Authors: Sara C. Roethle
Tags: #dark fantasy romance, #paranormal romance serial, #witches and wizards, #paranormal urban fantasy, #short reads, #magic and occult
Part One of the Vaettir Serialized Romance
Copyright ©2014 by Sara C. Roethle
All rights reserved.
felt hot breath on the side of my neck. At first I thought it was a dream, then the bed shifted as someone climbed up beside me. Fully awake now, I froze. There were two of them, and one had his or her face only inches from the large artery in my neck. The one who had climbed onto the bed shifted a little closer to my feet.
The one near my neck took a deep breath, and then the presence lifted away. I let out a squeak of fear that turned into a scream as suddenly both figures grabbed onto me. The one on the bed grabbed my feet as the other pulled me up by the arms into a vice-like embrace. A large, masculine hand clamped over my mouth to stifle my scream.
They began moving me towards my bedroom door as I thrashed my body as much as possible. I only succeeded in straining my back as the figures carried me effortlessly through the house and out of the back door.
There wasn't enough of a moon outside for me to make out who was carrying me. The small stars twinkled serenely above me as I was carried into the woods that bordered my house. I gave up on my thrashing and let my body go limp, but it didn't slow my attackers anymore than my previous strategy.
We continued deeper into the dark woods. My attackers ran gracefully through the foliage even though they each held one end of a human being. Eventually we came to a stop. I felt dizzy from moving horizontally so quickly, and so didn't immediately react as I was lowered to the rocky ground.
It felt like I was on a raised mound of earth. The soil had recently been turned, and soaked into the back of the tee-shirt and underwear I'd gone to sleep in. My panicked breathing brought in the scent of damp earth and growing things while my two captors hovered over me. I tried to sit up, but hands instantly pushed me back down. Something slithered across my arm, and I instantly thought
My heart pounded in my throat as more things slithered over me. I thrashed around against the restraining hands, but withing seconds I was covered in slithering objects. As I became more and more covered, some of the objects started reaching up towards the sky like tiny hands trying to grasp the moon. The spindly creatures unfurled towards the dim light. It was then that I realized that I wasn't covered in snakes, they were vines. I was glad that the things weren't snakes, but being slowly engulfed in living vines did nothing to ease my panic. I began to fight against them with increased desperation, but they only bound me tighter until I could no longer move at all. I saw one last hint of stars as the last vine covered my face and obscured my view completely.
y eyes snapped open as I sat up in bed with a deep, aching breath. The last thing I remembered was vines encasing my body and pulling me down into the earth. The bed I was in was not my own. My bed was back in my small house where I lived alone. It had been a long time since someone had been in that bed with me. I hadn't expected for it to finally only happen when someone decided to kidnap me.
This unfamiliar bed was one of those four poster beds with a canopy. I reached out and touched the nearest post. The wood was thick and obviously expensive. My distorted reflection looked back at me from the dark, gleaming wood. What I could see of my long, dark brown hair was a total mess. I looked back into my blurry blue eyes numbly.
I shook my head. I had to get out of there. My feet slid to the edge of the burgundy comforter as I lowered myself to the ground. The floor and surrounding walls were made of strange gray stone that made me feel like I was in some sort of castle.
A crackling sound caught my attention. I jumped, ready to fend off my attacker, then realized the sound had come from the simple stone fire-place in the far wall. My first thought was that perhaps fire could be used as a weapon, but I had nothing to wield it with. That was just like my attackers to not leave me a torch.
“You're not supposed to be awake yet,” a voice said from behind me.
I nearly stumbled as I tried to turn around too quickly. A man stood framed in the doorway. He wore black slacks and no shirt or shoes. It was an odd look that made it seem as if he simply hadn't finished dressing yet . . . or perhaps he just hadn't finished
I grasped at the ends of my gray tee-shirt and tried to cover at least a small portion of my bare legs. I realized as I looked down that my legs were still covered in dirt from my experience in the woods.
The man chuckled at me. His near-black hair fell well past his shoulders. It framed his pale skin and dark brown eyes perfectly. My mouth went dry with a mixture of fear and apprehension. He took a step forward. He was tall, I placed him around 6'2”, given that I'm 5'9” and still had to look up to meet his eyes as he came even closer.
I held up a hand in front of me. “S-stop,” I stammered. “Where am I?”
The man cocked his head at me. “Where do you think you are Madeline?”
“It's Maddy,” I corrected. “And how do you know my name?” I asked quickly as I backed away.
He met me step for step until my back was against the hard stone wall. He pushed his body against mine, half threat, half seduction. “Don't you want to know
name?” he asked casually and he twirled the ends of my messy hair around his fingers.
“Leave her alone Alaric,” a woman's voice barked from the doorway.
Alaric stepped to the side to reveal a woman that looked startlingly similar to the man still standing way too close to me. She strode into the room confidently, trailing the ends of her gossamer-thin white dress behind her. Her dark hair hung nearly to her waist, intermingling with the loose white fabric like oil on snow.
Alaric left me to stand by who I had to assume was his sister. He tugged on her long hair playfully, eliciting a steely glare from her dark eyes. “Out,” she ordered sternly.
Alaric gave her a mocking salute as he glided towards the door.
was the only word I could think of to describe it. He moved like a cat.
The woman came towards me, taking my attention off of Alaric's back as he left the room. “I'm Sophie,” she introduced. The introduction would have been nice had it been accompanied by a smile, but I decided to keep my opinion to myself. I caught a glimpse of sharp canines as Sophie sniffed the air around me, and was glad that I'd chosen not to speak. “You need a bath,” Sophie said with a sneer.
“Um,” I began. “Would you mind telling me where I am?”
“That is none of your concern,” she snapped.
None of my concern? I found my lack of knowledge on my whereabouts extremely concerning, thank you very much.
“Come with me,” she said, then turned around expecting me to follow her.
I debated not following, or else following and attacking her while she wasn't looking, but decided against both options. I'd rather not get onto Sophie's bad side just yet. My legs felt numb and shaky as my bare feet hit the ground step after step. I was pretty sure that I was in a mild state of shock. It's not every day a girl gets swallowed by vines only to wake up in some stony lair lorded over by a disturbingly attractive pair of siblings.
Sophie led me down a hallway made of the same stone as the room we'd left and into a large bathroom. Against the far wall was a claw-foot tub made of white porcelain that stood on tarnished brass feet.
“Bathe,” Sophie ordered.
“I don't-” I began, but she cut me off with a stern look.
“I will keep my brother at bay,” she said, finally offering me a hint of a smile. With that, she turned and left the bathroom, shutting the door gently behind her.
I ran to the door and quickly twisted the lock. I did a quick scan of the bathroom, but didn't find anything that could aid my escape. There was no shower, just the bathtub, a toilet, and a small pedestal sink. Another fire burned in a fireplace that was set in the wall behind the bathtub. The room, ceiling, and floor were all made of stone, with no modern ventilation that I could see.
Not knowing what else to do, I slowly unlocked the heavy wood door so I could peek out into the hallway. There was no one in sight, so I crept out, too frightened to breathe. Once I was fully in the hallway I ran, taking the first turn I could find that would lead me away from the bedroom rather than towards it. My bare feet pounded harshly against the hard stone, making little jolts of pain shoot up through my shins. The hallway seemed to stretch on forever. I ran past several closed doors and turned another corner.
I had only taken a few more steps when I ran straight into someone who'd been walking down the hallway. I bounced off his chest and fell to the ground. He wasn't even shaken by the impact. The man I'd hit looked down at me and laughed. He was dressed down in a hunter green tee-shirt and jeans that seemed out of place in our castle-like surroundings.
The man leaned down to offer me a hand, causing his chin-length golden brown hair to fall forward. I stared at the hand for a moment, then finally decided to take it. The man shoved his hair back from his face in annoyance with his free hand as he lifted me to my feet. The hair wasn't quite long enough to stay behind his ears, so it just fell forward again.
“Are you lost?” he asked as we stood facing each other.
“Just looking for the front door?” I said hopefully.
The man smiled. He seemed much more friendly that Alaric or Sophie, but he was still in the same house as them. I doubted he would help me. The hallway wasn't terribly wide, so I'd be better off running back the way I'd come than trying to run past him.
“I'm James,” he offered, as if we were meeting each other under normal circumstances.
“I'm-” I began, but my words caught in my throat as I finally looked at his icy blue eyes. Now, my eyes are light blue, but James' were so pale that they were nearly white. The rest of his face was handsome enough: a strong nose, a jaw just wide enough to be masculine . . . the lips might have been a little too thin for my taste, but they didn't harm his good looks any. Yet those eyes. I'd seen eyes like that before, and they hadn't belonged to the living. A flash of memory shot through me like lightning, raising the tiny hairs on my entire body. I shook away the horrifying image of a young man's eyes just as his life had left him. It had been a long time ago, and there were more pressing matters to worry about.
James' smile slowly faded as I looked into his haunting eyes, feeling like I'd seen a ghost. I felt like a rabbit caught in a corner by a snake, debating whether to run or to stay perfectly still. James didn't try to grab me, he didn't try to do anything for that matter. He just stood there, waiting for me to make the next move.
Something in my stance must have given me away, because as soon as I turned to run he was already in motion. I narrowly avoided his arms as I dropped to the ground. Once I was down I did the first thing I could think of and kicked him in the kneecap, but it would have worked better if I wasn't barefoot. All I got for my effort was a grunt of annoyance as James finally managed to grab me. He lifted me effortlessly and threw me over his shoulder.
I pounded on his back frantically, but he didn't seem to mind. “You're lucky that I like it rough,” he laughed.
I pulled up the back of his shirt and raked my nails across his back, hoping to surprise him into dropping me. He did drop me, but only long enough to put my back to him so he could pin my arms and force me to stumble forward. I drug my feet as we went back the way I'd come.
Sophie came into view as we rounded the next corner. She stood near the bathroom, tapping her foot impatiently. She took me from James without a word and pushed me back into the bathroom. This time when she shut the door, she stayed inside with me.
She braced herself against the door and let out a shaky breath. “That was very stupid of you,” she commented.
I felt dizzy, and had to lean back against the wall in order to stay on my feet. “You can't really blame me for trying to escape,” I wheezed back at her.
Sophie locked the door and walked over to the bathtub to start the water. I was surprised that she was leaving me the opportunity to run again. As if reading my thoughts, she glanced back at me. “Trust me when I tell you that you are much safer in here with me, than out there with James.”
“Safe?” I questioned. I was feeling a lot of things, but safe wasn't one of them.
Sophie shrugged. “Relatively so. I will not hurt you unless you make me. James would very much like to hurt you.” She shivered and I wondered if James had very much liked hurting her too.
I stood up straight as she walked back towards me. “Please tell me why I'm here,” I pleaded one last time.
Sophie looked tired. “
take a bath,” she countered. “It is not my place to answer your question. You will simply have to wait on that.” She returned to her post by the door without another word.