Hey everyone, I’m back! My shoulder is still a little sore, but it’s out of the sling and doing much better. Even though I’ve got a million and a half things to do plus NaNoWriMo, I should be back to my usual posting schedule. Yay!
I’m here today to bring you another bit of my novel, Dark Goddess.
For hours or seconds, she ran. Her feet led her away, away from the freeway. Away from Garrison. Away from death.
She didn’t know what she ran towards. Home. Safety. The police, if she were lucky enough to stumble across a station. She was lost in a city she didn’t know. Away was all she had.
So, she ran. Ran as her lungs burned. Ran as her legs ached, then screamed, then turned to jelly. Ran until sweat obscured her vision and she couldn’t catch her breath and her legs refused to move.
Then, she fell.
She pushed herself up to all fours. Stayed there, panting for air. A breeze wafted over her, making her shiver. Sweat ran down her face, under her shirt, between her breasts. It plastered her hair to her neck and face. Irritated, she sat back on her feet and pulled her hair into a ponytail, trying to get some air against her skin.
“Hey. You okay?”
She jumped to her feet, ready to run.
A man stood a few feet away from her. He had a cigarette in hand and was leaning against the outside of a bar. When she looked at him, his eyes went wide.
“What happened to you?” He dropped the cigarette and came to her, reaching out a hand
She flinched away. “I was kidnapped. He tied me up. I… I jumped out of his car. I’m hurt, I… I need the police. Please.” Tears spilled out of her eyes.
“Yeah, of course.” He reached for her again but put his hands up at his chest when she flinched again. “Sorry. Come on in. You’ll be safe here. We’ll call the police.” He moved backwards to the building and opened the door. “I’m Adam. I own the bar. What’s your name?”
“Kali.” Her teeth chattered as she began to shiver. “Kali Johnson.”
“Come in, Kali. I promise, you’ll be fine.”
She nodded and followed him inside. She was too young and too young-looking to have any experience with bars, but this one seemed decent. It was dimly lit, but clean. There were two rooms she could see, the main one she was in and one in the back with a pool table, juke box, and a dart board. The main room had what looked to be a dance floor off to one side, some scattered tables, and a long wooden bar with stools.
It wasn’t crowded. There were maybe about twenty people inside milling about. A man stood directly across from the front door, leaning against the partition that separated the two rooms. He was blond and very pale. His eyes were half closed, but even from across the room, Kali could see the glint of blue underneath long golden lashes.She stopped moving and looked at him. She knew him. Somehow, she’d seen him before. Not just seen him. She knew him.
He opened his eyes. Shock washed over his face when he saw her.
“Hey, Joe, call the cops!” Adam said. “This girl needs help.” He touched Kali’s arm with the back of his hand. “My office is upstairs. This way.”
She tore her gaze from the blond man and followed Adam. She could still feel his eyes on her.
“Oh, fuck,” she swore as she took the first two stairs. In the short time since she’d stopped running, her muscles had turned to stone. It hurt to even breathe.
“You okay?” He took her by the elbow.
“Fine. Just sore,” she gritted out, teeth clenched. She took another step; it was somewhat easier than the last.
It took forever, but they finally made it to the top of the stairs. Adam opened the door to the office and led her inside.
“Is there a bathroom?” she asked. Her stomach twisted, head pounded.
“Yeah. Right through that door.”
Kali rushed to it. She barely made it before she threw up. Her head exploded into hot-white pain. Tears flooded her eyes.
She heaved again. One of her hands held her hair in a bunch from her face, the other gripped the side of the toilet. She felt like she was going to die.
“You okay?” She heard tentative steps on the tiled floor. Then, the man’s thumbs brushed against her neck as he held her hair back for her, managing to get every curl in the bunch.
Kali sat back on her heels. She squeezed her eyes shut until she’d flushed the toilet. “Yeah,” she said after a moment. She wiped her hand over her sweat-slicked face. “Everything hurts.”
“It looks like everything hurts.” He helped her stand. “He really did a number on you.”
“Yeah well, I didn’t go with him easily.” She rubbed her eyes. “Can I be alone?”
“Sure. I’ll wait for the cops downstairs. And maybe see if there’s anything to help settle your stomach.”
“Thank you. I really appreciate it.”
“It’s no problem.” He turned and left, closing the door behind him.
Her hands trembled as she turned on the faucet and stuck her hands under the water. She washed her hands and face, turning the water red with her blood. Her arms were scraped from where she fell, pieces of dirt and asphalt ground in. Her legs were the same, the right knee of her pants torn open exposing the skin beneath.
She looked around for a medicine cabinet and finally found some bandages and alcohol under the sink. She cleaned off the scrapes on her arms before bandaging the worst. Then, she sat on the closed toilet, toed off her shoes and pulled off her pants. Her legs were a mess. Her ankle and knee had sickly, purple-green bruises around them. Angry red scrapes hid behind ground-in dirt and pieces of glass.
She gritted her teeth and began working on cleaning them.
Someone knocked on the bathroom door.
She swallowed back a startled scream. “Hang on!” She pulled her pants back on. They felt stiff and dirty and rubbed against her injuries uncomfortably.
There was another knock. Harder this time.
“I’m coming. Give me a second.” She limped to the sink and rinsed out her mouth. When she opened the door, she expected to see the police or Adam on the other side.
It was the blond man from downstairs.
“Um, hi,” she said warily.
His eyes lit up. He looked over her slowly, delight on his face. “It is you,” he whispered. “I thought… I knew it had to be. I felt you when you walked in, all over. I just… I came back to life, like it used to be. And I saw you, and… I knew you looked exactly the same. I’ve seen you, pictures at least, but, my God. It’s a miracle.
She stepped back and tightened her grip on the door. “Who are you?”
“I am Gabriel, my lady.” He bowed. When he lifted his head again, the force of his gaze made her heart stutter.
Gabriel. She’d gone to school with a kid named Gabriel when she was seven. But he’d been from Mexico. And there’d been a Gabe in one of the group homes, but he’d had bright red hair and a face full of freckles.
“You’re the senator’s slave,” whispered a memory. “Gabriel.”
She shook her head. “Do you work here?”
“No. I don’t.”
“Then you should probably be downstairs. This is a private office.” She licked her lips nervously. “Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I want to be alone. You need to leave.”
He looked over her, a crease wrinkling the skin between his eyes. “I can’t leave you, Kali. You’ll be safe with me. But we need to go.”
Goosebumps broke out over her skin. “I’m not going anywhere with you. Go away.” She stepped back and tried to slam the door.
He caught it. Wood splintered under his grip. “Humans can’t protect you, my lady,” he said urgently. “Garrison won’t stop until you’re dead.”
“Garrison? You know Garrison? How?”
Gabriel seemed at a loss for words. “He was… He was my teacher, my lady. Father Pike. Don’t you… Do you remember me?”
The senator’s slave. Gabriel. Gabriel. My Gabriel.
“I just met you!” she cried. When he wouldn’t let go of the door, she kicked him.
Her toes cracked against the hard bone of his shin. Kali gasped and swore under her breath.
He dropped to his knees in front of her. “I mean you no harm, Lady Kali, I swear.” He looked up at her through his lashes and tentatively took her hands in his. “I could never hurt you. You are my creator.” He rested his forehead against the back of her hands.
Her stomach dropped. He had to be working with Garrison. They had to be playing with her, screwing with her head.
She pulled her hands away. “I’ve never created anyone in my life. So just… just go downstairs and leave before the police come. Got it?”
He stayed where he was but lifted his head. With that simple movement, her perception suddenly changed. For a brief instant, Gabriel’s image was replaced by another. No. No, it was still him, only… different. Different clothes, different expressions, different… just different.
“I,” she found herself saying. “Maybe I… You are familiar.”
“You knew me once. Before Garrison killed you. The first time, I mean.” He stood, keeping one of her hands in his. “If we stay, he’ll kill you again.”
“Because he thinks I’m a vampire.”
“Because he knows you used to be a vampire.”
She shook her head. “How do you know this?”
“I know you, Kali. I’ve known you since I was fifteen-years-old, a slave to a powerful Roman senator. You rescued me from him and took me in. When I grew ill, you cared for me. When I was dying, you made me yours forever.”
She put her hand to her head. “This is insane,” she said. “I couldn’t have… You can’t mean…”
“I’m a vampire.”