Immortal Wounds- Cut Chapters

Every writer has paragraphs or chapters that they’ve cut from their manuscripts for various reasons. I’ve chosen to include two such chapters here. What are my reasons for cutting them? Mostly, word count. I had a manuscript that totaled a little over 121,000 words—way too big. The second and most obvious reason: they’re fluff. These are chapters that don’t really add to the story, but they don’t harm it by taking them away. Had I chosen to include these chapters, I would have spent more time editing and cleaning them up. Enjoy them for what they are—fun extras!

 

 

 

Original Chapter 16

Portland

 

It was a fairly nice day for Portland. Only a few clouds in the sky. Everything was lush and green; one of the many reasons I’d always liked making this trip.

“After you’re finished at the shop, I thought I’d take you shopping.”

“I thought you needed to go home?”

“I do; but I can’t take you away without any clothes now can I?” he teased.

“You could . . . ” I suggested deviously.

“I don’t think you should try any seductive moves until those ribs have healed.” He laughed under his breath.

I frowned, trying to ignore Marcus’s witty comment.

“There it is.” I pointed to a little shop on the corner.

Marcus pulled the car in front of the shop and turned off the engine. He got out and walked around to my side and opened my door for me.

“Phoebe!” A cheerful voice belonging to a slender older woman with long blonde hair greeted me as Marcus helped me out of the car.

“Beverly, how are you?” I smiled warmly.

“Leah didn’t tell me you were coming yourself! What a wonderful surprise. Is this your husband dear? I didn’t even know you were married?” Beverly’s blue eyes sparkled as she smiled excitedly at Marcus.

Marcus looked at her and then back to me.

“No, we’re not married . . . we’re just . . .” I broke off—I didn’t know what to call Marcus. My husband from another life? My boyfriend? I decided with the less informal, yet meaningful explanation. “Beverly, this is a dear friend of mine: Marcus Ashworth.”

Marcus took Beverly’s hand gently. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“The pleasure is all mine.” Her cheeks were glowing. I didn’t blame her, Marcus was dazzling to look at; he’d make any woman blush.

“Well then, where do you want me to leave the bags?” I asked as Marcus retrieved them from the trunk.

“Why don’t you just set them behind the counter.” Beverly held the door open for Marcus and motioned toward the front counter.

I laughed to myself as I thought of Lord Ashworth as a delivery boy.

“I forwarded the funds to Leah this morning” Beverly said as she handed me the invoice.

“Thank you very much Beverly. We do appreciate your business.”

“My dear, thank you for bringing the shipment yourself. I haven’t been able to keep anything in stock.” she laughed happily.

“Well, be sure to phone Leah if you need anything else.” I waved goodbye as Marcus helped me back into the car.

“Shopping?”

“Sure. What sort of clothes should I buy?” I asked as I looked out the window.

“You won’t be buying anything, I’ll be purchasing your wardrobe,” he announced as he pulled a ringing phone from his pocket.

“I didn’t know you had a cell phone?”

He looked at me out the corner of his eye and flipped the phone open.

“Raymose! I’m sorry; I just received your messages.” Marcus spoke as he swerved in and out of traffic.

I stayed perfectly silent. There was something frightening about knowing that Marcus was talking to another vampire—a real vampire! It all seemed like a strange fanciful dream.

“Please give my apologies to Luther, I’ve been otherwise engaged.” he shot me a quick glance.

“Of course it’s important; do you think I’d have left if it wasn’t important?” Marcus tone became sharp. It startled me. I found myself recoiling a little. His fingers were gently rubbing along my jaw instantly. I looked over at him, and a soft smile reached his eyes—he winked.

“No, I didn’t want to pull anyone else away…It was a snap decision.” He continued his hand, back on the wheel. “I wasn’t certain where he was heading—I believe he’s on his way back to England as we speak.”

Marcus pulled into the mall parking lot.

“I’ve got the jet fueling right now; I should be in the air in a few hours,” he said as he looked at his watch.

I waved at Marcus to get his attention. “I’ll just go . . . ” I mouthed as I pointed to the stores.

Marcus shook his head no. “Raymose, I need to phone you right back, I’ll just be a moment.” He snapped his phone shut.

“You’re not going shopping alone.”

“Marcus, please it’s clothes shopping; how dangerous can it be?” I rolled my eyes playfully.

He looked at me skeptically. He didn’t like this.

“We have to hurry. You can finish your phone call while I shop.” I unsnapped my seatbelt and reached for the door. His hand caught mine.

“Here.”

“A thousand dollars! What am I supposed to buy?” I asked while staring at the money in my hand.

“Everything! You’ll need undergarments, clothes for cold weather, shoes, coat, and whatever else you’d like.”

I was still staring at the money in my hand.

“You’re right, here—” He handed me a similar amount.

“Marcus, this is too much. I . . .”

“I don’t want you to be short. Pack for a few weeks,” he urged.

“I’ll bring back the change . . . ” I put the money in my purse and started to get out.

“Hope I don’t get mugged.” I mumbled under my breath.

“That’s it, I’m coming with you.” Marcus yanked the keys out of the ignition.

“I was joking! Really, I’ll be fine!”

I hadn’t truly convinced him, but he was bending. “I’ll meet you here in one hour.

One!” he reiterated, holding his index finger up.

I smiled and gave his hand a squeeze. “I’ll be as quick as I can.” I turned to step out of the car to find him already there helping me out.

He lifted me up to his lips, my feet leaving the ground, and kissed me passionately. I melted like butter in his arms.

“Phoebe?” He shook me softly.

“I’m just burning this moment into my mind,” I said as I reluctantly opened my eyes.

He shook his head at me, his lips curling up into a smile. “Don’t do that to me.”

“See ya!” I said cheerfully, turning on my heel and walking as quickly as I could toward the entrance.

I left a quick message for Leah telling her I was taking a trip to England with

Marcus and that I’d be back in a few weeks.

I made my way through the mall faster than I’d expected. I grabbed the basics first; socks, underwear, pajamas, then onto shirts, pants, sweaters and shoes. I was pretty excited because I’d managed to get most of my things on sale and hadn’t spent all that much. I’d even managed to find a few dresses—just in case I needed something more formal.

I started heading for the parking lot when I remembered I’d forgotten a suitcase. I looked at my watch . . . I still had fifteen minutes before I was supposed to meet Marcus. I turned around to head back into the mall and froze in my steps.

“Those look heavy.”

I swallowed loudly. “How did you know I was here?” I asked, still motionless.

“I told you; we’re connected, you and I . . . and your scent is easy to track,” he admitted with an innocent shrug. “You’re the only one around here . . . besides myself that is.”

“I flew; you can’t have tracked my scent by air,” I said sarcastically.

“Ms. Sanders said you were on your way to Portland.”

I’d deal with Kim later. “What do you want Damen?”

“Now, that isn’t very polite.” He was toying with me. “I would have thought you’d be more grateful to me, after all, I did save you from a vicious attack.” He pretended to look offended.

“You know very well all I’ve ever wanted was you.” I flinched as he reached out and touched my face with the back of his hand, his ice blue eyes piercing through mine.

I was frozen with fear. My heart raced like a thoroughbred’s coming out of the gate.

He moved his hand along the side my face. He stepped closer, ignoring all sense of personal space between us. His warm breath blew across my lips.

“Damen,” my voice cracked, “Please don’t touch me like that.”

His lips were nearly touching mine. “Does this make you uncomfortable?” His question was condescending. It blew across my lips, like a kiss.

“Get your hand off her!” An angry voice hissed from behind him.

Damen smiled affectionately—never taking his eyes off mine. His hand moved behind my neck where he held it firmly.

“Marcus, how nice of you to join us. I was just offering to help Phoebe with these bags. You really shouldn’t let her lift anything—she’s injured, or didn’t you know?” His tone was sharp.

“Damen, please . . . ” My voice came out as barely a whisper.

The fear I felt was unmistakable. I could feel it emanating from my body. Damen seemed to feed off it. Marcus, on the other hand, was growing angrier by the second. His once soft brown eyes now made the blackest piece of coal pale in comparison. His jaw was clenched. He started to move closer. I looked around to see all the shoppers passing by, not seeming to take notice of the three of us.

“This is a crowded place Damen…do you really want me to rip your arm off in front of all these people?” Marcus asked with a low hiss.

“Now Marcus, really, I just wanted to see if Phoebe was alright. She’s not in any danger from me; she knows that,” he had an almost sinister smile on his face as he watched me squirm.

I found my legs and tried to step away. He held me tight.

“Damen, you’re hurting my neck.”

Marcus took another step toward me.

“You know you can’t attack me in public,” Damen mocked; still not bothering to look at Marcus.

“I’ll bend the rules if I need to.” Marcus threatened. “Let her go Damen—now!” he hissed.

Damen smiled kindly at me. “I think Phoebe should come along with me. You can’t plan to bring her back with you? She’d surely be killed,” he mused.

“She’s safer with me. You know I can protect her,” Marcus said through gritted teeth.

“Hardly, her ribs are proof of that!” Damen taunted. “Where were you when she was being assaulted in the woods, screaming for help?” Damen asked angrily. “It’s a good thing I got there when I did. Her virtue could have easily been lost.”

My mouth dropped open. How did he know?

Marcus’s fists were clenched at his sides. “I wouldn’t have left him alive. You’ve grown soft. Now I’m going to have to finish what you didn’t have the stomach for.” Marcus growled.

“Marcus…” I said apprehensively.

Damen jerked his head toward Marcus; a low growl escaping his lips. “I couldn’t kill him in front of her. You didn’t see the condition she was in; she couldn’t have handled it!”

A look of confusion settled on my face. He was actually considering my feelings?

This didn’t make sense. Why was he so hateful to me one minute and caring the next?

Marcus’s eyes moved to mine, he looked sad for a moment as his thoughts drifted—no doubt to the moment I crashed into him in the woods.

“When the other vampires learn that she’s not only human but half wolf, you know they’ll kill her.”

“You plan to turn her into a vial beast like yourself don’t you?” Marcus accused.

“No! There won’t be any need for that . . . I don’t want to cause her any more pain,” he smoothed his free hand across my face—I didn’t flinch this time.

“You don’t?” I squeaked.

“Of course not.” He looked offended.

“You lie. You’ve done nothing but cause her pain.” Marcus spat.

I looked over to Marcus in disbelief; he looked like he could blow at any moment.

“There won’t be any obstacles in our way this time, such as species differences like before . . . you on the other hand…” Damen glowered at Marcus.

I dropped my bags and pulled at his wrist to release me.

“Too bad you didn’t inherit any of my strength,” he joked. “Don’t worry my dear, I’ll look after you.”

“I will kill you!” Marcus promised with a loud distinct hiss.

“You will try . . .,” Damen growled.

A few people passing by looked around nervously to see where the vicious noises had come from.

“You’ve had your fun wolf…let her go!” Marcus demanded as he closed the gap between Damen and himself.

Damen snarled under his breath as Marcus approached- Marcus ignored the warning standing directly behind him.

“I will kill you.” Marcus spoke again, his tone was icy.

“Damen please,” I begged. I could feel my eyes beginning to water.

Damen watched me struggle for a moment.

“Now!” Marcus hissed.

Damen released his grip from the back of my neck. I quickly ducked out from under his arm.

Marcus grabbed my hand and yanked me violently behind him- putting himself between Damen and I—leaving no more than a few feet between them.

Damen squinted his eyes as he looked loathingly at Marcus before he turned his attention back to me.

“I don’t have to take you. You’ll come to me on your own. You won’t have a choice.” He spoke confidently. “His kind won’t allow you to live- he knows that!”

“And your kind would?” I spoke up, feeling a little braver with Marcus between us.

His expression grew softer. “You’ll only be safe with me- the others . . . jerked his head toward Marcus, “ . . .will eventually cross your scent. He can’t keep you hidden forever. Despite what you may think, I do love you.” His eyes were like looking at deep pools of water—beautiful.

“She doesn’t need your protection beast- I won’t allow anyone to harm her again; especially you.” Marcus was slightly crouched- ready for any move Damen might make.

“I don’t have any intention in harming her, I love her. I loved her before she met you,” he growled through gritted teeth. “She’ll remember, and when she does . . .”

“You loved a vampire fool—you could never have been together.” Marcus taunted.

“Do you think it was an accident our paths crossed again? This is the chance we were meant to have . . . and now she’s part wolf, and there’s nothing you can do to change that—it’s you she can never be with now.” Damen laughed. “She will never be a vampire again!”

“He could make me part vampire!” I blurted over Marcus’s shoulder angrily.

Damen looked like he could spit fire. He glowered at Marcus. “You wouldn’t dare!”

Marcus was silent. I looked from Marcus to Damen- I couldn’t see Marcus’ face from behind him.

Damen’s eyes were fixed on Marcus. “Luther wouldn’t tolerate such an abomination; surly you must know that!” he snapped. “She’d be in more danger then she’s in now—the wolves would rip her to shreds.”

“It’s time for you to leave.” Marcus hissed.

I took a quick look around us. People were starting to stare as they passed slowly by.

“I’ll go, but I will find you again;” he shot me a sharp look. “You’d better hope for his sake that he hasn’t bit you.”

He backed slowly away for several feet before he turned and walked out of sight.

Marcus turned to me quickly. “Come;” he put one arm around me and held my bags with the other and walked me quickly back to the car.

He put the bags on the back seat and, still holding my hand, opened the passenger door to put me in.

My feet were firmly planted where I stood.

“What’s wrong?” he asked anxiously.

I threw my arms around him and held him tightly. The tears fell quickly now that I was safely away from Damen.

“How did you know he was here?” I cried.

“I got out of the car to come find you, and I caught his scent.” I could hear the anger still in his voice.

He held my face between his hands, pulling it back to look at me. “Are you alright? Did he hurt you?” His face was full of worry.

“No, I’m fine, now that I’m with you.”

He pulled me back into his arms, hugging me tightly. It was only a matter of seconds before his lips moved over mine. I closed my eyes, savoring the moment, wishing it would never end. But alas…I had to breathe.

He helped me into the car and shut the door before he walked around to the other side and got in.

“To the airport then.” He smiled. He started the car and drove silently back to the airport—his thoughts clearly far away.

 

 

 

Original Chapter 34

For Better or for Worse

 

I lay in Marcus arms feeling content, oblivious to the cruel world approaching outside. If I had truly understood that our world would be crashing down around us, I would have insisted that we lock ourselves in this room for the rest of eternity. As it was . . .

“I have a surprise for you.” Marcus sang into my ear. I could hear him smiling.

“There’s a gentleman on his way here this very moment with some papers for us to sign.”

“Papers?” My excitement was replaced with confusion.

Marcus laughed. “You do want to still marry me don’t you?”

“What now? Tonight? Marcus, I don’t have a dress, my hair, I’m not ready.”

He rolled with laughter. “My dear, there are ten of the finest dresses available in the next room for you to choose from, Sarah moonlights as a hairstylist, and I’ve taken the liberty of having a bouquet designed for you myself.

I was stunned. “When did you do all this? Is there even time?” I was excited, but I was also beginning to feel anxious again. A different kind of anxious. The kind where butterflies were involved.

“This morning while you were—” he broke off. I could see the tension in his face again. “Of course there’s time.” He forced a smile.

“Are you having second thoughts?” He misread my reaction.

“No. It’s just . . . I’m not very pretty right now.” My face fell.

“You’re beautiful.”

I frowned. “Your being prejudice.”

“Aren’t I the only one who matters?”

I shrugged. He had a point. “But it’s my wedding day. I’m not supposed to be covered in blood and bandages.

“It’s sexy,” he mused.

“Sexy?” I looked at him like he was insane.

“Absolutely. Now if I could just add some moss to your hair, I could imagine that you fought your way through the swamps, beat off a gaggle of love sick women, just to win my hand.” I stared at him, open-mouthed. He looked genuinely pleased with his cockamamie fantasy.

“You’re joking.”

He managed to hold a serious face for several seconds before he broke into laughter.

“Phoebe you’re beautiful. You have no reason to be self-conscious,” he reached out and ruffled my hair playfully.

I shook my head. I couldn’t help but smile. “If we wait a few days maybe my arms will have healed, and . . .”

His smile slipped away. “If I don’t come back tomorrow . . . well, you’ll be more than taken care of financially. Raymose will of course look after you if—”

“If he survives.” I finished his sentence sharply.

Marcus continued, as if I hadn’t said anything. “Richard will take you home and stay with you until I return.”

“And if neither of you come back, is Richard supposed to stay with me forever? Or am I supposed to choose Damen as a last resort? Maybe Bryan’s still pining for me?”

“Phoebe!” Marcus snapped, silencing my tantrum. “You’ll be safer at home.”

I turned my head away from him. I was fuming. I could feel the tears burning in my eyes. I wasn’t going to let them fall. He had this all worked out in his mind without any consideration to my opinion. I was just supposed to go along with whatever he saw best . . .I argued my position over and over in my head. Each outcome supporting the next—he was wrong!

“Well, who am I to disrupt your plans.” My tone had become rather surly.

“Phoebe, I’m coming back. You won’t be without me.”     I forced a smile. “I’d better get ready, I’m getting married in a few hours.” I grabbed my robe and hurried out the door.

Sarah had arranged all the dresses for me to view easily. She had them set around a giant floor length mirror that reflected three different angles.

“Good afternoon Miss.”

“Sarah, they’re all so lovely!” My eyes were wondering from dress to dress. They were absolutely breathtaking, each and every one.

“Yes Miss. Mr. Marcus has spared no expense.”

She took a dress off the hanger so I could look at it closer. “He truly loves you Miss.”

I smiled to myself. He did love me.

It only took a few minutes for me to select the dress I liked best. It was beautiful—white satin, short sleeved—just barely off the shoulder. The dress itself was plain. The top, however, was embossed with lace and sequins. It looked like something a princess might wear.

I removed my robe and slipped into the gown.

“Miss. Phoebe!”

I looked up at Sarah. Her face was horror-struck.

“Do you think the dress will hide them?” I could feel myself wanting to cry.

“What happened to you?” she gasped, her eyes wandering from my arms to my newly bandaged shoulder.

“I ran into a wolf in the woods,” I admitted honestly.

She looked aghast. “You poor thing! How did you ever get away? I’ll let Richard know immediately.”

“I nodded my head in agreement.”

“Well, how does it look?” I spun around in front of the mirror, checking each angle.

“If I wear some long gloves…” I thought aloud.

“Yes Miss, I must say that one is the loveliest.” Sarah stood back, smiling. “I think you’re right,; the gloves will hide your arms very nicely.”

“Yes, this is the one.” I agreed. I could feel a surge of excitement as I stood there, looking into the mirror at the girl reflected back at me. She looked happy, and she did look beautiful.

“I sure wish I could stay to see the two of you get married.”

“Well of course you can stay. Where else would you be?”

“Mr. Marcus is sending Charlotte and myself home Miss. for a few weeks to visit our families. We leave tonight.”

“You’re both leaving?” I thought aloud. Marcus must be sending them away for their own protection.

“Yes Miss. I wish we could be here for the ceremony.” Sarah’s eyes watered a little. “You’ll be in our hearts Miss. We’ve grown very fond of you, you’re part of our family now.”

“Thank you Sarah, you’ve been very kind to me.”

I stared at the girl in the mirror. She didn’t look so happy any longer. She looked sad and alone. This was wrong. My friends and family should be here with me to celebrate. At the very least Charlotte and Sarah. No. This was all wrong.

“Oh, Mr. Marcus and Mr. Raymose must be heading off somewhere,” Sarah said casually as she looked out a nearby window.

I glanced out the window, and saw Raymose and Marcus sitting on top of their horses. They were having some sort of conversation. I could see them pointing in different directions—they were leaving!

I rushed over to Sarah who was placing the other dresses into garment bags.

“Sarah, don’t leave without saying goodbye.” I hugged her quickly and rushed out the door.

I ran down the long hall, my dress trailing behind me.

“Miss Rose!” Richard called after me as I descended the staircase.

“I’m sorry Richard. I have to go,” I yelled as I flung the front door open.

I hadn’t realized I was barefoot until I stepped off the front steps onto a gravel drive. I ignored the discomfort of the little pebbles under my feet. I could see them across the lawn, beyond the garden. I hiked my dress up and ran as fast as I could across the soft grass.

They turned at the same moment, watching me as I approached them—running at full speed across the lawn in a fluffy white gown—with a look of panic tattooed across my face.

“Phoebe!” Marcus jumped off his horse and rushed over to me.

I collided into his body panting, as I tried to catch my breath. I had my hand over my heart, trying to slow it. It was beating so fast I felt as though it were going to explode.

I could see Marcus’s worried expression. He naturally put his arm around me and began searching the grounds, looking to see what I was running from.

“Sir, what has gotten into her?” An out of breath Richard came running up behind me.

“You two,” I breathed. “Where are you going?”

“We’re going to scout out the area. Raymose has caught their scent. They’ll be heading through just south of us.” Marcus announced; still watching me closely.

“You were going to leave without telling me?”

“Phoebe, it’s just a scouting mission. Nothing to worry about.” He smiled, dismissing my worries.

“Nothing to worry about? Are you crazy? What if you didn’t come back? What if neither of you came back? I wouldn’t have known where you were. I don’t want you leaving tonight . . .either of you.”

“That’s a new tactic . . . I don’t remember you pouting before.” Raymose teased.

“I’m not pouting; I’m demanding!” I corrected sharply.

“No no, you can boss him as much as you like. I, on the other hand, am a free man,” Raymose mocked. “You don’t get to tell me what to do.”

I frowned at him. He had me on a technicality.

“There is no need for you to leave tonight,” I glowered at Raymose before I turned to Marcus. “They won’t be here for another day at the least.”

“According to whom?” Raymose’s eyes darkened. “Your friend has been less than forthcoming. From what I’ve seen, the wolves should be here at first light.”

“No, that can’t be.” My heart sunk into the pit of my stomach. I held it tightly. A feeling of nausea came over me. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath.

“Darling, perhaps you should lie down,” Marcus worried, putting his arm around my back for support.

“Are there many of them?” I looked at Raymose for my answer.

His face fell. I could see the worry in his eyes.

“Then I’m coming with you,” I said firmly, turning to Richard. “Would you please saddle my horse, I’ll be ready in ten minutes.”

“Yes Miss,” Richard agreed reluctantly, not daring to meet Marcus stare.

I rushed back to my room. I was trying to unzip my dress when Marcus flung my balcony doors wide open. I jumped. The look on his face was not friendly—I found myself stepping back as he approached.

“You are not coming!” he growled, enunciating each word slowly so there wouldn’t be any misunderstandings.

“Does Raymose agree with you?” I asked defiantly.

“Raymose doesn’t get to decide.”

“So he thinks I should come too.” I continued smugly. “He knows you need help!”

Marcus growled. “You’re not pregnant with Raymose’s child! I’m not going to argue with you Phoebe. My mind is absolute. You will not defy me!”

“Defy you? I’m helping you!” I snapped back.

“You can’t!” I could see his temper boiling over as he looked at me incredulously.

“Marcus, I’m good with a sword now. You could use an extra hand.” I spoke calmly, trying to make my case more convincing. We’d had this conversation before. Many times, in fact. But now it pertained to something more real for me . . . not just a what if. Not something distant in the future, something unimaginable.

“I can’t stay here, wondering if you’re coming back or not. At least with me there, I could help you.” I pleaded with my eyes.

“Phoebe,” he suddenly looked tired. “There will be no safe place. Richard will see you to the airport. I’ll come get you as soon as I can.”

“Great, I’ll give Brian a call and tell him I’ll be home soon. Save him the trouble of having to stock my house, wondering where I am.”

Marcus looked murderous. “Richard will be with you. Brian won’t get anywhere near your house.”

I rolled my eyes.

“My attorney will be here within the hour,” he continued in his business-like manner of speaking. “In the event that I die, all of my estate will be left to you and to our child.”

I folded my arms. Marcus was not going to bend—did I really expect him to?

“I’ll sign whatever papers you need me to, but I’m not marring you right now. I can’t think about weddings and happily ever after when the ones I love are on a suicide mission.”

“Whatever you wish my dear . . . we can have the ceremony another time.”

I nodded my head halfheartedly. Another time indeed. Whatever I wished as long as it doesn’t involve helping the ones I loved.

“Is . . . that the dress you’ve selected?”

I looked over at him. His eyes were dazzling. A smile had replaced the scowl that had been there moments ago.

“Yes.” I forced a frown. It was hard to remain mad at him when he looked at me like that.

“You are truly beautiful.”

“Thank you,” I grumped. I wasn’t ready to forgive him, yet.

“Please darling, don’t be angry with me. I’m just looking after your safety. I’ve lost you once before, I can’t do it again.” He took my hands and brought them to his chest.

“And I’m looking out for yours.” I pointed out firmly.

He shook his head back and forth. “I do love you.” He tilted his head a little. He pulled me to him, brushing his lips against mine.

There was a gentle knock on the door.

“Come in,” Marcus said without looking away from me.

Sarah peered around the door. “Excuse me Sir, but Mr. Avery has arrived. I’ve sat him in the library.”

“Thank you Sarah. We’ll be right along.” Marcus spared her a quick smiled before she closed the door behind her.

“I’d better get changed. Would you mind . . .” I turned around and motioned to the zipper.

Marcus reached out and took the zipper. He slowly unzipped my dress, his cool fingers moving down my back along with it. His lips pressed lightly against the back of my neck, moving slowly along my shoulder.

“Marcus . . .?” I could feel my world beginning to spin.

His hands moved over my stomach, pulling me back against his chest. His cool breath blew across my ear. It was slow and even unlike my own.

“Yes my love?” he mused.

I couldn’t think. His scent encircled me, rendering me helpless against his charms.

He spun me around and lifted me up onto his hips. “Yes darling?”

I’d realized I hadn’t answered him.

I could feel his smile gliding across my throat—he knew this drove me crazy.

“Please, let me come with you.”

His mouth found mine, silencing me for a moment.

“You could make me immortal,” I breathed between kisses. “I’m ready now . . .to be like you.”

His lips stopped moving; in fact, everything did. It was as if the world stopped spinning and time froze. I couldn’t even hear the loud pounding my heart had been making moments ago . . . I was holding my breath.

“You . . . want me . . . to bite you?” His voice was shaky. By the look in his eyes, I could see he was hoping he’d misheard me.

“I swallowed loudly. “Yes.”

He set me down. I could feel his hands leave my body as he backed away from me, his face shocked beyond comprehension.

“You want me to stop your heart?”

I didn’t reply.

“You want me to kill our child?” His eyes were deadly.

“No!” I jumped back, surprised by his assumption. “You don’t know that would happen.” I said defensively. “Maybe . . . I mean, I am partly werewolf; it might still beat”

“Maybe? You want me to gamble on a maybe?”

“I just want to help, I thought . . . Errr! I should have just let Damen bite me and be done with this.” I stormed out of the room.

Sarah had considerately left some jeans and a shirt for me on a chair beside the dress bag. I hung my dress back up on a hanger and got dressed.

I was still so angry. How could Marcus think I wanted him to . . . I couldn’t even repeat it.

I stared blankly out the window. The sun’s orange light was fading behind the trees now. It would be dark soon. Each passing moment brought me closer to the unknown. I wrapped my arms around myself, praying for comfort and strength.

I hated myself. I was weak, helpless. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Marcus was in mortal danger, and I was unable to help him. I had so little time left with him and we were spending it apart. He was furious with me for asking him to turn me- I was furious with myself for not thinking of all the consequences—it was a monstrous request when I thought about it from Marcus’s perspective—although he should know me well enough by now to know I’d never do anything to intentionally harm our child.

What would the old Phoebe do? I searched my mind, desperately trying to remember her. It felt strange to think of her as a separate person . . . but it was even stranger to think of her as myself.

The old Phoebe wouldn’t sit here and cry, that’s for sure. She’d find a way to help . . . she wouldn’t let him go alone. She’d fight with him. She’d protect him . . . even from her father.

“But I’m not the old Phoebe,” I argued aloud with myself. “I’m not immortal like she was. I’m not as strong.”

I looked down at my arms. The bandages were nearly falling off. I’d forgotten to change them after I’d taken an unexpected swim in the pond. I gently pealed back the tape from my left arm—light pink skin had replaced the badly scraped flesh Marcus had wrapped for me last night.

I wrapped my arms around my stomach, holding it protectively. I was terrified. I knew what I had to do. I knew I’d be taking a tremendous risk —again. But could I live with the consequences if I failed? I could feel the tears swelling up in my eyes. They streamed down my face, the salty water burning my cheeks. I wiped them away quickly.

I knew my heart. I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to Marcus and I hadn’t tried to help him. I could never look myself in the face again. It would mean defying Marcus—the lesser of the two evils, I’d decided. If I succeeded, he couldn’t possibly be mad; he might be grateful even. And if I failed . . . well, I’d be dead.

I took a deep breath and made peace with my decision—there was no other option.

I checked my face in the mirror, wiping as much of the evidence off as possible. I didn’t want him to know I’d been crying. I hurried down to the library; I knew Marcus and Mr. Avery would be waiting for me.

I rushed into the room a little out of breath. Marcus was sitting in an armchair next to a fairly stout man who’d just been laughing in a loud boisterous manner. They both stood up upon seeing me.

“My dear, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He bowed his head slightly.

“Thank you Sir, it’s a pleasure to meet you as well.” I spoke hurriedly, rushing up to him to shake his hand. I tried to evade his eyes as much as possible. I could feel how puffy mine were from crying- he pretended to not take notice.

Marcus’ eyes on me- I didn’t look at him.

“I have everything in order, I merely just need you to sign where I’ve indicated.” He pointed to some pages that he had marked with post its.

My hand shook a little with each signature.

“Very good,” Mr. Avery said as he handed Marcus some copies. “You’re as good as married!”

“Married?” He’d grabbed my attention.

“Well, on paper anyway,” he chuckled. “Lord Ashworth said you’re planning an actual wedding in a few weeks.” He must have detected my alarm. He looked uneasy, as if this might have been the first I’d heard of this.

“Yes, in a few weeks . . .” my voice trailed off. My mind was reeling. I was careful to keep my eyes off Marcus. One slip and I knew I’d crumble right here in front of Mr. Avery.

“My dear, when a man gives you total access to his money and estate . . . you’re as good as married. He laughed heartedly

“Yes Sir.” I forced a small smile.

“Well then, I’ll just be on my way. See that those are stowed in a safe place.”

He motioned to the papers before he took up his brief case and headed for the door.

“Thank you again Mr. Avery for coming out on such short notice.”

“Not at all Lord Ashworth, you know I’m always happy to help.” He bowed politely before he turned and left the room.

Marcus shut the door slowly and turned to face me. I avoided his stare as long as I could.

“Well, I’ll just leave you to get ready.”

“You’ve been crying.” He caught my elbow as I tried to hurry past him.

“Married?” My voice cracked. “You still want to marry me?”

“Of course I want to marry you. We can have the ceremony as soon as I return.

Anyplace you like.” His eyes kept trying to meet mine. “We could even have your family flown in if you want.” His voice was soft and loving . . . there was no anger in it as before.

“Anyplace?” My mouth trembled as I felt my emotions come crashing down on me. He still loved me . . .

“Phoebe?”

“I can’t do this.” I tried to pull away from him—he wasn’t letting go. I stood there, sobbing.

“Darling what is it?” I flung my arms around him, crying into his shoulder.

“I’m sorry I hurt you.” I blubbered. “Everything I say comes out wrong. I don’t want to lose you, I can’t!”

“Darling, you won’t lose me.” He had his arms around me, rocking me back and forth. “Everything will be alright, you’ll see.”

“I’m so afraid you won’t come back. Marcus, I can’t have this baby without you.”

“You won’t have to.” He held my face in his hands. His eyes staring lovingly into mine. “You won’t have to.”

“If only I could believe that.” I held onto him for dear life. I knew he believed the promises he was making. But somehow, I’d have to find a way to help him keep them.

 

 

 

 

 

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Author of Romantic Fantasy

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