After The End

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 6 (v.1) - 6

Submitted: January 12, 2016

Reads: 90

Comments: 4

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Submitted: January 12, 2016

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Mila left the following morning before Caelan had woken, eager not to continue their conversation. She didn’t like admitting it, but what he had said had gotten to her. 

He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, she told herself firmly.

So with the sun only just peeking over the horizon, she mounted her horse and sped off towards Marino.

The journey took three days - an uneventful tedium highlighted by occasional changes in scenery, and near constant paranoia of being followed. But either Caelan was staying out of sight or he was a significant way behind. Her harsher side hoped the latter (from a purely economical point of view), but there was also a part of her that couldn’t help lingering over the short amount of time she’d spent with him. As a general rule she kept away from people, and from society in general. But this man intrigued her. There was definitely more to him than the carefree mask he wore.

She, of all people, knew about keeping secrets.

She arrived at the outskirts of Marino just as the sun was starting to set. Eager not to be caught out and about after nightfall she left her horse in a decent enough looking stable and checked in to the first hotel she came across. The lobby was sparsely decorated (blacks, browns and dull wine red the central colour scheme - good for any potential bloodstains, she noted) and it was deserted apart from the man behind the desk. There was a gun at his hip and his wrists and neck shone with silver chains. He passed her her room key with barely a word and she found herself hurrying up the stairs, eager to get away.

God, she hated cities. Most of them were infested with vampires and the only humans that lived there were either crazy or too brave for their own good. Often both. Cities were unexploded bombs of violence, ready to erupt in an instant. 

She dumped her bag in her room, keeping her knives and sword on her as she headed back down. One good thing about cities, no one looked twice at you for carrying a weapon. 

Back in the lobby she glanced around with apparent distaste before heading back to the desk. She smiled as politely as she could.

“You couldn’t tell me where the popular vamp haunts are in this town, could you?”

His eyes narrowed and his fingers flickered towards his holster.

“You planning on gettin’ into trouble?” He replied, his voice a dull monotone that perfectly matched his solid build. 

Her expression was stony. “Is that any of your business?” she asked cooly.

He was about to reply when his eyes flickered to behind her. Suddenly the gun was in his hand. Mila spun around, unsheathing her knives as she did so.

“Come come,” said a baritone voice, rich and smooth as dark chocolate. “There is no need for violence.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” came the gruff reply from behind the desk.

The vampire smiled, allowing Mila a quick glimpse of his pearly white and deceptively human looking teeth. “I have no quarrel with either of you. Not for the moment anyway.” His hazel eyes met Mila’s and her eyes quickly settled on his nose. Meeting a vampire’s eyes was never the smartest idea and this guy seemed a) powerful, b) slimy. “I merely wish to speak with this young lady.”

“With me?” Mila asked carefully.

“You are the bounty hunter that has been tracking my master, are you not?”

Oh. That would explain it.

“Maybe. Depends on why you’re asking.”

The vampire smiled again, perfectly polite. “Why don’t we talk about this somewhere a little more private?” he said cordially.

Mila couldn’t help a wry laugh. “Great idea. No witnesses. I’m not an idiot, you know.”

“And I do not mean you harm.” His voice was tinged with impatience. “Please.” He gestured towards the open doors to the bar. 

Mila weighed up her options. If the vamp really wasn’t here to kill her it would be better not to get him angry, and if he was planning to eat her she wasn’t sure one stranger would swing it in her favour. 

She turned and stalked into the bar, not eager to turn her back on the vampire but equally not willing to make such a clear display of fear than asking him to go first. She sat down at the nearest table just as the vampire closed the door behind them with a quiet click. 

He settled down opposite her, leaning back in the chair like they were old friends catching up over a meal out. He smiled again, and she couldn’t help noticing the curve of his soft lips, the way his dark lashes framed his bright hazel eyes, the silky sheen to his chestnut brown hair where the light reflected off it…

Shit. 

Her pulse had just rocketed. She shook herself, scowling. “Stop it,” she snapped.

His smile merely grew wider. “I’m not doing anything.”

Double shit.

She cleared her throat awkwardly. “What do you want?”

“My master wishes to meet with you,” he replied.

“Why?”

“The exact details are for him to tell you,” the vampire replied smoothly. “But he does not want to harm you and, needless to say, you would also be expected to return the favour. We wish to avoid any…” his lip curled, “…unpleasantness.”

“What does he want, a peace treaty?”

“I’m sure all will become clear once you speak with him.”

Mila felt a stab of frustration. Clearly Mr Hazel-eyes wasn’t going to give anything away.

She sighed. “When?”

“As soon as possible.”

“And how do I know I’m not going to end up dead?”

Hazel shrugged. “I suppose you don’t.” 

At least he was honest there. 

Mila paused. “And if I refuse?”

He seemed to consider it. “Well, that might make me angry.”

“I thought you didn’t mean me any harm.”

“Oh, I don’t,” he said pleasantly. “But you haven’t refused yet.”

She thought about it carefully. She didn’t like this guy. She had the distinct impression he was more powerful than he was letting on, and she certainly didn’t want to test her theory in the context of a fight. But was she really going to walk into a nest of vampires, almost certainly weaponless, and expect them not to rip her to pieces? She wasn’t an idiot, or at least she hoped she wasn't. On the other hand, Hazel hadn’t technically done anything wrong. He’d been pleasant enough. Maybe the others would be too. Maybe they did just want to talk and try and work it out.

Yeah right.

She glanced at the vampire sitting within arm’s reach. She had sheathed her knives whilst walking into the room. If she went for them… No, he would have ripped her throat out before she’d even got them free.

Death now, or death later?

She sighed again. “Fine. I’ll go.”

“I am glad to hear it,” Hazel said. His voice was low and enticing but she ignored it determinedly. 

“I have conditions,” she said.

His eyes narrowed fractionally. “Which are?”

“I keep my weapons.”

A flicker of irritation. “My master does not - ”

“Wish to harm me. Yeah, I know,” she interrupted. “But I don’t trust him. Or you.”

He thought about it. “You may keep the sword,” he said eventually. “The knives will be placed at the side of the room, out of your reach but still in sight.”

“Fine.”

“Anything else?”

“If we do not end the meeting… amiably, your master must still return my weapons and let me go peacefully.”

“It would be only polite,” Hazel agreed. He sat forward and Mila tried not to reflexively shrink away. “We have an agreement, then?”

A temporary truce. There was definitely something funky going on. 

“It would appear so,” Mila replied neutrally.

Hazel stood, an elegant motion that was in no way human. A white card had appeared in his pale hand. “This is the address,” he said, passing it to her. “Be there within an hour.”

She nodded and a moment later he was gone and the door was closing behind him. 

Her heart was still pounding.

What the hell had she gotten herself into?



© Copyright 2017 Amy R. Beckett. All rights reserved.

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