Condemned Ch. 05

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It took a minute for the little voice in my head to start screaming at me, a second later I realised what I was doing. I pulled back and literally flung myself off the couch and half way across the room. Michael looked at me suspiciously as I pointed a shaking finger at him. “What the hell was that?” I demanded, all but screaming at him. “What the fuck is going on?”

His eye-brow arched, conveying the perfect image of amused indulgence. “It was a kiss Conner. Haven’t you ever kissed anyone before?”

No, but that was entirely beside the point. I was still pointing at him. “It wasn’t just a kiss.” I argued. “I would never just kiss you! What have you been doing to me? Things just changed one day, everything got easier, more comfortable! Why?”

“Perhaps you just realised you like me kiddo.”

I stared at him in utter astonishment. After a moment Michael sighed and rolled his eyes. The expression looked ridiculous coming from him. “Have you ever heard of dazzling Conner?”

I had actually. In the beginning I read every horror book I could get my hands on. After a while though it became apparent that almost everything beside the very basic crap like the sunlight and the blood lust was just rubbish. I thought the dazzling was the same. Wrong again.

“Don’t!” I said raggedly. “Don’t do that to me anymore.”

Both eye-brows rose this time. “What makes you think you get to tell me what to do?”

The little clogs in my brain went into overdrive. “You can just force me right?” I said as I got up. He looked confused. “You could just make me do whatever you want. You don’t need the glamour.”

“No.” He agreed. “But it does make things easier.”

“But not by much.” I argued. “So if you’re not forcing me it must be because you don’t want to hurt me.”

“That’s pretty sketchy as far as reasons go, especially considering what we both know I am.” He was smiling now. “What makes you think I care if you live or die?”

“A hunch.” I said hoarsely. “So you don’t want to hurt me. That’s great, better than great; actually it’s pretty damn brilliant. But you don’t need the glamour.”

“I thought you didn’t like the man loving kiddo?”

I gulped audibly and I could only imagine what sort of expression I was wearing. “Honestly, I’m not really a fan of the idea but if it means you don’t force me then I’ll try to be a bit more open. Deal?” Weird, how I could sound so rational about the whole thing, like I wasn’t talking about having sex with something that could easily snap me in two.

“So basically I promise not to hurt you, rape you or use you in anyway and you’ll consider the possibility of sleeping with me at some point? I’m not exactly coming out of this smelling like roses Conner.”

What could I say to that? I mean honestly what the hell could I possibly say? We stared at one another, making eye contact in a natural way I never thought would be possible. Michael abruptly threw his hands up in the air and groaned. “Fine, I give up! We’ll try it your way.”

“So no more dazzling?”

“No more dazzling.” He agreed. He shuffled across the couch and gestured to the empty seat. “So you wanna sit down?”

I didn’t move for a minute. The absence of the glamour was so much more noticeable now he had taken it away. All of the little fears and rationalities he had been keeping at bay swarmed back over me and for a moment I was paralysed, too frightened to move as I started to comprehend what was sitting in front of me.

“You’re a silly kid.” Michael said, shaking his head irritably. “This isn’t better, is it? The dazzling took away the fear, took away your primal instincts to run away. You’re just a frightened statue again.” He huffed quietly. “I liked you better before.”

“Give me a minute.” I said, hopefully gently enough not to piss him off. “I just need a minute.”

He turned back to his television and did his best to ignore me. For my own part I tried not to think about what he was. Think of him as a person, I told myself, think of him as something alive, someone that had actually saved my life.

I began imagining the things he had done for me. He was different than the others, or so I thought. He’d saved me from becoming a meal when he first brought me in from the eclipse, he saved me from Joseph, he hadn’t forced me, drank from me or hurt me at all.

There was no point obsessing over what he could do to me. The important thing was that he had not done any of those things.

But then there was that pretty girl with the sleepy eyes and long blonde hair. I remembered her scream and the sight of Michael covered in her blood. I couldn’t quite repress a shudder.

Of course Michael reacted to my fear. He looked up at me, his blue eyes predatory and terrifying. Our eyes met and despite myself I held his gaze. He growled low in his throat and moved fluidly to his feet, looking so much like a stalking lion.

A part of me knew that meeting his eyes like I was would be considered a challenge. casino oyna Instinct demanded I look away and submit but I knew with sudden and un-floundering certainty that if I was going to survive Michael I needed to grow a backbone. I needed him to respect me.

One moment he was standing across the room from me and then the next I was pinned against the furthest wall of the chambers with his body pressed close against mine. Our eyes still held and I could make out the sharp glint of his teeth as he sneered at me. “You’re mine,” He hissed and bent down to breathe my hair. “Such a lovely spirit and pure soul.” He stepped away from me abruptly. “And so appealing as you try to establish dominance.” He smiled abruptly and the predatory gleam in his eyes began to fade. “Will you sit with me now?”

“Alright.” I said, and I was rather pleased with how well I controlled the pitch in my voice. He pulled me to the couch with him and draped his arm contently over my shoulders. If his skin hadn’t felt so icy cold it might have been easy to forget that I was sitting with a monster.

*********

Surprisingly Louie became a friend. She showed up at Michael’s door one day and asked if she could take me out. Michael had looked amused and had actually given me a little shove out of the door. “Look after him.” He’d warned as he’d shut the door in both of our faces.

I didn’t spend every day with Louie but I wasn’t often out of her company. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed spending time with her. She was a gang member after all and everyone knew what gang members did to singles. From what I could gather though she had no interest in hurting me. I genuinely believe she liked me, not in a sexual way but as a friend.

It was also a relief to have some sane human contact. Considering how little experience I had outside my own hovel of a home I knew I must have seemed terribly naive to her. If she felt that way though she did an excellent job of hiding it. I hadn’t realised just how lonely I was until I started spending time with her. My mom had checked out years before she actually died and apart from her I’d had no one else to talk to. All those years alone and I’d had no idea how isolated I really was.

Of course all of that alone time had not made me a sparkling conversationalist. Louie mostly talked and I pretty much listened. She was quite nosey about Anne but I was tight lipped in that particular subject and refused to talk about her. Louie had no such qualms. She talked openly about Anne, telling me what she remembered of the younger woman’s youth and the respect she had gained over the years. Louie was also quite happy to talk about herself.

As it turned out Louie had been one of the very first gang members recruited into the inner circle of the others. She’d been a teenager when everything had changed but she’d adapted in a way that could only be described as admirable. After being targeted by four different immortals she’d turned on them with such viciousness that they had deemed her to fierce for food. They’d offered her a place among them and she’d prospered.

I wondered why she hadn’t been turned if she was as fierce as she claimed. I thought she was definitely dangerous. Something told me that the easy manner she applied when we were together could quite easily turn given the proper incentive. Despite that though she was definitely mortal and seemed inclined to stay that way.

A strange woman but one I was beginning to greatly admire.

“You’ve put on weight Conner.” She told me happily one day as we sat side by side in the main hall. A buzz of activity surrounded us as everyone moved through the hall in preparation for nightfall. I was sleepy as I sipped my milky coffee, unaccustomed as I was to being awake during the day. “And you look much sleeker than before. It seems Michael is treating you well.”

“He’s definitely feeding me.” I said, grinning at her as I patted my stomach. True it wasn’t exactly bulging but as least it didn’t look concaved anymore. I smiled at her. “You think I look sleek?”

“Don’t get cocky kiddo.”

I smiled lazily. “Yeah, you fancy me.”

She smirked at me. “Sorry Conner but I prefer my men to be a little more butch.”

“I am butch!” I argued, affecting the deepest voice I could muster. “I’m super butch. Feel my bicep!”

“I’d have to find it first.”

I stuck my tongue out at her.

“Well lookie here.” She said and suddenly and all the play was gone from her voice. I followed the line of her gaze and felt a sudden fluttering in my stomach. My sister was just across the room and she was staring at us. “I think she’s going to come over.”

A part of me wished she would. Despite the anger and betrayal I felt I was still painfully curious to find out what had happened to her all those years ago. Some small, childish part of me wondered did she leave because of me, if I was stronger, braver; would she have stayed with us?

Her eyes met mine, bold and sure. She canlı casino wasn’t afraid of meeting anyone’s gaze. She stood tall and strong. Life had been good to her since she joined the others. I wondered, had she been out there with the others, hunting down the ones like me, laughing as they were raped or murdered in the streets in broad daylight.

“You’re shivering.” Louie commented without a trace of concern.

“I’m going.” I said suddenly. I stood up, breaking eye contact with my sister and turning my back on her. I hope she understood the significance of that. Let her have her bloody gang members and deadly others. I didn’t care.

“Conner?” Anne’s voice reached me a moment before her hand wrapped around my arm. She tried to stop me but I pulled free without looking at her. “Wait a minute will you?” I didn’t stop. Her footsteps increased until she was abreast of me. “Still pissed huh?” She asked.

“What do you want?” I asked her tiredly.

“You and I have to talk.”

I sniffed at that. “I think you’ve already said enough.”

She grabbed my arm again and this time she didn’t let go. I gave my arm an experimental tug and her fingers bit into my flesh as she yanked me back. I debated punching her, I really honest to god did. So Michael could throw me around like a ragdoll, along with almost every other person in the hall. But Anne, she was my sister and she really wasn’t that much taller than me. I doubted she weighed anymore than I did.

Her eyes narrowed as if she knew exactly what I thinking. “You raise your hand to me little brother and I’ll show exactly what got me into this gang in the first place.”

I laughed at her. “Do your worse.” I poked her in the shoulder. “You remember who I’m sharing a room with? You don’t exactly compare big sister.” The latter words came out in a hiss. “Get off me.”

I could see her hand straining above her belt knife. I wasn’t scared; she wouldn’t pull it on me. I was sure of that at least. She let me go suddenly and gave me a solid push in the chest. I very nearly fell on my arse. “I don’t need this shit.” She snapped. “Piss off back to Michael then, but don’t say I didn’t try.”

I didn’t answer her; I thought I might end up laughing in her face. Jesus, I want out. The thought came out of nowhere, shocking me with it ferocity. I mean, of course I wanted out, who wouldn’t? I was surrounded by murderers. The point was though that I wanted out, out of the tomb, out of the dark and cold. I wanted to be in the light, I wanted fresh air and the freedom to go where I wanted. Granted I’d never really had any of those things before, the air smelled like refuge and mould and I tended to keep out of the sun to avoid detection. It was better than what I had now though, of that I was sure.

It was still daylight. There weren’t that many gang members up and about yet. I doubted there was much chance of me running into Jonnie so early in the day. I chanced a short crossing across the hall, entering into unchartered territory as I inched closer to the one of the few exists that led out of the hall.

I reached the door before a light arm wrapped around my waist. I jumped but it was only Louie. She smiled at me, casually lifting my arm until it draped her slender shoulders. “Whatcha doin kiddo?” she asked me.

“Nothing.” I answered immediately.

She frowned at me. “You know what will happen if you go out there Conner? You’re free game. You won’t get ten feet before someone rips into you. Believe me when I say leaving is not a good idea.”

“I wasn’t going to.” The lie hung heavily in the air between us. “Jesus Louie-“

Her hand slapped across my mouth, smothering my words. “Cut it out.” She snapped. “You know what that word does to them. Now you listen to me Conner, if you try anything like that again and I’ll have to stop taking you out with me. I don’t want to but I’ll not be the one ripped apart by Michael because you decided to do a bunk. ”

I turned my face away, pulling away from her hand. “I just wanted to see the sun.” I mumbled.

Her face softened very slightly. “Things are different now Conner, you need to get used to that. The Sun is no longer a part of your life.”

It seemed to me that was an incredibly stupid thing to say. I was a person for Christ sake! How was I supposed to just accept that I would spend the rest of my life in a pit?

“I’m being serious Conner.” She warned. “I’ll tell him.”

“Tell him what?” I demanded. “That I wondered near a door!”

She grabbed my arm and started dragging me through the hall, back towards Michael’s room. “Do not take that tone with me child. People see you talking to me like that and they’ll think I’m getting soft. You’ll force me to act and neither of us wants that.”

I closed my mouth firmly and refused to look at her. I felt betrayed and stupid. I should have known better, even though she was my friend she was still one of them. I needed to remember that in another life, had our paths crossed, kaçak casino she probably would not have hesitated to kill me.

“Do you ever go out in the light Louie?” I asked her, surprising myself when I asked her.

“What do I care for the light?” She asked quietly, her hands clenching into fists as she pulled me along beside her. “We’re not in a country that was ever made for the light Conner.”

I disagreed with her. I remembered plenty of summers back before the world turned to ash where the sun shone and my sister and I played out in the little garden outside our modest semidetached house. England could be a warm and beautiful place during the summer months. I missed being able to experience it. I missed the light.

*****

“Conner?”

Strong fingers kneaded through my hair, caressing gently as they slowly stroked up and down my scalp. I jumped suddenly, looking up and surprised to see that Michael was standing over me. “Hi.” I said faintly. His cool eyes weren’t looking at me. I wondered what he was thinking about.

“I spoke to Louie earlier.” He said, his hands still caressing softly. “She told me about your sister.”

I wondered if she’d told him about the whole door incident. I was still breathing so probably not. “There isn’t really much to tell.” I mumbled.

“She hit you didn’t she?”

“I probably deserved it.”

“Why’s that?”

I shook my head in denial, although I had no idea what I was denying. “I was pretty pissed at her. I started mouthing off and I guess I made her look bad. Gang members can’t afford to look weak.” Of course that whole macho gang member bullshit didn’t mean anything to me but I still cared about her enough that I didn’t want Michael to rip her head off for touching me. I knew how possessive he could be.

He sat next to me on the couch and gripped my knee. He squeezed encouragingly. “Did you know she’d joined the gangs?”

“No, we thought she’d died. It absolutely ruined my mom when she disappeared.” I thought of her just before she’d finally died. A skeleton that only talked in whispered rants. I shuddered.

“You cold?” Michael asked, wrapping his chilly white arms around my shoulders. “You want me to put the fire on?”

“That’s okay.” I said, raising my knees onto the couch and pressing my forehead against them. We were quite for a while then. Michael sat abnormally still next to me. He kept his hands wrapped around my shoulders, the gentle pressure belaying his true strength.

I must have been dozing because the knock on the door made me jump a mile. I looked up but Michael was already up and answering the door. To my dismay three others were standing there waiting for him. I couldn’t see Michael with his back to me but I think he was a little surprised to find them there.

I knew one of them. Her name was Kerry and she was the one rumoured to change Johnny. Her bright red hair and flashing green eyes were exactly as I remembered them that night she’d ordered Johnnie to send me back to Michael. Although I was positive she wouldn’t have given a damn she’d actually saved me from a brutal raping that night. I didn’t have it in me to be grateful but I sure was thankful she’d shown up when she did. Looking at her I had to admit that among a world of beautiful creatures she was probably one of the loveliest I’d ever seen. Her alabaster skin and perpetual child like face was in a league of its own. The other two beside her were male. One of them was abnormally tall with sparkling brown eyes and soft brown hair. His figure was slim but obviously very defined beneath his tight fitting shirt. The other one looked like a kid. He couldn’t have been much more than eighteen when he was changed. He had huge blue eyes and a soft full mouth. He was short, shorter than me even and his figure still had a little plumpness to it that was uncommon for the others.

His big eyes turned to me, squinting slightly in surprise. I looked away quickly and rested my head back on my knees.

“There’s been some trouble.” Kerry said, stepping uninvited into the room. I noticed how Michael made way for her and wondered if she was a lot stronger than him. Considering her close connection to Jonnie I sure hoped that wasn’t the case. “The western covenant has intruded on our land. Rumour has it they plan to make an attempt on the coven itself.”

Michael nodded his head slowly. “What have the elders decided?”

“That we need to quash them now before they gear themselves up for a proper attack. They have forces situated within the vicinity, watching us and reporting our movements. We have orders to send them a good and proper message.”

“Very well.” Michael said, smiling. “Are we going in after them?”

“No, it’s to be a proper slaughter, one that’ll make them wish they’d never tried us. We want to lure them out and we want to make sure their coven is humiliated.”

“What’s that to do with me?”

“Because we need something that’s going to lure them out. Something they’re going to find almost impossible to resist.”

I must have made a noise or maybe the frantic beating of my heart caught their attention. Suddenly four pairs of glittering eyes turned eerily in direction.

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