That's right folks! A Simple Love of Reading has turned THREE! Can you believe it? I'd like to thank all of my readers for your support!
Be sure to come on back to visit on January 6th, 2013 for my
12 Days of Christmas and Blogoversary Giveaway!
“What if you get tired of me? Forever’s a long time.”
“I’m well aware.” Tod sat up and pulled me up with him until we faced each other on my bed. “Forever used to feel like a curse. Now it feels like a promise,” he said, and my chest ached, and I loved that feeling—that rare pain that came from feeling too much, so different from the emptiness I’d almost gotten used to. “All you have to do is stay here with me.”
“Sorry. But I’ll be fine. I’ll be with Tod. He’s a good guy, you know.” He just hides it under all the sarcasm and curls.
“I know. I also know that he would do anything to be with you, and that kind of limitless devotion tends to snub caution in favor of action, and that is enough to scare a poor father to death.”
“I don’t get it.” How could devotion to each other be bad?
“Kaylee, I know what I would be willing to do to protect you, and I see the same kind of commitment in him when he looks at you. There is nothing—no one—he wouldn’t be willing to go through for you.”
His gaze burned into mine, like he could see past my eyes into parts of me no one had ever seen, and I knew I was seeing the same in him. No one had ever seen him so vulnerable before, like if I pushed him away, he might crumble into pieces that could never be put together again. Yet there was strength, too. He was strong beneath that fragile need, and I knew that I could never fall with him next to me. If I tripped, he would catch me. If I lost my balance, he would find it.
“Prim, let go,” I say harshly, because this is upsetting me and I don’t want to cry. When they televise the replay of the reapings tonight, everyone will make note of my tears and I’ll be marked as an easy target. A weakling. I will give no one the satisfaction. “Let go!”
It’s excellent shooting. I turn to the Gamemakers. A few are nodding in approval, but the majority are fixated on a roast pig that has just arrived at their banquet table.
Suddenly I am furious, that with my life on the line, they don’t even have the decency to pay attention to me. That I’m being upstaged by a dead pig. My heart starts to pound, I can feel my face burning. Without thinking, I pull an arrow from my quiver and send it straight at the Gamemakers’ table. I hear shouts of alarm as people stumble back. The arrow skewers the apple in the pig’s mouth and pins it to the wall behind it. Everyone stares t me in disbelief.
“Thank you for your consideration,” I say. Then I give a slight bow and walk straight toward the exit without being dismissed.
I want to do something, right here, right now, to shame them, to make them accountable, to show the Capitol that whatever they do or force us to do there is a part of every tribute they can’t own. That Rue was more than a piece in their Games. And so am I.
A few steps into the woods grows a bank of wildflowers. Perhaps they are really weeds of some sort, but they have blossoms in beautiful shades of violet and yellow and white. I gather up an armful and come back to Rue’s side. Slowly, one stem at a time, I decorate her body in the flowers. Covering the ugly wound. Wreathing her face. Weaving her hair with bright colors.
“No, let me show you what women are good for,” I said softly as I leapt over the bar. His eyes went wide as I landed silently beside him. I could smell his pulse, and the beat of his heart echoed in the back of my mind. Even though you couldn’t pay me to touch goblin blood unless I was starving, my fangs extended and I gave him a slow smile.
I groaned. “You want me to play Buffy? Give me one good reason why I should go staking my own kind.”
Chase gave a rough laugh. “Because you’re part of the OIA. Because you’re on the right side. Because you know what they did was wrong. Hell, you can dress up in drag and call yourself Angel, for all I care. Just help us.”
“Nope. It won’t happen. I watched you take down those two vamps. You’re a survivor, Menolly. That’s how you managed to break away from Dredge when he’d stripped everything he could from you. That’s how you managed to fight your way back from the madness he inflicted on you.”
Why would a vampire even think that I would work for them? I'm a vampire hunter. I don't seek them out, but I've killed every one of the evil bastards I've run into. Most people have a romantic view of vampires. They picture them as the eternal lover full of longing and dark passion. Thank you very much Hollywood, but that is not the way it is in real life.
Vampires never sparkle unless they just ate a stripper.
My face grew swollen and tight around my eyes. I felt the tears fill up and spill down my cheeks. They ran hot and salty down my face. I always miss my wife and children, but this stranger's kindness and sympathy had touched a knot of the sorrow I held deep inside and let it loose. My throat thickened and my heart felt like a stone as I let the sorrow and loss roll through me. Small hands smoothed along my head, cool and soft against the flush of my pain. The weight of her in my arms was a comfort.
I said a prayer of safety for Larson’s family. Yes, I pray. For all the blood I shed, I do pray. I firmly believe in God, I am a good Catholic. If you had seen a demon face-to-face, you would believe too. I’ve watched crosses turn away vampires, I’ve seen holy water drive away demons, and I have rescued an Angel of the Lord. Hell yes, I believe. So I prayed for their safety and their lives. I don’t pray nearly often enough. Truthfully, I pretty much rely on Father Mulcahy to cover that department.
Prayer doesn’t result in thunder and lightning. There haven’t been any burning bushes. Sometimes there is nothing at all. But occasionally, I get this feeling, kind of like a weightless weight, and it causes a shiver down my spine. I believe this is an acknowledgement of my prayer. Not an answer, just an acknowledgement.
It’s enough because it has to be. That’s the deal.