Chapter 8

Chapter 8

A Chapter by Nicole

Life's coming down on my really hard lately; it's hard to find time to write. :(


Chapter 8



There are no rules or restrictions that might apply to the free play of love. What is a strict category is also a freedom in and of itself.

            Who can tame love? Who can harness and wield it? Who can stand against it or dare refute it?

            I have fallen prey to that bittersweet surrender and I will suffer its penance as I must. But I cannot regret, revoke, or stifle this fire that consumes me. It has come to define me, to precede and endure with me, as part of my body and soul that I cannot dissect.

            Others will damn and rebuke me. My kind has all but lost the same flame that consumes me. I can only pray that there might be one of us, someday, who can bring a rebirth of this consuming fire within the hearts and minds of our kind. Who can bring those who were commanded to protect from the darkness of selfish desire to the glowing revelation of selfless love.




“Maybe this isn’t a good idea.” Charly’s voice savored strongly of anxiety as she gripped the steering wheel of her car, watching the dirt road before her make a slight curve to the left before it split into.

One turn of road continued on, winding through grazing pastures and finally embarking up into the rugged mountain terrain beyond. The other turn melted into a cobblestone drive that ducked beneath the eaves of ancient oak trees that lined either side of the road. They were tall and their limbs were broad, having few leaves on them because of how cold spring had been so far.

 Far at the other end of the drive, Charly could just make out the white columns and terraces of Dervyshire Park. Instantly she began to rebuke herself thoroughly for ever supposing this might have been a good idea.

“You are worrying far too much about this, Charly,” Kim was blasé in the passenger’s seat, eyes narrowed as she carefully leaned into the flip down mirror to apply more rosy color to her lips. “He did invite you after all, don’t forget that. If they aren’t here or this is a bad time, then we’ll just leave. Otherwise, we’re just taking him up on his invitation. Right?”

Charly was not satisfied. “He offered that invitation a week ago, Kim, and I haven’t heard a word from him since. If he wanted to see me, he would have found me. Wouldn’t it make sense that he would renew his invitation if he did want to see me again?”

Kim didn’t answer as she applied her lipstick, leaving Charly in quiet resolve at her own question. It had been nearly seven days since Randolf had asked if she would come and visit Dervyshire and in that time, she had found it nearly impossible to sit still. In that small amount of time, there had been much to capture her attention. Far too much.

First and fore mostly was the ominous mountain lion that was killing cattle in the valley was growing bolder with each night, coming nearer to farmhouses. It had everyone up in arms and frightful to go outside after dark. Farmers lamented the death of their cattle and were entirely at a loss as to how to prevent it. They set out bear traps with bait and had nothing to show for it. The essence of fear was rank in the atmosphere in Westcliffe and Charly was not immune to it.

Second, and less pressing but still troubling all the same, Sam had been intolerably insistent. Not with his words which were much easier to ignore, but with his far more potent and nearly intolerable presence. He remained close to her whenever and wherever he was able. Much to her misfortune, she was all too easy for him to locate due to her parents’ anxiety about the mountain lion that was stalking cattle farms. They had forbidden her to be out past 6 PM and this made it nearly impossible to avoid him and even more improbable that she would run into Randolf again. Neither circumstances were pleasing to her in any way, but she felt the absence of Randolf’s conversations as a more prevalent and intolerable agony.

Since their lunch, she had not seen or heard from Dr. Randolf and each passing day felt longer and more unbearable than the one before it. She could only assume that he had been so offended by Sam’s presence at her house that he had denounced any and all friendliness for her whatsoever. Her breast felt tight for lack of breath and her hands itched for something to occupy them, to stir her thoughts away from that painful possibility. But there was not a single task in the house that would employ her brain so that she did not think about his mysterious smiles and curious questioning. Those silver eyes were burned into her brain and she could not escape them.

With that same suspense still rampant in her brain, Charly felt entirely too anxious to be out and about going anywhere, much less to visit Randolf in his majestic house. Kim’s presence did soothe her some, but she gripped the steering wheel until her knuckles were white and chewed the inside of her cheeks ruthlessly.

“Oh wow…Charly, look at that!” Kim was rolling down the passenger window, craning her neck to see the breathtaking image that Dervyshire Park painted, far away at the end of the lined grove of oak trees that kept the cobblestone drive like ancient guardians.

The house was stately, grand, and shone with a timeless brilliance that seemed so entirely displaced when compared to the rest of Westcliffe. White Grecian pillars held up balconies on the second and third stories and the ivory marble walls shone with milky perfection. There could have been more than two hundred windows, all shining with new glass and freshly crafted sills.

There was no way to escape a certain sense of inadequacy just by looking upon such a clean, cool place and Charly sank a bit lower in her seat, hands feeling numb as she pulled the car up around the circular drive that swooped up against the front of the house. Kim was less affected by it, bounding out of the car immediately and giggling in enamored awe at the place.

Charly opened her door more tentatively, her feet striking the drive and feeling unsteady as she righted herself and pressed her car door closed again, unable to release the handle for a moment as she stammered through several uneven breaths. It was all so untoward, coming here without another invitation from Randolf and just assuming that their presence would be welcomed. She had crossed the mental threshold into deciding that she did, in fact, like him very much and so imposing upon his house at the risk of upsetting him or his niece…well, it certainly didn’t help her cause. Especially after what had happened with Sam.

“Come on! Let’s see if they’re at home!” Kim’s voice sang as she looped an insistent arm through Charly’s and all but drug her up the sleek, marble steps to the front door. The smell of new lumber and fresh paint was thick in the air about the door and Kim pressed the elaborate, iron doorbell and giggled excitedly when there came a booming, echoing chime from beyond the massive front door.

There was not a shade of color in Charly’s face as they waited, arm in arm, and the wind stirred through her long gold hair. She was certain that they had stood there for what felt like nearly an hour before she tugged a bit at Kim’s elbow and whispered to her. “They aren’t home. We should go…”

The door flinched not a minute after Kim had rung the bell, the sound of metal workings from the other side silencing her suddenly. The door cracked open enough for a small, sprightly little girl to peer around the corner of it. Her eyes were wide and lovely, her face rosy and charming while framed prettily by vibrant red hair that hung in grand, spiraling curls nearly to her waist. It was Randolf’s niece, Katia Vaugh, and Charly felt she knew her instantly. Her own color rushed back into her cheeks as she blushed with embarrassment.

“Hello, may I help you?” Katia looked between them, her voice small but melodic and cheerful.

“I’m Kimberly James and this is Charlotte Montgomery.” Kim was quick to take up the conversation, as if she were able to sense that Charly was all but dead of mortified humiliation where she stood. “Dr. Randolf Fuerst invited us to come over and visit and so we wondered if he was available?”

Katia’s face blossomed into a radiant smile and she opened the door wider, standing before them in a darling little ensemble that looked much like a school uniform. A navy blue skirt, sport coat, knee high socks, and collared white blouse with a sporty little bow tie made her look nearly like a doll as she clapped her hands and beamed at them. Indeed the girl did look a good bit younger and stood quite a bit shorter than they; she hardly seemed to be more than 16. “Oh! Of course! Come in, come in! I am Katia, Randolf’s niece. He promised me you’d be visiting; I’m so glad to find he wasn’t lying to me!”

Charly was able to make a small sound then, enough to garner a single, smooth and utterly intentional glance from Katia that made her suck in a sharp breath and fall silent again. The way the girl looked at her, it was as though Charly was sure she’d seen her before. Or at least been near her in some way. There was a strong flavor of familiarity there and something beneath it all that was cold and calculating. Nearly predatory. It made Charly tremble and she hesitated as Kim began to cross the threshold into the house.

“If this is a bad time,” She spoke at last, eyes meeting those of Katia with fleeting bravery, “we can always call again, when it’s more convenient. I am ashamed that we should come here unannounced.”

Katia’s smile was reassuring, though no less impending on Charly’s nerves. “Don’t be silly. I’m very glad to finally meet you, Miss Charlotte. He speaks of you often. I believe he’s up in his study, actually, but shall I give you a tour of the house, maybe? Then we can go steal him from his books for some coffee?”

Kim was pleased with this plan and immediately agreed. The three set out directly upon a tour of the grounds that did no more to instill any sort of comfort into Charly’s frazzled nerves. Katia seemed genuinely pleased to meet them and offered little narratives and descriptions of various paintings or artifacts about the house, though she admitted she didn’t really pay much attention to half of what the construction workers had done to the place during the renovation.

The rooms were beautiful and the furnishings were handsome and expensive. The ceilings were tall and adorned with murals and the marble floors shone like glass. Amongst it all, Charly was left feeling rather small and insignificant to the cavernous place. With so much light and clean, white paint…it was not at all what she had pictured as the horrid, haunted place the other kids in high school had described.

She felt underdressed in her pale green dress. But it fit her prettily and a length of white ribbon tied just under her bust line lent to her slender, lovely shape. She felt that her legs were too skinny, her knees too knobby and awkward, to wear a dress like this one but Kim had insisted that its color played faithfully upon that of her eyes, making them seem even more warm and alive. With little laced capped sleeves hardly keeping her warm, she’d amended the ensemble with one of her mother’s old scarf wraps, a dark and dank old length of wool died a spicy plum color. She hugged it about her shoulders, wrenching at it fiercely with her hands as she followed Kim and Katia from room to room, eyes drawn up to the lofty ceilings and delicate murals of angels and clouds.

 The gardens in the back were still under construction, or so the animated Katia explained, but the veranda was restored and the landscapers were just now beginning to untangle the mess of shrubs and overgrown hedges along the walking paths. So caught up were they in their tour and conversation that Kim and Katia merely paused at one of the glass paned doors that led out into the back gardens before they moved on. Charly lingered there, forgotten easily for how silent she’d been, and stared out through the old, wavered glass at the sunlight dancing over the white paved paths.

Her hand touched the knob and she glanced quickly back to where Katia and Kim had gone, moved away into the next room, before she opened the door far enough so that she could slip out. The outside air made it easier for her to draw a breath and Charly sighed heavily, her shoulders sagging as she closed her eyes a moment.

The sound of running water, of the wind in the bushes, and the rattling of tree branches made her look up again to the back gardens of Dervyshire. She wondered how two people could live in such a place and not feel lonely. There was something extremely lonely about these gardens behind the estate and Charly wrapped her wool shrug around her more tightly before she embarked upon one of the white paved paths.

Katia had spoken the truth and most of the paths were too overgrown to venture down them very far. Rosebushes had outgrown themselves and boxwoods had become giants. But there was evidence of the landscapers’ work and little perfectly shaped hedges were arranged on either side of most of the paths, square cut and handsome.

She ran her fingers across the soft leaves, the cold Colorado wind finding her there amongst the rose thorns and blowing freely across her skin, teasing in her curly gold hair and billowing in the skirt of her pale green dress. It teased a smile from her lips momentarily and she paused, dark eyes the color of new roseleaves catching the glimmer of water amidst a sea of wild, new greenery. All the leaves were fresh and new to the world, their presence delayed by the cold this spring had contained. The rosebushes boasted only buds for now, swollen and brilliant as rubies, and she reached to touch one, feeling of the velvety softness of the folded petals between her fingertips.

“Can I impose to join you?”

Randolf’s voice was so very near and sudden that Charly gasped, whirling around and shocked to find him standing closely behind her, as if he had been watching her for some time.

Her face flushed with color and she found she could scarcely smile or speak at first, trying to piece together how he’d found her and how he’d come to stand so close to her without her knowledge.

“O-of course.” She stumbled over her words, unable to check them before she spoke, “I, well, Katia said that you were up in your study. I didn’t mean to trespass here.”

He offered a knowing smile and shrugged, “I am that dull, I suppose, but I have been away the past few days to begin working in Canon City so I’ve taken the rest of the week to avoid my study. But at any rate, you’re not trespassing; I did invite you here. I was beginning to think you wouldn’t come at all.”

“I was afraid to.” Charly admitted, looking down at the white path and twisting at the ends of her shawl, “I hadn’t seen you since…the situation with Sam. I thought maybe you’d been offended by all that nonesense and would have preferred for me to just stay away.”

One of his dark brows arched, his expression skewing handsomely into a curiously amused smirk, “I was under the impression that you didn’t like Sam.”

Charly’s gaze snapped up to meet his earnestly, “I don’t!”

“Ah,” Randolf looked satisfied, sliding his broad hands into the pockets of his designer jeans. That paired with a long sleeved gray dress shirt, the sleeves rolled to his elbows, was what she surmised to be another sampling of his casual attire. “I’ve no reason to take offense then, have I? But it does bring me to a nagging question I have been meaning to ask you.”

She drew back slightly, pressing her lips together into a small frown. “You ask me many questions, Randolf.” It was an obvious statement, of course, but she utilized it to imply for him to explain why.

His returning smile was mild and apologetic.  He took the liberty to move a bit closer and offered her his arm, “Walk with me, then? And I’ll try to ask you this casually so it feels less like an interrogation? I must beg your forgiveness if it seems that I’m backing you into a metaphorical corner, that is not my intention, but over the past several days I have had some time to dwell upon our conversations and so there is something most urgent that I want to ask you.”

The feel of his arm was familiar and, just as before, the touch of his skin blazed with a feverish sort of heat that was unnatural. But it wasn’t unpleasing and she took his arm carefully, nodding and presenting her own uncertain smile.

Despite how relieved she felt at his dismissal of her fears that she had offended him, Charly found she was unable to shake that sense of tense anxiety from her persona. He had certainly noticed it.

            “You should ask it quickly, then” She suggested in a quiet tone, “Else I’ll be forced to believe it is something truly awful and be left in fear of its sudden arrival.”

            His strange silver eyes narrowed speculatively, examining her comment as well as the reluctant demeanor of her face as she walked close beside him. He was quiet for several moments, as if he had expected to have a little more time to voice what he wanted to ask.

“Very well.” His tone savored of some defeat, “I have not forgotten what you told me on the night that we first met, Miss Charlotte. I respect your wishes to the utmost, but mine own render me unable to concentrate on anything apart from this one resilient hope. I remember well that you insisted upon our remaining friends and nothing more. But as I’ve come to know you, I have grown increasingly fond of you and now find myself strangled at the thought that I have no hope for more than friendship in your eyes. If you do not have any similar fondness for me, speak it now and I won’t dare broach this subject again and will make my own peace with friendship. But if your sentiments have changed at all, I must ask if you would please allow me the chance to seek after you in a more intimate fashion.”

Charly balked at first, huffing a single throaty “Hah!” before she could restrain herself. It was not intended offensively, but he looked a bit stricken and confused before she was able to explain herself. It was sheer shock, after all, that she might have another opportunity to accept him and she could hardly believe what she was hearing even as it came from his lips.

“Randolf,” She was breathless then, looking up at him intently with all the earnest she might express, “I regretted what I said to you that night nearly as instantly as I spoke it. It took the gentle reprimand of a very dear friend of mine to reveal that to me. But if I can explain myself at all, I will tell you that I was, and still am, frightened by what you offer so freely. You are a handsome, successful, intelligent man with the ability to charm any woman that might cross your path. To think that you could have feelings for me is unbelievable. I hardly think of myself as the caliber of woman that you might adore. But I cannot continue to deny myself the hope that I might not displease you. My dear friend insisted that I abandon my defensive reserves like that. So I will say this, as an answer to you. I do like you, Randolf. I like you very much. I miss your company nearly as momentarily as I am without it and cannot bear to think that you might be discouraged from seeing me for any reason. I do not want you to be left in wonder over what other men mean to me or whether or not I have feelings for you. I am very fond of you Randolf; I was a fool to try convince myself otherwise.”

His pace had slowed all the while and finally come to a stand still, turning to look down at her while still holding on intentionally to her arm with one of his deeply warm hands. At first, he made no expression at all and merely stared down at her with his alien eyes wide, bright, and unfathomable. Touches of a private, knowing smile creased the corners of his eyes and tugged at the corners of his mouth as he reach his other hand to brush a burning palm to one of her cheeks, cradling her face as if he already did adore her.

Charly trembled under his touch, dark green eyes fluttering closed and slender neck curving back to the gentle will of his hand as he bent down to press his lips against hers. Never had she felt something so sweet, so utterly inspiring that it made her feel as though she might be imagining the whole instance. But his breath was warm against her face, his lips smooth and welcoming as he drew his arms about her and brought her in close against the broadly muscled expanse of his chest. She felt his own stuttering heartbeat against hers, felt the hesitating nerves behind the touch of his hands, and she could not but reach to grip against the fabric of his shirt to keep herself from falling completely against him.

It was as if he had claimed the realization of a lifetime’s pursuit as he pulled back from her then, looking down into her face and appearing to be as breathlessly awed as she. His silver eyes shone as brightly as stars, searching through her face and seeming to catch upon something that made him pause. As if there was something he wanted desperately to say.

Charly had no idea how to return to a sense of normality with him then; how to go back to talking casually and exchanging their little witty comments and opinions.  She couldn’t imagine how she might ever go back to that, how it might feel the same, and she allowed herself to look at him with that unguarded worry and fear upon her fair face.

Randolf cleared his throat, coughing a nervous chuckle as he brushed some of his black, feathery hair away from his face. It seemed as though he were at a loss as well, but there was a definite essence of relief and joy about him as he took up her arm again and kept her close at his side.

            “Have you had a pleasant week, Miss Charlotte?” He asked as casually as he could manage. 

            She had to turn her mind fully to thinking about what to say and so she sighed shakily, trying to release some of her nerves as she walked with him once more, “No, I haven’t. Ever since that day Sam has been completely unbearable, or at least more so than usual, and being trapped at home with him has made me a nervous wreck.”

            He made an amused humming sound, “Trapped at home?”

            “Because of the mountain lion,” She explained carefully, “Haven’t you heard? The town’s been buzzing with it; apparently there is a mountain lion that has taken to killing cattle in the valley. At first it was here and there in some of the farms farther from town, but lately they’ve been finding bodies closer and closer to houses. It has everyone in an uproar, worrying about an animal that would be so bold as to kill cattle that close to town. My parents have forbidden me to be out after dinner, afraid that the mountain lion might develop a taste for ignorant country girls.”

            Something in his demeanor changed rather instantly and Charly felt a very intense wave of fear wash over her like a cold sweat. His eyes nearly seemed to dark even as she watched him, his expression becoming fierce and turbulent in a feral kind of way that might precede something violent.

            Randolf turned away slightly, as if he were thinking or trying to restrain himself, before he spoke. “No one has seen this animal? To be certain that it is a mountain lion?”

            “No.” Charly’s voice was hardly more than a whisper, stunned and slightly of the change she had observed in him. “But it must be. A mountain lion is the only thing native to these mountains that would be big enough to take down a cow all by itself.”

            She caught herself immediately on those words and stared at him with newly realized fear. Perhaps there was something in Westcliffe now that might be big enough, strong enough, to do such a thing. He didn’t reply to verify that fact and turned to look at her, silver eyes as brilliant as liquid platinum and as wild as the cold north wind.

Her lips moved upon words she dared not speak, but for fear that she was simply delusional or being a fool. Randolf Fuerst was not all that he seemed to be and she did not dare to ask him what or who he really was.

 With a heavy exhale he shut his eyes tightly and shook his head, releasing her arm for a moment and pinching at his brow just at the bridge of his nose. “Forgive me, Miss Charlotte, I don’t know what came over me.” He offered her a weak, worried smile as he stood beside her, “You’re parents are correct to keep you inside after dark, but I’m sure that the beast killing the local cattle can be discouraged and will move on.”

“Randolf, are you feeling well? You’re skin, you feel so feverish. I noticed it before, but it seems silly to ask a doctor if he’s sick or not.” She stepped closer to him, pressing softly affectionate fingers against his cheek. Though fear and a primal sense of self-preservation warned against it, she did not want to be afraid of him over some foolish suspicion. Rather she offered him a chance to contradict her silly ideas. Despite the wrathful violence she’d seen cross his visage for a small moment, he wouldn’t hurt her and she was certain of it.

“Maybe so.” He admitted in a weary voice and reached to touch his hand to her, pressing it against his abnormally hot cheek. It was as though he savored the contact and pressed his lips against her fingers gently. “It is getting late; perhaps you and your friend should depart soon. I don’t want to be the cause of getting either of you in any trouble with your parents.”

“Randolf, did you leave that lily on my car?” Charly asked suddenly, asserting herself against her better judgment.

He appeared surprised at first, but smiled quickly and shrugged his shoulders, “It was all I could think to do that might be romantic. Maybe it was a little ridiculous.”

She could only wonder how he had known that white lilies were her favorite flower, but perhaps that had only been a lucky guess. Taking some amount of satisfaction in at least one mystery solved, Charly returned his modest smile and walked with him towards the house, “Fortunately for you, I like ridiculous.”

© 2010 Nicole

Author's Note

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A very moving moment. I daresay I caught myself growing anxious even while reading it! Your conveyance of emotion is very good, keep it up.

Posted 13 Years Ago

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Added on October 21, 2010
Last Updated on October 25, 2010
Tags: Vampire, Werewolf, Werewolves, vampires, lycan, lycans, lycanthropes, romance, love, story, lovers, fantasy, human, novel, forbidden, amore, amor



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