It’s been a while, I know. The good news is that I’ve been getting quite some reading and writing done. The bad news is that means I’ve had to neglect the blog a bit. Eventually, I’ll find the happy middle ground I so desperately need. Until then, sporadic updates it is!
Today’s post comes courtesy of Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt series. For this post, I’ll be using the “Shameful musings” prompt as inspiration. As much as I want to write for Provisional Freedom and flesh that out a bit, as well as return to Secondhand Soul to wrap up the story, Ariella just won’t let me go. So, A Vampire’s Bride it is!
My back slams against the tree, and – not for the first time – I wonder what I was thinking when I agreed to let them teach me how to kill vampires. To be honest I’m still surprised Niklaus agreed, and I wonder exactly how Nadya convinced him. They’ve both been very quiet about that particular conversation, so I don’t push it. He’ll tell me eventually. Now, the vampire in question stands over me, his expression both stern and concerned for my well-being. Who knew he’d be the tougher of my two teachers? I can at least get a hit in once or twice with his sister – I’m beginning to wonder if she’s letting those happen.
“Again.” My voice is tired, but I’m not about to stop trying. I pull myself up, ignoring his outstretched hand. As happy as I am that he visits me regularly, our relationship is strained – more so than I thought it could be. We haven’t even touched each other outside of sparring matches, and I find myself missing the casual way he used to brush my hair from my face, or caress my hand, more than I did when I was alone. But I’m still angry at him, and he seems reluctant to try that intimacy again. It wouldn’t do either of us any good, anyway – I think he knows that as well as I do.
Once I’m standing, he settles into a crouched position, preparing to pounce again. I settle into my stance, prepared this time. When he lunges, I stand my ground. His arms stretch out in front of him, and I know he’s going for my throat. Managing to take one of his arms, I turn, tucking my body against his and using his own momentum to shove him over my shoulder. A regular person would fall flat on their back, winded. Niklaus twists as he falls and lands on his feet, pushing himself up and into me, knocking me back and pinning me to the ground. I’m winded, but don’t have time to recover, as he goes for my throat again, this time with his teeth. I jut my arm up against his neck, and the motion is enough to surprise him and give me an edge.
I maneuver our weight until I’m on top, pinning him under me by his neck, my legs trapping his arms against his torso, and my hand in a fist against his chest, just above his heartbeat. If I had a stake, he’d be dead. The realization hits me harder than I thought it would. Niklaus looks at me with wide eyes – not surprised, but impressed.
We linger like this a moment too long, and I can’t bring myself to stand. My mind goes fuzzy, and the longer we’re like this the more intimate the contact becomes. I’m hyper-aware of his body, that we haven’t kissed since my last night in the castle. How many months ago was that? I want to lean down, close the distance, but I know I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t even be thinking about it. Nothing good would come of it – either he’ll reject me, or he won’t, and the latter could possibly hurt worse in the long run. And so I move to stand, but as soon as one of his arms is free, he reaches for me to stop, his hand caressing my jaw.
“What are you doing? This isn’t part of my training…” I thought we had a silent agreement – I’m always so careful not to be intimate, to try to ignore my feelings even though he visits me regularly. It’s not like we can be together anyway. Even as I say the words, though, I can’t help but close my eyes and lean into the touch. He sits up until I’m sitting on one of his legs. Niklaus’ caress ends in two fingers cupping my chin, tilting my lips closer to his. Even though we’re this close, I don’t think he’ll actually do it. He’s the one that pushed me away in the first place, after all.
Imagine my surprise when he actually goes through with it. My eyes are still closed, and they snap open when his lips touch mine, the gentlest pressure, almost a ghost of a touch. I kiss him back, letting my hands grip the front of his shirt, afraid he’ll pull away.
When he does, his eyes are dark – a different hunger from the one I’m used to seeing – and he looks away. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have-”
“Then why did you?” I knew it would hurt, and you’d think that would prepare me, but I guess not. I hate the way my voice chokes. Standing, I dust myself off, deciding to end tonight’s training session early. “I’m tired, Niklaus. Maybe I should head in early tonight.”
“I can walk myself back.” I gather my things, slinging my crossbow and quiver over my shoulder, making sure the hatchet is in place at my hip. “Good night.”
For the second time tonight, he catches me off guard and stops me from leaving. His hand is gentle on my wrist, his grip strong but not tight. “Don’t leave. Not yet. Please.”
The ache in his voice matches the twisting in my stomach. Though I know it’s a bad idea, I stop trying to pull away and turn toward him.
“Why? I’m pretty sure my training is done for the night. There’s no point.” Still, he doesn’t release my hand. I continue speaking, “I wish you hadn’t sent me away – this wouldn’t be a problem if you’d let me stay with you.”
“I had to – you were in danger in the castle.”
“No more than I’m in now.” It’s the first time we’ve talked about it, despite the explanation in his letter all those weeks ago. He winces at my response. “But you won’t hurt me – you’re incapable of it.”
“You don’t know that.”
“But I do.” I turn, annoyed with him all over again, using his grip on my hand to bring us closer.
“How can you be so sure?” There’s that self-loathing again. His gaze locks onto mine, and the pain is clear.
I reach up with my free hand, brushing some hair from his eyes. “Because you love me.”
Niklaus’ eyes soften, even through the lingering hunger. “With everything I am.”
It’s the most vulnerable I’ve ever seen him, as fear begins to overwhelm the hunger in his gaze. My heart nearly stops at his words, at the look in his eyes as his feelings hang in the air between us. He’s more terrified of himself than I could ever be.
I hadn’t anticipated the impact of his confession – tears spring to my eyes and words catch in my throat. He notices and moves to wipe the tears from my cheeks. Leaning into his touch again, I close my eyes. “Then let me love you back, even if you think it’s a mistake.”
When I open my eyes, I half expect him to pull away, as he tends to do when I show him even a hint of affection. Instead, he pulls me in for another kiss, his lips sweet and tentative on mine. Standing on my toes, I pull myself up with my free hand, running my fingers through his hair as he deepens the kiss. Niklaus finally releases my wrist in favor of wrapping his arm around my waist, pulling me against him as his other hand cradles my head. He kisses me like he’s starved and I’m the first taste of blood he’s had in months.
Still not sure if the “shameful musings” are Ariella’s thoughts or whatever thoughts might be running through Niklaus’ mind – probably a bit of both.
As always, think happy thoughts!