LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 5

Installment No. 5
#chimera #gargoyle #vampire #romance
Anton stood up and gazed down on his daughter. He watched Angelia straighten her shoulders, saw the moment her determination stole over her.
The sight of it crushed him, and he stepped off the dais to hold her, proper decorum be damned. The moment he opened his arms, she fell into them.
Only this time, it was he who sought comfort from her, his precious daughter.
“I am Literati, Papa, it is my foresworn duty.” Her voice, singing upon his ears, wrung his heart. She brushed his hair from his collar, and Anton’s breath betrayed him, damming at the knot strangling his throat.
He could not agree to this madness. He would split the Triumvirate with his disapproval. Anton had known this day could come to pass years before when his daughter had informed him of her swearing in to the Literati.
He had nearly killed Aro back then for allowing the abomination, for the lesser Vampire’s cunning. Aro had known his Angelia’s value, that as human she could pass through realms shut off from the Vampire. She was the Literati’s best weapon in their arsenal protecting the ancient canon.
Yet, the truth riding upon Angelia’s soft breath nearly buckled his knees. She wasn’t just Literati. She was his daughter. He loved her as if she were born of his blood. He had given his heart to her the day she had lain cradled upon his forearms.
His Angelia, the angel who had gazed up at him with eyes so blue to be almost black, her human mother’s blood caked to her nubile skin.
“Your mother,” the knot in his throat released his anguished sigh. Yet, he and Angelia both understood his lament was not for the human woman who had died in childbirth twenty-eight years before.
Anton fretted for the vampire mother, the one who had clutched the soiled babe to her breast as if she herself had labored to bring the creature unto this earth.
Marguerite would be devastated, ruined.
And that would be the final blow to the ancient Vampyre. He could not bear to lose both wife and daughter. The Triumvirate meant little in the face of such yawning loss.
Angelia caressed the silk of his jacket, as if cherishing the line of his muscled back with the pads of her fingers. He had ever been her strength, the fortress who protected her, provided her every need, every want.
He doted upon her, spoiled her. Her mother had been the enforcer, the one to shoulder the guilt of admonishments because he could not do it. Marguerite had been firm, but overly kind, unable to shield her adoration for her human daughter in her blazing, Vampire eyes.
“She will understand the duty to my position, Papa. She will know.”
“She will be crushed,” he bit out, his fangs clamped tight together.
****
Angelia sucked in a breath, alarmed by her father’s grief. They were not alone. The rest of the Triumvirate awaited Anton’s final decision.
Aro, too, would wait, following the ancient protocol no matter his posturing. Respect for the tradition and power of the reigning Vampyres ran soul deep in their kind, and her father had been chosen centuries ago to rule. Not because the blood coursing through his veins mandated it, but because of the terrible power that very blood wielded.
Anton was a formidable and terrifying Vampyre.
That she should be the one to cut him to his knees frightened her. “Papa, please. I will be well guarded by the Chimera. He won’t let me get hurt.” She fervently hoped so, anyway. Yet, she had no more time for reassurances, for in he walked.
Merrick the Chimera, appearing in his Gargoyle form, shoved open the double doors to the gallery as if he entered a room teeming with vipers—and his sworn duty was to decapitate every writhing one of them.
****
Merrick knew what he was walking into, which meant he wanted nothing more than to give himself a swift kick in the ass for allowing the man to slip into Hell in the first place. Without trying, he could recall the face of the one who’d stolen the book. Yet, he couldn’t remember the soul. There hadn’t been one to log into his memory.
The human had been born without his flame. Made not in God’s image, but lacking. And for this, blood would be shed.
Merrick felt the familiar twinge of sympathy for the Angel below. Again, their God betrayed them, turning His back on the suffering, and leaving a mess to be cleaned up by others.
So Merrick, his mistake at overlooking the soulless thief grating him hard, wasn’t in a rosy mood when he stepped through the threshold to answer his summons from the Triumvirate and the Literati.
He barely suppressed his rage. He could feel the push of his claws against his fingertips, his mane thickening behind his ears. Shrugging his Gargoyle shoulders to deter the emergence of his wings, he adjusted his leather coat, which draped his wide back, and encased the thick muscles of his arms.
For this, too, he let his anger simmer just under his skin. Having to parade in human costume, pretending as if he had been made in His image when he had not. Merrick would never forget the day he and his Kynd had been cast from Heaven, along with the Arch Angel Lucifer.
The Kynd, the Witnesses, had not taken sides when Lucifer had pushed for his power play and lost, when Heaven had spewed Its traitors to damnation.
Yet, still God had relegated them to Middle Ground.
An intentionally ironic punishment underscoring where the Kynd had preferred to stand during the colossal struggle. To them, God and Lucifer had both been right. And they had both been wrong. When the War was over, God condemned the Kynd to Hell, Earth, and the Other realms for all time.
And in more than two thousand years, as Hell’s gatekeeper, Merrick had witnessed a lot.
But he wasn’t prepared for what he walked in on. Never mind that an ancient Vampyre leaned against the far wall, frozen and searing simultaneously with anguish. Merrick’s senses were riveted to the creature consoling the stricken blood sucker.
A human woman.
Consoling a Vampyre. Not just any Vampire, either. One of the Triumvirate: Anton.
Merrick’s spine straightened, his blood ripping through his veins so his skin heated. Maybe he hadn’t seen enough, after all. He sniffed the stuffy air of the gallery to make sure his senses weren’t screwed up.
Because mystery, apparently, came packaged in the twin scents of honey and lavender.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 6 coming Saturday, February 14, 2015

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