Chapter 14 - Reading
My steps are silent as I tiptoe through the estate, sneaking room to room before the Demons awake. I’ve always hated my inability to sleep in, but for once am grateful that my body wakes me before the sun has even risen.
It gives me time to explore.
Craning my neck around the doorway, I’m met with the sight of a large, bustling kitchen. It’s surprisingly modern, the sleek design a far cry from the almost medieval decor that exists everywhere else in this place.
Shadows glide around within the room, their hazy bodies paying me no attention as they work to ready breakfast. At least I hope they aren’t paying me any attention. It’s hard to make out any details on their body, let alone where they are looking.
I watch them with interest for another long moment before forcing myself to turn away and continue my exploration. If they are cooking breakfast, I assume that to mean that the Demons are expected to awake soon, and I’d like to be hidden back in my room before that happens.
I’m unsure if I will be given jobs or tasks to complete each day, but hope that Gray will take it upon himself to inform me of anything before I get into trouble.
A small part of me debates seeking him out when he wakes up to ask, but the thought of willingly putting myself in his vicinity seems silly. I can’t control myself around him despite my best efforts, and I think it would be best to try and avoid him as much as I can.
The last thing I want is to get sucked into his enticing pull and launch myself at him as I have done multiple times already. Each incident leaves me embarrassed and full of shame, and I would like to prevent it from happening as much as possible.
Tiptoeing past the kitchen entrance, I move through the dining room before stumbling upon another large hallway. This place is larger than I initially thought, and I make a mental note to draw myself a map when I get back to my room.
I glance around the newly discovered corridor cautiously before stepping forward onto the long rug that runs down the center of it. A sideboard sits along the left wall with what I assume are some expensive vases on top, and I tentatively walk past and peer into the wide entryway opposite it.
My eyes widen as I’m met with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Inching closer, my mouth drops open as I lean my head inside and peek down the first aisle. The shelves appear to run around the entire perimeter of the room, and two rows run from the center outwards towards the walls.
I’m careful not to touch anything as I step forward and explore down the first aisle to the left, my eyes darting along the spines of all the books. There must be thousands in here, each one looking incredibely old and expensive.
Most are written in a language I’ve never seen before, and at a closer look I note that they all seem to be the same one.
I assume that it’s the native tongue for the Demons, making me wonder just how old these books are. Most, if not all, realms use the universal language and have been for well over a hundred years.
Careful to keep my footsteps quiet, I round the first aisle and make my way down the second one before repeating the process with the shelves on the right side of the room.
It takes everything in me not to reach out and touch the spines of the books as I pass. I’ve always been a big fan of reading, but the only material my parents ever provided were worn-out paperbacks that were so old the covers had worn off long before they even came into my possession.
These beauties look priceless, most hard covered and detailed with intricate designs. I wonder how they would feel in my hand and if they are as heavy as I imagine.
My face is tilted upwards towards the top row as I round the last shelf, my footsteps coming to a halt as I note the large form in the farthest corner of the room. Gulping, I lower my face and look towards the Demon, my mouth running dry at the sight of Silas watching me silently from an oversized leather chair.
He doesn’t look angry as he regards me, which I take as a good sign, and sets the book in his hands down as I give him my full attention. I hope he can’t hear the racing of my heart as I internally panic at having been caught snooping.
Is he going to punish me for entering this room? Will he have Gray do it for him?
“Are you looking for anything specific?” He questions, head tilting to the side slightly.
I shake my head, shifting uncomfortably under his stare.
Silas’s eyebrow raises as he lets out a low hum. I can’t help but feel foolish for having carelessly wandered around the room without ensuring that somebody was in it beforehand. I know better than that.
I’m at least grateful that it is only Silas in here and that it’s not Alexander or Gray that I’ve stumbled upon. Dropping my gaze to his chest, I note that he is reining in his essense as he did last night at dinner. It makes it much easier to be around him, and I wonder if it was something he did the moment I entered the room or if he already had it hidden before I even stepped foot inside.
Given the powerful waves it gives off, I imagine that I would have noticed if he had it out before I entered. My cheeks warm at the thought of him keeping it away for my comfort, but I quickly push that idea away.
I’m reading into this way more than I should be.
Silas clears his throat suddenly, capturing my attention. “Do you like to read?”
I nod my head, eagerly confirming that it’s something I enjoy.
“Yes, I love to read.” I state, wincing at the audible shake in my voice.
Silas politely ignores it as he grabs the book that sits in his lap and moves it to the small table to his left. My clammy hands clench up by my side as he gestures for me to sit in the empty chair opposite his. I hesitate on it for a moment before nervously stepping forward and lowering myself onto the seat.
“What language do you read?” He asks.
My face reddens at the question, embarrassment warming them.
“I speak and understand the universal language, but I only know how to read Human.” I state, continuing to avoid eye contact.
Silas frowns at this before shifting in his seat. I watch as he crosses his right ankle over his thigh, creating a triangle with his legs. He scratches at his chin before connecting his hands over his lap.
“I was under the impression that most people in the Human realm are taught universal. You speak it well.” He comments.
I shrug, dropping my gaze to my lap. My fingers pick anxiously at the hem of my large pajama shirt, and with an internal scream I realize that I just so happen to be wearing the ones that belong to him. Thankfully he hasn’t seemed to notice, and if he did, he has been kind enough not to comment on it.
“I didn’t have the opportunity for a formal education, and the only learning books my parents could find for me were ones written in Human.” I explain, shrugging.
“Would you like to learn? I’m sure that Gray will be more than happy to hire a tutor for you.” Silas offers.
I open my mouth to decline politely before thinking better of it and snapping my jaw shut with a quiet click. It would be nice to have the opportunity to get a better education, and it will give me something to do during the day.
I’m still unsure whether or not Gray expects me to help out around the house, but given the number of Shadows I see slinking around, I would assume that my assistance isn’t needed.
The corner of Silas’s lip turns upwards as he watches my reaction, his waist pivoting forward as he leans in towards me.
My cheeks flush under his watchful eye, and I try to keep my thoughts far away from anything even remotely soft. I don’t know what his relationship is with Gray, and the absolute last thing I want is to anger him by sending the impression that I am getting too close to his friend.
I clear my throat as I turn away from Silas and let my eyes roam over the tall bookshelves once more.
“Most of these are in a language I have never seen before. Is it the original Demonic one?” I ask.
In an attempt to hide my shaking hands, I shove them underneath my thighs. Silas watches the action before standing to his feet. I shrink as his body towers over mine, cringing slightly as he reaches towards me.
“Yes, most of these were written before the adoption of the universal language.” He answers before gesturing for me to stand. “Come, follow me.”
Trying not to appear too weak, I raise my chin and move to my feet. This is the first time I’ve ever stood so close to him before, and I note with fear that I only come to his chest at full height. He’s taller than I thought he was, the realization making me slightly nervous.
His movements are smooth and full of confidence as he turns and leads me down the aisle to our left. I follow closely behind, almost bumping into his back when he comes to an abrupt stop at the shelf in the far corner of the room.
I eye him warily as he steps aside, my attention lingering on his friendly smile before turning towards the bookshelf he has brought us to.
I’m sure my shock is apparent as I scan over the books, my excitement rising as I realize that they are all in Human. I must have skipped right over these when I was looking earlier.
Shifting my weight to my heels, I try to hold back a smile as I read over all the spines. There looks to be a rich mix of genres in here, and I bounce slightly at some of the more exciting sounding ones.
“Most of the books in here are mine, and you are more than welcome to take and read whatever you please. If there are any you would like that are not here, just let me know and I’ll purchase them for you. Or you can ask Gray.” Silas informs me.
I eagerly nod, already knowing that I will not be asking him to buy me anything.
Pursing my lips, I force myself to look up at Silas despite my apprehension. He’s been nothing but kind to me so far, and if there’s anybody I feel I can ask my questions to, it’s him.
“What’s my role in the house?” I ask, voice coming out a whisper.
Silas furrows his brow at my question, confusion flashing over his face as he looks down at me.
“I’m not following.” He admits.
I gulp, cheeks heating up. “What are the expectations of me here? What does Gray want from me?”
Silas sighs, his chest deflating as he lets out a long exhale.
“Gray is a bit odd for an Incubus. He wants a relationship, somebody he can give his affections to. He has no interest in molesting or harming you in any way, but he will need to feed off you so he doesn’t starve. That doesn’t always have to be penetrative sex, but that’s a conversation you’re better off having with him.” Silas softly explains, his dark eyes narrowing as he acknowledges Gray’s need to feed. “We have no interest in harming you, and Gray will see to it that you have everything you desire.”
I nod, grateful for the explanation despite the fear it evokes in me.
“And Alexander? He doesn’t seem to like me very much.” I boldly state.
Silas laughs, the deep noise erupting from his chest and startling me. My pulse picks up at the suddenness of it, but I quickly calm down as I realize that he isn’t going to punish me for my words.
“Alex doesn’t seem to like anybody. Don’t worry about him. Despite his cold attitude, he would never actually do anything that would upset Gray, including harming you.” He explains.
Silas stares down at me as he patiently waits for my next question. I hesitate before speaking again, worried that he will find me annoying, but as I take in his relaxed posture, I work up the courage to continue my interrogation.
“What am I supposed to do all day?”
Silas shrugs, gesturing to the books.
“You can sit around and read if you want. I don’t believe that Gray has any jobs he wishes for you to do. As I mentioned earlier, you could ask him to hire you a tutor if that’s something you would find desirable. We have many well-educated Shadows in our employment, and I’m sure we could find one that would be more than happy to teach you.” Silas explains with a chuckle. “I imagine that being chosen to educate our female would be considered an honor for many Demons.”
Silas falls silent when I don’t respond, a sly smirk spreading across his lips before he scans the room and bends towards me slightly. I remain frozen as he brings his face towards mine, my pulse racing as I feel his breath fan across my face. Is he going to kiss me? Do I want him to kiss me?
He’s an attractive man, and his kind personality is incredibly comforting. A small part of me wishes that it was him that purchased me instead of Gray. I imagine that I would have a happy life if I were Silas’s female.
I try not to let my disappointment show as Silas turns his head and brings his mouth to my ear.
“Would you like me to let you in on a little secret?” He questions. He doesn’t give me time to answer before continuing. “Incubi are desperate to please, and Gray is no exception. I’m sure you will be able to find a way to make that work in your favor.”
Silas straightens back up and smooths out his shirt as if his little comment never happened. I’m not sure if he meant it to sound as sexual as I interpreted it to be, but I refuse to humiliate myself further by asking him for clarification.
I remain frozen to my spot as Silas stares down at me, his cocky attitude making me feel confusing emotions that I am nowhere near ready to try and sift through.
After watching my reaction for another couple of seconds, Silas seems to take pity and steps away.
“Why don’t you go ask Gray about the tutor? I could see how excited you were about the idea.” He orders, gesturing towards the door.
I mindlessly nod, admittedly happy about the possibility of getting a proper education. It’s always been something that I wished I had. The idea of having to ask Gray about it makes me a bit wary, but I tell myself that I can’t live in the shadows forever. At some point I’m going to have to speak to him.
With one last hidden glance at Silas, I turn and make my way back towards the dining room.
This place feels almost too good to be true, and I find myself angsty as I wait for some bomb to drop. There’s absolutely no way that I’ve gotten lucky enough to be purchased by a group of men who genuinely have no intentions to harm or breed me.
Despite their friendly attitudes up to this point, I know that it’s just a matter of time.
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