Eleanor leaned against the swaying carriage as they continued their journey.
She had grown accustomed to the darkness that constantly surrounded them, though still not liking that she can barely see Eilif.
Glancing over at him, she frowned slightly. He was sitting while leaning on the other side door of the carriage with his elbow propped up on the window and his head in his hand. His eyes were closed, but Eleanor was not certain that he was asleep.
There were times on their journey that she was so sure he was not paying attention to her, that when she would turn to escape, he would gently grab her waist and redirect her a different way with him.
Every time this happened, Eleanor cursed under her breath then ignored him for a brief time.
Unfortunately, there was barely anyone to talk to, so she would end up breaking her own promise of not speaking to him. Which always made him smirk at her failed attempts.
The carriage came to a slow stop, indicating they were at the next town. Eleanor still did not know where they were going, Eilif was evasive in nearly every question she asked. But, since she was their prisoner, she figured it was a question she will not get answered until they were in front of the place.
Eilif opened his eyes at the decreased movement. He stretched his arms up, hitting the ceiling of the carriage with a loud thump. He quickly glanced at Eleanor before turning his head to hide the small blush creeping up his cheeks in embarrassment.
Eleanor smirk, even though she could not see the blush, she could feel his embarrassment.
‘Cute,’ she thought as she prepared to exit the carriage.
As they stepped out of the carriage, the warm sun touched their faces, giving them a brief surge of energy that seemed to have depleted in the ride.
Eilif reached out a hand to Eleanor, “Let us find some lodging, the horses need to refuel before continuing our journey.”
Eleanor pursed her lips, trying hard not to ask the same question that always gets ignored. Instead, she gracefully took Eilif’s hand and allowed him to pull her towards the only tavern in town.
When they entered the tavern, Eleanor stifled a chuckle at Eilif’s expression. The inside was wide open with dust and dirt covering all the surfaces. The wood floors and beams holding up the house were splintered and stained with blood and other bodily fluids.
There were many long wooden tables and benches, all of them populated with men and women eating and drinking. There were several harlots walking around serving and offering their bodies for a price. A couple went as far as have their breasts out while the others would fling up their skirts, showing off their nonexistent undergarments.
Eilif’s jaw tightened at the scene. Eleanor could tell he was uncomfortable, they had been dining mainly at prestigious taverns during their travels, and so seeing him take in the normal tavern gave Eleanor an idea.
“Well, let’s make the best of this. We are getting further and further away from the bigger towns and cities, so this is probably the best place we will find for miles.” She nonchalantly said while slipping her hand from his and walking away to search for a spot amongst the rowdy crowd.
Eleanor found a seat between two burly men who seemed to be very deep in their cups. They swayed slightly as she lifted her skirts to step over the bench and take a seat. The man on her right whistled while the man on her left completely ignored her, trying to get the attention of one of the tavern harlots.
Once she was settled in her seat, the man on her right offered her a drink from his cup. She lifted her hand in protest, “I will get my own cup. No need for me to take from yours.” She smiled sweetly at him as he reciprocated the gesture with a toothy, lopsided grin.
Eilif appeared across from her, shoving people aside so he could sit down. After a few angry shouts and a dangerous stare from Eilif, he was able to sit down with enough room to relax just slightly.
Eleanor snorted, “Calm down. This is what a true tavern is. You act like you’ve never dirtied yourself once in your life!” She turned and grabbed a mug from one of the tavern harlots that was walking by. Taking a swig, Eleanor pushed the mug towards Eilif.
Eilif reluctantly grabbed the mug, staring at the worn down wood and brass handle before taking a sip. His face scrunched up at the taste of the ale but ended up taking a gulp before passing the mug back to Eleanor.
Grinning into the mug, Eleanor took another swig before putting it down. She lifted her hand in the air and signaled to a tavern harlot for food and drink before turning back to Eilif.
“Are we almost to our destination?” She asked while playing with the mug, her head resting on her hand.
Eilif rubbed the back of his neck before looking Eleanor in the eyes. “Yes, we are nearly there,” was all he would say on the matter.
Eleanor frowned at his lack of response and the fact she must be very far from home. She clutched the mug between her hands, thinking about how Grayson was dealing with her disappearance. Her eyes were misting over at the mere thought of her husband. She missed him, even if he was a drunken ex-soldier. She missed his touch, his smell, his smile. The way he would caress her either tenderly or roughly while making love.
Biting her lip to prevent the tears from overflowing, Eleanor grabbed the mug the tavern harlot was setting down for her. She chugged a portion of the liquid down, spilling a small amount on her dress.
When she slammed the mug down, Eleanor noticed Eilif was gone. Scoffing and rolling her eyes at his sudden absence, Eleanor began to eat her food.
Her strength and complexion had surprisingly improved during the trip, making Eleanor wish Eilif would listen to her when she was telling him she felt better. She had originally thought he would be happy about her feeling better and bring her home. But instead, he seemed apprehensive at her news and told her that she would still see his doctor.
After eating half her meal, Eleanor stood up and walked away from the table. Along with the idea of sneaking away while Eilif was nowhere in sight, she wanted fresh air. The current atmosphere was too bleak and stuffy.
Eleanor finally felt like she could take a deep breath once she exited the tavern. Even though she was accustomed to such places, she still felt like she was suffocating amongst the booze hounds and harlots.
With the feeling of the cold stinging her cheeks and burning her lungs slightly as she took a breath, Eleanor turned and started to walk the dark streets. Every few steps she would glance behind her, slightly worried that Eilif would magically appear and steer her to where he wanted her to be. Just like the last few times.
The cobble stone path was horribly uneven and missing many stones. The edges of the cobblestone was mainly mud and smelled of old urine. Eleanor scrunched her nose at the stench, trying to remind herself that the farther away they were from her home, the further away from the nice luxuries most towns had.
As she continued her walk, a random window opened above her. Eleanor looked up in time to see someone dump their chamber pot out their window. The piss and shit landed in a splash in front of Eleanor, making her cover her mouth as she gaged at the sight and smell.
Backing away from the display of vulgarity, Eleanor heard faint sounds of moaning behind her. She turned around to see an alley just to the right of her.
There was a faint cry of pain that was quickly replaced by pleasured moaning. Eleanor was concerned but also curious to find out who was making such noises and who was the cause.
Sticking to the shadows, Eleanor did her best to slink along the buildings so she could peak around the corner.
The first thing she saw was one of the harlots from the tavern pressed up against the wall, the assailant covering most of her body. The harlot’s head was tilted to the side while the assailant was in the crook of her neck, hiding his face.
Eleanor could see how pale her skin was as the moon light started to reflect off them. The harlot moved her head just enough for Eleanor to see her eyes rolling to the back of her head and her hand that was caressing the golden locks of hair fall limp beside her.
The assailant pulled back after a minute of the harlot becoming limp. He turned his head towards the moonlight and let out a satisfied growl.
Eleanor stood speechless. It was Eilif, and he was covered in the harlot’s blood.
He let go of the harlot, not caring that she slumped heavily to the ground.
Eleanor let out a soft squeak as the harlot’s head collided roughly with the cobblestone.
Eilif’s silver reflecting eyes seemed to shine brighter as his head snapped to her. His blood covered lips curled into a snarl, showing off two blood-stained canine fangs that were longer than what was normal.
Eleanor’s eye’s widened at Eilif’s new appearance.
He began walking toward her, his stance showing a calculating approach.
Pushing her back into the building as much as she could, Eleanor let out a whimper. She could practically feel his alpha aura from where she was, making her knees tremble and core ache weakly.
Although her body was responding in a sexual way, Eleanor’s mind was nowhere near it. She could only think about her pending death under his teeth.
She began to shake in fear as he crept closer to her, his face flushed from the blood he just ingested.
Closing her eyes, Eleanor whispered, “Please don’t. Eilif, please.”
There was no response, nor was there any movement. Eleanor slowly opened her eyes to a stunned Eilif. He stared at Eleanor while his eyes danced with confusion and pain.
“Lenore, I am so sorry,” He began, his voice rough from the animal sounds he made earlier. “I did not want you to find out this way.”
Eleanor kept her back to the building, not daring to move for fear of triggering his aggressive side again.
“Find out what, exactly?”
Eilif continued to walk toward Eleanor, trying hard to appear harmless with his arms stretched out by his sides.
“Let’s say… I am not your normal human.” He spoke, carefully choosing his words.
Eleanor raised an eyebrow, waiting for a better explanation.
“I am a creature of the night. I survive off of blood. I have superb strength and speed.” Eilif reached out and put a finger under Eleanor’s chin, lifting it up so she could stare straight into his eyes.
She sucked in a breath at the sight of his silver eyes, surprised at how beautiful they were even in that perilous moment.
“I am a Lamia. And I want to turn you into one so you can be by my side for all of eternity, Lenore.” His thumb made its way up to her bottom lip, gently rubbing it.
Eleanor’s eyes misted with unshed tears. “What does that mean? I do not understand.”
Eilif smiled, loving her innocence. “If you let me turn you into what I am, then you will never die. You can stay with me, be my equal in all ways.”
Eleanor jerked back at his words.
“I would… live?” Her words shook as the possibility washed over her.
She could survive her ailment and continue to live her life. For a price…
‘But what doesn’t come with a price?’ Thought Eleanor as she looked up at Eilif through her eyelashes, unsure of what to do.
“There might be a problem though,” Eilif said softly as his face filled with uneasiness. “We have to seek approval from the… Well, the Queen.”
“The Queen?” Eleanor’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
“Yes, I can explain more on the way there. We have less than a few days before we reach the castle.” Eilif leaned in and kissed Eleanor on the forehead softly.
Eleanor did not react to the kiss. She was far too dazed by all the new information for her to even feel the gentle kiss.
Eilif noticed her dazed look and started to gently guide her back to the tavern. As he put a hand on the small of her back, Eleanor glanced at the harlot that was still passed out on the ground.
“Will she live?” Eleanor whispered.
Not sparing a look at the harlot, Eilif answered honestly, “I left her with just enough blood to survive. She’ll be fully recovered in a fortnight.”
Eleanor nodded her head absentmindedly.
‘I could live if I take his offer. I could live…’ This thought ran through Eleanor’s head the entire time Eilif directed her back to the tavern.
She continued to be in a daze while Eilif ordered two rooms from the owner. He noticed her distant look but did not say anything about it.
Before they entered their rooms, Eleanor gently grabbed Eilif’s arm, noting he cleaned up the blood on his face and hands while in her catatonic state.
Eilif stopped, turning to her with an eyebrow raised in question.
Her hand slid down to his hand, gently holding it. Her eyes met his now gray eyes, a question burning in them. “Do you really mean what you said? You could save me?”
Eilif smiled as he cupped her cheek with his free hand. He leaned down close to her so she could feel his breath on her lips.
“I will do everything in my power to save you, my Lenore.” He whispered before lightly pecking her lips.
Eleanor’s heart jumped, not at the kiss, but at the thought of living. Her eyes began to gather tears in them as she closed her eyes, inhaling Eilif’s scent and trying to stop the lightheadedness.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Perhaps she should be freaking out at the fact this man is not a human, that she just caught him consuming human blood in an alley and leaving the poor woman to recover on her own. But she wasn’t. In all honesty, the only thing she could think about was living.
As they said their goodnights and walked into their separate rooms, Eleanor felt hope swell in her chest. Her mantra filled her head in a new way, determination replacing the anguish that she was sure would never go away.
As she closed the door, a smile crept up on her face. ‘I am not going to die, I am going to live. No matter what…’