• The dark clouds blocked the sun as they released their heavy burden out onto the world below. Lia sat and watched for hours as the puddles formed on the dirt roads, she released a sigh and turned on her perch on the arm of a high backed chair and looked to her male companion. "It looks as if the party will be postponed this time my lord. I fear the weather will keep everyone tucked into their houses." She voiced. Her companion lifted his gaze from the book in which he read by candle light. His endless green eyes looking right into her.

    "Don't fear my dear. People will come." His voice was rough almost as if a dog was growling under his skin. " This is not an occasion to be missed, no one just throws a party for a female for nothing. They know perfectly well it is to announce our engagement and for that our guests will show weather god threw lighting from the sky or not." Lia could only reply with a nod, Bran would make a good husband, after all it was the least she could give him after he took her in when her family was killed by a pack of rabid wolves, but she just was not looking for that. Twenty-five was an old age to be considering marriage but she didn't feel old...she felt young and tied down. She wanted to run free and be wild, Bran wanted her caged and safe. She huffed a sigh.

    "Then excuse me my lord I shall go ready myself for the occasion." She said politly and bowed her head before she started out of the room. Before she had reached the door Bran's large hand clasped her wrist. "My Lord?" Bran growled again as he backed her to the door. His hard body pressing her against the cold wood.

    "You are mine." He whispered taking her delicate chin into his hand. "Do not ever forget that." His lips covered her within the next second and she caught her breath in surprise. He must have sensed it because he let go of her and stepped back. In a rush Lia threw open the door and ran up the stairs to her room.


    Bran was right. Everyone did show up. Lia kept herself from frowning as various people were introduced to her. Bran's hand stroked her lower back gently. The gown she wore was a blue with gold design spreading through out the skirt. Her kirtle was an off white color and accented the blue gold combo beautifully. Her eyes glanced down at the long sleeves, people were stepping on them. Well she guessed that is what Bran deserved because he was the one stupid enough to get her sleeves to be so long the dragged at the floor. "Ah Count Vlad!" Bran exclaimed next to her, as his hand pressed into her lower back to get her attention. Her eyes flicked to this...count...and he was the most handsome thing she had ever seen. Thick wavy black hair with eyes the color of newly formed tree bark.

    As their eyes linked he smiled brightly and took her hand. "And who is stunning young woman?" He asked picking his words carefully before his lips touched her hand in a gentle kiss.

    "My ward and soon my wife. Lia." Bran said seeming to approve of the respect that had been shown to her by this count. Lia felt her cheeks starting to heat and while Bran continued to talk she did not hear another word he said.

    "Would it offend you if I asked for the dance, Bran. Thing so lovely should be shown in movement that is the most beautiful you have seen her." Vlad said gently his eyes flicking to the man at her side. Bran was silent for a moment but then nodded his head.

    "She is the most lovely when in motion." He said his hand moving to stroke his chin. "As a woman should be." Then he chuckled at his own joke. Sometimes she couldn't stand him and this was one of those times. But lucky for her that the count took her hand and walked her to the dance area. As much as she hated to admit that Bran was right about something she looked way better when she was dancing. She actually felt free then. The dance ended too soon and she had to return to Bran's side. Before she left Vlad put his lips to her ear and whispered gently.

    "Meet me." She didn't speak no that would give it away instead she nodded gently. "By the stables." And the he let her go. She felt empty truly empty without his warmth next to her. She sighed and returned to her betrothed .


    Lia ran as fast as her legs could take her, she had excused herself early telling Bran that she was not feeling well, everyone had seen her so she was allowed to leave. She made it to the stables and didn't see anyone. She wondered if the count was just playing with her. A shadow moved to her side, she turned quickly her hands clenching the fabric above her breast. "Hello?"

    "Hello." He was behind her, she turned again quickly ready to scream when his lips covered her own. After the moment of shock was over she pushed him away.

    "No" She whispered. "I can't...I don't.." He stepped closer and she backed away. They played that chase game until her back was up against the stable and he was pressing into her.

    "You can and you do." He whispered kissing her neck gently. "If you didn't want to you wouldn't be here." And he was right, she could have stayed with Bran. Safe, sound, and bored. She couldn't find words but he didn't need them. He took her mouth again his legs working themselves in between hers until her legs wrapped around him. "You taste of the sweetest of cakes and honey." Hands starting up the folds of her skirt. Lust started to cloud her mind, this dangerous man gave her the thrill she had been wanting. Gave her the freedom she desired but with the sound of a distant cheer she was brought back down to reality. Her hands pushed at his chest.

    "No I truly can't. Bran will know." She said putting her legs back on the ground. Vlad let her go, his hands moved up and cupped her face.
    Her crystal blue eyes looked up to met his dark woody brown ones. Her heart pounded in her ears and she knew that his was too. Her hand on his chest was telling her so. "I can't lay with you..."

    "A kiss is just as good...is just as sweet." His lips were back over hers. They melted her and her body molded back up against him. "He does not deserve such beauty as you. Please meet me again." She nodded without a moment's thought. "In three days when the slaves go to the house I will come here for you...be here please." She nodded again swallowing at the lump that seemed to be forming in her throat and then he was gone in the shadows once again. She stood for a moment trying to get a hold of herself before she started for the main house. She couldn't seem to stop her heart from pounding in her ears. Was this what love was supposed to be?