Assassin: Fall of the Golden Valefar
Page 21

 H.M. Ward

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He stood; ready to leave and said, “I see it in your eyes, Nat. I’m not redeemable. There’s nothing here,” he gestured between them, “there never can be.” He leaned closer to her face, voice deepening, eyes gleaming like twin fires, “I’m not a lover you’d want. I take what I want, fuck it and leave it behind, half-dead. And that’s when things end well. There’s nothing loving. Me and you, it just can’t be.”
She swallowed hard, feeling his warm breath on her skin. His lips were close enough to kiss and she wanted to taste him again. Just for a moment. But she wasn’t foolish enough to try. Not now. Not when he was like this. Eric closed his eyes, ready to look away, when he felt her warm hand on his face, pulling him back. Her head tipped back slightly.
She looked him in the eye, “Eric, things don’t have to be this way.”
Eric paused looking into her blue eyes. Natalia’s beauty was blinding at times. This was one of those times. His mind was telling him to leave, to walk away, but he couldn’t. His gut reaction was to slam the girl into the wall and storm out. Instead, he allowed her fingers to caress his face, watching her as she did it. Several moments passed, or maybe none at all, but Eric felt weak. He knew he’d give in and let her have her way if he stayed like this. So, he grabbed her hands, taking both of them in his fists. He yanked her face toward him. Dark hair swayed behind her as she came to a stop. They were nose to nose.
“Yes, it does. I’ll kill you, Natalia.” His voice was seductive and threatening at the same time. Natalia’s heart felt like it was going to rip out of her chest. Her breath caught in her throat. It felt like she couldn’t breathe. Eric sensed all these things, but he didn’t stop speaking. “I’ll make you cry out, beg for mercy, and not give it. I’ll use you, taking pleasure in your pain until your soul leaves your body. That’s what I truly am.”
“No,” she whispered trying to pull away, but Eric wouldn’t let her. There was more she wanted to say, but he wouldn’t listen.
Tightening his grip, Eric said, “Look at me. See it in my eyes. I’m telling you the truth. I’ve killed every woman who’s ever loved me. Each and every one died horrifically. And the ones that were just toys, something to fuck to pass the time… ,” his heart was racing, the memory of Jocelyn fresh in his mind. “I’ll kill you. It’s a fact, not a threat.” He released her and turned to leave, throwing money back on the bar top. The coins clattered loudly, shocking Eric back to reality. Every ounce of him wanted her. How did this happen?
Natalia’s jaw hung open as Eric spoke. She couldn’t wrap her mind around what he was saying, but part of her knew it was the truth. He was dangerous. He was death. But so was she. Natalia jumped to her feet, following him outside. She yelled at his back in the darkened alley way, “Eric, wait!” He couldn’t walk away. Natalia wanted to scream. She was so close and everything was going to be lost because she couldn’t control her lust, her thirst—for him! She tried to compel him to stay, but her charms didn’t work on him. Normally, she could hold a man in place with her gaze alone, but Eric was wild, and defiant. Like her. She needed him. She wanted him.
Eric stopped. His hands were in his pockets, his head hanging between his shoulders. Her pulse was pounding in her ears when he turned back and looked at her. It drove her crazy when he looked at her like that. He didn’t speak, but he didn’t have to. She could see it on his face, in his eyes, and every inch of his body. “I know you don’t want to be what you are. I can see it, but Eric...” she paused carefully choosing her words, “if you’d let me, I could help you.”
“If you think there’s help for me, you’re already dead.” Eric turned away from her, and continued walking. His form was absorbed by shadows as he disappeared into the night.
Natalia pushed through the wooden door to her home, alone. Eric was beyond cryptic tonight. She threw her jacket on a chair and crossed the marble floor, rounding the collapsed staircase, and going straight into her room. She pulled back the painting, pinning the velvet so she could see his whole face.
The strong lines of his jaw, the smoothness of his cheek, and the beauty of his face wasn’t what drew her to him. It was his eyes—his haunted eyes. They were like pools of gold, endlessly beautiful and equally deadly. They burned with such intensity that she often had to look away. After all this time, she knew what he was. She was certain of it. The compulsion to follow him, the desire to be with him grew louder and more pressing. It was difficult to ignore. It was impossible to leave him alone.
He was distracting her from her task. There was one thing she needed—one thing she wanted—and she hadn’t been able to get her hands on it. Natalia was so close to the book last night before he left. She held it in her hands, eager to read the pages, but the pages disappeared again when Eric left. It was like he was the only one who could retrieve them. She pulled apart her bedroom, remembering he went into the rubble to get it, but there was nothing—just crushed house, torqued iron, and enough dust to build a shopping mall. She’d been so close!
Natalia pulled at her hair as she flopped back onto her bed. “What the hell is wrong with me?” She was speaking to no one, not expecting an answer. She lay on her bed, facing the ceiling for a while. In all honesty, she had every expectation of heeding Eric’s warning. It didn’t matter what his kiss did to her. It didn’t matter that she craved the kind of attention he gave her. She was going to stay away from him. Failing to do so would decrease her life expectancy severely. And Natalia was a survivor. She wanted to live.
Nat rolled over onto her stomach. Her eyes went wide. Was that his book? It was! Eric’s massive book was laying on the dresser. She stared at the fat binding, startled. It wasn’t there a moment ago. She sat up in her bed, looking around, wondering if he was there.
“Eric?” she called his name, waiting to hear his voice, but she was alone.
Natalia sat still, staring at the book from across the room. Eric was so secretive, but he must have pulled it out and left it for her. Why would he do that? He knew she could read his script, his code that he was so sure was unbreakable. Hesitant, she got up and padded across the room to the book.
This was her chance. She would know for certain what happened. If this was the book of legend then Eric was the man she was looking for. There was only one way to find out. Heart racing she reached out and touched the book. Her heart hammered in her chest like it might harm her. Part of her thought Eric might appear, that this was a trick. She slid her fingers over the cover feeling the smooth worn leather. When nothing happened—when Eric didn’t appear and rip it out of her hands—she cracked the cover open and began to read.
Eric had too much trouble leaving Natalia. He was getting attached to her. No, it was more than that, so much more than an attachment. It wasn’t just that he liked the look of her. It wasn’t that her body curved just the way he liked. It was her. It was Natalia. He was trying to warn her away, but the more he tried, the more attached the girl seemed to get. He needed to warn her off once and for all, so he left his book on her dresser. Part of him hated the idea of letting her read it. Eric didn’t like his life and that book contained the good and the bad. It was his notes to himself. They contained the most hideous acts he’d committed, and the most noble. He shook his head, his golden hair falling into his eyes.
If she didn’t stay away after reading that, she never would. There was no woman in her right mind that would trust him after reading its contents. Not after reading with her own eyes, seeing it written by his own hand, how much he reveled in pain—how much it soothed him to hear a woman scream and beg him for mercy. It twisted him from what he was, hardening him, making it more difficult to hold onto any scrap of light that might have been left within his soul.
After all this time, Eric finally accepted that having a soul didn’t keep him from becoming a monster—it only made it easier. The cravings of his soul, the desire to put back what was broken beyond repair, spurred him to do things he never thought he’d do. There was no redemption, no absolution for someone like him. Every day only led to darker paths, with more blood, more pain, and more suffering. It was these things that gave him pleasure, and although Eric knew it was evil, he couldn’t stop.
He waited as he usually did, in the man’s bedchamber. The desire to feel blood on his hands consumed Eric. Natalia had left him in such a state of lust that every animalistic instinct he had, came rushing forward. It was earlier than he planned, but this murder would sate him. He’d be able to repress the lust that was compelling him toward the girl, at least for a little while longer. Eric couldn’t resist her, and he knew if he was foolish enough to take her, the most compassionate thing to do was destroy her. His logic felt flawed, but he could no longer understand why. Thoughts like these should have sickened him, but they didn’t. They seemed logical now, necessary.
The door creaked open. Two men in suits came through, ear-pieces wired to their heads like robots. Eric spoke a word, disabling the security equipment before killing the men. When the second man finally fell to the carpet, dead, Eric moved them out of sight. This was the bedroom of the most powerful man in the world. He knew there would be more guards, more security. He knew this assassination would be more difficult, but it was necessary.
The door was still wide open when the President strode into the room, followed by two additional guards behind him. Eric had to act quickly and destroy all three at once. He closed his eyes and called on his powers before they saw him. Without a sound, Eric cast the shadows at the three men, looping them around and around their torsos like snakes. Before he had a chance to finish his spell, one of the guards managed to fire his weapon. The gunshot grazed Eric’s arm slicing it open. That shot would bring more guards upon him in seconds. Eric’s heart raced, but the thought only made him more determined to finish what he started.
Commanding the shadows, he ordered them to constrict, crushing the men. The air was forced out of their lungs, rendering them mute. Eric basked in their agony, feeling life by life being squeezed away. That was the moment he craved. It was that moment he needed, and he wanted to draw it out. But, something inside of him refused to allow him to do so. These men had done nothing wrong, at least as far as Eric was concerned. They were a means to an end. They had to die for him to get what he wanted, and he wanted it so badly, so desperately that he’d do anything. This was the final straw, the catalyst that would cause Ivy’s wrath to come crushing down. It was too important to ignore. The angels would not allow Eric to go unpunished. He was forcing Ivy’s hand. It was the only way.
With a final devastating squeeze, Eric heard their ribs crack as the life was crushed from their limp bodies. He quickly retracted the shadows. The entire act took less than a second, and they were no more. Stepping towards the lifeless bodies, Eric extracted the vial. Three drops fell, one for each man.