My eyes widened in shock at the sight of Ryan frowning right in front of my face.
“Are you... okay?” I stammered.
“If you didn’t ruin my attempt at waking you up in a sexy way, then maybe I would be!” He whined.
“Really, Ryan?” I asked, sitting up on the bed and kissing him on his lips. “You’re acting like a two-year-old.”
He smiled and kissed me again.
“It’s our anniversary… and happy Halloween’s day.” He grinned.
“Happy anniversary... and Halloween’s day.” I replied, though I still had no memory of a wedding with him or anyone for that matter.
“I got you something.” He said, getting up from the bed and walking to the closet.
“Is it a costume?” I asked, giving him a curious look.
“You can call it that, if your goal is to be my bride.” He grinned.
I had no idea what he was talking about but when he pulled a dress off the hanger and turned around to face me, time stood still.
It was the most beautiful white dress I had ever seen. It was slim and long, made of the whitest of Charmeuse fabric that flowed to the ground flawlessly. The top of the dress was made of sheer white fabric, adorned with an intricate combination of patterns and white diamonds cut into tiny little pieces of complete preciousness.
Everything about the dress was brightly white, except the bow at the waist which was a deep red, the same shade as blood.
“Wow.” I gasped. “When did you get this?”
“Do you like it?” He asked.
“Are you kidding me? I love it! Oh my Gosh...” I ran off the bed and ran my fingers against the fabric.
“I got it while you were asleep.” He smiled.
Everything about the dress screamed ‘Touch Me’ and it felt as smooth and silky as it looked. For a moment, I forgot the impending doom of the day. I lived in the moment and loved every second. That was until Ryan put the dress back in the closet and turned to me.
“Every lifetime since your mother cast the reincarnation spell, I would try to get to you first. I would search everywhere to find you and always show up too late. My heart would break over and over again but I always hoped to find you first in the next lifetime... well, human lifetime. It’s the same one for me.” Ryan gave a sad smile before he continued. “This time, I did. I want the moment to be special. I want to spend the day with you like Ros never happened. I want to see you in that dress and know that you’re mine. I don’t want any distractions... not the Halloween frenzy outside, not the thought of Ros, nothing. I just want us to be with each other throughout the day. I’ve made arrangements to take you somewhere. It’s a cathedral just outside of town. It’s abandoned now, so we don’t have to worry about people coming in and distracting us. It’s also the last place my brother will think of looking for you. All I need is for you to wear that dress and come with me.”
I rushed into his arms and kissed him. I moved my fingers through his hair and melted my body into his. Everything he said resonated with me in more ways than one and I could only imagine how heartbroken he must have felt all those times he had to watch his brother hurt me.
“Do you have a plan to keep Ros away from us even if he shows up at some point today?” I asked.
“I do... and this time, I’m ready to give it my all.” He replied, looking deep into my eyes.
I kissed him again and hugged him for another five minutes before pulling away from him.
“I shouldn’t keep you waiting any longer than necessary.” I smiled, walking to the bathroom and closing the door behind me.
When I got out of the shower, Ryan went in to take a bath. I used the opportunity to put the gorgeous white dress on. I was brushing my hair in front of the mirror when Ryan stepped out of the bathroom.
“Vampires sure bathe fast.” I teased, causing him to laugh.
“I have a glam squad coming in for that.” He said, pointing at my hair.
“A glam squad?”
“If I didn’t know better, I would have thought you were planning to give me a surprise wedding.” I laughed, looking at his beautiful green eyes.
He laughed again and swept me into his arms. He planted a soft kiss on my lips before placing me back down again. There was a knock on the door and he was there to open it before the person could knock a second time.
It was his glam squad with their boxes of makeup and hair products.
“I want to see it when everything is done, so just stop by at the reception on your way out.” He told the squad.
“Sure.” The lady in charge replied, and Ryan walked out of the room.
They set to work immediately and twenty minutes later, the squad was gone.
I looked at the mirror and even I was impressed at how beautiful the girl who stared back at me was. I smiled at myself in the mirror and caught a glimpse of Ryan from the side of my eye.
“Wow!” I heard him say, just as I turned around.
“It’s beautiful, right?” I smiled.
“You have no idea how hard it is for me to keep my hands to myself right now. I feel like ripping that dress to pieces and making you mine again.” He replied, causing me to blush.
I self-consciously placed my hands on my cheeks and giggled as Ryan teased me.
“Aww. Don’t be shy, my sweet little cutie.” He laughed. “Shall we?”
“Sure.” I replied, walking out of the hotel room behind him.
It was still the early hours of the morning so the road was free of traffic. We got to the abandoned cathedral Ryan mentioned and exited the car. From outside, I could see it was a very big one. It looked like a royal cathedral of some sort and I wondered why anyone would leave it abandoned. I didn’t have time to wonder too much because Ryan grabbed my hand and pulled me into the cathedral. Once we got inside, I was surprised. It was completely empty with a few broken pieces of wood and metal scattered around several corners.
“Um... I thought you said you made arrangements for us to have a beautiful day here.” I asked, smiling just in case there was something I was missing. “There’s nothing here, Ryan. It’s empty.”
Ryan looked at me and smiled.
“How does it feel to be hopeful for something only to find out at the last minute that you’ve been fooled?” He asked, and I could see his eyes had grown several shades darker.
“I... um... don’t... understand.” I mumbled. “Ryan?”
He cut me off before I could ask any more questions.
“What’s so difficult to understand?” He snapped. “How does it feel to be made an idiot by someone you think you can trust?”
A combination of confusion and fear hit me like a wave crashing unto a sandy shore.
What was he trying to say?
I knew it was Halloween’s day and people tried to prank others but he didn’t sound like he was kidding.
“Ryan?” I croaked again, hoping he would just stop with the acting because he was really beginning to scare me.
“It’s Ros!” He snapped.
My eyes widened and my legs seemed to buckle under my weight. The walls of the cathedral immediately felt like they were closing in on me. I didn’t understand the combination of feelings I was experiencing but I knew what the mixture produced - FEAR.
I took a step back as a confused frown plastered itself on my face. My only instinct was to run back outside and I tried to do so. He was right in front of me before I could complete the movement. His hand wrapped around my neck, cutting off my air supply. It was in that moment I knew for sure that he wasn’t kidding.
This was Ros Soille... and I had been fooled.
I couldn’t believe it. I told him I loved him... I gave him my body... my virginity... my special prize for the love of my life.
Tears flooded my eyes but not only because he was squeezing my windpipe. I was hurt, emotionally shattered and completely confused. My mouth opened but no words came out. All I could do was gag and kick at him.
How could I not have known? I thought about all the times I had dreamt about Ryan – the real Ryan telling me I was with Ros, begging me to let him in and I didn’t.
I felt myself being lifted off the ground as he continued to squeeze my neck. Once my body was completely off the ground, I felt the quick movement. My body had been thrown through the air and it slammed into the wall in the corner opposite the door. My head hit the wall with so much force I was shocked I didn’t pass out immediately.
“I told you I made arrangements for this place. I actually did... Just not the kind of arrangements you were expecting.” He sneered.
I didn’t need to ask what he meant because cold air slammed me from every side and in less than thirty seconds, I was shivering.
“You know something, Selena? I’m very disappointed in you. Really. Is this the best you can do? I expected you to at least put up a fight. You did in every other lifetime.” He taunted.
I would have put up a fight if I was in any condition to do so. My head felt like it was expanding and contracting repeatedly and every movement was extremely painful.
I thought if I could just focus my mind, maybe the real Ryan would be able to reach me. I didn’t even know what I was going to tell him if he did. The only thing I could think of was HELP.
With the cold around me and the ringing pain in my head, focusing on anything was impossible. I couldn’t get my mind blank. It was completely filled with pain and horror.
“You know... I’m even more disappointed in my brother. I expected him to at least show up and try to stop me. I mean... even though he’s going to end up watching me drain the life out of his pathetic little human slut, he should have been man enough to show up. But guess what? He’s not here. He failed to find you - in yet another lifetime. I really don’t know why you picked him over me. Is he good at anything other than ravishing you?”
I was still very confused. Perhaps if the cathedral wasn’t so cold, I would have been able to think of something... anything to help me get away.
“Shall we?” He asked, walking up to me with a satisfied grin.
I didn’t need to ask what he wanted. He picked me up and held my right hand out in front of me. Then he pushed my pinky all the way back until I heard a snap and a ringing pain overwhelmed me.
I screamed out in pain and tried to pull my hand out of his grip but he was too strong. I didn’t know which was worse. The pain from my finger or the biting cold my entire body was exposed to.
“How did I describe it in the book again? Can you remind me?” He asked. “Oh... I know. I’m going to break every little cheating bone in your worthless body and I hope my brother still finds you desirable after that.” He gave me a wicked grin.
“Come on, don’t act so surprised. Who did you think wrote the book? Someone who cared enough to try and save you from me? Please!” He taunted.
I couldn’t believe it. He wrote the Selena Ryder book?
That revelation was the least of my worries. I needed to find a way out of there. I couldn’t give up and let him break any other bone in my body. I could barely handle the pain from the first one, along with the bitter, numbing cold.
“I don’t think this place is cold enough.” He said, picking me up and throwing me against another wall.
This time, it was my back that impacted the stone structure. I let out a cry of pain as my body slumped unto the pile of scattered wood around me.
That was when I thought of it. Wood!
If there was anything I knew about Vampires, it was the fact that a wooden stake through their hearts would kill them. It was the best chance I had of saving myself from the despicable death that awaited me. I looked around for any piece that had a pointed end and while he was distracted with decreasing the temperature in the Cathedral, I picked one up and hid it in my dress.
I knew he was much faster than me, so my best option was to wait till he came to me. Perhaps if he picked me up again to throw me against a wall, I would drive the wood into his heart with all my might. It was the only plan I could think of.
He turned around and smirked.
“Who’s the idiot now?” He asked, moving towards me with super speed.
He grabbed me by the neck again and when I was in the air, I brought out the stake hidden by my side and aimed straight for his heart.
He caught my arm easily and laughed.
“Was this your grand plan? Your heroic escape?” He taunted me in a cold, sarcastic voice. “Did you think I’ll be so distracted as not to hear you drag your clumsy body on the ground to pick this stupid stick up? What even makes you feel a stupid stick will do anything to hurt me?”
All the blood drained from my face along with any trace of hope I had at the possibility of my survival.
“I asked you a question. Who’s the idiot now?” He yelled, smacking me across the face and throwing my body against another wall.
This time, he flung me with a lot more force than all the other times. When my body bounced off the wall, I fell at an uncomfortable angle and twisted my ankle. The pain that rang through my body was numbing. I had no idea why I still felt the pain. I should have passed out by now.
Why on earth was I still awake in the freezing cold, while my body was getting tossed into walls like a ball?
Ros moved towards me with super speed and I closed my eyes while waiting for his impact. I could no longer cry or scream. The cold was too numbing for me to move. Even breathing had become a chore and I felt like I was having frostbite on my fingers.
I heard a crashing sound and then a thud – but it wasn’t my body hitting anything.
I could hear the whoosh sound of objects moving very fast. When I managed to drag my eyelids open, all I saw was a blur. I couldn’t make out anything but it looked like Ros was being fought off by someone just as fast as him. That was when I realized why all I could see was the blur. Ros was indeed being fought off but it was happening way too fast for my eyes to capture the images.
The biting cold was beginning to reduce, as if someone turned off whatever cooling system Ros was using to freeze me in the Cathedral. The next thing I heard was a whisper – Someone was whispering my name.
At first, I thought I imagined it but the person was persistent. With each whisper, the blur of fighting Vampires moved closer to me and somehow moved further away again. I could hear loud punching sounds and angry screams but it was happening too fast for me to even see.
I heard it one more time and turned my eyes in the direction of the sound. I could make out the facial outline of the person calling my name - but the image was too blurred for me to actually recognize who it was.
Whoever it was ran to me and began pulling me away from the fighting blur.
“You’re going to be okay.” I heard the person say, as they continued to pull me towards an exit.
I was completely overwhelmed.
In my heart I was thankful to whoever it was but I couldn’t even speak to thank them. I held on to my consciousness by a thin thread, as we neared an exit that was different from the one Ros brought me in through.
I was half way through the exit when I heard the guttural scream of pain from the person who was pulling me out.
I barely saw the person falling but I heard the thud. After that, the whoosh and whirling sound of fast moving wind surrounded me.
I tried to figure out what was going on but I couldn’t.
Everything went blank after that.