AN: I can't tell you how excited I am to be working on the sequel already! Thank's to everyone who read Arranged, which is the first story. If you haven't read it yet, this story stands alone, so don't be too worried. Anyway, my fingers have been on fire lately, so expect some good drama!
Adrenaline coursed through Kiara's veins with such intensity her hands shook on their own accord. She held her breath and prayed that she would not be found. This idea had been foolish…and dangerous; she could see that now, now that it was too late, now that she had been spotted.
By breaking a simple rule, she had placed herself and those she loved dearly in very real danger.
With that thought, Kiara smashed herself into the dirty brick wall, trying to make herself smaller, willing herself to become one with the shadows. She could feel the harsh brick biting into her back, but pressed even harder. Her eyes flit to the dark night sky and she thanked the heavens for the cloud cover that allowed her to disappear into the darkness. If not for that, the moon would be showing like a spotlight.
Her heart leapt with fear, someone was coming. Is it him? She wondered. How could he have found me so quickly? She was a fast runner, very fast. However, he had one thing on his side, she didn't know the city; she was completely out of her element surrounded by buildings and brick.
The footsteps drew closer then she heard another set of much lighter, quicker footsteps join the first. Kiara eyed the mouth of the alley with dread, wishing the wall of the building would open up and swallow her whole.
The muscles in her legs quivered, urging her to run, but she knew that movement would draw attention. Her safest play was to remain still.
She pulled in a deep breath to calm herself and immediately regretted it. The alleyway was filthy and smelt strongly of rotting garbage and human waste. Trying desperately to concentrate over the pounding of her heart in her ears, she listened.
There was no way the man would be able to find her in the shadows. Her dark skin was designed for camouflage. Her mind continued to try to reassure her, when she saw a muzzle come into view. She stopped breathing, hoping they would move on by.
Attached to the muzzle was a furry face. Kiara remembered being told a story about the creature from her mother when she was much younger. It was called a…dog?
The dog continued walking into view, being controlled by a leash; a man held the leash. Kiara eyed the pair wearily. This was not the man to have spotted her the first time. Despite her circumstances, she relaxed slightly.
Then the dog lifted its nose into the air and sniffed. Tension made Kiara stiff. Would he smell her over the filth of the alley? In her mind, she urged him onward, biting her lip.
The animal paused, its master grunting with annoyance as he tugged at the leash.
At that moment, the dog turned its face toward the dark alleyway and began growling.
Kiara's throat went dry as she watched its hackles stand on end. Perhaps if she remained still she would not be discovered.
The dog lowered itself slightly, growling louder and pulling back its lips to reveal sharp, white teeth. It took a few quick steps forward, straining against its leash and barking loudly. The sound echoed through the alley, resounding to sound a hundred times louder than it was.
"Who's down there?" the owner called out. Kiara could hear the nervous quiver under the loud show of bravado; the man was nervous.
Never the less, he was human and Kiara couldn't chance being seen by another. Finally, she gave into the tension coiled in her muscles and turned to run the opposite direction. The dog barked angrily, obviously not understanding what she was.
Kiara clung to the shadows and ran as fast as she dared. The human began to tug at the leash. "C-come on boy," he said.
She kept one eye on them and the other searched the dead end for a door or anything she could use to defend herself.
Her eyes skimmed across the dirt-coated ground. There was a large container with bags of smelly garbage overflowing out of it; a few bags were split open, garbage littering the ground and filling the air with another layer of stench. The trash bin was hardly tall enough to help her scale the wall, even with her superior bound. A pile of cloth lay beside the dumpster.
The pile suddenly shifted and she bit back a scream as a withered hand came into view. She quickly backed into the shadows, trying to ignore the smell of putrid waste that threatened to suffocate her.
The man in the pile of cloth shifted again and she heard a haggard cough. Desperately, her eyes skimmed the wall again; there was no way out but the way she'd come.
"Who's there?" the coughing sounded again. "I don't want no trouble."
She watched the hand disappear into the pile, only to be replaced by the whole arm and shoulder. He was coming out!
Kiara dashed around the corner, praying that the dog was gone. To her relief, the alley was clear. She sighed shakily, knowing she wasn't out of danger yet. The man from before had spotted her, chased her and he was still out there.
If there was one thing she knew for sure, it was that she couldn't stay in this alley; she'd be trapping herself and making herself easy prey.
Creeping to the mouth of the alleyway, she cautiously peered around. The cobble streets were dark, only a few street lanterns glowed, breaking up the shadows at planned intervals. She saw no one around, not even the man and his dog. The building surrounding her remained quiet and loomed above her like sleeping giants.
She peered fearfully. Would someone spot her from above if she ran? That was a chance she'd have to take. She needed to get out of the city and back into the forest.
Quieter than a whisper, she slid out of the alleyway. Now, she was grateful for all of the dance training she'd had that taught her to be light on her feet. Back at home, she had grumbled at the thought of practicing.
She dipped carefully into the shadows, gulping in a huge lung-full of clean air.
At that moment, a trio of men with lanterns stepped around the block corner. Kiara froze. She recognized the man in the lead. Even in the dark, his broad shoulders and long bushy beard gave him away.
As silently as she could, Kiara moved to slip behind a bush for cover. However, as if he were watching the shadows, the broad shouldered man zeroed in on her.
"There!" he said quickly, pointing directly at her. The trio began to run.
All thoughts of secrecy forgotten, Kiara darted down the street. People could explain away seeing a "creature" in the night, but if she were caught, her entire race would be in danger of being hunted down until they were all killed.
Humans had a way of destroying what they didn't understand. It happened out of fear mostly. Kiara thought back to the gruesome history of her people and knew just how violent humans could be.
She padded quickly down the sidewalk, thankful for the dimly lit streets. Some coverage was better than none. The sound of the three men charging after her could be heard through the air. Their breathing was becoming labored as they tried to keep up with her.
Kiara not only had a head start, but she was used to moving around quickly, flowing with the movement of the street, instead of pounding against it.
She tore around a corner and nearly slammed into an elderly couple. The woman gasped as she nearly became trampled. The man adjusted his glasses, but by then, Kiara was already ducking around the next corner. Her chest heaved as she looked desperately for a place to hide. The street was clear, therefore providing her with no cover. As a last resort she climbed up a thin tree and pulled herself into the branches, trying to camouflage herself in the leaves.
The tree was hardly any help to hide her. She forced herself to concentrate around her frazzled nerves make the tree bend to her will. Normally, she was much kinder to nature when she wanted something done, but time was of the essence. She flexed her jaw as the tree began to groan slightly and bend its branches around her to help shield her more from the street below.
When she opened her eyes, she was more out of breath than before, but her hiding place was better hidden. She hoped that the men would be so busy running that they would pass her by.
She could hear their footsteps pounding the sidewalk. The sound echoed off the surrounding buildings. It was a miracle that no one had come to see what all the noise was about.
They appeared below her and she held her breath, her hands gripping the branches tightly, ready to spring if necessary.
To her relief, they continued past, their hard eyes scanning the shadows as they ran. Kiara didn't let out a breath until they were well down the block.
Coming to the city was a horrible idea. If she survived this, her father would punish her severely. In fact, the entire council would punish her.
She pushed her thoughts away. Now was not the time to wallow, now was the time to escape.
The trio had almost reached the corner. How long until they discovered she wasn't there? Wasting no time waiting to find out, she climbed down quietly. Her feet touched down and she crept the other way. The elderly couple had gone, probably deciding there was too much excitement for them.
Kiara darted back the way she had come. She hated backtracking, but the men hunting her were headed the other way. She rushed past the alley she had hidden in and shuddered at the thought of the dirt and grime.
Hurrying past the alley, careful to stick to the shadows, she peered around the corner, no one in sight. Hope began to bloom. Maybe she could get herself out of this mess.
All of a sudden, a dog barked in the apartment above her. She jumped then clung tightly to the wall. It barked louder, a light in the window turning on.
Without a second thought, Kiara rushed across the cobblestone street, just as the three men pursuing her came into view. It seemed they had circled the block. She heard an angry cry of triumph as they spotted her.
Kiara picked up her speed, disappearing behind another house. Her eyes darted around wildly for a place to hide. There! A block down was the park she had originally hidden in to watch the humans. Her heart raced with adrenaline. If she made it to the trees, she would have a greater chance of disappearing. She pumped her arms as she breezed through the short alleyway.
Footfalls sounded behind her. Two sets. She frowned, wasn't there three men?
She ignored the thought and continued. She was only a few yards from the mouth of the alley. She launched herself over a fallen trash bin and smiled; the humans wouldn't stand a chance once she was in the trees.
She chanced a glance behind her shoulder. The man with broad shoulders and one of his cronies weren't far behind, but Kiara could tell they were tiring fast.
When she turned back around, she gasped in surprise. There, at the mouth of the alley, was the third man, breathing heavily, but blocking her way and trapping her between the three. By the time she realized what was happening, it was too late to stop.
Her world seemed to slow down as she slammed into him. Immediately, his arms wrapped around her, securing her. However, the momentum from her running made him lose his footing and they fell.
Kiara squeezed her eyes shut; her hands went out to brace herself. The man twisted, trying to catch himself while keeping a hold of her. As they landed, Kiara slammed harder into him, her palms skidding painfully into the ground. A grunt sounded from him as he slammed his elbow into the street. The momentum kept her in motion, her head smacking hard into his. Pain flashed through her and at that moment, her heart froze. They got me, she thought and then her world went dark.
AN: I can't wait to see what you all think. Please comment!