Devotion and Desire
Hello readers. No, I am not dead I am just really, really slow at updating. I am soooo sorry. I feel terrible for the long wait between chapters. So I'll save my ramblings for the end of the chapter. If you already read this chapter and got an alert, I only added to my author's note but fictionpress is being weird and it might have sent out a couple of emails. Sorry about that!
Juliet hurried through her shower; she didn't want to be away from Marcus for too long. Even though she knew he was a part of the supernatural, he gave her a sense of security, someone to hold on to in this mess.
The warm water was soothing and helped wash away the trials of the night. She rested her forehead on the wet tile as an image of pale skin and fangs flashed through her mind. She took a shaky breath and began to lather soap in the bath sponge.
The teen had scrubbed her scalp raw trying to get out any of the ash out of her hair and now she used that same treatment with her body. She scrubbed the skin until it turned pink with irritation; she wanted every speck of dirt washed away.
Juliet stood under the spray of water shaking slightly as she recalled what happened in the park. All those people, no, those monsters were dead and she watched it happen, even helped. Her morals were turned upside down; religiously she committed no sin, right?
The church allowed violence in self-defense, but her conscience cracked under the weight of the life she helped take. Juliet chose to swing the bat at her attacker and now she had to deal with the consequences.
A sense of urgency hovered over her head, telling her to find Marcus; he could chase the bad thoughts away. Maybe he could help her deal with what happened tonight.
A sane part of her mind spoke up, why do you need him? He is the one that brought you into this mess. You shouldn't even be here in the first place.
Juliet couldn't argue with that, she should have asked to leave as soon as she was safe. But for some reason the brunette couldn't bring herself to walk away, she wanted, no needed to know what was happening. Ignorance might be bliss but it seemed like the logical part of her brain was being overshadowed by her heart.
She couldn't stop the unnamable bond that had formed between her and Marcus, and to be honest she didn't want it to end. Despite being in the dark, the teen felt undeniably safe with him; there was a part of her that felt like they were old friends. That strange part told her with frightening clarity that she could trust him.
Juliet stepped out of the shower when the water turned cold. She turned the knobs shutting off the stream of water and watched as it drained away. Droplets of water slid down her skin, chilling her. She grabbed a towel and patted herself dry and carefully stepped out of the shower.
As soon as she opened the shower door a cloud of steam rolled out in front of her, fogging the large mirror. Juliet anchored the fluffy white towel under her arms so that it draped from her breasts to her knees. She swiped the steam off the mirror with her hand, leaving a small patch of visibility for her to see her reflection. The woman staring back had rosy cheeks from the heat of the shower but other than that she was very pale. She also looked scared, her glassy eyes were wide with turbulent emotions.
Sighing Juliet turned away from the mirror. She picked up the pile of clothes that Claire gave her, a pair of sweats and a Beatles t-shirt. The brunette smiled at the girl's taste in music.
She also gave Juliet a bikini bottom as underwear and a white bra that still had the tag on it. The teen was glad she didn't have to walk around in front of everyone without wearing any underwear.
She dropped the towel and began to dress, noticing how Claire was not the same size as her. The sweat pants fit alright because they were designed to loosen but the t-shirt was way too small on her.
Lucky girl, Juliet thought. The bra was a little tight but wearable, it was obvious that Claire had a much smaller frame than her. The teen's breasts stretched the material of the t-shirt so much that the Paul McCarthy on the front looked distorted. And the black material was a few inches too short, showing a sizable amount of flesh.
Juliet choked out a harsh laugh, grateful for the mundane distraction to take her thoughts away from the night's events.
She sat on the white porcelain toilet and began to towel dry her hair. When she had first entered the bathroom she was reminded of a fancy hotel, everything in it was obviously expensive and very well maintained. She felt out of her element in such a high-end place, she wasn't used to being surrounded by so much obvious wealth.
It made her a bit self-conscious to think of the income gap between Marcus and his family as compared to her own. They were literally from different worlds, not only in wealth. Her hero belonged to the supernatural world, that much was obvious. While not technically okay with that, Juliet found that she could at least accept the fact. She only hoped her opinion of him wouldn't change after everything was explained.
She took a deep breath and stood up. Locating a small hairbrush Juliet took several minutes to brush the tangles out of her hair. Satisfied with her hair, she gathered her dirty clothes and opened the large bathroom door. Juliet stepped into Claire's very spacious bedroom; the brunette had no doubt that it was as big as her entire house.
Goosebumps erupted on her skin as the cool air hit her damp body. She crossed her arms over her chest and walked over to the large bed, Juliet plopped down on the comfy sheets. She grabbed the tote bag that Claire had lent her and put her clothes and running gear in it, minus her phone which she kept in her pocket and set the bag on the floor.
She looked around the massive room, noticing a white zip-up hoodie hanging on the edge of a hamper. She immediately put it on. Hopefully Claire wouldn't mind her using it but she was freezing and plus the jacket would cover up the tiny shirt.
Deeming herself decent enough, Juliet stood with a pounding heart and slowly walked out the bedroom door and down the hall leading to the stairs.
The smell of burnt food greeted her nose as soon as she reached the bottom step. There was a cloud of smoke spilling into the open living room and she followed it into the kitchen. She had a feeling that her hero was the cause for the smell.
Thankfully the kitchen had an open layout so the smoke didn't suffocate the chef , she couldn't help but smile when she saw Marcus trying to wave off the thick gray cloud.
"Do you need help?" she asked with a laugh.
He whipped his big body around to face her, the look on his face said that she surprised him by sneaking up behind him. Chagrin quickly followed making him look adorable as he tried to find an excuse for the mess he made.
"He specifically asked for no help and look what happened to my kitchen." His mother emerged from the cloud of smoke and bustled past Marcus. She had a smile on her face that said she wasn't too upset about the mess.
She reached the source of the smoke which was coming from the toaster oven and opened the little door. A great cloud of smoke billowed out of the appliance and filled the kitchen making Juliet's eyes water. Her lungs protested the lack of oxygen and she started to cough loudly.
Even though she couldn't see him, Juliet knew that Marcus was the one who grabbed her arm and steered her out of the kitchen. He led them to a non-smoke filled part of the house and had her sit down. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the clean air, blinking rapidly she saw her hero looking down at her with worried eyes.
She grinned up at him, coughing the last bits of smoke out of her body, "I'm going to take a wild guess and assume that my food is burnt." She found it funny that her hero could do amazing things but he couldn't cook.
"Not all of it," he stated while placing a plate of eggs in front of her. The teen stared at the mouth-watering perfection, the eggs were cooked perfectly and just how she liked them, over-easy. How did he know how to cook them?
He sat down in the chair next to her and handed over a fork, "These are eatable, I burnt the toast."
His head was lowered when she looked back at him, another grin played on her lips; he was embarrassed of the disaster in the kitchen.
"I remembered that you have food allergies and eggs were the only food I could cook that you are able to eat" he explained in a low voice. It warmed her heart that he could be so caring to her, they had only known each other for a couple of days but this care and connection she felt from him just seemed natural.
Marcus began to pick at the loose hem of his black t-shirt and it was then that she noticed his wardrobe change; this one lacked the vicious claw marks he had endured. The slouch of his body made the material stretch across his muscled shoulders, giving him a vulnerable look. "Marcus," she waited until he raised his dark head and met her eyes, "These look amazing, thank you for remembering about my allergies."
He gave her a tentative smile but stopped short when his mom came into the room smelling heavily of smoke. "You are not allowed near the toaster oven again, young man."
Juliet couldn't help but laugh; it was a sight to see someone as big as Marcus being reprimanded by his mother. His mother looked at her with an amused expression, "Men" she exclaimed while shaking her head.
The brunette saw her hero shift uncomfortably in his chair and decided to take pity on him, "well, at least the eggs look good."
Marcus saw her feminine grin, and relaxed a little. His mother peeked over the teen's shoulder and saw the well-cooked food, "Yes that's only because I taught him how to cook them."
Juliet giggled before she could stop herself when she saw Marcus assume the pose of someone being ruthlessly embarrassed by a parent; his head was ducked slightly and a small cringe painted his handsome face. She purposefully picked up the fork and took a large bite of the eggs, hoping to cheer him up.
Her eyebrows rose when she tasted the perfectly seasoned food, "these are really good, Marcus."
His green eyes were trained on her lips when he murmured a thank you. Oh crap she thought, there must be egg on her face. She went to grab a paper napkin but his large tan hand landed on it first. He brought the paper to the corner of her mouth and wiped away some yolk.
His mother chuckled at the two of them, "we will be waiting in the living room when you're done." She squeezed Juliet's shoulder as she left the room.
After the brunette swallowed another bite, she turned to Marcus with questioning eyes, "what did she mean?"
His forehead creased and with a reluctant sigh he answered her, "My family is going to help me explain what happened tonight."
"Oh" that brought reality back with a bang. She did want everything explained but was she ready to hear it?
Her worry was reflected in her hero's green eyes, his hands were nervously twisting the napkin he held.
Not knowing what to say, Juliet returned to eating the food but with much less enthusiasm than before. She pushed around the eggs unable to eat them because her stomach was now filled with butterflies.
Marcus saw her sudden lack of appetite, "Please eat some more."
Her stomach rebelled the thought of food, "I'm sorry but I can't." she held a hand on her belly and he seemed to understand that she was too nervous to eat.
"Can I at least get you something to drink? Maybe some orange juice?" His voice was pleading and his face told her that he was desperate to please. It calmed her nerves to think that he cared about her wellbeing. She gave him a grateful smile and nodded.
He piled her fork and napkin on top of the eggs and headed for the kitchen. She watched him stride out of the dining room noticing how he barely made a sound when moving.
He was startling graceful for a man of his size, he walked with a gait that reminded her of a jungle cat stalking through the forest. He moved quickly and silently out of sight.
The loud screeching sound of a chair being pulled out from the table interrupted her ogling. A tall man with long auburn hair sat down next to her; his bright blue eyes were excited as they watched her.
He invaded her personal space by scooting his chair so that he was almost touching her leg with his own. "Hi there," he grinned showing a perfect set of white teeth.
This stranger might have been handsome if he wasn't two inches from her face, but as it was Juliet could only register the fact that him being so close made her uncomfortable.
She her eyebrows disappeared into her hair when the blue-eyed man took her left hand and brought it to his nose, making a show of smelling it. A frightful image of her attacker in the park flashed through her mind, the way this man took her hand reminded Juliet of how the creep had held it hostage earlier that night.
The brunette reacted instantly, she pushed on his chair, making the one she was sitting in scoot back and away from him. The grip on her hand loosened and she scrambled out of the chair once she was free.
She didn't get far though, as soon as she turned away from his shocked face the teen ran straight into Marcus. She hit his chest hard enough to stop her escape.
Her hero didn't seem affected by the impact, he didn't even spill the glass of juice he was holding as his arm snaked around her waist and pulled her flush against him.
His green eyes were glaring at the man sitting at the table. Shoulders tense and jaw tight he asked her, "What did he do to you?"
She watched the stranger stand to full height with his hands raised in a sign of surrender. He leaned against the table with an innocent grin.
"He smelled my hand." The argument sounded weak to her own ears but the attack in the park was still too fresh for her, the similarities were too close for comfort.
The band of muscle around her waist tightened, a sign of displeasure. He regarded the other man with little more than annoyance, like one would treat a fly buzzing around. His slightly irritated expression was ruined by the strain in his tense jaw hiding clenched teeth; showing that the other man bothered him more than he let on.
Slightly concerned, she covered the hand on her waist with her much smaller one. Marcus dropped his eyes to her, his frustration softened and eventually faded away. Curious hazel eyes wondered at the turn of emotion.
She wasn't given time to dwell on it however, her hero guided her out of the dining room completely ignoring the other man. He led her back to the living room she first appeared in, his parents and Claire were all sitting on a long tan couch; their eyes were trained on her arrival. She gave a weak smile to Claire while pulling on the white fabric she was wearing silently thanking her for use of the hoodie; the younger girl smiled in response.
Turning back to the room, Juliet swallowed hard; despite wanting answers to tonight's events the brunette was suddenly nervous about confronting the situation. Did she really want to hear whatever Marcus had to say?
He gently placed the glass of orange juice on a coaster and sat on the couch across from his family. She purposefully sat very close to him, even though she had every right to freak out the brunette still considered him to be her safety net.
The man with the auburn hair walked into the living room behind them, choosing to sit in a recliner near the rest of the family. Hazel eyes watched him warily. When he sat close to Marcus' father Juliet could see the similarities between them, same nose and same high cheekbones.
That must be his brother, she thought. She turned to Marcus for confirmation; his green eyes mimicked her gaze and rested on the man in the lone chair. She could see his jaw muscle tighten as he ground out, "Juliet, that is my brother. Zivan, you are not allowed to touch her."
There was a real threat behind his voice, an undercurrent of a dark promise. Marcus had realized that his brother's actions had scared her and she smiled at his protective concern for her. He really was her hero, always there when she needed him, protecting her from harm.
His hand was clenched tightly on top of his thigh and Juliet found herself reaching out to place her hand on his white knuckled fist. His dark head snapped to her, the hard edge of his face softened as he met her gaze.
"It's okay, I kind of overreacted. He just scared me, is all." She didn't want to cause a rift in the family just because she was jumpy.
"He should know better than to sneak up on you," by the tone in his voice it sounded like Marcus was trying to calm down. Maybe there was something she was missing if he was acting like this to his brother.
All eyes were on Zivan as he gave his older brother an innocent look, shifting uncomfortably in his chair. With his hands raised in surrender he explained, "I didn't mean to scare her. All I did was say hi, is that so bad?"
Marcus slowly unclenched his fist and grasped her hand tightly, making a show of his claim. Juliet felt like this had gone on long enough, "Marcus" she called softly. His name was the catalyst to his calmer mood, her raven haired hero immediately relaxed when she spoke.
Encouraging his calm further, she lent her shoulder against his muscular one. That one small action sent a message of comfort to him and judging by the sound of resignation in his light sigh she knew he had appreciated the thought.
The brunette felt a burst of affection bloom in her chest; her very large, very muscular protector relied on her for strength. He showed a vulnerability that brought a surge of protectiveness within her; he trusted her and she could do no different than return it in full.
The fall of the agitated energy left a quiet lull in the room, it was enough for her to see the elephant in the room. The air was tense as everyone looked at her, probably waiting for her to start asking questions. She sat up and as a last ditch effort to delay what was to come she took a sip of the orange juice Marcus had brought.
The second the liquid washed over her tongue Juliet knew something was wrong. She tried to spit out the juice but when it hit the back of her throat her body instinctively swallowed it. She sputtered a gulp of the orange juice and coughed away the acidic taste still on her tongue.
Juliet set down the glass and snatched her hand away from it like it had bitten her. Marcus' brow furrowed in concern, his expression clearly said that her reaction to the juice confused him; his green eyes were serious as they darted from her to the glass and back again.
"Where are we?" she whispered hoarsely. She knew the answer; she knew what she had tasted but she needed him to say it.
Being a native born Floridian, she knew what Florida orange juice tasted like. The glass on the table did not taste like the fresh juice she was raised on. That meant it wasn't from her home state. Wherever Marcus had taken her, it wasn't Florida.
It was obvious he wasn't expecting her question, "This is my family's house," he said cautiously.
Juliet took a deep breath, this was getting her nowhere. Apparently her hero was very reserved when it came to speaking. "And where is that exactly?" she countered.
Marcus became extremely uncomfortable as her question sank in; he looked like a child that was caught doing something wrong.
So quietly that Juliet had trouble hearing it, Marcus muttered, "New Jersey."
The teen stopped breathing and she could feel the blood drain out of her face. New Jersey? She knew that he had done sort of magic thing and transported them out of the park but she never imagined being in another state. She could only watch as her hero's face scrunched up like he was in pain.
She had no idea how to handle this information, she couldn't deny it. He told her to close her eyes and then poof, she was standing in his parent's living room. "How is that possible?" she wondered out loud.
Marcus had his jaw clenched tight again and she got the impression that he was just as nervous about explaining all this as she was to hear it. It was like he was intimidated by her, by her possible reaction to his words.
After a minute of false starts, he finally spoke, "I have certain … abilities. I am able to do things most people cannot."
Juliet blinked owlishly at him, waiting for more but his jaw returned to its tense position. She turned sideways on the couch so she could look directly at him and demand a full explanation.
His head dropped and hung from his shoulders like it was suddenly too heavy to hold up. She was startled by the frightened look on his face; the brunette was only able to see a glimpse of it before he buried his face in his hands.
Juliet was worried that something was wrong; he didn't seem well at all. She placed a tentative hand on his large shoulder and felt his muscles jerk underneath her touch. Silence was his only response.
She looked towards his family for help and his mother spoke up. "He is just a little nervous is all. This is the first time we've ever had to explain all this to someone" she said with a small smile that was meant to reassure.
Juliet glanced over to Marcus to see him staring back at her; his green eyes were filled with apprehension. Maybe she really didn't want to know what was going on.
"You don't have to tell me Marcus. I don't need to know" she whispered hoping that her words would lift his somber mood. She didn't like to see her hero look so defeated.
A wan smile touched his lips, "Actually you do." His cryptic response did nothing to reassure her.
Biting the bullet, Juliet asked, "And what exactly do I need to know?" Her question was loaded with implications; it was open enough for Marcus to decide what he wanted to tell her.
She clenched her hands in preparation when she saw Marcus open his mouth to reply. Looking her in the eyes he said, "I'm not human." His voice was tortured and his wide green eyes were trained on her face, watching her reaction.
A few black dots danced in her vision, Juliet tried blinking them away. Her heart beat faster as she thought about what happened in the park and linking it to what he just said. What she had assumed was true, no normal man could heal so quickly or shoot green stuff out of his hand or poof into another state.
Juliet hung her head and concentrated on breathing deeply, this wasn't anything she didn't guess but it was still shocking to hear him confirm it. How was she supposed to handle this? There was no denying what he said, based on what she saw him do in the park.
There was no other option; she had to face the facts head on. Taking a deep breath, Juliet met Marcus' sharp green eyes. He looked helpless as he stared at her, worry creased his brow and slumped his shoulders. He was watching her every move, searching for any sign to clue him in on what she was thinking.
The way he carried his body showed a docility that made his presence less intimidating. He no longer looked like a warrior who was able to fight off evil vampires but instead he appeared humble under her stare, completely exposed for her perusal. It was an expression that made him look aged and tired as if the weight of the world rested on his shoulders, an invisible strain that depended on her answer.
Oddly enough, his uncertainty gave her courage. Her female intuition already told her he was genuinely concerned for her, that his open emotions weren't faked just to please her. Then again she knew that from their earlier encounters, his honesty was why she felt so drawn to him.
Juliet wondered if him being… different would change the way she felt about him. As she stared at his green gaze, the teen had her answer. Her hormones didn't care if he wasn't human; she was still stunned by his beauty and charmed by his vulnerable heart that he wore on his sleeve just for her.
It took her nearly a minute to settle her thoughts. "I guessed as much," she finally said, her voice was quiet but strong. Her little epiphany gave the brunette a boost of courage. The man in front of her was her hero, human or not he still came to her rescue many times; she could go crazy about the details later.
Marcus simply stared at her with wide green eyes; his expression was of hopeful amazement. He was just as surprised as she was with her calm tone. His sharp stare was intensely focused on her face, his dark eyebrows were drawn together as he watched her, unsure of what to say. Juliet simply let him study her, amused by the stunned look on his handsome face. Honestly, she couldn't blame him for being shocked that she wasn't freaking out because she was surprised with herself.
He was looking for a sign that she was hiding her true feelings but when he found the conviction of her statement on her face his massive shoulders sagged in relief and she could practically feel his worry seep away. A pink tongue peeked out to wet his full lips as he floundered for an answer, his sculpted mouth worked to form words. She felt slightly empowered that she was able to render him speechless but that wasn't what she wanted. She needed him to explain himself further.
Cautiously, Juliet reached across the small space between them and gently placed her hand on top of his as a sign of comfort and trust. Her heart leapt when he took an unsteady, deep breath and his green eyes practically glowed with awe.
Before she was certain of what she saw, he ducked his head, black hair shielding his eyes from view. She could feel his gaze on their joined hands and he placed his large hand on hers, creating a cage around her much smaller appendage.
Her heart warmed at the gesture and she felt empowered by how she handled the news.
A small contented sigh had Juliet turning to face his family; she had almost forgotten they were even there. All eyes were on her, watching with an approving stare. His mother wore a brilliant smile and the teen got the feeling that she did something right, like they were silently applauding her.
An unsettling question popped into her head.
"Does that apply to everyone?" she asked warily, referring to Marcus' non-human status. She briefly made eye contact with everyone in the room; they, just like her hero, seemed normal enough, they didn't look like another species.
It would make sense though; if Marcus wasn't human then it would be logical to assume that his family wasn't either. Unless, he was adopted…
"Yes dear." His mother said with a small chuckle. Darn it, there goes that idea.
Juliet had enough trust in her hero to extend to his family. Honestly, she didn't have the energy to think about why she should be worried about being in the company of a family of non-humans.
Another thought crept into head, if Marcus wasn't human than what was he? The teen shook her head; that was too big of a question for her to handle at the moment, she wasn't quite ready for the answer.
So instead, the brunette diverted her curiosity to another supernatural quality she saw in her hero.
With deliberate slowness, Juliet used her free hand to pry off the cage Marcus had created. She picked up his strong hand flipped it over to study. Long tapered fingers, wide palm, it looked harmless but the brunette knew how powerful it could be if he chose to show his strength.
She traced the lines on his palm and asked quietly, "Because you're not… because you're different, does that… I mean why or rather how…" Juliet cringed at the mangled question she was trying to spit out. She kept stumbling on the words that made the supernatural seem real, almost like her tongue had a hard time pronouncing them.
The teen took a calm, steadying breath and tried again, this time lacking all the pretenses. She held up Marcus' hand for his inspection, "what was that green stuff?"
There, she said it. Her statement was more than just satisfying curiosity, it meant that she was going to believe any story he told her. She was going to keep an open mind.
A gentle smile tugged at his striking mouth, smoothing out the tension in his face. His deep baritone was free from the stress that had tightened it before, "Those abilities I mentioned…,"
He reached his free hand to gingerly brush a few stray wisps of hair from her face, the light touch of his fingertips at her temple sent tingling trials of warmth across her cheek. The contact was gentle with a peaceful longing that she shouldn't have been able to feel.
He leaned in close to her as he explained his answer, "The green light is my energy in physical form." His eyes were soft as the grateful smile he wore. Juliet found that smiling back was all too easy; the shock of the information seemed to have worn off with his comforting presence.
It was easy for her to relax when he was looking at her like she was the only woman on earth. An embarrassing blush crept onto her cheeks at the thought.
A flash of blue light coming from across the room had the couple turning to look at the source. Zivan was tossing a glowing blue ball up in the air then catching it with ease. She looked closely and noticed that the light never touched his hand, instead it hovered just above his palm. Juliet watched the display with awe, his blue eyes were on her and he wore a smug grin.
"Here, catch" he said while making a move to toss it over to her. Juliet jumped back into the couch, there was no way she was going to touch that. Her heart started pounding faster, she saw what Marcus could do with his energy and she did not want to be on the receiving end of that.
A low growl echoed in the room as Marcus shifted his position on the couch, intentionally using his tense shoulders to block her view of his brother. The hand she was still holding formed a fist and Juliet wondered if his hand would start to glow, the only times she saw that green light was when he was mad.
Her hand twitched reflexively, would the green light hurt her?
"Stop it boys" his mother called, her voice full of reprimand. Juliet couldn't see anything but judging by the way Marcus relaxed his shoulders, she assumed that Zivan no longer held the glowing blue ball.
The brunette squeezed Marcus' hand, effectively getting his attention. He turned back towards her, accidently bumping her knee and faced her directly. Again she held up his trapped hand, "Does it hurt?" Hopefully he knew she was referring to the light.
His eyes seemed to soften as he shook his dark head. Her eyebrows drew together, "But I saw what happened in the park, with those guys."
Marcus leaned in close and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, the warmth coming off his body soothed her frazzled nerves. Her heart rate slowed and the teen was able to calmly breathe in his spicy cologne. "The energy bends to my will. It will do whatever I command of it" he whispered softly, using a tone that exuded reassurance.
Oddly, this was a topic that she had no problem talking about; in fact, she was rather intrigued by his… energy. It was like her childhood fantasies were coming to life, magic was real and she was sitting with her own Prince Charming. Unfortunately, monsters appeared to be real as well.
That brought up her next daunting question, she met his gaze "Who were those people in the park?"
She met his gaze and tried not to show how unnerved the thought made her. The hard lines of his mouth deepened at the slight tremble she couldn't hide in her tone.
Marcus lost his calm confidence, his features that were once relaxed now hardened and he squared his shoulders almost as if he was preparing for an attack. Juliet swallowed hard, he didn't lean away from her but his closed posture put a certain distance between them. His body was an impenetrable fortress but his eyes betrayed a vulnerability that held his tongue.
Green eyes grew distant as he searched for an answer, he was going to edit and she didn't want that; Juliet had come this far and she wanted to know as much as she could handle. The 'v' word was on the tip of her tongue, wanting confirmation of her suspicions but at the same time she didn't want to upset Marcus anymore.
The decision was taken out of her hands when his father spoke up, "Who do you think they were, Juliet?"
That was the first time he had spoken to her and Juliet found herself a little unnerved by him. His deep, deadpanned voice matched his impassive face, unyielding and intimidating.
He issued the challenge, making her say what was on her tongue. The teen didn't know why but she felt like Marcus' father didn't like her very much. Maybe it was because she was asking his son questions he obviously didn't want to answer.
Anyway, Juliet didn't want to shy away from him so she sat up straighter, met his eyes directly and said, "I think they were…" Her voice had started out strong but soon lost its confidence. Marcus comfortingly squeezed her shoulder and the teen turned towards him. He let his hand slid down her arm to join his other one. She cradled both of them and swallowed hard, finishing in a whisper, "Vampires."
His dark head slowly nodded yes, wary green eyes studied her reaction. Juliet closed her eyes and leaned her head against her hero's chest. Breathe in, breathe out.
She mulled over the word, vampire. Like most people, Juliet knew the myths about vampires; undead creatures with a thirst for blood. The people in the park were certainly crazy enough to fit the description. A shudder passed through her as an image of a sadistic smile flashed through her mind. Why couldn't real vampires be like the teen heart throb vampires portrayed in today's movies?
She took a large gulp of orange juice and tried to calm her nerves. The cool liquid slid down her throat smoothly. She really didn't want to believe vampires were real, didn't want to think about how close those monsters were to her home.
That thought caused a chill to settle in her bones. "Can I go back home or will they attack me again." Her voice held a small amount of strength but she was proud of it. At least she wasn't crying in terror.
Marcus spoke with calm reassurance, "They only attacked because of your blood." He stroked the inside of her left palm tenderly, silently saying sorry.
Her brow furrowed in confusion, his statement didn't make sense; the vampire was there before she cut herself, she was positive of that.
"How did you get that cut anyway?" Juliet saw Zivan lean forward, balancing his elbows on his knees. He was curious about the situation, and looking around the room said everyone shared the same sentiment.
"A vampire tripped me," she recalled with dread in her tone. The grip on her hand tightened and she saw a look of dark fury cross her hero's face. The intimidating look in his eyes demanded to know what happened and soon she was blabbing the entire story. "I was running in the park and I heard a noise behind me, like a twig snapping. For some reason it gave me the creeps so I decided to go home."
Marcus pulled his hands out of her grasp and placed them on his knees. She saw them ruffle the fabric of his pants when he clenched them tightly. What she was saying was obviously making him upset, maybe she should shut up.
It was like he heard that thought because he shook his head, "I'm fine. Please continue."
Juliet took a deep breath, "I tried to run to my car but… someone, one of those guys in the park, tripped me and I fell. That's how I cut myself." Chills ran up her spine as she remembered the feeling of something grabbing her ankle.
Marcus shot off the couch and started pacing in front of her. The brunette thought she saw a flash of red in his eyes but she couldn't be sure because he moved to fast.
His white knuckled fists shook at his sides, jaw clenched tight. Her heart pounded at his reaction, if he was this upset than that couldn't be good.
Juliet pushed forward on the couch so that she was barley sitting on it and reached out a gentle hand to stop Marcus in his tracks. He looked down at her with wide green eyes that shone of a startling mix of vulnerability and anger. "What does that mean?" she asked softly.
He took several deep breaths, green eyes trained on her face. Whatever the answer was, it was difficult for him to say. In fact this entire conversation hadn't been easy on him.
His father's commanding voice broke the silence. "Your scent," he declared in a sure tone. She was surprised when the statement was directed to Marcus instead of her. His scent? What was that supposed to mean?
Every muscle in Marcus' body wound with tension at his father's words and Juliet felt an answering tension within her own body, whatever that statement meant he didn't like it.
She stood up and held her hero's strong arm like an anchor, he immediately leaned close so that they were touching. Her eyes were questioning as she met his, once again asking "What does that mean?"
When Marcus hesitated, his father answered, "They attacked because you smell like my son."
"Tarrik! There is no need to be so blunt," his wife reprimanded, giving him a stern look. The older man spared his wife a glance before pinning the couple with a hard stare.
Juliet clutched Marcus tighter, not liking where the conversation was going. She looked up at her hero but he refused to meet her eyes, guilt was plain on his features. That made her nervous and she looked around the room for answers.
She met Zivan's eyes with a hopeful expression; he had no problem talking to her before maybe he could help now. He shook his head, negatively responding to her silent question; his expression was guarded almost like he was afraid to disturb the thick silence.
As she turned to Claire for an answer, the younger girl pointedly looked at her mother, as if saying 'ask her'.
When Juliet faced the woman she was still staring at her husband with a frown firmly in place. The teen couldn't remember her name but she was sure the message would get across to her. "Please," she asked desperate to know what was going on.
It was obvious that Marcus's mother was wording her answer carefully, "You see dear, supernatural creatures have a heightened sense of smell, strong enough to determine a person's unique scent."
The older woman now stood up and wrung her hands together in a nervous fashion, she slowly approached the couple her face one of worried concern. "The vampires smelt Marcus on you and that is most likely why they attacked you."
At her explanation Marcus tensed beneath her fingers but that didn't deter the teen from asking, "Why would they care that I smell like Marcus?"
She was positive they were talking about the cinnamon aroma she smelt when they were close; even now she could smell it.
Her hero felt like a living stone statue, he was unmoving in his tense posture. She was concerned about his reaction to the situation, he obviously didn't like her being involved with vampires and she didn't blame him. The brunette hoped to never see another one again.
His mother carefully worded her answer, "Out of the two of you, Marcus would smell more appealing."
A shiver ran up her spine as Juliet finally understood, the vampires were able to smell Marcus on her and that's why they attacked. They wanted his blood not her's. In a weird, twisted, sci-fi thriller sort of way made sense but the only way to prevent this from happening again did not settle well with her.
"That means I have to stay away from him," she mused aloud not meaning for the thought to pass her lips.
"No!" Marcus shouted, startling her. His arms immediately wrapped around her; his grip lifted her up off her feet and held her against his chest. A sound of surprise rushed out of her throat as her arms were glued to her sides by his strong hold and her face was meshed with the material of his shirt, that troublesome scent of his crept into her nose momentarily distracting her. Even though she did not have super-smell, Juliet was grateful she was able to smell him at all. This was truly a smell she would never forget and she couldn't blame the vampires for trying to get close to it.
His grip was tight, almost like he was preventing her from getting away. Her heart stuttered in its beat at his vehement denial of her conclusion but she didn't see another way around it.
"Marcus," she mumbled against his shirt. "What else can I do?" Juliet tried to hug him but his strong arms prevented much movement on her part so she opted to let her head rest in a more comfortable position on his chest.
He lowered his dark head and spoke directly in her ear, "Stay here, with me." His warm breath tickled the hairs on the back of her neck and sent a delicious shiver up her spine.
Juliet pulled her upper body away from his warmth just enough so she could meet him in the eyes. His expression was of fierce determination, green eyes said he would not take no for an answer.
"Isn't it dangerous for me to be with you?" she asked gently, careful not to upset him more.
Locks of black hair brushed his cheek as he shook his head, "the safest place is by my side." His fierce tone resounded with confidence, it was a declaration and a promise to her. She trusted in the protection he could provide but Marcus couldn't be with her all day and when he left she would be exposed to danger.
She was about to argue when a vulnerable look crossed his features "Please," came his broken whisper, "just stay here tonight and I'll take you back in the morning when it's light out. It would be safer that way'
His plea echoed in the air between them and settled in her chest, tugging at her heart. Juliet closed her eyes against the pain but not before she saw a spark of desperation hit his green eyes. Why did her heart ache every time he looked at her like that? Like he was in pain and she was the only one who could ease it.
What worried the brunette though was her reaction to his pleading eyes and mesmerizing voice. The combination made her agree to magical transportation, got her hand healed and put food in her stomach. It seemed like she couldn't say 'no' to him but so far that benefited her nicely. Maybe she should continue to trust him, so far he hasn't steered her wrong.
Juliet sighed and leaned her forehead against his warm chest. "Ok" she said simply letting him lead her once again. Marcus heaved a mighty sigh and she felt his chin rest atop her head.
"Thank you," he breathed relief clear in his voice. She smiled into his shirt; this was why she agreed to spend the night with a bunch of supernatural creatures she knew nothing about because he needed her, as crazy as it was to think a man like him could need anything from her, Juliet could feel it was true. It was in the careful way he held her, in the protective way he guarded her.
Her body started to sag as the heavy scent of burnt cinnamon invaded her senses, inducing a languid drowsiness. A jaw splitting yawn broke free as the trials of the day finally caught up with her. All the excitement left the teen exhausted and she was glad Marcus was there to support her weight because a huge wave of lethargy washed over her. How nice of it to have waited until after she had asked her most important questions to crush her with its drowsy power.
"Juliet?" her hero questioned with a small amount of concern in his voice. He adjusted his hold on her, shifting his arms to allow her body to rest more comfortably against him.
She pillowed her cheek on his chest, "I'm really tired." Another yawn stretched her mouth wide adding credibility to her statement.
"Take her upstairs, Marcus. We can finish this tomorrow." Juliet recognized his mother's voice before her feet were taken off the ground. Her eyelids snapped open as her center of gravity shifted. He scooped her up with one arm hooked under her knees and the other circled around her back to cradle her against his strong chest. Her head instinctively rested against his shoulder as her arms wrapped themselves around his neck, clinging for support. A faint blush rose as he headed for the stairs, carrying her as easily and gracefully as if she were as light as a feather.
"I can walk," she protested, the sudden movement shook her out of her drowsiness and pumped nervous butterflies into her system. Her voice was a little high pitched than normal, maybe that was because her hunk of a hero was carrying her to bed. She felt his quiet laugh rumble out of his chest, the sound vibrated into her body.
Even in her embarrassed state of mind Juliet was able to appreciate the graceful way he moved. His steps were so smooth that she wasn't jostled at all and only a few short moments later he laid her down on a bed. The soft sheet greeted her weary body eliciting a quiet sigh from the brunette. She blinked slowly as Marcus hovered above her with his arms locked on either side of her body, creating a well-muscled cage. She could barely make out his face in the dim light of the room but he looked like the guardian angel he proved to be, protecting her from the things that go bump in the night.
After another huge yawn, she gave him a lazy smile, "Thank you for everything." A simple thank you seemed inadequate compared to what he did for her, but at the moment that was all she was able to muster.
She was able to see the white gleam of his teeth as he smiled back at her, "Of course Juliet" he said like saving her like was a fact of life. That stretched her smile wider; he really was her Prince Charming, saying all the right things, treating her like she was precious all the while protecting her from monsters.
His big body moved to sit near her head at the edge of the bed causing the mattress to dip under his weight. She rolled over to keep eye contact with him but her hoodie prevented any comfortable movement and twisted around her body so the teen sat up to remove it.
Her muscles ached when she pulled the material over her head, protesting at being stretched. Juliet attributed her soreness to the massive amounts of adrenaline that pumped through her body today, her poor muscles weren't used to this much excitement.
She tossed the hoodie to the other side of the bed and climbed up the bed to lean against the head board, twisting her head to watch her hero.
Even with the dim lighting she could see the outline of his handsome face, partially covered in shadows. He was close enough that she could hear his deep even breaths as they filled the silence of the room.
She couldn't determine any specific feature of his so she just focused on his huge body covered in shadow. He had a lot more muscle than anyone she ever met and he certainly knew how to use them, but no matter what he did or said Juliet did fear him.
"I think," she stated, concluding her thoughts and pausing to let out another large yawn. "I think I'm crazy for staying here but for some reason it feels right." She moved closer to sit next to him on the bed and he opened his arm to accommodate her. She let her head rest on his shoulder as his arm wrapped around her in a half hug.
It felt so good to be nestled up with him and she gave him a lazy smile as his arm tightened around her waist. He was so sweet and patient with her, he made the events of tonight a little easier to deal with.
She shifted her torso, trying to situate herself better but the small t-shirt kept bunching up, making her uncomfortable. "Marcus, do you have something I could wear to bed? This shirt is too tight."
If her mind wasn't so fogged with sleep then she might have been embarrassed by drawing attention to her predicament. But as it was, the brunette didn't pay much attention as to how her words might affect her companion and only wanted to get more comfortable.
She felt Marcus stiffen but he soon got up off the bed and disappeared into the dark room. Before she could ask what he was doing he returned with a large black t-shirt. He handed it to her, letting the soft material brush her hand. "You can wear this tonight, if you want," he murmured.
The last part was added as an afterthought, almost as if he thought she wouldn't want to wear the incredibly soft material.
"This is perfect, thanks." She tried to stifle another yawn but she didn't fool her hero, Juliet felt his large hand tuck a strand of hair behind her ear.
"You should sleep now," his velvet voice was pure seduction and Juliet could feel her eyelids start to droop. He leaned over and brushed his lips across her forehead, "I'm so glad you decided to stay."
The whispered words against her skin had her smiling, he was impossible to deny. The combination of his pleading eyes and his earnest voice sealed the deal for her; he was just too persuasive when he wanted something. "Me too."
The bed dipped as he kneeled on it, his huge shadowed form encircled her in his wonderful warmth. She sighed into the hug, loving the feeling of his body pressed up against her. She reached up to hug him back, her hands resting on the broad expanse of his back. She could feel him bury his nose in her hair and inhale. "Goodnight Juliet," he breathed into her hair, spreading Goosebumps across her scalp.
Her lips stretched wide, this kind of intimacy made her feel so protected and cared for. He really was Prince Charming. "Goodnight Marcus."
His fingers twitched slightly against her back, almost as if he didn't want to leave. "I will be sleeping across the hall, if you need anything."
He slowly pulled away and Juliet felt unreasonably cold without him. It was strange, she never felt so enamored with a guy before but with Marcus it felt right being near him. She had given him her trust so easily but looking at his vulnerable eyes made her believe that he might feel the same way about her.
He lingered at the door, leaning lightly against the doorframe; the hall light created a yellow glow around him and allowed Juliet to see the affection expression on his face. They locked eyes and the brunette could practically feel the calm wash over her, she felt completely at ease with him. Without any of the fear and confusion from before Juliet smiled widely at her hero, at peace with the fact that he would protect her.
She noticed his eyes widen slightly, seemingly surprised with her brave smile. A giddy amount of affection bloomed in her chest at his open expression, stretching her grin wider. He returned it with a gentle lifting of his lips, pushing off the doorframe he turned around, reaching for the doorknob to give her privacy.
"Wait," she called before he shut the door completely.
He stopped instantly, turning around to face her, eyes bright and curious.
"Um, could you turn on a light? I can't see in here." Her question startled him, almost as if he forgot it was pitch black in the room.
"Of course," came his soft reply. He walked to the left of the door and Juliet could hear a switch flip on. Gentle yellow lights illuminated the room causing the teen to adjust to the light. She could now see the bed he placed her in was huge, definitely a king. She ran her hands over the gold patterned sheets mulling over the fact that she had never slept in a bed so huge before.
Juliet glanced up and took in her surroundings, the room reminded her of a hotel room. All the essentials were there, she could even see the attached bathroom across the room but it was sparsely decorated in terms of personal affects. The furniture and fixings were beautiful and expensive but it lacked any warmth. This must be a guest room, she surmised.
"Everything you should need is already in the bathroom." Marcus quietly told her. Juliet looked back at him; he was watching her intently, his green eyes glued to her face. She blinked under his stare wondering what he was thinking as his gentle smile faded slowly.
"Thank you," she mumbled, swinging her legs off the side of the bed and standing up with his shirt clutched in her hands. "Goodnight," she whispered again, her tone soft but appreciative.
"Goodnight Juliet, I will see you in the morning." He seemed reluctant to leave as she was to see him go but all too soon he disappeared behind the wooden door with a soft snap.
Juliet stared at the door for a few seconds, relieved with the way tonight ended. Her day started out horrible, losing her job seemed insignificant compared to vampires and magic but with Marcus by her side she was able to walk into the attached bathroom with a small smile.
This was the right decision, she told her reflection in the vast mirror that stretched from ceiling to an expensive, aqua blue countertop. She saw an unopened toothbrush laying on the counter next to a small tube of toothpaste; she smiled, thankful for the toiletries.
She had just finished her night-time routine when her pocket buzzed. Startled, Juliet forgot she had her phone on her. Taking the black device out, the teen saw Erika sent her a text message: when are you coming over?
Crap, Juliet had told her friend that she would be sleeping over her house tonight. In fact, that was the same thing she told her mom. Double crap, if her mom found out that she wasn't at Erika's then there would be hell to pay.
Quickly she wrote back: Not coming over tonight. I need a huge favor, if my mom asks say that I'm there.
Almost instantly her phone lit up with her friend's answer: And why am I covering for you?
The brunette bit her lip, she couldn't possibly tell Erika what really happened and she couldn't let her mom get suspicious. Please! I'll explain later.
You better missy.
Juliet smiled, relieved that her friend agreed to cover for her. Thanks I owe you.
Satisfied that her mom would be none the wiser about her daughter's whereabouts tonight, the brunette put the phone on the counter and changed out of her borrowed clothes and into her hero's dark shirt. It was way too big on her but the material smelt just like cinnamon, a deep inhale kept the aroma close and brought enough comfort with it that the teen was sure she would have no trouble sleeping even after what happened tonight.
Gathering up her clothes and phone, she crossed the large room and located the light switch Marcus had turned on for her. Memorizing the path from the switch to the beautiful bed, Juliet turned out the lights and made her way carefully to her plush destination. She dropped the bundle of clothes at the foot of the bed and set her phone on the nightstand.
With a tired sigh, she settled under the sheets her head burying into the soft pillows until she found a comfortable position. Her eyes drifted shut, her mind slowed down to adopt a pattern fit for sleep.
Her tiredness didn't surprise Juliet, it was the easy, comfortable way in which she adapted to her new environment. It was like a part of her mind was already familiar with Marcus and his home. Before she could question her easy trust in her hero, her phone buzzed loudly against the wooden nightstand lighting up the dark room with its artificial blue light.
Reaching over to grab it she saw that Erika sent her a text: Just one question. My best friend sense is tingling. Does this cover up have something to do with Marcus?
Juliet looked at the screen in shock. How the hell did she guess? The teen was partially impressed with this 'best friend sense' but it made her nervous. A yes or no answer from the brunette would lead to more questions but not answering at all would create trouble. Juliet bit her lip and opened the text message, just what in the world was she going to tell her best friend?
(Going back to when Marcus left the room)
Marcus gently shut the door behind him. He heaved a huge sigh of relief that could have gone horribly wrong.
They had just hurtled over a huge obstacle that could have damaged their relationship but Juliet handled the information surprisingly well. She was scared, he knew that but he could see the determination and strength in her eyes. And best of all he saw trust in her hazel eyes; honest and shy. She trusted him despite her fear of the night's events, despite the fact that she knew he wasn't human. The knowledge of her trust made his chest ache with happiness deeper and sharper than he had ever felt before. Almost against his will he leaned back towards the door, towards his fragile human mate.
He hesitated in the hall for a few moments, listening to the sounds of Juliet moving around in the room. A wide smile stretched across his lips; the fledgling bond gave him enough insight to know she would accept him. The fact that she agreed to stay here was proof of that; on some unconsciousness level she responded to the bond they shared, allowing her to trust him so completely. It was a trust he hoped he could live up to. Living in his world would be dangerous for her, given his position and hers; a human living among the Royal Family. He chuckled softly, it's certainly going to be interesting.
He left his perch at her door and walked into his room, feeling somewhat optimistic about tomorrow. His mate was safe and in his home, thoroughly protected by the Royal Guard's finest Demons. He had no reason to worry right now.
In his home.
That brought a wistful sigh to his lips and certainly did a lot to calm him down. Marcus still thought about the rouge vampires but with his mate safely within arm's reach, it was hard to feel the blinding rage from before. Instead of letting the emotion consume him, the Demon Prince made a vow to place a secure guardian bond on Juliet.
He would have to ask her permission since the bonding would be very involved. She would have to allow him into her mind so he could plant his energy within her psyche, giving him a way to immediately sense any danger around her.
Marcus stepped into the attached bathroom and examined himself in the mirror. His eyes were strained and his mouth was in a firm line, showing his stress from the night's events. He splashed some water on his face, trying to rid himself of the haunted look lingering in his eyes.
He shuddered, remembering the blinding panic that throbbed in his chest when he felt her terror through their fragile bond; remembered having his worst nightmare confirmed as he saw his mate bleeding, being stalked by a vampire. White hot rage boiled within him as soon as he reached the park, an echo of it still burned in his chest.
With perfect timing, he heard Juliet sigh across the hall snuggling into sleep; he was so attuned to her that the small innocent sound managed to reach his ears. Marcus let out a deep breath, expelling his anger. She couldn't have planned it better, he thought with a reluctant smile. He didn't want to let go of his rage, he had a right to it but his little human drew him away from those dark feelings without even knowing it.
He decided to stop thinking about what happened, focusing now on preparing for bed. He didn't need as much sleep as humans did but for the last couple of weeks he had barely slept. The chaos of the Quivering combined with protecting his mate from afar had left him too stressed to sleep properly.
But now, with his mate here in one of the most protected places in the world, he might actually be able to get some rest. He stripped down out of his clothes and headed for a quick shower just long enough to wash away the stench of the newborns. Unfortunately the slight mango aroma clinging to him would also be washed away.
He stood under the spray, letting the hot water soak his hair and drip down his body. He let the water run while he slowly relaxed, content to shut his eyes and let the water pound softly at his back. He poured liquid soap into his hands, working it into a fine lather and set to the task of ridding himself of dirt and grime. The cuts had disappeared from his chest but one deep claw mark in particular was slower to heal. All that was left of it was a pink scratch just under his ribs, the heat from the water soothed the ache.
Deeming himself clean enough, Marcus stepped out of the shower; he towel dried his hair so it was only slightly damp. Feeling much more relaxed he donned a pair of boxers and promptly crawled into bed.
As usual when Marcus let his mind relax in preparation for sleep his beast would come to the forefront of his mind and pace loudly in its mental cage. It was always active when he tried to rest and Marcus just assumed the beast never slept. When he was younger and couldn't control the beast well, he would spend countless night's fighting its demands for freedom and that was something he couldn't allow. Since then both man and beast matured, Marcus was much stronger and could ignore the beast's demands easily and the creature itself seemed much more subdued. Now it tried to get him to do certain tasks on its behalf. The only thing Marcus conceded to, (after much thought) was the beast's need for blood.
While demons did drink blood occasionally they were not dependent on the liquid like vampires. However his beast was more blood thirsty than most and after some trial and error, Marcus found that drinking donated blood regularly helped calm the beast and therefore made the creature more manageable.
With a deep breath, Marcus shut his eyes and tried to clear his mind so he could rest. Predictably the beast spoke, Mate, want mate.
So do I. Came his automatic response. It was like an itch he couldn't scratch, Juliet was so close but he was worried that if he crowded her it might be too much for her to handle tonight.
He sighed into the air, we can't have her. Not now.
Marcus pinched the bridge of his nose; the damned creature was a child in every way with its unpredictable temperament and speech. After centuries of being together it still didn't know how to speak English properly. His patience was low and he didn't want to deal with his beast, Marcus already had enough of its demands throughout the night, filling the Demon Prince with dark, violent urges compelling him to find an outlet for his rage.
Gritting his teeth against the surge of dark thoughts Marcus warned the creature, we will frighten her if we go to her now.
What little patience he had broke, we cannot push her! He growled at the creature and out loud, frustrated with the situation. She has to come to us on her own.
Not completely understanding his meaning the creature knew the words were a benefit to their mate so his beast settled down… for now.
Sighing, he once again tried to settle comfortably under the sheets. He relaxed his body one part at a time, first his toes then his fingers and arms began to lose any tension still left in his body. Slowly he could feel his body sag with tiredness and his eyelids drifted shut.
He was still aware of his surroundings but they were significantly dulled as his consciousness dimmed in preparation for sleep. With his beast silent, the Demon Prince was able to sink further away from the waking world.
Marcus was startled from his semi-sleep when he heard Juliet's startled gasp from across the hall. His eyes snapped open at the sound, he strained his ears to catch every movement she made; the rustle of sheets, feet touching the floor with a soft thud. He heard the twist of one door, and he swallowed hard when light footsteps led to his door.
She slowly pushed the door open, trying not to make a sound; he could tell she couldn't see well in the dark otherwise she would have spotted his wide eye stare. His eyes raked over her body as he puzzled why she was here.
She carefully shut the door behind her and Marcus noticed that she wore his shirt, and nothing else. Her brown hair dipped in and out of the collar spread wide over her small shoulders. The deep vee of the shirt allowed just enough space to see the enticing hollow between her breasts. The dark material swamped her frame but he knew of the breathtaking shape that lay underneath it. Sweet curves, lush full breasts, small waist curving into wide mature hips perfect for him to settle both hands at her sides, fingers spreading over her soft belly.
Marcus felt his blood surging hot in response to his imagination, his body hardening swiftly.
He didn't move a muscle as she crept closer to the bed, afraid he would act on his desires. He swallowed hard and with all his iron-will self-control, pushed aside his body's insistent demands.
He forcefully ignored how the sight of seeing her standing in his room, in his shirt, made an alluring visual stimulus. Instead watched her move even closer, tiptoeing carefully in the dark.
He was fascinated with her stealthy movements, surprised at how quiet she was except for the fact that her heartbeat sounded loud in his ears.
She was about to trip on his pants when he decided to 'wake up' and discover why she entered the room. He sat up, resting his back against the headboard and after he adjusted the slight problem in his lap, he turned on the light next to the bed. He saw his mate blink rapidly at the sudden brightness and her heart sped up when she saw him looking directly at her.
Wide hazel eyes shone with a vulnerability that made his chest ache, his brows furrowed in concern.
The shirt bunched in her hands when she fisted the material in a nervous fashion; in a voice so soft she whispered, "Can I stay with you tonight?"
Immediately he nodded, overjoyed that she wanted to spend the night with him but he had an uneasy feeling that her reasoning was not pleasant.
Marcus outstretched his arms in invitation to come closer and she instantly responded. Her eyes watered as she ran over and jumped onto the bed, landing in his embrace.
He easily absorbed the impact and he gathered her to sit on his lap. His arms automatically encircled her small frame and he was alarmed to feel her shaking. Juliet buried her head into the crook of his neck and began crying, hot tears rolled on his bare chest.
The salty scent of her tears made his beast agitated with her distress and it demanded that Marcus do something, unfortunately he was not skilled in dealing with crying women.
He recalled running into his parent's room as a child when he had a nightmare, he remembered how his mother would gently rock him back and forth softly singing an old lullaby until he calmed down and fell asleep.
Drawing on that memory, Marcus hummed a quite tune to his mate tying to copy the comfort his mother gave him. He rubbed her back as the deep melody vibrated from his throat, lulling her sobs into quite sniffles. Being able to take away his mate's tears made his chest swell with male satisfaction.
The Demon Prince looked down at his mate with soft eyes, she was so small in his embrace. He felt a burst of power stream through his veins, his beast was letting itself known; they would protect this woman no matter the cost. Anything that made her upset made both man and beast upset in turn.
The low melody drifted to an end and Juliet lifted her head off his shoulder. Her hazel eyes were red and puffy, and there were tear streaks on her cheeks. He brushed away the remaining tears with his thumb, "What is wrong, Juliet?"
He watched as her eyes began to water again. Her lip trembled when she answered, "I had a nightmare that the guy from the park came back to get me. It felt so real."
Her anguished voice kicked him in the gut, he deeply regretted the circumstances of her introduction into his world. It was a terrible way to learn about the supernatural.
His hand gently cradled the back of her head, encouraging his mate to bury her face against him as she had before. The fear in her eyes shone too brightly for him to bear. With a voice that beguiled his distress he told her that the man would never be able to come back to harm her.
"I know!" she sobbed into his chest. "I witnessed a mass murder and helped kill someone tonight" she was clutching him as desperation leaked into her voice. "How am I supposed to live with that?"
She began to sob once again, the weight of her conscience made her curl into his body.
He was pleased that his mate had a kind heart and he also recognized the strength it must have taken for her to hide this in front of his family. She waited until they were alone for her to confide in him. But the sound of her distress was unbearable; he never wanted to see her cry. It was his duty as a mate to take care of her; he would gladly bear any burden of hers if it would ease her stress.
He had to qualm her fears, "You destroyed a man who was already dead." He waited until she lifted her head to stare at him, her confusion was evident.
Marcus took a deep breath and shifted so she was more comfortable in his lap. Her arms locked behind his neck and he shivered at the warmth, her touch caused his suppressed desire to burn his body. Giving himself a mental shake he set aside his wants in favor of focusing on his mate's emotional state. He was able to school his features as she leaned away to meet his gaze; his own arms supported her slender back automatically.
He took another deep breath and hoped explaining this to her wasn't a mistake, "There are two ways to make a vampire. One way is kind told in myths, where one vampire bites a human and drinks their blood." He paused when she shivered at that part; her expression said she was clearly uncomfortable with that.
He hurried through the rest of his explanation, "the vampire then exchanges blood with their victim, sharing equal amounts of blood and creating a newborn vampire. The second way is forbidden by law, because in this instance the victim's soul is taken."
Her face paled instantly, and the sharp lines around her mouth had him pausing again. Damn it, I shouldn't have told her, she seems more terrified than before.
His mate sensed his hesitation to continue and she bravely asked him, "Please go on." She tightened her hold on him and he instinctively brought her body closer so that she was flush against him. His response to comfort her came so naturally and while her emotional state was nothing to smile about, Marcus felt a burst of affection well in his chest.
Her trust in him and her show of strength made his throat tighten with emotion. His little mate just had her world turned upside down and here she was putting on a brave face and asking for more, she was everything he hoped she would be. I can never let this woman go, he realized as Juliet rested her head against his shoulder, burying her face in the crook of his neck.
He hugged her tightly as a wave of protectiveness washed over him; he cherished her strong spirit and kind heart. She was so precious to him, no one ever came to him for comfort; he always kept a barrier between him and the rest of the world. But now that his mate demanded it from him, Marcus had no trouble opening up to her. He could easily let down his barriers for her.
"Honestly, I can handle it. Just skip on the details" his mate murmured against his skin.
With a tender smile he kissed her hair, breathing in her mango scent. He sighed, continuing his explanation, "When a vampire takes too much blood from their victim without a proper exchange, it is said that they drain the person of their soul. That person becomes a mindless minion for their creator with no thought of their own. These vampires cannot be saved because they have no soul. They are already dead."
Marcus stroked her hair as he let his words linger, he was positive she understood what he was trying to say but still he continued to explain.
"At first I thought the group we encountered tonight were merely newborns but after giving it more thought, I am sure now that they were soulless vampires."
Juliet was quiet for a moment, digesting the information. He couldn't see her face and grew anxious when she remained silent for a long minute.
"You only destroyed a shell of a body; the soul was already gone." Marcus wanted her to understand that she did nothing wrong, he did not want this on her conscience. "Please do not blame yourself."
She let out a heavy sigh, her soft breath tangled in his hair and sent a delicious shiver up his spine. It reminded him of how perfect her slight weight felt on his lap, how a simple shift of his hips would align their bodies perfectly.
With a silent growl Marcus forcefully pushed that desire aside, he needed to concentrate on helping his mate.
"That made me feel better," she admitted in his ear, adjusting her arms into a more comfortable position around his neck.
Marcus could almost feel the weight being lifted from her shoulders. He was proud that he was able to take this burden away from her but it was an awful reminder of what kind of world he lived in. What kind of world he had dragged her into.
Eventually her breathing evened out and she began to lean more heavily on him, she was falling asleep on his shoulder. With another burst of affection, he carefully picked her up off his lap, immediately missing her warmth, and placed her beside him on the bed.
She barely shifted as he willed the lights off and brought the blanket around her body. As soon as he settled under the sheets Juliet curled into his side, pressing close to him. Marcus let her head rest against his shoulder and he wrapped an arm around her back.
He smiled at the ceiling, after being alone for so long he finally had his mate to share his bed with. His little human was unbelievably precious to him, and this moment of unconscious trust only solidified that truth.
It was the mating bond that brought them together but he hoped it was because of a growing affection she had for him that made her body choose him even in her sleep.
Juliet was handling the supernatural well so far and he had hope that once everything was explained she would come to embrace his world.
With thoughts of a bright future Marcus closed his eyes, content with their situation. He gathered his mate close to the shelter of his body, a small smile lingered on his lips as he drifted off into the most restful sleep the Demon Prince had in a very long time.
So, how was it? I deserve your brutal honesty after making you guys wait so long. Again I am so sorry for that.
For some reason this was a hard chapter to write and after countless editings I still don't feel this is my best chapter to date. I hurried and posted this so I am sorry for any mistakes.
AN: I want to explain something before anyone asks. Yes, Juliet's world got turned upside down but the reason she isn't running and screaming in fear is because of her bond with Marcus. That bond is helping her accept all the supernatural stuff going on. She was born to be Marcus' mate therefore she is genetically programmed to accept this life. While Juliet knows she has a special relationship with Marcus she has no idea (yet) how deep and how strong their connection is; some unconsciousness part of her recognizes and embraces Marcus' true nature. That is why Juliet trusts him and isn't crying in terror, but reasonably she is apprehensive and confused.
Also a topic I want to address is the orange juice scene. I know it might seem unrealistic but its true of a native Floridian. Juliet (just like me) was raised on fresh squeezed orange juice that came from orange groves just a few miles away from where she lives. Even when packaged and sold in stores the orange juice tastes fresh because the period of time between squeezing the fruit and shelf life is very short compared to other parts of the country. It might seem ridiculous but in Florida you can taste the difference.
To Trance19666: To answer your question as to why the counsil wouldn't like Marcus and Juliet's relationship, it is a combonation of both your questions. There is the fact that he is of royal blood and there is also a bit of a legend involved. I can't tell you more without ruining the story. Also thank you for reviewing to almost every chapter
To Lilly: You have found my grammer weakness. I am sorry you have to read the story with so many mistakes but I just can't seem to help myself. I think I have an addiction to the comma button. And because of you I tried extra hard to put in some transitions. I hope this chapter adresses your concerns about the mating bond.
To bloodlore: Thank you! I got a huge grin on my face from your review. I would have to do some serious tweaking to this if I wanted it published (which I do ) and I'm glad you like the pacing of the story because I was wondering if I was going too slow.
To everyone who reviewed: Thank you all who reviewed and alerted this story, you kept me motivated to crank out this chapter. Your reviews really inspire me and to those anonymous reviewers, thank you for your kind words and I hope you will continue to read the story.
And lastly, I need a last name for the Royal Family. Any suggestions? I was thinking something Greek but I would like to hear what you guys have to say.
Until next time (and I promise that it wont be so long between updates again)