Thought you guys might like this one 🙂
I’m really curious about you guys 🙂
Thought you guys might like this on a nice Friday evening 🙂
For all of my new readers and friends
Carl Jung was one of the most remarkable psychologists and psychiatrists of all times. Known as the father of analytical psychology, he went to med school in order to understand human nature better. Here are some of his wise teachings – which one resonates with you best?
- “Don’t keep around yourself the people who don’t want to be there, because there will be no room left for those who truly want to know you.”
- “Things you resist will persist.”
- “Depression is like a lady in black. If she comes to you, don’t send her away. Invite her to take a seat and listen to what she has to say.”
- “Where love reigns there’s no desire for power. Where power reigns, there’s no desire for love.”
- “Show me a sane man, and I’ll cure him.”
I’m looking forward to your comments, in order to discover a little bit of something more about you. Enjoyed this? Share it with your friends and let them have a piece of it J
What are some of your greatest strengths? Take a look at the featured image, think of STRENGTH, and choose from the following five words the one that you feel best goes with it.
- You are strong-willed, impulsive, intelligent and loyal, straightforward and prone to fits of anger. Your weapons: force, fury, intimidation, loyalty, will, sometimes magnificence.
- You are kind, empathic, sympathetic and warm-hearted, patient and capable of influencing people. Your weapons: influencer, patience, good listener and therefore holder of secrets.
- You are wise, no-nonsense, noble, an elegant personality, a fighter, somewhat dangerous, subversive. Your weapons: intelligence, wit, warrior nature, boldness, sensitivity, sparks of genius.
- You find strength in all that is natural, you believe in the superiority of nature over man-made systems; you’re impressive, profound, powerful in somewhat mysterious ways. Your weapons: powerful personality, fascinating, storm-like, mysterious, inner strength.
- You’re sharply intelligent and may strongly believe in the superiority of reason over the heart; you feel man can be as great as the gods, or at least in man’s right to do his best. Your weapons: a strategist, cool headed, smart, patient, cunning, perseverance
Enjoyed this? Plenty more personality tests for you here! I’d love to hear from you in a comment and, to prove my love and appreciation, I’ll keep the personality tests coming. Until then, take advantage of all the goodies on this site! : )
This is a very special occasion – today we’ll find out what your feelings about love truly say about you. Please read the quotes below and decide which one best suits your person.
- “Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.” Loretta Young
- “Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.” Jackson Brown, Jr.
- “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” Aristotle
- “Love has reasons which reason cannot understand.” Blaise Pascal
- “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Oscar Wilde
- You strongly believe in destiny and, in your life, karma may really have power. You may find love when or with whom you expect it least. Divine intervention may either have made itself felt before, or it will in the future. Surprise may be one of the main characteristics of your life.
- Selflessness is your ultimate goal in matters of the heart; you can truly be selfless, but you wouldn’t mind being at the receiving end every once in a while. You may have had deep and painful experiences in your life, and you’ve learned what truly matters; you’re capable of offering things so wonderful that any lover would be beyond lucky to have you.
- Idealistic is what you are, romantic, deeply affectionate and capable of limitless tenderness; you’re the ideal lover for those who truly appreciate devotion and dedication; you dream not necessarily of the perfect love, but of the love that consumes and elates; you’re all about Romeo and Juliet, or Edward Cullen and Bella Swan – whether you like it or not.
- You’re not only profound, but intelligent and wise; you’re like the old wise wizard who’s seen and experienced so much that hardly anything can surprise him anymore, even if you’re young; your inner world is sophisticated and rich, a true delight for connoisseurs. Spending time with you may be as enriching and delicious as old red wine.
- You’re very much influenced by modernity, as well as new age philosophy; you may have had trouble loving yourself, and found help in certain aspects of mundane life, but it is advisable that you avoid falling prey to escapism and new-age forms of selfishness; you may have to learn and love yourself before you love others, but you must be careful that your expectations don’t leave the bounds of what is feasible and achievable, and remember that your partner is only human too.
It’s a nearly inexhaustible task, being through with psychological analysis based on love quotes, which is why next time we’ll look even deeper into this. Stay tuned for the next personality test that will go a level deeper on what your Love quotes say about you.
Enjoyed this? Plenty more personality tests here for you to enjoy! I’d love to hear from you in a comment and, to prove my love and appreciation, I’ll keep the personality tests coming. A very special next personality test on Love is due the following days, and a new episode of The Marquis tomorrow! : )
Military romance and intelligent, well-researched content – this novel by experienced and refreshing author Camelia Miron Skiba is much more than just your every-day romance on the block, and it’s totally worth the read! You all know me by now pretty well, and as such you know I don’t throw around with recommendations without truly believing in the content. This book stayed with me for months after I’ve read it. Well-researched, worked through and totally worth your time. Here’s a few words for you from the author herself, plus a great GOODY that you’ll most probably want to try for:
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And now . . . drumroll please!
Then . . . Now!
Trauma surgeon Lieutenant Cassandra Toma begins her deployment at the Joint-Unit Air Base on the wrong foot. On her first day, she clashes with her new commander. Her rebellious nature and sassiness rival her excellent performance in the operating room. It might be the only reason she’s not reprimanded … or is it?
Major David Hunt is unsure how to handle the brilliant and beautiful Cassandra. As her commander, he can’t consider a relationship. A forbidden passion consumes them with the intensity of an erupting volcano, leaving her heartbroken and him with tarnished honor and pride as an officer. The only way out for David is disappearing into the dangerous warzone in Iraq.
When their paths cross again, Cassandra and David find they have a common goal—to find Cassandra’s brother, Maj. Robert Toma, kidnapped by insurgents while on patrol. To rescue him, they must put aside their resentments and fight their common enemy. And the fire between them is back.
Cassandra wants to give David—and their love—another chance. But she doesn’t know that his mistake, his secret, could cost them both the love they’ve finally found.
I sit frozen in my black dress with palms joined on my lap. The funeral unfolds before my blank eyes, and so do the days after. I count them by the number of times Jeanie Simmons – Jeremy’s curly-haired, rosy-cheeked, fluffy younger sister and my dearest friend – enters with food. I nibble just enough of it to keep me alive, but my appetite is as dead as the monster who fathered me, and who now lays two meters beneath ground level.
“Are you still seeing Joyous?”
Her hazel eyes dart around, as if the walls have ears. “You know I can’t answer that, Saph.”
Of course, he’s the Marquis’ ‘cousin’ – in truth one of his fellow seprpent-killers. I lower my voice and grab her elbow. “If you are, you need to help me, Jeanie. I need to get back with the Marquis.”
Jeanie’s hand covers mine that I now realize is so clenched around her fluffy elbow that my knuckles show.
“Something must be terribly wrong with you, Saph,” she whispers. She looks me in the eye with a curious expression. “You haven’t spoken at all since you saw Mr Lothar dead in the study, and now that you do open your mouth it’s to talk about the Marquis. Is that a way of dealing with your grief? I mean, Gunnar Lothar is dead, your own –”
“Don’t even say it,” I cut her off. “That man was a monster, a . . . Whenever I think about him I want to rip the flesh off my bones for being his child.” On a second thought I shrug. “I suppose I must be grieving, and anger makes it all more bearable.”
Stomping up the stairs makes Jeanie’s mouth close before she can say another word. The door opens and Jeremy enters the attic in a confident prance, his muscular physique barely making it through the doorframe. The police officers who came with him remain outside the open door. He walks straight to the window with a triumphant attitude.
“I’ll make this short, Saphira,” he says, staring proud out the window. “The coroner called. They established Mr Lothar’s death was not suicide.” He turns to assess my expression as he gives me the news, cocking an eyebrow. “He was murdered.”
He lets moments pass to allow the information to settle in.
“Do you happen to know anybody who had a reason to kill him?” He continues mockingly. “Someone who wanted revenge, maybe?”
The Marquis’ words from the day we went to the asylum come back to me. “Would you consider that I hurt you, if I took revenge on your father?” And yet he wasn’t the only one with a motive.
“I also know of someone who goes to terrible lengths to keep his real identity secret,” I retort. “Someone who set Vivien Grant’s house on fire to kill her. Someone who’s put her mother in the lunatic asylum and has the poor woman so terrified that she won’t talk. I’m sure the same person hung Gunnar by the chandelier too – Ivan Basarab. Gunnar knew his true identiy. Ivan Basarab is terribly dangerous Jeremy, and despite what you might think, you can’t control him.”
Jeremy’s cocky attitude turns to anger. His face goes red.
“The whole town will believe it was the Marquis, Saphira,” he barks. “They’ll burn down his manor like peasants did haunted castles back in the Dark Ages eventually.”
Jeremy’s hatred of the Marquis fills the room like floating poison. I remember how the Marquis twisted his arm behind his back at the asylum, keeping him in check despite Jeremy’s big muscles and violent struggles, forcing down his ears the information that his own father had been a rapist, a monster.
“You hate him for having told you the truth.” I hold Jeremy’s gaze, defiant.
“Maybe, a little. But, most of all, I hate him for having taken you away from me.”
Enjoyed this? Please let me know your thoughts in a comment, I’m always ecstatic to read from you. Stay tuned for a new episode on Tuesday and check out the story from the start available here (Part I – Saphira), and here (Part II – The Marquis.) Enjoy!
Jeremy wraps the place up, giving his men curt orders and telling Lord Barkley to shut up each time the man opens his mouth.
“Anything you say can and will be used against you, sir, I must remind you,” he says coldly.
His men scurry around taking “prints” of the Marquis. They’re still in shock, but Jeremy managed to get them working despite that.
He moves his bulky frame around, doing what he must as head of the team, but he’s obviously distressed from what he’s found out. There’s something wild in his eyes, and the expression of his steroid- and testosterone-transformed features, square and shadowed by his three-day beard, make him look as deranged as the lunatics that inhabit this asylum. I’d like to remind him about the sewers, but I don’t dare to, he looks so angry.
Not even outside do I dare address him. We’re riding in a police van. I’m in the back holding my crying mother’s hand, her sobbing and nose-blowing accompanying the humming of the engine. Jeremy sits across from me in silence. He doesn’t even look at me. When we stop in front of my parental home I realize what’s happening, and I shake my head violently.
“No, I’m not going in there.”
“Yes you are. Your father has been worried sick about you,” Jeremy says. He sounds as cold as he had with Lord Barkley, and also a shade spiteful. As if it were in any way my fault that his father had been part of the group that had raped Catherine Lancaster. As if it were my fault that his father had been as much of a monster as mine.
“He pushed me in the Marquis’ arms himself, you know this,” I retort in a biting tone. “He was happy to see us depart together on the night he announced our engagement. But maybe it’s you who should have a word with Gunnar. In the end, the Marquis is right – Gunnar and his group perpetrated a terrible crime, and they should have to answer for it.”
“We have no proof for that crime, Saphira,” Jeremy says, keeping his glare out the side window. “I can’t corner people based on allegations alone, I’m sure you understand.”
My mouth curls in a sour expression. “You only pretended to believe me when I told you the story? Is that it?” Now that I come to think about it – indeed, why hadn’t he investigated as soon as he’d heard about Gunnar’s crime?
“No, it’s not. But I still need proof in order to take action.”
“If you only investigated Catherine Lancaster’s case, maybe you’d get your evidence,” I say through my teeth.
“If you only let me do my job without acting all smart-ass, things would be different.”
“Different how, Jeremy? Based on how you’re doing your job, these people’s crimes will remain unheard of.”
I’m aware of the poison in my tone, but I can’t help it. Jeremy springs forward and grabs my jaw in his huge rough hand.
“The Marquis of Vandenesse is London’s priority, and with good reason. London sent me back here for him. He’s the most dangerous of all killers I’ve ever investigated, Saphira, and you know his vile nature better than anyone. What changed? Why do you try to redirect me to your father Gunnar and his group of bastards? Why aren’t you vehement against the Marquis anymore?”
“Jeremy, please listen to me.” My jaw hurts from his grip and I speak with difficulty. He notices and lets go. I rub my cheek to sooth the pain as I talk. “The Marquis isn’t the evil creature you and I believed him to be. He talked to me, he told me things . . . Listen, Jeremy,” I take a deep breath and say the next sentence with a heavy heart. “I have reason to believe that my father is Ivan Basarab, the faceless Slayer. This is your chance to find out so much, Jeremy.”
“No, Gunnar is not the Slayer,” Mum reacts as if from a dream. She’s still pale from shock, but apparently she’s coming back to herself. “But I’ve heard that name many times from him. Even a few days ago he talked on the phone with this Ivan Basarab.”
I’m completely surprised, and Jeremy too. His small dark eyes narrow. “Okay, all right. I’ll have a word with your father, even though I don’t believe this is the right time.”
“Wonderful. And then please let me return to the Marquis’ manor.”
He grins. “No, can’t do, Saphira. You’ll be interested to hear we found witnesses of the Marquis’ murder on Vladimir Pukov. His manor is surrounded, and we’ll arrest him on sight. You and the Marquis will never come together again.”
Another flash of despair goes through my heart. “But . . . There were no witnesses to what happened with Pukov. You must have ‘produced’ them.”
Jeremy’s eyes narrow into bitter slits. “Just a short while ago you were ready to testify against the Marquis yourself. Come on tell me, Saphira, what swayed you? Was it his declarations of love? Was it his hypnotic powers? Or did you actually fall for him?”
My lips freeze, but the truth must be clear in my eyes, which Jeremy stares into closely.
“If you switched sides, things will end up badly for you, Saphira,” are his last words before he looks me up and down in disgust. He opens the door, inviting both Mum and me out of the van. I’d like to resent him for his abusive attitude, but I can’t. It’s not every day you discover your father was a rapist and maybe even a killer, so he has mitigating circumstances.
My heart drums in anxiety as we head toward the house, and I’m sure so does Mum’s. The hand that squeezes mine is sweaty, and a look at her reveals wide scared eyes and stiff features. She’s still in shock, which is probably why she didn’t react to Jeremy’s treatment of me in the van. I feel lonely, naked and lost, and I long for the Marquis’ protective arms around me, for the reassuring sound of his rich voice in my ear. It’s incredible how my tormentor of yore has become my only haven.
The house looms bigger before us as we approach it. With its grey walls damp from bad weather it resembles a huge beast rising from the ocean, spreading out its jaws to swallow me. My throat clogs with panic. I don’t want to go in there, and I don’t want to face the monster who fathered me.
The door screeches open like the entrance to an abandoned, haunted house, but inside the dim corridor everything is in place, just like the last time I saw it. The stairs leading to the upper floor and the attic, the entrance to the drawing room on the right and the one to Gunnar’s study on the left, all appear imbued with an air of morbidity.
I look around, unable to move as I hear the door closing behind me. I’m trapped inside with Mum and Jeremy, and a knot moves up my throat. I’m growing sick.
“Please announce your husband you’re back, along with Saphira, and tell him I’d like a word,” Jeremy commands Mum.
She swallows and proceeds towards the study hunchbacked, her hands trembling on the knobs as she pushes the doors open. She stiffens in place, and her mouth falls open.
“Mrs Lothar,” Jeremy nudges her, at first only verbally, and then physically as he approaches. But as he raises his gaze from Mum to whatever greets them from that study, he bursts inside. Alarmed, I follow. A second after my eyes fall on Gunnar I scream until the veins in my neck swell.
He hangs from a rope tied to the chandelier, his feet dangling over a fallen stool. His shirt is open to reveal his hairless white stomach, and his mouth sticks thick and black out of his mouth. His fleshy cheeks are bluish-yellow, and he’s already started to smell. I breathe in the stench of death and scream long and hard until I fall exhausted on the floor.
Enjoyed this? Please let me know your thoughts in a comment, I’m always ecstatic to read from you. Stay tuned for a new episode on Friday and check out the prequel, Saphira, in available here: ) Enjoy!
“That’s enough, Saphira,” Jeremy cuts in. He walks to me and extends a hand, but the Marquis grabs and twists it behind his back. As big and muscular as Inspector Jeremy Simmons is, he groans and bares his teeth as he leans backwards into the Marquis’ clasp.
“If you ever try to touch her again, I’ll break every bone in your body,” the Marquis threatens. He’s taller and leaner than Jeremy, therefore more agile even without his engineered powers, but he’s also so much stronger. His ivory features are locked, and his black eyes angry coals.
“Please, Kieran, don’t hurt him,” I plead. “He’s innocent.”
The Marquis keeps his glare on Jeremy, his sweet lips drawing in a hiss. “I’m not so sure.”
“Better tell him the truth. That he should be on our side.”
“What the hell is this?” Jeremy groans and tries to struggle from the Marquis’ grip, but without success.
“Please, just listen to him, Jeremy.”
“Saphira, what is happening?” Mum is puzzled, her hand gently touching mine.
I look straight into her eyes and tell her the story in a few short sentences – that Catherine Lancaster, Lord Lancaster’s daughter, had been raped by a group of men from this town, and that my father, Gunnar Lothar, killed her in the end. Mum gasps and takes a few steps back, gripping the rest of the chair where she sat as we walked in.
“Your father was one of them too, Inspector Boy,” the Marquis hisses in Jeremy’s ear. “The lucky bastard died before I got my hands on him, so don’t give me reason to take it out on you, his son.”
Jeremy struggles like a wounded animal, kicking the air in front of him, but unable to release himself from the Marquis’ hold. “You fucking bastard!”
The Marquis is inhumanly strong, and Jeremy’s struggles don’t move him an inch. He turns his vicious black glare to Lord Barkley.
“What about you, filth bag? Could it be, that you were one of them as well?”
Lord Barkley is still sitting in his chair, the cigarette burning his fingers but he doesn’t seem aware of that. He looks stunned at Kieran, unable to utter one word.
Mum presses her fingers on her temples, shaking her head. “This can’t be. This can’t be happening.”
I approach her carefully, searching her gaze but she looks down, then sideways, then upwards, avoiding my gaze.
“It is, Mum,” I say gently. “If you’re honest to yourself, you’ve always known. But you’ve tried to silence your sixth sense.” As I did through compulsive painting, but this is not about me, so I keep the remark to myself. The Marquis’ voice cuts in, making me look at him and Jeremy again.
“And you, stupid shit,” he addresses Jeremy, “you find out all sorts of stuff but not the essential. You spoiled, superficial and incompetent brat. Didn’t you ever at least suspect of all the bastards in this cursed place? Or, what, are you covering their arses?”
“Wait a second,” Mum says, her voice faint, her eyes wide on the Marquis. “What happened with Catherine Lancaster was decades ago. What have you got to do with it?”
I clear my voice and hold her shoulders as I speak, so I can support her if she falls. “Kieran was Lord Lancaster’s stable boy, Mum. He and Catherine were secretly in love, and the night she was raped he was beaten almost to death by Vladimir Pukov’s people – Pukov was part of the group as well, and Dad wanted me to marry him even though he knew this.”
Mum looks stunned from me to the Marquis, then to Lord Barkley, who sits silent in his chair.
“But,” she whispers, “I knew Catherine. We were friends. We grew up together, just like you and Vivien, Lauren and Jeanie. Lord Lancaster said she had run away with the stable boy. It came as a shock to the rest of us, we knew nothing, I . . .”
“Lord Lancaster couldn’t take the pain, Mum,” I say. “He spread a story he could at least try to live with.”
Mum slumps into the chair behind her, and I support her by the shoulders as she does. Her eyes are fixed in awe on the Marquis. “But that means . . . How old are you?”
The Marquis looks at her, but doesn’t answer.
“My God,” she whispers. “And Saphira? What role did she play in your plot?”
Pain cuts through my chest, and I sink my head.
“At first I wanted to use her in my revenge on Catherine’s tormentors,” the Marquis explains. “I wanted to have her lure them to places where I could kill them right before her eyes, torment her mind and soul in the process, and in the end have her father find her mad from everything she’s witnessed in the same place Catherine was found. I considered it an act of kindness – to her, not Gunnar – not having her sleep with all those men too. I took the decision to go easier on her than initially planned after I got to know her. She made a painting of me, and she . . . I fell in love with your daughter, Mrs Lothar. It sounds impossible, coming from a monster like me, whose soul has been frozen for decades, but it’s the pure truth. I don’t expect you to give us your blessing, but I’d like you to know that for her sake I decided to drop all thoughts of revenge. But unfortunately, this town’s troubles won’t end with that.”
Jeremy has another fit of struggling, and this time he makes it out of the Marquis’ arms – or the Marquis let him go, since he doesn’t look surprised. He and Jeremy now face each other. The Marquis arranges the collar of his suit jacket, while Jeremy flexes and glares.
“This town’s biggest problem is you, devil,” Jeremy growls. The Marquis smiles at him like a prince at a powerless angry peasant.
“I’m not the one who set the Grants’ house on fire and tried to kill Vivien. That was Ivan Basarab – the Slayer – whose true name you should be busy finding out. He’s one of this town’s honourable citizens, killers, filth bags that you now have no more excuse to ignore.”
“You need proof for all these allegations, de Vandenesse and, right now, all I truly got is proof that you’re a killer. Guards!” Jeremy calls.
Quick steps stomp closer and louder from the corridor, and policemen burst in. They take out their guns and focus on Kieran as if they’ve been waiting for this command all along. I scream and want to run to Kieran, but one of the policemen stops me and keeps me away from the scene as more men pour in. This is indeed a trap they set up for Kieran.
Kieran looks left, right and relaxes. A smile pulls one corner of his sweet mouth, and that is the last sight I get of his human self before his skin starts losing it’s opaque consistence, turning into something jelly-like and transparent, then into increasingly metallic scales. His eyes spring into slits, and his serpent tongue shoots out of his mouth as he gives out a piping hiss that sends an unbearable buzz through all our ears.
I squeeze my eyes shut and press my hands to my ears, but the buzz still pierces through. Only when it stops I dare look up again to see all policemen scrambling up from the floor, the terrified looks in their eyes and the confusion as they grope around testimony that the Marquis had been right – nothing of the security here has anything on him.
The door is open, with no trace of the Marquis, while Jeremy is the only person standing, however stunned with a gun in his hand in the middle of his sprawled men.
Someone breathes hoarsely behind me. I turn to see Ronald Lord Barkley, and realize his knotty hands are clamped around my shoulders. He shakes and can’t take his eyes off the door.
“I didn’t have anything to do with it,” he whispers.
“Excuse me?” I try to get away from him, but his fingers sink into my shoulders, keeping me in place as a human shield.
“I didn’t have anything to do with their dark practices. I was part of their group of friends all those years ago, but I never participated in the terrible things they did.”
I shake myself from his grip and hurry to help my Mum up from the floor.
“What in all Saints’ names was that?” She exclaims, looking desperate and brushing invisible cockroaches off her body. She’s horrified, hysterical, making it hard to help her up. “He’s a monster! A monster!”
I struggle with her to help her calm down, and it’s a real fight until she manages to get a grip.
Enjoyed this? Please let me know your thoughts in a comment, I’m always ecstatic to read from you. Stay tuned for a new episode on Tuesday and check out the prequel, Saphira, in available here: ) Enjoy!
Welcome to a new One Image-One Word personality quiz, in which I’ll gladly interpret each one of your answers.
Take a look at the picture above and share in a comment the first word that comes to your mind. Based on that I’ll get back at you with three personality traits that word reveals about you in connection with the picture. Thank you in advance for sharing, and I’m looking forward to your comments! 🙂
Saphira doesn’t fully trust the Marquis, yet she can’t resist his pull. She finds herself giving in to his advances, but this is no ordinary night in which they can just be together. Full moon sheds light on another one of the Marquis’ secrets, which proves perilous for the young woman.
The Marquis’ mouth closes on mine, soft and warm, while his arm curls around my waist, pressing me gently to him. His body feels stone hard under his shirt, and he smells young and manly and alluring. I turn to jelly in his arms, allowing him to stretch me on the bed under him with no resistance. His kiss makes me dizzy, and small stars seem to circle my head.
This feels very different from what happened last night, even though his passion grows in the same possessive way. His hands explore my body greedily as his tongue consumes me in deep kisses. My mind empties and I part my legs, ready to accept him, but he breaks the intimacy, bridging to distance with thirsty pecks on my lips.
He pulls away and stands, yet the expression in his face shows it’s not easy. His neckline is open, his hair a bit ruffled and his face so youthful and handsome that it hurts. He retreats as I scramble out of bed and advance toward him, wanting him so badly that I lose control and all sense of shame.
“Please,” I beg, losing my bra and letting my panties fall to the floor. I now stand completely naked before him, smeared with soot, my hair a messy blonde broom, hoping that I look depraved enough to stir the animal in him. I want him inside of me so much I barely refrain from touching myself.
His dark, hypnotic eyes wander all over me with a hunger that makes me moisten and lose a sigh.
“Please,” I repeat, but manage to keep in place.
“It can’t be, Saphira, not now,” he says, his voice low and husky. “Not tonight.”
“I can’t explain.” He retreats further, his white hand now on the doorknob. I see the skin patching into alligator leather, then fading into white human flesh, then pulsing into faint spots of leather again, and I realize he’s fighting to keep back the serpent.
My eyes find his just in time to see them narrowing, his black irises turning to slits. He makes a pained grimace and pulls the door open. The fight between human and serpent makes him bare his teeth, a pointy tongue slithering out and licking his upper lip. When he speaks, his slivery voice makes my hair stand on end.
“Trust me, Saphira. Please, trust me,” he hisses and throws the door open, lunging into the obscurity.
For moments I stand there, naked, stunned and with my heart pounding until Zed appears in the doorframe. His stony features are locked in urgency. He can’t help looking me up and down –I’m a naked person dirty with soot. I snatch the duvet from the bed and wrap it fast around me.
“What’s with the Marquis?” I inquire.
“It’s a bad night,” Zed says and throws a glance out the window. I do the same.
“Full moon? But, is that –”
“It has nothing to do with the occult or cheesy magic,” Zed explains in an even tone. “The moon has power on the inner workings of the Serpent as it does over the tide.”
He turns to leave, but then turns to me again on a second thought. “We have strong reason to believe your friend Vivien Grant is alive. The Marquis ordered us to find her and protect her. For your sake. Believe it or not, you’re high up on his list of priorities, and in a good way. You have every reason to trust him.”
“Have you been eavesdropping?” I breathe, getting the goosebumps at his words.
He looks me up and down coldly, but not without interest – more like curiosity – and he leaves without replying.
Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for a new episode on Tuesday and check out the prequel, Saphira, in the Christmas Story Book for Adults, available here.
Also please don’t forget tomorrow is the Meet and Greet day. If you have blogs you admire and consider relevant for the world (or run such a blog yourself), please leave a few words about it and a link in a comment. I’ll be very happy to read from you, and know that I always, always, always check out the recommended blogs and followers’ blogs. Can’t wait to read from you!
When English student Alice Preda meets campus heartthrob Damian Novac, she develops the heaviest crush ever. She joins him and friends on a winter trip in the Carpathian Mountains, hoping to get close to him, but this choice will change her life abruptly.
When the train derails in high snow, the group of students seeks refuge at a cottage deep in the woods, but soon they start losing their minds and dying. Alice and Damian are among the survivors and return home, but the nightmare is far from over. She discovers that a shady corporation which conducts experiments on humans and which had engineered Damian into something monstrous many years before is on their trail.
A man of secrets and obscure powers, Damian might be a villain or a hero. Though aware of the danger he poses, Alice can’t fight the obsession that draws her ever deeper. Will Damian become her lover or her executioner?
See Prologue here.
Before he could speak again, Damian grabbed one of Biker’s arms and Hector another. I instinctively looked at Hector, hoping something in his face, his reaction, would betray some meaning to all this.
The bearded singer’s features shimmered in the light of the oil lamp he carried. He looked robust, his small eyes shadowed by bushy eyebrows and he had the nose of an eagle. His skin had the color of ripe olives, which made me think of a gypsy, the rich beard adding to the grim air. But his face betrayed nothing besides sternness, there was nothing I could read or interpret.
Biker tried to jerk from their grasp, but he didn’t stand a chance. I heard muffled bumps and cusses as they took him up the creaky stairs to the attic. I wanted to follow but my feet wouldn’t take a step, soft and unreliable, my ears thudding with anxiety.
Talking turned up volume, and soon there was a fuss about everything: How Svetlana felt – she got most of the attention again –, the two heroes’ injuries, Biker’s words. A few hours later, as dawn slowly drew a bloody horizon across the mountainous contour, everybody reached a consensus – the man and his companions had been complete strangers to us until yesterday, so no way Biker truly knew Damian or any of us. Completely drunk, he talked nonsense.
My tired mind accepted their conclusion easily. It made sense. The one question running around in my head right now was another, anyway – how come Damian hadn’t lost his temper when he’d learned Biker had tried to force himself on Svetlana? As much as I loathed myself for it, hope bloomed in my chest. Hope that he didn’t care about her, that there was yet nothing between them.
The sleep I got tormented by daylight, snoring from at least a dozen sources and bad breath from just as many mouths ended about noon, with a headache and a sensation of weakness all through my body. I barely carried myself to the kitchen, mind numb and lids swollen.
The voices around sounded painfully cheerful. They stabbed my brain, tempting me to skirt around the overpopulated room, but it contained the only sink where I could wash my face and teeth. Toothbrushes and as good as all items for personal hygiene had been abandoned on the train – unlike the booze – so I rubbed my teeth with my finger, bent over the rusty, enamel-peeled sink. The freezing water smacked me full awake.
Chattering gained meaning. People gossiped about last night and the story took thrilling turns for those who’d been too wasted to experience it live. Even in this lonely winter cottage where the truth shouldn’t have had trouble coming to light quickly enough, there were different versions for different clusters. Some versions even talked about Svetlana kicking Biker in the balls, and Damian punching him senseless. The reason why he and Hector hadn’t barged in along with the others was that they’d been in the attic, looking for lamps and other useful objects that might help us survive several days of isolation or the road to the nearest village or town. I didn’t know if it was any truer than the kick in the balls, but it was plausible.
Groggy and with throbbing temples, I looked for Ruxandra and eventually found her arranging sandwiches on a clay plate – a rarity.
“Wow, I didn’t know people still used these things.” I looked over her shoulder and reached for a bite. She slapped my hand off.
“This ain’t for you, sweetheart. Make your own.” She was stiff and frowning – so either preoccupied or nervous.
“Breakfast or clay plate?”
She glanced around, making sure no one listened.
“I’m taking this to the attic,” she whispered, and I instantly felt like a guilty accomplice.
“You’re most certainly not! If anyone feeds that animal, it should be someone who can tame him.”
“You mean Novac or Hector? Neither are here, and this is my chance.”
Suddenly Novac? What happed to Damian? “Why should you need a chance?”
“They won’t allow anyone up to the attic. But I need to talk to him, and I don’t know how much time I have until they’re back.”
“Where are they?”
“Novac went with two others to look for the nearest village or town, if they find one within a mile or two. They’ll bring back help and food. Hector stayed back as watchdog, but right now he’s cutting wood in the barn.”
“I’m coming with you.”
She shook her head. “No you’re not. Stay here, make sure no one comes up.”
“Why are you doing this, Rux? What can you possibly want with the guy?”
She looked aside through the window. It was the first time Ruxandra formulated sentences in her head before she spoke them to me, which drew serious alarm.
“Don’t think, Rux, talk! Do you know him?”
“I don’t, but Svetlana surely does.”
“Okay . . .” It did come as a surprise, but stayed so for only a moment. It actually made sense. I’d heard most rapists turned out to be from the victim’s close circle. “But what’s your business with him?”
“He has information I need.”
Shaking my head, puzzled and a bit annoyed, “All right, what do you know of the guy?”
“If I’m right, his name is Marius Iordache and he’s an investigation reporter with Adevarul.”
I tilted my head back, inspecting her. “And that is important because . . .”
“Because he wrote an article about a certain Cezare Lupan. Che-zuh-reh,” she stressed the pronunciation like Biker had as if to emphasize the connection to badass historical character Caesare Borgia, looking me hard in the face.
“And why is that important?”
“You still ask? You heard him call Novac by that name yesterday.”
I snorted. “So Damian’s the long-lost descendant of a badass cardinal.”
“Don’t mock. Cezare Lupan is the name of a file classified by the Romanian Intelligence Service, the R.I.S.,” she spat out fast. It came like a punch in my face.
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Stay tuned for the next episode of The Marquis tomorrow evening, and many more goodies to come.
Forced to face the dangerous Marquis in the dark tower, fear took hold of Saphira. But it turned out the Marquis wasn’t there to hurt her, but to disclaim any fault in her best friend’s supposed death. And he doesn’t stop there. He has truths for Saphira that will shake everything she thought she knew, including information about a mysterious enemy.
I measure him up and down. Tall and strong, dark eyes intense and sovereign in his ivory face, he looks honest and confident, and even a shade respectable. I decide to at least assume he’s telling the truth.
“Say I take that for a fact. What do you suppose the ‘mysterious man’ was after? Why did he need to get inside the asylum?”
“The sewers underneath the asylum link to the catacombs under this manor. He wanted access to those sewers and therefore to me. He wants my head.”
A revelation hits me. “You think the mysterious man is Ivan Basarab. The Slayer.”
The Marquis snorts as if insulted. “The Slayer. Undeserved distinction for a coward who fights from the shadow. He’s afraid to face me for real.”
“You think he succeeded in breaching the sewers?”
“If he did, it’s irrelevant. I secured them from halfway to here. But I do have something more on Basarab’s true identity. I think he’s a Northville local.”
A shock. “Say what?”
The Marquis continues. “Your friend Vivien Grant clearly knew him. Her mother too. I also think that he was a member of the group that raped and killed Catherine, and that gave me over to the people who turned me into what I am today.”
The pathos with which he speaks the words, the fearlessness in “rape” and “kill” and “what I am today” emphasize his entitlement to revenge. I surprise myself indulging him. And accepting his theory. Tension dissolves from my body as I begin to understand things. I let go of my knees.
“When you proved to be stronger and deadlier than the other serpents, you became dangerous to your makers,” I draw the conclusion. “Then you went independent. That’s when they must’ve activated Basarab, the Slayer. He’s always been one of them.”
The Marquis smiles a disturbingly charming smile. “You’re very bright, Saphira.”
“So Ivan Basarab is a false name for a man we already know.” I attempt to ignore how his praise makes me feel.
He looks hard at me with those impossibly black eyes that seem to hypnotize me, only that this time I’m sure he’s not trying. Silence settles between us for moments in which I just stare, unable to rip my eyes from him.
“What are you thinking?” He whispers, lowering himself so close that his bitter-sweet breath touches my face, the mattress and the pillows giving in under his weight as he leans on his hands. I feel lost.
“I’m wondering why I find it so easy to take your word for everything,” I whisper.
His expression deepens, his eyes now flooding mine. It’s hard to breathe, they seem to weigh on me.
“Because I may be a villain, but I’m the only person without a reason to lie to you. All you ever got from me was the truth. You’re beginning to trust me.”
I let my gaze wander all over his marble face.
“I must be really stupid.”
“By no means. You’re one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, actually. And I wish to win your complete trust.”
“What use do you have for it?”
“It’s the key to your affection.”
My heart flutters. “You desire my affection?”
“Ardently,” he says, his eyes lowering to my lips.
Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for a new episode on Friday and check out the prequel, Saphira, in the Christmas Story Book for Adults, available here.