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Do Us Part (4)
I'm screaming in Henry's arms screaming as the ground opens to swallow us both. In an instant, I can feel the dirt cover my head and I'm afraid to breathe, afraid to open my eyes. Surprisingly though, we're not suffocating Henry and I. We descend ever so slowly and then, I hear a thud as his feet touch firm ground.
His fingers skim my face. "Open your eyes, lovely."
I'm scared beyond belief and yet, I answer through gritted teeth: "Don't you dare call me that!"
He dares sound amused. "Just open your eyes, Christine."
I do and there's light, soft gentle light like that from a candle but still brighter. I glance down and the floor is marbled. I glare at Henry and squirm my way out of his hold.
Glancing around, I can't see the source of light. But, the walls are made of dirt, I can see roots poking out. A few feet away is an extremely beat up coffin, the dark wood looks rotten and crumbling. I shiver.
"Are you cold?" Henry asks worriedly.
"Don't you dare talk to me!" I hiss. "What is this?! Where am I?!"
He simply stands there, not responding until I scream: "Answer me!"
"But," he smiles, "You told me not to talk you."
"Don't you dare try and be cute with me!" At these words, my eyes immediately dart to his face. Earlier, the features had looked smeared and frightening. Now, it seemed as if he were even more handsome than before. His face gleamed with life. His dark, wavy hair looked richer and despite myself, my hands itched to bury themselves in it. Before my eyes, his tattered black shorts become longer, newer. He kicks off the tennis shoes, and black leather boots start to form at his feet. He peels off the sweatshirt and suddenly, an old-fashioned, long-sleeved white shirt snugly covers his body along with a black, velvet waist coat. I blinked and tried very, very hard not to faint.
He glanced down at himself and smiled a little. "I look better now, don't I?"
I didn't say a word.
"Christine...I'll tell you everything now," he sighed. "Beginning with the only blatant lie I've told you: I'm truly, not actually twenty, not by your terms. I was born over a hundred years and I...stopped living when I turned twenty."
"You're a ghost?" My voice was small and hoarse, but he heard.
Henry shook his head. "No. I'm not a vampire, a zombie, a phantom or any of that."
"Then what?" I gasped out.
He thought for a moment. "You've heard of Hades, no?"
Dumbly, I nodded. "The god of death.
"Yes." At my horrified expression he added, "I am not him. However, he has a lot to do with me." He paused. "Death does, I mean."
"Henry Nathaniel Denton," he bowed, "Prisoner of Hades, collector of souls." He turned sad, silver eyes to me. "But, I am also Christine, the man who loves you...If you can believe me still."
"Why did you bring me here, Henry?" I swallowed hard.
"I want no more secrets between us, Christine." He closed his eyes for an instant as if in pain. "I want you to see who I am, what I do, and I want you to understand why." He stepped closer. "When I reached manhood, my mother told me that if I wanted a wife to truly love me, I had to sacrifice what made me comfortable to make her happy."
"I'm not your wife."
He winced but said nothing. For a moment, I felt guilty from the obvious hurt on his face but I hardened myself. Whatever he was, he couldn't be the Henry I fell in love with.
"I want to go home, Henry," I declared as firmly as I could.
"You can't," he stated with just as much force. "You have to stay here."
"I WANT TO GO HOME!" I screamed.
His face hardened, and those silver eyes flashed with anger. "No Christine, you swore you would stay with me. I warned you not to, and yet, you did. So you stay."
"That meant nothing, you're not who I thought you were," I snapped.
Again, he flinched but his voice was steady when he said: "Perhaps it meant nothing to you, but it means all the world to me." He expelled a breath. "There are ways to leave this place, you will be informed of this. But, I should advise you that if you attempt to leave, you will NOT enjoy the consequences. You swore to me, that binds you here."
"I WILL leave, Henry!"
His smile was cold and cruel. Despite myself, I trembled in front of him."OK darling, you keep on thinking that. But, tomorrow you'll learn to ignore that desire."
"Yes!" His eyes flashed and his hands balled into fists, I had never seen him in such a rage and it scared me. But as he looked at me for a few moments, he seemed to calm down and under his breath, he muttered a few strange words. To me he said: "You're going to sleep now, Christine."
My mouth opened to argue, but he fixed me with a look that clamped my mouth shut. Maybe I was dreaming, if you go to sleep in a dream, you're bound to wake up seconds later in your own bed, at home. Right then, something else occurred to me, my parents were away, they would be away for two months, maybe more. They wouldn't call, there would only be an occasional e-mail with pictures and one-liners. Oh. My. God. Who would know I was gone? I barely talked to my neighbors, they had no idea who I was. My online-school teacher wouldn't be too concerned, not unless I didn't turn in work for over a month.
"How long did you plan on keeping me here, Henry?"
"As long as it takes." He smirked.
"Go to sleep, things will get clearer tomorrow." I made a frustrated sound in my throat, but I knew by the stubborn look on Henry's face that he'd tell me no more. Aaargh! No matter what he was, he sure knew how to drive me absolutely insane! Calming myself down, I decided I'd play his game, and maybe then, I could figure out how to leave. I looked around, "Where do you expect me to sleep?" I carefully avoided looking at the coffin. He took my hand and I shrunk away from him. He frowned and led me past the coffin and through a well-lit tunnel, at the end of the tunnel was a...room. A large canopy bed was in the corner with snow-white sheets and a foamy, pale-blue net that encircled the bed. Beside it was a intricate night table with different designs carved into the honey-brown wood.
"If you need a bathroom," he said, "it's over there." He pointed to a door on the other side of the room.
I gaped at him. "If you need me, just follow the tunnel we just came from and you'll find me."
"That's not likely."
He ignored me. "If you try to follow the tunnel in order to find an escape route, you won't succeed. But, you might end up very lost and very dead." He ran a hand through his mass of dark, wavy hair. "So please, stay in your in room and don't go wandering," he sighed. "There's only so much I can protect you from."
"You wouldn't have to protect me if you let me go back home," I chirped.
His lips twitched with amusement. "Maybe. But, I don't mind the work." He looked me up and down. "Do you need help undressing for bed?"
I told him to go somewhere nice and toasty and he chuckled."I'll leave you to it then." He turned his heel and walked back towards the tunnel's entrance. There, he paused for a moment and pulled something from his pocket. It was a silver chain with a small, silver bird at the end. "It's a hawk," he informed me. "Part of my family crest." He approached me and promptly clasped it around my neck, gently moving my hair and touching my neck with his soft fingertips. Despite myself, my heart accelerated.
"This was my mother's," he whispered, his eyes sad. "She'd have loved to meet the only other girl to ever wear it." His fingers caressed necklace.
"Henry..." I felt like crying again suddenly.
"I'm sorry for this, Christine," he touched my face. "I couldn't help my selfishness...you can't imagine how long I've waited...how long I'll keep waiting if you deny me." What? Keep waiting...? What did he mean? I wanted to ask, but thought better of it. He hugged me to him briefly and then let me go to walk back towards the tunnel. He turned for a moment then and with a broken voice, he said, "I love you, Christine." Not waiting for a reply, he disappeared into nothing. I couldn't even hear his steps. Suddenly, that bed looked very comfortable, and I stepped out of my shoes, my jeans, and left on my t-shirt. I sighed, I really felt like a bath. I shook my head and dirt fell my hair. Figures, Henry got to look flawless coming here and me of course, get to look like crappity, crap crap. I walked to the bathroom and I simply stood there as I opened the door, stunned. It was the BIGGEST bathroom I had ever seen. There was a large hot spring right in the middle of it with steam calmly bubbling out. It was softly lit and smelled heavenly. A lovely scent of lilies and clean, starched clothes. I let out a sound of relief when I spotted a marbled toilet and shower in the corner of the room. I stepped over to the spring and dipped my foot in, it wasn't too deep and though hot, it was not at all scalding. I peeled off the rest of my clothes and went in. Heaven! Tiny bubbles stroked and slid over my skin, and I plunged my entire body in. I was seriously pruning when I stepped out. I used my t-shirt as a towel and went back into the room. I was about to slip my t-shirt back on when I glanced on the bed and saw-I kid not- the most beautiful nightgown ever. I never wore nightgowns, long t-shirts were more my thing. But, this gown looked like pure silk of the palest, pearly-pink I had ever seen. I party the foamy sheet that fell from the top of the canopy and the minute I touched the nightgown, my fingers seemed to tingle with ecstasy. Under the nightgown was a pair of white panties and a bra. I blushed furiously thinking of Henry purchasing these things. I put everything on and couldn't help but laugh when I saw that he'd gotten the bra size wrong. It was too small. But, it'd have to do. Poor guy, how could he know? I smiled and quickly, wiped it off. I had to remember that I was angry at him, even a little scared of him now. Prisoner of Hades, collector of soul-he had said.I slipped into bed and threw the blankets over me. I can't describe how comfortable, how soft it was. It was like lying on water. I fell asleep almost immediately. As I slept, I dreamed that Henry came in, stroked my hair, and bathed my face with small kisses. His silky hair brushed my skin and made me shiver. He slowly got in beside me and held me for long, long moments before he completely disappeared.