What started off as a Twilight fanfic, turned into Hidden Carmina – You can easily relate to the characters and while there are so many turn-table versions on the story – I do believe this one will have you scream, cheer, cry and definitely hate along, The Villain is a cat, the Hero is a wolf and the victim is human. You decide.
A stranger in the Night
A Stranger in the night.
I gaze up and notice the colors lashing out of an angry paintbrush over the horizon. The knot in my stomach is a vivid notification, reminding me of being as irritated as the enflamed and ginger tints marking the sky. From where I’m sitting, the towering volcano in the distance looks lonely yet proud. I marvel at the magnitude of nature rendering the likes of me insignificant. I’m just a small biological mass cowering at the foot of a fire goddess. Nothing special. The prickly patches of grass and barbed brushes under my naked legs recommends moving. I inspect the scrapes and welts around my hands and knees with renewed vigor.
By the time I distinguished the human shape from the other the obscure and creeping shadows, it was too late. A sense of annoyed inconvenience force my head to look up at the person blocking my view. What I thought I’d see was a family member. What I see is two deep gilded eyes set in the moon-pale skin topped with dark hair rivalling black lava. I feel every last nerve recoil into tiny prickly hairs, standing straight up. The view of the man in front of me is a complete opposite rendition to fire goddess I just venerated. He is an enormous portrait hauntingly hanging in mid-air. My mouth dry rapidly but the trio who lives in my mind become rather loud and verbal.
“Run!” and “Hit it!” and “Stay calm dearie, for your safety.” As so many times before in my life, I ignore them altogether.
His piercing eyes leaves mine and my nerves snaps back into a much more appropriate accommodation under my skin. I wonder briefly why his attention is diverted from me. While narrowing his eyes his stance become more cautious. As if he’s reading my mind, he answers in a soothing, deep, velvety voice.
“We’re not alone”
“I’m not afraid” I stutter in his general direction. I am. I’m petrified. At this exact minute, I am not sure if it is because of him, or something else lurking in the shadows.
“You’re not – “he stops mid-sentence and pulls his fingers through his short dark mane. His gold-plated eyes meets mine with overwhelming resentment all the while reaching out to me with a tranquil promise. I watch as his mouth opens marginally and I hear him inhale the air around us deeply. His lips pushing up on one side and I think I see confusion reflecting back at me.
Something in the manner he said it worries me. What else would I be?
Spontaneously my mind erupts into a song I have learned as a toddler. The gypsies who visits our valley used to sing it to me whenever I became more panicked than usual. Which is often, as life would have it. I have cultivated bravery out of necessity – accepting the inevitable nature of being me. Right now I am nervous too, a lethal combination.
“Then off to reap the corn and leave where I was born – Cut a stout blackthorn to banish ghosts – And goblin’ brand new pair of brogues to rattle o’er the bogs -And frighten all the dogs on the rocky road to Dublin’ ”
I squeeze my eyes tight, and bellow the song louder and louder until it fills the corners of my awareness. I’m not sure what this will achieve but maybe when I open them, he will be gone.
“One, two, three four, five- Hunt the hare and turn her down the rocky road -And all the way to Dublin’, whack-fol-la-de-da!”
“Stop that!” he barks at me and I watch as the song evaporate. His hands are digging into my shoulders and he shakes the last notes clear from conscious existence. His hands are big… and cold.
“Yes, and you will attract every predator for miles around!”
“P-Predator? What are they… looking for?” I stammer.
“I give you one guess?” he hiss and his eyes bore sharply into my humanity. More anxiety boils and bubbles up to the surface of my skin, and even if he didn’t tell me not to sing, I don’t think I could have continued anyway
“Get away!” and “Why are you still here?!” and “Listen to him dearie, he has not hurt you…yet” again I don’t acknowledge the permanent campers in my head.
He stands up with an apprehensive expression on his face at the exact moment the howling starts in the distance. Howling is not a new sound to me at all, but it is much closer than usual. Instinctively I cast my eyes to the night sky, looking for the moon. I know I am too old to believe in the childhood stories of werewolves, but I am here with a person who apparently can read my thoughts and think I will be hunted.
“Come” he grunts at me then turns away.
“No” I tenaciously whispers to his back.
The moment I hear myself speak I regret the decision. My mother tells me constantly to weigh my options before surrendering to my stubborn streak. Evidently I failed to heed said advice and recall it too late.
The big, tense man stops in his tracks not turning around to face me. Hand rubbing over the back of his neck followed by a little stretch gives me the distinct sense it is me causing the ache he may be feeling. I’ve seen my brother do the same thing calling me a pain in the neck.
“Suite yourself.” He shrugs his shoulders. “You may actually be left alone as you’re too skinny to make a proper meal anyway.”
“How rude.” And hurtful, I add in my mind. I look up to verify again the cycle of the moon. Second quarter. Fantastic! Bad things always happen during a full moon. You can read any story and see it is true. You don’t hear about a fair maiden turning into a meal during a waning moon!
“Fair maiden?” he snorts humorously.
I choose to ignore him and concentrates on getting back on my feet. The ground is uneven and I have been sitting in the same position for far too long. Needles and pins creeping up to my ankles and into my calves, further up my thighs numbing my legs. Before my brain could register what is happening with my body, I take a big step towards him and land flat-out in a sprawl at his feet. I feel the blush pushing into my face at approximately the same time as half the earth rips through the skin on my palms and the other half repeats the process on my knees. The gash from my knee towards my shin angrily spits blood back at the rocks in protest.
“Gods!” he growls at me furiously through clenched teeth and tight jaw “Let’s give them blood too, it will help your case a lot!”
Before I could say another word he is standing by my side. A big hand grips below my palm, lifting me from the ground. Kicking out to find something solid to connect with I find nothing. Gulping down mouths full of air the size of tennis balls which gets stuck in my lungs while I try to control the anxiety blistering though the fiber of my being.
“I am fine-”
“And slow.” He answers while passing me from one hand to the other. My arm and shoulder aching under the tension of suspending my entire body from it.
“You are so rude!” I now shout at him fuming.
“Go on” the sarcasm drips into my mood resembling hot wax “bleed some more and let’s make more noise. Ought to get you the attention you seem to so desperately want” he taunts me.
I swallow down any rebuttal I could have as the heated fury give way to a sickening feeling because of the speed we’re moving at. The realm is whizzing past me imitating a bicycle ride. The landscape around me looks like someone’s vindictively smeared all the colors in one direction on an oil painting; dark shadows sweeping up the olive and auburn colors. Either he is exceptionally tall, or supernaturally fast. My heart races along with his strides, scarcely keeping up and I search for anything to help me find my way back home.
“Both. I can take you home later.” he says and I snarl in response.
“-Rude. Yes you said that already. If you don’t have anything of value to contribute I implore you to sing your song again. It is half entertaining.”
I snap my mouth closed and resolve not to speak to him again. I want to go home.
“And where is home?” he asks in the velvet covered tone.
“Valley-“I start and then remembers too late I wasn’t going to talk to him. The snicker slinking down from just above my head grating at my mood.
“I’ll get you back there.”
“Mind reader hey?” and “Particularly strong” and “Now dearie, don’t sulk, it is so unbecoming and he is ever so handsome!” It is easy to ignore the voices sneaking in their opinions. The thing about these voices is in the habit they have to unnerve me and appear at random. I hear what they say yet I’m always superbly careful not to acknowledge them. They seem to be more persistent on taking front stage if I do.
The grip against my wrist tightens and my body pulled into him a little closer, almost protective. I find it oddly unsettling to think he’d want to protect me, yet the sum of his attitude and mannerism suggests dangling me towards a playful puppy in a game of fetch is a lot more appealing.
Blood is rushing back into my arm as I am re-connected with the earth without warning. I spill onto the ground with equal force to an unexpected mudslide. Soundless I rub my wrist and arm in an effort to stimulate circulation back into it. Tears stinging behind my eyes at the unbearable ache in my wrist. It feels as if the bones were crushed and the sweltering bruises forming like bangles reminds me of the times I accidentally singe my arm on the hot oven racks while cooking. Stubbornly refusing to speak I hold back the tears threatening to brim. I maneuver awkwardly into a position which would aid me in standing up without having to use my hands.
“Oh…” his head whips around into my direction. He pushes me back onto the soft, dry covers.
“I’m sorry” he whispers, his voice soothing again, rich and creamy. “I’ve hurt you. I’m sorry. Let me have a look. No, no please, don’t pull away.”
If you had told me a moment ago this brute of a man would be so gentle, so precise and comforting in the way he touches me, I’d have told you about the possibility of having lost a few brain cells to a beer bottle. His trembling cold hands smoothly covers my left wrist. He looks so sad and remorseful so I offer a weak smile.
“I’ve had worse, it doesn’t hurt so much” Part of this is unquestionably true. I am the clumsiest of all our family. Just waking up is a stumble in itself. I terrify the other kids on sport days, though they are all excessively polite about it. The connection between my brain and body is malfunctioning or delayed. My mother often comments how the exact opposite is true about my brain to mouth functionality. I look at the hand-print-bangle and try not to think about how much it hurts.
The big handsome human shape shakes his head in my direction and sigh. His movements mesmerizes me.
“You’re a terrible liar.” Taking my hand for inspection, he concludes “There’s no infection. I’ll clean and cover those too.” he points to my knees “It should heal without scars.”
It is my turn to shake my head at him.
“You are an atrocious liar too. The slash on my knee is going to leave a whopper, along with the various others I already have on display in the general area.” I am surprised to be able to finish my sentence and not have him interrupt me or cut me short. Getting up he throws a warning look at me.
“Please don’t stand on my bed again. Your feet is rather dirty”
He rolls his eyes and moves away from me.
“Yes, my bed. I harbor no intention to be inappropriate with you at all.”
“Yes, not even throw me for the wolves.” I grumble under my breath. This seems to tickle him and I see his shoulders shaking while pouring warm water into a bowl before returning.
“Nope, nor dangle you for a game of fetch, no. Hold still please.”
His hands moves fast, making me contemplate whether or not he is touching my skin at all. His movements are slight and calculated and under my watchful eye I don’t miss the bandage virtually wrapping itself around each knee, appearing almost eager to be there. I look down at him, his hair so unruly and his skin so pale. I reach out to touch his arm with my hand, to slow him down. I don’t get near it. Without shifting he moves his arm out of my way and eventually gets up. Silently I look on while he burns the bloodied swabs and pour the water down the drain followed by bleach and hot water.
“I have to make my way home. It is… dinnertime with my family. Don’t leave here please. You are safe but I cannot say the same if you should. There is food in the fridge, help yourself. I will escort you home afterwards.”
My hand rubs over the cover and I nod. I stare at him as he makes his way towards the door thinking that there must be a fairytale somewhere to warn you about handsome giants with gentle touches. Before leaving, he turns with a dazzling smile.
“This brute’s name is Liam.”
The tears breaks through and streaks across my face in a race to my chin. I am tired and hurting and hungry! How long past dinnertime is it? Mother and the others are going to be furious at me. Nothing new for me, to be precise, but I do not try to purposefully annoy them. I am so incompetent next to them, which is what lead to me running away today. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt, least of all my brother. Realizing I’m falling down the stairs, it was too late to warn anyone. All the food was spoiled and preparations had to start over. He was right, I am a clumsy idiot. It’s not like I don’t know this. I did try. It is our mother’s birthday after all and I ruined it.
I curl myself around the pillows on the cover and sobs into them wretchedly, remember Jarrod’s words in pain and anger.
“Just because you’re nothing special you can’t keep spoiling everything.”
Maybe they won’t miss me. Things surely went better after I left and perhaps…. Perhaps I could just stay here and not get underfoot.
I close my eyes drifting off into sleep.
** Dreams that are nightmares that are dream inside nightmares**
“Don’t let go, please, I will do better!” I am begging to an invisible hand painfully dangling me by my wrist.
“Don’t let me fall, I beg you!”
The darkness around me is pressing against my chest comparable to a heavy weight. It threatens to crush my ribs.
The hand is relaxing around on wrist and I scream louder, more desperate. “Please! No! Don’t let go!”
My feet kick out around me, I twist my body in several directions looking for something solid to support my body.
“Clumsy Idiot” I catch the snarling voice inside my mind. The darkness pushing harder at every opportunity, my breathing labored.
“I know, I know, I’m sorry! I will do better! Please don’t drop me?” I cry and beg louder. There’s a smell of cake and custard filling my nostrils making me want to throw up.
“P-Please, don’t let me fall. “
I force my eyes to see past the tears and darkness; the family is here.
Laughing at me, pointing at me.
The grip of the invisible person tightens again.
It hurts, it hurts so much however it is also my saving grace right now.
“I don’t want you” I hear it say in a soft velvety voice, and it lets go.
I scream as I plummet down into the darkness smelling of cake and custard.
I hold my breath avoiding the smell of my guilt, my shame.
“I’m SORRY!” I scream, “I’m SORRRRY!!”
I hear my own words echo back to me, nobody is listening, nobody cares.
The darkness is mocking me with silence and the air is being pushed out of my lungs.
I hear nothing anymore.
I see nothing anymore. I just feel the raw vacant hole where my heart is meant to be.
It takes a few seconds to realize I am awake. My hand bundling the dress over my aching chest letting go as awareness seeps back into existence and my breathing stabilize. I gather the rawness of the screaming claw marks in my throat.
My eyes fly open and is met disturbingly close by a pair of worried golden orbs staring back at me.
“Are you ok?” he asks me concerned. “You … I… are you alright?” He repeats.
All I can do is stare. It is hard to think with him so close and evidently he is rather worried. I turn my face to get away from his haunted look, but not before I witness the intensely sad curl around his lips. This man is morbidly breathtaking.
“I am f-“
“Don’t say it. Don’t say you’re fine. Don’t lie to me.” His stony fingers grabs my chin and force my face back to his.
I blink my eyes closed. I can’t bear to look at his face right now. He is beautiful and caring and miserable. Sad. I have just met this man a short while ago and already he is being hurt by my ignorance.
“No” he whispers. “Not by you. Please look at me. Open your eyes. Please” Stubbornly I keep them closed, my heart beating a thundering tune rolling over a desert plain.
“You know you cannot hide from me in your mind my little Rockflower. You might as well face me.” He openly jest.
“Yes. I think it suites you, don’t you?” he whispers near my ear. “Colorful, fragile looking, alluring smell and tough as nails.”
“Fair point” and “Well Made” and “Oh, I do believe he fancies you dearie” the voices intrudes. I open my eyes in order to exile them to the obscurity at the back of my mind.
The angle of his head bent down to me, the tension in his body, the way his eyes searches the room, the way his shoulder is half sheltering me from all things dangerous beyond him, and his slow breath … I lose my grip on any form of decency and control I tried to display. I wrap my arms around him and even as he stiffens under my touch, and I feel the unnatural coldness of his body, there is no stopping me. I cling to him as if he is the last floating debris of a sunken ship on a rough ocean; the sobs breaks through my whole being.
“I didn’t m-mean to upset a-anyone, or h-hurt anyone. I am s-sorry I am such a pain in the n-neck, and nothing special a-and I ruined e-everything. Everything!” The coolness of his skin feels good against my tear-induced fever. Liam does not move or speak until I’ve emptied out the reservoir behind my eye sockets. Eventually he pries my fingers loose and pushes me away with tender determination.
“You should leave. Come.” I curl back against the pillows and shake my head.
He throws both his hands up in the air in exasperation, then stares at me with a razor sharp look.
“Rockflower, you have to go now. I can’t be held responsible for- Please, let me get you home now.” There is an undertone of stress control in his plea.
“But you came back here.”
“I live here.” He reminds me purposely.
“You said it was-“
“The threat of a hunt is terminated. We couldn’t… I was worried – Never mind, just get up please!” he sounds thoroughly annoyed.
This time I obey mutely. I pull my shoes closer with a frown trying hard to recall how they came off. Pulling at the leather I become acutely aware of the wrist pain. It shoots up my fore-arm along a vein, pretending to slice it wide open. I grind my teeth and coerce my focus on the task at hand. I fix my waist long red hair into a high pony and pull my jumper closed around my shoulders. It is not as snug as the cover I just gave up.
“Ready” I whispers into an empty room, and feel myself being scooped up into strong arms covered in cotton sleeves when I reach the door.
“You going to carr-? “
“Yes, unless you’ve became super-fast during your nap?” he is taunting me again.
I don’t argue. Instead I lean my head against his chest and imagine myself floating through time and space.
“Hmm, that’s what I thought.” is the final words I hear before I give myself over to my awake-dream. With the sweet smell on his shirt, it is not hard to relax.
We reach the clearing all too soon.
“Rockflower” he whispers inserting himself prominently into my awareness. “We’re here.”
Fleetingly I thought he’s brought me right to my family home. Bewildered I wonder what Momma would say.
“I could take you there” he whispers.
“N-No, this will do. I can find my own way.” I stammer again not wanting to inconvenience him any further nor have him around amid being scrubbed down by Mother for this latest transgression.
“It won’t be an inconvenience, I … enjoy carrying you this way. And your Mother won’t be a problem.”
The sound of his voice stirs deep in my heart and I shuffle myself around trying to get down. He puts me down and I start walking away from him fast. Being so close to him is doing bizarre things to my heartbeat and for some reason it messes up my coordination more than usual. His hand closes firmly over my wrist as fast as I started, preventing me from tripping over my own feet but also pulling me into his body uninhabited. The moon is steeling away the shadows from his face, leaving patches of light all around us; robbing me from breath in the process too. The trees are swaying in their synchronized motion giving me an excuse for the abrupt unsteadiness overpowering me. Why is it so hard to concentrate around this man?
He lifts my wrist to his mouth and trace his cool, marble smooth lips over the bruises. Slowly he moves my arm upwards to rest my hand on his shoulder. Sliding his fingertips light as a feather down my arm and back over my shoulder, around to my back leaving a trail of bumps as the lone evidence of his touch. Pulling me in tighter, immobilizing my movements. It is unnatural just how strong he is. How fast he is. How easily he moves his body identical to liquid pouring itself around the world. It is abnormal for me not to feel his heart beat while mine is doing an African type stomp. It is unusual for me to feel comfortable, so utterly safe and unwilling to leave him. I seriously don’t want to leave him.
His free arm circles around and wraps itself in my hair pulling my head back as far as it would go, exposing my neck. I hear a wolf howl far off in the distance then feel his mouth on my collarbone dulling all but one of my senses, his touch is a contrast to my heated skin. My soul is soaring and the kiss over the pulsing hollow is delicate. A throaty rumbling growl mash up against my skin.
“Why do I fight to protect you?” raw power in his voice “And want destroy you all the same…?”
His arm tightens around my waist more, vaguely making me wonder if he’s trying to force a reaction out of me. The words I want to speak sticks in my throat, unwilling to hitch a ride on the air leaving my body recklessly. My heart sprint crazily, no rhythm to be found. He laughs in complete abandonment, obviously enjoying the spontaneous answer my body provides through an orchestra of rushing blood, beating heart and ragged breaths. His laughter turns into a deep, guttural sigh against my neck.
Rocky road… Rocky road…. It’s not working, where’s my road to Dublin!
Renewed intensity burn through the wrist.
Out of nowhere, a trance consumes me. I overhear my own thoughts, I detect the darkness creeping towards me, and the cool air brush over my body while I struggle against him to get free. I am trembling and don’t know if it is the cold or the adrenaline rush causing it.
“Please stop -I won’t let you fall, I won’t hurt you.” A deep voice beseech me.
I am falling into an abyss of soft bed-covering and tear-stained pillows, and I stop fighting.