Hey, Lovebugs! Happy Freebie Friday!!
Here it is. The finale. I hope you find it as satisfying as I did. I wrote it with a great, big, jack o’ lantern grin on my face.
Hope you enjoy! Hugs!
It’s almost HALLOWEEN!!!
If you have not read the first two chapters of Dark was the Night, you will be LOST!!!
That said, please continue. 😉
Dark was the Night
The day crawled by at a pace slightly less animated than that of a slug. Felicity gritted her teeth over her mother and father’s stern lectures of irresponsibility and selfishness. It’d been the same since she’d first broken things off with Laurent.
“You must make things right with the Lakewood boy,” growled her father.
“Do you think of no one but yourself? How are Papa and I supposed to cope as we age?” griped her mother as she helped herself to her third box of the chocolates Laurent had sent the day before. Felicity had to bite her tongue to keep herself from responding scathingly that they had both been getting on fine until they supposed extreme wealth was a viable option.
She sat in silence through the evening, watching her mother pour herself a sixth sherry and stare morosely into the fire. This was nothing new. Her parents had always wanted more than they had.
A better daughter, a better spouse, better food or a better house! Felicity chanted in her head as she darned one of her father’s socks. Never mind the garden or the chickens. They let Felicity care for the everyday chores while they sat and brooded over their lack of social standing and argued over the last bun from the bakery.
I suppose the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, thought Felicity. Had she really been so different from them? In roping Laurent, she had hoped for the greatest love that ever had existed. She had thought to please herself and pacify the parents that always claimed she was the heaviest of burdens upon them at the same time.
He said he’d find me, whispered a voice in the back of her mind, drowning out her father’s droning. Damien. His pale, handsome face flashed before her eyes. He said he’d come for me.
But how? Was she supposed to meet him in the dark of the wood? Find his bestial cottage as the rain thundered down on her head? Lightning flashed outside the window in the gray evening light and a clap of thunder shook the very foundation on which they sat.
Felicity’s mother looked toward the window, beyond which they could just make out the last of the townspeople finishing their shopping and rushing for cover, arms and purchases flung over their heads to ward off the chill of the pounding rain.
The sky darkened steadily and the thunder continued to shatter over their heads, making the windows rattle in their frames.
“Here you are, Papa,” said Felicity, handing the mended sock to her father. He took it from her without thanks and stuck his hand through the sock so that he looked utterly bizarre in the firelight. His little finger pushed at the seam Felicity had just made and she heard the snap of thread before it poked out of the freshly repaired tear.
“You didn’t do it strongly enough,” he sniveled, and he handed the ruined sock back to Felicity. She took it with a sigh and sat back down in her recently vacated seat. Another flash of lightning split the black sky outside the front window and Felicity looked up, startled.
For a moment, as the light glanced off the corner of the house, Felicity thought she saw the silhouette of a man standing there behind the flood of rain from the gutter. When she looked again, however, there was no one there. She shook her head, finished with the sock and, instead of handing it back to her father, sat it down beside the basket of freshly laundered clothing. She then stood up, her fingers covering her lips as her mouth gaped in a wide yawn.
“I think I’ll go to bed,” she said. Neither of her parents answered her. Felicity’s mother was slumped sideways in her chair, snoring gently. Her massive form was spilling over the edge of the seat in an undignified pile, the sherry glass in her fingers close to spilling. Wrinkling her nose in disgust, Felicity took the glass from her mother’s sausage-like fingers and propped her up with a pillow.
“Goodnight, Papa,” she said. He grunted, glowering into the fire. Felicity moved towards the hall, but her father’s voice called her back.
“If you don’t marry the Lakewood boy, you’ll no longer be welcome in this house,” he said. Felicity stopped in her tracks and turned to face her father in shock.
“You heard me,” he said, still not bothering to look at her. “You make it up with that boy or I’ll toss you out on your ear.”
Felicity blanched. Her knees began to shake. “But I don’t—.”
“I’m not giving you an option,” he said, finally twisting his head to look at her. “You’ll go to him tomorrow. I’ll send the neighbor girl with a note in the morning. Wear something pretty.” He turned away from her, leaving Felicity sputtering with indignation in the doorway.
Felicity couldn’t sleep. She listened to the thunder roll across her bedroom ceiling and dreaded the dawn. Lightning flashed over her face at regular intervals, illuminating the room in its haunting glimmer. The darkness seemed to shimmer for a few moments each time this happened. It danced around her bedroom in delight, as though it knew things she didn’t. Felicity couldn’t help but feel as though the shadows were aware of her self-made predicament.
It was during one of these flashes of light that there came a tap on her window. Felicity had been staring at the ceiling, watching the branches of the trees in the nearby woods cast dancing shadows over the wood. At first, she assumed the wailing wind had picked up a twig and tossed it against the side of the house, but then the sound came again, and she sat up on her elbow to peek over at the window next to her bed.
She gasped. Then she smiled.
Shrouded in a cloak so thick it could have been made from the shadows themselves, Damien was standing a foot away from the thick glass, cricking his fingers at her in a most inviting way. His icy blue eyes danced with mirth as the wind whipped through the trees behind him. Curiously, he looked untouched. Neither the wind nor the pounding rain seemed to be making a mark on his perfect appearance. He merely looked as though he were standing in a light wind. The eeriness of this picture made Felicity’s skin crawl with excitement.
His white-blonde hair stood up in that carelessly attractive way that caused Felicity’s fingers to ache to muss it, and he was bathed in darkness. Damien gave her a questioning look and then gestured for her to come to him once more. Felicity had been staring at him, her mouth open in astonishment.
Did this mean she was not insane after all? Or was her delusion growing beyond the restraints of nighttime forays into the woods? Should she open the window? If she were to let him in, would she lose herself? End up in an asylum?
But he looked so very inviting. So very… Real. Felicity felt a thrill of foreboding as she slipped out of bed, carefully straightened her nightgown, and slid back the catch on the window. Damien shoved the pane upwards with a noise like cannon fire in the still silence of the sleeping house and then proceeded to climb through the gap without hesitation or invitation.
Felicity listened for the grunting snores of her parents but heard nothing. A strange, otherworldly stillness seemed to have settled over her room. While just outside the window trees shook with gale force, the wind seemed to be forgetting to wail.
Damien unfolded himself like an accordion and straightened up, smiling mischievously. Looking very much like a wolf that had just entered the chicken coop.
Felicity opened her mouth to hiss a reprove or banish him back outside, but before she could get the words out, Damien wrapped his arms around her and kissed her. All the air left her lungs. His hands held onto her so tightly he might have been hoping to meld them into one being. It was only after a moment that Felicity realized she was clinging to his hard body with equal force and abandon. His lips were of fire and ice. They tasted of musk and Fall and desire. Felicity wouldn’t ever know how long they stood there, lost in each other. She only noticed when Damien began shoving her gently towards the bed. Her mind called a halt. Her body, while protesting slightly, shoved him away.
Damien looked taken aback and then he smiled again, knelt on the floor, and kissed her hand. “My apologies,” he muttered huskily, his chest heaving as he attempted to gain his breath. “I forgot myself for a moment.”
Felicity caught sight of herself in the mirror across the room as another fork of lightning flashed silently over the sky outside. Her auburn hair was tangled around her face, her cheeks and lips both red with passion. She looked hauntingly beautiful. Not like the small, girlish figure of a few hours ago. She suddenly felt very worthy of Damien’s attentions. Of course, this creature of the night would choose her. She was a match for him.
Something strange was taking place as Felicity looked at herself in the mirror. Something, incredible. She watched her reflection grin wickedly, she saw herself turned inside out. Not physically. It was as though a dormant magic had burst to life inside her chest. It enveloped her. Her skin shone with it, she looked radiant. And Damien was looking at her with wide-eyed confusion.
He sat back on his heels, his hand still gripping hers and stared at her. Felicity smiled. Damien’s face relaxed as he stood. He picked up a strand of her hair, cocking his head to the side to examine it.
“What is this? What are you?”
“What are you?!” laughed Felicity, no longer afraid of waking her parents. No longer afraid of anything at the moment.
Damien did not answer for a long time. He examined her quizzically then, still looking curious, he kissed her once more. The fire of his lips burned a trail over her entire body.
“I am the son of shadow,” he whispered. “Shadow and human. I am the keeper of the gate between our two worlds, as I was born of both.” Felicity felt her eyebrows fly into her hairline. A flurry of questions bubbled to her lips. Damien held a long, succulent finger over her mouth.
“I think,” he said, now examining her body with a satisfied air. “I have claimed you.”
Felicity shook her head. “You do realize you’re talking nonsense to me,” she said waspishly. She took a step back from his delicious, captivating gaze and sat down on the bed behind her, arms crossed over her chest.
Damien prowled after her, crouching down in front of Felicity to look up into her eyes.
“I have told you what I am,” he whispered. He reached up and took hold of her fingers, tracing the invisible veins beneath her skin. “I am not one for pretend.”
Felicity glared at him and pulled her hand from his, though the loss of connection felt rather like the separation of a limb. “You’re talking in riddles,” she said with a bluntness that caused Damien’s handsome mouth to quirk upward in a seductive leer.
“I’m not,” he growled. He stood up and towered over her. The shadows moved with him. With a wave of his hand, he cleared the darkness from beneath the bed and thickened that within the closet. A crick of a finger formed shapes in the black of the room. Made things creep and crawl. Made the room look huge and then small.
After a few moments of chaotic shifting and sliding, Damien lowered his arms. The shadows resumed their proper places, and Felicity’s eyes had expanded to the size of dinner plates.
“They obey me because I am one of them,” he breathed. “I lord over them as a sentinel. A guardian of correction and justification that keeps the darkness from overthrowing the light. I am balance. Precision.” He bent forward and settled his lips just above hers. Hovering there, with the night shrouding his face like a veil, he truly appeared a king of his realm. “I believe I would be right to take you as my own, as the darkness seems to have marked you as my equal.”
Felicity couldn’t breathe. Not with Damien’s mouth inches from hers. Her chest was heaving with terror, with exhilaration, and with excitement.
The idea of a world other than the one she inhabited with her parents, with Laurent and even Dottie from the market. The thought that there was something beyond. Something more. It captivated her soul just as much as the man that was before her. She wanted Damien. She wanted his arms to surround her in shadow, and strange heat and beauty.
She sat there, shaking, looking up into the face of darkness. He smiled his capricious smile, his white teeth bared in a delighted grin.
“Come with me now,” he said. It was not a request; it was a demand. Felicity raised her eyebrows at him.
“Where will we go?”
“Not far.” Damien planted a rather chaste kiss on her lips and straightened once more. “Not far at all.”
Felicity hesitated, feeling as though she were about to step into nothingness. As though she were on the precipice of a decision that would transform every aspect of life as she knew it.
“I will return you to your bed before the dawn,” he said. His cold eyes danced, begging her. He offered her his hand.
Felicity glanced around her darkened room. She thought of her father’s demands, of her mother slobbering over her sherry glass in the corner. She thought of Laurent, of Hannigan, and then she smiled playfully. “Perhaps I do not have to return at all,” she said and she placed her hand in his.
Damien’s responding smile was victorious. He pulled her to him and kissed her once more, then he led her to the window.
She walked with Damien into the night. The storm raging around them, but never touching a hair on their heads. The shadows accompanied them. Twirling and leaping with the swaying branches of the wood, they celebrated.
And when came the dawn, Felicity’s bed was empty. The window was closed. The room was cold.
As though she had never been there at all.
Dark was the Night
Freebie Fridays will be put on a brief hold while I finish get ready to release the second book in The Brittler Sisters Series.
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