I wake up tangled in warm sheets… with a hand petting my hair. Without opening my eyes I try and swat Darrius’ hand away with my own. It’s a feeble attempt, I hear him chuckle in response and I then open my eyes. I take in Darrius leaning back against some cream coloured pillows with gold edgings, watching me awaken.
He was so handsome, his exposed chest and abbs were a bloody fine sight, and I was starting to warm to those black leather pants he always had on.
I wasn’t ever going to tell him that, I wouldn’t be able to handle the smug look bound to take over his face.
“Hello, sleepy head,” Darrius tugs lightly at a strand of my black hair and I sit up, swatting his hand away for the second time.
“Don’t do that,” I groan out, rubbing the sleep away from my eyes. I try not to notice Darrius’ scowl at my protest of his constant touching of my hair.
“Jennifer!” Claudia’s familiar voice makes me swivel my head around quickly to the side to see Claudia and Johnathan sitting around the couches near the fireplace which is roaring away, omitting warmth into the rest of the room. Claudia is giving me a massive grin.
“We’ve been waiting for you to wake up!” She says, getting to her feet. She motions for Johnathan to stand up also and I give Darrius a raised brow. Why were these two waiting for me to wake up?
“What time is it?” I ask groggily as Claudia and Johnathan walk over to the bed, holding a small wooden box. I push some of the blankets away from me, sitting up further. I give Darrius one long look, assessing his mischievous smirk. I decide to climb out of the bed, considering I can guess what sort of thoughts were going through his mind with me currently in his bed. As I try and crawl out, the bed slants behind me and two strong arms wrap around my waist and pull me back. Darrius pulls me onto his lap, and he quickly nuzzles his nose against my neck, breathing in my scent. I sigh and I settle back against Darrius wide and strong chest, giving Claudia an irritated look as I stare up at her through strands of messy hair flopping onto my face.
“You’re not going anywhere, beautiful,” Darrius leans up to whisper menacingly in my ear, with an edge of humour. I roll my eyes and Claudia gives Johnathan a smile before looking back to me.
“You’ve been asleep all night and all day, Jennifer,” Claudia says, leaning on one of the posts that rose up from the right corner of the four-poster bed.
“What time is it?” I ask, worried.
“It’s midnight, you’re adjusting to staying awake in the night hours and sleeping throughout the day,” Johnathan answers, he walks around the side of the bed to hand me the small box he is holding. I reach out and grab it while Darrius keeps his arms locked iron-tight around my waist, keeping me from scrambling away.
“What’s this?” I ask.
“A gift,” Claudia says, grinning.
“You can leave now, Claudia,” Darrius looks up and glares at Claudia, “You gave her the present.”
Johnathan sighs in reaction to his brother’s dismissal of Claudia, but she just glares back at Darrius.
“No, Darrius, after she’s awoken properly she’s coming with me,” Claudia states, “I’m going to help prepare her, this is her last night of freedom.”
“Wait,” I say, holding the box firmly but momentarily getting distracted, “If I slept all through the day, doesn’t that mean my wedding is tomorrow night?” I ask, knowing the answer, but wishing it wasn’t so soon.
“In exactly 24 hours, you’ll be all mine, sweetie,” Darrius says happily against my neck.
“I want to see my parents,” I say quickly, “tonight, before time runs out. You said you would think about it,” I snap at Darrius, trying to struggle out of his arms so I can stand. He should have awoken me sooner. He just holds me more firmly, with little effort.
“Sweetheart,” Darrius says, “Why don’t you go see them after the wedding? We don’t have any time to spare. Open the box, Jennifer,” Darrius whispers the last part seductively into my ear even with Claudia and his brother looking on.
I wish I could get some damn privacy in this place.
“You can’t avoid the subject of my parents forever, Darrius,” I mutter, giving up for now, “And you still have to explain what is going to happen in the ceremony that is going to make me immortal without becoming a vampire –” Darrius literally presses his finger against my own lips, shushing me.
“The box,” he growls, impatience now in his tone, “Open it.” He takes his finger away from my lips, and with a defeated but pissed off sigh, I remove the wooden box’s lid and freeze when I see the beautiful two rings staring at me out of the box. Both are bright gold, with red rubies encrusted all around the design.
“Oh…” I whisper. I had no idea the box would have enclosed two rings. The box wasn’t your traditional case for jewellery.
“They are really old,” Darrius whispers to me, “Do you like them?” I look back over my shoulder to Darrius, then stare at Johnathan and Claudia.
“Who bought them for me?” I ask. I thought Darrius would be the one to do that, but Claudia and Johnathan were the ones that presented the box.
“It was my idea,” Claudia says.
“I helped find them in Claudia’s mess of a room,” Johnathan adds in.
“And I paid for them,” Darrius says last.
“They are Claudia’s?” I ask, confused.
“It’s from my family lineage,” Claudia says, “They were passed down for centuries.” My eyes widen, I quickly put the lid back on the box and I hold them out to her, shaking my head.
“I can’t take them if they are yours!” I say. Darrius’ arms tighten around me in response but Claudia doesn’t seem worried at all.
“No, I can’t use them,” she says, “They only work on humans. It won’t work for Darrius, but he can still wear one to compliment yours. The rings have an ancient spell embedded into the stones. It means your ring will heat against your skin if you are in immediate danger. There is no point in me having them. You’ll have more use out of them than me, and I want you to have both of them. Many people will still want you dead, Jennifer, the ring will protect you,” I nod but frown.
“I still feel bad about it,” I say.
“Don’t be,” Darrius growls behind me, “They’re yours now. I bought them.”
“Jennifer, get up and come with me,” Claudia smiles at me and glares at Darrius, “Let her go.”
“Come on, Darrius,” Johnathan says, irritated, “You need to come with me too, to get ready!”
“What’s happening?” I ask, as Darrius reluctantly releases me. I slowly crawl off him, giving him a scolding look before I place the box with the rings on the bedside table. I stand up and look down at my days-old-and-stinky dress. Ehk.
“Don’t worry about what you are wearing now, you’re coming with me to design your wedding dress,” I look up to Claudia in surprise.
“Oh… did Maximus contact a dress-maker?” I ask. Darrius climbs out of the bed next to stand by Johnathan and he laughs aloud.
What was so funny?
“Not exactly…” she says, giving Darrius a glare for being amused. Darrius can’t keep the smirk off his gorgeous face.
“He kidnapped a dress-maker,” Johnathan says.
“What?” I ask, shocked.
“He was jealous I caught such a pretty human girl,” Darrius says with amusement, “He had to get one of his own.”
“Why did he kidnap her?” I wonder.
“Don’t ask,” Claudia says dryly, “I’ve tried many times to figure out Maximus-logic, it never works. Come on, let’s go try and calm the girl down so she is willing enough to help us,” I walk to Claudia’s side and take in her jeans and green top.
“Are you going to wear a dress for the wedding? Do you want to be my maid-of-honour?” I ask, grinning. Claudia’s eyes light up. This was seriously the quickest wedding in all of history.
“Hey,” she says, “I already bagged that role yesterday, let’s go.”
“Make sure it’s white,” Darrius growls at Claudia and me as we leave. Claudia rolls her eyes and I glance over my shoulder to give Darrius a funny look. His eyes look full of possession as I stare back at him. A seductive smile plays on his lips and I shiver internally. I could only guess what he was planning. I quickly look back around to my front. I didn’t need to get my thoughts onto what would be expected after the wedding.
Claudia opens the door, trying not to laugh.
“Men,” she says, “They love tradition.”
“Maybe I should wear a black dress just to piss him off…” I suggest as I walk out into the hallway.
“I heard that, sweetheart!” Darrius quickly responds as Claudia shuts the door and blocks them out. I try not to laugh at Darrius’ passionate response.
“Come on, we don’t have much time,” Claudia says, “Are you at least a little excited?” We both ignore Darrius’ outburst.
“As excited as a girl can be when possible assassination attempts may be headed my way tomorrow night,” I say, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Don’t worry, Jennifer, Darrius won’t let anything happen to you,” she says, beginning to walk down the hall.
“I’m still not going to just submit though, to the whole reason for this wedding, the idea of this wedding. I will not become a slave for Darrius,” I add. Claudia laughs as I walk beside her.
“Good,” she says, “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”