There was a knock at the door. Nevaeh’s head jerked up and her eyes widened.
“Y-yes?” She called, her voice hardly audible.
The door opened and a maid stuck her head in. “Lord Regillion wishes to see you, ma’am.”
Nevaeh’s eyes dilated even larger. She nodded. “I’ll be there… in… in a minute.”
“He says right now.”
Nevaeh rose and closed her book. She glanced at herself in the mirror. Her dress looked fine, her captor supplied her with very fine things. But her face looked like a ghost. She followed the maid out the door and down the hall.
She still didn’t know her way around the huge, crumbling, renovated castle. Most of it was uninhabitable, but Lord Regillion had had a few towers and halls and cellars repaired enough so it was livable.
They climbed up a long, cold, slippery staircase to the top of the Central tower where his room was. Once Nevaeh slipped on the stone steps and tore a hole in her hem. The maid assured her that it was nothing and would be sewed up as soon as possible. But that wasn’t how Nevaeh saw it. There was a hole in her dress now; Regillion would be sure to see it and ask about it.
They reached the top and the maid curtseyed, leaving Nevaeh in front of the door. Her hand rose, but hesitated before knocking.
“Don’t worry about knocking, just come in, you took your sweet time getting here.” She heard Regillion’s sarcastic voice coming from inside.
With a shaking hand she turned the door handle and stepped in quickly, accidentally slamming the door behind her as she backed into it to close it.
“Don’t slam the door.” Came the predicted answer.
Her eyes flew around the room looking for him. Then she saw half the wall was gone from the right side of the room. Two gigantic oak doors hung drunkenly on their hinges, battered and half smashed from some unknown impact.
Snow drifted in on the wind and landed on the wet floor. A small pool of water was gathering at one corner of the ornate rug, soaking the fabric.
Outside the doors on a crude stone balcony stood Regillion. Nevaeh’s hand clapped over her mouth as she saw his huge black dragon crouching over him, the worm’s enormous head half laying on the floor beside his master.
“Come here.” Regillion ordered without turning around. His back was to her, one hand resting on one of the beast’s horns, his black cloak billowing around him.
“Come. Here!” Regillion snapped when she didn’t obey, tossing a glare over his shoulder at her.
She hurried along the wall, her steps slowing as she came closer to the dragon. It was huge, and so terribly powerful. It’s slitted green eyes watched her unblinkingly. It must have been the one to bash the doors in.
She hadn’t realized she’d stopped and was staring at the worm until a shadow stepped in front of her and she looked up at Regillion with a squeaking gasp.
“I said, come here.” He hissed, his hand latching onto her arm and dragging her out to the balcony.
She tried to squirm away from him as he pulled her closer to the beast, then screamed when the dragon raised it’s head.
“Shut up, he won’t hurt you.” His voice was so cold and rigid.
His coal black eyes turned down to look at her, then at his arm. She followed his gaze to see that she was clinging to him. She gasped and stepped back, releasing him, only to have him grab her again and snatch her back.
“There’s no rail, be careful.”
Her back was to the worm and she wiggled in Regillion’s arms until she was facing it. She’d rather have her back to him that to the dragon. At least Regillion was human. The dragon was creepy and unnerving.
“Thorn, leave.” She could feel the vibrations in Regillion’s chest when he spoke, as her back was pressed against him.
The dragon snorted, showering them with a cloud of ash and smoke. Nevaeh almost shrieked again, but started choking and coughing on the lungful of filth she inhaled.
“Why’d you do that, you idiot?” She vaguely heard Regillion reprimand the dragon. “I said leave, not give her a meteor shower!”
Thorn whined like a dog and shoved himself off the balcony, spreading his wings and swooping up to a mountain peak far above them.
Nevaeh felt Regillion pounding her back as she continued coughing. Something was pressed to her lips and water flowed into her mouth. She gulped, trying to keep her airway clear for more oxigene. More water came and she spluttered, spitting water everywhere.
Regillion wiped her face and neck with his sleeve, tossing the empty cup into the room where it clattered on the wet floor.
Still breathing heavily Nevaeh looked up at him. His deep, endless, emotionless eyes stared evenly down at her. She flinched and looked away.
“I’m sorry he did that. I’ll kick him in the teeth for it next time he comes.”
Her eyes snapped back up to his face. He was apologizing? Regillion was apologizing??? She hadn’t thought it was physically possible for him to do that.
A grim, amused smile pulled at his lips, as if he knew what she was thinking. He opened his mouth and she expected something snarky to pop out, but instead she heard,
“Why is there a hole in your dress?”
He had noticed. He noticed everything even though he couldn’t have had a good look at her dress since she came in, especially since the rip was on her hem.
“When I ask a question I expect an answer, not just a blank stare.” His voice was so dry, like his throat was cracking.
“I-I’m s-sorry, I didn’t–” She jerked her gaze away from his face and tried to step back, but his arms locked around her waist like iron bars.
“If you’re so dead set on leaping off the edge, I’ll let you. But answer my question first.”
She looked down and saw they were barely a foot away from the edge. The stone sloped down in broken points and jagged bumps, like it had been a boulder taken from the mountain side and glued to the side of the tower.
Which was exactly how it had been put there.
“Answer. My. Question!” Regillion’s voice was getting shorter and harsher with each time he spoke.
“M-my d-dress, I slipped… on the s-stairs… coming up.” Nevaeh stammered, looking up at him. She had gripped his arms again when she’d seen how close they were to the drop.
A scowl gathered between his brows and Nevaeh hurriedly continued.
“I didn’t m-mean to! They were slippery–the stairs, I mean. And my dress, it was long and–”
“Shut up. Are you cold?”
She blinked at him. Hadn’t he been about to reprimand her for ruining her dress?
“Are. You. Cold.” It wasn’t even a question anymore.
“Y-yes, I am.” She said, suddenly realizing that she was, indeed, freezing from standing out in the snow and driving wind.
Regillion pulled her over away from the ledge so they were standing half inside and half outside. His room was the same temperature as the outdoors.
He unpinned the brass broach from his throat and pulled his thick black cloak off. He tossed it around her shoulders and repinned the broach under her chin. She stared up at him incredulously. It didn’t seem anything like him to be concerned about if she were uncomfortable or not, and especially strange for him to take off his own cloak and put it on her. He would be cold now, wouldn’t he?
“Better?” He was saying.
She snapped out of her surprised wondering and nodded quickly, gratefully pulling the cloak tighter around her. It was very thick and had a soft layering on the inside–some kind of fur probably. She was instantly warmer.
He motioned for her to follow and went farther into the room. He plopped down carelessly on a sofa and hooked his foot around the leg of a chair, jerking it closer. She slowly sat down in it, hesitantly assuming it was for her.
He kicked his feet up over the far arm of the sofa and crossed his arms behind his head. She watched him expectantly. She knew he had something to say once he was done studying her so scrutinizingly.
She was right. As unpredictable as he was, she was beginning to see patterns and was able to guess his next move. When he wasn’t scaring her to death.
“The reason I called you in here,” He began. “Was because the servants have informed me that you have been going to them when you need something.”
Nevaeh nodded slowly. She didn’t see what she’d done wrong. That’s what the servants were there for, right? To… serve?
Regillion continued. “Whenever you have even the slightest need, I don’t care what it is, you come to me to make it known. The only time you can go to the servants is if I’m busy or gone or asleep. Do you understand?”
“…yes, sir…” Her voice was tiny. As a matter of fact, she didn’t understand. It didn’t make sense that he wanted her to come to him for something he would make the servants do anyway.
“Do. Not. Call. Me. Sir.” He snapped. “If I’d wanted you to call me that, I would have introduced myself as ‘sir’. My name is Regillion. Use it.” He ordered. “Now… don’t lie to me, do you understand?” He asked again.
She shook her head. “No… I don’t. W-why… do you… want me to come to you?”
One of his eyebrows rose. “Because I want you to.”
She couldn’t help but smile at least a teensy bit at that. That was almost exactly what he’d said a little over two weeks ago when he’d kidnapped her.
As she stared openly at his face and he stared back, something sparked in her mind and she blurted,
“Were you the beggar that came those few times and asked for food?”
A sly, satisfied grin took hold of his mouth. “I was wondering when you’d realize that.”
“You were?” She gasped. “Why did you do that when you’re not a beggar?”
He shrugged. “It was the only way I could get inside the castle and see you a few times before I took you.”
Nevaeh’s mouth fell open. “B-but… the first time… the first time you did that was like six months ago! You were planning this for that long?”
The eyebrow rose again. “You think it was a spur-of-the-moment idea that made me decide to kidnap you?”
She realized how long he must have been planning this to have been able to pull it off so well. Bringing a lock-pick, knowing exactly which tower her room was in, choosing a night when most of her family was gone.
She shook her head again.
They sat in silence for a few moments before she asked, “Why did you kidnap me?”
His eyes had wandered to the smashed open doors. Now they switched back to her face. They were hard now, cold, and stabbing.
“I told you.” His voice was freezing. “Because I wanted to.”
“But why did you want to?”
He glared at her for just long enough to make her uncomfortable, then shot up to his feet.
“Supper should be ready soon.” His voice was still frigid.
“Regillion!” Nevaeh whined suddenly, surprising both of them. “Tell me! You have to have a reason! Everyone needs a reason for doing anything! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy did you kidnap me?” She knew she sounded like a spoiled toddler, but she didn’t care.
Regillion grinned slightly. It was the first smile Nevaeh had seen on him that was in his eyes too.
“You’ll never know.” He whispered. His voice sent chills down her spine, his eyes boring into her own.
She could feel the ice in the air as she stared at him. He was still smiling, but his eyes were so cold. Like he was guarding something, or hiding something.
“Come, it’s almost time for supper.” He said, walking toward the door.
As they went down to the dining room, they passed a man servant. Regillion’s arm shot out like a snake and latched onto the man’s tunic.
“Have the stairs to my room scrubbed til they’re rough as sandpaper. If Miss Nevaeh slips again, I’ll have your head.”
There was a knock at the door. Nevaeh’s head jerked up and her eyes widened.