Menace – a return to #ThursThreads

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I live!

Sort of. Like last year, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo. My writing habits in general have also changed which means less will pop up here and more will happen behind the scenes. Alas, such is life when I have trouble keeping up with everything I want to do. Still, every once in a while I’ll throw something up here and today is one of those times!

But first, a few announcements.

If you haven’t read my serials yet, but you want to, now’s a good time. They’ll be coming down soon as I get their rewrites done. A Vampire’s Bride is four hand-written chapters in and Secondhand Soul is my NaNoWriMo project. These’ll be the first to go down as I try to make them something more. You’ve been warned!

Like I mentioned above, I’ve been doing some by-hand writing. This means stuff that won’t see the light of day for a long time. I think I’ve succeeded in what I set out to do when I started putting snippets up here. I’ve got work to do on the writing that exists on here, but if I keep holding myself to having to post it here, I don’t think I’ll ever get it done. Thus, you won’t be seeing much of my writing on here outside of what’s already there. I do want to eventually return to book reviews and movie/show commentary here, but that won’t be for a while.

Onto today’s piece!

Prompt: “I’m a danger.

~~~

Is it bad I enjoy the feeling of bones breaking against my fist? It’s as satisfying as stepping on a particularly crunchy leaf. I don’t tell Max that – they would disapprove, despite their support of my newfound love for vigilante justice.

I drop the latest scumbag to the cement, releasing him from the collar of his shirt. Somewhere down the alleyway, his victim’s hurried footsteps echo as she struggles to run away. She hasn’t noticed he’s no longer chasing her, but I don’t bother to let her know. Max, like always, will take care of it and make sure she’s okay. When they show up a few minutes later, it’s after they’ve seen to the younger girl. Unlike the first girls I saved, this was just a kid – no older than maybe fourteen.

Max brought her back in their arms, unconscious.

“She fainted at the end of the alleyway when she realized it was a dead end. I don’t think she saw you.”

“She didn’t.” I kicked the guy on the ground, turning him over. “She was too scared of this asshole.”

Max grimaces at the state of the man’s face. It’s hardly recognizable after I got done with it. A broken nose, some missing teeth, and eyes so swollen they were shut and would be for a long time. I couldn’t help but smile.

“You’re a menace.” But they smile, too. Never thought I’d see an angel smiling at violence.

“I’m a danger only to jerks like this one.”

~~~

And so that’s how Paola spends her time now – kicking ass and taking names.

As always, think happy thoughts!

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Broken

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Sup!

Yet again I skipped a day, but in my defense I did get writing done, just not here. This whole writing by hand thing is working out pretty nicely so far, so in the next few weeks I’ll probably be taking down A Vampire’s Bride, since that’s the one I’m working on. It’ll probably come back out as a novella, eventually.

But anyway, on to today’s writing! Today’s prompt comes from Riley Liley on Tumblr. They came up with a super long list of angst-themed prompts, and I’m going with number six.

Prompt: “I’m just a little bit broken.”

And because Paola is all about the angst right now, this prompt goes to Provisional Freedom.

~~~

I’m still stewing in my annoyance when Max shows up in our room. To their credit, they wait for me to speak before continuing to reprimand me.

“What did you do with him?”

“Made sure he wouldn’t die from his wounds, wiped his memory except for the attack, and put in an anonymous tip at the police station. Didn’t leave until he got picked up by the cops.” They sit on their side of the room, eyes cautious. “What were you thinking, Paola?”

“I wasn’t. Obviously.”

“You should have known better than to expose yourself like that. What if there was another angel nearby? Or a demon?” Despite their words, their tone is soft. Max is trying to be careful with me, but I’m having any of it.

“If you think I regret stepping in you’re out of your mind. I’d do it again. In a heartbeat.” Containing my anger gets harder by the second but I manage. “I’m sure I could take on an angel or two if I had to.”

“Do you even hear yourself? Where’s your sense of self preservation?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe you broke it when you made me immortal!” I don’t mean to raise my voice, don’t mean to lash out so harshly. They flinch at my words, and I continue, “Maybe I’m just a little bit broken…”

“Paola…I…”

“There’s no point in apologizing. Again. There’s nothing you can do to fix it, or me. I need to come to terms with that.” The outburst made me tired, and now it’s all I can do not to let the exhaustion overwhelm me. “I’m not okay right now. But I will be. I just need you to let me deal with this on my terms.” When I look at them again, Max looks like they’re seeing me for the first time.

“Okay.” They stand before walking across the room and placing a hand on mine. “If you’re going to do this – make use of your immortality this way – I can’t stop you. But let me help you. Even if that just means covering your tracks.”

For the first time in a while, I feel a genuine smile tugging at the corners of my lips.

~~~

Max, sidekick vigilante. Maybe. That’s where this seems to be going, so we’ll see!

As always, think happy thoughts!

Finding Purpose

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Happy Monday!

So my posting has been sporadic again. I really am trying to post every day, but that proves harder and harder the more I try. On the bright side, I have been working on A Vampire’s Bride outside of here. I’m trying a new approach! Rather than try to type out the story from the start, I’m writing it by hand. This way I don’t have to be in front of a computer screen all the time. So far so good, so we’ll see how it goes.

Today’s prompt comes from Let Me Help You Write on Tumblr and will go toward Provisional Freedom‘s word count!

Enjoy!

CW: Assault, violence, and some language.

~~~

Although Marcus said I’m still welcome at the house, I’ve been trying not to rely on him and Videl as much. I don’t want to make him uncomfortable, and to be honest, knowing what I know now, it makes me uncomfortable to be there. So that’s how I now find myself wandering around on my own, one of the few times Max’s attention is elsewhere. They don’t usually tell me where they go when they’re not with me, but on this particular occasion they mentioned something about having to check on another charge.

The city at night is a completely different beast. Urban exploration was never my thing, but now that I have all this time to kill, I’ve had to get creative with my past times. It never occurred to me that I might not be the only one out at three in the morning. Turns out, the night life is much more active than I anticipated. Still, even if I’d expected this level of activity, nothing could have prepared me for an attempted mugging. Not against me, mind you.

The victims in question are a couple of women, probably a few years older than me. Going by their clothes and smudged makeup, they were likely headed home from a night of dancing and general fun, until some asshole in a mask decided they made easy targets. Scared, and probably still a little drunk, they’re incoherent but it’s obvious they’re scared out of their minds. One of them shakily tries to hand over her bag. When the asshole doesn’t take the bag and instead tries to approach them, gun in hand, I have a whole new understanding of what’s happening.

My blood boils, and before I know it, I’m walking over.

“Excuse me, what the hell do you think you’re doing?” I’m sure I’m the farthest thing from an imposing figure, but my words make the man stop anyway. The mask doesn’t hide his eyes, and I can see a momentary lapse of fear and confusion. And then he realizes he’s talking to a girl who’s five-foot-nothing.

“Stay back! I have a gun.” He points it at me.

“Oh, what, are you going to shoot me?” Behind him, the women are on the ground, shaking.

“You sound awfully sarcastic for a person with a gun pointed at them.”

“Well what can I say? You don’t scare me.” I shrug, keeping my eye on the women. As I keep the man’s attention, I motion for them to get out of his reach. Though they’re both scared out of their wits, one of them manages to pull the other up before running together behind a dumpster. I’m so focused on them, I almost don’t hear the gunshot.

I’ve never been shot before, so I’m not sure what I expected. It’s not painless, per say, but doesn’t hurt nearly as much as a gunshot should. When I look down, there’s a hole in my sweater, but no blood. “This is my favorite hoodie, asshole!”

He fires again, making yet another hole. At this point, I don’t even bother sitting still. Walking toward him, I clench my fists, ready to knock his teeth down his throat. He empties his gun, and in a desperate play to get me to stop, he throws it at me. I almost laugh before my foot meets his groin. When he doubles over, I back hand him, his blood spraying the concrete.

I didn’t realize how much I’d pent up my anger and frustrations until I started wailing on him. When I stop, it’s only because Max shows up.

“I think that’s enough, Paola.”

“Bastard deserves to die.” But I do as they say and stop, taking two steps back to admire my handiwork. He’s trembling, muttering something about how sorry he is.

“Be that as it may, you don’t need his blood on your hands.”

“Ha! Too late.” My knuckles drip with it. I look over at Max as they kneel down by the women. I let them handle it, considering I’m probably a bit more terrifying than the man with the gun had been. I watch a Max places a hand over their foreheads, and both faint into their arms. “What are you doing?”

“Wiping their memories and taking them home. We don’t need rumors about a bullet proof girl running around. Stay here, I’ll be right back to deal with him.” And with that, they’re gone. As much as I don’t feel like sitting around, I stay.

When Max returns, it’s with reprimands at the ready. “That was reckless.”

“As reckless as pulling a tainted soul from Purgatory?” I wipe my hands on my ruined hoodie.

“Paola…”

“What? At least I helped someone. Would it have been better to let it happen?”

“No, but-”

“But nothing. I helped those women, and I felt good doing it. Maybe I should do it more often. Put this immortality to good use. Punish scum like him.”

“What you should do is get some sleep. We’ll talk about this in the morning.” Their words had a tone of finality, and I was tired of arguing with them anyway.

“Fine.”

~~~

Paola, vigilante extraordinaire? Maybe!

As always, think happy thoughts!

Dropped the ball

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Hello!

So I totally dropped the ball yesterday. I really didn’t intend to skip out on my daily write but it’s been a hectic type of weekend, so yeah. Even though I took yesterday off from work, I don’t feel very rested. It was one of those days off. Anyway, in order to remedy the situation, today’s post will be a bit longer than usual.

This post will go without a prompt. Instead it’s a scene that popped into my head during one of my long drives over the past few days. Lucky for me the scene applies to A Vampire’s Bride.

CW: Suggestive language/situations/themes ahead!

~~~

Maybe it was the training sessions with the other villagers, or maybe my mind is finally cracking under the pressure. Whatever the reason, I’ve started dreaming of Niklaus. Constantly. That’s not to say I’ve never dreamt of him before but these are different. Where once the dreams consisted of fearing for his life, seeing him bloodied and beaten, these are…different. Not entirely unpleasant, at least not during the dream. It’s when I’m awake that I’m uncomfortable. I wonder if he can tell.

Our latest training session ended on a high note. The others have taken to Nadya and Niklaus almost as quickly as I did. Layla especially seems to have formed a bond with Nadya – both their faces light up whenever they meet. Everyone else is much more comfortable around them, too. No one fears for their lives during sessions anymore, and if they do they hide it well. Thanks to the smooth progress we’ve been making, Niklaus has been considerably less moody. He’s still cautious – especially around me – but there’s a visible ease on his face now.

“I’ll go ahead.” Nadya loads up her horse with supplies. “You can walk Ariella back to her house.” The three of us usually linger back once everyone’s gone to discuss the progress and what we’ll be teaching the following night. Normally they would both escort me back. Niklaus gives his sister a look, and she simply smirks. “What? I thought you’d appreciate some time alone.”

She shrugs before riding off. My face heats up, and I look away to avoid eye contact with Niklaus, silently cursing Nadya. She knows about the dreams – I’ve confided in her about them – and there’s no denying she’s left us alone because of them.

If he knows I’m uncomfortable, he doesn’t say anything. Instead, he offers me his horse so I don’t have to walk back. We’ve gone farther out into the woods for our sessions, as far from prying eyes as is safe for the others. Though I’m squirming in my seat, the silence between us is comfortable, familiar. It’s not until now that I realize we haven’t had time alone in weeks. That we haven’t touched outside of sparring in just as long. Maybe that’s why I’ve been having those dreams.

“You’re quiet tonight. Is everything okay?” He looks up at me, and for a split second his eyes reflect that reluctance to get close. His constant worry that I’m afraid.

“Just a lot on my mind.” I try to smile. Try not to think about the dreams.

When we finally reach my house, he stops to tie the horse to a tree before helping me down. His hands linger on my waist, and I’m trapped between him and the horse. When I look up, his face is inches away, a curious look in his eyes. “What?”

“I miss moments like these.” His knuckles brush my jaw, careful as if the slightest touch could break me.

“Me too.” The words come out breathless, nearly catch in my throat. I let him pull me in, his grip on my chin the ghost of a touch. When he kisses me, it’s like the first time all over again. My mind flashes back to one of my most recent dreams – back in the castle, every touch in the dark, his teeth grazing my neck – I pull back as the blush rises on my face.

“What’s wrong?”

“N-Nothing.” But I find it hard to breathe. I already know sleep won’t come easy. “Will you stay? For a little while? I’ve been having trouble sleeping…” I look away, afraid he’ll see it on my face.

He agrees and I lead us to my room. I know full well his presence won’t actually solve my problem – it’ll make it worse – but I don’t care. It’s been weeks since he’s held me as I sleep. I change into my sleeping clothes, and he enters the room shortly after. There’s a tension in the air, but I wonder if it’s just me and he doesn’t notice it. In bed, he pulls me close, my back warm against his bare chest as he curls around me.

“So what’s keeping you awake?” His voice catches me off-guard. I want to lie, to keep that particular secret from him a little while longer. But I can’t, too relaxed in his embrace to really care.

“Thoughts…about you…us. I think I just miss this. Miss being with you this way.” I turn to face him before shifting closer, tucking my head under his chin.

“I’m sorry.” His hand moves to caress my hair, following the locks down my back and along my spine. I shiver and move closer. “I miss this too.” There’s a strain in his voice, the hints of something unsaid. I find myself bringing my lips to his neck, placing a lingering kiss where it meets his chest as one of my hands trails down to his abdomen. Just like my dream. He shivers before catching my hand by the wrist, stopping me. “What are you doing?”

When our eyes meet again, there’s desire in his, mingled with something else. They’ve darkened, the sight familiar and something I didn’t realize until now I missed. “Kiss me?”

He looks like he’ll refuse. Like he’s struggling with the decision to pull away or pull me in. “Ariella…this is-”

“Dangerous. I know.” I’ve seen what can go wrong in my dreams. But that doesn’t stop me – they’re just dreams. I regain control of my hand, but instead of continuing to touch him I lead his hand to my hip, pulling my sleeping gown up far enough that he’s touching skin. He tenses on contact, freezing in place. “But I trust you.”

“You don’t-don’t know what you’re doing.” Niklaus’ voice strains again, this time with the effort of keeping still.

“Yes. I do.” My hand returns to his abdomen, tracing the muscles there as I place another kiss, this one on his jaw. “Kiss me.”

This time, he inches forward, his hand still unmoving, and brushes his lips softly against mine before pulling away. I kiss him back, my hands on his neck now to pull me closer. His hand on my hip tightens, and he suddenly pulls me into him, my body flush against his. Before I can react, he grabs my hands and pins them to the pillow on either side of my head, moving to hover over me as he pins me down. We’re both breathless when he breaks the kiss, resting his forehead on mine, eyes closed and brow furrowed in an effort to hold back. “I should go. Before I do something we’ll both regret.”

“Don’t. Please. I’m sorry, I crossed a line.” I sigh, a smile playing on my lips. “Can’t say I regret it, though.” He releases my hands and sits back. Sitting up, I reach over to him, letting my hand rest on his chest. “Someday, you won’t have to stop.”

He looks away, and my heart stutters. “Ariella…”

“When this is all over, and we don’t have to hide. We’ll be together, right?” I move to kneel in front of him, forcing him to look at me. “Niklaus.”

“You have no idea how much I want that to be true.” He takes my hands in both of his, bringing them to his lips. “But nothing is going to change how dangerous I am, how easily I could hurt you.”

“Then we’ll make it happen. You can…can turn…” I don’t even finish the suggestion. The look he gives me is one of utter horror and refusal. The thought had only ever crossed my mind once or twice, but it’s been popping up more and more with the recurrence of those dreams.

“Never. I will never do that to you. And I’ll kill anyone who tries.” The fury in his voice makes it clear he’ll keep his word.

“Then how? How are we…after everything is said and done – what will happen to us?” I can hear the cracks in my heart forming one by one. No matter what I do, I’m going to lose Niklaus. One way or another.

He doesn’t look me in the eye. “I don’t know.”

~~~

Well that ended up being much sadder than I anticipated.

As always, think happy thoughts!

Unwanted Revelations

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Happy hump day!

This day is dragging. And yet I only barely made some time to take my lunch break, so here I am. Let’s cut to the chase. Today’s piece is inspired by Plots and Prompts For All again.

Prompt: “There are only a few things in this world that are truly important to me.”

~~~

To be honest I didn’t think Marcus would answer my question. And yet here he is now, giving me the spark notes version of his life’s story.

“There are only a few things in this world that are truly important to me.” The demon looks away from me as he speaks, his voice dejected. “My sister was one of them. Back when I was alive, she nearly died by my hand – actually went blind because of me.” I don’t ask for specifics, and even if I did don’t think he’d hear me. His mind is elsewhere and I can tell by the pain on his face that he’s trapped in that memory. “My deal with Lucifer was to help her – give her sight back. He took my eyes – gouged them out – and gave them to her. He replaced mine with my demon mark.”

“And my eyes…they remind you of your sister? Of yours?”

“It’s not just a reminder. They are my sister’s and mine.” He says it with such certainty, like there’s no way they couldn’t be.

“That’s ridiculous.”

“No, it’s not. Did you know they glow? Max and Videl can’t see it, but I can. Why else would they glow for me if they’re not the same ones I sacrificed for my sister?” His words turn bitter, annoyed.

“But it’s impossible. It doesn’t make any sense.” I stand, unable to sit any longer. Was this part of the plan? Part of why Max singled me out in purgatory?

“My sister had a long life, and as far as I know, a long line of descendants. You might very well be one of them. If I’d known my deal with Lucifer would be passed down this way…” His eyes darken, just before being overwhelmed by his mark again, the green pools replaced by black tar. It streams down his face like tears. For the first time, it’s a menacing look, and I’m frightened at the thought that it’s directed at me.

“Sorry I was gone for so long.” Max’s voice makes me realize Marcus isn’t looking at me, but at the angel standing behind me.

I turn on them, directing my own angry look at Max. “Did you know?”

“What?” Taken aback by our sudden anger, Max takes a step back. They look between us, confusion on their expression. It looks genuine, but I find it hard to believe they had no idea. “What did I miss? Are you two okay?”

“Why me? Why did you pull me from purgatory? You could have pulled anyone else – why did it have to be me?” At this, Max falters for a moment, something lighting behind their eyes. They glance at Marcus, and seem to consider the consequences of what they’ll say next.

“Your soul was tainted. Touched by Lucifer. I don’t know how or why, but it was already like that when I found you.” They pause before taking a step forward. “What is this about?”

“We should go.” I don’t look back at Marcus until I’m at the door. When I do, some of his anger has passed. “I’m sorry. If you don’t want me coming around anymore, I understand.” The last thing I want is to cause anyone pain, and it’s clear that’s what I’m doing to Marcus. Even if it means isolating myself again.

“It’s not your fault. You’re always welcome here. I just need time.” I nod, and for the first time, Marcus offers a smile in return.

Max has the presence of mind to just follow me out and keep their questions to themselves. At least for now.

~~~

And there it is, the connection shared by Paola and Marcus. I’m still not sure how this plays into the bigger picture, but this is what I’ve had in mind since the first time they encountered each other.

As always, think happy thoughts!

#ThursThreads – Nervous

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Sup sup!

It’s been a while since I’ve contributed to #ThursThreads, so it feels good to get back into it again. Today’s piece is for Provisional Freedom  and though it includes references to Secondhand Soul, it’s only getting categorized under Paola’s story, since Videl’s origin story is all done!

Prompt: “Do I make you nervous?”

~~~

Having Max around all the time makes it difficult to make friends. Not that it’s their fault entirely (I’m not exactly approachable), but it puts a damper on the whole college experience. Max noticed, so at their suggestion, we’ve been visiting Marcus and Videl, when I don’t have too much work. In the angel’s words, I “need more people to talk to.” Even if those people happen to be demons.

And that’s why I now find myself alone in a room with Marcus. It’s clear he’s still very uncomfortable with me, though I’m not sure why. To both our horrors, Videl is off on an assignment this time, and Max had to split (for a reason they refused to disclose). Normally Videl makes conversation to dissipate the awkwardness, but with her gone we’re both stewing in it.

“I can go, if you want? I have some reading for school…”

“No-no it’s okay. Videl should be back soon.” But it’s clear he wants me gone. He fiddles with some paperwork, and I can’t help my next words.

“Do I make you nervous?”

He looks like he’s been caught red-handed. I give him some time to respond, but he just stares at me. Since I’m always with Max, I don’t usually get to see Marcus’ eyes. With his glamour uninterrupted by the angel’s presence, I can’t help but notice how similar they are to mine.

Marcus sighs. “Is it that obvious?”

“Yes.” I almost laugh. “Any reason why?”

“Your eyes – my eyes.”

~~~

And their stories meet once more! I’ve been meaning to bring Marcus and Videl back into Paola’s life somehow, so I’m glad this prompt gave me the chance to do that.

Be sure to check out the other entries at the prompt!

As always, think happy thoughts!

 

Minor annoyances

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Happy hump day!

This is three days in a row! I really think I might be able to keep this up.

Today’s prompt is a new one from Our Write Side – Out of Context. I need to get out of writing small bursts and slowly get back into slightly longer pieces. This one will be 700 words.

Here goes!

~~~

“Jerk it a little bit, maybe that’ll help.” Max gives their advice with a quiet chuckle. I glare at them, but give it a shot anyway.

It doesn’t help. The stupid mailbox refuses to open even though I’ve entered the combination at least fifteen times by now. I’m ready to punch through it. Only the fact that I’m surrounded by regular people in the dorm’s lobby stops me from ripping the damn thing out of the wall.

“It’s not like you’re going to actually get mail, though, right?”

I don’t dignify that with a response, opting to grab my backpack off the ground and walk away. It’s been a whole week so far since starting school and, though I know Max isn’t trying to ruin my life, I do know they’re enjoying every minute of my general discomfort and unease.

“Don’t you have more important things to do than revel in my misery?” I catch them off guard with my question. When they don’t respond right away, I look over in time to see the sincere confusion in their eyes. “What?”

“I’m not. Reveling. I don’t enjoy watching you suffer.” They say that like they’re offended I even though it.

“You have a funny way of showing it.”

We walk the rest of the way to the cafeteria in silence, and for a fleeting moment I wonder if I really offended them. Then I realize I don’t actually care about offending an angel and decide I’m going to enjoy my breakfast despite them.

Angels don’t eat – and I suppose I don’t need to either – but they always grab a plate with me. This time Max grabbed some pancakes, setting them on the table between us before speaking up again.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know if I’ve apologized for all of this yet.” They look down at my food – scrambled eggs and some bacon – before continuing, “And I don’t mean to upset you. To be honest I’m so used to being around angels and demons that I forget you’re not like us. You view the world…differently.” That’s an understatement, but I appreciate the effort.

“Thanks, I guess.” I take a bite of the scrambled eggs. “So seriously, don’t you actually have more important things to do? I don’t understand why you have to follow me around.”

“Normally I would, but I’ve been given special orders to keep an eye on you. Like I said, I could watch you from afar, but I didn’t think you’d like that.”

“And why do you have to watch me?”

“Because no one has ever been in your position before, Paola. You’re unique, and none of us really know the ramifications of your condition. Plus we don’t want you falling into the wrong hands.”

“And killing that witch was worth this?”

I don’t even ask Max before reaching over and grabbing their pancakes.

“Yes. Lucifer messed up bad with that one – desperate times, desperate measures.” They lean back in their seat, crossing their arms. “And so here we are.”

I consider their words over the pancakes. “So what kind of wrong hands could I fall into?”

“Demons, witches, the usual.”

“But Marcus and Videl didn’t seem that bad?”

“Lucifer does a good job of keeping his demons in check for the most part. Doesn’t mean there aren’t a few rebels out there. Even some angels might have it out for you.”

“Wouldn’t that have happened by now?”

“Nope. You’re a very well-guarded secret. As far as demons go, only Marcus and Videl know about you. Lucifer and I are the only angels.”

“Oh.” I’m not sure what to think about that. Does it even make a difference? Not like anyone can actually kill me.

“Oh indeed.” They stretch for a second before leaning forward again. “So in an effort to keep you a secret, I have to keep an eye on you.”

“Wouldn’t others notice that you’re hanging around me so much?”

“Nah. Angels follow humans around all the time. We hardly ever pay each other’s charges much mind.”

The rest of the meal is almost comfortable. I doubt I’ll ever really be able to relax again, though. Despite my immortality, I’m still in danger.

~~~

That took longer than I thought (definitely not under my 15 minute mark), but yay for progress! Character development! Maybe an inkling of a plot?

As always, think happy thoughts!