by Shelai C.
The beginning of the second book in the Maquerade series: Awakening
|I awoke, and it was dark in the bedroom; the black, heavy curtains were pulled tight over the many windows. I did not know if it was day or night outside the chamber, but a tickle at my spine warned against pulling aside the thick fabric. I was suddenly aware of a body at my back, and I moved before my mind processed what I had done.
My voice was hoarse, harsh and broken, not a voice I recognized as my own. I stared at him, motionless, aware of something wrong but unable to name it. I watched for a long moment, my mind racing. How had he gotten here? Why did I not remember him coming, surely I would have woken? I let my hand fall to his cheek, yet I drew back with a start. He was cold as ice, his flesh like molded stone. For what seemed like a minute I did not breathe, did not blink, willing him to move, to flinch, anything to stop the dread clenching at my throat. Nothing, not even a flutter of his eyes.
A cry echoed in the silence, and it took me a moment to realize it came from me. I bit hard into my lip and I tasted blood on my tongue. I pressed a hand to my chest, and everything stopped.
Nothing. I counted to ten, and still nothing. I tried to gasp, but my lungs refused, a sharp burning piercing my ribs. I had no heartbeat. I grasped my neck, my mind racing. I willed my blood to pound, my heart to beat. How was this possible? The man I loved lay cold as death on our wedding bed, and I had no sign of the life within me. Yet I could feel my skin...
My nightgown was gone. I was naked in the emptiness, the darkness my only cover, and I had not noticed. I felt no chill, no discomfort, no prickling of flesh or shivering of my body.
I fell to my knees, the chamber floor hard against my legs. I felt heavy, weightless, my face falling to bury into my palms. I huddled on the floor, sobbing wordless tears into my open hands. I pulled away as if burned, the tears freezing cold against my skin. I stared down at my hands, at first unable to put words to what I saw. Something was wrong. I lifted my arm, wiping my eyes with the back of my hand.
I watched the strange liquid drop off of my fingers and down my arm before I realized it was blood.
This time I knew it when I screamed.