“Mommy, where are we going?” I ask as I walk beside my father, my tiny hand clasped tightly in his calloused one. “To a special place.” She called from over her shoulder. She seemed rather annoyed with having to trudge through these trees than happy.
Maybe she doesn’t want to get dirty?
I thought to myself, completely getting lost in my head as I’m led into what seems to be the middle of nowhere.
“Only a little farther darling, then we’ll go home and have a treat.” My father whispers in my ear as he picks me up and rests me on his hip. I let out a squeal and a fit of giggles when he spins us in a circle, tickling my stomach. “Quiet!” My mother snaps ahead of us.
“Sorry little C, we’ll have to shush for now but don’t worry, the tickle monster will be back.” He does a mock scary voice at the end and wiggles his fingers at me before giving me a gentle kiss on my temple. Father has always been gentler than mother.
“Where here, let Celeste down.” My mom whispered harshly at my dad. “What’s going on?” My voice is small and hesitant as I take small steps towards my mother and the scary wooden door in front of us. “Mommy needs you to be quiet and take a test, okay Celeste?”
A test? But I hate tests. Judging from the look on my mother’s face, I had no choice but to comply. “Okay, what kind of test?”
“Just a simple one. I need you to go inside and speak to the woman. All you’ll have to do is stand still and let her look at you.” She ushers me forward before fully shoving me into the dark and moldy house.
She slams the door shut behind me, eliminating any light. “H-Hello?” I call out hesitantly only to be met with a harsh shushing sound. Light steps sound around me before warm and harsh breathes are pushed against the back of my neck. I scream in panic when cold bony fingers shove me forward.
I land with a hard thud onto my arm and cry out when a sharp pain shoots up to my shoulder. “Mom! I don’t like this!” I scream but she’s doesn’t come to the rescue.
Candles instead flicker on around me, forming a complete circle as I lay in the middle of them. “Daddy, please help me!” I can hear my parents arguing outside as I call out to them. “She’s a child Lilith!” I hear my dad yell. “This has to happen. I need answers!” My mother bites back harshly.
A low mumble starts to echo around me as cloaked figures come from every direction. I don’t know what they’re saying since they won’t speak in English. I try to call out to one when I hunch over in pain, gripping my chest in a panic. It feels like my heart is about to explode.
The pain travels throughout my whole body until I’m rendered motionless. I scream but it starts to sound all muffled as I grow tired and wish for sleep, black spots dancing across my vision.
My eyelids start to flutter shut when I feel another wave of pressure on my chest. When my eyes open, I’m met with the sight of a sickly old woman, her hand plunged into my chest as a glowing blue light cast around us. “Stop, please!” I cry as her hand digs in further. “Stop!”
“Stop!” I shoot up from my bed, sweat drenching my body as I try to catch my breathe. “Celeste? What’s wrong?” A deep, groggy voice asks from beside me.
Turning my head, I see a half awake Austin leaning against the edge of my bed as he sits in a chair next to me. “Austin? Why are you in that tiny chair?” I ask, eyeing the very small seat he’s squeezed himself into.
“I didn’t think you would appreciate me just climbing into your bed while you were passed out.” A small chuckle leaves my lips as he tries to stand but the chair gets stuck on his butt. “Why didn’t you try to find something bigger to sit in then?”
“Well one tends to not leave his mates side when she’s just been stabbed in the chest.” He says sarcastically as he pulls off the chair, letting it fall to the floor. “I wanted to be here until you woke up so if that meant sitting in that midget chair then I was okay with it.”
He takes a seat on the edge of the bed and draws circles on the bare skin of my arm. “And who changed me?” I ask, just now noticing that I’m only in a t-shirt. “Zeke had one of his maids do that.” A sigh of relief leaves my body, grateful that my mate didn’t see anything.
“Is everyone okay? I didn’t get the chance to ask when I came back.” He nods, his gazing still not leaving my arm as his hand roams it. “They were just stunned by a flash bomb. And I would’ve found you sooner if it wasn’t for the pain the went through my chest when you were stabbed. I was scared you died.”
He whispers solemnly, his bottom lip jutting out to form a pout. A small chuckle escapes my lips as he reminds me of a lost pup. He gives me a glare in return. “How is my sadness over you being dead amusing?” He bites. “I’m sorry it’s just, when you pout you look like a little puppy.” I laugh harder as he snarls and stands to leave.
Before he can even take a step, I reach out and grab his hand. “I’m sorry, I won’t laugh anymore.” I bite my lip to hide my smile, but it doesn’t work, the smile breaks through. The sight seems to snap him out of his sour mood, his eyes brightening and his own little smile showing.
“Come lay down with me. There’s still a few more hours until the sun comes up.” I tug on his arm and he flops down beside me. “Goodnight Celeste.” I hear him mumble as my eyes flutter closed. “Goodnight Austin.”