❅ Chapter 3 ❅

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"Who are you?" I croaked. My heart was thudding so loud in my chest I was surprised the other kids didn't jump out of their beds, terrified.

This can't be happening.

The shadowed figure above me shifted slightly, using a gloved hand to cover my mouth and force me up into a sitting position. I struggled fiercely, but soon gave up when the dark cloak pulled a dagger on me, the cool metal of its blade kissed my throat.

"The quieter you come, the less blood will be spilled. Deal?"

A dam broke inside of me, spilling red fury through my veins at an alarming rate. Who the hell was this guy to follow me to my home, break in, and then attempt to kidnap me? Just because I was poor and probably smelt like a barn didn't mean I deserved any less respect than anyone else with more money than I.

I shook my head furiously, attempting to bite the hand of my captor... It didn't work. Instead I felt the sharp teeth of his blade nip into my skin, and soon a warm stream of blood slid down my neck like a slithery snake, pooling in the hollow of my throat.

Panic laced itself in my heart, biting and ripping apart any sane thought that may have resided in my brain. The only word that pounded in my skull now was: Survive.

"Shit," he mumbled. "Hold still!"

But I couldn't think, I just acted. I thrashed and jolted, determined to throw him off.

"God dammit, don't you listen?" he hissed, his grip on my face tightening. "You're giving me no choice," he grunted.

I had no idea what he meant, but soon a soothing scent flitted into my nostrils; sweet like a dozen roses.

Why was I fighting again? I couldn't recall. I didn't need to fight. I just needed to sleep... I was so tired... My whole body seemed to shift, and soon I was floating. No, not floating. I was being carried away by my knight in shining armor.

Lazily I lifted my eyes, trying to identify who my prince charming was. The light from the full moon illuminated a strong, square jaw covered in prickly stubble and a small but jagged scar on his chin. Smooth lips parted into a lazy half smile, framing perfectly straight teeth that gleamed. "You're much heavier than you look," he whispered as he carried me through the threshold and into the night.

The cold breeze from the October air seemed to wake my sleeping limbs a little, and I struggled weakly against the arms holding me.

"How are you not sleeping yet? That was enough to put a three hundred pound man under..."

I struggled more profusly against the arms cradling me against a firm, warm chest. I knew soon the mysterious, sweet smelling aroma would float through the air again and taunt me with sleep. I didn't want to sleep. I wanted to stay awake to witness what was bound to happen next.

The delicious smell of roses tickled my nose for a second time, and this time I didn't have any fight left within myself to stay awake. Darkness pulled me under and I didn't put up an ounce of struggle as I fell into a dreamless sleep.

* * * * * * *

I floated in and out of conscience; diving head first into darkness before resurfacing to the light, only to drown in the gloom once more seconds later. I didn't count how many times I woke up, cracked my eyes to glare into the shadows of the hood, and then let my head lull to the side before I crashed again. It was a pattern: Wake up, glare at the hooded man through my lashes, and then be involuntarily whisked away by sleep.

When my wits were finally within reach, I latched onto them like a ravenous wolf on a dead carcass, refusing to let go. I had to stay alert if I wanted to have a fighting chance. But dammit...The succulent aroma of roses and other sweet treats tickled my nose, practically telling me to fall back asleep in soft, innocent little whispers.

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