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!

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Breaking through a lull

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Hello!

So I’ve been really struggling with getting myself to write. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why. The ideas are there (sort of), but when I sit down to write I just can’t seem to make myself type the words. Or if I do nothing is good enough. In an attempt to fight this I’m going to try taking 15 minutes every morning starting today. I’m going to just write what comes to mind (with or without a writing prompt), while trying to continue either Provisional Freedom or A Vampire’s Bride. Seeing as the plots of both are pretty loose right now and all over the place, I think this might work!

Here goes!

~~~

Finding people to train proved a bit more difficult than we anticipated. I was under the impression people would jump at the chance to ready themselves against the vampires, but I suppose they were intimidated by the idea of training under the beings they’d be hunting. The tension and hints of fear thickened the air around us. Luckily, their fear doesn’t have the same effect on Niklaus that mine does.

“That’s all you could gather?” Niklaus whispers to me so the others can’t hear. Before us stand ten recruits, Layla and Soren among them. I recognized a few others from the hunting group Niklaus and I encountered during our first outing by the castle.

“This is good to start with.” Nadya scans the group, assessing them with her eyes. It’s clear she makes several of them uncomfortable. Layla’s the only one that meets her gaze. After a round of introductions, Nadya addresses the crowd. “I’m sure Ariella has told you the danger your village is under. Trust me when I say Nik and I are here to ensure your safety. If at any point you feel uncomfortable or frightened, please feel free to take a break, step away, whatever you need to do. But please don’t wander off or do anything foolish.”

The crowd, for the most part, is still clearly reluctant, so I step up. “Nadya and Niklaus won’t hurt you. They’ve both protected me on more than one occasion and I trust them with my life. You can, too.”

Layla’s the first to speak up. “So where do we start?”

~~~

Oh my goodness those are actual words! And, though brief, actual progress on a story. Cool!

Here’s to continuing to inch forward, however slow.

As always, think happy thoughts!

#ThursThreads – I’m back!

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Hello!

It’s been way too long, but here I am. Found some time today so I’m squeezing in a bit of A Vampire’s Bride for the #ThursThreads prompt.

Prompt: “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Enjoy!

~~~

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Despite his words, Niklaus’ mind is already working behind his silver eyes, figuring out how we can pull this off.

“Why not? Ariella’s right – she can’t be the only one, not as the attacks keep getting worse.” Nadya offers me a look of encouragement.

“Think about it. We can’t just leave everyone else to fend for themselves. And I’ve heard rumors – they’re already in the process of creating a hunting party, they just don’t know they’re hunting vampires.” I close the distance between Niklaus and me, trying to implore him with my eyes.

“Training groups of vampire hunters would spark war as soon as the vampire council catches wind.” Niklaus runs a hand through his hair.

“And not training them would lead to a massacre.”

“And the council is there to protect the humans as much as us. You know that, Nik. And the humans outnumber us – imagine what panicked humans, who see all vampires as a threat, could do to our numbers. At least if we reach out to them, they’ll know it’s not all of the vampires who’ve lost it.” Nadya walks over to her twin, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Cooperation is our best bet, here.”

Niklaus sighs, looking between his sister and me.

“Fine. But we have to go through the council. There’s no way we can keep this from them, unfortunately. We’ll still keep Ariella a secret, but they need to know how we’re handling the situation.”

~~~

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

As always, think happy thoughts!

Bewitched & Enthralled

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Happy Tuesday!

Found some extra time today and a great prompt to keep A Vampire’s Bride going, so hooray for that! The prompt comes courtesy of Our Write Side’s Two Word Tuesday!

Prompt: Bewitch and/or Enthrall

~~~

I’m not sure what I expected would happen upon telling my dad. What I didn’t expect was for him to look at me like I’d grown a third arm. To his credit, he manages not to lose his temper or yell at me.

“Are you okay?” It’s been a solid minute since my confession, so I feel the need to check. By now he’s settled into sitting on my bed, while I’m still on the floor with my attention on my weapons.

“Just…takes a moment to sink in.”

“To be honest I’m surprised you’re not more upset.” I set my weapons down to really look at him.

“I never said I’m not upset. The last thing I wanted to happen – after you being picked as a vampire’s bride – was for you to endanger yourself further by hunting them!” Despite his exasperation, he’s still pretty calm. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he takes a deep breath. “When did this start? Is it because of what Niklaus did?”

“No! Well, sort of, but not the way you might think…” I correct myself in a rush at the look on my dad’s face. Once he relaxes again, I continue. “He and his sister have actually been training me themselves.”

If my father’s jaw could hit the floor, it would. I backtrack, figuring I probably should have started from the beginning. Doing my best to appease my father’s fears, I tell him everything – from the moment I arrived at the castle to Niklaus dropping me off a few hours ago. For his own peace of mind, I avoid telling him Niklaus stayed. The entire time, my father’s eyes never leave mine, completely enthralled in the story of how I ended up as a vampire hunter. He doesn’t even interrupt to ask questions. By the time I’m done, the sun is up.

“Ariella…do you really intend to keep doing this?”

“I have to. Everyone is in danger if I don’t.”

“Can’t Niklaus and the other vampires in charge do something about it?”

“We’re not sure that those other vampires can be trusted. And the council continues to only send Niklaus and Nadya. They need my help. And if things get worse, I’ll need to be able to protect us – protect you and the others.” The thought only just occurs to me now. I can’t exactly continue to be the only human vampire hunter in our village.

My dad must see something in my eyes – either that I’ve lost my mind or that there’s no changing it. He pulls me into a tight embrace. “Just be careful. If you need help – supplies, weapons, anything – don’t hesitate to ask. I can’t control what you do, but I can at least help keep you safe.”

Why didn’t I tell him sooner? Relief floods through me at his words, and I hug him back. “Thank you.”

~~~

So it turns out Ariella’s dad is way more understanding than she thought he’d be. Hmm. At least it helps move the plot along!

As always, think happy thoughts!

Tainted Treasures

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It’s been a rough week. I was in a car accident on Tuesday, the most recent and worst one I’ve been in yet. Thankfully no one was hurt, but I’m still a bit shaken over it (as morbid a thought as it is, I feel like I’m running out of lives). The entire ordeal is a huge pain and I don’t very much feel like ever getting behind the wheel of a car again (though I know I don’t have much of a choice). So I guess you could say my car (which I only just bought in October) is a tainted treasure now.

Anyway, in an attempt to keep my mind off the awful that is dealing with the aftermath, I’m going to try to write a little bit. I haven’t revisited A Vampire’s Bride since January, so here’s my attempt at moving that story forward a bit. The prompt, as usual, comes from Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday series and serves as general inspiration.

Prompt: Tainted treasures

~~~

When Niklaus leaves, I almost don’t notice. He’s careful not to wake me, but a soft kiss on my brow triggers my awareness and I open my eyes in time to see him close the door. Though I want to reach out, ask him to stay longer, I know that’s impossible. And asking would make it worse. Outside, sunrise is only a couple of hours away – he stayed until he absolutely had to leave.

Though I’m still tired, I’m aware enough that I need to change before my father wakes. I still haven’t told him what I’ve been doing with my nights, and this isn’t really the best way for him to find out. So I remove Niklaus’ shirt, taking it and his cloak and hiding them under the bed. My neck wound is still wrapped, too, and it’s only then I realize I’m going to have a hard time continuing to hide this from my father. My hair can only do so much – it’s only a matter of time before he notices the scar it’ll leave behind, even if I manage to avoid him noticing the bandages.

I gather some water in a bowl, light a candle by the small mirror in my room, and go about checking my wound. Like I told Niklaus, the blood made it look worse than it really is. It’s a nasty-looking scratch, but nothing life threatening. With some clean cloth I re-wrap the scratch, coming up with a less terrifying explanation to give my father.

Once I’m satisfied with my bandaging job, I change into a new shirt and move on to pulling my weapons back out from under the bed. They’re in desperate need of cleaning, too. Holding them close, I settle onto the floor and go about the task as carefully as possible. The hatchet doesn’t require as much care as the crossbow, though. I’m careful to clean every crevice, and I double check the weapon for any damage. Dropping it was a stupid move, and now it’s scuffed at the handle.

“Dammit.” In all the years my mother used this crossbow to hunt, she never let it fall or get damaged. The thought hits me harder than I expect, and the stress of everything just comes crashing down. My head hurts, and I can’t stop the tears that well up. Unfortunately, that’s how my dad finds me.

“Ariella?” I nearly drop the weapon again at the sound of his voice. Startled, I turn around to look at him. “What happened? Are you alright?” He rushes over, crouching beside me as his eyes scan my neck before returning to the crossbow.

“I’m…it’s fine. Just that the crossbow is a bit damaged.”

“And what’s this?” He brushes my hair away, catching on to my attempt to hide my neck.

“I…I was hunting. It’s just a scratch. It’s fine.” I hope he doesn’t pry but I know that’s asking for too much.

“And how did it happen?”

“I said, I was hunting.”

“Ariella.” His tone is all reprimand, and I realize it’s been years since he’s spoken to me like that. Since he’s had to. The word is like a whip, and I’m transported back to my childhood. “Tell me.”

Though I don’t want to, I look him in the eye. “I was hunting vampires.”

~~~

And the truth comes out! How will her dad react? I have no idea yet – hence why I ended it where I did.

Anyway, if you’re stuck in your writing endeavors, be sure to check out the rest of Our Write Side’s prompts! There’s something for everyone!

As always, think happy thoughts.

Grand weakness

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Happy Friday!

Eventually, I’ll get back to posting multiple times a week. We’re twenty-seven days into the new year and I’ve yet to adjust properly. Maybe in February. We’ll see. Until then, weekly Friday posts will have to do.

This week’s post comes courtesy of Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt, which I’ll be using as general inspiration for the next scene. We’re going to pick up where we left off with A Vampire’s BrideSecondhand Soul is still in a bit of a limbo, since I’m still not sure how to wrap it up.

Prompt: Grand weakness

~~~

The silence of the ride is all-consuming. Resting my head against Niklaus’ back, I let my thoughts take me, playing back the events of the hunt, everything that went wrong, where I could have reacted better. Why did the fledgling have to look so much like Niklaus?

“I’m glad you’re okay.” His voice startles me from my thoughts. “I don’t know what I would have done if-”

“Don’t think about it.” I tighten my hold on him as one of his hands moves to rest over mine.

We don’t say anything else the rest of the ride. There’s a tension in the air when we get to the cottage. Nothing seems to have happened in the village while we were gone – the atmosphere is sleepy and quite. And yet the tension follows us off the horse and to my room. I thought he would just leave me at the door and go, but when I invite him in he follows. Niklaus hovers at the door to my bedroom, though, face shrouded in thought.

I’m about to say something when he beats me to it.

“That fledgling – you said his appearance caught you off-guard. Why?” Is that what he thought about the entire ride back?

“Isn’t it obvious?” By now I’ve discarded my weapons, hidden them under my bed. “He looked like you…” I avert my gaze when I say it, unsure of how he’ll react. “I…”

“Ariella…” At some point, he entered the room, because now he’s standing right behind me. When I turn around, he’s right there. “If I ever…ever lose control, you have to be prepared to put a bolt in my heart, understand?”

I can’t look away from his eyes, trapped in the gravity of his words and the intensity of his gaze. “I can’t.”

“You don’t have a choice.” He places a hand on my cheek, the touch light as a feather. “It’ll be your life or mine.”

“It won’t happen. You won’t lose control.”

“Nadya won’t always be there to keep me in line.”

“But-” I try to pull away, but he takes both my hands and holds me in place.

“Promise me.” Again, his eyes trap mine. There’s that loathing, that disdain for what he is radiating off him in waves. “Please. You have to promise me you’ll do it…”

“And if I don’t?” My words are hardly a whisper, and all I can do is look at our hands. He doesn’t have to say it out loud. If I can’t promise that I’ll kill him if I have to, Niklaus will leave. Just like he sent me away from the castle for my own protection; he’ll do it again. When he doesn’t say anything, I pull away and sit on the edge of my bed. Reluctant, he follows and sits beside me.

“Please.” He takes my hand, the gentle caress at odds with what he’s asking of me.

“Okay. I promise.” But I don’t look at him when I say it. If he can tell I’m lying, he doesn’t show it. When I look at him again there’s relief in his eyes now, a sad smile turning the corners of his mouth.

“Thank you.”

I don’t want to hear his thanks for agreeing to kill him, so I press my lips to his. His arms slide around me as he shifts closer in response, lips gentle but firm against mine. My fingers slide into his hair and he deepens the kiss, biting softly on my bottom lip. It’s not long before the kiss turns passionate, and I’m all but sitting in his lap. Niklaus pulls back first, his breathing heavy as he rests his forehead against mine. I don’t want him to leave – not yet.

“St-Stay with me?” The words escape me before I can stop them, and I’m afraid I’ve crossed some line. There’s no taking them back now, though. “For a little while?”

Niklaus looks like he wants to say no, but he doesn’t. Instead, he shifts farther back onto my bed, pulling me with him so I’m lying down. “You need to rest, but I’ll stay as long as I can.”

It isn’t until I’m settled into his arms, tucked against him and on the precipice of sleep that I realize how much I missed this.

~~~

Hopefully next week we’ll take a turn into Secondhand Soul. As much as I love vampire fluff and angst, I really want to get back to Videl and Marcus.

As always, think happy thoughts!

Two Word Tuesday – Wintry

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Happy Friday!

Looks like I’ll only be posting on Friday for a while to come. Still, some writing is better than no writing. I’ll be trying to switch up the prompts, too. This week brings us a prompt from Our Write Side I haven’t tried yet – Two Word Tuesday!

Another contribution into A Vampire’s Bride.

Prompt: Niveous and/or Wintry

~~~

Another wintry breeze shoots through me as we head back to Nadya. Niklaus pulls me closer despite his discomfort. Though it seems he’s relaxed, I know he’s still struggling – it’s in the set of his jaw, the careful way he moves his eyes around my wound, as if he can only barely avoid it.

“One of them got away.” Nadya greets us with the grim news. She’s crouched by the body of one of our attackers, searching her pockets.”Did you get the fledgling?”

“Yes.”

When she turns, her brow furrows at the sight of Niklaus. “Why are you shirtless?”

“I got hurt – my shirt is all bloody.” That’s when she finally looks at me and her eyes widen.

“Are you okay?” She rushes over, and I don’t miss the way she removes me from Niklaus’ grasp and places herself between us. “Did he bite you?”

For a moment I’m not sure if she means her brother or the fledgling.

“No – just a scratch. It looks worse than it is…” Still, she insists on examining it, so I let her. Careful not to touch my skin, she unwraps my poor bandaging job. I can’t help but look at Niklaus the whole time. With Nadya between us, he’s more relaxed, safe in the knowledge that his sister will intervene if he attacks me. “Told you, it’s fine. I think it stopped bleeding already.”

“It did…” Despite her words, she re-wraps it. “We need to head back – report to the council that there was more than just a fledgling…”

“Are you sure that’s wise?” Once Nadya finishes re-wrapping my wound, I walk over to the dead vampire. “These vampires knew we were coming – the only other ones that know that are in the council.”

“What are you saying?” Niklaus finally speaks again, some of his ease coming back.

“The fledgling was bait. This was a trap, though why they thought two vampires and a fledgling would be enough to take the two of you is beyond me.” The dead vampire doesn’t look familiar, but there’s still something about her that I feel I recognize. “I don’t know much about your politics, but is there a chance someone is vying for your positions?”

“You think the council set us up?”

“Could be a possibility. You’re first in line, and I’m infertile. Your bride is ‘dead’ and you won’t take a new one.” Nadya leans back against a tree. “I don’t doubt their desire for monarchs that will keep our bloodlines going.”

“Who’s next in line?”

“The council would choose another family.” Niklaus crosses his arms. “Not that I care – if it were up to me I’d abdicate in a heartbeat.”

“Why can’t you?” If abdication is an option, why hasn’t he already taken it?

“Abdication is death.”

“What? Why?”

“They don’t want a purebred not in their control running around making new vampires and threatening their hold on the population.”

Do any humans know the way vampire politics work? This is the first I’ve heard of these details. “And your parents can’t do anything about it?”

Nadya laughs. “Their rebellion days have been over for a long time – they’re firmly under the council’s thumb.”

Niklaus’ eyes meet mine and a whole new set of fears seeps in. My life – and those of my fellow humans – isn’t the only one in danger anymore. If the council – or someone else – is trying to dispose of Nadya and Niklaus, could that mean that these attacks are meant to draw them out? Or are they separate issues?

“We should report back to the council, either way.” Nadya pushes herself off the tree and moves to examine the body one more time. “Can’t let them know we’re suspicious. For now, we should keep doing what we’re doing.”

Niklaus agrees, and I follow suit. After all, they’d know how to handle the situation better than I would. Nadya decides to take care of the bodies while Niklaus takes me back home. We’re down to two horses now, so I have to climb on behind Niklaus.

The ride back is silent, and I wonder how many hours we have before sunrise. It feels like our hunt took most of the night, but the sky shows no sign of the morning.

~~~

And there we go – the plot thickens! At least, what little plot has slowly trickled its way into Ariella and Niklaus’ lives.

As always, think happy thoughts!