“Amelia!” She called for her friends for the umpteenth time that night, in the hope to find her way back to her campsite. She felt imprudent. Despite all the warnings she’d received from her foster parents regarding the camping and the dangers surrounding such an area, she’d not been able to follow even one of them. It wasn’t even long ago when Lucas, Amelia and she had left their camp to go for a trek. On their way back, she’d been separated because her friends were too fast for her… or maybe she had been too slow for her good. Now she didn’t have an inkling of which direction to move towards. Huffing, she chastised herself mentally but kept walking. “Lucas!” She tried again, cursing herself back to the time when she had agreed to her havoc-wreaking friends’ silly requests.
Keith and Cynthia, her foster parents had stated all the reasons why this trek was a bad idea. The reasons included the recent news about the weird and strange creatures of the night roaming around. No one was sure how dangerous they were but there had been numerous sightings of horrendous miscreants. However, even after their warnings, she had said that she had wanted to go and that was the end of discussion.
A distant howling brought her back from the stupor she was in. She hadn’t realized how lost she was until now. The forest around her was as dense and as dark as it could get. There was no light at all. Suddenly, she heard a crunch piercing through the silence of the dark. She turned to see whether finally one of her friends had found her but there was no one calling out her name. Another twig crunched to her right and she froze to see a pair of eyes staring intently at her.
She gulped. Took a step back. Another crunch and the pair of eyes got brighter even though there was nothing to illuminate the eyes. Another step back and she tripped on a rock, falling on her back. Frantically, she looked towards the direction of the eyes but there she found nothing at all. Maybe her mind and the darkness were playing tricks on her.
As soon as she turned around to get back up, she screamed. The shining eyes were now only a hair’s breadth away from her. Trembling, she crawled back to get as far away from the creature as possible. Even though this something could pass for any other man, there was nothing human about it. With its mouth open wide and eyes shining like the moon itself, it walked towards her. Her voice was hoarse from screaming so much. She had never been this afraid in her entire life. Dark had always been relaxing to her, and now it was nothing such. With a clawed hand, the creature took her hair in his fist, yanking them back with an incomparable amount of strength. The creature seemed to get taller as her screams begun to turn into sobs.
Please, she prayed to whatever was out there, listening. I don’t want to die like this. Please save me, Gods, please.
As the being’s mouth yawned wider, she closed her eyes, bracing herself for the attack. But it never came. Cautiously, she opened her left eye, then the right one. The little clearing was empty, save for herself and the trees. She couldn’t even hear the insects. Had everything been her imagination? The ache in her throat told her otherwise.
She took a deep breath and then a step. She froze. There was someone behind her, she could feel its breath on the back of her neck, right above her spinal cord. Holding her breath, and with eyes wide in fear, she decided to turn around but stopped short when an arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her closer to something hard – someone’s chest.
“Who… are you?” She stammered, trying her best to stay still. “What do you want from me?”
“I want nothing from you, Sunshine.” The voice had the power to make everything feel alive and safe. The supple quality of his voice was graveled, slow, husky and graceful. So clear and transparent with the feeling of security that she sagged in his grip. However, what he said next made another sort of warning bells ring in her mind, “I saved you this time, but I assure you that next time you might need saving yourself from me.” This wasn’t the same man who had been ready to devour her moments ago and now she cursed herself again, for trusting a stranger so easily to let her guard down.
“Leave me. Right. Now.” She struggled against him, accentuating each word.
“Or what will you do?” He asked, his mouth too close to her ear. Her heart was hammering against her ribs so hard, she thought it might break the cage and jump out of her body.
“Free me and I’ll tell you what damage a girl like me can cause.” She sounded braver than she felt and was grateful for it.
Letting her go, the stranger stepped around her and all the breath left her lungs. He was easily the most beautiful man she had ever seen and having been moved around a lot, she had seen a lot of men. With grey eyes that held flecks of gold, he studied her. He was amused. He was taller than her and the intimidating height of the male shadowed over her, freezing her to the ground.
“Too scared to do any harm, ma petite chérie?” He asked, crossing his arms across his chest. His accent was intriguing and enchanting in a way that she’d never heard before.
“I am…” She cleared her throat and tried again as the man smirked. “I am not scared.”
Crossing the space between them, he put his hands on either side of her waist and whispered darkly, an emotion close to anger lacing his voice, “You should be, Aubrey.”