Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A Reluctant Love Ch 12.2.

Chapter 12.2: Throw Back Thursday.

Emily wept bitterly for a long time as she tried to staunch the flow of blood from the head wound. It was bleeding hard but was probably not serious, head wounds were infamous for bleeding profusely. She needed to pull herself together. Finally she found her phone and called Dorian.

"Can you come get me?" she asked him. "I need to go to the hospital and I can't drive."

"Hospital!" Dorian roared in anger. "What did he do, Emily?"

"Just come and get me, please," she said quietly.

Dorian was livid when he arrived not long after the call had terminated.

"Emily, you're bleeding!" he gasped. He ran into the kitchen and came back with a damp cloth which he held against her wound.

"It looks worse than it is," she sighed, her head was beginning to thump painfully.

"I'll kill him," Dorian ground out through clenched teeth, his beautiful contorted with rage.

"No, Dorian," Emily said softly. "He's hurting. I don't think he's even aware that he's hurt me. It wasn't done on purpose. He thinks that I'm like Elizabeth," she whispered, sadly. "That I only pretended to love him so he'd marry me and I'd be able to worm my way into the King's affections."

"He's a bloody fool," Dorian hissed angrily. "How he could even mention you in the same breath as Elizabeth is beyond me. Come on, love. Let's get that wrist looked at."

Dorian stayed with her at the hospital until the doctor had examined her. Thankfully her wrist wasn't broken, just badly sprained. It was taped up firmly. The wound on her head required four stitches. Finally she was released into Dorian's care with a prescription for some really strong painkillers.

"He's not answering his phone," Dorian said angrily as he drove her to his house. "You're staying with me and Alice until this gets sorted out, Emily. One of us will be with you at all times. Cullen will not be allowed to hurt you anymore than he already has."

"I'll stay tonight, Dorian," she said quietly. "Then I'm going back to the apartment. I'll need to take a few days off work, just until I get the stitches out. I don't want you to say anything to Cullen about this."

Dorian glanced at her as he drove, his face set. "You think I'm going to let him get away with this?" he asked incredulously.

"It's between me and Cullen, Dorian," Emily said, tiredly. "Don't get involved. He's your friend. I know you're angry with him but he's hurting so badly inside. He needs you. I'm stronger than I look. I can handle this."

"Emily," Dorian finally sighed softly. "Sometimes I truly believe he doesn't deserve you. He's acting like a bloody fool. He's hurt you and still you protect him."

"You were with him when Elizabeth hurt him," she answered with her eyes closed. "Surely you can understand how much that effected him."

Dorian growled angrily and then sighed. "He was beside himself with grief," he finally admitted. "I thought he'd never get over her betrayal."

"This feels like that all over again for him, Dorian," she said sadly. "It probably feels worse this time because I think he loves me more than he ever did her."

Dorian nodded but didn't speak.

"Let me do this my way, brother of mine," she said with a small smile. "He needs to know that I'm not going to leave him. That I'm not like Elizabeth. I can't have him feeling guilt on top of everything else. You know he'll be distraught if he learns he's hurt me, no matter how angry he is with me right now."

"Fine we'll do things your way," Dorian finally sighed. "I'm not happy about it, Emily, but I understand your reasoning."

"Thank you, Dorian," she whispered.

The following morning Emily went to the pharmacy on her way home and filled her prescription for painkillers then she headed home to the apartment.

Once safely inside, she called Cullen but he didn't answer his cell. Sighing she left a voicemail message.

"I'm staying at the apartment," she said. "I'm taking a few days off work but I'll be back at the start of the week. I guess you're just going to have to deal with that because I'm not running away this time, Cullen. I take my marriage vows very seriously. You know where I am if you want to talk. I love you, Cullen."

She wondered if he would even listen to the message.

It was the following Tuesday before the swelling at her temple had gone down enough for her to be able to return to work without it being noticeable. Cullen hadn't called or come to the apartment. Emily wondered where she was finding the strength from. She was missing him so badly but she was able to keep going. It must be the rightness she was feeling inside. Her instincts were telling her that she had to stay and fight or she would lose him forever. The pain that washed over her when she thought of never being with him again was too much to bear.

When she got to work she could hear Cullen and Dorian talking angrily his Dorian's office. She sighed and headed down to her own office. She asked Alice to ring through to Dorian to let him know she was in and to tell him that she needed to see him when Cullen had gone.

Opening her laptop, she pulled up the proposal she was working on and started working on it. Not long afterward she heard a door bang and Cullen's angry footsteps heading into his own office and then his door banging shut. Her phone rang and Dorian called her up to his office.

"He wants you fired," he said when she sat down.

Emily sighed. "I thought it would be something like that. What did you say?"

"I told him I'd dissolve our partnership and go into business with you instead before I would fire you."

Emily felt a smile tug at her lips. "I take it that went down well," she said ruefully.

"He was overjoyed," Dorian said drolly.

Emily laughed. "He's so stubborn sometimes. He doesn't know what's best for him."

Dorian frowned. "Are you sure about this, love?" he asked. "I've never seen Cullen so angry before, not even when Elizabeth hurt him. It could be a long, uphill struggle to get to him. Maybe even an impossible one."

"I have to try, Dorian," she whispered. "No matter how hard he makes it for me, I have to get him to see that I'm not running away this time."

Dorian smiled softly. "He doesn't know how lucky he is to have you, Emily."

Emily smiled sadly. "I need to pop out this afternoon. The stitches are coming out."

Dorian started in surprise. "I thought you'd already had then taken out. Your hair is hiding them well. And your wrist?"

She held up her arm. The strapping was covered with a long sleeved cardigan. "It's not too bad now. I think they redo the strapping for another week but after that I'll be as good as new."

"Take whatever time you need, Emily." Dorian smiled.

Emily returned to her office. She sat back at her desk and sighed. This was going to be a hard battle to win but she was determined to win in.

Cullen ignored her all day. He studiously pretended that she wasn't even at the office. The times Emily did see him, his beautiful face was set and hard and his eyes looked straight through her.

He was in Dorian's office when she popped her head in to let Dorian know she was heading out.

"That's me off to my appointment, Dorian," Emily said, her eyes fixed on Cullen's rigid back. "I won't be back today."

"Fine, love," Dorian answered with a frown. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Cullen ignored her so she quietly left the office and headed down in the elevator.

"What appointment?" Cullen growled when she was gone. "There's nothing in the diary for today."

"If you want to know, ask her yourself," Dorian snapped. "I'm not a bloody go between the pair of you."

"I've a right to know why my staff are taking off in the middle of the working day and not coming back," Cullen snapped back, his eyes flashing.

"If you stopped being such an ass you'd know what you're wife is up to," Dorian retorted, stressing the word wife.

Cullen swore under his breath and left the room. He went back into his own office and then growled angrily and left the office.

Emily was on foot so it was easy to track her. He had no idea why he was following the woman. He wanted her gone from his life so he could start to move on. But Dorian was championing her and it was making his life intolerable. Where was she going?

Emily walked to the hospital. It was a nice sunny day and it wasn't too far from the office. Her head was low as she walked. Cullen wouldn't even look at her. It was tearing her up inside but she had to keep trying. She had to believe that her constant presence would somehow get through to him.

Cullen gave her a moment to get inside the hospital and then he slipped in. He followed Emily's scent until he found himself outside a door which said treatment room. He frowned. What on Earth was she doing here? He pretended to read a bulletin board and listened hard, zeroing in on Emily's voice.

"That looks good," he heard a female voice saying in the room. "It's healed well. The stitches will only take a moment to come out."

"Will it hurt?" he heard Emily ask.

"Oh, no dear," the other woman said. "You'll just feel a slight pulling sensation."

It went quiet for a moment and then the other woman spoke again.

"There are places you can go, dear," she said kindly.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand," Emily said. He could hear the confusion in her voice.

"It's really nothing to be ashamed of," the other woman said. "I see many cases of domestic violence in here. It's very common, dear. The woman always seems to think it's her fault. She always believes that if she had said something else or done something differently then her husband would not have had cause to hit her."

Cullen froze in shock. Domestic violence?!

"I'm not a victim of domestic violence," he heard Emily said quietly. "I fell and hit my head on the side of a coffee table. It was an accident."

"And your wrist?" the other woman asked.

"I hurt it when I tried to halt my fall," Emily answered. Cullen could hear the lie in her voice.

His mind was whirling. He thought back to that night when he had been so angry. He had hit her hand away from him. Had he hurt her? He had pushed her away. Had she fallen and hit her head? He felt a wave of agony wash over him. Had he hurt Emily and then left her alone, bleeding and in pain?

"I really appreciate your kindness," Emily was saying to the woman. "But really, I'm not a victim here. It just had an unfortunate accident. Seriously, my husband doesn't beat me."

Cullen swallowed hard as he listened to the lies coming from her mouth. He had hurt her. He had hurt her and she was lying to the woman inside to cover it up. Deep despair coursed through him. No matter how angry he was with her he never wanted to hurt her like that. He hadn't meant to, he had just wanted to get away from her because she was slowly killing him inside.

He leaned against the wall and waited. Why was she still around if he had done this to her? Why wasn't she running as far as she could get from him? It didn't make sense.

The door opened and Emily stepped out. She was pulling at the hair on her temple but he saw the small livid red scar before she managed to conceal it. He also so the thick strapping on her wrist as she hadn't fully dressed and was carrying her sweater over her arm. She sensed him and looked up.

Emily stifled down a gasp when she saw Cullen leaning against the wall. His expression was hard and set but his eyes were dark and dangerous as she saw them look her over quickly.

"Another prescription for the pain meds," the nurse said coming out the room. "You probably won't need them for much longer, your wrist is healing nicely."

"Thank you," Emily said quietly, taking the scrip from the woman. She turned and headed back into the waiting room. Cullen didn't follow her. Sighing she sat down and put her sweater on and then headed outside.

She didn't see Cullen until he spoke to her.

"I did that?" he asked from behind her.

She stiffened as he spoke and then nodded, not turning.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly.

"I know," she answered sadly. She walked away, holding her head up high as she did. She fought to keep the tears from falling down her face as she looked for a taxi.

Cullen watched her walk away, her back rigid. He felt numb with shock when she confirmed his suspicions. Dear God, he had hurt Emily physically. Almost broke her wrist. Splitting her head so she required stitches. What kind of monster was he? Even though she had hurt him so badly his love for her was still as strong as it ever had been. His need to protect her was still there.

She needed protecting from him, not anyone else.

He groaned and made his way back to the office. He flew into Dorian's room and slammed the door shut.

"You knew!" he hissed at his friend. "Why didn't you say anything?"

"I knew what?" Dorian said tiredly, running his hands through blond hair.

"That I hurt her!" Cullen hissed again.

"She told you?" Dorian said surprised.

"I followed her," Cullen clarified. "To the hospital. The nurse was giving her a lovely little lecture about how domestic violence isn't the woman's fault!" His voice dripped with self loathing as he said the words domestic violence. It was clear he hated the sound of it.

"She asked me not to say anything," Dorian finally said. "Quite frankly, Cullen, I would rather have beaten the hell out of you but she wouldn't let me. I really enjoyed cleaning up her blood and taking her to the hospital that night. It was three hours before they'd assessed her and then wrapped her wrist and put the stitches in. All the time she was protecting you. Pleading with me to not get involved. I only agreed because I didn't want to cause her anymore pain than she was already in."

"Thank you for taking care of her," Cullen whispered, his voice bleak.

"I didn't do it for you, Cullen," Dorian said his voice harsh. "I did it for her. I love you, Cullen, but that night I think I actually hated you for a moment. You don't deserve, Emily. You should be on your knees begging that girl's forgiveness but instead you treat her like she's a pariah."

Cullen stared at him and then walked out the office, closing the door quietly behind him. Dorian was right to be angry with him for hurting Emily. That was unforgivable. But he was wrong for thinking that Emily was blameless in all this. Her betrayal burned too deep inside Cullen. He couldn't forgive it.

Emily took a deep breath and headed into the Boardroom. Since the day at the hospital Cullen had mellowed slightly though he still avoided her on a personal level. He was able to be reasonably civil at work so it was a start. This morning she was meeting with Cullen and Dorian to go over the proposal she was working on. She'd taken the strap off her wrist, not wanting to wave her injury under Cullen's nose.

Cullen was sitting at the end of the table, Dorian at the other end. Emily stifled a sigh when she entered the room. She hated the distance between the two men. They had been friends for millennia and it broke her heart that she was the cause of their estrangement. She sat down beside Dorian, Cullen's body language practically screaming keep away.

Dorian smiled at her, his eyes warm. "Interesting proposition, Emily," he said. "Do you think Anton will find it favourable?"

She'd sent them her first draft the day before.

"I see no reason why he wouldn't," she answered. "It would be very profitable for the him and a foothold into the US market too. He'd be mad not to consider it."

Her proposal was to merge one of Cullen and Cross's smaller subsidiaries with one of Mackenzie Petrochemicals. The merger would increase the stock price of the company and also offset some of the heavy expenses the company generated. It was a win-win situation for both of the parent companies.

"Do we really need this merger?" Cullen asked quietly. "After all, we're not going to be here much longer, Dorian. I estimate we can stay with Cullen and Cross for what, five more years maximum?"

Emily sighed, knowing that he would balk at anything that joined him any deeper to her.

"It's a viable option, Cullen," she replied without looking at him. "Maybe there isn't that much time before you both have to move on but expanding and making Cullen and Cross an attractive going concern will only benefit you in the end by increasing the company's resale value."

"I agree with Emily," Dorian said, his voice sounding tired.

"Whatever you want, Dorian," Cullen agreed, his tone bored.

Emily felt her hackles rise. She turned to him and smiled sweetly.

"I'm surprised you're not jumping for joy at the prospect, Cullen," she said tartly. "I mean, someone will have to go over to Spain to work on the merger and as I'm the only one of us fluent in Spanish and I know how Mackenzie Petrochemical's works, the obvious choice will be me. Just think, all those weeks or maybe months of not having to put up with me sullying your office."

She bit her lip and shot an apologetic look at Dorian.

"You're right, Emily," Cullen growled softly. "This merger is suddenly appearing to be a much more interesting prospect. By all means, you have my full backing to go ahead as soon as possible."

"For the love of God!" Dorian snapped angrily, raking his hands through his hair in frustration. "Fine, Emily, you're running the shots. Go to Spain, stay as long as it takes. Maybe by the time you come back the pair of you will have remembered that you're grown adults and not two year olds. This constant bickering is getting tedious and I've had enough of it!"

Emily flushed at his rebuke while Cullen glowered at his friend.

She stood up and gathered up her proposal. "I'll start straight away," she said quietly. She laid a hand on Dorian's shoulder and bent to kiss his cheek. "I'm sorry," she whispered.

Dorian patted her hand gently and smiled at her. He felt bad about blowing up but his nerves were just frazzled by the pair of them.

"This has to stop, Cullen," he said when Emily left the room. "If things don't improve by the time she comes back then we need to sit down and discuss where we go from there. I can't do this anymore."

Cullen looked at his friend and saw how tired he was. He felt a pang of guilt knowing he was mostly the cause of his friend's distress. He had even noticed a cooling off between Dorian and Alice as his friend struggled to act as referee between himself and Emily.

"One of us will have to leave," he finally said. "If you want to keep Emily, I'll understand. It's almost time to be moving on anyway. I'll just start a little sooner than planned."

"It doesn't have to be that way," Dorian sighed, his expression pained. "Talk to her, Cullen. I know you still love her and she loves you. Work it out."

"It can't be fixed, Dorian," Cullen said sadly. "I'm sorry but I can't forgive her no matter how much I love her. I can't leave myself open to the kind of pain she can so easily inflict on me."

"You're not hurting now?" Dorian asked. "Seeing her every day, not being with her. That isn't tearing you up inside?"

"You know it is," Cullen whispered hoarsely. "But it's the lesser of two evils. Soon I will be moving on to a new city. A new life away from her. It'll get easier then."

"You're fooling yourself if you believe that, Cullen," Dorian said sadly. "You'll never be free of Emily no matter how far or fast you run. I only hope you wake up to your foolishness before it's too late. Before she decides that there really is no hope and moves on with her life. She has so much love in her heart to give. One day, she may decide to give it to someone else and then you will have lost her forever."

He stood and left the Boardroom. His heart was heavy with pain as he entered his own office and closed the door. Here he was lecturing Cullen about his love life when he was letting his own happiness slip between his fingers. It had been over a week since he had last saw Alice. He called her and asked her to come to his office.

Alice walked slowly up the hallway. She was worried and nervous. Dorian had been so withdrawn lately and never seemed to want to see her. Now he was calling her to his office. Was he going to tell her that they were over? She bit her lip and knocked on the door.

Dorian saw the anxious look on the little dark haired woman's face as she entered. He stifled and groan and held his arms out to her when she closed the door. She ran into his arms and he gathered her close.

"I'm sorry, Alice," he whispered. "I've let things get on top of me and I've neglected you, love."

"It doesn't matter," she said, her tearful voice muffled against his chest.

"It does matter," he growled softly. "I'm so busy lecturing Cullen about losing his love and I'm doing the very same thing with you. I don't want to lose you, Alice."

"You won't," Alice whispered. "I'd be just like Emily. I'd never give up until you noticed me again and realised how much you love me."

Dorian groaned and captured her lips in s gentle kiss. "I'll always love you, Alice," he sighed tenderly. "Even when it doesn't appear so, you'll always be deeply embedded in my heart."

Alice sighed and kissed him, her small hands wrapping around his neck as he lifted her and sat her in his lap.

"When this is all sorted out, you and I are going to have a long talk about the future, my love," Dorian said softly. "For now, will you come back home? I need you with me."

Alice hugged him tightly. She had wondered if he had even noticed that she'd gone back to her apartment a week ago. Usually she stayed with him but as he was so distracted and didn't appear to notice that she was around, she had quietly taken her things and gone home.

"I'll come home," she whispered, her eyes shining with happiness.

Dorian groaned and kissed her again more urgently this time. "Tonight," he said, his voice thick with emotion.

"Tonight," she agreed happily.

Emily flew out to Spain two days later. Anton was overjoyed to see her. He noticed immediately that something was wrong but waited until they got back to the house to interrogate her.

She told him everything, omitting the worst part of the argument they'd had. She didn't want her brother to hate Cullen, which he would surely do if he found out that he had hurt her, even accidentally.

"Dear God, Emily, can your life never run smoothly?" Anton finally said when she had finished.

She smiled wanly, "It's certainly interesting," she said with a little laugh.

"Are you okay?" her brother asked worriedly, searching her face intently.

"I'm not going to pieces like the last time, Anton," she reassured him. "I'm fighting back this time. Cullen will come around eventually. The pain of his first wife's betrayal had centuries to fester inside him. He just needs time to realise that I'm not like her, even if what happened was pretty similar to the first event. He still loves me."

"Is there anything I can do to help?" Anton finally asked.

"Just be my wonderful big brother," she smiled. "That's all I need."

Anton poured her a glass of wine and a scotch for himself.

"Did you have a chance to look at the proposal I sent?" Emily asked as se sipped her wine.

Anton's eyes brightened. "I liked it very much," he smiled. "You do excellent work, Emily. I've scheduled some meetings for next week with the Board so you can present them. I don't see any issues. There may be some small fine tunings required but nothing major. Are you staying until the merger goes through?"

Emily nodded. "I might nip back just to annoy Cullen," she smiled. "I might talk to Fernando and see if he wants to come back with me."

Anton threw back his head and roared with laughter. Fernando was one of his board members. The man was an outrageous flirt, despite being very happily married, and was particularly fond of Emily. "You are so wicked!" he laughed, wagging a finger at his sister.

"Maybe if Cullen sees someone paying some interest in me, it might shake him up a bit," Emily laughed. "I'm sure Fernando would love to play along."

The opportunity arose two weeks later when there was a sticking point over which parent company would have responsibly for leading the new company when it was formed. Emily asked Fernando to accompany her to the States and the handsome Spaniard agreed.

Emily checked with his wife, Miri, if it was okay to have some fun with her husband to annoy Cullen and the Spanish woman roared with laughter and gave her blessing.

Cullen was scowling at the wall of the Boardroom. Dorian had said that Emily was due back today for a three day stop over.

He was angry with himself for feeling excited that she was coming back. He told himself over and over that the last two weeks had been perfect with her gone but he knew he was lying to himself. Her absence wrenched at his heart. Knowing that he had years if not centuries of the painful feeling to endure, angered him. Why couldn't he just forget her? She had betrayed him, used him just as Elizabeth once had. He should just get over her and be done with it.

He heard the elevator arrive and then her scent hit him like a physical blow. He stifled a groan and sat straighter in his chair. She wasn't going to get a reaction out of him.

Emily walked into the Boardroom with Fernando attentively at her elbow. They were chatting away in Spanish and he had just said something quite naughty which caused her to throw back her head and laugh loudly as they entered the room. She glimpsed Cullen's face, saw it set hard as he watched them enter the room.

"Fernando, this is Sebastian Cullen," she said, switching to English. "Cullen, Fernando Montoya. You'll have to forgive Nando's English. He tends to murder the language quite atrociously. I'll most likely need to translate at some point."

"You are most unkind to me, mi querido," Fernando said with a fond smile, his English heavily accented. "It is a pleasure to meet you Cullen." He continued, nodding at the man staring intently at him.

"Emily, you're home," Dorian called, coming into the room and giving her a big hug. "I've missed you," he smiled, his blue eyes warm.

"Missed you too, Dorian," Emily smiled back. She introduced him to Fernando and then they all sat down.

"We'll try to keep this brief," Dorian said. "You both must be a little jetlagged from the flight."

Fernando looked inquiringly at Emily and she quickly translated the word jetlagged for him.

"Ah, yes," the handsome Spaniard said. "I am looking forward to having a lie down before Emily shows me the delights of this fine city."

"Where are you staying, Fernando?" Cullen asked suddenly, his expression guarded.

"The delightful Emily has graciously offered me her spare bedroom for my stay," Fernando smiled.

"We have numerous corporate apartments available," Cullen said a tad frostily. "I'm sure you would find one of them equally as comfortable."

"But then I would be too far from mi querido," Fernando said breezily, his hand lightly stroking against Emily's.

"Perhaps Cullen is right, Nando," Emily said smoothly, drawing her hand away when she saw the murderous expression on her husband's face. Nando was laying it on a bit thick. She didn't want Cullen to half kill her friend.

Fernando sighed dramatically. "Very well, mi querido," he said, "Whatever you think is best. But you are still going to show me the hot spots, no?"

Emily smiled. "I'll do my best," she said lightly. "Now, let's get down to some business."

Cullen was a mass of fury inside. He kept his expression carefully blank as he watched the Spanish man smile and flirt with his wife. The easy friendship between the couple was evident for anyone to see. Emily liked the very handsome man. She seemed to be soaking up his every smile and little flirtatious gesture.

Cullen fought the urge to fly across the table when the Spaniard touched Emily's arm lightly as he looked to her for a translation of something Dorian had said. He wanted to rip the man's arms out of his shoulders for touching his wife. Emily seemed totally oblivious to his presence in the room. It was as if he didn't exist anymore on a personal level to her. Was she moving on as Dorian had warned him?

"Can we call a halt for now," Emily finally said. "I'm starting to flag and it looks like Nando is too." She smiled at the Spaniard as she spoke. She could feel Cullen's tension as if it was a physical thing. It seemed prudent to put some distance between them.

"Sure, Emily," Dorian answered. "We can pick up from where we left off tomorrow."

"Thank you," Fernando said. "I am suddenly feeling most tired." He turned to Emily and spoke to her in Spanish.

She smiled at him and blushed slightly before she answered him back quickly.

Emily stood and smoothed down her skirt. "Ten tomorrow okay?" she asked Dorian.

Dorian looked at Cullen who was sitting so still that he could tell he was forcibly holding himself in place. His friend nodded once but didn't speak.

Emily gathered her things as Fernando did. The Spaniard shook hands with Dorian and nodded to Cullen, who remained seated, his golden brown eyes dark with some undefined emotion.

Fernando began chattering away to Emily in Spanish as they started to leave the room. He placed his hand on the small of her back and Emily felt a whoosh of air and suddenly Cullen was less than a foot away from them, his eyes glinting dangerously.

"Remember to pick up a set of keys for one of the apartments, Emily," he said, his voice low and dangerously soft.

Dorian rose swiftly and inserted himself between Cullen and the Spaniard without making it look as if he was doing so.

"Of course, Cullen," Emily said quietly. She turned and left the room, taking the Spaniard hurriedly with her.

"I think that went too well, Nando," she said quickly in Spanish. "Maybe you should ease off a bit. He's looking very angry and I don't want to push him into doing something silly."

"The man is an ass if he's willing to be apart from you, mi querido," Nando answered in Spanish. "Perhaps he needs to suffer some more for the unhappiness he brings you."

"Nando, let's do this my way. No improvising from you unless I agree it. It will be safer for everyone. Remember, I'm the one who knows him. I want a reaction but not one that is going to cause me anymore pain and misery than I'm already going through. I just need him to see that other men are interested in me even he isn't."

Nando laughed as they got in the elevator. "Oh he is most definitely interested in you, mi querido. Whether he wants to be or not."

Cullen fumed as they left. His careful control snapped and his face became dark and thunderous. Dorian looked at him and shook his head.

"What did you expect, Cullen?" he asked. "Did you think that no other man would find her attractive and want her? I told you this would happen. From the looks of things, Emily may well decide to stay in Spain. I suppose she could run the new company once the merger goes through. I'm sure Anton would be agreeable to her heading it up. And it would solve the issue of one of you having to leave."

"There will be no merger if he lays one more hand on my wife," Cullen spat furiously. "I'll rip his fucking arms off."

"Oh, grow up, Cullen," Dorian snapped angrily. "You don't want her! You've made that very plain. Why can't she find happiness with someone else if that's what she wants? Don't mess this merger up because you're an ass. If you don't want to be with Emily then get the fuck out of her life and let her get on with it. I've grown weary of your bullshit!"

He turned and slammed out the Boardroom. He called Emily as soon as he could.

"You're playing a very dangerous game, Emily," he said shortly, when she answered. "Cullen is beyond fury at your little antics today. He's threatening to rip limbs off Fernando. Watch what you're doing or you may not like the consequences."

"Thanks for the warning," Emily sighed. "I've already told Nando to calm things down. I don't want him to get hurt."

"Be very careful, Emily," Dorian said quietly. " I don't want you hurt again like the last time."

"I will be, Dorian. Thanks for the head's up."

Emily frowned worriedly as she hung up. Maybe she had gone too far. She considered calling Nando and telling him to get back on the first plane he could get to Spain.

She spun round as the apartment door opened and Cullen strode in, his beautiful face dark with fury.

"Ever heard of knocking?" she said waspishly. "I was just going for a lie down."

"Alone?" he asked dangerously.

"Unless you're offering to join me, Cullen?" she retorted. "Of course, alone!"

"I know what you're doing," he said quietly, his body so still that it was frightening to look at. "You think you can wave your little human man in front of my nose to get a reaction."

"Cullen, I'm tired," she said and she suddenly was very tired. Tired of all the pain and anguish, the games they were playing with each other. "If you've got a point will you just get to it and then leave."

"You are still my wife," he ground out between clenched teeth. "You've already made a fool of me once. You will not make a fool of me a second time by cuckolding me in front of everyone."

"I'm not, Cullen," she sighed wearily sinking onto the sofa. She just couldn't do this anymore. "Nando is just a friend. He is very happily married to his lovely wife Miri. He's just an outrageous flirt. I am not sleeping with him and never have. I have no intention of sleeping with the man. There, are you satisfied? Your pride is in tact. Can you please leave now?"

Cullen stared down at her. She looked so weary. Her shoulders were slumped in defeat, her voice full of sadness. She was giving up on them, he realised. He could read it on her face and see it in her body language. His heart twisted painfully in his chest. This was what he wanted wasn't it? He wanted her gone from his life.

"Cullen?" she said softly. "If you're leaving then please go now. If you want to stay then you can. The choice is yours. Just know that if you choose to go I will accept that our marriage is finally over. I'll be out of your life as quickly as I can." She twisted her engagement ring on her finger as she spoke, her head bowed in defeat.

He struggled to speak. He was getting what he wanted. She was finally leaving him. He should feel triumphant but all he felt was numb. She was leaving him. The fight was gone from her. His sweet, beautiful Emily.

"Can you give me more time?" he finally asked quietly, his voice strained. "This is hard for me, Emily. I want you gone so badly yet I ache at the thought of never seeing you again. I can't reconcile the feelings inside me."

"And I can't wait forever, Cullen," she said with tears in her eyes. "You may have eternity to work things through but I don't. I have just one lifetime to live. I have to do what is best for me. I can give you until the merger is completed. After that, if you still can't make a decision, then I'll make it for you."

She stood up and looked at him, her eyes so sad. "Please leave now," she said, her voice sounding so small and fragile.

"Emily," he breathed softly, taking a step towards her. He leaned forward and kissed her softly on the lips. The sweet taste of her mouth was such heaven. He ached to pull her into his arms but held himself still. "Don't give up on me just yet," he whispered and then he turned and walked out the door.

Emily sank down onto the sofa and let the tears fall. She felt a small flicker of hope deep inside. Cullen had kissed her. His words had been a slight breakthrough. Maybe there was a chance for them if he could reconcile his pain with his love for her.

She knew he loved her and always would. He just needed to see that she hadn't betrayed him as Elizabeth had done. He had to see that he was worthy of the happiness they could have if only he would let her back in.

To be continued....

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Jaz's Facebook Short Story Competition - Entry by Surina Harilal

Perched on the edge of a rough wooden seat, I feel the splinters fraying the silk threads of my dress, my wedding dress. Yet I sit entranced by the subtle ripples along the mirrors surface, I run my fingers along, able to feel a faint pulse. Closing my eyes I try to concentrate on the feeling, trying to unravel this mystery, this feels familiar.

The pulse grows stronger and in a flash of insight I see a glimpse of what was... or perhaps what is to be. Grasping on the fast fading images racing through my mind's eye, I catch a glance of someone, piercing eyes, startling me from this trance.

My eyes fly open and meet a pair of murky red, soul piercing eyes. I want to scream, I want to run screaming! But all that I can do I sit immobile; a hand reaches through the veil of the mirror's surface, grabbing me by my wrist, firmly but not harshly.

I feel it drawing me closer to the mirror, my breath quickens, not simply because I am terrified, but because the blurred figure comes into focus. Behind the veil, is my Love. But how is this possible!? I had lost him so long ago on that treacherous day, when I lost myself. But now, here he stands.

"Sue! Sue! Everyone is waiting!" Pounding on the door my sister waits for a response, and as the door handle turns, I am released from my temporary paralysis. My head whips around to face the door and my sister, tears beginning to trickle a path down my face, I turn back to the mirror and it is placid once more. Nothing more than my tear stained face staring back at me, with my sister's concerned face rapidly descending upon me.

It must have been a dream; a heartbreaking dream...I chant this mantra as I walk down the aisle toward the man I have promised the rest of my life to. The man, whose easy manner pulled me from my depression, and taught me to smile again, looking at him I feel myself settle. I reach him with teary eyes and a trembling smile and as we both face the Priest a sight behind him catches my eye.

A mirror.

Flashing red eyes, hurt, anger, disappointment... I do not know. The mirror stills once more.

Winds pick up, a slight tremor shakes the walls and a whispered voice is heard...

I. Am. Free.

Jaz's Facebook Short Story Competition - Entry by Andi Downs

Love Through A Mirror.

They sat gazing at each other through the mirror, each wanting to be with the other. Neither caring in which world just so long as they could be fully; to live and love.

Elyra sighed, frustrated that they had not yet found a way to be together. She needed him in her life, whole, not just fleeting moments through the mirror.

Vorago too felt the same frustration at not being able to hold his love completely but they had struggled to find a way. He was a Demon that could normally move between worlds but for some reason had had difficulty in meeting Elyra in hers.

He reached through taking her wrist as she frowned before saying "It is not enough Vorago!"

He sighed "I know love and it kills me we can not be together as yet. Do not give up hope Elyra, I will find a way."

He pulled her hand through to kiss as she sighed wanting him to hold her, to enjoy so much more than these mirrored moments.

In mere minutes it would be Halloween the one night miracles could happen. It would be their first and each secretly hoped this would be the time for them finally. Elyra jumped as she heard the downstairs Grandfather clock start to chime, Vorago too heard it watching his love as she counted down to midnight.

Vorago's grip tightened as Elyra almost stopped breathing. She pulled her hand towards her as more of Vorago came through the mirror. Neither one appeared to breathe as his body slowly came through, each worried there would be a sudden halt. Vorago was finally through as Elyra lept into hos open arms crying with joy, finally able to hug her Demon as he now did her.

He moved her back to take her face in his hands to kiss her for the first time as he had always wanted to. Elyra sighed into it, holding him tightly as they both enjoyed their kiss.

When both eased back for air, they smiled together, each so happy finally. Vorago couldn't stop touching his love, as Elyra also needed to know he was whole, really there and not going to disappear on her.

Vorago chuckled "I am whole love as are you. I guess neither of us had given thought that All Hallows Eve would be the right time, but we are together now my dear lady." He kissed her again as she sighed clinging to him.

Elyra finally said "I did not think of this particular time Vorago, I was too concerned with any form of magic to bring us together. I'm scared you will not stay though, I don't want to lose you after waiting so long and knowing we can be together."

He chuckled "We will be love, this holiday is merely a portal between our worlds, we did not realize we could use. I am not going anywhere without you my love."

Elyra sighed enjoying his tight hold, moving away from her dressing table to the bed. They sat holding each other, talking, touching, loving being together finally. Vorago reached up to take the clip from her hair, letting it all fall down around her shoulders and back. He ran his fingers through it as she leaned into him, enjoying his touch, needing it.

Elyra was touching her Demon also, feeling his strength, his muscles as she ran her hands over his chest and down his arm, feeling him shudder as he enjoyed. She opened his shirt to trace his chest, she had seen many times in the mirror, wanting to touch and now she could, loving the way he reacted to her light traces over his skin. She heard him suck in his breath as he groaned before he gripped her hair pulling her face to his to kiss.

The passion ignited by her touch needing a release as he poured it into his hungry kiss. Hearing her sigh as he lay her back onto the bed gripping her hands in his to stop her touching him further.

Vorago moved back gazing at her lust filled eyes now saying "My love I can not take much more from you."

She smiled up saying "Then don't my Demon, I need you, I have waited too long and can not wait anymore, please take me Vorago? Make me yours for all time? I have loved you for so long and can not bare to wait any longer to be yours always."

Vorago sighed, kissing her adding 'As I desire so too my love, I have hated waiting, needing this more than you can know. To take you as mine I need to mark you my love, will you let me? Will you join with me as my mate, my partner for the rest of our long lives?"

Elyra smiled up, raising herself up to meet his kiss despite her hands being held by him as she whispered against those lips "Yes Vorago, I am yours, always."

He sighed, kissing her hard, forcing her back down onto the bed before releasing her hands to undress her. Elyra did the same of Vorago, pulling his shirt off his broad shoulders, tracing the odd battle scar, even kissing them as he sighed. Once totally naked he lay her back upon her bed as he covered her with his body, kissing her, nipping at her lips as she moaned.

Elyra said "Please Vorago."

He smiled "I shall love, be patient, we have waited this long a few more moments will not hurt."

She moaned "I don't care Vorago, you can take all the time you wish afterwards."

Vorago chuckled "I shall love now that we have the rest of our lives together."

Elyra sighed as he kissed her to stop any more talk, then nipped at her lips drawing blood as she groaned in pleasure.
He kissed down her throat, to her breasts, suckling them as he gently bit each at first then added more pressure making her cry out. Vorago was loving how sensitive his mate proved to be, knowing that she would always enjoy their loving. He moved down enjoying her bare mound to find the jeweled ring in her hood smiling at the Amethysts. He had given them to her many months ago forgetting to ask what had become of them, now he knew and approved. He nipped her there drawing a cry then smile as she remembered too.

Elyra whispered "You approve?"

He chuckled "I love Elyra, very sexy too, thank you for decorating my prize love."

She grinned as he again nipped her then licked to soothe each spot, before kissing them. Vorago continued to pleasure his mate as she now freely clawed at the bed, moaning, begging for more. He chuckled to himself as he continued to draw such pleasurable sounds from her. Finally moving back up her body for another passionate kiss.

He felt her reach down to grab his cock, but stilled her saying "No love, I will not last, you may any other time Elyra, but I need to have this first time as mine, to give pleasure then share in it with you."

Elyra sighed but pulled back her hand to just touch her Demon, to enjoy his reactions above the waist for now. Though she could feel his cock twitching against her mound, wanting to feel him inside her now. He chuckled taking her hands again, holding them above her head with one of his then spreading her legs with his body as his free hand found her clit rubbing it gently.

Elyra arched up suddenly gasping; he chuckled pleased she was more than ready for him then but continued his rubbing, applying pressure the more she moaned until she started to beg, cursing him for holding back.

Vorago chuckled pleased she would be quite the little spitfire in their bedroom, or would be where ever he decided to take his mate. He leaned down to kiss her as he had her finally come, crying into the kiss as he ravaged her mouth. Elyra was gasping when he finally allowed her to catch her breath then moved to join with his love for the very first time. Vorago eased the head of his cock into her tight vessel, then as he kissed her hard, thrust hard all the way into his mates tight passage as she cried into their kiss.

Elyra was gasping again as he let her breathe, as she accepted his thickness within her small body. She managed a smile up at him before pulling him down once again to enjoy another kiss biting his lips also. He growled smiling at her, then slowly started their movements as she arched up to meet his thrusts. He watched her expressive face as she took him in fully with every hard thrust he made, loving her beautiful sensual sounds she made.

Eventually she needed more begging him to thrust harder, faster, though he also needed to and happily did so for his mate. She sighed between thrusts then cried as he increased his the power of his thrusts; harder, feeling himself hit her cervix with each powerful inward thrust. Elyra was literally crying as he brought them both to the most amazing climax, each lost in their own powerful orgasms.

As Vorago collapsed on top of his mate, biting her breast as the waves rolled over them. Drawing that all important blood to seal their bond as life mates with Elyra holding him tightly, not wanting to let go. He smiled as he kissed her again saying "We are one now my love, mates for life, a long one at that. Though I would ask that you also seal the bonds with some of my blood please?"

She smiled, a very satisfied smile as she nodded. He sliced his wrist to her gasp then moved it for her to drink a little, having it taste like a sweet nectar as it slid down her throat. She moaned as he too moaned enjoying the sensations of her delicate sucking. When she stopped at his request, she licked it watching it seal, smiling back up at her mate as he beamed down.

Elyra reached up moving his long hair to trace his face as he leaned into her palm before she said "I love you Vorago, now and forever my sexy Demon."

He chuckled replying "I love you too Elyra, my sexy mate; now and forever my love."

They kissed again as Vorago pulled her into his tight embrace, enjoying being able to just lay together finally. To have her always as his and she him. They eventually talked about their future life, what they would like to do. Elyra had a part time job in an antique book store which she loved so Vorago said he would buy her their own store, they would share in the role of buying and selling interesting books for all to enjoy.

He chuckled when she suggested a little nook for those who wished to maybe sit and read, perhaps enjoy a coffee or tea as they lost themselves in the many books they would have. He loved that idea and would happily hunt down books of interest, careful of those that would do harm in the wrong hands.

Vorago knew he had to let his family know of his new life. He knew they would be happy for him and they could use the mirror still to communicate, unless they were able to travel between the worlds. Neither dared think beyond the there and now, not wishing to think that the following day could be so different.

They did both move eventually, enjoying a shower together before Elyra led Vorago downstairs to the kitchen to enjoy something to eat and drink. Both constantly talking or touching, loving each other as they could by touch or thoughts.

Elyra joked "We will move the mirror to a spare room, I have no desire for your parents, friends or siblings to visit
unannounced Vorago, nor see us as we love each other."

He laughed "Nor I my love and a wise move I agree. So we will do later, before we do retire for the evening. Let us eat now and relax, I wish to settle with my mate that I have longed to hold with me for so long now and only later will I be content to let you move freely about."

She laughed "I have to agree there as I feel the same sexy, I'll happily enjoy as well. Food and drink first then we can move to the lounge."

They did, soon settling in front of the fire, with drinks, chatting away. Vorago had noted she already had an impressive library of books on various subjects and was happy to add to her collection over time. Elyra suggested even having a clean out, saying some could go to new readers to enjoy. He agreed but said they decide together on what to part with when they had the store to fill.

Both secretly wondered what the next day would bring, both a little wary of the magic from this day, if it would grant them a forever love and life together.

Vorago made the moves to love his mate as often as he could, where ever they moved too within Elyra's home - Ours she sent.

He smiled "Ours my love."

They napped when exhausted but held each other every moment they were awake. As the day drew on and it neared another midnight they literally clung to each other. Elyra cried silent tears hoping, praying they would not be parted ever again.

Vorago was also quiet, hugging her tightly praying for the same as they soon heard the clock start to chime again.

Elyra buried her head in his chest after a hard passionate kiss as they both hugged tightly listening to the clock as it seemed to take forever to reach 12 midnight. When the last chime had been heard, both were still holding each other tightly, barely breathing in the fear it would be their last. They remained that way for the next half hour and only when they heard the half hour chime did both release their long semi held breath.

Elyra cried openly now as he rubbed her back soothing her, relieved that they truly would be together - always.

He said "My love we are as one now and always will be, no more tears please Elyra, only happy ones are allowed in our long life love."

He kissed her before she could reply still crying "I was so scared Vorago, I have never felt so relieved as when I hear that half hour chime, still in your arms, feeling you holding me tightly. I never want to lose that, ever."

Vorago chuckled "You will not love, I will always hug you, hold you, touch as we will with of each other. You are mine and I am yours love, now and forever as we now know."

He kissed her again smiling at her as she managed to grin back touching his face, enjoying the love she felt from him as she sent her own back.

Vorago finally moved from the rug by the fire lifting his mate then carried her back to their room and bed. He left her briefly to take the mirror to the room next door, then returned to Elyra, getting into bed before drawing her back into his arms and firm hold. They kissed with I love You's then settled for their first true contented sleep. The first of many in a long life to be enjoyed by both.

Jaz's Facebook Short Story Competition - Entry by Flora B Thomas


"Mommy, Daddy, tell me about the Gruel." A young girl asked her parents.

They shared a look and their hearts filled with dread. They had been warned that this day would come. For seventeen years they protected their precious daughter, but she would ask. She would have no choice. You see she was chosen. She was chosen to belong to a heartless monster.

Many Years Before...

The Gruel had existed for centuries preying on the fears of the planet's inhabitants. He controlled all of the elements. At first, the world existed in perfect harmony. Animal and plant alike grew and blossomed. Then one day, a storm occurred and darkness arrived.

Unable to exist on an earthly plane, The Gruel retreated his own sacred plane. He watched the planet's inhabitants never really belonging and becoming angrier by the day. For almost a millennia, he exacted mayhem from his hiding place.

One day, as the demon watched, the most beautiful one of human kind came across his vision. He had to know this creature. He watched her intently. For years he followed her. Then one day, he appeared to her father.

Her father was the exact type of person he liked dealing with. He had no sense of self and would sell his soul for his next fix.

Offering him baubles for his daughter would be easy. As Gruel expected, the man sold the girl to him. His only request was that Gruel waited until she was of age.

He watched her every day, at night he appeared in her room. The she met him. He started to kill the young human that dare touch what was his, but he waited. Laila really cared for the human, but it did not matter. One day, in a few weeks she would be eighteen and he would claim her.

However, fates had other plans. The night before her eighteenth birthday, Laila went out with that pesky- human. Gruel had to check on his kingdom. He would bring his bride home soon and they would start a family.

Laila was turning eighteen and she knew what she wanted as a gift. Slightly after midnight, Laila and Oryon shared their virginities with one another. Realizing his lady love was no longer pure. Gruel was furious. He stormed their familial home; confronting her father with whom he had a pack.

"Gruel, I am..." her father stammered. Gruel smacked him clear across the room. They had a deal and he failed to deliver.

"You lied. You failed to keep your word." Gruel was livid. "She was to belong to me."

Laila gasped. She had no idea. The Gruel would destroy her father and she had to speak.

Facing her, this woman, the monster growled. "You are mine, Laila. For years I have waited. I will not be denied. Tomorrow, I come for you. If you value your family, then you will be waiting.

Laila cried as Oryon faced the demon. Gruel laughed, and said "Both of you, be here tomorrow." He left, leaving destruction in his wake.

He wanted Laila, but she was no longer free. She gave herself to Oryon. Gruel started to murder the human when Lalia realized she was carrying a child.

The child was special and she would be his. Learning that an immortal demon wanted your unborn child, Oryon and Laila made a hasty decision. Realizing that his future mate had been murdered, Gruel exacted revenge on her parents.

Laila fearing for Oryon's life pleaded with the fire demon.

He smiled; she was to give birth to a girl child. The child would be named Nya. Nya would being to him from the moment she was born. Her would mark her, making it so no other male would ever touch her.

If any harmed befell the girl her parents' life was forfeit.

Years passed, and Oryon and Laila were careful. She went for years without conceiving. Gruel was patient. His mate would be born one day.

Oryon, determined to protect his wife, had a procedure. She would not conceive so their child would never exist. Gruel was furious and opted to kill the foolish male and take Laila for himself.

Many years passed, and the happy couple seemed to have outsmarted the demon. But something happened. Oryon came home and found Laila sobbing.

"Oryon, I don't know what happened? I never slept with anyone else. You had surgery. We are not supposed to have kids?" She sobbed softly.

"You're pregnant?" Oryon asked.

"Yes," Laila whispered.

"No, no, you slept with... Who else have you been with Laila?" Oryon demanded.

"No one, just you." She sobbed.

"Stop lying to me!" Oryon yelled as he stared at his wife. She had the nerve to say she was pregnant and had not cheated. He walked out. He had to think. Seven years ago, a monster came after them. The monster wanted their child. They actually aborted their first child to keep the monster from taking her.

Now she was carrying a second child. A child she conceived from another man. He closed his eyes, hurt at the thought of his lover being with someone else. He arrived at a bar where he was being watched. Gruel noticed him and saw the despondent look. Something was wrong. Slipping into his thoughts, Gruel was delighted. It seemed that the humans failed. He would have his mate after all.

Leaving he went to see Laila. She was sobbing, alone. He knew with certainty that she never strayed. The foolish human male had impregnated her, and their daughter would one day be his bride.

She was pregnant. He was furious. She had to have cheated. He could not father a child.


That was almost two decades ago. Now, there daughter was here and they spent years not telling her of the monster from their past. He seemed to have vanished. But lately, they started having dreams. The closer Nya came to being eighteen, the stronger they felt the Gruel's presence.

"Nya, never ask about him. Your father and I have a surprise for you. When you turn eighteen, we are sending you on a trip to Asia. We want you to explore and learn new things." Laila explained.

In truth they wanted her away fromm them, away fro Gruel.

"Mommy, Daddy, I won't leave you." Nya sighed.

That night, Laila and Oryon fell into a deep sleep. Nya had the strangest dream. She awoke and went to her vanity. Nya looked at her reflection and wondered what was wrong with her. She thought she was pretty. She had many friends. But guys never asked her out. She knew her Dad was scary, but still. Guys seemed to avoid her.

The mirror flashed. A strange hand reached from the mirror and grabbed her hand; heat caused her to shudder. She blinked.

Shaking her head and thinking it was just a dream, Nya went back to bed. The next day, she looked at the mirror and dismissed the strange sensation. Time passed and nothing else weird happened.

Soon the night of the prom arrived, Nya as usual was alone. She dressed in her gown, a beautiful white dress. Gruel watched her, his mate. She had just turned eighteen. He made sure no males ever approached her. There would be no repeat of the past.

Tonight when she left her school dance, she would not be alone. Gruel smiled. She would never be alone again.

Disguising himself as a dark-haired teen, Gruel waited in front of the dining hall where the school dance would be held. It was time to reveal himself. Touching her thought the mirror was no longer enough.

Jaz's Facebook Short Story Competition - Entry by Tabbie Lea

Rebecca sat at her vanity staring at herself in the mirror, she was only four hours from her wedding day. She dreaded saying the words "I do" to the man who would be her future husband, the warlock.

He was a hateful man, using his black arts to get his way whenever he needed. The demons he summoned were used to kill no matter good or evil he would kill anyone who got in his way. He didn't respect his demons that he summoned, instead he treated them as tools; something to do his dirty work.

The Warlock got what he wanted and after tonight, when the wedding was over, his final task would have been complete taking. Rebecca as a bride. his final task to world domination taking the one and only heir to the throne.

Rebecca at first said no, knowing the man's evil means. She raged war on him hoping to defeat him. But after men were slain and her kingdom overtaken she was left with no choice.

After the world, the warlock wanted to take things further. The warlock then wanted to take on the underworld; the demon world. Rebecca was afraid if that were to succeed everyone would die including her.

Rebecca didnt know what to do now that she was stuck. How does one defeat one so powerful? She cried silent tears for her people, for the innocent souls she knew was going to be destroyed. Rebecca gave up hope nothing or no one could destroy the warlock.

"Woman, why do you weep?"

Rebecca's head snapped up searching for the voice immediately thinking it was one of the Warlocks minions. Rebecca could see nothing no one was in the room with her until she turned to look back at the mirror.

"Answer my question girl!"

The demon was in the mirror glaring at her but Rebecca did not recognize him as one of her future husband's minions. He looked huge, at least what she could see of him, his long pitch black hair flowed freely down around shoulders and his bare chest had no markings but was an odd shade of blue almost a slate blue.

His sudden movement caused Rebecca to cringe with fear as she watched the unknown demon reached through and grasped her wrist.

"I can save you from him! We know what he has done, what he is planning and master has sent me to persuade you to join me."

"How is that possible? I spent all of my resources trying to defend my land, my castle, my people so how is it possible that you a mere demon can defeat him?"

"So, you are more than a pretty trinket to be played with, I am impressed. I can defeat him because master has made it so but only if you join me."

"What do you mean when you say, join you?"

Realizing her wrist he turned his hand palm up he encouraged Rebecca to join him. "Come with me now and I will explain everything."

After several moments she laid her hand in his and gingerly stepped through the glass...

Jaz's Facebook Short Story Competition - Entry by Belinda White

Cadence paced the small dressing room, feeling more nervous that she ever remembered.

She passed by the mirror again knowing that she shouldn't do it again but felt like today of all days she needed it.

As the daughter of the Earth king she was always surrounded by people today all she felt was alone.

Today was her wedding a day every girl dreams of but not Cadence she had dreaded this day since father died, unlike in the human world the Fae kind ran things a bit differently and now that the Earth lands time of ruling was over it was now time to pass over to the Fire lands and that also means that it was time for Cadence to marry the future fire king.

She looked over at the mirror one more time and thought this is going to last time, she just really needed her Dad. Cadence looked at the mirror and closed her eyes and thought of her father every nuance every detail.

She opened her eyes and saw him in the mirror so she sat down and reached forward and placed her hand against the mirror.

Then he reached out of the mirror and grabbed onto her wrist and once the connection was made she used her strength to pull him through.

Tears fell from his eyes as he took in what she was wearing. "I told you, you had to stop doing this", he said "But sweetheart you look beautiful"

Jaz's Facebook Short Story Competition - Entry by Julie Carter.

There is this darkness inside of me.

Evil, if you will. When ever I look into a mirror, this is what I see. My reflection is like a negative to a photo of me. But this evil part of me, is very real. I have had these feelings and the reflection for about 5 years now. Ever since I hit puberty. It was also the year that the neighbors moved in across the street. I remember it well. It was the first time I met my now husband. I was 13 he was 16. I had such a crush on him ever since that day. I felt sparks, then for the first time ever, a burning fire in my female parts. I became so wet between my legs, just from shaking his hand. I had to run home in embarrassment!

Today is my wedding day! It is also my 18th birthday and Halloween. I am marrying a man that is so kind and sweet. We have known one another for half a decade. Best friends from the day after he moved in across the street. What will he think, if he were to ever see my reflection! I have pondered over this until I have driven myself half mad. I must find a way to destroy this living part of me. How can I keep trying to hide it, while living under the same roof as he?

My actions in life have always been of kindness and good. Even since the appearance of this evil inside of me. I've never allowed my darkness to intrude on my everyday life. I often have nightmares though, of all things that are unholy and full of madness and demons. I can't control what goes on while I sleep. I always wake up screaming and crying, full of anxiety and fear.

My body wet with sweat and tears. Shaking so hard that it rattles the headboard against my wall. They feel so real, my nightmares, and the things that are done to me in them, are demoralizing and gruesome! My new husband has only witnessed this on a couple of occasions. Easily explained away as an occasional nightmare. What will he think when he finds that I have these nightmares almost every night!

On this evening of my wedding day, I had been looking in the little box that my husband had given to me. On that second day of his being in the neighborhood, he had given it to me, and told me that one day, I would be his wife and he my husband. Over the years, I have put little gifts that he has given to me, inside of it. After closing the lid, the reflection in my mirror actually reached out and grabbed my wrist! I know there will be bruises. I was so frightened, not knowing if this was real, or my imagination. I tried to appear calm, I mean, this was me, right? My reflection was mouthing words, that I couldn't hear.

This was a first, and I could only catch a couple of the words that it, (me?), was trying to tell me. It mouthed the words Demon, Hell, and the name I could not ever imagine being associated with these other words, Jeremy. My new husbands name.

A Reluctant Love Ch 12.1

Chapter 12.1: Throw Back Thursday.

Being married to Cullen was the most amazing experience of Emily's short life. She felt invincible with him at her side. The honeymoon had been full of long hours of lovemaking before strolling along the sandy beach outside their secret hideaway on a faraway Island.

Emily hadn't wanted to come home but real life was waiting for them. Cullen had kissed away her slightly petulant frown, promising her they would schedule another holiday soon when their work schedules permitted.

It was only when they got home that both of them realised they hadn't discussed where they were going to stay now they were married. After a slightly heated debate, they settled on living at Cullen's house, though they kept the apartment on as neither of them could bear to sell it. Emily's logic was it would serve as somewhere to stay when Anton visited again.

Cullen was sitting in her office one day, watching her eat her lunch, when Emily turned around and said she wondered when Dorian was finally going to propose to Alice.

Cullen stared at her in shock as she sipped at her cup of coffee and then popped a bit of lettuce in her mouth.

"Propose?!" he repeated quietly. "Dorian hasn't said anything to me about wanting to get married."

Emily laughed and rolled her eyes. "That's because the thought never crossed his mind until our wedding," she said. "I was peaking through a gap in the screen when Alice was walking down the aisle. I wanted to see you. But all I could see was Dorian and the look of complete shock on his face as he watched Alice. Then one of his beautiful smiles crossed his face and I knew what he was thinking. He's going to propose, Cullen."

Cullen suddenly smiled. "If he is even half as happy with Alice as I am with you, they will have a wonderful life together," he sighed, his eyes shining as he watched her.

Emily laughed again and her face flushed slightly at his heated expression.

"You just stay on that side of the desk, Sebastian Cullen," she warned. "I'm getting tired of Dorian lecturing us on appropriate timing when it comes to our love life."

Cullen laughed with her. "He's just jealous," he grinned. "For so many years, I was always the responsible one and he got to have all the fun. Now the roles are reversed and he doesn't like it."

"You'd better get back to work," she smiled. "And me too. I've got a proposal to put to you and Dorian by the end of the week. I need to get working on it."

Cullen raised an eyebrow in inquiry but she just laughed and shook her head.

"No sneak preview, Cullen. This is work."

He grumbled good naturedly and blew her a kiss before he left her office.

Emily smiled happily and put the rest of her lunch in the bin. She wasn't very hungry today. She turned to her laptop and suddenly froze.

A feeling of total dread passed over her. It was so intense that she moaned softly and her hand went to her stomach. The last time she had felt like this was when Liam had discovered the attempted hacking into the computers at Karpathia's. But that feeling had been nothing compared to what she was feeling now. Something dreadful was going to happen.

She struggled up from her desk and almost flew down the hall to Cullen's office. She heard Dorian call to her as she raced blindly passed him. He followed her as she threw herself into Cullen's started arms.

"Emily, what's wrong?" Cullen asked anxiously, his hand coming to her face to pull her gaze to him.

"Something bad is going to happen," she whispered, her voice tortured. "Very soon."

Cullen gasped at her stricken expression and pulled her close.

Dorian shut the office door, his own face mirroring Cullen's concern.

"Do you know what, Emily?" he asked gently.

She shook her head. "I think it involves your kind," she said, her voice a bit stronger. "It's a more intense feeling of the one I had when Liam came here that day about the hacking."

"I'm getting her out of here," Cullen said sharply. "I'll take her to Anton."

"No, I'm not leaving," she moaned. "I can't leave, Cullen. I have to be here for whatever is going to happen."

"Out of the question," he said firmly, his beautiful face set. "Not after what happened the last time, Emily. You're leaving and that's the end of the matter."

"Leaving feels wrong, Cullen," she whispered. "It feels wrong. I have to be here."

There was a knock on the door and Alice entered quickly closing the door behind her. Her face looked frightened and Dorian automatically pulled into his arms.

"There's two really scary looking vampires here," she whispered. "They want to see you immediately."

Cullen and Dorian both stiffened and the Dorian went and opened the door. Emily didn't think she could have seen anyone become more still but Dorian did.

She gazed past him and saw two, tall vampires regarding the office. They were beautiful as all vampires were but there was something different about them. Their hair was short. They both had brown hair but it was cropped very short, almost to the point of having no hair at all. It was the first time she had seen a male vampire without long hair.

Cullen inhaled sharply and his hands tightened around Emily.

No words were spoken but Dorian moved aside from the door and the two vampires entered the office. The room suddenly felt very small with them in it.

Dorian crossed the room to stand beside Cullen, taking Alice with him. The tension in the room was so thick, Emily wondered if she would be able to physically touch the sensation if she tried.

"Your presence is required at the establishment known as Karpathia's," the vampire on the right said, his voice cold and hard. "His Majesty, King Alexander, will sit in judgement this day."

King! No one had told Emily about a King.

"What are the charges?" Cullen ground out, through clenched teeth.

"The human woman known as Emily Cullen is a witch and has been using magics to undermine and subvert the vampire nation."

Emily gasped in shock. "I'm not a witch," she cried out.

The vampires ignored her as if she wasn't there.

"My wife is not a spellcaster," Cullen said furiously. "This charge is absurd! Who levied it against her?"

"It is for King Alexander to determine the truth or falsehood of the accusation," the vampire to the left said, his voice equally as cold and hard. "You must come now."

"Philip, Hugo, you both know us well," Dorian said quietly. "You know we would never do anything to endanger our race."

The vampire called Philip turned to him, he was the one on the right.

"It is not our place to cast judgement, Dorian," he said, his voice a fraction warmer. "We serve His Majesty and do his bidding. You must come with us now. He awaits you."

Emily looked up at Cullen and shivered when she saw the hopeless expression on his face. Whatever was happening was something he was powerless to stop. She turned her gaze to the other two vampires and the sense that this had to happen was suddenly screaming at her.

"I guess we'd better go then," she sighed softly.

She thought Cullen would accidentally crush her he was holding her so tightly on the way to Karpathia's. She vaguely heard Alice and Dorian arguing about whether or not the little dark haired woman could come with them. She sensed Alice behind her so she gathered the tiny woman had won the debate.

Emily had never seen the room before which they were taken to. It was huge. The centre of the room looked like a huge dance floor. It was surrounded on three sides by rows of benches. At the head of the wooden floor was a raised dais on which sat what could only be described as a throne. The room was already full of vampires, all sitting silently as Philip and Hugo escorted them into the room.

Cullen balked when Philip and Hugo took Emily's arms but Liam was suddenly at his side. Dorian and Liam forced Cullen to release his hold on her.

"You cannot stop this, Cullen," Liam whispered urgently. "Don't make it worse than it already is. There is still a chance right now. There will be no chance if you go against the King."

Emily was terrified. If Cullen, Liam and Dorian couldn't protect her from this King then she was in real trouble. She let Philip and Hugo lead her into the centre of the room. She turned to see Cullen gripping the wooden balustrade, which surrounded the wooden floor, tightly. His expression was bleak, as was Liam's and Dorian's. She was in a lot of trouble and she had no idea if she was going to be able to walk away from it in one piece.

A loud bang caught her attention and she heard Philip announce the King. She turned and watched as an ancient Vampire strode purposely into the room. He was beautiful as was to be expected. His hair was long and loose and almost the exact same colour as Cullen's. His eyes were a darker brown and he was tall and lean. He wore some kind of ceremonial role. Emily felt the urge to giggle when she found herself admiring the shade of purple of the robe. She must be close to hysterics.

The King sat down on the throne and turned to regard the room silently. His expression was closed as his eyes fell on Cullen, Dorian and Liam. Finally he looked at Emily and she shuddered as it felt as if he was trying to peer into her very soul.

"You are the woman known as Emily Cullen?" he asked and she was surprised at how beautiful his voice sounded. It was quite out of place with the stern expression on his face.

Emily tried to swallow down her fear. "I am," she said loudly, her voice sounding more confident than she really was.

"You will address His Majesty with respect!" Hugo hissed loudly.

"My apologies," Emily said softly to the man on the throne. "I have not been in the company of royalty before so I do not know the customs required of me. Cullen did not have the opportunity to instruct me before we arrived here. If you would tell me how you wish to be addressed, I will do my best to comply."

There was a ripple of sound around the room and Hugo banged a large sceptre against the floor and roared, "Silence!" The room went quiet again.

"You may address me as Your Majesty," the King said quietly, his eyes thoughtful.

"Very well, Your Majesty," Emily said and inclined her head in what she hoped was a respectful way.

"A charge of witchcraft has been brought against you, Emily Cullen," the King announced. "What say you to that charge?"

"In all honesty, Your Majesty, I have been too astounded to discover that witches are real to have been able to think about being accused of being one."

"You are wed to a vampire and yet you find witches being real an astounding fact," the King mused. "How is this so?"

"I suppose I didn't really need to know until this moment, Your Majesty," Emily said quietly. "As I didn't need to know about vampires until I met Cullen."

He watched her thoughtfully for a moment and leaned forward slightly.

"A witch is very powerful and a determined one can bring our nation to it's knees, Emily Cullen," he said dangerously. "We execute witches on sight."

Emily gasped and paled and she heard Cullen growl behind her.

"Have you never considered coming to a compromise with the witches, Your Majesty?" Emily asked quietly.

"Heresy!" a vampire shouted, outraged. The room erupted in loud shouts and Hugo had to bang his sceptre sharply to restore order.

"Why would you ask such a question if you were not in fact a witch yourself?" the King asked, his voice icily cold and hard.

"I would ask such a question because I have a love of life so strong that it grieves me badly to see any living being die when perhaps there was a way to prevent it, Your Majesty," Emily answered.

"If you love life so much then perhaps you should work harder at preserving your own, Emily Cullen," the King snapped harshly. "Your words are condemning you."

"NO!" Cullen roared, breaking free of Liam and Dorian and rushing to Emily's side. He hugged her fiercely.

"I will not let you harm her," he hissed, his eyes flashing furiously at his King.

"Cullen, no," Emily groaned. "Go back to your seat."

"I'm not leaving you, Emily," he said, his voice hard and determined.

"Cullen, I appreciate you act out of love but this is totally unacceptable," the King said, his tone bored. "Return to your place now."

"I cannot, Sire," Cullen said, his face set. "I will not leave my wife to stand here alone to be falsely judged. If you must persist with this trial then I will stand with her. It was I who brought her into our family. I am just as culpable or innocent as she is, whatever your decision turns out to be."

Emily moaned in terror as she felt wave after wave of dread wash over her. This was wrong. It was so very wrong that she had to stop it. She saw Liam and Dorian step towards them, their faces set too. In her peripheral vision she saw her friends from Karpathia's also stand as if to come to her side as protectors.

"No!" she cried, wrenching out of Cullen's arms. She spun round to face him and made her expression hard.

"Go and sit down," she hissed through clenched teeth. "This isn't about you Cullen, this is about me."

"I will not, Emily," he growled furiously.

"You will or so help me God if I walk out of this room today alive, Sebastian Cullen, I will walk out of your life and never return!" she said coldly.

She winced deep inside as she saw the pain cross his face.

"Emily," he said, his voice full of pain.

She held herself rigid, refusing to go to him as she so badly wanted to do.

"Leave me, Cullen. Heed me now or face losing me forever."

She turned to Liam and Dorian who were staring at her in shock. "Take him back to his seat," she told them, keeping her voice hard.

She turned her back on them as she felt the mask on her face slip. She heard them all moving away until she once more stood alone facing the King. Cullen's pain was like a wave washing over her. She prayed silently that he would forgive her if she got out of this alive.

"Interesting," The King said thoughtfully. "Tell me, Emily Cullen, what is so important to you that you would break your husband's heart as well as your own?"

Emily lowered her head and didn't answer. She couldn't have spoken at that moment if she tried. She heard a whisper of movement and then suddenly the King was there before her, one long finger tilting her chin up so she would look at him.

"Why did you send your protectors away, Emily Cullen?" he asked gently.

"Because it felt wrong," she whispered.

"Felt wrong," The King echoed, puzzlement in his eyes.

She nodded as he released her chin but still stood staring down at her.

"I am not a witch, Your Majesty," Emily whispered. "But I have a sense of what is right and what is wrong. Cullen and Dorian call it my uniquely instinctual way of thinking. Sometimes I just know and I have to act accordingly."

"And now, is this moment wrong, Emily Cullen?" he asked softly.

"No, Your Majesty, this moment feels right once more. No matter what the end result is for me personally, it is right that I stand here alone before you."

He chuckled suddenly. "From the look on your husband's face, if you survive this day, you may receive a severe beating at his hands for your actions, Emily Cullen," he laughed and returned slowly to his throne.

"Tell me what was so wrong when he stood with you," he said as he sat back down.

"It is hard to put into words that will not anger you, Your Majesty," she breathed quietly.

"I am feeling tolerant, speak freely," he said with a wave of his hand.

Emily swallowed hard and tried to control the trembles that were starting to shiver through her body.

"If I had allowed him to stand with me then Dorian and Liam would have stood too. Alice would have come to Dorian's side even though she is only human and you probably haven't even noticed her presence in this room. I saw my friends from Karpathia's stand also. Soon half the room would have stood on my behalf. I had to stop it."

"But surely such a force of protectors would be something you wanted," The King said. "With such a show of support, it would have effectively halted this trial."

"It was wrong," Emily said desperately. "I will not be the cause of a civil war between your people, Your Majesty. I will not be the architect of the vampire nation's downfall. No matter what price I have to pay.

She sucked in a deep breath "If I must break Cullen's heart or offer myself up as a sacrifice, I will do so," she whispered. "The thought of losing the beauty of your kind is unbearable to think about."

The King regarded her thoughtfully for a long moment.

"Sacrifices. Making pacts with witches. You do say the most extraordinary things, Emily Cullen," he finally said. "I am ready to make my judgement."

The silence in the room was almost a tangible thing. Emily raised her head and stared at the King. She was frightened and she ached for Cullen so badly, even if he was mad enough to beat her right now.

"On the charge of witchcraft, I find the accused, Emily Cullen, to be innocent," The King said loudly.

The room erupted in noise, some angry sounds but mostly cheers. Hugo banged his sceptre and the room went silent instantly.

"It grieves my heart that some of us fear change so much that we seek to destroy something of such beauty when it comes to us when we least deserve it," the King said sadly. "Come to me, Emily Cullen," he continued, holding out his hand.

Shaking with relief, Emily walked towards the dais and walked up the steps until she stood before the King.

"Your work is complete, child," Alexander said gently, his eyes warm and glowing with approval. "When you join us, our nation will weep with joy that one so pure of heart and soul has consented to grace us with her presence. Have you chosen your protectors, child?"

Emily swallowed and tried to wipe the shock at his words from her face,

"Cullen stands as my husband, Dorian as my brother and Liam as my father," she said quietly.

Alexander smiled. "Have you room in your generous heart for a kindly grandfather, child?" he asked softly.

Emily eyes widened as she realised what he was asking her. Her heart banged loudly in her chest as she sucked in a deep breath.

"I've never had a grandfather before," she whispered. "They both died when I was very young so I have no memory of them. I have always wondered what it would be like to have one."

She swallowed hard again and the rightness of the moment was suddenly screaming at her. She smiled shyly at the King.

"There is room in my heart for one as noble and venerable as you, Your Majesty."

A hushed murmur race through the room and was quickly gone again.

Alexander smiled a beautiful smile and kissed her lightly on the cheek.

"Know this," he said rising and coming to stand beside her on the steps. "The human woman known as Emily Cullen is under my protection. Anyone who accuses her falsely accuses me. Think carefully before you seek to cause harm to this child again."

Emily glanced anxiously at Cullen and she heard Alexander chuckle lightly beside her.

"Are you in such a hurry to receive your beating, child?" he said affectionately. "If he is too hard on you, let me know and I will have words with him."

He laughed again as she blushed crimson and bit her lip, worriedly. Cullen's expression was cold and hard, his eyes flat and unforgiving. She'd be lucky if he talked to her let alone beat her.

"I will keep you but a moment longer, granddaughter," Alexander said softly.

He pulled a small vial from within his robes. He opened it and brought a finger to his mouth, pricking it against his fang and dripping three drops of thick red blood into the vial. He placed the top back on the glass bottle and held it out to Emily.

"When you become one of us and the rightness of the moment is upon you, drink from this vial, granddaughter. My knowledge and strength will flow through you and you will rise to your rightful place among us, as my heir. You will be Princess of Vampires until such times when I no longer walk this mortal world, then you will become Queen of Vampires. I know you will rule wisely, my child."

Emily's startled gasp was drowned out by the collective gasp from the room. She stared at the Royal being who was now her grandfather in shock.

"I never wanted this," she whispered hoarsely.

Alexander laughed. "To tell the truth, neither did I when it happened to me," he said with a conspiratorial wink at her which caused Emily to burst out laughing.

"It's the very fact that you do not seek this which makes it right that it happens," he continued, his face more serious. "What do you're instincts tell you, child?"

Emily closed her eyes and searched deep inside herself. Finally she smiled slowly and opened her eyes and took the vial from the King.

Alexander smiled broadly and gave her a gentle hug.

"This trial is concluded," he said quietly and turned and walked from the room.

Emily turned to Cullen and froze when she saw he was gone. She hurried across the room.

"Where is he?" she asked Dorian, her expression anxious.

"Maybe it's best if you give him some time, Emily," her adopted brother said softly. His expression was concerned. "All of this has been monumental, love," he sighed. "For all of us. It's going to take a lot of getting used to, more so for Cullen because you publicly rejected him and now when you join us, you will become Royalty."

"I had to do it, Dorian," Emily moaned, her face distraught. "For the reason's I told Alexander. I didn't want to hurt him. I had but a moment to find the one thing that would make him leave my side. I had to do it."

"We understand," Liam said softly. "Cullen will too, but you need to give him some time to calm down."

"I swore to him that I wouldn't run away if there was another problem. That I would stay and fix it," Emily said stubbornly. "I have to do that now, before it becomes too hard."

She hurried passed them and went looking for her husband.

Emily ran through Karpathia's looking for Cullen. He wasn't there. Heart pounding frantically she raced home, crying out his name as she entered the house.

She found him in the study. He stared at her as she entered the room, his beautiful face cold and hard. She flinched at the barely controlled violence she saw in his eyes.

"Cullen," she said softly, her voice trembling and her eyes pleading with him.

"I'm surprised you came home," he said coldly turning his back on her. "I would have thought you would have wanted to spend more time with your new grandfather."

"I want to be with you," she said quietly.

"How gracious of you, Emily. Does it make you feel good spending time with the peasants?"

"Cullen you're being ridiculous," she whispered. "I never expected that to happen. You must know that."

"Oh, must I?" he snapped, turning to face her. His golden brown eyes flashed with anger as he looked at her. "Is that a royal command wife?"

"Why are you being like this?" Emily moaned softly, her eyes filling with tears.

"Why indeed," he said softly, his voice heavy with menace. "I should be overjoyed that my wife publicly rejects me, makes me a laughing stock in front of all of my friends by sending me back to my seat like an errant child. I should be overjoyed that my wife breaks my heart by threatening to leave me if I do not obey her commands."

"I didn't mean it," Emily cried. "I just needed you to let me stand alone. It was the first thing that came to my mind. You know I don't want to be anywhere else but with you."

"I know nothing anymore, Emily," he hissed angrily. "I thought I knew you but I was obviously sadly mistaken.

He turned away from her again, his body language screaming his rejection of her.

"Get out," he said tiredly, his hands clenching at his sides. "Get out now, Emily, before I do something we'll both regret."

"We need to talk this through," she said, taking a deep breath and trying to steady her frantic nerves.

"What's to talk about, Emily?" Cullen asked coldly. "I thought Elizabeth's ambition was strong but you, well, you took ambition to a completely different level," he grated between clenched teeth.

She stared at him in confusion. Her fear was building steadily as she felt him slipping further away from her.

"I don't know what you mean," she stammered. "What has Elizabeth to do with this?"

Cullen suddenly whirled around and advanced on her menacingly. It took all her willpower to remain where she was as she saw the dangerous look in his eyes.

"Elizabeth's ambition was to be a vampire," he hissed. "She married me and used me to achieve her goal and then she tossed me aside as if I were nothing. But you, Emily, you seduced me with your sweetness and goodness, luring me into your little honey trap so that I would forget her deceit and marry you. So that you could rise high within the ranks of us to one day rule over us all."

"No," Emily moaned desperately. "That's not true, Cullen. You can't believe that."

"You clutch Alexander's vial tightly in your hand, even as the lies spill from your mouth," Cullen shouted, his voice harsh and alien to her.

Emily hadn't even been aware that she was still holding the vial.

"Take it," she cried, tears falling down her face as she thrust it out to him. "I don't want it, Cullen. I only want you."

"Liar," Cullen screamed, knocking her hand away from him.

Emily screamed in pain as she felt her wrist snap painfully. The vial fell to the floor as she stared at him in horror. Had he had just broken her wrist? He didn't appear to have noticed what he'd done or if he did know, he didn't seem to care.

"Cullen," she begged. "Please listen to me. I love you."

Her declaration seemed to incense him and his large hand wrapped around her throat, squeezing painfully.

"You got what you wanted, Emily," he growled furiously. "But you're still missing the last part. I'm sure you'll be able to talk someone into turning you, someone who hungers for power as much as you do. If you are waiting for me to do it then you will be sorely disappointed. The thought of being close to you sickens me to my very core. I want you out of my house by the time I return. I don't care where you go. Just get as far away from me as you can and I may not feel the need to hunt you down and break your beautiful little neck."

He threw her away from him and she fell heavily against the corner of the table. She cried out as her head connected with the hard wood. When she looked up Cullen was gone. She called to him frantically to come back. She heard the front door close loudly as she sank to the floor, clutching her damaged wrist. She felt wetness against her cheek and the hand she reached up came back bloody.

To be continued....