Chapter 7 - Hunger
The smell reached Catherine even as her eyes and hand told her what it was. It wasn’t much though, burlap breeches, a linen tunic, a thin cloak, and a piece of rawhide thong to tie her hair.
It was a prize beyond value, which granted a return of her dignity. She sighed at her struggle to get a grip on understanding this human. The differences in their cultures and viewpoints were a barrier she could not scale.
“Thank you, my lord,” she was grateful, even when her voice and face was too schooled in hiding her emotions to allow him to see what she had dreaded. Another punishment whether she deserved it or not would be more than she could bear.
Catherine dressed quickly as Dillon’s eyes scanned the road to the castle and the trees beyond the stream. She pulled her fingers through her wet hair, and a small comb appeared in his outstretched hand as if by magic. It was inadequate for the job and better than nothing. She tied her hair after a brief struggle and handed it back.
“Come, we have far to go, your lover, Hellenic, had a look in his eyes I didn’t like,” he murmured. Dillon mounted his horse and Catherine did the same, but with more of her usual grace. Her pain had lessened dramatically.
The word lover made her nauseous, angry and it made her want to kill, but she could not let Dillon see that. Hellenic was an animal. She could not fathom that her father could not see it, not after everything was said and done.
“You have my... you have Lord Griffon, Drake’s protection,” Catherine assured him hollowly. Her mind was elsewhere as the past tried to push into her head. A history she could not face just then. Worse things happened to her these past few days than her near execution.
“You are not naive Catherine,” Dillon mocked, but his face had a hard cast to it. It told her more than what she already knew. He was young, hungry, and strong. The others listened to him, and it was why he was the youngest lord of the human council. Speaking of hunger, hers was close to unbearable.
Catherine nodded. She was not naive, and her words did not comfort either of them. Hellenic would find a way to get to them. He would make it look as if Catherine took matters into her own hands and in her fear laced with regret, maybe took her own life.
Hellenic would hate this man for interfering with his vengeance. He would not allow Dillon to die easily and like her father Hellenic had a gift for torture.
Catherine shuddered at the thought. She felt the unease settle in her when she allowed her senses to roam. She would know if someone followed them.
The silence stretched. Catherine’s concentration was like an itch. It always returned to one thought, her hunger and it was getting worse.
If she waited too long, they would not have to worry about Hellenic getting to Dillon. She rarely suffered hunger before and not like this. Her control was slipping with each passing moment.
“I... I...” having to admit weakness to a human, since she was no longer in her world, was not comfortable and at best humiliating.
“I have to feed, my lord,” it was only the fourth time their eyes met, but already she learned not to like that look of consideration.
The expression which she lived enough life to know meant this human saw too much of what he should not see. Her teeth were peeking out, and he noticed. They would not obey her will to retract.
They were showing most of the day. Her anger, fear, pain, and hunger triggered the same reaction. It allowed her inner animal to show on her face. She knew her eyes would be blazing and her skin would be paler than its usual cast.
“Bring back what you kill,” his voice held no inflection, but his eyes grew dark. Dillon was around them enough to know they did not easily feed off unbound humans. Their laws forbade it. He understood that more often than not they hunted animals which bore more blood and were readily available.
She could not credit him letting her off her leash. Her father would not have, and she thought Dillon crazy, reckless. He just entrusted both their lives into her hands, and all he knew about her is that she was a convicted traitor.
“Hurry Catherine, before I change my mind,” Dillon ordered. She lowered herself from the horse and handed him the reins. Already the animal was used to her, and it nuzzled her hand in passing. She patted its nose.
Stupid animal, just as trusting and odd as its master, she thought. Catherine glanced at them once, before she allowed a burst of supernatural speed to carry her into the woods and out of his line of sight.
She did not see him watching her go. She didn’t know that she was not the only one that thought he was an idiot. Dillon trusted her to follow her instincts and to choose her fate.
Dillon would not chase her if she left. He would make his way home. He had things to do that were more important than her life or death.
Dillon could not die now, and his people could not afford for him to die at this time.
If Catherine returned, she would have chosen her destiny, decided to obey the rules which were laid out by her father. She would be his property out of her own free will, and she would settle into this obligation thing more smoothly.
Dillon was not about to try and enforce slavery laws on a vampire princess. He saw her strength when she was hurt. He was in awe of the power, resolve and pride in her.
Whatever Catherine chose to do, whether Eduardo and Hellenic were capable of understanding it or not, in Catherine they created an implacable enemy.
Dillon suspected that one day they would get to view her without the constraints of their narrow beliefs. He would love to live long enough to see their faces when Catherine comes into her own.