On Her Deathbed
She’s a frail human. A sick, frail human. Her blood wreaks of decay and disease. Orion’s thoughts swirled in his mind as he gazed down at her unconscious body. Her skin was paler than the last time he’d seen her. Her hair had thinned and dulled. She already looked like a corpse in a coffin. She is on her deathbed for fuck’s sake. Stop this madness. Let her die in peace and let her go to her heaven.
When he had called Caleb to discuss the newest regulations administered by the council, Caleb promised he would return his call in the morning. He said he just needed some time. At the time, fury had coiled around him, he had asked what was more important than discussing important political details. Then he heard Caleb sigh and he never thought he’d hear his friend cry.
“She won’t last the night, Orion. I won’t allow her to die alone.”
Time froze then. Thoughts of politics and regulations ceased to exist as everything in Orion came to a stop. His heart clenched as visions of the poor soul infiltrated his mind. Death for her was inevitable. He had known since the moment he had met her. The smell of her blood confirmed it, but where others steered clear, he had been strangely drawn to the wilting flower.
He should have told Caleb that there was no way he would ever share his family blood with her. It would’ve saved them a lot of pain and empty promises. He did tell Caleb that! He did! But Caleb, the persistent fool that he was, continued to persuade him to at least meet her. His blood was not something he could easily share and his family wouldn’t draw that type of attention upon them lightly. Even if every time that his eyes gazed straight into hers that he could feel her soul beckoning to his, he couldn’t allow himself to respond to her silent pleas.
That night when she had shown up when his family was entertaining high society officials, he had to set her straight and correct her behavior. She could not just seek him out as if she had the right to him so he did what he had to do -- shattered her heart and distinguished all hope. The innocence within her eyes was snuffed, watching him close the door to the office as he pulled another willing flower into his office to entertain.
All that hope and love reflecting in those depths was replaced by pain and betrayal. Every time he attempted to draw her into a conversation, she was so cold, cruel, and distant. He missed her warmth -- the hanging off his sentences in desperation to see if she could hear his soul in the words he said.
He swore to her that he couldn’t save her. He wouldn’t. He refused.
Yet the moment Caleb’s word struck him, the news of her impending death chilled his core. Caleb issued an apology and promised to call in the morning. Even when Caleb hung up, all he could do was stand there paralyzed in shock. He couldn’t function properly. If it hadn’t been for his sister to walk by the office, he would’ve still been standing in his family’s estate. He had fallen on his knees in front of her, feeling like his entire world was dying and shattering before him.
“What is it?” Persephone had questioned him.
His eyes went to his sister. “She’ll be dead before morning.”
Persephone frowned then her eyes narrowed. “What is she to you, Orion? No more fucking lies. You wouldn’t look like you were dying if she didn’t mean something to you.”
“I-I don’t,” he had fumbled over his words. “I-I don’t know, but I just can’t...”
“You can’t what?”
“I can’t lose her, Persephone. It’ll be the death of me.”
Shocked, Persephone’s eyes widened at that. That’s where their father found them. Persephone crouched down with Orion upon his knees before she looked to their father.
“She’s his mate,” she finally told their father. Orion’s eyes instantly looked back and forth between his sister and father. He was uncertain how they’d take this news. When his sister fixed him with a look, her words weren’t icy only stern. “Well, you certainly have your work cut out for you since you’ve made quite a mess between the two of you. We expect to meet our newest family legacy properly.”
Their father nodded. “Go. Don’t delay. Time is of the essence.”
He had immediately gone to Caleb’s estate. At first, Caleb was prepared to put up a fight and not allow him to see her, but his old friend got one look in his eyes and the words he had been meaning to say died before he could open his mouth. Caleb just swallowed as he continued to stare into Orion’s eyes before he croaked out a single question.
“Are you certain?”
“Where is she?” Orion asked.
Conflicted, Caleb bit his lip then shook his head. “She said she was ready to die.”
“I’m not ready for that. I’ll never be ready for that. She’s my mate. I can’t just let her go. I’ll follow her in death if I must.”
For a moment, his oldest friend just stood there, frozen by his words before muttering a curse. He finally allowed Orion inside. Even though he heard her stuttering weak heartbeat, he waited until Caleb led him to his sister’s room.
Now here he was, staring at his dying mate. Was it right to take away her choice? Before he had broken her trust, she had wanted this. She had begged him to turn her. She begged for a second chance. Caleb said she was ready to die. The last time Orion had seen her, he saw the resolution of it in her eyes. She had said there was no reason for her to live so why should she stay in a world where she wasn’t welcome. Maybe in heaven, she had said, maybe in heaven, they would welcome her with open arms.
What he would give to be back at that moment in time and tell her that life could welcome her with open arms. Yet he had waited until the last moments of her life to come to this conclusion. No matter what came of tonight, he vowed he would follow her in life or in death.
Deliriously, Caramia blinked, surveying the room and expecting to see her stepbrother, Caleb. When her eyes came across Orion, she wondered if she was just so far gone by now that hallucinations were normal at this point in time. She sighed, wondering if it was death taunting her over things she knew she never deserved.
Because she knew the truth. Like the others, Orion couldn’t stand her... just like the others. She remembered his harsh words before he had taken the hauntingly beautiful lady with him as he shut the door on her hopes and dreams.
“You aren’t here,” she murmured, squeezed her eyes shut.
Yet the vision of the sinfully handsome vampire wouldn’t disappear. She shook her head as she glanced around, wondering where Caleb was. He promised he wouldn’t let her die alone.
Then Orion was at her side and she felt the weight of the bed shift. “Are you truly prepared to die, Caramia?”
She stilled and gazed up into his eyes as they drilled into hers. She gulped, wondering if Orion was truly right there. Was he truly asking her questions? No, no, it couldn’t be. She shook her head as she muttered aloud: “It’s not possible. You’re not here.”
He leaned down until his face was inches above hers. “Caramia, have you really chosen death? Is there truly nothing here that would keep you here?”
This hallucination was tormenting her and she tried to fight against him. She tried to weakly push at the immoveable form. Tears filled her eyes as hands caught her fists and clutched them to a solid chest.
“Please,” she begged. “Please just let me die in peace.”
The body stiffened at her admission. She whimpered when she felt the body slowly remove themselves for her. Once again, heartbreak bled her already shattered soul as the fresh pain cut through her. She trembled as she watched the hallucination begin to disappear. None of it was real. She knew it wasn’t Orion, but even so, the pain was just as intense as that fateful night.
“I know you’re not here,” she murmured. “I know he’s not here. Oh, I wish you were.” The hallucination slowly ventured forward back into view. “I didn’t expect him to save my life. I hope he knows that. I never truly believed that he’d share his family legacy with someone like me. I’m not as much of a simpleton as everybody believes. I knew he couldn’t love me the way I wanted him to. Maybe, I was just being selfish, because I felt this connection to him. He was so special to me and I just... I had hoped he felt the same way.” Tears brushed down her cheeks. Looking at him hurt too much so she gazed up at the ceiling. “I wanted to hate him. I wanted to die hating him, but I can’t. He was the key to all my locks, but when he shut the door that night, I knew it wasn’t the same for him.” She sucked in a breath. “My death will allow my stepbrother to live the life he was supposed to live. He’s going to take it the hardest. He’s the only one that will care when I pass.”
The hallucination shook his head. “That’s not true.”
“We both know that’s a lie,” she said as she boldly looked death in the face. “We both know that he isn’t here right now. He doesn’t give a damn about me. If he did, he wouldn’t let me die. He would do everything in his power to prevent it, but we both know that he’s not here--”
“Is that what you want?” the hallucination cut in. “Is it? Do you want my blood to live--”
“No! I wanted his blood so I could be the only one to know the kind of thoughts that circle his mind. I wanted to know the world he keeps locked away so deep inside of him.” She heard the hallucination inhale sharply. “In his world, sharing blood means something to them and I wanted his heart not just his fucking blood. Because maybe if I became one of them, he would deem me worthy enough to be seen in public with me.”
It was eerily silent for a moment and she wondered if death had finally come for her. Instead, she was wrenched forward forcefully. Wincing at the sudden pain, she was once again reminded of her human frailty. Her eyes gazed into the dark depths in front of hers and she realized that this wasn’t death. This was definitely not a hallucination. Orion was here. The intensity in his eyes caused something to coil deep within her stomach.
It screamed at her to react, but before she could even question him, he bit down upon his wrist. Wide-eyed, she watched blood begin to flow from the wound. Her eyes stayed upon the wound for a moment before her eyes returned to his eyes.
“Orion?” she whispered.
His mouth was smeared with his blood. It should’ve shocked her. It probably should’ve caused a different type of reaction, but she had lived with her stepbrother and been around their culture for most of her lifetime. Her heart raced in her chest and she watched his tongue slide across his top lip. She should be shrinking away from this, not be so captivated by how he can make everything seem so sensual.
As she opened her mouth to question him, he leaned in, capturing her mouth with his. She gasped, tasting his blood. Her eyes popped open as fuzzy images began to overtake her thoughts and the buzz of emotions not of her own coarsed through her. It was addicting -- the sensations, the emotions, and the visions. When he drew away from her, her eyes returned to his as he leaned his forehead against hers.
“Drink,” he whispered, offering her his wrist.
She swallowed hard in uncertainty. What if he was only doing this out of guilt? What if he felt obligated to do so because of his bond with Caleb? He was her weakness. It almost made her forget he was the one that shut the door and turned her away. He had made his sentiments known and the heartbreak of it surged within her.
“I-I can’t.” She shook her head, attempting to pull away. “What good is it to turn me when you won’t stay afterwards?”
She chuckled bitterly. “No, you won’t.”
“You don’t know yet, but you will.”
She sucked in a breath when he licked his wound. She groaned when he yet again pressed his mouth against hers. His tongue danced with hers, tasting his blood upon her taste buds. When did blood become an aphrodisiac? Oh, right, his vampiric blood was pure and a known aphrodisiac. It wasn’t fair that everything about him was addicting. He didn’t even try to hide his darkness. He wasn’t controlled by it and he didn’t hide behind it. He unapologetically owned and that type of self awareness magnetically drew people in like moths to a flame. Like now, he knew his blood was a fucking aphrodisiac and he used it to his advantage.
She wasn’t a child though. She wasn’t a victim like some innocent lamb being led to the slaughter. She allowed him to lead her down this path, because the deeper into madness she went, the more his secrets bled into her.
I can’t lose her, Persephone. It’ll be the death of me.
Losing control of her inhibitions, she kissed him deeper, wanting more of him. She chased the taste of his blood on his tongue. I’m not ready for that. I’ll never be ready for that. She’s my mate. I can’t just let her go. I’ll follow her in death if I must. Desperation clouded her judgment when he pulled away from her, taking his secret truths with him.
Her wild eyes gazed at him. She was so hungry and she wanted nothing more to devour him. She needed to know more and feel more.
Once again, he offered her his offering of his forbidden fruit, lifting his hand. Her eyes riveted to his blood smeared across his wounded wrist. There was a playful smile teasing the corners of his mouth. The fucking devil knew she was too close to the edge and he was dangling everything she wanted in front of her.
All she had to do was take.
Her heaven and hell.
Maybe just one lick.
With trembling hands, she held his offered wrist. Her eyes met his as she tentatively licked his wrist. He stiffened for a moment, grinding his teeth as he squeezed his eyes shut. She smiled at his reaction, but she could feel the flames burning through him. She flattened her tongue against the wound and deliberately dragged it across the sensitive wound. The way his eyes rolled back and the sound of his groan made her want more of him. Spurred on by his pain and pleasure zinging through her, she pressed her mouth against his wounds and sucked. Her eyes took in the blissed out expression upon Orion’s perfect face and her heart rejoiced that she was making him feel this way. Then he wrapped his free arm around her as he pulled her closer to his embrace. She gasped when he sank his teeth into her shoulder and began to drink from her.
Orion made certain when she awoke that he was there. He watched her as she rested and recovered. Her body had gone into a coma-like phase of transformation. She no longer looked so frail. There was even that rosiness back in her cheeks again. Her hair had shine and fullness. The circles underneath her eyes had disappeared. Death was no longer beating down the door and he could actually smell her blood not the disease.
When she finally awoke, her eyes opened, surveying the room until they settled upon him. Their eyes locked and neither broke contact under the intensity of their gaze.
Finally, she spoke. “You stayed.”
He smirked at her statement. He approached the bed and leaned down as he caught her chin between his fingers. He wouldn’t have her shying away from him.
“Did you know that we are now the only two of our kind?” The question caught her off guard. His blood and hers was coursing through both of their veins. She swallowed at the implication of his words. “Nobody will ever have the same type of blood as us. I don’t think you truly understand. Nobody has ever drank my blood -- only you. If you ever doubt how I feel about you, remember that you are the only one that has my blood flowing through your very veins. Remember that.”