A Moment of Darkness

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The Guard

Thick tendrils of darkness wrapped around the large man holding him against the doors, the wood groaning from the weight of him.

I froze, staring at him, holding him in place while I scrambled for what to do.

All my life I managed to live in secret, to hide.

But now I’ve ruined everything.

“Well isn’t this an interesting surprise?” He says with a smirk, his sensuous lips curving at the ends. I didn’t know what to say as I watched him.

Should I kill him?

Should I throw him out the window?

Should I shout for help?

None of those seemed like viable options. Each would be too difficult to explain to the servants and Tristan. There were too many people that would ask way too many questions.

Of course, it would be my luck I would lose control when we had people in the manor. The one day in all my life we had people in the manor, I blow it.

All your fault.

I looked at my hands that were still outstretched towards him, holding him in place. I shot my gaze back up at him, still unsure of what to do.

He wore ordinary clothing, brown trousers with a white cotton shirt tucked into them. His boots were covered in dried mud. He had nothing else on him; no sword, no dagger, nothing. The only thing that seemed out of place was the way he was reacting to my show of power, to the fact that I was Marked. I would have expected screaming, or maybe even begging, but certainly not smiling. And was he trying not to laugh as he watched me?

He certainly was.

“You know, if you wanted to make a good impression all you had to do was lay out some coffee and chocolate. That would have impressed me a great deal. I’m not into flashy introductions.” The low timbre of his voice was light and jovial. I continued to hold him in place, not sure why he was joking about this situation.

“Who are you,” I ask, trying to make my voice sound somewhat intimidating. If I was going to convince this man, who I’m starting to think is a servant Tristan hired, to not say anything about who I was, then I was going to have to seem somewhat intimidating.

Even if I felt as scared as a mouse before this mountain of a man.

“Who are you?” He asks me.

“Are you a servant? Did Tristan hire you?” I say, pushing a bit harder with my shadows. I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I had never done this with my ability before or seen it listen to my commands. But it didn’t matter what happened. I just needed to make sure he didn’t realize I had no idea what was going on.

“Tristan hired me, yes.” He says, his voice a bit more strained from the weight of my hold. “If you don’t mind, I would really like to breathe.” I loosened up, but only a fraction. Why was he so relaxed?

“This library is off-limits. What are you doing here?” I ask.

“Tristan sent me to get you. He said he needed you to meet someone.”

“I don’t need to meet anyone.”

“Well if you let me go, then I guess I can be on my way then.” He says, tilting his head to the side as he smiled. Tendrils of dark brown hair spilled from behind him, causing the blue in his eyes to spark.

“You’re not going anywhere.”

“Is that a threat?” The man asks with a raised brow. His infernal smile deepened, a dimple showing in his cheek. “I rather like threats.”

I wasn’t sure what to say to that.

“I can’t let you go until I know you won’t breathe a word of this to anyone,” I say, hating the words as I said them, hating that I was forced to trust this man.

“All I have to do is give you my word?”

“Yes.” I say quickly, then add, “And if I find out that you’re running your mouth, you’re going to have much bigger problems on your hands.”

“Like?”

“What do you mean like?”

“I mean, what are the problems you are promising me?” He says, his eyes light as he watches me squirm.

“I...well.” I blink. This wasn’t supposed to go this way.

“Ah, I see.” He says, squirming under my hold as if he was trying to get comfortable. “We’re going to have to work on your intimidation skills, and your threatening, if I’m ever going to be able to help you.”

“Help me?” I cough out a laugh, “From here it looks like I’m going to be the one helping you. Might I remind you who is in control here?”

“Are you sure about that?” He says with a smile. I feel a tap on my shoulder, spinning to find the man now towering over me. I look back to where I was holding him earlier, to find that there was indeed no one pinned up against the doors.

I take a step back, the shadows scampering away as if they were scared. He watched me retreat, his eyes roaming over my person, taking in every detail.

“How did you do that?”

“It seems we both have secrets.” He takes a step towards me, opening his mouth to say something.

“Ah!” Tristan bursts into the room, “I see you have already met Oryn.”

I spin to look at Tristan, my mouth hanging open as he comes to a stop in front of us. The smile on his face falters for a moment as he looks between the two of us.

“Is something wrong?” He asks.

“Nothing at all sir!” Oryn says, laying on a thick charm that was lacking a moment ago. “I was just telling Aurelia here how I look forward to working with her over the next two weeks.”

“Splendid!” Tristan says, looking at me. I had the decency to close my mouth, looking between the supposed Oryn and Tristan.

“No,” I say, letting my gaze settle on Oryn. “He cannot work with us.”

“Why not?” Tristan says, his brows pinching together. “He meets all the requirements and I think you will find him suitable for the job.”

“But he’s...”

“Very well trained!” Oryn interrupts me, his eyes boring into me.

Tristan didn’t know what Oryn was.

Unbelievable.

“That would be correct,” Tristan says, seeming a bit perplexed. “Aurelia you and I have already agreed that this was the plan. I don’t have time to look for anyone else as the servants have already arrived. My contact said Oryn would be the best suited for this job.”

“Right,” I whisper, looking at Oryn again.

He was the guard. The one Tristan had hired.

I felt panic flare through me.

Another Marked was trying to protect my sister and me. He was in as much danger as I was. How was he going to keep an eye out for us when he had to also keep an eye out for himself?

“Tristan,” I say, lightening my tone a bit. “Could you give us a few minutes? I have some questions I need to ask...Oryn.” I hesitate to say his name, not wanting to make it seem as if he had gotten the job. I was going to have to convince him to leave.

“Of course!” Tristan says cheerily, stepping out of the library. “Come find me when you’re done Oryn, I would like to show you to your rooms.”

“Be right there sir!” Oryn says with a smile. I gave Tristan an encouraging smile, waving as if everything was fine. As soon as the door clicked shut, I spun on Oryn, my smile gone now replaced with all the rage that had been building.

“Who the hell are you,” I whisper, not wanting Tristan to hear. “You can’t stay here.”

“It seems as if I have gotten the job,” Oryn says as he walks around the library, picking up books and reading the titles. “Tristan seems to love me.”

“You’re Marked.”

“So are you.”

“You’re dangerous!”

“At least I have my abilities under control.” He shoots me a glance. “You’re lucky I was here when I was. I don’t know how you would have explained the entire manor cascading into darkness. I don’t think there’s a lie out there that would cover that one up.”

“I had everything under control.”

“Your definition of control is frightening.” He says, letting a book fall to the table.

“Like you could have done anything if that had happened,” I say rolling my eyes.

“I did.” He says, “You had descended the entire manor into darkness. Thankfully, I’m very crafty at creating lies so the issue has been taken care of.” My heart seems to stop beating, everything in my body becoming cold.

“You’re lying.”

“Believe me or not, that’s up to you. Regardless, I’m curious as to what you need to tell me. So far everything out of your mouth has been...riveting.” He draws the last word out with a devilish smile that I’m sure charmed many women before me. I cross my arms over my chest.

“Are you trying to insult me?”

“Me?” He says, putting a hand up to his chest. “Never.”

“You can’t work here.”

“And why not.”

“You’re Marked and in as much danger as Carena and I.”

“Carena is Marked?”

“Well, no,” I say defensively. “But it’s not like they are kind to the families of the Marked.”

Oryn seems to hesitate, his eyes glancing to the window in the library.

“True.” He says with a sigh. “My job title only included you though.”

“The agreement I had with Tristan was that you would protect Carena and keep an eye out for me. Last I checked, that meant you would be watching her as well."

“Last I checked, my assignment was to protect you.” He says with a challenging gleam in his eye, “You would want me to go against my boss and listen to you?”

I hesitate because that is exactly what I would want him to do, but I realize how stupid that would sound if I were to agree with him.

And the infuriating part is he seemed to know that.

“It seems to me,” Oryn continues, “That you have no choice but to allow me to work with you. I think you will find me to be a rather great company to have.”

“I don’t need company, thank you.”

“It’s only two weeks,” Oryn says, coming to stand before me again. “We’re talking about your life here, and Carena’s. Can you trust me for two weeks?”

I look up at his face, at the sharp angles of it. Standing this close to him, I can now see the deep blue of his eyes. They reminded me of a picture Tristan had once shown me of the Flat Seas that surrounded Vrunadia, the deep hue of the water intoxicating and wild.

“I don’t know you,” I say to him, not liking how close he stood, but not wanting to back away either. “There are only three people in this entire world I trust, and one of them is dead. You want me to trust you when I just met you? I know nothing about you! You don’t even know me!”

“I can change that.” He says, taking a step back and winking at me. I curl my fingers into fists, already knowing it was going to be a long two weeks.

“I don’t want to change that.” I seethe, “I want you out of this manor.”

“Well sorry to break it to you sunshine, but it seems that’s not a possibility.” He heads towards the door, his steps heavy on the wood floor. He turned right before he left, giving me a smile as he said. “I’ll see you around boss.”

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