In the Shadows of Dryden

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CHAPTER 15 - Forest kiss

Claire POV

When I passed the second to the last curve, I saw Caio standing in the middle of the road, so I slowed down to a stop wondering what was going on. He was still wearing that same frown from before.

“Caio? Is everything alright?” He approached me, glimpsing down at my bike.

“Come with me for a minute.” Somehow, his serious face made him even more attractive to me. ‘No! Stop Claire, you’re supposed to start going out with Cedrick to forget this guy!’ Still, I got off my bike, following him into the woods until I found the perfect place to hide it. Carefully, I placed my bike between some thick bushes nearby the road while he waited on me.

We wandered inside the woods for about twenty minutes or so until he abruptly stopped.

“Let me see your wrist.” He outstretched a hand in front of me.

“My wrist?” In a bit of a loss, I proceeded to show him both my wrists.

“What happened? You’re hurt!” He lifted the same wrist that Thomas had grabbed me by, showing red marks that I haven't noticed until now. ‘Was that the reason why he has been frowning so much at me? All because he had noticed I was hurt?’

“I…” Recalling the incident with the brute blond… Why would he care if I’m hurt? “Nothing!” I definitely didn’t want to relieve what happened with me and Tahice today so I just evaded this subject altogether. He slightly tilted his head, scrunching his nose. He even went as far as constantly rubbing his nose.

“Why do you wanna know anyway? It’s none of your business.” I pulled my arm back and turned, already walking a few steps back. I didn’t know why but I felt mad at him.

“... and why in the nine hells are you smelling like a wet dog?” That gave me pause and snapped back to look at him, unconsciously smelling myself.

“Wet dog? Is that some sort of sick joke? I do not smell like a wet dog!” Now, it was my turn to frown, a bit annoyed that he would joke like that.

His face hardened and his eyes squinted with a slight twitch on its corner.

“Do I look like I’m joking?”

I examined his expressions and body language unsure of what to do. He hasn't moved from his spot, except to turn to face me. He definitely didn’t seem to be joking.

“No, but… Why a wet dog? I don’t smell that myself, besides, I haven’t been anywhere close to any dog today, let alone a wet one. You can certainly understand my annoyance.”

He let out a long, deep sigh, pressing his nose bridge as he closed his eyes tightly. Out of the blue, he closed the distance between us and hugged me tightly. My eyes widened, my mouth held half-open, his sandalwood scent intoxicating my senses and making those same butterflies from before flutter crazily in my abdomen. Sluggishly, my arms began to raise, hugging him back in return. His face buried into my neck as he took a deep inhale. His hands ever so slightly lowered down to the small of my back, pressing our bodies together.

My eyes closed, enjoying all the new sensations I was feeling. I felt something sharp graze the skin of my neck yet I didn’t feel any pain. Slowly, he pulled away so our eyes met. Those mesmerizing ruby eyes that for some strange reason I wasn’t afraid of, looked tamed. Our faces were so close. Oh, but so close that our lips were millimeters from contact. One of his hands gently reached my cheek, his thumb barely running over my lower lip.

I could feel his shallow breathing, feel the warmth of his skin near mine. Our eyes closed at the same time as our lips joined together. I parted my lips, letting a moan escape me, prompting him to deepen our kiss. It was like an explosion of feelings and sensations when our tongues met, beginning a wild dance while his hand moved from my cheek to the back of my neck, caressing the base of my hair.

My heart raced against his broad chest, my blood boiled with desire. I could feel his heart accelerate as our kiss became more and more urgent.

His fangs were definitely elongated since I felt them brush against my tongue although he was being careful not to hurt me. Of course, I’ve kissed other boys before but this one was different. He wasn’t a boy, hell he wasn’t even human but a vampire in his full glory. His perfectly sculpted muscles pressed against me. The heat radiating between us was so intense that I couldn’t resist the urge to run my tongue along his canine.

In a blink of an eye, he pulled away from me to go stand next to a tree about ten feet away, bug-eyed and panting. One of his hands held to the tree for support while his other hand covered his mouth in disbelief.

I kept observing him in pure awe. How did we go from a disagreement to kissing each other? My feet moved forward a few steps by themselves before I gained control over them, stopping. Caio took a moment to recollect himself however when his hand lowered from his face, I could see a trickle of blood running down the corner of his mouth. Without thinking, I rushed to him but stopped in my tracks when he shot me a warning glare.

“Don’t come any closer!”

“... but... you’re bleeding!” I retorted, not connecting the facts.

“It’s your blood Claire and for some unknown reason, it tastes like heaven to me right now. Even though I fed not too long ago.” He leaned on the tree trunk taking a deep breath. “At least, you don’t smell like a wet dog anymore.” My jaw fell open! So this bastard hugged and kissed me just to get the supposed ‘wet dog’ smell off of me? And why would my blood be so enticing to him if he wasn’t hungry? I frowned, closing my mouth and crossing my arms in front of my chest in a protective stance.

“You’re impossible! Did you just hug, kiss and…” My cheeks became hot all of a sudden. “... caress me just to get rid of that smell?” He smirked! The darn bastard smirked!

“My God! I hate you, Caio!” My hands closed tightly into fists as my arms came down beside my body. “You arrogant vampire!”

“Sorry, that wet dog smell was giving me a headache.” He shrugged, still keeping his distance while he whipped the blood from the corner of his mouth to stare at it before licking it clean. “Guess I might have been hungry after all. Strange…”

“I don’t care if you get a headache or not, don’t you ever kiss me again!” I turned to leave, infuriated that he would play with my feelings. My eyes were filled with tears threatening to come out, yet I didn’t want him to see the damage he caused so I walked as fast as I could away from him. It was too much to take that he would act like that when my granny said he was a ‘good guy’. Good guys don’t go around being jerks! How many jerks do I have to deal with today?! My mind was a jumble of mixed feelings, my heart hurt like never before in my life. I never had a guy do that to me, even though I never gave them much of a chance either. My relationships never lasted more than a couple of months.

“Claire!” I ignored him, quickening my pace. “Claire! Wait!” My hair suddenly wooshed onto my face with the wind, causing me to stumble on my feet. I would have fallen but strong arms held me up just in time, avoiding a disgraceful fate. Again, that sandalwood scent enveloped me. My traitorous heart calmed down almost instantly the moment he held me again. In the blur of the moment, I ended up looking up at him for about two seconds before turning my face away.

“Hey! …” I pushed him away as soon as my feet came in contact with the ground.

“Leave me alone! I don’t ever want to see you!”

This time, I ran to my bike and out of his sight. He didn’t follow or call for me again. When I got in front of my house, I dropped my bike on the grass and ran inside, straight to my room, where I locked myself inside. Tears flowing freely down my face. I dropped my body on the bed, rolling over my pillow so my tears could shamefully run down a river without anybody hearing.

Caio POV

I watched her run away from me with tear-filled eyes. What had I done? Why didn’t I think of the consequences of my actions? Maybe, the actual question would be, why did I kiss her? Sure, I’ve kissed other women before but it was mutual consent.

Shaking my thoughts away, for the time being, I followed her from a good distance. She doesn’t want to talk to me right now and I plan to respect her decision, although I cannot ignore the many dangers this forest holds. Thankfully, she manages to find her way back to the road. I could hear her trying to hold back some hiccups while she angrily whipped the few stubborn tears that dared trickle down her cheeks. For some reason, it pained my heart to see her so broken, or is it because I’m the culprit? She rode her bike home, dropping it on the grass and rushing inside the house. Circling the building, I focused my vampire hearing on tracking her location inside. Her family didn’t seem to be home from work yet so it was easy enough to pinpoint her climbing the stairs and locking the door behind. A tall maple tree stood nicely positioned in front of her window, allowing for me to climb up to Claire’s window, hiding in its foliage while watching her.

Her face was buried into a pillow and she didn’t hold back anymore, sometimes even screaming. I felt my own heartbreak just seeing her heartbroken. In truth, all I wanted was to make that horrendous dog scent disappear from her. Hugging her seemed like a good idea at the time, although why or what led me to kiss her is a mystery to me. I can still feel that burning desire inside me, consuming my senses. All that because of her marvelous scent. I never felt so powerless in all my long centuries of existence.

‘Oh, good! She wasn’t alone in the house after all. Thia is there.’

“Claire, deary, open the door!” Claire didn’t move at all towards the door until Thia talked again. “Little Pumpkin, open the door for your old granny, please. You’re worrying me.” This time, she got up, dragging herself off the bed to unlock the door. Thia immediately hugged her, caressing her head lovingly in a way that only a grandmother could. Gradually, Thia managed to get her to sit on the bed, beside her, letting Claire continue her cry on her shoulders.

“What happened, deary? Do you think you can tell me now?” I leaned over a thick lateral branch, Thia was still combing Claire’s fiery hair with her fingers. There I go again, wishing I was the one consoling her. I closed my eyes, shaking my head to try and clear my thoughts.

“Caio kissed me!” My eyes snapped open as I quickly turned to look at them. Thia looked more than surprised with what she said and in another circumstance, I would have laughed but not now.

“Kissed you? Wait… he kissed you…” She lifted Claire’s head, fixating her with an astounded expression. “Why are you crying then? I thought you liked him?” I saw Claire look away. Was she embarrassed? I couldn’t tell if she’s blushing or not, since she’s so red from all the crying.

“Gran… that’s not the point!”

“Well, then explain it to me because I’m a bit lost here!”

I listened to Claire recount what had happened earlier in the forest to her grandmother.

“He said I was smelling like a wet dog! A wet dog!!! Can you believe it? Then, out of the blue, he hugged and kissed me!”

“What have you done at school today, deary?”

I paid attention to what she had to say, mostly because I needed to know who that smell was from although, I ended up with better information than I was expecting. After what happened between us, I had completely forgotten about her red wrist.

Rage, anger, jealousy? Those are just some of the feelings I kept feeling as she told Thia about her day at school. Thomas… I’m gonna have to keep an eye on that one. A low growl escaped my mouth as I heard his name. I could feel my canines elongate and my eyes changing color.

“Ok. I get it now. Thomas hurt you and your friend, Cedrick and his friends came in and saved the day. Then Cedrick hugged you?” Thia’s loud laughter made me cringe. What did she think was so funny anyway? Claire showed a similar expression from mine, minus the cringe. She seemed confused.

“W.. why are you laughing, granny?”

Thia touched her knee, imploring her to wait until her fit of laughter was over. When she was finally able to speak again, she smiled broadly at her.

“Oh, deary… Caio acted that way because of Cedrick hugging you.”

“Eh? What do you mean? Why? Last I checked, he was human and not a dog!” Thia giggled, tucking a loose strand of hair behind Claire’s ear.

“Deary, you know that Caio is a vampire.” Claire nodded. “Cedrick is a wolf. A werewolf, to be exact. A lot of people in this town are weres.”

I saw Claire’s jaw fall open. Me? Oh, I was only seeing red. Since I’ve met this red-haired girl I’ve been having a lot of strange feelings.

“Do you understand, deary? Caio hugged you because, for him, the werewolf scent on the person he likes is unbearable!” That last bit of Thia’s sentence almost made me fall from the tree, having to refocus so I could balance my body over the thick branch. When I looked back at them, I was met with Thia’s glare on me, although it didn’t linger long, it was enough to let me know that she had seen me.

“Werewolf… person he… likes?” Both Claire and I looked dumbfounded. I cannot love, it is just not possible for me. I wasn’t made for that feeling, it cannot be.

“Yes, deary. That idiot is probably thinking about why he kissed you at this very moment. If he was smart enough to figure out he likes you, then he’s most likely arguing with himself saying that he wasn’t made for love, it cannot be. Blah, blah, blah! Seriously, a smart guy like he should know that we never choose who or when we will fall in love!” This time, I really complete and utterly lost my balance, but managed to slow down my descent by holding onto the trunk of the tree. The noise was unavoidable but at least not too loud.

“What was…”

“Oh, I’m sure it was just a bird flying off the tree, deary. Come, go clean yourself in the bathroom. Take a warm shower, you will feel better.” I couldn’t see what was happening in the room now, I was too engaged in not falling the rest of the way down the tree to be able to see, though I did hear some steps approaching the window.

“Caio, I swear that if you make my granddaughter cry again, I will personally inflict pain on you!”

My eyes shot up, meeting Thia’s glare. She was leaning against the window, throwing daggers at me. There was absolutely nothing she could do to hurt me but somehow, her threat didn’t feel so hollow and impossible.

“I didn’t mean to!”

“But you did anyway! Haven’t you noticed how in love she is with you, dammit!”

“... no.. not really.” I retorted with a shameful whisper. Her eyes, God, I’ve never seen Thia so mad before. Her blue eyes squinted, her brows furrowed. I felt a disturbing dread in the air before she reached down with a hand.

“Loomzin!” With that, I came crashing down till I hit the ground.

“Ugh!” Have you ever had an invisible boulder pressing you against the ground? Well, I just had! “Thia…”

“Goomzin!”

Relief! So, the old witch still has some tricks hidden up her sleeve. Good to know. My hands laid flat beside my waist so I could have the support necessary to sit up. I slowly lifted my head to look at her, massaging my butt.

“I can’t kill you, Caio, but I can still make you pay. Remember that!”

“Yeah… I made a mental note to be wary of the scary old witch.” She lifted an eyebrow, amused but I shook my head, putting on a serious expression. “You know very well why I say those things about love, though it was never my intention to hurt her. Also, you’re right, I don’t like her with a werewolf. I have no reason to like those dogs!”

“Caio, go home and figure out your darn feelings, will you?! I got a granddaughter to console because of a certain jerk!”

Thia pulled back from the window, closing it shut, locking and pulling the blinds over it. Ok, I get it. Guess it’s time to head home and hope she will somehow manage to get Claire to forgive me. I walked away, back inside the forest. These feelings were brooding inside me, eating away at me. Thia had it right, I needed to figure out what I’m feeling. However I know for a fact that it is not love. It’s just not possible for me to have this one feeling. Love was never meant for me, only death. Now and forever.

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