Wilted Resolutions

And she’s back! I think, I hope. We’ll see.

So I’ve started the year off right, and with any luck I can keep this going. There’s tons on my plate so it’s all about balance. And now I have a puppy, Ada (aka evil incarnate but still the cutest dog ever – picture to come eventually), so things will only be harder to balance until she’s fully house-broken.

Anyway, we’re not here to talk about my dog, but to continue A Vampire’s Bride! The other two are still in creative limbo until a prompt comes along that inspires me in their direction. For now, enjoy some vampire goodness to kick off my creative writing for 2017. As always, today’s post comes inspired by Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt!

Prompt: Wilted Resolutions

As usual, a very loose interpretation. Enjoy!

~~~

As we make our way deeper into the small town, I keep telling myself I can do this. Not out loud, but it’s pretty obvious I’m still nervous. It doesn’t help that Niklaus gets tenser with every passing moment. Still, by the time the horses break into a run on Niklaus and Nadya’s commands, I’ve convinced myself I can do this. The sudden change of pace catches me off-guard but I get my horse under control and follow close behind. We’ve gone through almost the entire town before Niklaus makes a sharp left. I almost miss the turn, but when I round the corner I’m confronted with a sight straight from my nightmares.

The fledgling is covered in blood, the sticky liquid dripping down his chin as his head snaps up to look at us. His victim, a young woman, limp in his arms, clearly dead. Her throat has been ripped to shreds. While this alone is enough to make me hesitate, it’s the fledgling’s appearance that strikes me. Even through the blood and the predatory gaze in his eyes, he looks familiar.

He looks like Niklaus.

“I can’t do this.” As if waiting for my cue, two other vampires spring from the shadows and attack Niklaus and Nadya. They’re much faster than the vampire I killed, and I wonder if they’re fledglings, too. The pit in my stomach tells me no. With the twins distracted by those two, I’m left to deal with the fledgling alone. He lunges for me, and I do the only thing that comes to mind – I run.

Unfortunately for me, the fledgling catches up faster than I expect him to. My horse falls, bringing me down with him as the fledgling sinks his teeth into the animal. It’s only by some miracle the animal doesn’t crush me. Still, the fall hurts and winds me long enough to put me at an even worse disadvantage. My hands shake – this is nothing like the first time. The first time I just reacted – only thought about protecting my friend. Now? I can hardly look at the vampire without thinking of Niklaus.

Somehow I manage to dodge a lunge from the fledgling, but he still swipes at me with unnaturally long nails. He tries to grab my throat, but his nails simply scratch at the collar of my shirt. They break through the material and almost instantly I feel the warmth of my own blood. Another swipe and I dodge again, but this time I lose my footing and drop my crossbow in favor of not hitting the ground face-first. I barely manage to scramble to my feet again before the next attack. The fledgling is in a frenzy now, apparently invigorated by my blood as his eyes darken even more, the growl in his throat hungry.

My crossbow is too far away for me to reach it. All I can do now is meet the vampire head on. I take my stance, the hatchet in my trembling hand. He launches himself toward me, and all I can do is wait for my chance to strike. If my timing is off, I’m dead.

With a single swing, I lodge the business end of the hatchet into the vampire’s neck, making it nearly halfway through. The fledgling’s momentum is so great, the body continues to propel forward, knocking me back and onto the ground. He’s limp now, his full weight pinning me down. I take a moment to sit still, to catch my breath as I try to slide out from under the fledgling’s body.

“Ariella!” Niklaus’ voice travels through the night, but I’m too out of breath to respond. When I finally get off from under the fledgling, I sit up and Niklaus is there, some feet away, his eyes wide. They darken in a familiar way, and for a moment I fear the worst. “He…he didn’t…?”

I watch as he takes a reluctant step forward, his eyes focused on the blood running down from my neck wound. His expression is tense, jaw clenched as he surveys the scene.

“No. No, I’m fine. He didn’t bite me. It’s just a scratch.”

The change in his stiff muscles is nearly unnoticeable. Niklaus clenches a fist, taking another step forward. “It looks like more than a scratch.”

Replacing the hatchet on my belt, I close the distance toward him. I know it’s ridiculously dangerous, but he’s already dealt with my blood before. If I give myself too long to think about it, though, I know I’ll run again. “It’s okay.”

“No it’s not – I told you I wouldn’t let them-” He takes a step back.

“You had no way of knowing.” I take another step toward him, placing a hand on his arm. “And…his appearance caught me off-guard. I should have reacted better. I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry?” The confusion seems to break some tension, but it lasts only a moment. “Ariella, you’re bleeding, he could have killed you, I…” Another step back as his eyes get darker. They keep lingering on my neck, even as he forces himself to look away.

I want to close the distance again, but his eyes stop me. There’s a water fountain nearby, and I move to it as Niklaus continues to watch. I turn my back to him, removing my shirt before dunking it in the fountain, scrubbing as much blood off as I can, while using it to wipe away the blood on my skin. After wringing it out as best as I can, I take the hatchet and tear strips of my shirt to wrap around the wound. It’s already stopped bleeding, for the most part. The entire time, I can feel Niklaus’ eyes on me.

“There.” I shiver at the chilled material on my skin, but at least now I’m mostly clean and the scent of my blood won’t bother him.

His eyes are difficult to decipher when I turn to look at him again. At least his face has relaxed some, his jaw no longer clamped close in a death grip. “You’re going to catch your death in that.”

“Really? You think a cold is going to be the death of me?” I can’t help but smile, my grin widening as Niklaus smiles back.

~~~

As much as I want to keep going, have to stop where I can pick it back up again! Here’s to meeting all my writing goals this year.

As always, think happy thoughts!

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