Home > Disarming (Reign of Blood #2)(16)

Disarming (Reign of Blood #2)(16)
Author: Alexia Purdy

“Sleep well?” A voice jarred my memory, and it brought a loathing along with it as the events from the previous night echoed in the silence of the cell. I scanned around me and frowned, half hoping to awaken anywhere else but here in this hellish cell or some horrid, forsaken nightmare.

Christian’s face came into focus and I pressed my already tense lips tighter together. He looked the same, if not a bit paler. The color did not suit him. His skin tone looked like it had once had a slight tan to it. But now it was transparent under the grey tones from the starvation. I sighed and sat up. He was on the floor and looked as though he had not slept at all in weeks, shaking uncontrollably.

“You talk in your sleep.”

“What? No I don’t,” I muttered, throwing my legs down off the cot. My muscles ached, and my back was killing me from the stitches, not to mention the insanely uncomfortable cot. Running my fingers through my messed up hair, I was sure I looked frightful. But why would I care? I wasn’t there to impress anyone.

“You look fine.” Christian waved his hand at me as he leaned against the bars.

“Oh, so now you’re psychic.”

He shrugged and played with the shredded end of his shirt. He must have been wearing it for some time now; dirt and filth streaked the edges, leaving it threadbare and ripped. A slight wave of nausea rushed over me, making me clutch my stomach as it surged through me. I didn’t fail to notice Christian flinch along with it. Had he felt it, too?

“Uuagrh….” I moaned as it receded, like a drowning ocean tide pulling away. “What’s happening to me?” I gasped, my voice croaking in a strangled whisper. Hanging my head down in my lap, I took deeper breaths as the pain finally faded, leaving me clammy and slightly lightheaded.

Christian shifted, standing up to pace back and forth on his side of the cell. He was definitely agitated by something. Maybe he had felt the pain and nausea, but he’d recovered faster than I had. I wondered how long he had been feeling that way, since he seemed so used to it now.

“Make it stop,” I begged as another wave tumbled through me, sending me crashing to the floor, writhing in its tumult. My hands turned clammy as I gripped my legs tighter to me.

“Hey, April.” I felt his cool hand on my shoulder as he reached out and pulled me toward him. I sat up as the agony pulled away a bit. My breathing was rapid and shallow and I prayed I would just pass out. My vision threatened to fade to black as it shrunk into a tunnel while the room spun, reminding me of the seasickness of riding in a boat. I had ridden in a few in my childhood, and it had never gotten easier for me to endure. Just like then, all my senses were off, leaving me out of balance in every way.

“Don’t fight it; it’s better to just breathe through it.” He had me sitting up, partly against the bars and partly embracing my torso to keep me from slipping to the floor. I sucked in ragged breaths as the sweat beaded off of me.

“I can’t.”

“You must.”

“Please, make it stop!”

“I can make it stop,” he whispered as I writhed in agony. “But you wouldn’t want me to do it.” His warm breath tickled my face, and I turned toward him. His words came softly and momentarily soothed the pain. I wanted to sleep and forget about this and him. His arms tightened as I swayed, slipping slightly against the cold smooth bars.

“What do you need to do?”

Christian leaned his head to mine, his dark brown eye gleaming in the dark right into my own blue one. The glowing gold halo surrounding his iris was the only difference between human and supernatural. “Give me some of your blood, just a tiny bit. Then you have to drink from me. It will heal us both.”

“No.”

“It’s the only way, April.”

“It can’t be the only way,” I whispered. My tears tumbled down my cheeks from the tension inside me. I didn’t want to hurt anymore, it was excruciating.

“It seals a bond between us, but it will take the pain with it. Once I’m not starving anymore, this torture will go away. You’re feeling my torturous starvation. It will make us both whole again, and we’ll be strong enough to leave this place, this tomb.” Christian’s voice was a melody in my head as the room continued to sway. Why he had not bitten and drained me yet was beyond me. I was slipping with every moment.

“But if I let you, we’ll be bound to each other, won’t we?”

He nodded, his eyes betraying his concern.

“But that’s no good. What about Rye? What will this do to us?”

Christian shook his head slowly and I understood the severity of this “cure.” His sincerity made me want to scream. “I can’t do that to him, he’ll never understand.”

“No, he probably won’t. But you, as well as I, will die here otherwise.” He tilted his head, watching me closer. “Do you want to die here?” I shook my head. “He never told you just how a vampiric bond between mates is truly formed, did he?”

I shook my head once more, wishing I had probed Rye more about it. “How fast will it work?”

“Not as fast as you’d like, but it won’t be a long wait.”

“I have to think about it.”

“Of course.” He continued to hold onto my weakened body, making sure I didn’t slip farther down. I was definitely confused and uncertain of what to do. What could I do? I hadn’t expected this, almost dying from pain that wasn’t even mine because I’d somehow become matched with an enemy vampire. Just my luck. I wanted to laugh out loud at the irony of it all.

“I’ve never let anyone drink from me before.”

“Always a first time for everything.” His voice was sad and did nothing to reassure me.

Keep your enemies closer they say. I was pretty sure they hadn’t meant it like this. How much longer could I endure these bouts of unbearable suffering? I was pretty tough, and I had a high pain tolerance, but even the strongest can be flattened by the smallest of things. The viral epidemic had taught me that.

Why had that wretched woman left me here with him? To watch me die? Since they had yet to return, I wondered if they even thought I was still alive. Probably not. She hadn’t been very interested in me as she had been with Christian’s reaction to me.

The room spun, forcing me to close my eyes and grind my teeth together. I fought unconsciousness as I curled into a ball. Regardless, the light darkened as I slipped into a sweet, soothing sleep. It was funny how sleep paralyzed the pain, until it breaks through with its ensnarling fingers to stir one from the oblivion of dreams. I wanted the pain to leave me forever and let me wander away in my memories and thoughts. Alone, pain-free and lost to the world.

~~~~~

THE HOUSE’S STUCCO was chipping off, leaving bits of grey under the red, earth-colored paint. I remember picking at it, watching the flakes fall into a pile of debris, like dead leaves off a tree. I’d pick the paint right off, until the gaping hole left the house’s paint job looking like Swiss cheese. My mother would yell at me for being so destructive. Not my father; he would sigh and give me a tired smile as he retrieved one of the gallons of paint he had stocked for such occasions. I’d help him smooth it out and reapply the color to the wounds, like bandages to scars, drying to heal but remaining marred forever.

Most times, I would refrain from telling my mother about this, knowing her impatience with my small rebellions would probably drive her to madness one day. My father would just wink and tell me to go clean up before dinner, assuming the task of repairing the damage in secret. I’d return his smile and run inside, relieved I wouldn’t have to face my mother’s wrath. I loved her, but had always gotten along better with my father, more so than I did with her. We were always at odds. I wondered why that was. Maybe she had been right; I would always be more of my father’s daughter than hers. Either way, we had been happy, but nothing ever lasts forever.

The night my mom had received the call that he had suddenly died was a blur of slow motion and flashes. I remember going with her to the hospital, sitting in the wretched waiting room full of plastic chairs that were hard and uncomfortable but easily cleaned. I’m sure they had to be that way in an emergency room, so much blood and vomit and tears had to grace these chairs pretty often. The smell of bleach and latex permeated the air, making me want to run outside just to be able to breath.

I hadn’t cried yet. I was frozen inside. Shock had a way of making it seem like it was happening to someone else, surreal. The waiting room had blurred out in my vision and remained suspended in a slurry of noise and flashing lights. I barely noticed the endless influx of ambulance stretchers with patients rushing through the bay entrance and the dual door to the back. People crying, some complaining about the wait. Others arguing with the nurses in the triage area. It was chaos and static noise to me.

He couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t be. He hadn’t been old enough to have a heart attack. He was young, in good shape and robust. Any minute he’d walk through the double doors of the nurses’ station where the rows of curtains separated the beds of each sick person. Any minute I’d hear his voice as he called my name to come give him a hug because it had all been a mistake and he felt a whole lot better. Any minute now….

But the minute never came. I had sat there for what had felt like an eternity until my mother had emerged, puffy-eyed and exhausted, her hair disheveled and her nose flaming red from crying. One look at me as I stood up to hear any news of Dad had her stuttering as she mumbled about him being gone and how he’d had some hidden heart defect. Nobody could’ve known. There had been nothing anyone could’ve done, it was over so fast, but he didn’t suffer at all.

I didn’t remember much after that. Just a succession of images and voices. Me running out the ambulance bay doors and down the street, hearing her call my name into the wind and the rain coming down in sheets until it swallowed up her yells. The sting of raindrops, the burn of salt of my tears in my eyes. My hair whipping my face as it tangled up from the sopping mess it had turned into. My father was gone, and I was running like I could catch him before his soul left this earth forever. I wanted to catch him. I wanted to pull him back to earth and anchor him to the land permanently. We needed him. Come back Dad, don’t go….

~~~~~

I SHIFTED IN my sleep, not realizing I was on the floor using Christian’s chest as a pillow. He had managed to grab a blanket and pull it around me as best he could. He probably didn’t feel the cold and his arm probably didn’t cramp up under the weight of my head, but he didn’t much sleep either. He was lost in thoughts that slipped into his own mind as the pain subsided for the night.

Or was it day? I couldn’t really be certain. The only certainty I felt was the intense peace I felt lying next to him. I wouldn’t know for a while, but he had felt happy and scared at the same time, wondering what it was that had happened to us that day. Between the worlds that divided us, we were still there alive and breathing, though barely. He whispered a soft promise that I didn’t quite hear as he ran his fingers through my long black hair and let me slip in and out of delirium. As hard as I tried to listen and decipher his words, I faded into my dreams again before the jumbled whispers made any sense. It would take a long time before he eventually told me what those words had been.

Chapter Eighteen

Break

April

HOW MANY DAYS had passed while I was in my semi-conscious state? I would occasionally surface into lucidity but it would not last long, for the pain would return quickly and clutch me to its chest with an iron grasp. I wanted to die. I barely registered Christian there, urging me to eat as the guards shoved plates of sparse food and a cup of drink through the bars for me. From the looks on their shocked faces, they were surprised I was still there, still untouched and not drained of my precious blood. I’d get a few spoonful’s down and tiny sips of water before the pain would sear through me again, tossing me into the black oblivion once more.

I wondered if I’d ever see Jeremy again and how he was faring. I prayed that Miranda would not leave him alone in the bunker with my mother. Helen was capable of anything now, even harming her own son. I should’ve been there, but my selfishness had brought me to this, trapped and near death.

I moaned in my sleep, my clothes were sticky and filthy from fever and days of missing a nice cleaning. At moments I’d find myself awakened, embarrassed to find Christian next to me. I was pretty ripe, and the constant soaking with dripping sweat did not help matters. I wanted it to be done already, but found no solutions for my predicament.

Rye.

Where was Rye? Was he looking for me? Did he know where to look? Had Blaze forbidden him to come searching down here for me in fear that a civil war might break out between his hive and these humans? I didn’t blame Blaze one bit. I had underestimated these people, belittling their ability to keep me away, never taking into the account that I might not make it back out.

And the question of what they wanted with me was the biggest one of all.

“Eat some more, April. You’re going to starve before I do.” Christian’s voice hummed in my head as I tried to keep my heavy eyelids open.

“I can’t eat any more.” I pulled my face away from the spoon he held out for me. To have him feed me like a baby was mortifying. I had to get out of here, at any cost. “I can’t stay here anymore; I need to get out of here.”

Christian dropped the spoon in the can that had been opened for my meal. Pork and beans for days now. It was like tasting metal now, and I couldn’t stomach it for much longer.

“April, I can’t break the bars. I’m too weak. I need blood, but.…” He sighed, leaning against the wall. He sat at the end of my cot, his blanket permanently on me now as I curled up on the other end. I watched him curiously, baffled that he hadn’t just taken my blood already. How does he control it? It must be torturous.

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