About an hour later, I managed to peel myself up off of the floor and wash my face. After running my fingers through my untimely hair, I steeled my nerves, preparing to face Alexander after my meltdown.
I probably looked like a crazy person. I cannot believe I let myself fall apart like that after so long. How the hell am I going to explain that outburst?
I set myself and walk out to find Xander sitting in the living room, eyes closed, his face scowling. His hair looked like his hands had run through it a hundred times and my heart panged knowing I’d caused his distress. His eyes opened as if sensing my response and I saw they were back to their normal pale blue and full of guilt. He sat up and faced me slowly as I walk to sit next to him. His shoulders were rigid and I could feel him studying my face and movements. I took a deep breath and sat, only a few inches from him. He stiffened in confusion but did not move.
I sighed, looking at my hands. “Xander, I’m sorry I reacted that way. I shouldn’t have. It was nothing you did.”
He exhaled sharply and my eyes shot up to see his filling with anger.
Panic raced through me as my stomach dropped. “Please don’t be angry, I really tried not to, but it just got the better of me. I...”
“How could you sit here and apologize to me? Emma, you did nothing wrong. I pushed you too far and I let myself lose control for just a second, and I shouldn’t have. I can assure you, I will never do that to you again.”
I shook my head and reached for his hand. He sat still, allowing me to initiate contact. “No Xander. I swear. It wasn’t anything you did. It’s just me. It’s something I thought I was ready for, but clearly that wasn’t the case. It was me. It’s my issue. Not yours. You did everything right.”
His face scowled and he looked down at our hands, his finger brushing lightly against my fingers. “I will not touch you like that again unless you say so. I’m sorry Emma. I just couldn’t help myself. I can control myself and I promise, that will not be an issue from here on out.”
I held his hand and looked into his eyes. He meant it. He had felt my panic, and sensed my heart change. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him why, but at least he understood for now, even though that meant he wouldn’t touch me again. My heart panged at the thought.
I just met him but I could have let him have all of me. Had I not freaked out. Damnit. I can’t let him think it’s because of something he did, but I don’t know that I can tell him yet.
His face held his look of guilt and he pulled away to stand.
“I’m going to the library to see if I can find anything in the ancient texts about something like this ever happening before, where a human was like you. You’re welcome to join me if you’d like.” His tone was firmer and more formal, but his eyes looked at me hopeful.
I nodded and stood to follow him into the library. It was huge and had two stories worth of books adorning the walls. In the middle was a oversized fireplace and a sitting area with a large leather couch and two matching plush leather chairs, centered with a beautiful wood carved coffee table and a fur rug.
“Oh my God Xander this is incredible. You kind of buried the lead here. I was not expecting this.”
He relaxed slightly and smiled proudly. “It is incredible isn’t it? My family has been building the collection for centuries. Hang on, I’ll grab the books and meet you on the couch.”
As I walked over to the couch, he had already flashed to meet me, holding five large aged books with weathered bindings.
I gasped at his speed. “I don’t know how someone can get used to that.”
He let out a quiet laugh and placed the books across the table in front of me before sitting down next to me.
“So what exactly are we looking for?” I asked, eyeing the many books warily.
“Well, to be honest, I don’t know of ever hearing anything about anyone like you before. I’ve never encountered a human who can withhold from compulsion, or any mental gifts, or who has such a unique scent as you do. Most humans essentially smell the same, but you have something quite different about you. I didn’t smell it until I was right next to you, but it’s there.” He shifted in his seat at the memory, his shoulders and arms tensing.
“Well, what do I smell like? Compared to every other human?”
His jaw clenched in concentration. “Well, basically every human smells of what they’re made of, blood. That’s normally the strongest scent we encounter and the rest is just minor changes based on the person. But you, you smell of blood when you’re flushed, or your blood begins to race. But it doesn’t just smell like blood. It smells like nothing I’ve ever smelled before. I can’t describe it. It’s nearly euphoric, like it’s asking me to drink it.”
I straightened as I realized what he was saying. “So, that’s why you fought so hard to restrain yourself.”
He nodded, face scowling. “And why I lost it so quickly at the end. The more your heart raced the more I felt frenzied.” After a moment, he steadied himself and spoke again. “Emma, I can’t tell you how sorry I am, for whatever I did to upset you. I can control myself, I assure you. Now that I know what to expect.”
I placed my hand over his and smiled, meeting his eyes with mine. “Xander, please stop apologizing. You did not do anything wrong, and I am ok.”
As if finally accepting my words, he nodded and turned back to the books. “So, this one is mostly our ancient legends and prophesies. I figured it was the most logical place to start.”
I looked down and saw the foreign language and frowned.
He laughed and leaned over to show me. “It’s all in Romanian, which is where our kind began. Here, I’ll read through it with you.”
He flipped it open to show me one of the first prophesies, written in fanciful calligraphy and matched with beautiful artwork to illustrate the story. The first one was of a large glowing eye overlooking six large circles and small dots scattered around each of them.
“See, this one states that the all powerful sees and rules over the original six and each they’ve sired or created. See here. The illustration shows the eye overlooking the six original families and their creations. The eye is my bloodline, my parents.”
My fingers ran over the illustration, taking in the powerful image. As he flipped through a few more, I listened intently, trying to listen for any clue as to what would make me so different. He came to one and the illustration took my breath away.
My hand ran over the captivating image and I couldn’t help but ask. “What does this one say?”
“Let’s see. This one talks about the silver marked maiden. She is said to have the mark of the angel. She is the breaker of chains, and potentially the end of the world as we know it. It states that she will join the demons and bring balance and rule between worlds. When she mates, her angel will fight the demon trying to overtake her, but he will be strong enough to match her powers and eventually link to her, causing a shift in her of creating both angel and demon inside of her. It says that she will come and defeat the serpent and all will bow to her, including the eye.”
I stared at the illustration and ran my finger across the colorful image. It showed a white haired female with glowing silver eyes looking over her shoulder at the large eye and six large circles as they swirled beneath her. In the center of her back were two glowing white marks, growing into flowing wings across her skin like a tattoo. The sun floated above her as she looked down over the circles below in her shadow.
He flipped the pages and stopped on another. “This one mentions a fairy queen who supposedly mated with a vampire and created an entirely new line of immortal, but this is a fairytale I remember my mother telling us as we grew up. I know this one is fiction, but it’s still a beautiful story.”
A few more pages over, a dark image catches my attention. “What’s this one say?”
Xander looked down and read quickly before letting out a chuckle. “Oh, this one I remember being told when we were bad and being punished. It says that the dark leader will come and take all of the marked souls with him to the underworld and they will live through excruciating pain and torment for eternity.”
You shudder at the image as the red glowing eyes follow you.
“Most of these are just stories that have been handed down since our lines began, but very few have much merit. There are so many to sort through, that I don’t know if I can do it alone. I sent word to my parents this morning, hoping they’d heard something about you. I didn’t want to, but I’m a little out of my depth here. I can’t compel you to forget, and I can’t send you into the world knowing about us and not understand why.”
I straightened and my pulse increased slightly in anxiety. “What do you think they’ll do?”
He shook his head and ran a hand through his hair. “They may want me to bring you to them for inspection. It could just be that you have to be compelled by an elder, or that even they can’t get through. If that’s the case, I really can’t say.”
I tensed and he felt it, his hand moving to take mine, before instantly releasing it. I reached back and grabbed his hand, holding tight and searching his eyes.
“I’m sorry Emma, I shouldn’t have said that. I just didn’t want to lie to you. I promised you honesty. But, I will not let anyone hurt you. You have my word. Do you trust me?”
That was the second time he’d asked me that today, and I knew that I did, but I had no idea why.
Peering into his icy blue gaze, I could feel myself relax. “I probably shouldn’t seeing as you’re a vampire from an ancient family that could potentially kill me.”
He let out a tight laugh and held my hand tighter in his.
“But I do trust you. Xander, I know you won’t hurt me.”
He turned back to the table and placed the book down, looking through a few more before tossing them back onto the table in frustration, finding nothing more that could help him.
“I think I’m going to find something to eat. It’s nearly dark, and we’ve been reading so long that I forgot to eat lunch.”
His eyes shot to mine as he stood. “I’m sorry. I completely forgot. Of course you need to eat. I’ll make you something.”
My hands waved dismissively. “No. Honest, I can do it. You keep at it and let me know what you find. I’ll only be a moment. I can handle it. Don’t worry.”
He seemed to want to protest, but sat back down, watching as I stood to leave.
“I’ll be back in a minute. Don’t worry about me.” I shot him a quick smile before heading out of the room.
I walked to the kitchen and fixed myself a quick sandwich as the memories of the last two days flooded into my mind. I’d been going for a simple run in the park when all of a sudden I’m in a completely different time, in England of all places, with a vampire prince who is studying me.
What the hell did you get yourself into Hastings?
I finished my food and placed my plate into the sink to rinse it. As I ran the water, I grabbed the soap and ran my hand around the edges, cleaning the top and bottom. The sponge slipped out of my hand and I felt across the bottom of the sink under the water. A quick pain caught at my palm and I winced, dropping the plate.
“Ow. What the hell?”
I pulled my hand out holding the item that caused the pain. I was holding a small shard of the plate Xander had broken in the sink earlier, now saturated in my blood. The cut was shallow but bled profusely due to the bad placement in a crease of my hand. I felt relief as I ran the water over my palm, seeing that the cut wasn’t so bad.
A sharp hiss came from behind me and I jumped, nearly falling back into the counter as I turned around, placing my hand painfully down onto the counter. I felt it bleed more from the pressure and my gut wrenched, seeing Kit crouched behind me, his eyes burning a deep crimson color. I shifted slowly, but he stalked around the counter, watching me.
Shit. Now what do I do?