Aria Tonight, was a rare night off, and I made the most of it in the only way I knew how. Ice-cream and a new book. I usually cleared out the shelf at Goodwill of the cheapest used books, and romance was my favourite. The single orphan liked to read about love, friendship and found family. So, sue me.
I sat out on the back deck until the insects started to eat me, then headed inside.
Inside the trailer, I still slept in the same room that I had since I was child. Billy had decorated it, with all sorts of crystals, and dream catchers. When I’d been younger, it had been so lame, but now he was gone, I loved it.
I flipped the pages of my book slowly at first, getting into the characters and setting, and then quicker as the romance started to heat up. It was a taboo love story, where a young actress was falling for her bodyguard, and it was steamy.
I was just turning to the first, eagerly anticipated sex scene, when a sound from the living room floated to me. I stiffened, dropping the book and staring down the hallway.
The front door was locked, I’d made sure of it, hadn’t I?
I sat up slowly, wishing I was wearing more than I was. I had on tiny cotton shorts that crept up my ass, and a thin camisole without a bra. It was too hot for more. Happenstance was breaking a hundred degrees some days, and nights in the trailer were sticky as well.
I inched toward the door, wishing I’d brought my weapons into my room. Billy had left me a taser, pepper spray and a gun without bullets. All of them were in a drawer in the sitting room.
“Hello?” I heard myself call before I could think better of it.
Great, Aria, warn the robber that you’re coming.
“I’m on the phone with my boyfriend, he’s a cop,” I called along the hallway. I paused just outside the sitting room. Maybe I’d imagined it. Maybe it had been outside.
As time ticked past, my fear dropped. I was being silly and wasting my free night hiding in my own trailer. Steeling myself, I stepped out and looked all around the room.
I froze, taking in the sight before me.
A crow sat on the breakfast bar, calmly standing on the back of a book. It let out a caw when it saw me.
“You!” I shrieked, throwing reason and logic out the window. I was sure at that moment that it was the very same crow that had been on my car this morning. “Get out of here,” I cried, and grabbed the nearest thing I could, a folded newspaper, and chucked it at the bird. It hopped to the side, and ruffled it’s feathers indignantly, like I was the rude one.
“I said get out!” I rushed at it, and this time, it moved.
It flapped toward the door, and I reached for the handle, wondering how the hell it had gotten in to begin with. I pushed the door open, and the crow flapped out.
“I see you’ve noticed my pet. Well done, Ivo,” a deep voice said. I stumbled back, shock robbing me of my thoughts.
Stone. He was here, staring at me.
“Hello, Aria. I confess I planned to take this slower, but I couldn’t wait any longer,” he said, in a deep voice that seemed to rub along my bones.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, my voice sounding breathy and anxious to my ears.
Get a grip, Aria, this guy seems dangerous.
He advanced a step, and my hand shot out. I held it out before me as if the move alone could prevent this powerful stranger from coming in if he decided to. When in doubt, brazen it out.
“I’ve been looking for you for a very long time. Imagine my surprise when I saw you this morning, at that hovel you work in,” he said. “William hid you well.”
“You knew Billy?” It didn’t seem likely someone so young and rich looking would have known Billy, but how else did he know his name? I thought about the rest of what he had said.
“We’ve never met before,” I stated flatly. Stone surprised me by laughing. It was a wicked sound.
“You still want to play? It’s time for the games to end, Aria. I’ve found you. You’re caught. Don’t be a sore loser, princess,” he said. I suddenly realised that while I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on, Stone had stepped into the trailer, his powerful body taking up every inch of space. I wouldn’t be able to move him if I tried.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. You must have me confused with someone else. We just met. But in case you did really know my godfather, you should know, he passed away six months ago.”
Stone nodded, looking satisfied. “I am aware. I’d never have found you if that interfering old fae had still been around.”
What the hell? Maybe this guy was crazy, stranger things had happened.
Stone advanced further into the trailer, making me panic.
“If he wasn’t dead when I found you, I would have killed him myself for keeping you from me for so long,” Stone said, making my heart stop. His eyes lowered down my body taking in my tiny shorts and see-through camisole. “Though, I have to give it to him for keeping you so… untouched… for me.”
His word sent blood rushing to my cheeks. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about the fact that at least your godfather managed to keep human hands off you, or else I’d have to go on a killing spree, before I brought you home. I’m talking about your purity… I can smell it, Aria. It’s mine, just like you body, heart and soul is.”
Blood beat in my cheeks, and I couldn’t meet his eyes for a moment. He could tell I was a virgin? Everything in me cringed at that. The rest of the words were confounding. His??
“I don’t know you, and I want you to leave this trailer right now, or I’ll call the cops,” I said stiffly.
Stone’s face was still a moment, and then he grinned. I felt the blood draining from my face. His smile was positively wicked. It made all the blood rush around my body, and a primal need to run burned in my legs.
“Go ahead,” he said, advancing another step. “I’ll kill anyone who comes between us.”
I stepped back, aware that I wasn’t going to be able to stop this man from entering, so I had to think of something else. Did I really think the Happenstance police department could take him? No, probably not. The aura of power he wore was so thick, I felt like I could see shadows coating his legs.
“What are you?” I gasped out, as he continued his slow advance on me.
Stone stopped at my words and tilted his regal head to the side. It was like being watched by a wolf that isn’t quite sure if they want to eat you for dinner or play with you a little more.
“You really don’t know? You, Aria, don’t know what I am?” he asked slowly, disbelievingly.
“I really don’t know. What, are you famous or something? Or a debt collector? Nothing here is worth anything,” I spat out, finally backing against the drawer where my small collection of weapons sat. I fumbled for the taser. Stone looked down at the noise of rummaging, but seemed unconcerned. I wrapped my hand around the taser and could have cried. The plastic in my hand gave me confidence. “You won’t get anything out of me, so you might as well go.”
He chuckled, but there was nothing funny in it. The sound sent my overwhelmed nerves into further disarray. “I won’t get anything out of you? That’s funny. You’ve become funny in your old age, Aria, darling.”
Suddenly, he seemed to have crossed the room before I could register it. One minute he was by the door, the next he was right in front of me, close enough to smell. He smelled like night-blooming flowers, and warm, dark things. Like midnight fires, and deep, still lakes. I had no idea what those things smelled like, but a rush of images accompanied his scent, flying through my mind as I inhaled him.
“I’ll take everything from you, every single thing. Your innocence, your fidelity and your power… You best make your peace with that now,” he continued. I slowly registered his threat. Alarm filled me.
“What the hell do you mean?” I demanded, my voice weaker than I’d like, but my hand was strong on the taser, I just had to pick my moment.
“I mean that I, Stone Acanthus, own you, Aria Sunsong, and I have since the day you were born. Your time hiding and running is over. It’s time to come home. My home, as mine.”
I didn’t take in those startling and bizarre words; I couldn’t. Instead, I held his dark, molten gaze, as I pulled the taser from my bag, and in one, quick motion shot the prongs right into his neck.
The pongs sank deep, and with barely a regret, I pressed the button in, sending sparks of electricity shotting along the wires. Clicking filled the air, and the vague, distasteful smell of burning skin. It reminded me of forgotten burger patties on the grill. I nearly gagged. The only thing that stopped me, was the unbelievable sight of the psycho who had forced his way into my trailer, told me I was his, and was clearly insane, smiling at me calmly, as volts that should have felled a giant ran into him. With utter calm, he brought a huge, powerful hand up to the wire connecting the taser prongs and the handset, and tugged them free. “Do you really think this can stop me?” he mused, sounding completely uncaring that the air literally smelled of his burning flesh. Terror like nothing I’d known before crept through me. I backed away. “What are you?” I asked. My flight or fight response was screaming at me to flee. Get out the back and make for the woods, or start banging on trailer d
Aria I blinked awake, the memory of the previous night slamming into me hard. I sat up and nearly cracked my head on a low bookshelf that hung over my bed. My bed. I was in bed? I looked around, groggy and confused. There was my dresser, and my uniform from the diner, neatly folded over a chair, just like I left it last night. There were my shoes, and my books. My cell was plugged into the charger next to the bed. Unease crawled through my veins. I searched my memory. Was it all a bad dream? The stranger in my trailer. Stone Acanthus. A tall, towering warrior in black who had told me he owned me. I touched my lips, remembering the feel of his ruthless kiss. My first one. Had I really imagined it? What about that bizarre flash of light, and the way he’d flown backward away from me as if hit by an invisible wrecking ball. I sighed, dropping my face into my hands, and letting out a groan. How embarrassing, and why the holy hell if it had been a product of a feverish, virgin imagi
Stone My father, King of the Night Keep, taught me that those who weren’t hunters were prey. Aria Sunsong was defying that distinction with every breath she took. She was weak, in this fragile human form. I could have snapped her delicate neck in a heartbeat. Then, she had kissed me so fiercely, defied me so stubbornly, and twisted my cold, dead heart in my baren chest in a knot. I hadn’t felt this way since the last time I held her, lifetimes ago, and a world away from this one. That made Aria dangerous, in this world, or our own. Never mind her fae power, which was strong as ever, she was also dangerous in a different way. Another lesson my iron-fisted father had taught me was that emotions made a man weak. Love? The worst danger of all. Luckily, in my immortal existence, there was only one woman who had threatened to weaken me with love, and I’d finally found her. The aura of her power called to me across the dimly lit bar. I looked around, depressed to see a woman dancing o
Aria “Aria, snap out of it and get to work,” Mona called to me, bringing me back to the present with a bump. I was jumping at every dark-haired man that wandered past. I felt like I was holding my breath, waiting for Stone to appear. I served drinks and wiped the counters, refilled the icebox, and emptied the glass washer. I moved with a special kind of rhythm that busy nights like this inspired, like I was dancing with my job, to music only I could hear, under the watching eyes of the truckers and travelers that filled the old bar. For the longest time, I’d rebelled against the idea that my life would just be this. Truck stops and strippers, sticky floors with scattered peanut shells. I’d felt above it, disdainful even. Billy hadn’t helped much. He’d seemed just as over our mundane trailer park lives as I was, and yet, he made no effort to change it. Now, as the days passed, carrying me further and further into adulthood, I knew. The ideas of having a better life were just dreams.
“Vic?” My voice sounded weak and I hated it. Vic’s eyes roved up and down my body, and a wide, salacious grin spread across his lips like oil. “My my, you look even hotter than I’d imagined you would, and believe me, I’ve spent a lot of time imagining it,” he murmured and grinned. Pushing himself back in the booth, he spread his thighs, clad in skinny jeans, and flexed his hips, no doubt trying to draw my attention to his pathetic hard-on. “What the hell are you doing here, requesting me? You know I don’t dance,” I snapped at him. Vic laughed, and gestured to my outfit, covered tightly by my robe “And yet, here you are. If I’d known months ago that all it took to get Aria the trailer-trash prude, into sexy underwear and ready to dance for me, was $100, I’d have done it long ago.” “I – I hate you. I can’t say that about many people, but I truly mean it about you. I hate you,” I bit out. “Maybe so, but you still want the money, right? And Gus still expects you to work for it. He wou
“Why don’t you blast him through this wall?” Stone suggested to me. I struggled to my feet. Now that Vic was choking, he’d released me. I swayed. I had one shoe on, one off, a blood river making its way down my outer thigh, and I was pretty sure both my nipples were winking at Stone. Add in the rapidly swelling jaw and what felt like a black eye; doing a private dance hadn’t been the get-rich-quick plan I’d thought it to be, only a few hours ago. “It doesn’t work like that. I can’t always…. Make it happen. I don’t make it happen at all, really,” I muttered, feeling woozy. I clung to the wall, as Stone advanced into the room. He had his eyes on me, taking in every inch, even as his concentration, and hand, was still extended to Vic. “If you never use it, of course, it won’t work reliably,” Stone muttered before his eyes fell to my leg. “You need healing.” “No, I don’t, I’m fine. I don’t like hospitals,” I said, just as Vic was released from Stone’s invisible grip. Vic sagged to the
Aria The trailer looked so mundane and ordinary after the scene I’d witnessed at the strip club. I limped in and locked the flimsy door, casting an eye at the gaping hole just beside it. Who was I kidding? If that mad man came here, I was screwed. I headed for Billy’s room. The smell inside was faded, and yet, still strong enough to make me want to cry again. Why couldn’t he be here? My godfather had always protected me and made me feel safe. I wanted him to put his arm around me, and stroke my hair, more than I’d ever wanted anything in my life at that moment. I found the patch-up box easily enough. It was the first time I’d looked in it since he’d died. In fact, it was the first time I’d been in his room in months. It was still too painful and raw. I put the box on the bed, feeling stiff as the adrenaline faded from my muscles and left me feeling shaky and pained. The blood on my leg was dried now, and the place where the glass had cut was sore but manageable. The scratches on my
StoneKilling the human was messy. I enjoyed it.He slumped to the floor in a puddle of shattered bones and ruptured veins, held together by his skin sack. The lust for darkness gradually pulled back inside me. It was always a test, killing humans, seeing as I couldn’t drink their essence, the kill never strengthened me, only diminished, and yet, there was an addictive quality to the feeling. There were fae in the past who had gotten drunk on human pain. I wasn’t one, and I’d never be one.However, this human had to die. He’d hurt Aria and tried to fight me. Laughable and pitiful, and yet, the arrogance of such an act couldn’t be unpunished. However, it had cost me.As soon as I’d finished pulling the life from the worthless bag of bones that Aria had called, Vic, people had burst into the room. Blood was splattered far and wide, and two of the men who had entered turned and promptly vomited their stomach contents on the already sticky floor. The others had attempted to tackle me. I f