So I’m not entirely thrilled with this chapter but it’s a first draft. Important clues were dropped. Draven was scary and also sort of nice. Well, as nice as he can manage.
Anyway, the normal warnigns about typos and things changing applies. I feel in my gut that this chapter it’s going to get some love in editing.
Scroll down for a Draven bookmark giveaway.
A bang woke Charlotte.
She sat upright in the bed, blanket clutched to her chest. Sleep had been uneasy. The new bed and being surrounded by new sounds had made it difficult to clear her mind. Draven’s accusation that she lied to him and the way he seized her by throat kept replaying in her head.
She longed for the familiar comfort of Miles and Luis’s soft snoring, the crackle of the campfire, and the snuffling noises of the horses.
The howl of the wind drowned out all other noises and followed her into her dreams.
Charlotte rubbed her throat. The vampire hadn’t squeezed hard enough to leave a bruise, but she could still feel his grip on her. Despite being utterly terrified at that moment, nothing happened. Draven snarled and flashed his fangs. Charlotte thought for certain that she was about to become a meal. Instead, he released her and stepped away. He warned her once again about the forbidden lower levels and left her confused and panicky.
The fact that she had been able to sleep at all was a testament to her exhaustion. Once she was alone in her room, all her energy vanished. Her limbs felt too heavy to move, but her mind would not still. Eventually, she drifted off to a fitful sleep.
Charlotte sat still, listening. Had she dreamed the noise? Had Draven come to threaten her again?
Another bang, like fists pounding on a door. Voices rose in the corridor.
She reached for her spectacles on the bedside table, knocking over a glass of water. The glass hit the floor, shattering.
“Blast it,” Charlotte muttered, fumbling in the dark to light a candle.
She picked up all the broken fragments she could find in the flickering light. A jagged piece sliced her thumb. Hissing in pain, she wrapped the hem of her nightdress around her thumb. She needed a bandage, but this would do until the bleeding stopped.
Voices in the corridor got louder.
Charlotte grabbed her robe and padded across the cold bedroom floor to the sitting room. The air was bracing. The fire had long since died.
The corridor wasn’t much better.
“What’s going on?” she asked, drawing the robe tighter around her.
Electric lights flickered down the corridor, creating dim pockets of light.
Stringer strode towards her. “Are you hurt?”
She looked down. Blood smeared across her nightshift. “I cut my thumb on some broken glass. I need a clean bandage and antiseptic if you have it.”
“I’ll send up supplies. For now, return to your room.”
“Something’s happened,” she said.
“It is nothing to concern yourself with. The situation is under control.” He held out his arms like he was attempting to block her view.
A roar echoed down the stone corridor.
Charlotte felt it rattle in her soul. It was the sound of deep pain. Worse, it was familiar. She heard it on her wedding day, right before her new husband tried to tear her throat out. But there couldn’t be another beast here. Draven specifically said they felt uncomfortable in another monster’s territory. The only beast anywhere in proximity was Miles and he left hours ago…
She watched her friends exit the courtyard, back to the Black Gate, which was an elaborate trap.
What if Miles never left? Yes, that was the only explanation.
“Miles? Miles!” She tried to push past Stringer, but the man grabbed her by the shoulders.
“That is not your friend.”
“He’s hurt. What are you doing to him?”
Stringer steered her back to her room. “The only one hurt is you. Lord Draven will have my head if anything else happens to you, so please stay in your room, for your safety.”
Voices rose in alarm, shouting orders. There was a thump, like metal striking a body, and another roar.
“It is Miles. Why is he being held? Draven said he could leave,” she said, trying to shake off his grip.
“I’m sorry. I don’t have time to answer your questions. Just… please stay out of the way,” Stringer said. He paused, his hand on the door. “Do not open this door, no matter what you hear.”
The door closed, followed by the unmistakable sound of a lock turning.
All the warmth drained from Charlotte’s body. She grabbed the handle and tugged fruitlessly. “Unlock this door.”
“This is for your own safety,” came the muffled reply.
Well, that wasn’t ominous and alarming.
The scent clouded his mind. His fangs descended, thirsty and aching to bite. He needed to focus on containing the chaos caused by the escaped prisoner, but that alluring scent drove him straight to Charlotte’s door. He had behaved appallingly, wanted to frighten her, and now she was injured.
“Sir, the normal sedatives are not working.” Stringer trotted up to his side.
Draven yanked his hand away. He had responsibilities. The prisoner first. Then his bride.
He did what was required. It did not take long. That was all the thought he would give the matter.
He knocked before unlocking the door and stepping inside.
A fire crackled in the grate, casting a warm glow to the woman sitting in a nearby chair. She wore a silk robe, a delicate pink that caught the orange of the firelight.
“Is this how you treat guests? Lock them away?” Charlotte asked, her tone angry. She had been so calm and collected during their dinner, even as he tried to frighten her. Now fury heightened the color in her cheeks and brightened her eyes. He wouldn’t apologize for finding that attractive.
His gaze honed in on her throat. Was it bruised and discolored? Sore? That he should apologize for.
Charlotte raised a hand to her neck, as if to guard herself from him. With her hand raised, he could see the strip of cloth that had been crudely wrapped around her thumb.
Silence stretched out between them, filled with the crackling of the fire.
“You’re injured,” he finally said, his voice distorted from his descending fangs.
“I broke a glass. It’s stopped bleeding.”
Yes. The aroma of the dried blood under the crude bandage tantalized him.
“It must be cleaned properly. Remain seated,” he said.
There was a first aid kit in the bathroom. Inside, he discovered that several of the supplies were missing. Used and never replaced? Or stolen? With a critical gaze, he inspected the room. He tested the taps, pleased to discover that the hot water was hot. His instructions were to keep the guest suite fully outfitted, but people could be greedy creatures. Of course, he should never ascribe to greed what could be simple laziness. Why restock the first aid kit if no one used the room? Who would know?
An escaped beast and missing supplies. His house was in disarray.
When he returned, Charlotte had tucked her feet under herself in the chair. He knelt at her feet, angling himself so as not to block the warmth of the fire.
With the kit opened, he gestured for her hand.
She thrust it out, turning her head to avoid looking.
He unwrapped her thumb. The cut was an angry red.
“I did not take you for the squeamish type,” he said.
“I’m not,” she replied instantly. “It hurts worse if I look at it.”
“There is some science to that,” he said, gently cleaning the area with a damp cloth. “There are a couple of factors at play. If you are observing an injury, you have likely stimulated the surrounding nerves by moving. Observing the injury can also activate pain receptors in the brain. The hands also have a high number of nerve endings, compounding the problem.”
She remained silent, watching as he applied a salve.
“I do not believe the wound will require stitches,” he said.
“You don’t have some relic from Old Earth that can fuse my flesh back together?”
“No,” he said, his tone harsher than he intended. “That device has not worked in a century. Even when it was operational, I would not trust it. Too much could go wrong, and then you would be without a thumb.”
She paled; her eyes wide. To her credit, she did not snatch her hand from his grip and scramble away. She remained calm, watching as he applied a clean bandage.
He found himself reluctant to let go of her hand. The skin was soft and warm. He brushed his thumb over her wrist. Her pulse fluttered. The skin was delicate there, so easy to puncture and…
“Thank you,” she said, pulling away to cradle her hand against her chest. “What happened out there tonight?”
“Do not worry yourself. The situation is under control.”
She took a deep breath and released it slowly. “Why was my door locked?”
“For your safety.” Draven rose to his feet. He towered over her.
Charlotte lifted her chin, as if refusing to be intimidated. “Am I to be treated like a prisoner, locked in my room every night?”
“You were bleeding, and you filled the corridor with the scent of your red, warm blood.”
“That was not my intention. There were shouts in the corridor.”
“All the more reason to be confined to your room,” he snapped. He took a moment to center himself. “Whether you meant it or not, you invited every hungry monster to find you.” The irresistible aroma lured him in, after all. “So, yes, you will be locked in your room for your own safety because you don’t seem to have any sense of self preservation. Good night, Miss Wodehouse. I hope you have more sense in the morning.”
Because we’re all beign patient, let’s reward ourselves with some goodies! I have a VERY limited number of Draven bookmarks to giveaway. Like 50.
This is strictly first come, first served. Please fill out the form with your name and address. Ships international.
Featuring the art of Ruslana Shybinska. It’ll look something like this.
And I’d love to hear your thoughts on this chapter. Leave them in the comments.
One thought on “Blackthorn Chapter 6”
Oooh, what a chapter. Enough to keep you wondering who is being kept in the dungeons and speculate. Also a desir to keep reading because I want more!