Chapter 8 - Trust
Dillon had observed Catherine for a long while, but with the eyes of an opponent measuring the strengths and weaknesses of an enemy. It was the same way he evaluated and kept track of all their allies.
Unlike the other humans in this alliance, Dillon didn’t expect the uneasy union with the vampires against the threat posed by the East, to last forever. Such an assumption would be naive, and he was not that trusting.
Dillon could not explain to himself why, seeing her in those ill-fitting britches and the formless, loose shirt felt wrong to him.
Why did he even speak in her defense? He could only blame it on his upbringing, his culture, and his humanity. When all was said and done, she wasn’t just another vampire. She was a woman and not just any woman.
Catherine fought their enemies just like any of her counterparts. Dillon respected her as he did not respect most of her kind.
He was brought up to be human. He was raised to have compassion when it was needed. The bigger truth lay in the fact that he could not stand the sound of her pain or the thought that such an exquisite beauty should be spoiled... destroyed and ended so cruelly.
Dillon would probably have done the same thing if she had been plain or even ugly. Truth be told it was her eyes, actually the soul behind those eyes, which compelled him to speak despite his own better judgment.
Dillon was no fool. He was very aware that Catherine could end up killing him for his trouble, but he could not deny how much she intrigued him. He never met a woman like her.
He didn’t think that Catherine had an equal, not even among her own kind. This life she was condemned to, it would eventually change her. It would chafe at her, probably even destroy something inside of her and it would be a great pity.
Catherine was a head shorter than him but tall for a woman. She had the darkest hair he ever saw, and yet the glint of auburn highlights was sparked by the sun.
Even if he didn’t know her from Adam, he would not have mistaken her for a human or a commoner. Her father’s blood was strong in her veins. Too powerful.
Her face was something that could drive a man to commit poetry. Catherine’s body was far from buxom, but curvy in all the right places.
Dillon saw all of her there was to see and yet he could not forget that she was the most dangerous enemy he could have in such close proximity to his person. She could snap him in half like a twig.
If he didn’t live alone in his castle with his family long since gone, he would be concerned. She would be a danger to them, and they would not have understood his predicament.
As is, he was worried what would happen once he let her loose, among a castle filled with his servants and his people.
Dillon could not bring himself to regret his interference. Catherine’s eyes would have haunted him until the day he died. He read her emotions too well, the betrayal too and he knew everything about betrayal.
Those inhuman eyes blazed like the sky on fire. They burned with emotions Catherine’s face never showed. Her eyes were just like those of her father, but Eduardo’s grew dark with fury and self-righteous anger.
Until this day Dillon thought Eduardo to be among the better examples of his kind and he found himself surprised to be so far wrong.
Dillon watched Catherine and Eduardo interact in the past, and their close bond to each other was reassuringly human. It eased his mind to see that vampires were capable of such profound emotions. Now he didn’t quite know what to think.
If it weren’t for Catherine herself, he would consider his judgment of the situation was skewed. Dillon would have assumed his uncle right, vampires were cold, arrogant and incapable of empathy.
Catherine understood that Dillon was allowing her the opportunity to leave. He gave her the possibility to run from him and to take her chances.
Like him, she appreciated that if she did run, Dillon would not see another sunset. She would spend the rest of her life praying for death and feeling the guilt of his blood on her hands.
It was in his eyes the knowledge lay that she would not leave, dared not depart and it stung. It was a small pain next to the all-consuming hunger and the sweet smell of his blood.
Without a word, Catherine stalked into the forest, and even from a distance she could detect him and hear him. He led the horses and kept to the path.
Dillon was waiting for her. She picked up a scent trail and shifted her gaze. The road was a dangerous place for him, she had to hurry.
Catherine appeared out of nowhere just to the right of him, and the horses shied away from her in fright. Automatically, she grew still.
Catherine waited for them to recognize her and calm down before she approached. She carried a small antelope as if it were a hare and pretended not to see relief in his eyes or the knowledge that he read her well.
“Sorry my lord, but I couldn’t bring the other thing I’d killed. I doubt if you are that hungry,” even the antelope was far more than he could eat in a week. Dillon had a feeling that they didn’t have the luxury of time for curing the meat or even cooking it.
Catherine’s eyes were less intense, and the strain was gone. She was almost indolent like the well-fed predator she was. It sent a shiver down Dillon’s spine and a warning into his brain.
It felt like being within petting distance of a wild lioness. A lioness who already spotted him and was pretending not to have done so for her own reasons.
“The leg on that would do. I want to be away from here as fast as possible,” Dillon’s eyes were restless, haunted and Catherine’s feeling of laziness evaporated. His fear was not only of her and his feelings were justified. They were running out of time.
Catherine had momentarily forgotten that this was no longer a safe place for her. She was being hunted, and Dillon was dragged into a matter that was not his concern. Despite herself, she was fair enough to know she owed him.
Catherine owed him her life. It was the only honor she had left and the only thing that was truly hers to give, except that even that now belonged to him.