Take My Hand Chapter 16

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Chapter 16

            Jo carefully placed her hand in Kaleo’s, still curious of his sudden change in attitude. He had seemed to be such a monster, but she prayed that he meant the things he said and that this wasn’t a trap of some sort.

            He securely wrapped his fingers around hers, making her think of Carson and bringing slight, stinging tears to her eyes. She drew in a deep breath as Kaleo drug her quickly from the room and down the long hallway. She blinked away the tears and prayed for her wobbly legs to hold her up as they descended several flights of stairs before standing before a huge iron door.

            He turned to her, trepidation playing across his features and setting itself firmly in his dark eyes. “Please, you must be careful. I must meet with the other warriors to organize, but I will hear if you call. Try to reason with him, make him see you before you let him drink. If you don’t…” Kaleo trailed off, allowing Jo to fill in the blank his words left.

            Jo nodded her head, acknowledging his words but completely unable to speak for the fear coursing through her as the door creaked open. He reached a hand out and placed a cold, metal object in her hand and closed her fingers around it.

            “That will open the shackles,” he said as way of explanation.

            Again, Jo nodded and placed the key in her pocket.

            Kaleo lifted a hand and lit the torches that were placed on the walls around the room, adding a modicum of light to the dark, stagnant cell. Jo took a step in, unable to see around the corner of the short entry hall walls. The door closed behind her with a harsh finality.

            Her steps were slow and careful as she rounded the corner. Hanging from chains on the wall of the opposite side of the cell hung a man. Jo knew he must be Carson, but she could see no evidence of him in this man. This man was thinner, paler. His wrists were bloodied, his ankles were no better, and there were dark bruises covering his body in shades closer to black than any ordinary bruise could be. The man hung limply from the shackles, his arms stretched out behind his head which hung dejectedly from his neck, his hair matted with dirt, sweat, and blood. She could hear his labored breathing from the other side of the room, smell the sweat and blood over the stench of the dungeon. Dermaglyphs laced across his arms and chest in swirls of red and black, completely unmasked.

            In the moment that it took her to take in the sight, the man had risen swiftly to his feet, his head snapping up to reveal crazed black eyes and readied fangs. He pulled angrily at his bindings, growls rising loudly from his chest and echoing around the room.

            “Carson?” Jo whispered softly, taking a hesitant step toward the enraged vampire.

            There was no response from the man except for him snapping his teeth together in her direction with a distinctive click.

            “Carson? I know you can hear me,” she said, knowing no such thing.

            She took another step toward him, her knees threatening to give out as her body shook violently. Tears gathered in her eyes again, and her breathing hitched as she took another careful step.

            “It’s Jocelyn. Look at me, Carson. See me. Please see me,” she begged as she stepped closer again.

            Only a few feet remained between the two of them. A growl echoed around the room again. The black eyes staring back at her were the most frightening things she had seen. There was no sign of anything human. There was only lust and anger in those eyes. There was a single-minded determination in that blackness the likes of which she had only seen in the eyes of predatory animals. There was a continuous rumble, originating from the vampire’s chest, which trembled through the air in the room, ricocheting against the walls and rebounding across the surface of her skin, making goosebumps appear. The chains rattled as the vampire fought against his trappings. Pieces of stone trickled to the dirty floor as the stone wall began to give way in slight pieces too small to allow his escape. Despite her fear, she remembered Kaleo’s words. Carson was there. He was here because of her, and she would not give up so easily.

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