Walk me home in the dead of night
I can't be alone with all that's on my mind
Vaguely she is aware of his attention on her as she details the extent of her fall from grace outside the relative safety of Sacrosanct. The understanding that passes over his features as she details the means she had so often used of getting by in those days, a selfish robin hood taking from the rich and playing off their own self-absorbed tendencies. She doesn't doubt that his mind strays to their first encounters at least for a moment, but the affluent vampire had never been a mark of hers. There had been too much chemistry, too much desire from the first time his cool touch had ushered her onto the dance floor all those years ago. She made it a point to never play anyone who she had actual feelings towards, the risk of getting attached far too great, and from the moment Sebastian had approached her at that bar all those nights ago whatever existed between them had been undeniable. There was a time Carolina had even been concerned that acting on the passion between them would cool the flames that seemed to burn so intensely when he was tantalizingly near her, an unfounded worry as it turned out.
Her pink lips twisted into the semblance of her usual smile as she compares him to her current company on some points, though she would never do royalty the dishonor of being mentioned in the same breath as the monster who had imprisoned her for months on end. Getting out even the too-familiar sound of his name was a struggle though she had cursed it often enough, the syllables near choking her until she could spit them out. Even then she could still hear the echoes of his smoothly accented voice speaking it the night they had first met, the memory causing a shiver to pass through her but there was no choice except to end the story now.
As she continues her hazel eyes unfocus on the familiar planes of the prince's face, though she can still see the turn of his features in her peripheral as he realizes the unpleasant turn the tale was taking. It is a fight to not let the admission overwhelm her, a struggle as every word feels like a lash laid across her back echoed in the scars she bears there. Pain had become a familiar companion to the leopard in those days, though a different pain lingered ever after. Until finally she cannot continue any longer and she swipes at her eyes, the picture painted no doubt enough to allow Sebastian's imagination to fill in the rest of her days spent in the clutches of that fae.
She drowns in the aftermath of her admission. Every emotion wracking her slender frame as she fought back the tears that threatened, the fear, the pain, and the guilt she had denied for a long time. Was it not her fault after all for playing that dangerous game as she so often did? How many nights had she spent curled in the darkness blaming herself, thinking she deserved the pain as the course of so many bad choices. Pulling her bottom lip between her teeth and bearing down she focused on the pain to help clear her head at least slightly as she focused on her hands which tried desperately to hold the pieces together. The sound of her shaky breaths filling the interior of that car as she resisted the urge to look at the vampire who sat adjacent to her, loosely aware of the sound as he shifted against the supple leather. She braced for the pity, for the apologies, for the shift in how he would view the damaged person she had become even if time had slightly eased some of the wounds.
What she did not expect was the feel of his strong arms encircling her delicate form, wrapping her in the coolness of his embrace as he effortlessly pulled her across the seat. The scent of him was comforting, cologne and detergent and the heady, heavy smell that was so uniquely him and she inhaled it like she was drowning. In the security of his embrace her resolve cracks as she curls into him, her hands clenching the silken fabric of his shirt as she leans into him. A single tear cascades down her lightly tanned cheek and smears onto the material no doubt costs more than her apartment as he questions delicately if she knew where her demon was now. Her blonde locks tossed lightly as she shook her head in response, inhaling deeply as she reached for that composure that had helped her survive the last few years. "I burned it to the ground when I got out." The typically soft southern twang in her voice more pronounced in the remnants of her confession as she spoke into his chest.
No doubt the rest of that story was better left for another time, but she had dared hope as she ran from those flames that they would consume Alaric along with all her terrible memories. She had been disappointed on both counts. " I searched the internet for news of a body being found after, but I'm not that lucky. After that I didn't want to ask too many questions and risk leaving a trail." There it was, the reason fear still clawed at her chest like a vice at the very idea that he could find her again. She knew Sebastian was well connected, but she had no doubt Alaric was as well in entirely different circles, and a part of her feared the clashing of two such worlds. Taking a breath that was far too sniffly for her liking she swiped her fingers across the wet spot on his chest. "Hope I didn't ruin this, it would take months for me to replace it." A breathy laugh leaves her as she defaults to the humor that so well served her desire to avoid such unenjoyable topics, the entire scene an exceedingly rare glimpse behind the mask of sarcasm and composure she wore so readily.
Despite the turmoil of it all her current position was not lost on her, locked in the steely embrace of the handsome royal who seemed to hold such sway over her. She was wounded, not dead after all.
Carolina Grace Bedford.