The study looked like a battlefield. Books were thrown on the ground, shelves crushed and where once the table stood, was now a black pool on the cold stone ground.
The earl took a sip from the wine bottle in his hand, his eyes dark. The backrest of the chair behind him was slowly melting away and wisps of black magic power coiled around his body. He couldn't care less.
"I'm a f.u.c.k.i.n.g idiot.", he mumbled to himself. Why did he have to torture himself? He knew clearly that it would only make matters worse. Those damn bodily desires had clouded his judgement. See where it led him! He nearly killed her. He nearly killed her so many times already!
"I'm really a selfish bastard." Another sip, another accusation. He looked down at the bottle. There was not enough wine to tell them all. With a shrug, he downed the rest.
When he moved, his white hair fell back, revealing his ravishing features. The fearsome eyes under the knitted brows were closed, and the long, white lashes looked like snowflakes on his cheeks. When he gulped, his adam's apple bobbled up and down. Just above it, the scar on his jaw glowed in a bright red as if it was especially angry today.
He did not throw the bottle when it was empty, but let his hand fall down until the dangling bottom touched the ground. Then he let go and and the bottle noisily swayed a few rounds before standing still. His eyes still closed, he called out with a raspy voice: "Another one."
Carefully, Sam stepped around the black pool in which the golden nobs of the drawers swam like little boats on a tranquil sea. He paused slightly, before deciding for a bottle and placing it in Nathaniel's outstretched hand. Today, he was the one wearing the gloves, but he was still careful not to get near the black strands that coiled around the earl's body like dangerous snakes.
Without looking, Nathaniel took a mouth full, before spatting it right out again like it was poison. His blood-red eyes wanted to slice the old man into two. "Water?!"
Equally sharp blue eyes looked back and when the gazes collided, every onlooker would have seen sparks flying. "You're drunk enough. If you drink until your ability snaps, you will really have something to pity yourself over!"
Sams chest heaved up and down in rage, when he continued: "It happened already twenty years ago, and it was not your fault! Get over it before your aunt turns in her grave!"
Nathaniel's eyes narrowed, but otherwise he was unaffected. They'd had that argument a few times already. Just that today was different. "Who said it got something to do with her?"
Fine, until now there had not been many other things to hit him that hard that he drowned himself in alcohol, but that didn't mean today was connected to her. Actually, he had not thought much about his aunt after Katherine hugged him. He got other problems then.
Sam was startled and knitted his grey brows. Suspicion flickered in his eyes. "Has it not?"
"No. I can be an asshole in different ways, you know?" Nathaniel shook his head and reluctantly took a sip of the water, his movement larger than usual and a bit of it spilled on his shirt.
What may Katherine think of him now? He'd seen the vulnerability in her eyes when she made that move. It must have hurt her badly that he left after she exposed her inner self. Would she ever find the courage to do something this s.e.xy again? Her pink tongue licking the chocolate invaded his mind. Instantly, his body turned hot and needy. What a seducing sight.
Slowly, he raised the bottle and emptied it over his head. His hair dripping with water, he chuckled darkly. "What a day. You where wrong, Sam, getting to know someone pure won't improve my sight of the world. It only makes me feel even worse. Anyway, I trust my dear mother send me a present again?"
Sam nodded with knitted brows as he couldn't figure out what the previous statement meant. However, the curiosity was swiftly overrun by the disgust the second part caused. "I personally threw it away like requested. However, your youngest brother send a gift, too, together with this."
He took out a card and handed it over. When Nathaniel looked at it, the corners of his lips lifted a bit. Not enough to be a smile, but always better than his gloomy look. "He insists on sending these however often I tell him not to. And his handwriting is still an eyesore. If I didn't already know it means 'happy birthday' I wouldn't be able to encrypt it."
Sam smiled. "He was never good at writing, but he cares for you a lot."
Nathaniel just nodded, but the darkness around him calmed down a lot. "What did he send?"
Sam took out a small wooden box. "This."
When the earl opened it, there was a key inside as well as a piece of paper. The earl frowned. "I suppose this is an explanation. But I can't tell what it says. Really, this handwriting. Whatever, I will ask him when I see him again."
He shut the box close and stood up slowly. He was swaying a bit and therefore moved very carefully. The wine was finally showing effect. "Store that for me. I'm going to sleep."
With that, he swayed out of the room, the dark aura bottled up inside him again.
Days passed, and the earl didn't get in touch with her. Not that she wanted him to! She was absolutely fine with him creating distance! He was an idiot, a faker and a demon after all! No, she absolutely didn't want him back.
Just that... with his disappearance her plans had to go for an halt. She'd ordered the merchant group to go to the capital already, so there was nothing much left to do in the mansion. For some days, strolling around the place was nice, but it didn't take a week for her to get bored. It was not like she missed the meetings with the earl - she really did not - but at least it had given her something to do other than just lazying around.
She was sitting comfortably on a chair by the lakeside, when she remembered: hey, there was still something she'd wanted to do all the time! Going into the dungeon! As long as she was on good terms with the earl, she'd postponed it, because she didn't want to make him mad. Now that he was already mad, what did it matter if she broke that rule? Of course, she should not do it in board daylight, but deep in the night...
With a mischievous smile, she sipped on her fruit drink. Yeah, let's try to break out at night. She remembered that the guards on the window side had been removed lately. Obviously, Nathaniel trusted her even though he was mad. She felt a bit bad to use that against him, but in the end, he could never really be her friend after all. Not after he treated her this way. And especially not after he colluded with her cousin.
She frowned. That was right, she should crave it into her heart that she could never really sympathize with him. He was bad, an evil schemer. How could she have forgotten about that and even cry in his arms? She bit her lip. And it was even worse that she felt with him when she heard about his aunt's death. Bad Katherine, she scolded herself. Don't get your head messed up by him.
Midnight came and Katherine used a rope to climb out of her window. Her dress was black and a black cloth covered her lower face. She was going on a secret mission. Hazel had been instructed to keep calm and let nobody into her room. Not that Katherine expected that someone would stroll to her room in the middle of the night.
Since the entrance of the mansion was heavily guarded, she had send Hazel to open the window on the floor beneath her own in the evening. Now she climbed through it into an empty room.
Silently, she closed the window and sneaked to the door to peak into the corridor. It was nobody outside. She took a nervous breath, before stepping out and walking in the direction of the entrance hall.
The night was so quiet that her feet on the floor seemed to be extra-loud. She tried to make her steps as light as possible, but there was still the sound of her breathing. Hopefully, the were not so many guards around.
Suddenly, she heard quiet voices out of the direction of the earl's study. Was he still working that deep in the night?