The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Is lust in action; and till action, lust

Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,

Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;

Enjoy'd no sooner but despised straight;

Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,

Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,

On purpose laid to make the taker mad:

Mad in pursuit, and in possession so;

Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;

A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;

Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

All this the world well knows; yet none knows well

To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

William Shakespeare - Sonnet #129

Pocelaine and glass littered the floor of my room tonight. For the past 20 minutes, I'd been lobbing everything I could find at my door and the walls. Not that it helped me, of course. Ryan had come storming in after the first smashing to yell at me, so I'd thrown the heavy wooden ship from the mantel above my fireplace at his head. It had become my target of choice when dealing with Ryan, my ultimate goal was to split it open, but I'd had no luck with that so far. His skull was amazingly thick. He'd left furious and threatening me, but I ignored it. After all, what could he really do to me now?

The destruction was almost therapeutic. The sights and sounds of broken things had stopped me from going completely crazy. The door opened as I threw my last plate. The one these bastards had placed a dead rat upon when I'd told Ryan I was hungry. Unfortunately it was Daniel who stepped into my room, frowning in irritation. My rage could not be quelled now, so I continued my tantrum.

"What are you doing?" he asked, closing the door behind him.

"Exactly what it looks like," I snapped back and picked up the crystal ashtray from the top of the dresser.

"Destroying Colette's room?" he asked, easily ducking out of the way of the ashtray when it flew toward his head.

"For starters." I was quickly running out of things to throw that would explode or break in a satisfying way. Pillows just seemed like a waste of time. Perhaps I could set the bed on fire!

The vampire arched an eyebrow. "Any particular reason why?"

"Several actually," I gave him a terse smile and went back to looking for breakables.

"Mira," he sighed. "I am losing my patience."

"Good." I went to the bookshelf and grabbed one of the many dusty tomes, launching it at him. The bastard didn't even change his expression, simply shifted out of the way and turned back to me.

"Couldn't you find something less irritating to do?"

"Nope." I threw another huge book, smiling when it crashed against a boring portrait of a ship at sea, shattering the glass cover, and then grabbed another.

"I've been locked in this room forever," I spat, punctuating each point with a thrown book. "I don't know how long because you neglected to give me a clock." Another book and the vampire scowled.

"I'm starving." Another book. "I'm exhausted." Another. "And you cut off my fucking FINGER." As I said this, I swept the remaining books on the shelf to the floor and kicked the pile.

Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed again. "And you think this will motivate us to treat you better?"

"Nope," I grinned. "But it worked at pissing you off. That has to count for something."

That was when the vampire's expression went cold. His eyes narrowed on me, his lips thinning into a tight line and suddenly he was moving. I drew a breath to scream, but it was too late. The vampire had already slammed me back against the wall, knocking the air from my lungs. I gasped a moment, trying to make my lungs expand again, but the force and the fear that was quickly building in my gut made that difficult. Why did I always get myself into trouble? It was like my superpower.

"I see," he said, his lips curling into a smile that could have been attractive if not for all the hatred and sickness that swam behind it. He kept me pinned to the wall with his forearm across my shoulders, the other skimmed down between my breasts to spread out across my stomach. "So you think you can worm your way under my skin? Is that it?"

Daniel's fingers pressed down into my flesh so hard I cried out, but he covered my mouth with his palm and continued to push until the skin split inward beneath his fingers and they sunk into me, up to the first knuckle, into my stomach. The pain was blinding and so overwhelming that that I couldn't have screamed if I wanted to. Instead, I bit down into his hand until I tasted blood. Daniel didn't seem to notice or care.

"See, I think we've been pretty reasonable until now." He spoke softly. Far too calm for what he was doing, and his fingers pressed deeper. I could feel them inside of me, shifting things that shouldn't be moved, and tears blurred my vision to near blindness. He curled a finger around my lowermost rib, tearing through muscle and tissue to get to it, and gave it a soft tug.

"We've given you a nice room, haven't completely disfigured or crippled you." He flexed his fingers to tear more of the skin and smiled at my muffled sobbing and the weakness of my arms as I tried and failed miserably to push him away. "Ryan is apparently starving you, but I can see to that."

I tried to grab his wrist, to pull it out, but Daniel swatted away my hand leaving me free to scream. The sound was garbled however, by the blood that was working its way up my throat. He'd broken something! I was hemorrhaging!

"Stop!" I wailed frantically. "It hurts."

"Yes," he agreed. "That was my intention."

"Please Daniel!" I cried, knees going weak as nausea rolled through my stomach and threatened to make me hurl all over the angry vampire. Something told me that he wouldn't take it with grace.

"Don't make a nuisance of yourself, Mira."

"Yes! OK! Just stop."

"So you'll play nice?" he asked, wriggling his fingers beneath my skin and making my stomach lurch.

"Yes! Anything, just stop!"

"Anything?" he grinned, tilting his head at me as he slid his fingers out of my gut and brought them to his mouth to suck away the blood. "You would think a girl whose spent time with the Fae would know better than to make such promises."

"Why's that?" I asked breathily. My knees had given out, but Daniel kept me pinned to the wall. Such a gentleman this guy, I was free to agonize without fear of crumpling into a heap on the floor.

"Well I could ask you for something untoward, Mira. Anything brings many options I don't think you've fully considered."

"Don't you ever get tired of being a piece of shit?" All I knew was that I was hurting. That meant that good sense and politeness went directly out the window. This was one of my many faults. Daniel stared at me a moment before smiling and leaning toward me. With the wall at my back, I had nowhere to go to get away from him and the vampire brushed his lips across my ear, catching the lobe between his teeth.

"I think I've decided what I want, Mira."

"So that's a no then," I grunted, my body was rigid, perhaps if I didn't move at all he would stop touching me. So far it hadn't made a difference. When he chuckled I jerked my head away from him to glare.

"I will never sleep with you Daniel. You would have to kill me, and if you didn't, I would kill myself for having touched you."

There was a long moment of silence then, longer than I was comfortable with. Daniel wasn't smiling anymore; he'd pulled back to look at me, his expression something between stunned and furious. He knew I hated him, that was clear and even amusing to him. My blunt statement however seemed to have pricked his ego. There was a short moment of victory when I felt triumph for having gotten under his skin after all, but it was quickly chased away by fear when his eyes bled to black. Somehow the effect of the icy blue darkening to obsidian was more chilling than Isaac's change. Daniel looked demonic.

"You know Mira, I had started to hope you'd show a little spunk, you've been so pathetic thus far," he grabbed the back of my neck and hauled me away from the wall toward the bed. I didn't think he was after my blood and this thought terrified me, so I fought against him, for all the good it did.

"I was wrong," he said, casually, shoving me back so hard onto the bed that the air burst from my lungs and I couldn't get it back. "It's annoying."

I wheezed rolling onto my side, my arm lashing out and crashing against the picture of boring ships at sea above the bed. Glass showered down over us as Daniel settled above me. I watched the shimmering razors bounce right off his skin like he was made of marble. Nothing cut him while I was shielding my face and wincing at the burn of a dozen slices down my arms and head. The vampire swept an arm across the sheet beside us sending glass skidding off onto the floor. I rolled away, but was met with more glass to my left. Daniel grinned, leaning down over me and trapping me against the mattress with his arms on either side of me. I was huddled in a ball protecting myself in a fetal position I'm sure he found hilarious.

"Why are you so skittish kitten?" he asked softly and a jolt of cold shot down my spine at the pet name. He'd called me kitten before he cut off my finger. He was like Isaac in that he got calm or quiet before he was violent. The pet name was a sign that he was unhappy, that he wanted to hurt me, and that I needed to start praying that Cern still pounded away at the barrier outside to save me. I could not protect myself from Daniel, he made me feel powerless and terrified. I was more afraid of him than I had been of any other person in my life. I stared up at him with wide eyes, hands gripping tightly to my shoulders for protection.

And all he had to do was call me Kitten.

"What is it exactly that you think I'm going to do to you?" Daniel asked tilting his head to regard me with a curious smile. My eyes went to the glass scattered around me and he arched a brow. "You're afraid I'll cut you? You made this mess with your flailing, but I suppose…" he picked up one of the larger shards on the mattress and inspected it. One edge of it was jagged the other perfectly strait and sharp as a razor, the entire piece of glass was about five inches, thin enough to be utilized as a knife. He gave the shard an approving nod before sitting back on his knees and pushing my legs apart.

"What the FUCK?"I panicked immediately, jerking my body to the side to close my legs again and drawing my knees up against my chest. "Get the fuck away from me!"

"I don't think you really have a choice in the matter, darling. You can open your legs, or I can just start cutting. It's cliché but motivating regardless."

I shook my head and his wrist twitched. Just twitched, his fingers flexing for half a second, then suddenly pain was blossoming across the back of my thigh and blood flowed out of the wound in a startling stream. I yelped, jerking away only to have Daniel catch me, jerking at the feel of another gash, this one across my ribs. I yelped again, flailed again, and Daniel chuckled softly slashing me too fast for my eyes to follow. Tears began tumbling down my cheeks when he'd given me six decent gashes. I was pinned on my back and he'd managed to situate himself between my legs during my struggling, and when I realized this, what I could only describe as a fever rushed over me. Every inch of my body went hot, and it wasn't the pleasant heat that arousal brings. I was sweating, panting, and terror had clenched my chest so tight I could hardly breathe. I thrashed my legs, kicking him in the side and rolled trying to escape him. Growling furiously, the vampire grabbed me around the throat and slammed me back onto the mattress striking my head against the wall. The room swam into dim colors then, my body going limp. I prayed that I might pass out, at least then he couldn't hurt me anymore, but only a few short seconds later my eyes had cleared and Daniel was smiling down at me, his fangs sharp and curved wickedly like a snake. The black in his iris had taken over his eyes now, reflecting the light in shimmers that reminded me of a bug, like a spider. Another shudder raced through me and his grip around my throat tightened.

"You know Mira, I can be insulted. I'm not that withdrawn yet," he sneered gazing down at me like a lump of trash. "I want you to apologize."

"Go fuck yourself." I snarled, clawing at the hand he used to pin me. Daniel hissed, baring his fangs at me and shoved me into the mattress, cutting off my oxygen. When I began to struggle frantically beneath him, his grinned and leaned down to speak softly against my cheek.

"No, kitten, I'll fuck you." He pulled back to brush his lips across mine when I went rigid. He'd pressed the length of his body against me, and with my legs on either side of his waist, his slender hips fit between them easily. He wasn't hard, that at least was a blessing, but the feeling of him against me in such an intimate pose made bile rise in my throat and I gagged.

Laughing, Daniel released my throat enough to let me suck down air. His mouth was on my clavicle, lapping up the blood there. When I managed to speak, my voice was rough with tears, but full of rage.

"I swear to god Daniel, I will rip it the hell off and feed it to you."

He laughed, "Vivid imagery, but I'm afraid you won't get the chance." I jumped when the tip of his glass shard slid up my inner thigh, nicking me along the way. "I'll be using this to penetrate you. Won't that be exciting?"

Words were beyond me at this news. I drew my body up and away from him as far as I could, kicking wildly against the bed to give myself leverage while the vampire laughed as if we were playing.

"All that struggling is going to make this something to remember, kitten. I'd suggest settling down."

He had to choke me again to quiet my sudden screaming, and even then I continued to thrash my body like I'd been set on fire. I kicked and punched and clawed at the vampire, avoiding the shard to the best of my ability and he continued to laugh and avoid my blows with an eerie swiftness that put me more on edge, if that was even possible at this point.

"No!" that was the only word I knew, that word was my life and I screamed it over and over again while Daniel struggled to subdue me again. This time it wasn't so easy. My panic was giving him problems. He cursed softly when I'd slipped from his arm again and lurched forward. My shoulders were pinned to the wall behind me and Daniel sat up on his knees, using them to keep my legs apart. He snatched up my wrist into one hand bending them back until I shrieked and arched up to release the pressure, then his other hand was between us and I felt the startling shock of glass slicing against my mons and my scream became a single petrified animal sound of horror.

Several things happened in the next few seconds. My body went rigid, fear surpassing evn my survival instinct and trapping me beneath him like a statue. Our eyes met, mine wide and terrified and his glistening maliciously. Daniel smiled raising his hand back to ram me with the shard of glass and I closed my eyes, letting out a strangled cry.

But nothing happened.

The bed shifted and Daniel's weight rocketed off to the side with a loud crash. When I opened my eyes he was on the floor and Sanura was above him, wrestling the glass shard from his hand. His smile was gone now and he snarled at her as she bashed his hand against the floor to make him drop his weapon. The vampire's eyes were black with rage and she hissed savagely down at him when the shard went skidding off across the floor.

"Bastard!" she cried, swinging with all her might and cracking her fist across Daniel's jaw. It turned his head and he let out a laugh, so she did it again. Another cackle and she kept hitting him, but he kept laughing. It wasn't until she had lost her steam, fury tempered by his insanity, that he got the upper hand. Moving so quickly their bodies were only blurs of color Daniel rolled over on top of Sanura, pinning her down.

"My god, you're stuck on her too?" he laughed. "Oh, darling, that's precious! Have you found another surrogate child to make up for that dusty womb of yours?" Daniel leaned down over her, brushing the hair back from her forehead and stroking his thumb across her lips.

"You remember my promise don't you? I will never let you have children again, kitten, your own or otherwise. That's why I made you weak." He smiled up at me then ignoring my silence and trembling. "Has she ever told you that, Mira? She can't even sire another of our kind, her blood is too thin, too weak to foster the life of another." His smile softened to something hateful as he turned it down on Sanura. "I made sure of it."

"Leave her alone." I snarled at him, surprised that I managed to say anything at all with the lump in my throat. It was taking everything I had in me not to start bawling right now, from fear and hatred of this disgusting creature. This heatless and monstrous beast. The vampire laughed at me, but stood, straightening in a single fluid movement that put me on edge, he moved like a snake, boneless but perfectly in control.

"Now what are we going to do about this Sanura?" he asked her, watching me as she picked herself up off the floor. "You know I keep my promises."

"Colette needs you in downstairs." She said softly.

"Don't change the subject, kitten."

"They're preparing," she insisted. "They need you to handle Lidia. She's being…difficult."

Daniel sighed heavily, eyes cutting to her in annoyance, but thankfully he nodded. "I suppose we can table this issue for now then." He traced to her side and his fingers tangled in her curls, making her green eyes darken in anger. "But we will deal with this Sanura."

Daniel turned back to me, sweeping me with a scathing look before he disappeared from the room and we were left in silence. Sanura released a held breath she didn't need and her eyes moved to me, still rigid on the bed and pressed to the headboard. She took in the gashes, the blood staining my sheets and her face fell in sorrow.

"Oh bambina, I'm so sorry." She was at my side so quickly in made me jump and the tension in me only made her heart break more, I could see it plainly on her face. When had Sanura begun to care for me like this?

I didn't quite know how to react when her arms snaked around me, but my body was on another wavelength. I shifted to accommodate her, resting my head against her shoulder and curling into her arms like a child seeking comfort from her mother. She soothed me with soft murmurs as the tears that had been lodged in my throat finally broke free and my body shuddered with my sobs. I cried into her shoulder like a child, clutched at her like a child, I might have been embarrassed by this in any other situation but now I couldn't care less. I was terrified of the moment that would bring Daniel back to my room. When I saw him next would he continue with the torture Sanura had just interrupted? How far was he allowed to go? Did it even matter? Daniel showed no regard for Colette's authority unless it suited him to do so. Would he cross the line and hurt me beyond repair? My finger was one thing, raping me was an entirely different can of worms but both were preferable to what he had just attempted.

My stomach lurched and I gagged. Sanura hushed me, stroking my hair and rocking me. I realized she was singing, but I didn't recognize the language. It was rough, Russian perhaps, but beautiful in its own right. I let the soft melody fill my head, let it become my only focus. Only the song, only her comforting embrace.

"He's coming back." I whispered, starring down at the bright red smears across my sheets. "I don't know if I can handle that. I'm not strong Sanura, I realize that now. I think he wanted me to. I'm nothing like any of you, I'm a coward and I'm weak. You can't let him come back, please Sanura."

She closed her eyes a moment and sighed softly, shaking her head. "I can't stop him, my love. I could only enter your room because Colette demanded it. He's ordered me to stay away from you, Mira. I'm sorry but I can't disobey him. It's impossible."

My voice broke then and I let my face fall against her breasts, tears plopping down between them. "Please don't leave me alone with him again. Please?"

"I'm so sorry, kitten." She murmured, but I sat up straight to stare at her wide-eyed.

"Don't call me kitten." Then at the hurt in her expression I softened, shifting back down to cuddle against her, finding comfort in the strength of her body. Thin blood or not, she was stronger than I could ever be. "He calls me kitten."

"I'm sorry, my love." She murmured, kissing my temple and resting her head gently against mine. "I'm so sorry."

We sat like that a long while, her rocking me and singing her Russian lullaby softly against my hair. It helped more than I would have thought possible. The words were sweet and soft and maternal, safe and comforting. I let my eyes drift closed and simply listened, let her hold me, and realized that this is what I'd needed all along. I just needed the comfort, to be held and protected. To be loved.

With the thought of love, my heart began to ache. My mind wandered to patchwork eyes, bright and dazzling, a smile so wicked it would make the devil blush. Were they still hurting him downstairs in the large stone chambers? Was he alive?

"I want to see Isaac."

Sanura pulled back to look at me in concern. "You can't, Mira. He's a prisoner. Colette would never allow it. Daniel would be furious."

"Fuck Daniel." I spat, but my grip on her tightened in the moment I said it, as if she might protect me from him hearing this slander. "I might die very soon. I can't stop him if he decides to kill me, but I can see Isaac before it happens." She looked less than convinced, so I rushed on. "Just once, right now while they're all busy. I just need to see him, I have to know if he's ok. Please Sanura."

She closed her eyes and grit her teeth but I could see that the argument was won. She would take me to him. When her eyes snapped back open, then were black, a sign that her anxiety was swiftly building. She stood from the bed and took my hand pulling me up into her arms.

"Hold your breath, Mira, I don't want to hurt you."

"What do you-" and then the world blended into a single steam of color around me and my stomach shot down into my toes and then up into my neck. The human body was not meant to move so quickly and for a long moment I couldn't stand straight without Sanura's help. She'd brought me to a great wooden door that looked far too rough to be part of Colette's petite, girlish manor. I took a deep breath, attempting to steady my nerve, but found it impossible and gave up. My nerves were already raw and stretched thin tonight, I had no control over them anymore, and so I simply opened the door.

"Isaac?" My voice reverberated back to me in an annoying, anxious whine. I winced at the fear in it and stepped into the darkness. I'd hoped to present myself with at least a little strength, but that was now out the window. There was a soft sound, a breath being drawn in against a smile, and the sound of shifting metal.

"Hello lover."

I spun in the direction of his voice and raced forward, but skidded to a stop before I could throw myself onto him.

"Isaac?" I said softly, drawing into myself.

My relief that he was alive was short-lived when I saw his condition. There was a leather collar around his neck with a ring of thick steel in the back, chaining him to the wall like a dog. Thicker chains secured the manacles around his bloody wrists to the stone he was propped back against, but thay had been altered. The shackles were fitted with a barb of steel that jutted into his wrists, cutting deeper into the flesh with each movement. He'd managed to keep his dark jeans, though they were dirty and torn across the knees. Colette had never replaced the shirt I'd stolen from him and he was still bare-chested, now a riddle of wounds. A gash ran the length of his sternum, down to the bone, curving abruptly right into his abs. The skin down his neck and across his right shoulder down to his pectoral was blackened and oozing red, burns I realized in horror. He even had a scoring of four angry red lines down his chest where Colette had raked him with her nails. Bruises on his jaw, a gash in his hair line with a caked line of blood trailing his face, more claw marks across his left eye, everywhere I looked there were more wounds and worse yet, none of them looked as if they were getting any better.

"Why aren't you healing?" I asked, falling to my knees beside him. When I sat there, clutching my arms to my chest to keep from grabbing him, he sighed and reached out around my shoulders to tuck me in against him. I went stiff at first, feeling him wince at the contact but couldn't help melting against him after a moment. His skin was cold, startlingly so, and I tried to keep my hair and throat from his face, though he'd be able to smell me anyway. It was all a lost cause.

Isaac drew in a deep breath from my hair, nuzzling his face into the dark tangles with a smile far too cheery for the situation. "You're ok." He said and his patchwork eyes were shimmering in the dim light in relief. "I couldn't stop imagining that bastard hurting you and I heard you screaming." He eyes closed and pulled me closer heedless of his injuries. "So much screaming, Mira. I didn't know what to think." When his eyes popped back open he was smiling again and he seemed so happy, as if we were home again simply talking in his house, not prisoners, not tortured for the amusement of monsters. "But look at you, a few cuts here and there, but other than that you're perfectly fine."

His smile made me guilty, the relief in it made my heart ache. All I wanted was to throw myself on him in tears, to profess what Daniel had done to me, the things he threatened to do soon. I wanted Isaac's comfort, his protection, and here he was bolted to stone like a decoration. I was selfish, and he didn't need me to ruin what might be the only thing making him remotely ok at the moment. The fingers of my right hand closed tighter and I shifted to keep it out of sight. He obviously didn't know about my recent amputation.

"Why are you so…ok?" I asked finally to his laugh.

"Would you rather I be something else? I can tell you about how great it feels to have you pushing my rib into my lung right now."

"What?!" I jumped back, trying to get off of him, but Isaac laughed again and pulled me back, trapping me against his side.

"Settle down," he said gently, kissing me softly. "I want to touch you. I need you to show me that you're ok."


"Shut up." He grinned, tracing my bottom lip with his thumb. "Humor me. It's the least you could do while we're here."

I had no response for that, and so huffing I settled against him, doing my best to put as little weight against him as possible, hoping that I didn't cause him too much pain.

"You shouldn't have brought her here, Nura." Isaac said, his voice was gentle, but sudden. I had all but forgotten she was here at the sight of him. The vampire nodded her head solemnly. "He'll hurt you for it when he finds out, and you know he'll do that too."

"Fuck Daniel." She replied simply and her green eyes moved to me. I returned her smile at my repeated words and tucked my head against Isaac's shoulder. He might have been cold from hunger, but he was solid and real and despite his condition I felt safer now than I had since arriving.

Isaac sighed. "Don't give him an excuse."

Sanura cocked an eyebrow and crossed her arms, moving back to the door to listen. "Shut up and don't waste my sacrifice then."

I poked Isaac gently and felt horrible when he winced, eyes snapping to me, bright and intense. He might be playing healthy for me, but the truth was, he was broken and in agony and I couldn't do shit to help him.

"Why aren't you healing?" I repeated my earlier question, and this time he rolled his eyes and answered.

"Whatever that asshole did to me is still happening. I was fine when I ate, but without it everything works slowly."

"Cern?" I asked clenching my fingers against his side. He frowned at the contact and glanced down, but I kept my hand angled away from him, hidden by his side.

"As I said, that fuckface who broke me."

"Damnit Cernunnos," I hissed, glancing up as if he might hear it. I wondered if he was still beating against the barrier. Was I worth the effort to him? Would he eventually cut his losses and give up?

"I'm sorry," I said finally, knowing this was all my fault. Without me, Cern wouldn't have attacked him, or taken away his regenerative abilities. Colette wouldn't have turned him into a giant bloody bruise. Sanura wouldn't have been forced to endure the torments of a monster she had escaped long ago. Everything that was happening, all of the pain, it was all because of me. Because I existed, because Colette thought she could get something from me.

"Don't apologize," Isaac smiled, but I could see the strain behind it. He was trying not to scare me and let me see how badly he was really hurt. I was probably killing him right now with my weight against his ribs and leg. "I'm more concerned about you."

"I'm fine." I said curling my fingers tighter into a fist beside him. He was redirecting, trying to distract me from his pain, but the motion caught his attention and suddenly he was entirely interested in me.

"Why are you hiding your hand?" he asked, glancing down at it again and then locking our eyes. He could read me like a book, but I did my best to keep it together. He was too hurt to worry about me and I didn't want him doing anything stupid.

"I'm not."

"You've been hiding it since you came in here Mira. What's wrong?" His voice was flat.

"It's a little bruised," I said, sounding calm enough, "The bastard tried to break it I think, but Ryan interrupted."

"She's lying," Sanura said suddenly, reminding me that she was still in the room again. She made a soft sound of pain and shook her head when he looked at her. "I couldn't stop him. I'm so sorry."

Isaac's eyes narrowed on me, the color washing away beneath endless, furious black, and he shifted to grab my wrist.

"She's over-reacting, I'm fine." I insisted but he wrenched my arm up and pried open my fingers, at least he began to until he felt the change in them and went suddenly very still. Isaac made a soft exhale of shock and horror, his eyes locked on my absent finger then moved to my face where I was fighting with everything I had not to cry, and damnit I was losing now that he knew. He didn't seem to know how to react, until finally he grabbed me behind the neck and pulled me back against him.

The most colorful and imaginative insults I'd ever heard poured from his mouth for a few minutes, growing louder and more furious as he went, until he was grabbing my chin and lifting me up into a kiss.

"I'm sorry," he groaned against my mouth, kissing me to comfort me, to apologize, because he didn't know what else to do. "I'll kill him. I swear it. I'll rip him to pieces."

"Don't," I said, pushing him back to look into his eyes, to let him see how much that frightened me. "Keep yourself safe, you idiot. Don't pick a fight with him for me. I'm not worth it. You should hate me for what I've put you through already."

The room was silent for a long time, before very suddenly he popped me across the cheek. My head turned with the blow, more from shock then anything, it hadn't really hurt. My eyes were wide when I looked back at him and he was furious.

"If you say that again, I'll fucking deck you, do you understand?"

"Ok." I muttered, still shocked. His face softened a bit, but the irritation was still shining in his oily gaze as he grabbed the front of my shirt, pulling me close to speak directly to me.

"You are utterly worth it, you little shit, so don't you dare blame yourself for this. This is my fault. I fucked up. I was stupid to think I could keep you a secret when we'd given them Lidia. She isn't as feeble as she pretends to be, she told them everything." He sighed and released my shirt, leaning his head back against the stone wall behind him. "She told them what really happened in the woods, that you woke up the forest god. Colette wants his power, Mira, and she thinks she can get it through you. She knows that the god's blood is in you."

"She can't drain me to get his power," I said, panicking a moment, but he shook his head. Sanura spoke, however, before he could.

"The little bitch told her that you're connected. She's going to use you to call him into a trap."

"How? You can't trap a god, can you?"

"Lidia seems to think you can," Isaac muttered scornfully. "She gave her a nifty little recipe for it before Daniel scooped her up and claimed her for himself."

"Hopefully he'll cut off more than her fingers." I spat, and the vampire sighed. "Damnit, she told us it was going to happen."

"What are you talking about?" Isaac frowned.

"Don't you remember all that crazy talk about the moon?" I scowled. "The moon sitting on a throne, jealous of the sun, or something like that. Cern is the sun, Colette wants his power. She told us there would be a ritual. Blood and symbols and songs, that's what she said they needed. I saw Ryan's blood on one of those symbols on the floor and it sucked it right up, like a weird glowing vacuum."

"Can we not say the B-word, my stomach's killing me." Isaac sighed and closed his eyes, resting back against the wall. I took a moment to memorize all his wounds, every bruise and gash and burn that I was going to demand from Cernnunos if I lived through this. Whether he did it to Colette, Daniel or himself, I didn't care, but someone had to pay.

Maybe Daniel could die just because.

I looked down at the floor a minute to find a sharp surface, settling on the bent edge of a metal ring bolted into the floor. Gritting my teeth I sliced my wrist, reopening the gash that had only just stopped bleeding, on the steel and held it up to him.

"What the fuck are you doing?" he snapped, grabbing my wrist and pressing against the gash to stem the bleeding.

"You need it."

"I'll survive, Mira. You need to keep yourself as strong as you can manage."

"Damnit Isaac," I snapped back, "All I do is get it spilled out of me, might as well put some of it to use."

"Mira." He frowned, refusing. From the door Sanura cleared her throat in irritation.

"Just do it. We all know you need it."

I grinned, "Two against one, buddy. Open up."

Isaac glared between us a moment, but to my great relief he leaned forward and closed his mouth over the wound. At the taste of the blood, his fangs snapped down, tearing into my wrist, his tongue catching what tried to drip away. He wasn't trying to be rough, and I did my best to sit there quietly, but his hunger stole away his control. He jerked his head once, ripping the skin further and I let out a sharp sound, inhaling quickly. His black eyes snapped open again, locking on me as he gripped my arm, holding me tightly in place and drawing at my vein. He didn't have the strength to numb me completely, but the gash tingled were he tongued it.

He held my eyes as he drank, and for some reason and blush rose on my cheeks. His expression was impossibly sexual, startling. How could he even have the energy for it? I drew in a shaky breath when he was finished, watching his black eyes as he nipped his lip and kissed the wound across my wrist. The skin tingled furiously, and the flesh began to knit itself back together, closing the wound.

"Better?" I asked breathily and he gave a silent nod. He didn't release my wrist, but pulled me suddenly across his lap. I cried out in shock and tried to scramble off until my hands fell on his chest and the blackened, burned skin across his chest and shoulder seemed to change. No, it wasn't changing, it was healing, slowly, and not all of it, but the ruined area was shrinking beneath my fingers. He took my hand and placed it against his ribs, letting me feel the raised flesh that covered a broken bone. I grimaced at the feel and he suddenly pushed against my hand. The bone cracked loudly, but popped back into place and Isaac let out a groan. He shuddered beneath me, but he was smiling again now and his black eyes no longer looked hungry. Instead they rose to me and I felt my blush deepen.

"You know Mira, I've just realized that you're wearing my shirt."

"It's all I have." I replied softly.

"That wasn't a complaint, merely an observation of your nudity."

"You can't seriously be coming onto me right now." I said and Sanura made a soft noise in the back of her throat, perhaps in agreement.

Isaac shrugged, lifting my chin to brush his lips across mine. "Why not? We could all die tonight for all I know. I say we make the most of it."

"You're chained to a wall."

"So the roles are a little reversed, we can work with it."

I couldn't help my laugh, but deep down wondered if he wasn't doing this to distract me from our situation. It was working. "I've never been chained to a wall Isaac."

"Well not yet you haven't," he grinned, tilting his head. "But the night is young."

"Perhaps not as young as you think."

The voice stole our humor, it stole the very air from the room. For a moment I couldn't bring myself to look, because that would mean he was really there. Why couldn't he have given us ten more minutes? Just ten, that's all I wanted, not Daniel, not the horror he brought with him.

Sanura hadn't been agreeing with me it turned out, she'd been trying to tell us that Daniel was in the room, moving quiet as a church mouse and now held her tightly against his chest, a hand covering her mouth. Her eyes were black with fury and fear as she stared at us, struggling against Daniel thought he seemed to pay her as much mind as a fly.

"I'm disappointed in you Isaac," he said then, shaking his head. "Here you are wasting time to get inside the pretty toy when you could have been escaping. All of you. You realize of course now you are still prisoners and I will be forced to reprimand you." He chuckled, "And by you I mean Mira. Punishing her will affect everyone in this room. Did you see her new hand? I can't wait to start on the rest of her."

A strange deep growl rose in Isaac's chest, rumbling out beneath me and I clutched him tighter, not knowing what else to do. Daniel ignored this and instead turned his attention back on the vampire in his arms.

"I'll deal with you later, Sanura," Daniel spoke into her ear, squeezing her throat so tightly she gagged. "Go back to your room and stay there. Get everything ready for when I come for you. You know the toys I like best. " She nodded, eyes downcast but Daniel stopped her, grabbing the back of her neck and wrenching her head up so he could stare into her eyes. If his lack of her pet name hadn't denoted his anger, that certainly did. "That's an order, do you understand? Go to your room and don't come out."

Sanura's eyes went unfocused a moment, her jaw hanging open just enough that I heard her sharp intake of breath. She looked frozen, and then her face went blank and she nodded again, stiffly and turned on her heel. She was gone in my next blink, forced away by her Sire's power over her. Daniel let out a heavy sigh, running a hand through his dark bronze hair, and his black eyes snapped to me. My stomach dipped to the floor like I'd gone over the first hill of a rollercoaster and I unintentionally stepped back. He jumped at the sign of weakness, lunging toward me faster than I could anticipate. I screamed, but by the time I'd opened my mouth, he already had his fist tangled in my hair and was dragging me toward the door.

"Isaac!" I screamed reaching for the vampire who looked like he was trying to rip off his own arms to get to me. Every breath brought us further apart however and once he'd tossed me out of the cell, Daniel kicked the door shut behind him with a resounding slam. I drew into myself against the wall, wanting to be as small as possible, willing my body to evaporate like Cern's clothes. It was obvious by now that he wasn't coming to save me. Either the god had cut his losses or that bitch Lidia had given them the real deal with this barrier. Sanura was being mind-fucked into submission and Isaac probably couldn't have helped me even if he was free with all his injuries. I was alone, and this was not something I was used to. Alone was dangerous, alone meant I had to protect myself, but how could I? What could I possibly do that would protect me?

You could die, a tiny voice at the back of my head whispered. I wasn't as disturbed by that as the moment or so after when I actually considered it.

"You know you're in trouble, don't you?" I pulled myself from my heavy thoughts to look at him through my wild, dark hair. The vampire stood against the opposite wall, arms crossed over his chest, face devoid of his usual mocking humor. I drew a shaky breath and nodded slowly.

"Tell me then Mira, what should I do to you?"

"Nothing," my voice was soft and reedy, verging on a sob, but I was fighting back my tears. I'd cried too much today. He didn't deserve anymore of my tears.

"Nothing?" he mused. "I'm afraid that's too lax for this offense."

I groaned, furious with his bullshit and tired of his games. "I didn't do anything wrong! I didn't even try to run away! I just needed to see him."

Daniel smiled then, and it was the nasty, malicious smile he so often wore before he hurt me. "You needed him? Aren't you precious?" He shot forward suddenly, grabbing my arm and dragging me down the hall. His pace was almost too fast for me to keep up, I stumbled and fell into him many times, but he'd only jerk me back to my feet and push on. We came to the end of the hall and I sucked down a breath dreading what would come once we reached my room, but suddenly we were going left. I didn't recognize this hallway, and could only stumble after him, the panic in my gut building steadily. After a few minutes of walking, Daniel led us into a dining room, and grabbing both my arms he shoved me into it and shut the door behind him.

I looked around a moment, holding myself while he moved to the long mahogany table. It was fully set, a plate and utensils decoratively placed at each chair, as if at any moment they expected a dinner party. Did Colette even use this room? And why the hell would he take me in here in the first place? I jumped when Daniel snapped his fingers, pointing at the chair beside him.


I didn't bother with pride or obstinance now, not while his eyes were obsidian pits and locked so tightly on me. I did just as he instructed and moved to the carved wooden dining chair, letting him pull it out for me and keeping my eyes on his black dress shoes.

"Good girl," he said softly, brushing his hand across the top of my head as he moved behind me. Scowling I turned to follow, but he grabbed my shoulders and forced me straight in the chair again. "Sit still."

"What are you doing?"

"Thinking," he replied. Cool fingers slid over my shoulders, tightening until I made a soft sound of discomfort. "Deciding whether or not to punish you the way I intended to earlier," he brushed his lips against my temple, "before we were interrupted."

I sucked in a breath of fear at the threat and shot out of the chair. Daniel easily forced me back down though and I began to shake my head, trying to turn back to look at him, but he wouldn't let me.

"No, Daniel. Don't do that, please." I turned again and he chuckled, reaching around me to clasp my chin and face me forward.

"Begging only makes me want to do it more, darling." He grinned, breathing in the scent from my hair. "You have the sweetest little voice when you're frightened. You aren't like Sanura, so convinced that death is the most pain one can endure. She's so boring now. She taunts me, but you, well you're too afraid of me to do much of anything. It's flattering really. Though I have to wonder what my boy sees in you. Does he enjoy having a spineless child scampering around underfoot? From what I hear, you cause nothing but problems. I can't imagine he wants you for anything but what's between your legs."

Anger bubbled up in my chest and I kicked back my head, catching Daniel in the chin hard enough to make his teeth snap together loudly. He stumbled back a step with a soft curse as I launched myself from my chair and grabbed the first thing I could. The porcelain plate was heavier than I expected, but the extra weight made for a satisfying crash when I broke it across Daniel's face. The one beneath it shattered against his right shoulder, the last and largest plate snapped in half against his jaw and shattered when it hit the ground. I spun to grab for more, but suddenly the world was moving around me in a blur of color and my stomach rose up in my throat. I yelped as I was slammed down into my chair, rocking back on two legs until Daniel grabbed the back and pulled it down again.

"I told you to sit still," he hissed and something glimmered silver to my right. Fire burst to life in my hand and it wasn't until I stared down at it in shock that I understood why. One of the decorative silver knives from my place setting was jutting out of the back of my hand, stuck firmly into the wood and nailing my hand to the chair's arm. I sucked in a breath to scream, and it was rushed out by the second knife that stabbed down through my left hand and into the arm of my chair. I shrieked like a woman on fire, deep, gut wrenching screams that filled the room and echoed back around as if mocking me. I thrashed in the chair for a while, screaming when the struggle only tore at my impaled hands. Daniel was busy in the chair in front of me, pulling tiny bits of porcelain from his face. Each puncture was open long enough to release a tiny drip of blood before the wounds closed, but he didn't seem to care that I hadn't done permanent damage. His eyes were still black and he was watching me with an expression I couldn't read.

"Take them out!" I cried frantically, "Take them out now! Daniel you have to-" He slapped me to shut me up, and it worked superbly. My head snapped to the side, my voice cut off by shock, and I blinked a few times, dazed.

"You actually surprised me there," he said and he sounded surprised. His expression melted from its frightening blankness into…was that admiration? He wasn't just surprised by my lashing out. He was pleased by it. Excited.

"You have a little fight after all," he grinned leaning forward in his chair and grabbing the arms of mine. He dragged me in front of his seat and I grit my teeth as the jerking of the wood disturbed the blades in my hands. "I like that, Mira. And here I thought you'd just roll over and play pathetic until the ceremony. Maybe you're not worthless after all."

I jerked back in my seat when he leaned closer. "Come on, do it again. Show me your Grr face."

"Fuck off," I spat, then yelped when he smacked me again, the crack of flesh on flesh reverberating in the dining room.

Daniel rolled his eyes. "Don't be boring, Mira. You know what I meant."

"No," I shouted back, spitting blood at his shoes. He arched a brow but didn't seem bothered. "I'm not going to do this with you, do you understand? If you're going to kill me, you may as well get it over with because I'm not going to make it fun for you, you sick piece of shit. I will put every last bit of my strength into being a lifeless, silent ragdoll for you. You won't get anything else from me."

Daniel leaned back in his chair, tilting his head and narrowing his eyes, his smile turned dangerous. "Challenge accepted."

I saw him launching toward me and I couldn't help myself, I screamed, turning my head away and instinctively lifted everything I had to attack with. My hands lit up with agony, the shock tearing up my arms, but my feet connected with his stomach. The vampire grunted, but didn't go anywhere; he simply grabbed my knees and wrenched them open to step between them.

"There you go!" he grinned, "Fight back, kitten, it's more fun that way." I grit my teeth, growling as I tried to knee him, but he trapped my legs against my body by leaning into me. His voice dropped an octave and became softly mocking. "Now what are you going to do?"

I was naked and he was pressing himself against me again. My stomach rolled, my head turning down and away from the sight of him. Tiny comfort, not nearly enough to matter. Not seeing him didn't mean I couldn't feel him touching me. He was in dark, expensive jeans today and the fabric was rough against my skin, too rough to ignore, and he was moving now, rubbing against me. The disgusting fuck was dry humping me!

I let out an animal cry, but this one wasn't of fear or defeat, it was of rage. I rocked my head forward and landed skull crack number two, right into his nose. The flesh gave beneath my head and I heard the crunch of cartilage breaking. Blood spilled down his face and he jerked back, unfortunately his other hand shot out to tighten like a vice around my neck. I gagged, choking, eyes bulging, and he spat blood onto the floor.

"Bitch!" I was afraid until he started laughing, cracking his nose back into place and working it gingerly. "I have to stop doing that. You have a hard head, we could put you in a circus."

I garbled out my response, but it was little more than choking and wheezes, so Daniel pulled me closer, straining my hands against the blades to make me whimper. "What was that?" he asked, loosening his hold on my throat.

"Don't put your hands in the cage," I rasped.

"Cute." He said, then with a heavy sigh he released me and sat back in his own chair. "Fine Mira, I'll play nice. It's just such an easy rise to get from you, it's hard to resist. You are practically naked, and despite what you might think of me, I am a man." He gave a wry smile. "Even I have sex."

"I know you do," I hissed back. "With unwilling, prepubescent girls, so you can get off on their crying."

"Are you trying to offend me?"

"I wouldn't know how to offend you Daniel."

"Fair enough," he shrugged. "Next question, why do you think I want to kill you? I have no use for your corpse, before you make a crack about necrophilia too."

I shivered at the thought, feeling almost dirty beneath his heavy gaze. "You only seem to want to hurt me, I thought you said death was painful."

"It is, but a torment unique to all others, one I could not enjoy with you, reserved for those who are damned," he smiled. "And you are damned, darling. You sold your soul to a green eyed devil." At this he chuckled wistfully and stretched out in his chair, his leg brushing mine. I flinched at the contact, but he ignored it.

"Lidia speaks to me of the ancient creature with forests of acid in his eyes." He glanced down at me, "She has a certain playful way with words, doesn't she." I felt myself tensing when his gaze became harder, his cold eyes floating over my face before locking with mine. "You have beautiful eyes, Mira. Have I told you that? Blue in certain lights, but they are really the most wonderful grey."He leaned forward suddenly and his thumb stroked across my cheek.

"You have such sad eyes. I can see you, Mira, poor little lost girl, so bitter over your losses." He smiled thoughtfully and tilted up my chin to inspect them further. "I think I shall take them when Colette is done with you."


"Actually, I don't think you'll need to see much of anything for the ceremony. Perhaps Colette won't miss them." His grip on my chin tightened and his smile grew. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him grab the soup spoon resting with the remainder of my place setting. He inspected it a moment then clicked his tongue, tapping it on the table.

"Sit still, this won't take long."

"What? Fuck no I-" He smacked me with the heavy spoon and frowned.

"Mira, if you aren't still I could do unnecessary damage. The shock might even kill you."

"Get away from me!"


The bellow silenced us both and froze Daniel in his place above me, spoon positioned to rip into my orbital cavity like he was balling a mellow. We both turned to the dining room door where a small, thin young girl stood in a suit that was far too serious for her apparent age. Her wispy, blond hair was braided down her back and she wore dark eyeliner today to make her cornflower blue eyes blaze from her soft, pale face. She should have been beautiful and innocent, but the expression she wore spoke only of danger and fury.

"Lottie, darling!" Daniel smiled pulling away from me and tossing the spoon back on the table. I sucked in a deep relieved breath and felt my body go limp in the chair. Thank you, bitch queen.

"What is going on in here Daniel? I can hear this thing wailing clear across the manor. You were supposed to be assisting with the preparations and instead you sneak off like a schoolboy skipping lessons to play with my link."

"Oh, Lottie," Daniel sighed, plopping back down into his chair so he could tease me with prods and pinches that I couldn't escape from. "Don't get your panties in a twist. We're just playing, aren't we kitten?"

Colette glared at him a long moment, but didn't react to his insulting tone more than that. Instead she moved to the chair at the head of the table. Moments later, without needing to be called, a shadow hurried through the door and placed a glass of wine in front of her, kneeling down beside her chair like a dog. She reached out absently to stroke his hair then leaned back in her chair to observe us.

"Didn't you call the other one kitten? I get confused, you've had so many pets."

"Sanura was a waste, just like I knew she was before Isaac took such a shine to her. She disappointed me, but he just had to keep her around." He smiled at me running his fingers up my thigh to make me squirm. "This is my new kitten. Soft, innocent, defenseless, just a tiny little spark that gives her the drive to be entertaining," he laughed sitting back finally and leaving me alone. "I think I might even be attracted to her."

Colette arched a thinly sculpted brow and I dropped my jaw in horror and disgust. "That's new for you. Don't tell me you're going to start crying for her release like Isaac. I don't have time to deal with another drawn into whatever it is she has. She's a siren in a pretty dress…no dress. Why isn't she wearing clothes?"

"Jesus Lottie, I'm not going to steal her away from you before you can do your little ritual. She isn't that enthralling. I'm not even sure I'll claim her after." He gave me a wink and smiled at the queen he could somehow mistreat without repercussion. "I don't suppose you want her?"


"That was rhetorical," he interrupted, ignoring her darkening eyes. "You don't get the power and the plaything, Lottie, I will take her if it comes down to that."

"If it comes down to it, you will try."

Daniel laughed, looking to me and motioning to Colette. "Isn't it cute? She thinks that she intimidates me, but I think we both know the truth."

"Daniel, I am your Queen." Colette finally snapped, slamming a fist down onto the shadow beside her. He howled in pain, crumpling to the floor, but both vampires were ignoring him. "Regardless of how you feel for me, you will show me the proper respect. There is an authority even you must follow."

He rolled his eyes and lifted a hand to his head in a half-assed salute. "Oh great and powerful majesty, please forgive me. I tremble at the thought of what you might do to me should I displease you."

Colette exhaled sharply through her nose and closed her eyes a moment. She snapped them open again and they were clear and blue, but tired. "Just go, Daniel. I am not in the mood for this."

"Was it the powerful part? I thought that bit was a little overdone, myself."

"Get. Out."

He grinned and jumped to his feet, leaning over to grab both my wrists and began to pull. I tense, letting out a startled cry when I realized he intended to rip my hands off the chair.

"No." Colette's voice was hard and final. "You will leave her here. You can play with your other toy now. She's getting on my nerves. She calls me the invertebrate queen."

He paused a moment, starring at her, and shifted as if to pull anyway, but after a moment of silence and the heavy stares between them, he stood straight and grit his teeth.

"I'm sure Lidia misses me already, needy little thing." He said softly. "I'll just go see how she's doing, shall I?"

Colette gave him a tight smile and watched him storm from the room.

"Why are you wearing only Isaac's shirt?" It took me a moment to realize she was talking to me and I couldn't form a sentence. The queen stared at me intently, unwavering as I stammered. "Answer me."

"This is what I came in," I squeaked. "Daniel hasn't given me anything else."

"Of course he hasn't," she sighed. "Men. What about this mess?"

"What mess?" I asked tentatively and regretted it when she sneered, throwing her hand toward the shattered plates and blood on her carpet. "I…I broke them on Daniel."

There was a long moment of silence and then to my astonishment, the queen smiled, leaning back in her chair to look me over. "Did you now?"

I jumped when she stood, but managed to keep my yelling in check as she traced around the table to stand in front of me. This was my first time to be under the full scrutiny of the vampire queen, and I had no idea how Daniel did it. With those piercing eyes of hers, and the look on her face, an expression that made her seem far older than her body, her age was in her eyes. She was intimidating to say the least. Her tiny hands shot out, wrapping around the handles of the knives, but before I could tell her to stop she'd ripped them out and tossed them on the table. I grit my teeth to stay quiet and cradled my hands to my chest.

"Are you hungry?" she was already moving back to her chair and sitting down. The shadow on the floor was pushing himself up again now and she murmured a quick command to him. Moving at a labored pace, he hurried from the room to comply. I wasn't given the chance to reply before he'd returned with a rolling cart. The cart was topped with covered dishes and glasses. He quickly brushed away the remaining bits of porcelain from the table and set one in front of me, taking the cover away with an unnecessary flourish. I might have even commented on this if the scent of meat hadn't drifted up to me and reminded me that I hadn't eaten in what could very well be days. My mouth began to water instantly as I watched the shadow pour me a glass of wine and one of iced water. He replaced my silverware last and Colette cleared her throat, motioning that I should eat. I grabbed at one of the forks, struggling to hold it with my ruined hand, and stabbed the plate but there was a slam on the table when Colette smacked her palm down on it.

"Were you born in a barn? Where are your manners, girl? That is the salad fork."

I jumped at her tone but nodded quickly, looking down at all the stupid cutlery in front of me. What the hell was the point of them all? Which one was the right one? The shadow nudged me gently, keeping his eyes down on the carpet. He tapped the edge of the table beneath one of the center forks. Tentatively I lifted it and Colette sat back in her chair, snapping her fingers. The shadow hurried to serve her, while I tore into the plate of steak and potatoes and some strange sweet salad I didn't recognize, but couldn't have found more delicious.

The queen said nothing while I ate. Instead she watched me, sipping at a glass of wine and smiling to herself. When I had finished the plate, and that wasn't long at all, she cleared her throat and the shadow hurried to dispose of it.

"I did not put you under Daniel's control to torture you." The queen's voice was soft, but strong, which seemed to be the basis of her being. A cherub mask, filled with frigid iron. Her cornflower blue eyes snapped up to me as she sat back in her chair, swirling the wine in her glass absently. "Isaac's distraction was not terribly surprising. He is a passionate boy, he follows his instincts, even to his end it seems, and with your little…ability," she spoke the word distastefully, "he has become blinded. I have accepted that he is lost to me, and from that I can move on. I have spent too many years on Isaac."

"Ok." I said softly, not knowing how else to respond.

"Daniel, however is an entirely different case. He is my enforcer, my strength. Six hundred years of loyal and unfaltering service, and it ends with you."

I swallowed, deciding to stear the conversation away from things that might put me in danger. "Daniel is 600 years old?"

Colette laughed, shaking her head. "No child, he has been under the rule of our authority for that time. It was centuries before we had convinced him to join us. Daniel has never been one for community, but without it he has survived. An anomaly if ever there was one."

"How do I distract him?" I asked finally with a heavy sigh. "I've done nothing."

"On the contrary, you've taken the full attention of his favorite toy, and by extension the love of Sanura, his pretty little pet."

"Why the hell does that matter? I'm human, I will die and be forgotten and he will have eternity to chase them down."

Colette smiled, tilting her head to regard me with an expression I couldn't read. "Very true, but while you live you…irritate him."

"And here I thought he liked me."

"You thought that he showed his affection through mutilation?" she shook her head. "It is not just Isaac and the other one. You're ability itself infuriates him. There are no practical uses to you, no way in which we can utilize your gift. You simply exist as temptation. You are the apple in the garden of Eden. Pandora's cursed box. At least, that is what I believed."

"And now?"

She shrugged. "You are an interesting human, but I do not see any reason to keep you. What would that gain me besides the dependence on your blood? Daniel is convinced that you are simply uncooked. He believes that if given the right enhancements, you could become a great asset. I think he is just pissed that he can't get into your head."

"Isaac's tried, it doesn't work."

"Daniel's ability far outreaches Isaac's. It is his gift, his power. All vampires are gifted with the inherent ability to affect the thoughts of those lesser than them. We can influence them, push them, but Daniel surpasses petty mind tricks. He can mold the thoughts, create them, and his ability is not restricted to human kind. Did you think he disregards my authority through sheer pride? Why did you think that he was given a position so high in our ranks without the years it would take to earn it? He is feared as a great power, Mira, and over the years, he has found strength that we cannot explain." She grinned.

"And then came you. A simple girl, spineless and weak, who stumbled into everything she's been given. Daniel saw you as a waste of his time, he only agreed to deal with you if I gave him the psychic. He saw you as a bug, and then he tried to slip into your head and could not even open the door." Colette laughed to herself, finishing her wine. "Do you know what that did to him? Daniel is known and feared for his talent, he can intimidate even those who came centuries before him and then a stupid human girl falls into his lap and his ability becomes useless. He hurts you now because it is the only thing he can do to you and that infuriates him. I will admit, seeing him cowed is something I have waited for."

"Is that why you're being so nice to me?"

The queen smiled again. "One of the reasons, yes."

"And the other?"

"In your time with Daniel, has he told you why you are here?"

"No, but," I cleared my throat to make my voice stronger. "I've heard rumors. Lidia told you about Cern, and-"

"Cern?" Colette laughed. "You have given a pet name to a god?"

"I…I guess."

She shook her head. "I don't know why it surprises me. You're reputation is just as perplexing."

"I've heard that one."

Colette nodded and snapped her fingers. The shadow from before burst into the room to refill her wine glass and was gone just as quickly.

"You are here, because you can provide me power. Your connection to the god, through you're shared blood is a link that can allow me the upper hand, if you will."

"Why do you need power? You're already a queen."

She smiled to herself, starring into her wine glass like it was a crystal ball. "That might have been enough before, but the world is changing, Mira. Amhlaoibh's death has created unrest. The balance of our power is shifting and I fear that without change I will lose what I have worked so hard to gain. My enforcers do not respect me, my own subjects think that I am nothing. I will not wait for my kin to tear me from my throne, I will be ready for them. I will secure my position and ensure that it is never questioned again. Perhaps I might even make a few changes with my new power."


Her eyes shot to me and narrowed a moment, but she responded all the same. Perhaps she didn't think I would live long enough to betray her confidence.

"The seeing girl has told us many things. Secrets that Amhlaoibh and his progeny had selfishly kept to themselves. Old magic is the only thing that will effect a god."

At this I couldn't help my smile. "Old magic?" I laughed. "This might be more complicated than you think then, your majesty. I am not affected by old magic."

Colette didn't falter, she simply smiled. "Cernnunos is. The barrier around my manor was a test. Even now he tries to breach the walls but cannot step inside. The truth is, that you do not need to be effected by the ritual. Through your shared blood, we will draw him here, cage him, and I will have my power."

"It won't work." I insisted, but Colette ignored me.

"I have enjoyed our talk, Mira, but there are still preparations to be made. You may go back to your room now. I would suggest taking this time to rest, while you are still able." She grinned, snapping her fingers to call the shadow back in to be my guide. "Before Daniel has free time again."

The shadow grabbed my arm then and lifted me from the chair, leading me to the door. I wanted to say something, anything, just to have the last word, but my mind was blank. I had nothing.

Nothing but fear.

Well, this was a bit of a bitch to finish. First the notebook and then deciding what I wanted told and what to keep for later, UGH! Anywho, it took for friggin ever, but it's finally up, so I hope you enjoy it.

Let me know what you all think!

SIDENOTE - this is just a random bit that got worked out of the conversation because it really had no place there, so I'm just gunna put it here for shits and giggles. Don't really have any significance, but it made me giggle.

"Do you watch TV Mira? Of course you do, just like every other person in your generation. Television was neat for about a decade and then it just became another excuse to stay inside and waste your life away. Don't even get me started on the internet." Daniel shook his head with a sneer. "TV fostered this uprising of pathetic, what is it, nerds? Grown men who purposefully live in their parent's basements and fantasize about over sexualized cartoon characters rather than going out and finding a real woman."

"I see you feel strongly about this." I said, spitting blood on the floor. Daniel's eyes snapped back into focus and cut to me, narrowing at my mockery.

"Well they disgust me, Mira. These fully grown men and women are living in fantasy, oblivious of the life around them. It is wasteful, ungrateful. They are given so much, so many opportunities, and they squander them for space captains and green princesses."

"I'm sorry that Star Trek was so popular. I wasn't around then."

"Well, it's a good thing too." Daniel smiled, patting my shoulder and squeezing the ravaged bite mark he'd just given me. I winced, clenching my teeth together and tried my damndest not to make a sound. "I once ate an entire conference room full of Trekkies," he sneered the word, squeezing me harder, making my jaw cramp from the pressure I was putting it under. I thought of Isaac, knowing he would want me to deny Daniel the satisfaction of my screams. I had to try, but part of me feared that making the vampire angry would only result in worse treatment.

"They make me uncomfortable. I await the outgrowing of this particular fad. Perhaps the fall of television entirely."

"Television is the shit." I said defensively, trying to rile him, maybe get his fingers out of the muscles in my shoulder. That would be a great start. "Thank you very much. Cinema in general is an art form. Granted one that's been a little watered down over the years, but we still get the occasional gem."

Daniel raked me with a disapproving scowl and stepped back, releasing my shoulder and I sighed in relief, hoping it hadn't been loud enough to tip him off. He didn't seem to notice.

"I had hope for you Mira," he said, "Perhaps too much."

"Oh please, Mr. Melodrama. IT's just TV. Some people abuse it just like everything else. Get over it. You have better things to do." I paused, titling my head. "Well…horrible things, for you."