I opened my eyes in panic, jumping in my bed and looking around. I was in my old room, in my father’s house, sleeping in my clothes from the funeral. I looked around in search of anything strange, anything out of the ordinary, but I found it exactly the same down to the old school textbooks on the desk.
I stretched my hands - no glowing symbols. It was all a dream. This house was driving me crazy. My eyes stopped on the bandage around my palm and a shiver ran down my spine. I reached out for my neck only to find a bandage there as well.
“Finally, you’re awake.”
The voice came from inside the room and I jumped, pressing myself against the headboard. What I had thought to be the hanger by the door, with a few forgotten jackets hanging from it, moved towards my bed.
“Stay back!” I shouted before he could reach me. The figure rooted himself in the middle of the room, staring at me. I couldn’t see him well in the corner before, but his new position in the middle of the room placed him directly under the bright moonlight coming from the window. He was tall, much taller than me, broad shoulders lining up to a lean waist. His hair was dark, barely reaching his ears, and his face had a sharp edge to it. “Who are you and what you want?”
“I should be the one asking you that considering you were the one that let me out.” His voice was like velvet sliding over a sharp blade. His eyes, dark like night, watched me with a predatory glint and I half expected him to launch at me any second.
“I don’t even know what that thing was.” I snapped. “And I want no trouble. Please.”
“Oh, sweetheart, you should have thought about that before you let me out.” He chuckled and I took a sharp breath. Yet, despite the threat in his voice, he did not advance. My mind was working overtime to think of a reason I was not dead, a reason why this was happening, a reason why someone - something - would be locked in a metal box without locks.
A thought occurred to me and I slid one foot off the bed. Last time I was in this room my baseball bat from when I was in the school team, was lying under the bed. If my father hadn’t touched my room, then it must still be there.
“You didn’t kill me before when you could have,” I said while his eyes watched me carefully. He stood perfectly still, like a panther waiting to pounce on an expecting prey. “Why?”
“I can’t kill you.” He said, his eyes traveling up and down my body. Suddenly I felt naked under his scrutinizing gaze.
“Why?” I demanded. His lips curved into a smirk as his eyes met mine.
“Because I’m bound to you, sweetheart.” He said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “If you die, I die. And I just got out so I have no intention of dying.”
Holding his gaze for another agonizing second, I crouched next to the bed, sliding my hand under it and looking feverishly for my last chance of getting out of this mess. My fingers gripped the wooden handle of my bat and I pulled it out, holding it with both hands. His eyes left mine to expect my weapon before returning to me.
“Are you serious?” He asked, barely holding his laughter. That did not inspire confidence in me, but I squeezed the handle until my knuckles turned white.
“Come any closer and you’ll see how serious I can be.” I said in my most threatening voice. Unfortunately, my voice broke at the end so it didn’t come out very intimidating. The smile growing on his face made me feel even more like I was about to die.
He moved towards me faster than I expected but I was used to hitting things flying at me with sixty mph per hour so I swayed with the bat just in time. Surprised by my attack, he twisted and easily avoided it, launching towards me again. I reversed my blow and this time he failed to duck it - didn’t even try to. The bat caught him in the shoulder and shattered almost to the handle. My eyes widened in shock. What the…
“Now what?” He asked with a knowing grin, almost at my side. I bolted for the door, but I felt hands snatching me off my feet even before I had made two steps. I landed on my back in the bed, immediately trying to roll over and put the bed between us. He was on top of me before I could even turn, one hand covering my mouth, the other one pinning my own hands on my chest. I tried to kick him off, but he saddled me, using his weight against me.
Panic gripped my mind and I arched my back in one last, desperate attempt to break free. When that failed I fell back down resigned to my fate as tears swelled in my eyes.
He watched me, his eyes examining my hair, my face and moving down to my body helplessly pinned beneath him. I swallowed with difficulty as my heart raced like crazy. His long fingers firmly kept my mouth shut so I couldn’t even scream. I was entirely at his mercy and something was telling me he was not on Santa’s good boys’ list.
“My, my.” He whispered, his eyes returning to mine. This close I could feel his breath over my face and despite my fear a thrill ran down my spine as he leaned over to my neck and sniffed it. “Of all the people that could have let me out, I would have never thought it would be Christopher Sharpe’s daughter. The old chap must have kicked the bucket if he had allowed you in my tomb.” His cheek nuzzled against mine before he pulled back to look me in the eyes. “I should have recognized it right away. Your blood tastes like his, but sweeter, more… innocent.”
I tried to move my head to get rid of his hand and tell him to go to hell, but he didn’t let go. Instead, he chuckled.
“So defenseless when you can’t speak, huh?” He whispered. “So Miss Sharpe, we have a problem. Your father, may he rot in his grave, really pissed me off when he locked me up. See, I swore that when I get free, I’ll go after everything he holds dear. I’m a man of my word, so I will have to do it. But since I’m bound to you, I can’t let you get killed. So I’ll need you to release me from the bond. If you do that, I promise to give you a head start.” The casual tone with which he just told me he wanted to kill me almost made my heart stop. “And since I really, really,” his glance slid down my chest and my body and I twisted beneath him uncomfortably, “really like you, I’ll give you a whole day to run.” His eyes returned to mine. “I’ll remove my hand from your mouth now and I want you to think really hard before you speak. The words you need to say are ‘I release you from your bond’. And please don’t scream, you don’t need your tongue to live.”
He waited for a second, then his fingers released my mouth. I considered screaming, but the spark in his eye told me that it was not an empty threat. He raised an eyebrow expectantly as I took a calming breath.
My father may have raised a highly dysfunctional outsider, but he didn’t raise a coward.
“Screw you!” I spat with as much spite as I could muster. A spark of surprise flickered in his eyes before his grin turned feral.
“With pleasure.” He said with a low growl just as his lips crashed against mine. His tongue invaded my mouth, demanding full submission. His hand released mine, sliding down my thigh and pushing the skirts of my dress to my waist. My body reacted to his touch, warmth spreading from my core to every fiber, but my mind was not ready to submit at all.
“Stop!” I screamed as I finally broke the breathtaking kiss. His hands froze right away. “Get off me!” I shouted before he had resumed his advances. To my surprise, his weight disappeared and he took a step away from the bed with a threatening growl, his chest rising and falling rapidly. Realization slowly crept into my mind. “You have to do what I say… because you’re bound to me,” I said, slowly getting from the bed. “That is why you kept my mouth covered.” A whole step taller than me, he stared down with what I could only describe as murderous intent. “Take a step back.”
“Release me now or you’ll regret it.” He said with a low voice as he stepped back. A rush of excitement and relief swept over me.
“I want you gone,” I said instead. “Out of my house, out of my life. I don’t want to see you ever again. Leave!”
His jaw tightened and he stood perfectly still. I lifted my chin up, staring at him daringly, and for a moment I thought it wouldn’t work. Then his eyes turned pitch black and he let out a vicious growl before disappearing through the door of my room in a blur. There was a crash downstairs and then the house was drowned in complete silence again.
I stared at the door for a few seconds before I dropped back in bed, unable to stay on my shaky feet. I lied on my back, staring at the ceiling and replaying what has happened in just the last few hours. The funeral, the study, the metal box, the ravenous creature, whatever it was, that had come after me. My mind lingered on the memories of his hard body against mine, on his burning kiss - I could still taste him on my tongue.
Fear and excitement fought inside me until I realized what I had done. I had sent him away for good, so whatever I felt did not matter at all. A couple of days to settle the things with the house and I was going back to Los Angeles to my crappy apartment and shitty job.
Exhaustion swept over me and I fell into a restless sleep dreaming about two black eyes and fingers turning my body to fire.