Take My Hand Chapter 19

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Chapter 19

            Carson watched the flames surrounding Dania’s body slowly die, flickering less and less until all that remained were bare embers and ashes. He looked around to see the ten other vampires clinging to their mates and staring at the ashes as though they would scatter and reveal their futures. They looked lost, abandoned, yet relieved, free. The silence rang with possibility, with unanswerable questions. Carson understood beyond a doubt what they felt because he himself had felt it. But he knew his purpose, his place in life. And with the shadow of a forgotten smile, he turned toward the dungeon of that great castle to begin his future.

            He took the stairs as quickly as possible without tumbling and flew through the large door, the sickening, stale smell of the room returning to him. His eyes scanned the darkness, searching for Jo’s form. He heard a slight whimper from the far corner and was instantly at Jo’s side.

            “Jocelyn?” he whispered, reaching his hand slowly toward her as he crouched down beside her. “Can you hear me?”

            Jo sat huddled against the stone walls, hugging her knees to her chest, her hands clenched so tightly it looked like the bones would protrude through the skin. Sweat soaked her hair until it was nearly black and clung to her skin. Her body visibly trembled, and she cried silently, tears streaming in torrents down her dirty face. The few whimpers that escaped her tore at Carson until he thought his heart had been drawn from his chest and slammed to the ground.

            As his hand skimmed her hair she screamed in obvious agony, flinching away from his touch.

            “Please…” she whispered brokenly. “Don’t.”

            “I’m sorry, so sorry,” Carson whispered, remembering the pain of the Change.

            Your entire body felt like it had been doused in gasoline and set to flame. It penetrated every tissue, changing it, transforming it into the body of a vampire. The heart slowed its pumping, slowing the transfer of oxygen to your body, making it feel as though you were suffocating. The barest touch was excruciating. You longed to crawl from your skin but lacked the willpower to do so. Your eyes burned as your pupils expanded, and the bones in your back cracked and realigned to accommodate wings, the muscles stretching to control them. Other muscles ached as they strengthened. The gums spilt and bled as the fangs formed and protruded. The brain itself changed and mutated, causing pain to put a migraine to shame. The skull felt as though it would explode into a million tiny pieces, the brain pulsing in a sickening rhythm. Yes, he remembered. It wasn’t something that was easily forgotten.

            “What have you done to me?” she whispered, clutching her head.

            To speak above a whisper was unthinkable.

            “You are Changing, Jo.”

            “Changing?”

            “Yes,” he whispered back, avoiding all but direct answers for a reason unknown to him.

            “Into what?”

            He didn’t answer, fear keeping him silent. Something inside him acknowledged the possibility that she could hate him for what he had turned her into. She could never speak to him again. And he wasn’t ready to lose her yet. He wanted to cherish at least a few more moments with this precious woman.

            Hate.

            It was inevitable. He could see it in her once innocent eyes.

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