Chapter 1

“Halloween is here and once again I’m trying to pick a costume.

Once again, I am trying desperately to ward off Elora’s attempts to turn me into some sort of gothic princess, or dark fairy. If you happen to see me strutting down the street in a halter top with wings, glitter in my hair and three inch heels, please shoot me on sight.” ~ Diary of Cassie Tate

 

“I’m not wearing that Elora. You might as well take that pattern and stuff it back into the bag of long lost costumes that should never see the light of day.” Cassie climbed into her best friends beat up Dodge Neon. The door creaked ominously as she opened it and the faded red paint chipped off revealing the previous blue paint beneath it. Who knew what color was beneath that one. Elora’s car had been painted by her older brother, Oakley, several times when he had started working at the auto body shop his senior year and the original color was since long forgotten.

“I’m telling you now, as your friend, if you try and wear a costume like you did last year I will put you out of your misery, not to mention my own.” Elora said in her signature dry voice. She rolled down the window, letting the cool fall air blow through the car that had, despite the cooler weather, still grown hot from sitting in the asphalt parking lot that boasted absolutely no shade for the student parking.

“Seriously?” Cassie’s jaw dropped open, “That costume was so creative.”

Elora rolled her eyes as she started the car. She shifted into drive and peeled out of the school lot with a squeal. Cassie latched onto the door unconcerned about the loud noise; use to her friend’s maniacal driving skills.

“You were an ant.” Elora’s face scrunched up in distaste.

“Yeah, but I wasn’t just an ant. I was an ant on a picnic table.”

“Exactly, you were wearing a table. I’m sorry Cass but I draw the line at wearing furniture. We’re seniors this year; we have a responsibility to blow the peon’s minds.”

Cassie laughed. “What about Charlie’s Angels? They’re kick butt females.”

Elora raised a single pierced eyebrow at her best friend.

“Do you really see this,” she motioned to her face and then her body, “as Charlie’s Angels material?”

Cassie looked over her friend. Elora was beautiful, but not in a typical way. She was heavy into the Goth scene. She dyed her hair black and put bright red chunks in it. She wore it in long layers with bangs sweeping across her face creating a mysterious air. She had an eyebrow piercing in her left brow; four piercings in each ear, a nose piercing on the right side, and a tongue piercing. She wore dark eye shadow that made her purple eyes, made possible by contacts, stand out. She was naturally pale so she didn’t bother with powder on her face and her skin was flawless any ways. She wore black, black, and more black and she rocked it; black miniskirts with black fishnet tights, drew attention to her insanely long legs on her five foot seven inch frame, black combat boots and an off the shoulder shirt revealing a black halter top. Around her neck dangled various crystals to promote healing, or positive energy. Various rings adorned nearly every finger ranging from skeletons to talons.

Cassie’s mouth quirked up. “I see your point.”

“Just leave the costumes to me. I’m sure Lisa can help me come up with something dark and sexy.” Elora turned onto Cassie’s street and her tires screeched to a halt in her driveway.

Lisa was Elora’s mom and that’s what she always called her. Elora wasn’t into titles that she claimed society put on people to set them apart, when we are all human beings who picked their noses as children in front of people without shame and then in secret as adults– her words.

“Just remember that we are not standing on a corner trick or treating for the wrong kind of tricks and treats okay?”

Elora rolled her eyes but then added, “That was actually a pretty good analogy.”

“So glad I meet your approval.”

“I’ll call you later tonight. No doubt you are going to need my help on our English project.” Elora began to back out of the driveway. Cassie motioned for her to roll down her window.

“I have to go up to my dad’s work remember?” Cassie yelled to her.

“Why do you have to go again?”

“His assistant is out for the week and he asked me to do some of the filing and whatever else meaningless tasks she does.” Cassie said in exasperation.

“Okay we’ll work on the paper tomorrow. It’s not due until Friday anyways.” Elora waved as she continued out of the driveway and peeled off down the street.

Cassie looked at her watch and realized she was already late. She walked over to her less than impressive, not to mention ancient Honda Civic, digging her keys from her backpack. Once she had tossed her backpack into the back seat, she slid into the driver’s seat and started it up. She backed out of the driveway in a much more reasonable fashion and headed towards her dads work in downtown Oklahoma City.

~

“Dad, I’m here.” Cassie hollered as she walked into the reception area of Woodland Oil Company. From what little she knew of her dad’s work, he handled the company’s financial stuff and had the words “President of” in front of his name. She walked past the reception desk and down a long hall passing office after office. The last office at the end of the hall was her dads.

She knocked and opened the door when she heard his voice. William Tate, III sat at his paper-covered desk, tie loosened around his neck, and his salt and pepper hair rumpled from all the times he had ran his hands through it.

“Come on in Cass.” He sounded tired. But then again he always sounded tired. He worked way too much. Though he never complained about it, Cassie could tell the long hours where wearing him down.

“Hey,” she said with her brightest smile hoping to bring a little energy into the stale room. She wanted to wrap him in a hug when he returned her smile and immediately looked ten years younger than his 46 years.

“So what do I need to do?”

He stood and his six foot three inch form seemed to make the room shrink. With a flat stomach, large, muscular arms, and powerful legs, William Tate was an avid athlete when he had time and made sure to do push up and sit-ups in his office throughout the day. Aside from his greying hair, he looked much younger than his 46 years. He laid the papers that were in his hands down as he came around his desk, and motioned for her to follow him back down the long hall way to the reception area. His assistant, an older, frumpy woman named Martha, kept her desk in meticulous order. He pulled a box out from under the desk full of paper.

“These need to be filled alphabetically into these file cabinets. Then he pulled another box from the other side of the large file cabinets.

“These need to be shredded,” he motioned to the box. “The shredder is actually in the break room which is out those doors,” he pointed to the main office doors, “down the hall on the left.”

“That seems like an odd place for a shredder,” Cassie said absently.

Her dad let out a huff of laughter. “You don’t have to tell me. It’s where the higher ups wanted it, so that’s where it went.” He turned to go back to his office then paused, “You’ll be okay out here by yourself?”

Cassie rolled her eyes. “Dad, I’m 18, technically I no longer require supervision.”

He let out a groan. “Don’t remind me.” Then he left me to it.

An hour and three paper cuts later, Cassie finally finished the filing. She stood and stretched her legs and then her arms. She looked down at the box full of papers to be shredded and quickly decided she was not going to carry that down the long hall. She looked around the office for some sort of cart.

“Bingo,” she smiled as she pulled a rolling cart from a closet to the right of Martha’s desk. She hefted the heavy boxy onto it and then steered it from the office and down the long hall. Cassie had to admit that it was kind of creepy being in a large building, knowing there was no one else inside. It reminded her of a movie she saw where the lead character, who had been in a coma for some time, woke up, staggered from the hospital, and quickly discovered that not a living person was left in the city.

She found the door her dad had been talking about and poked her head inside to make sure it was indeed empty. She saw that no one occupied the room and proceeded to pull the cart inside and over to the shredder at the back of the room. She began the monotonous task of pushing paper into the machine and listening to the grinding it produced as it cut the paper into tiny pieces that would be impossible to read and discover their content. Just as she grabbed the last of the papers, she heard raised voices that sounded like they were coming from just beyond the wall on her right side.

She froze and without thinking, she tried to quiet her breathing, which had begun to speed up. Cassie stood and walked over to the wall and pressed her ear to it. The voices where smooth and intriguing, and she found herself wanting to get closer, wanting to find out who had such a voice. Before she realized it, she found herself walking out of the break room and to the next door in the hall. She saw a wall made of glass instead of sheet rock. The blinds that hung in front of the glass were closed keeping her from seeing inside the room. She walked down passing in front of the glass and when she got to the very end saw that there was about a four-inch opening where the blinds hadn’t quite reached. She peered in through the opening and lost her breath at what she saw.

A long table filled the room and was surrounded by chairs, half of which where each filled with men, but not normal looking men. These men were beautiful, regal, and masculine all at the same time. Each had long hair, board straight and shiny, and not normal for typical hair colors. One of the men had solid white hair but he looked no older than early twenties, another had pale blue hair and still another had light purple. It was so bizarre, but that wasn’t even close to what was truly unusual about these men. Cassie’s mouth dropped open when she saw that their ears where pointed at the tips. Not sort of pointed but well and truly pointed. She blinked her eyes and rubbed them trying to make sure she wasn’t just seeing things that weren’t real. She pulled her eyes from their ears and instead studied their faces. Again she noted that they were inhumanly good looking. Everything about their faces was perfect. High cheek bones, straight, perfectly proportioned noses, pale, smooth, flawless skin that seemed to shimmer under the florescent lights. Then she noticed their eyes and like their pointy ears, the eyes seemed unbelievable. They sparkled and had unnatural colors that seemed to match the color of their hair.

One of the beautiful men stood from the table and she saw that he was tall. His fitted clothes left no wonder to his body structure. He was muscular, but not bulky. He was built for speed and agility. He wore brown pants that fit and looked as if they would allow him to move without hindrance. His white shirt appeared to be the same material as his pants and too was fitted allowing for maximum movement. His chest was broad but not too thick and his stomach was flat. His arms, even covered by the sleeves of his shirt, were obviously muscular.

He began to walk around the table and she noted that his movements where smooth, and almost cat like in their grace. He walked confidently, owning the room and commanding the others attention. As he drew closer to the back of the room and nearer to where Cassie stood on the other side of the glass she held her breath, wondering if he could hear her. He stopped only feet from her spot and his eyes snapped up meeting hers. His piercing stare seemed to hold her in the spot, even though everything inside her was telling her to run as fast and far as she could from the room, and the beautiful men that occupied it. His lips began to move and the motion behind him of another man standing snapped her eyes from the intense stare. She saw that the man was moving towards the door. She made a snap decision, all be it the wrong snap decision. Instead of turning in the direction of her dad’s office, she headed in the opposite direction. She grabbed the first door she came to which opened into the very next room past the conference room. She rushed inside and pulled the door closed pushing the lock in place, not bothering to check and see if the room was empty. Once again, not her brightest moment.

Her breath came in rapid pants and her heart was beating so hard it felt like it was going to beat straight out of her heart. She pressed her ear to the door, listening for any noise. When she didn’t hear anything, she turned pressing her back to the door and tilting her head up. Her eyes closed as she let out a long, nervous breath. She stood there for several moments before she felt eyes on her. Letting out an inward groan before she opened her eyes, she nearly whimpered knowing she was going to find someone staring at her. Deciding there was nothing left to do she opened her eyes and scanned the room. They stopped on a figure leaning with his arms crossed against the wall that separated the room from the conference room where the impossibly beautiful men sat. He looked as if he didn’t have a care in the world and like he wasn’t surprised to see her there.

She couldn’t move or speak. Like the ones she had just seen he was beautiful, unbelievably so. For a moment, his form seemed to flicker and someone else stood before her and then went back to the original appearance. She frowned, puzzled by the strange occurrence, but was quickly distracted when he spoke to her.

“Well hello beautiful.” His voice was deep and resonated to her very soul. It was smooth and as flawless as his form.

Cassie still couldn’t speak. Her mind was too busy taking in his appearance. He had hair dark as midnight that fell across his forehead and was long enough to tuck behind his ears. Long lashes framed his eyes that shined and when the light caught them, she saw that they were silver. He had high cheekbones and a straight, aristocratic nose. His lips were red and full, and made for all things pleasurable. He was tall and like the other man she had seen, he was muscular but not overly so. He wore black pants, again like the other, fitted to his form, a black shirt that molded to his arms and chest revealing the flat stomach beneath. He had on black boots that might be classified as motorcycle boots if Cassie had any idea what motorcycle boots looked like. Her eyes ran slowly back up his body and when they returned to his face, she saw a smug, knowing smile. She blushed at having been caught obviously ogling him.

“Had your fill?” He asked her and the teasing was evident in the mischief dancing in his unusual silver eyes. He continued to watch her and seemed to be waiting for something but Cassie’s mind was lost in a fog of desire and longing.

“I’m wondering if someone as beautiful as you can speak and if so will the intelligence level be so lacking that it ruins the outer package.”

That caught her attention and pushed through the fog.

“Are you asking if I’m an idiot?” Cassie asked incredulously after finding her voice.

He smiled a slow, Cheshire Cat smile and she shivered at the look in his eyes.

“She speaks,” he uncrossed his arms and one hand came up to cover his heart as he pushed away from the wall and took a step towards her, “and her voice is a caress to my soul. I suppose if you have a voice like that I could tolerate you not being the brightest bulb in the box.”

Cassie’s mouth dropped open at the insult. She too pushed away from the door not thinking about the fact that she was in a locked room with a guy she didn’t know, who looked dangerous and unpredictable.

“What makes you an authority on level of intelligence?” She snapped.

He took another step towards her, his eyes never leaving hers.

“I’m a genius,” he answered with a look that said “duh”.

“Oh, well that just makes you being an ass totally okay.” Cassie let out an exasperated breath as she continued to watch him.
“Perhaps I am being a tad rude.” He stepped closer still and was suddenly only a foot away from her. He swept down in a dramatic bow and stood back up, looking at her with smoldering eyes that had her holding her breath.

“My apologies my lady, will you let me start our introduction over?”

Cassie could still hear the playfulness in his voice but there was something else as well, something that made her feel like he really wanted to know her. He reached his hand out waiting for her to place hers in it. She looked at it and then back up at him. Something in her screamed, “DON’T DO IT!!!” and yet she slowly lifted her hand and placed it in his. He wrapped his strong fingers around it and his eyes snapped closed. She felt a jolt of power burst up her arms. She wanted to pull away yet she also wanted to wrap herself in his arms, to have him touch her, kiss her, love her.

Her eyes, which had closed at some point, snapped open. Love, WTH she thought to herself, Cassie get a clue, he’s dangerous, it’s written all over his lovely form. Yes, he is but I still want him. She frowned at the petulant voice her subconscious had suddenly become. She shook her head trying to clear it. She felt her feet moving forward and realized that he was pulling her to him. She was standing mere inches from his face. She tilted her head back to look up at him and found his silver eyes staring back at her. His brow was furrowed and she could see the questions on his face.

“You saw me?” He asked her quietly, “My true form, you saw it.”

“What do you mean?” She asked, her voice wavering under his intense scrutiny.

“Cassie, beautiful Cassie, what are you? How could you possibly see my true form?” He still held her hand in his and with his other hand; he ran a finger down her jaw causing her to shiver. She wanted to take a step back, needed to take a step back but she couldn’t move.

“How do you know my name?” She asked.

His lips lifted in a crooked smile. “I saw it in your mind.” He said it like it was the most normal thing in the world.

Cassie tried to pull her hand away but he tightened his hold.

“You think you can read my mind?” She asked slowly, as if speaking to a child.

“Not think, know,” his finger was now trailing slowly, so very slowly across her bottom lip. “I know that you think my lips are made for pleasure.”

Cassie felt the blood rush to her face in embarrassment. “Oh,” she squeaked out.

She cleared her throat and tried again. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” It came out more as a question than the firm statement she had been going for.

His finger continued to run gently across her jaw and down her neck to her collarbone.

“I know about the time you fell out of the tree in your front yard and broke your arm because you were trying to rescue the neighbor’s cat. I know that you aren’t sure you even believe in prayer or the one you pray to, but it comforts you. I know that you think that your best friend is prettier than you are and I know that you do not see yourself clearly if you think that.”

Cassie’s breath was coming in short gasps as she listened to this guy she had just met, and didn’t even know his name, tell her things that there was no possible way he could know. She felt like she was suffocating, she couldn’t get enough air and her sight started to fade.

“Come on beautiful, breathe for me.” His voice sounded far away though she knew he was standing inches from her.

She felt his breath on her face as he spoke. His scent swirled around her and as she breathed in and out, she felt like she might be drunk on the smell. She felt him brushing her hair away from her face and then tilted her chin to look up at him. She blinked as she looked at his inhumanly handsome face. She saw his features flicker again. For a brief moment, he had long, pitch-black hair, eyes so silver and clear that they shimmered like diamonds, and his face shifted slightly and if she thought he couldn’t be even more beautiful, she was wrong. Then in the blink of an eye, she was again looking at the man with shorter dark hair and eyes more a subdued grey.

“Wwwhat was that?” She stumbled over her words. Finally getting her feet to move she pulled back from him staring up at his widened eyes. When he continued to stare at her instead of answering her, she gathered her thoughts. She turned to look back at the door where she had entered. She could hear the other men out in that speaking in low tones.

“They are going to find me soon. I need to go.” She looked back and nearly jumped when her face nearly ran into his chest. She tilted her head to look up into his face.

“They won’t look for you in here,” he told her confidently.

“They will eventually, it’s pretty obvious since its right next door to the room they were just in and I hid so quickly,” she reasoned.

His lips quirked up into a crooked smile. “They won’t find you because I won’t let them.”

“And who are you, exactly?” Cassie raised a single eyebrow in question at him.

He leaned forward until his mouth was mere inches from hers.

“I’m yours,” he whispered.

Cassie snorted out a short, abrupt laugh to cover up the catch in her breath at his words. “Does that work on all the girls?”

Suddenly his head snapped up as the door handle of the door began to jiggle. Cassie’s body tensed as she turned to look at the door and she looked ready to bolt like a frightened animal.

“Cassie, are you in there?” Cassie let out a relieved breath as she heard the voice of her father.

She took a step towards the door but was stopped abruptly when an arm snaked around her waist. She let out a gasp of air as her back came in contact with a very firm chest. She felt his breath on her ear as his lips grazed her skin.

“I will see you again beautiful.”

She closed her eye briefly as she tried not to enjoy the sensation of being held so confidently. When he released her she headed quickly for the door and as she unlocked it and began to turn the knob, she felt his breath on her neck again and then a whisper.

“Trik, my name is Trik.”

She turned to look over her shoulder at him but there was no one there.

 

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