“Darling…” someone shakes my shoulder and I groggily open my eyes. I blink a couple of times, feeling sleepy still as I take in the dimly lit bedroom. I focus on the gold and cream patterns that shined above me on the ceiling until my mind became clearer. I turn my head on my pillow to see Maximus sitting on a chair close by, holding a bowl of soup.
I try and remember what happened and it slowly comes back to me. I look past Maximus’ pleased smile to the drip next to the bed, the drip went under my bed covers and I could feel a cool spot against my wrist.
“I hate needles,” I groan to Maximus, trying to sit up. He quickly puts the soup on the bedside table and helps position the pillows higher for me to lean against.
“Be careful, darling, you’ll still be weak,” Maximus sits back in his chair and grabs the bowl of soup once more, dipping the spoon into the soup.
“Why did you wake me?” I ask.
“I have to feed you. Darrius couldn’t stay here all night by your side because the King wanted to discuss the wedding with him. Claudia and John are helping out with the plans, so I’m watching over you. Don’t look so concerned, sweetheart,” Maximus brings the spoon up out of the soup and guides it towards me. I shake my head and narrow my eyes at him.
“Don’t feed me,” I say, my throat feels scratchy, “Give me the bowl instead,” I take my hands out of the soft covers of the bed and reach for the bowl. He reluctantly passes it to me and I settle back against the pillows and sample some of the chicken soup which had an abundance of vegetables. It was delicious. I drink the soup slowly, staring at the wardrobe opposite my bed as I think.
“Jennifer,” Maximus says, a note of suspicion in his tone, “What are you thinking about? You don’t actually want to try and leave this place, do you? For one, you wouldn’t be able to escape. Two, it’s too dangerous out there for –”
“I’m not going to escape,” I snap before taking another sip of soup. I watch Maximus wearily as he gives me a calculating look.
“Then what are you thinking about?” He asks, giving me a raised brow. I don’t answer for a while, looking around my beautiful big room. Not as big as Darrius’, but still big. I was safe here, I had friends. Darrius cared about me, but I still had that little issue of getting some freedom back.
“When’s the wedding, exactly?” I ask suddenly.
“The night after next,” Maximus responds, giving me a slow smile, “Why, honey?”
“I’d like to see my parents before the wedding,” I say. Maximus pauses, and gives me a frown.
“Jennifer… you didn’t have anything to do with your parents escaping did you?” he asks me. I shut my mouth. Oh. Shit. I forgot that Claudia had let my parents out secretly. No one knew who helped them escape.
“They…” I needed to make up a lie before I gave Claudia away, “I just know they escaped, I over-heard vampires discussing it once. I didn’t have anything to do with them escaping,” I say as firmly as possible.
“Good, it’s best you don’t get involved with any acts of treason against the Vampire King,” Maximus says, “They are still searching for whoever helped them escape.”
“My parents are alive, that is all I care about,” I remind Maximus, “They’ll be at my house and I’d like to see them before the wedding. I just want to visit them.”
“It’s probably safer for you to stay inside the palace, darling,” Maximus says gently.
“I don’t care what is safe and what’s not safe. I want to do this, I’ll speak to Darrius about it and try and convince him. Otherwise I will give him hell through this wedding,” I say, glaring at Maximus.
“I thought you both had some kind of sweet moment back in the bathroom. You both holding onto each other like that,” Maximus smirks.
“I was overwhelmed,” I state, “I feel like I have more of a clear head now. If I’m going to be stuck here, I want to make a few statements. I will not be seen as a slave,” I put the spoon in the bowl and drink the rest of the soup from the bowl’s edge. My strength was coming back to me already. Finished, I place the bowl on the bedside table and look down at my arm, “Do you mind taking the drip out for me?” I ask Maximus. I knew he had a steady hand with a knife the two times he had drained some of my blood from my wrist. So I knew he wouldn’t hurt me while taking out the drip. I hold out my arm and he reaches over, takes off some of the tape and then pulls out the drip expertly. He puts the drip to the side, making sure not to touch any of the blood on the end of it.
I make a move to jump out of the bed but Maximus leans over and grabs my arm, holding me down.
“Jennifer,” he says sternly, “Do you remember when Darrius asked you if you knew what the wedding meant?” I shrug, glaring at the hand on my arm.
“It’s just a political stunt. Let me go so I can get up and have a shower,” I say. Maximus shakes his head.
“No, I have orders to make sure you don’t get out of the bed. You have to rest a little bit longer to get your strength back,” when I try and pull my arm out of his grip he just pushes me back more firmly, still holding onto my arm.
“Don’t try it Jennifer,” he says, “It won’t be very fun for you with me having to tie you down to the bed. Although it would be fun for me,” he smiles, trying to lighten the mood and I sigh and stop struggling, “Do you know what the wedding itself entails, besides the bigger picture?” he asks.
“Isn’t it just a normal wedding?” I ask, “Like a human one?” Maximus shakes his head and lets my arm go.
“No,” he says, “The wedding pretty much means you will officially and legally become Darrius’ human. He’ll own you completely. Vampires are stronger, so humans are always second best in these types of arrangements,” he explains.
“This isn’t making me feel any better,” I reply, crossing my arms over my chest.
“I just wanted to warn you away from trying to make statements, like you said. You are going to have to act the part and obey Darrius in front of others –” Maximus and I both look to the archway separating my room from Darrius’ and he stops mid-sentence. A human female stands there. His nostrils flare when he takes her in. She is wearing a pale yellow dress, her skin looked pale also.
She stops in the doorway and seems to take a while to see Maximus sitting next to my bed, she looks a little dazed and confused.
“Johnathan sent me here,” the woman says meekly, looking like she is in her late twenties.
“Finally,” Maximus groans, “Dinner,” His fang’s show as he smiles hungrily.
“Um…should I…?” I trail off, Maximus was obviously too engrossed in this woman to take much notice of me. I watch as he stands up, eyes completely focused on the woman as he stalks his way towards her. His long gait and focused eyes gave him the proper look of a hungry predator who couldn’t wait to drink up on his fill of blood.
“Come,” he grabs the woman’s hand and brings her over to a couch further away from my bed and sits her on his lap. I’m all but forgotten. He is whispering to the woman, slowly brushing hair away from her neck.
I seize the moment and jump up from the bed, my navy blue dress was crumpled but I didn’t care. I take a second to get steady on my feet, feeling my strength come back to me but also feeling a little weak.
I didn’t have time for a shower, now was my opportunity to have a say in my wedding. Darrius, Claudia and Johnathan were organising everything with the King and I wanted to have some input. I make a dash for the door… Maximus doesn’t even register my escape, too engrossed in sinking his fangs into the woman’s exposed neck.
When I’m in the hallway I decide to head towards the conference room where the King had been to see Darrius drink my blood. My guess was that is where the discussion for my wedding would be taking place.
And no matter what, I was going to be a part of it!