your neighbourhood in about an hour for a meeting. If we leave early enough I can take you to your home so that you can collect your phone and drop you back.” Mr Clarke offers.

“Oh yeah, cool. That’d be great. I’ll go get ready” I answer.

I shimmy my way out of the party dress I am wearing and change into something more comfortable. A pair of jeans and a baggy jumper that Vrey has lent me.

I can’t believe I forgot my phone at home, normally it and I are inseparable. It just shows how distracted I’ve been lately, in a good way though.

Navigating my way through the corridors I find myself in the grand entry way of Rolan’s home where Mr Clarke waits for me.

“Ready?” He asks.

I nod and make my way to his car quietly, tired from all the dancing and merriment. I slink down into the plush leather seat of Mr Clarke’s car and get comfortable as the engine ignites and we pull out of the underground garage.

“I’m glad you’ve been having fun. I know that our world can be very overwhelming and hard to be involved in at times but you seem to be fitting in very well. I’m glad for it, really.”

I smile and say, “Well everyone has been so accepting and even though me and Rolan have just had our ceremony we’re still at the beginning of our relationship, still figuring things out, though in time I feel we’ll be great together.”

“That’s good to hear.” Mr Clarke replies, the smallest of smiles on his lips. The rest of our journey is spent in easy chat, conversation flowing without awkwardness.

Soon we are pulling up outside my house and I hop out of the car quickly, “I’ll be back in a second.” I say as I jog to my door not wanting to make Mr Clarke late for his meeting.

“Mum!” I call. She should be at work but I don’t want her thinking that I’m an intruder. Just as expected I get no reply and I immediately run upstairs. Opening my bedroom door I spot my phone lying untouched on top of my bedsheets. I walk over and grab it, pressing the home button to see all the notifications I’ve received from the past two days. One catches my eye, a text that says,

Behind you’

It’s from an unknown number so I write it off as someone sending it to the wrong phone. It is only when I turn around that I realise its significance. Lycurgus stands behind me, his hands shaking with rage. He wastes no time, lunging at me with the intent to kill.

“I told you!” He shouts, “I told you if you said anything to anybody about me that I would punish you!” Alarmed, I stumble a few paces backwards, almost falling onto my bed. Thinking quickly, I pull the sheets from my bed and chuck it over his head, momentarily blinding him. Lycurgus roars angrily as he tries to yank the covers off himself. I dive for the door, flinging it open to make my escape. I’m not even at the bottom of the stairs before a hand grabs me and slams me against the wall. My vision becomes fuzzy but I push myself up, staggering from side to side. I throw my phone at his face, hitting him square in the jaw but it has little to no effect. It only serves to make Lycurgus more infuriated.

“Help!” I scream, hoping that Mr Clarke hears my cries of need.“Hel-“. Lycurgus’s hands wrap tightly around my throat, blocking my airwaves. I can feel as the blood begins to swell in my face and I desperately try to claw him off but it is to no avail.

I kick my legs out, weakly hitting Lycurgus’s feet but there isn’t enough power in my kicks to do significant damage. “Plea- please.” I whisper barely able to keep my eyes open.

The jiggling of my front door has my heart racing slightly in hope. I weakly bang the wall behind me, praying Mr Clarke hears it.

“Mae!” I hear him shout from the other side of the door, “Are you alright?” I can’t reply the lack of oxygen in my body preventing me from doing so.

The door flings open with a bang and it takes Mr Clarke all but a few seconds to take in the sight before himself. He lunges at Lycurgus, nails turning into black claws, ripping into Lycurgus’s flesh.

With my windpipe finally free, I drag air into my lungs greedily, forcing it down into my body. I push myself away from the two men who grapple on the floor, trying to put distance between them and I but Lycurgus notices my retreat and with one swift kick to the head knocks me down again. I tumble down the rest of the stairs barely breathing. Head whirring and throbbing in pain, my vision fading in and out. The last thing I hear is the sound of the two men struggling and a cry of pain before everything goes completely black.

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