A.N.: I'm really hating Gena Showalter right now for getting a new website, as the old one had all the character bios for the Lords and it took me about an hour to try and find their stats elsewhere! But I also just finished reading Darkest Passion (Aeron's story) and was a wee bit weepy by the end; "BADEN!!! Waaaa!" *Clears throat awkwardly!* I cannot wait for Strider and Amun's stories, or Gideon's. Actually, I want Torin's story. Gena's such a tease…
So this is my version of Torin's story. I just had these thoughts and I had to get them down on digital paper…mostly, I was inspired by my new favourite film, The Blue Lagoon.
Yeah, this was originally going to be Kane's story, but then I switched some characters around, and even though I haven't written Kane's story yet, you just have to accept that I will at some point, and he ends up with Helène, as in Helen of Troy, who might also be a Lord (or Lady!).
Emmeline Sully had led an ordinary life—some would say hopelessly boring. She was seventeen—nearly eighteen—years old and had never been kissed. She never went to parties, or every really left the house except to buy food for the kitchen, or new books. She didn't follow popular culture through television shows or downloading songs, and her sense of fashion was rudimentary at best. The few good friends she had made in Hawaii now no longer bothered answering her emails, and with her little sister Lilli, she had very little opportunity to meet new ones here in Budapest. It didn't help that Emmeline didn't speak Hungarian.
She and Lilli were orphans. Emmeline's parents had moved their family to Budapest only mere months before they were killed, and since then, Emmeline had devoted all her time to taking care of Lilli. She still attended the American International School of Budapest—reluctantly; her parents wouldn't have allowed her to drop out of school just because they'd been killed.
And the saddest thing was, taking care of Lilli had made her happier than she'd been in a long time. At school she had been convinced she wanted to go to university and have a career, by her teachers; her parents had noted she was intelligent and had put her into advanced-placement classes. Emmeline just wanted a family. And a husband—a man who would love her unconditionally, who would hug her in the dark hours of the night when her nightmares woke her, screaming.
She had Lilli, though, and having Lilli was the best blessing she could ever have asked for. Emmeline had been made to mother; her parents used to say she would be a very good wife… But Emmeline had never been in love. She had had crushes—countless crushes, and they had all come to nothing because she was too bashful around boys. Too bashful around anybody, really. She had always been that way; her whole world was centred on Lilli now. And Gilly, the quiet girl from Los Angeles who lived alone like Emmeline and Lilli did; sometimes Gilly would come over to Emmeline's house for dinner, and they would sit and play with Lilli or do their homework. As little as Emmeline saw her—now, because Gilly had that beautiful boyfriend of hers, William—Gilly was probably the closest thing she had to a best-friend. It was an unspoken agreement that they had both seen things in their lives they wished to forget, for they both woke screaming in the middle of the night from nightmares. Except, when Emmeline had nightmares, the whole house shook and trembled.
Emmeline tripped down the street; the ground was gritted, but here and there fresh slabs of ice had been overlooked, and her Converse sneakers did nothing to stop her sliding about; she buttoned her coat with numb fingers, her enormous bag slung over her shoulder; inside it, she kept everything she could need for school and for Lilli; she had to go and pick her up from playgroup. She always had last-period off; her school guidance-counsellor and all her teachers knew about her situation at home, so they knew she had to be there to collect Lilli, and if Lilli was sick, Emmeline had to be home to take care of her so they sent work home for her to home-school if that was the case.
Today was just another normal day—as normal as the days had been since her parents' deaths. Emmeline was running on pure caffeine; she didn't sleep anymore. Her nightmares were too much to risk sleep, and last night had been particularly bad. She had woken at three o'clock, the entire house shuddering, Lilli crying and the electronics going haywire—she had fixed everything, turned off all the taps; her house suffered frequent flooding, and got Lilli back to sleep by singing their mother's lullaby, but even though it usually worked as well on Emmeline as it did on Lilli, Emme hadn't been able to fall asleep again.
She had seen them again. Seen the winged man with pale eyes full of ice, and the knife, and her parents, in the bedroom she never went into anymore. It was the same scene she saw every time she closed her eyes.
Snow crackled beneath her feet, and Emmeline glanced up; she was near to the club Gilly sometimes spoke of, where her friends went; it had once been called Club Destiny, was now known as The Asylum but undergoing a major remodel under new management, Gilly's friend Anya. She scanned over the façade of the building; it was being entirely rebuilt from the cellars up, and actually looked a nice piece of architecture rather than a new hovel-like entrance to an underground nightclub. She swept her eyes disinterestedly over the wide entrance into the building site, and her breath caught in her lungs.
The most beautiful man she had ever seen stood leaning casually against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest. He had shoulder-length waves of pure white-blonde hair and contrasting black eyebrows hovering expressively over those too-green almond-shaped eyes. He had the prettiest lips she had ever seen, and he practically glowed with irreverence, leaning casually against the side of a building, watching people walk past with an indescribable expression on his face; he was savouring the bickering couple walking past, smiled and waved with a tiny, pretty smile, at several lovely little children walking past with their mother, flashed a beautiful, cheeky grin at another young woman on her own. Emmeline watched the woman's eyes widen and her jaw drop as she stumbled past, the conversation she was in the middle of on her phone forgotten. The man grinned, shaking his head amusedly, and glanced around the street; his expression grew shrewd, watchful; he had a handheld monitor in one hand, and Emmeline glimpsed a gun holster in the folds of his heavy, definitely designer wool coat. Emmeline crossed the street, paying no mind to the potential for road traffic, as this area strictly prohibited vehicles to protect the roads, and determined not to stare at the man as she walked past the club.
The ice on the ground had other ideas, and just as she was hurrying past the man, her Converses slid on a patch of ungritted ice, and she went flying with a yelp. Emmeline blinked; suddenly all she could see was frothy icy-grey clouds, and the tops of buildings… Huh…How'd that happen? she wondered, as someone's rich, deep laugh filled the quiet wintry air, and instantly her cheeks flushed with humiliation. She should have prayed not to embarrass herself in front of this man, not get past him without staring. The laugh was soft but deep at the same time, rich, warm and slightly husky. And then someone was crouched beside her, dressed all in black, wearing the softest-looking black leather gloves and the expensive designer wool coat, offset by a pair of scuffed black boots.
"That hurt," Emmeline mumbled to herself, flushing hotly as she pulled herself up into a sitting position. The man, whoever he was, had the cheekiest smile she had ever seen; he was trying not to laugh, but his too-green eyes glittered so mirthfully she couldn't help smiling in response, despite the hot flush in her cheeks and the fact that she would definitely have a bruise on her bottom later.
"I'll bet that hurt," the man said sympathetically, though his eyes still glittered. He spoke English, but it was accented, and she couldn't tell where he was from. Much like her own, his accent was a combination of many different dialects. "I can't remember the last time I saw anyone wipe out quite that hard." She had to meet his eye then, considering he was speaking to her. She glanced up, and her insides completely evaporated in response to the look on his face. She forgot how to breathe. He was even more beautiful close-up, with fans of fine black eyelashes, and a sweet little nose. He was a young man, but somehow not; there was something in his eyes that betrayed an eternity of knowledge welled there. There was a mocking little kiss in the corner of those beautiful lips, and there were faint laugh-lines at the corners of his almond-shaped eyes. But it was his expression…he looked hungry, his eyes darting with so much intensity over her face that she blushed again.
"Here, let me help you up," the man said, and he offered his hands; his gloves were of the softest leather; they felt like butter against Emmeline's frost-bitten fingers. She noticed he caressed his thumbs against the backs of her hands, and smiled to herself at the feel of it.
"Thank you," Emmeline mumbled, allowing the man to pull her gently off the floor, testing her footing. Curse my Converses, she thought, eyeing them. One of them had split down the side of the sole; she would have to buy new ones, which was a shame; she had become attached to these ones.
Standing, Emmeline glanced up and realised this man was only a few inches taller than her. At seventeen, she was six foot even, and Emmeline was the tallest woman she knew. She was known as the BFG at school; the Big Friendly Giant. But this man…he was four or five inches taller than her, which made her stomach all fluttery. He was very tall, with very broad shoulders, something she found extremely attractive in men…
"You look frozen," the man said, cocking his head to one side thoughtfully. He still had not let go of her hands. "I was just about to get a coffee. Do you want to join me?"
"Um…Thank you, but I… I have to pick my sister up from playgroup," Emmeline admitted, cursing Lilli—and a deep flush of shame spread through her for thinking that.
"That's a shame," the man said softly, his eyes still roving over her face. "Perhaps tomorrow? I could buy your sister a hot-chocolate if you wanted to bring her." Emmeline smiled despite herself; her cheeks hurt from the cold.
"Lilli's only eighteen months old," Emmeline said softly. He only smiled prettier, his eyes twinkling.
"Warm milk, then?" Emmeline was embarrassed by his interest, but pleased at the same time; unfortunately, her bashfulness and embarrassment overshadowed the great swell of something that made her insides balloon and fill with the kind of warmth that even the frosty day couldn't diminish.
Slowly, he released her hands. "Well… I'll be here tomorrow, if you decide…" He trailed off, looking at something over her shoulder, and then Emmeline watched as his expression morphed into wide-eyed fear, frozen; he looked as if he had been petrified, his face very white, his too-green eyes flashing dangerously. A second later, pain exploded in Emmeline's right shoulder from behind. Stars twinkled in front of Emmeline's eyes as she sank slowly to the floor, a hand pressed over her shoulder; she retrieved it, shuddering, and as her vision slid in and out of focus, realised there was jam on her hand. The ice on the floor abraded her bare legs and seeped through her father's old coat and she shuddered from cold and pain as loud bangs echoed in the stillness of the street, and then voices started echoing in her mind; she heard the soft, husky voice of the blonde angel and felt herself being cradled in someone's strong, capable arms…but she couldn't stay here… She had to pick up Lilli from playgroup.
"Stay with me, okay," someone murmured hurriedly; the voice was soft and warm and husky; Emmeline made a conscious effort to open her eyes, and saw the halo of white-blonde hair above her, emerald-eyes glowing down; the mouth that had held so much mirth was now turned down at the corners.
"Lilli," she managed to rasp; the pain in her shoulder was more than she could bear; hot tears pricked at her eyes, and she took a deep breath, her body shuddering.
"What was that?" the man said softly, and she was aware of someone stroking her hair from her forehead with the utmost tenderness.
"Lilli," Emmeline whimpered. "I have to…get Lilli."
"Okay, okay," he said gently, calming her. "Where is she? Tell me where she is, I'll go and get her for you." Emmeline started to cry; she could feel the tears trickling hotly down her cheeks, tickling her temples. Someone was pressing hard against her shoulder. Lilli. She had to get Lilli. Nobody else would take care of her; she had to be there, had to take care of her.
"I have to…take care of her," Emmeline whimpered. "My fault…she'll be all alone…"
"No she won't, I promise," the warm voice said in little more than a whisper. "Tell me where she is, I'll protect her for you…" His voice echoed softly in her mind as sleep claimed her. For the first time in over a year, she slept without dreams.
A.N.: Please review!