This was entirely too real.
Larkin had stopped bucking and was glaring at me, his teeth grinding against the gag my father had stuffed into his mouth.
There was a clang as my father dropped a dirty knife close to my feet. The blade reflected a strip of light into my eyes and I turned away, my empty stomach turning.
Time to cut. It was this stranger’s life or mine, I’d gone far too long without food.
My hand reached for the knife with its own will, shaking with the strain of going against my wishes. I grasped it tightly, the handle cold and hard. I looked again at Larkin and the child in my mind created targets on his body. My educated mind recognised the sights as areas that would be extra sensitive. My mouth went dry when I felt the sudden knowledge that the quickest way to get him to scream would be to cut through his Achilles tendon. My breath shuddered out of my lungs and if I could have I would’ve cried out in protest. But my possessed body moved on its own accord and got up out of its crouch, shuffling over the body.
I got close enough to reach for him when he lashed out. His unbound foot caught me on the side of my face and sent me flying. The impact of the ground jarred my back and I whimpered as pain shot up my spine. My father looked down at me with disdain but didn’t move to see if I was okay. He looked impatient.
I tried to get up but couldn’t. My legs were paralysed. The fall had done more than hurt. My father finally took a step over to see what was wrong. He leaned over me, his cold golden eyes hard and merciless.
“He hurt you. You’ll have to kill him instead of playing,” my father hissed. He raised his hand and I flinched, expecting another blow.
“Dizelde.” His voice was low. I opened my eyes wide again. “Never flinch from pain.”
The hand came down and was strong enough to whip my head to the side, banging against the floor.
“Come on. Please. Come on.” Larkin’s voice repeated insistently.
My head was throbbing with pain, my cheek stinging with the burn of a slap. My eyelids flickered as I tried to open them but I couldn’t find the strength to get them open. Was this still the dream? I tried again to move my legs but they were still frozen. Hands slid up to press against my cheeks, warm hands. No, this was no longer the dream. I was awake.
The relief was so intense that a hot ball got caught in my throat and I felt hot tears escape my eyes.
“Larkin.” I managed to speak. Getting the words out seemed to pull me further out of the nightmare and I opened my eyes to see his face close to mine. He was pale.
He dropped his head back and breathed a great sigh. The pressure on my legs lessened and as he moved I noticed that he’d tangled his legs with mine. We were on the floor next to the bed. I attempted to push myself upright but winced when I felt my back muscles spasm. One of Lark’s hands came back to my face.
“A nightmare,” he said shortly, his thumb brushing over my cheekbone.
He scooped me up and placed me gently down on the bed before sitting upright next to me. His hand brushed my hair gently and his expression seemed tentative.
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked. He rolled his eyes to the ceiling and then glanced at me, noticing my staring. “I don’t know what to say,” he explained. “I wish I was James so I could just make this instantly better but… I’m not and I can’t.”