Chapter 3 - The Stranger

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I was dragged backwards, my body pressed tightly against the wooden railing. I looked down below and a wave of nausea rolled over me. I turned around and heaved right over the fence.

It was then I noticed my rescuer's shiny, very expensive looking dress shoes. Wiping my mouth with the sleeve of my hoodie, I looked up warily. He was tall and wore an equally expensive suit . Everything about him screamed wealth, from his perfectly styled ash brown hair, to the white vintage convertible that stood parked on the road.

His face, sharp and chiseled like a statue, held an expression of bemused concern. He was quite possibly the most handsome man I had ever seen. More handsome than Rowan even. My chest felt hollow from the thought of him.

He gave a light chuckle then stepped around the puddle of vomit to offer me his hand. Reluctantly, I took it and helped myself over the railing, away from death.

"Now, why would a girl as beautiful as yourself be trying to end her life?" he asked.

I opened my mouth to speak but I was too mesmerized by the unnatural blue-green shade of his eyes. I looked away. What could I say to him? That I felt all hope was lost because the king of vampires has chosen me as his potential bride? That my parents wanted me to go through with it for the money? That my boyfriend broke up with me because I refused to risk my life to be an assassin for his poorly thought out cause?

"You wouldn't understand," I said, my voice sounding more weary than I intended.

His full lips crinkled into a smirk. "Of course not," he said with unmistakable sarcasm.

I shot him a glare, which made him smile even wider. "Don't expect me to say thank you," I muttered.

"You being alive is thanks enough," he said, straightening his tie.

I said nothing, refusing to make eye contact. I feared that if I looked into his eyes one more time I would get lost forever.

He examined the silver watch he wore on his right wrist. That thing looked like it cost more than the house I lived in.

"Well, it's been fun saving you, but I do have a pressing engagement. Do promise me you won't go tumbling off any cliffs after I go," he said.

I nod slightly, not knowing how else to reply. I looked up at him and was surprised to find that he actually looked serious.

"I mean it," he said. "Whatever sparked this will soon be over and you'll realize how foolish you were to end your life over it."

His eyes captured mine, trapping me in a sea-glass colored snare. I found myself trusting him, despite my instincts.

"I promise," I said quietly.

He gave me an earnest smile, then turned and walked away. I found myself wanting to chase after him, to beg him to take me away, to spare me from the hell that awaited me, but I stayed rooted in that same spot, drawing circles in the dirt with my feet.

***

When I got home, I didn't say a word to my parents. I went straight to bed, fighting nightmares the entire time. I awoke in a daze, hoping I had dreamt everything that happened the previous day. But I received no new texts from Rowan, and Melanie Caldwell's papers still lay on the coffee table, arranged in a neat stack courtesy of my mom.

There was no way I was getting out of this. If that was really the case, then I had to face my fate with dignity. I told my parents that I had given in, and they were ecstatic. My mother even helped me pack, fluttering about excitedly as she did so.

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