Lover in Stone, Installment No. 3

Installment No. 3
#gargoyle #shifter #MFRWauthorscdane #romance

Like a gift, the Scriptum lay open upon the table above the unconscious woman. A single lamp spilled warm, buttery light on both, leaving the rest of the narrow room in shadow.
Where the intruder lurked a few moments longer, waiting. Watching, despite the fact most of his attention was on the book. Which looked like any other relic he’d stolen during his base life.
Old. Valuable not because it was made of anything precious, but because its worth lay in what he was going to get out of it.
Power. Unlike anything he’d ever experienced.
In exchange for this book—if he could get it into the right hands.
But the man understood greed as a supreme motivator, and he would deliver the Scriptum into the right hands.
Come hell or high water.
The soulless man let his lips twist into a smile he felt nowhere within himself; an odd reflex to something sublime he couldn’t emotionally fathom.
Yes. Hell would come, if he handled this right, but not the high water.
He nudged the unconscious woman’s wrist with the toe of his soft, leather moccasin.
She was not beautiful.
Definitely not Vampire, or Fae.
Which explained why it was she he was stealing this book from in the first place.
The man suspected enough about the Scriptum to know that few would most likely be able to touch it, let alone decipher its mystery.
But this brown paper bag of a female?
If he didn’t have this matter of stealing the book pressing upon him, the power coming to him in lieu of cash payment, he would do her justice.
The man uncurled his fingers from the bowie blade riding his hip.
He would not cut her as he so desired to do. Yet, how remarkable she would be if only he could slide his sharp knife from one cheek bone to the other. Give her a puppet smile that would permanently grace her unexceptional face.
Only the anticipation of the payment awaiting him stayed his hand, and he stepped off from his inborn urge to carve beauty where it was lacking. He turned his attentions to the relic, to the object that, should he succeed at delivering it into the guts of Hell, would gift him an eternity of joyful sculpting.
He bothered not with wondering why the woman had been studying blank pages. That wasn’t where his interest lay. The soulless man stepped over the woman to reach her work table, and closed his gloved hands over the Scriptum.
He was surprised by its heft.
For such a small, unassuming object, it seemed as though it was weighted with the things not written upon its blank pages.
The man yanked and lifted the tome, then slid it into a silk bag, which he then placed inside his backpack.
As he stepped back over the unconscious woman, his hand once again drifted to his hip, to his bowie knife.
Just one quick sweep of his blade.
And yet.
He would not. He could not.
During his lifetime, he had gambled only so far, had never taken unnecessary risks. Besides, he had far too much to gain if he won this game. His hand reluctantly slid from the cool steel of his blade.
With a stealthy tweak of the doorknob, the man slid into the dimly lit hallway, skulked along the rows upon rows of dusty manuscripts, and made his way to one of the many dark recesses of the vaulted library where his ropes hung as quiet and unnoticed as jungle snakes.
With practiced ease, the soulless man pulled himself upward toward the vent at the height of the thirty foot wall, and disappeared into it as silently as he had emerged, like a spider born from one of the hundreds of billowing webs stretching like banners across the ceiling.
Bound for Hell, with the Scriptum riding safe upon his back.
Sometimes it’s a blessing to remain unconscious. At least, to Angelia’s way of thinking anyway. Once she’d come to after having fainted like a wuss, she’d had to endure Aro’s wrath. Which came in the form of silence. Not a good sign at all. He had picked her off the floor with a grip shying just short of breaking her arm, and had her escorted to a “room” at the Triumvirate’s holdings.
For her safety.
She knew exactly why Aro had sent her here. She was to await her punishment for ruining the Scriptum. She sat on a stool in the middle of a ten foot square cell, thinking the only thing missing from this interrogation scene was the bare bulb overhead.
Running her palms up and down her arms did nothing for her shivering as she remembered her last botched job. The details of which dug their sharp nails into her fragile ego.
She’d been in a similar predicament before, when she’d first joined the Literati.
Well, okay, it was similar only in the sense she’d effed that job up, too.
The Recovery Team wasn’t even out the door before Angelia inadvertently bungled the protection magic painstakingly conjured by the Mage to keep them safe. To this day, she didn’t know how she’d done it. But she could remember the faces glaring at her. Each one was covered in soot, like the spell had blown up, turning the faces of her teammates into cartoon characters.
Which was kind of funny. Except no one laughed with her.
Aro had yanked her off the team faster than she could say whoops.
And figuratively chained her to a desk for the next ten years.
Until the Scriptum had been unearthed, and remained stubbornly shut for six months, even for the Demon Decipherer.
Angelia had again proven how inept she was when she’d gone into the room to ask Aro and the Decipherer a question. Somehow, she’d managed to trip on the flat stone floor and brush her fingers along the Scriptum’s sealed cover as she’d thrown her hand out to catch herself.
Aro and the Demon Decipherer had watched in helpless horror as the great tome teetered precariously upon its binding.
The Vampire had a flaming curse on his lips when the impenetrable Scriptum split wide open to finally reveal its secrets.
Well, not quite.
The text on the immaculate vellum promptly disappeared the moment Aro ordered Angelia’s clumsy ass out of the room. Which was the only reason she had been assigned to translate it.
Because the writing didn’t remain for any eyes but hers.
And now those pristine pages were forever marred with a blotch of her pathetic human blood.
Angelia’s insecurities assailed her as she sat on the stool in the cell. As if their weight was too much to bear, she turned in on herself, curling her body around the growing hole of humiliation, the shame that had taken up permanent residence in her gut years ago.
God, Aro was going to fry her for this.
The clank of the heavy steel door had her hopping to her feet, like she was going to kick butt. Or run. A more likely outcome given the current strength of her spine.
The same Vampire who had escorted her here came into the cell. “They are ready for you, Miss Delacroix.” He bowed his blonde head as if he felt bad about her situation, offering his arm like an usher at a formal wedding.
Angelia took it, even if it was just to hold onto something to keep her hands from shaking. She felt hard muscle under the shirt sleeve, and shut her eyes as she sucked up a little comfort from the solidity of it.
“Where are we going?” She peered up at a strong, tight jaw.
Her escort kept his eyes straight ahead. “The Triumvirate wishes to see you.”
The Triumvirate?
Holy Moses, she was in bigger trouble than she thought. Was Aro demanding they give permission for him to release her from the contract?
Her father would be flipping cartwheels while he sang Yes! So, Aro would get at least one vote in the affirmative. Angelia gripped a little tighter to the young Vampire leading her down the stone paneled corridor, her stomach churning as her feet turned to slippery clay.
She would be stripped of her duties. Severed from the one thing making her feel a little special in this world of super beings. Cold, familiar fingers of inadequacy clamped around her guts, just as her escort halted in front of a thick wooden door. He leaned forward to open it, revealing the stone gallery where the Triumvirate conducted their interviews.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 4 coming Saturday, February 7, 2015.

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