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Authors: Cheri Schmidt

Tags: #romance, #vampire, #paranormal romance, #fantasy, #paranormal, #young adult, #fairy

Fateful (3 page)

BOOK: Fateful
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She turned down what looked like another
street. Panic crawled up from her stomach and lodged in her chest.
An alleyway. No matter where she was in the world, walking that way
was never wise. But it was too late, she had no choice. Danielle
could see a turn several yards ahead. Maybe there’d be hope waiting
around the corner.

Deciding she couldn’t risk trying to look
confident any longer, Danielle kicked into a run.

Just before she took the corner, she checked
behind her again. He was there, still following in the same relaxed
manner. If he kept coming at her like that she could easily outrun
him. He didn’t seem too committed about pursuing her, which was
strange. She changed her pace to a sprint, looked back, still he
hadn’t done the same.

Relief filled her because once she swung
around the corner light from the lampposts filtered in from where
it opened up to the street. She could also see people walking
past.

Danielle checked behind herself one more
time.

Her heart jerked to a stop, she nearly fell
over herself, and she screamed—he was right behind her! How could
he have possibly closed the gap of over a hundred feet in an
instant?

Able to now see into his eyes, she stepped
backward. There was something hypnotic and sinister about his
silvery-blue gaze because it made her feel like she was being drawn
in under a spell. Weakening her. Shaking her head, she somehow
managed to force her gaze away from his.

That’s when the word “vampire” came to
mind, Danielle had just read they had hypnotic eyes.
No, that’s crazy! Now my imagination is getting
away with me!
she thought, rejecting the
idea.

Danielle knew she couldn’t avoid this
situation any longer, it was time for the second rule of
defense—stun and run. Danielle knew the best way to stun this man
was to strike swiftly, and she did—with all her strength aiming for
his throat. She hit the mark, but, to her horror, nothing happened!
He didn’t even flinch! Shaking her aching hand, she knew she’d hit
him hard enough.

Even avoiding his eyes, she could still see
his smile as it curled into a bigger sneer. Danielle shot out a
couple jabs and a kick aimed at his groin. His hands flashed out
with lighting speed, blocking everything with no more effort than
flicking a flea from his jacket.

What?

“No, Danielle, run!”
the protective voice in her head screamed.

Danielle spun away from him but she didn’t
get very far. She’d slammed into something solid, but … clothed?
Bewilderment muddled her mind as her fingers curled into a soft
dark sweater. Strong, gentle arms enveloped her. There hadn’t been
anyone there before. She looked up to find that she’d run directly
into another man. How had she not knocked him down when she smashed
into him so hard?

Kind blue eyes peered down at her from a
handsome face. Well, they looked blue. Even backlit as he was,
enough light had filtered in to make his features only half
shadowed. His sun-kissed complexion made the blue of his eyes pop
even more. A gentle smile graced his mouth.

Her gaze slid from his golden hair, along his
straight nose, past a full mouth, to a strong jawbone. Again it was
like looking at an angel, but from Heaven this time instead of
Hell. To her it seemed like she’d just met Gabriel in person. But
he didn’t appear to be one of those
sweet-gentle-choir-singing-halo-wearing type angels, more like the
kind of angel who could beat demons off with sheer brute force.
More like a warring angel or an avenging angel. Danielle could feel
a muscled chest through the knitted material of his sweater.

A strange rumbling noise drew her attention
back to her pursuer. A growl? She wasn’t sure. The other man was
still there, his fists curled at his sides, the knuckles turning
white. But what really threw Danielle was the fact that it appeared
as if her attacker knew the man who had saved her. How could that
be? With one more piercing look at Danielle, that sent chills
slicing up her spine, the evil angel turned abruptly and left.

Confused and full of questions, her face
returned to the man holding her. Lifting her gaze to his, she
opened her mouth to speak, then closed it as an intense sense of
familiarity washed over her, rendering her speechless. She felt
like she was looking at someone she knew, or had known, really
well, yet his face didn’t seem familiar at all. It was in his eyes.
His expression led her to believe he was experiencing the same
sense of awareness.

She tried to place him, but couldn’t because
his gaze felt ... hypnotic, just as the first man’s had been. It
wasn’t like the mesmerizing gaze of a romance novel hero, but like
really hypnotizing, and not in a good way. Though the two men
seemed as different as Heaven and Hell to her, there was something
about them that was the same, but she couldn’t place it.

Sudden weakness rolled through her limbs. As
Danielle’s knees turned boneless, the angel frowned, and something
that looked like guilt or regret slid across his expression just
before he snapped his eyes closed. The spell, or whatever it was,
released her just as quickly. With a gentleness that touched her,
he took her hand, kept his eyes cast toward the pavement, and began
leading her out of the alleyway.

“Let’s get you back to your car safely.” His
deep, masculine voice was laced with that British accent she loved
listening to and she fell in love with him. A little.

“Thank you.” Danielle’s voice trembled. She
wasn’t sure what had just happened.

“You’re welcome, but you’re not completely
safe yet,” he informed her.

Without any direction from her, he led her
back to Bri’s car. How did he know where it was? Had he been
watching her too? Was she still in danger? If she was in danger,
why did she feel so calm and safe—she couldn’t help but trust this
guy.

As they got to the car, he held out one hand.
“Keys, please.”

Danielle studied his face in surprise.
It was sort of strange how he kept his gaze averted from hers, but
for some reason she obeyed, immediately dropping her keys into his
palm. He unlocked her car and opened the door, holding it for her.
Danielle got inside and then swiftly, he slid the key into the
ignition. She couldn’t understand why he would do that until she
noticed her hands, which were trembling violently.
Oh
, she thought.

He leaned down to speak to her, still
avoiding eye contact. “Can you find your way home by yourself? I
can see you’re not a local.”

“I-I don’t know my way around. At all. This
is only my second day here,” she admitted. Danielle wanted the
help. She was too shaken, and knew she was likely to wind up
driving down the wrong side of the street. Forget about trying to
read a map or do all of it from the passenger side of the car.

“Very well, I’ll lead you. What is your
address?”

She surprised herself again by telling him
without hesitation, knowing that giving such personal information
to complete strangers wasn’t something to make a habit of. But for
odd reasons she couldn’t yet comprehend, he didn’t feel like a
stranger at all.

After instructing her to shut her door
and lock it, he promised to return with his car. In a matter of
moments he pulled up next to her. Danielle immediately knew it was
a Jaguar, although she didn’t know what model. The shinny paint
reflected the available light making the car appear as though
crafted solely from wet black paint that had been trimmed in
polished chrome. The characteristic hood-ornament sparkled as it
tried to leap from the front like a nimble cat. She was fully aware
that it happened to be a very expensive car. However, he appeared
too young to be driving such a luxury.
Must be his father’s
, she mused.

He signaled for her to follow. She moved her
car in behind his and her stomach twisted with how awkward it felt
to drive like this.

The soupy mist was getting deeper as they
went, up to the doors now. She watched as it twirled and twisted
from the wake of his vehicle. It only heightened the petrifying
feelings that continued to torment her.

As they drove along the dark road to
her uncle’s home, Danielle got the creepy feeling she was being
followed. She glanced into her rearview mirror and saw movement in
the darkness. A cold pressure settled on her shoulders, like menace
itself touched her.
What was that?
Couldn’t be him, had to be her imagination
. She
was feeling really freaked out by the night’s events, which began
with her foolish curiosity about vampires.

Her “angel” finally drove up to her house and
stepped out of his car. Danielle breathed a sigh of relief as she
pulled into the driveway. When he nodded for her to go inside, she
started then turned back, wanting to thank him, but he was already
gone. The taillights of his Jag were swallowed up in the misty
darkness.

After entering the foyer, she turned the lock
and leaned against the door for support. Only then did she notice
her physical reaction to everything—heavy breathing and a pounding
heart. Lifting a hand to her chest, she tried to steady her breaths
before she got lightheaded from it. Her parents would be furious
with her if she’d gone to London for school, only to go missing
within the first week. One thing she did know, she’d be taking her
uncle’s advice a bit more seriously from now on.

Danielle knew dinner was ready, she could
hear the soft voices of her family drifting from the dining room,
and she could smell the spicy aroma of a well seasoned meal. But
she couldn’t face them yet. Needing a moment to gather herself, she
raced up the stairs.

Curling up on the bed she placed her face in
her arms folded across her knees. What just happened? Why did she
have to run? She was supposed to be able to defend herself, but her
black belt skills were useless. Unable to make sense of it, her
fingers tightened in the sleeve of her shirt. Any self-confidence
she’d had before melted away under a rush of shame, doubt, and
hopelessness.

“Dannie, are you all right?”

Danielle jumped at the sound of Brianna’s
voice. A reaction Brianna clearly noticed. “I-I’m fine.” Like that
was believable, she thought sarcastically.

Suspecting her cousin noticed by the way her
mouth turned into a deeper frown, Danielle expected her to say
something about it. Instead Brianna said, “I see you made it home
all right. My map was good, wasn’t it?”

“Truthfully, I didn’t use the map. Someone
led me home in their car.”

“What?” Brianna had seated herself on the
bed. Her hand went to Danielle’s shoulder as a gesture of comfort.
Danielle looked up over her arms and the events of the evening
tumbled out.

“Did you try your karate?”

“Yes, but ... it was worthless against him.”
She buried her face in her arms again. This is what she felt most
ashamed of.

“Why?”

“He deflected my strikes as easily as if I’d
been a child...” Danielle shuddered at the memory. “I hit him.
Hard—he should have at least reacted to the pain, but he just stood
there.”

“You’re scaring me, Danielle!”

“I’m sorry, but he was really creepy. He made
me think of vampires like Uncle was talking about.”

Brianna shuddered this time too. “How did you
get away?”

“When the karate didn’t work, I turned to run
and crashed right into another man. For a moment I was even more
scared, but for some reason I trusted him. He saved me from the
first man. Honestly … if he hadn’t been there, I doubt I would have
come home tonight.”

“Oh my gosh, Danielle! You must have been
terrified!” she exclaimed. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have left you
on your own so early. Can you ever forgive me for being so
selfish?”

“Yes, Bri. It’s not your fault, I shouldn’t
have gone the way I did. I just got really lucky someone was there
to help me.”

“I wonder who
he
was.” Danielle knew Brianna was talking about
her mystery guardian angel, and she was equally intrigued, and
disappointed she hadn’t been able to properly thank him for his
help, or find out his name.

“Are you ready to come down to dinner? Mum
and Dad will be wondering.”

“Please don’t tell them what happened
tonight. They might send me home on the next plane out!”

“I won’t. They wouldn’t react too well to
this. It’s between you and me.”

After a few slow, full breaths, Danielle was
ready to go down to dinner. She had to fight to keep from melting
down in front of her aunt and uncle, but somehow managed it.
Brianna kept eyeing her cautiously, trying to see how she was
coping. Danielle ignored her; eye contact with her cousin would
have devastated her grasp on control.

Troubling thoughts kept plaguing her mind
while she mindlessly ate, not really tasting it. She had never in
her life made a mistake this serious, or this dangerous before. But
she also knew that being in a city she was unfamiliar with,
combined with her knack for getting lost, didn’t exactly help with
that.

That night, as she’d expected, she did have a
nightmare. She never should have read that book.

In her dream, she sat up to find both angels
standing at the foot of her bed—side by side.

Danielle didn’t believe they
were
real
angels. They didn’t
have wings or halos, they were just handsome in a way she’d always
thought angels should be. Even though they were both pleasing to
look at, the contrast between them was more appalling when seeing
them right next to each other. The beautiful, gothic demon glared
at her with a hungry look in his fiendish eyes. Danielle’s heart
jumped into her throat.

BOOK: Fateful
6.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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