Okay so here goes, I’m going to post another, completely contextless, excerpt from my ‘big story’ project. This is still very much in the first draft state, so disregard any typos, this is purely an exercise to help me work through some imposter-syndrome and finally start sharing this story.
This scene does follows directly after this extract I posted before, so if you want to, you can read that one first!
Random except with no context begins here:
Her head was pounding. That was the first thing Holly became aware of. The second thing was that she was an impossible comfortable bed and, therefore, wasn’t at home. Bolting upright, she scrambled out of the four-poster bed, ignoring the wave of dizziness that ran through her.
She had no idea where she was. Fuzzily, she thought back to the last thing she remembered. The alleyway. The wolves. His teeth. Holly raised her wrist and inspected it; someone had carefully bandaged it while she slept. She was relieved to find that she was still in the same clothes. The idea of being changed whilst unconscious made her insides twist. On one wall there was a massive mirror that ran the breadth of the room and Holly inspected her shoulder, the werewolf bite had been carefully covered too. She was stiff but, besides the headache, she was completely fine.
Satisfied about the state of her body, she turned to inspect the room. The grand bed faced a wall of windows, where there was a dressing table, a small bookcase and a chest of drawers. On the side of the room with the stupidly huge mirror, there was a chaise lounge, next to a side table with an ornate, delicate looking lamp on it. Except for the bed, all the furniture looked relatively modern, but it had this well made, sturdy look to it and probably would never have associated with the cheap stuff she owned.
On the right there were two doors, which interrupted the painting that spanned the wall. She paused for a second to appreciate the wild, exotic landscape it showed before striding to one of the doors and opening it. The first lead to a bathroom that was bigger than her bedroom at the flat. The second door took her to a walk-in closet, just as ridiculously large as the bathroom. That left her with one more door to try, the one that was barely a foot away from the top of the bed. As she approached it, Holly realised she could hear the sounds of a TV on the other side, but she couldn’t tell if there was anyone beyond that door.
She lingered, uncertain, with her hand on the door handle. Losing her nerve at the last minute, she decided to inspect the windows instead because some of them looked large enough to climb through. As Holly reached for the latch of the largest window, she was surprised to find that her hand rebounded against some kind of invisible barrier, preventing her from touching it. Curious, Holly grabbed a handful of hair pins from the pot on the dressing table and flung them recklessly at the windows. They all pinged back at her, without touching the glass. Letting out a grunt of frustration, she reached for the dressing table’s chair instead, not thinking any further beyond the fact that she needed to get out of here. It was heavy but not so much that wasn’t able to get a good swing with it, heaving it at the windows only to have it bounce back at her with enough force to knock her off her feet.
At the sound, two men burst into her room, crackling with energy as they looked around for the source. One of them was the guy, Alvis, the other, she didn’t recognise.
“Are you okay?” Alvis asked. Hauling the chair off of her as though it weighed nothing and then pulling her to her feet. His tone was so sincere that she instantly backed away from him. Alvis backed up too, holding his hands up like he was calming a wild animal. Rubbing her flushed face and pushing her hair back, Holly took a deep breath.
“Besides my pride? I’m fine.” The ghost of a smile flitted across Alvis’s face. Holly ran her hand through her again. “Where am I? I thought you were going to take me home?”
The man who had accompanied Alvis into the room scoffed a little, his face quickly straightening after he was a shot a look by Alvis.
“Technically, I never said we would return you to your flat, I said I would get you to safety.”
“And why is my flat not safe?”
The other one scoffed again and was shot another look by Alvis. “What? The girl gets attacked by literal werewolves 20 feet from her house and she’s wondering why it wasn’t safe for us to take her there?” He snapped, face flushing with sudden anger. This stranger was different to Alvis, his whole body was taunt with tension, like a wild animal in a cage.
“James, we discussed the way this conversation would go. If you’re not going to be helpful, I suggest you leave.” Throwing Holly a dark look, James did just that, slamming the door so hard the thick walls rattled. Once the distant sound of another door banging shut could be heard, Alvis turned his attention back to her. “Will you sit?” He asked indicated the ridiculous chaise lounge, as he moved to grab the chair that had attacked her.
“Since I’m pretty much a prisoner right now, doesn’t really seem like I can refuse, does it?” Alvis took his seat, regarding her solemnly.
“You are not necessarily a prisoner, one of the reasons we have brought you here is because of the protections in place. The barrier on the windows that you… felt, it is one of those defences. We are currently within Nightfall Manor, a place that the vampires ‘acquired’ just last night. It was the reason you were left unprotected, there was a… miscommunication.” That answer only raised more questions.
“So, ‘we’ being, you guys, the vampires?” Holly tried not to analyse too closely how ridiculous that statement was. He nodded. “Who did you take it from then? More werewolves? Because that’s some Twilight level shit I’m not willing to deal with. Nor does it explain why that related to me needing to be protected.” He gazed placidly at her while she paced, his face betraying no hint of emotion, like a slate wiped clean.
“It’s a bit complicated to explain. Would you sit? I want to make sure I do this properly.” Reluctantly, she sat, arms folded. “In this situation,” he began, “‘we’ does refer to vampires as a whole. This place, the protections…”
She cut him off “just say magic, stop pussy-footing around the truth.” Strangely, this made the ghostly smile drift across his mouth again.
“I was doing my best to not overwhelm you, forgive me, I should know better. So, then, this place and the magic which protects it, was created by the fey.”
“Fey meaning fairies?” She interrupted again. Racing thoughts forbidding her to be silent. He nodded. “Why not just say that?”
“Fairy is the name for them that is more commonly used by humans, supernatural beings use the name the fey choose to use for themselves.” He eyes met hers for a moment, waiting to see if any more questions were forthcoming before continuing. “The reason why the vampires sought to take it from them, is the same reason as why you’re in need of protection. There are five supernatural races and they have been at war for over a thousand years.” He held up a hand, counting them off as he listed them. “Vampires, Werewolves, Fey, Demons and Witches. The war has ebbed and flowed over the centuries, but it has never ended. Until last night, vampires had a treaty with the Fey and part of that was using their magic to help with your protection, like an early warning system. That protection was withdrawn, after the siege on this manor and that is why the London pack was able to attack you last night.” Holly had balled her top into her clenched fists, beneath her crossed arms. She wondered if he could hear her heart pounding.
“That was a great history lesson, but it still doesn’t explain what it has to do with me.” Alvis raised his eyebrows, clearly not fooled by the bravado.
“A very long time ago humans had magic, but they lost the ability to use it after the 5 families were created.” He held up a hand, forestalling her next question. “That is a longer story, for another time. Every now and then, by a quirk of genetics, humans are born with innate power, but their bodies can no longer handle the magic. It is like fire in their veins.” Holly went numb.
“In the alleyway, when I did… whatever that was, it was like I was burning.” Alvis nodded; the shadow of dread could be seen in the way he grimaced slightly as he continued.
“Humans with power like that, will not survive very long. They must become a supernatural being or die, an unintended consequence of the original spell that created the five families.” He paused, allowing the full impact of that statement to sink in. Holly could literally feel the colour draining from her face. “So, when a human is born with innate power that strong, each of the five supernatural races will seek to be the one who reaches them first, in order to be the ones who get to turn that human. In doing so, they hope to gain that power on their side.” He paused again, looking at her intently, she could almost see how carefully he was choosing each word in the way his brows knit together. “When you came along Holly, it was like a nuclear bomb went off, your power reverberated around the world. We – the vampires- that is, reached you first but as you were only one at that time, you could not be made vampire. So, it was decided to let you grow up among your human family, to do what we could to place barriers that would allow you to live without your power consuming you. The only thing that would break those barriers would be direct, un-explainable contact with the supernatural.”
Understanding rippled through her. “How long?” Alvin stared at her, guilt and hopelessness flitting across his expression so quickly, it would have been easy to miss if she had not been watching. “How long until I have become one of you or die?”
“Two weeks, maybe three. My… gift, you could call it, enables me to siphon power, so I should be able to keep that fire at bay for a while but not long.”
“And I’m guessing, since I’m here, since you’ve successfully ‘won the race’ to capture me and since I’ve got no choice but to turn into something, I’m going to be forced to turn into one of you?”
“Something within the power that allows us to create more vampires, prefers choice over force, so the transition is always smoother and the power always greater, if you choose to turn of your own free will but…” his features turned grimmer as he prepared to say the next part. “There is something you must understand. The person who turned you, is bound to you and has power over your will. The person who turned me is our Master, he is the ruler of the vampires and he has been trying to win this war for over a thousand years. If I cannot convince you to choose this life and he forces me to turn you, know that I will not be able to refuse him, whatever I might think or want.”
“And if I become one of you will I be bound by that as well? Bound by him?” He nodded, waiting for her to put the pieces together. “With all that power you say I have… that’s what will happen to me isn’t it? I’ll become a weapon in this war? A literal nuclear bomb?” He didn’t need to speak; the answer was written in the tension in his face and body. Holly didn’t know what to think, didn’t know what to say to the deathly still being across from her. Her jailor. The person destined to remove her free will, her life. As though he could sense the spiralling track her thoughts had fallen down, Alvin stood, backing swiftly towards the door.
“For what it’s worth, I don’t relish this. We tried so hard to help you remain human for as long as possible.” Holly stared at him coldly.
“Wasn’t that kind of you. You’re such a considerate jailor.” He laughed then, although there was no humour in it, just deep, unyielding sadness. Alvis strode back across the room to her, his eyes fixed intently on hers, moving with an almost predatory grace.
“I am supposed to be making you feel welcome, supposed to lie to you, present you a pretty version of this situation but I will not do that.” Holly flushed under his piercing gaze and then silently cursed at herself to get a grip. He really was devastatingly attractive, especially now his body had shifted from the steady calm before, to this energetic, coiled being before her now. “As far as I am able, within the commands I have been given, I will endeavour to tell you the truth.”
“Would you like a medal?” She bit out, annoyed that he seemed to think she should be grateful.
“No, I just wanted you to know that I will not do you the disservice of asking this of you, whilst lying about it.” He came closer, his jaw flexing as he seemed to be fighting against something choking his throat. “I will not sugar coat the brutal choice I have laid out before you. I do not want this for you. I do not want to be the one who does this to you.” Alvis’s voice grew choked again and he let out a growl of frustration. Holly could see the tendons in his neck standing out, as though he was literally straining against something. “I have done as much as I can to fight it but his control over me is absolute, for the most part.” She had risen from the bed, as it had felt odd to remain seated with him so tense in front of her. Holly was of an average height, but he still stood nearly a foot taller than her, forcing her to look up at him as he closed the gap between them. “He has forced my hand, by taking this manor the way he has done tonight, it left you vulnerable to attack. I should have foreseen this and in not doing so, I have failed you and I am sorry.”
God she nearly believed him, almost felt sorry for him. Alvis was so close to her now, his hand jerked as though he was going to reach for her before he thought better of it. Holly narrowed her eyes, him being sorry just made it harder. She wanted to rage and yell, even as some indistinct part of her veins burned with the fire that had awoken in this alley, like a roaring wave she could hear come from the distance to crash down her. So how dare he make her feel sorry for him, how dare he try to ease his conscience by confessing this to her.
“Are you really trying to go with the ‘I’m just following orders’ excuse?”
“I’m not trying to make excuses, I just wanted you to know what to expect and why it might seem harsh.”
She took a step back from him, her legs bumping the bed. “I’m really not interested in making you feel less guilty, so take your bleeding-heart routine elsewhere.” The fire in her recognised the power in him and was screaming her to be cautious, to remember those fangs that technically made him a predator. Holly was disturbed to find she did not fear him, which was probably very stupid of her. He just looked at her for a moment, before all the tension and wildness flowed from his features. It was like watching a mask slide into place, as he took a step back. Alvis’s expression was featureless once again.
“Fair enough, now I have said what I needed to; I will leave you alone. James and I have some duties to perform tomorrow but we will be back in the late afternoon. The door to this room is not barred, unless you choose to lock it yourself. We have been placed in one of the apartments within Nightfall, so outside this door you will find our sitting room, adjoined by mine and James’s rooms. From there you have access to the main areas of the manor. I only ask that you lock the door to that leads to the manor when you are alone. You are safe here and I don’t wish to imprison you but you are surrounded by the vampire army, so you must be prepared to encounter more… supernatural sights, if you leave this area. Food will bought to you regularly.
“That was a very roundabout way of saying ‘this is a nice comfy prison, so it’s not as bad as if we imprisoned you for real’.” He finally met her eyes again and they were full of sorrow.
“Eternity is a very long time and He would like you to be comfortable. Trust me, when I say that it could be so much worse.”
“Is that a threat?” She asked quietly. His expression did not change as he replied with equal softness.
“No, it is a memory.”
With that bizarre statement he left. Holly’s brain was reeling. There was no possible rational response to the information she’d just been given, the deadline that had just been put on her life. So she did the only thing she could, the only thing she felt like doing. Holly let herself cry. She cried as she moved to the lock the door. Cried as she paced the room restlessly. Cried as she pounded pointlessly against the barrier that protected the windows. Cried until she sank into the enormous bed, exhausted but unwilling to let sleep drag her under. Holly always thought that if a handsome stranger turned up to whisk her off to a life of adventure, a life beyond the dull one she was headed to live, that she would handle it with grace. Unflinching in the face of it, but here she was, crumbling, dazed and confused.
Her final thought as sleep dragged her under was a small traitorous one, that while she was scared, something within her had gone quiet. Some seeking, restless part of her, felt like it was home at last.
You can find all the extracts from my story that I have posted/ will post here.
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- 30 Memes for writers so you can procrastinate too
- Black Sunshine
- The First to Die at the End
- A life in spite of myself – the prompt project
- Sarah J Maas books – ACOTAR, Throne of Glass and Crescent City review
- 30 Dark romance recs
- Audio books ‘count’ – a rant
- Origins of an Academy Bully: Zodiac Academy