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Author Note: This story is the third in the Carthera series. You’ll see old faces, meet some new ones and find answers to some of the questions the other stories haven’t answered. I hope you enjoy Hypnotic!
‘Damn it!’ I should have known better. It started with just a small warning ring. I wasn’t drinking since I was the designated driver but the music was pounding so hard I wasn’t paying much attention to anyone talking to me. Not until I noticed the lights begin to flash on the dance floor. My eyes watered and I groaned as I pressed the palm of my hand to my right eye. It couldn’t have been more than a minute of the light show before it triggered. The guy who was trying to chat me up on my left stopped talking.
“Are you okay?” he shouted in my ear.
That was all it took for the pain to hit in full force.
I flinched and weakly shoved him away from me. I was panting as the stab settled into a steady throbbing. Damn it! This was going to be a bad one. I sat there with my eyes closed, my palm still covering the area that was spelling doom for my first night out in months. I fumbled at my pocket with my free hand and came up empty. ‘Double damn!’ I knew, I just knew that going to the club was a bad idea! I was such a sucker but Matthew had all but begged me to come with him so he could drink and dance. Even worse, my pills weren’t in my pocket even though I remembered putting them there before we left the apartment.
I was going to have to do find him somehow; Matthew had downed a few shots and promptly abandoned me to this letch to shake his butt on the dance floor. I was going to need him to get me home somehow and fast. I cracked opened my eyes and carefully turned my whole body on my stool. With my right eye blind and halos around the lights it was impossible to see Matthew in the sea of gyrating bodies that filled the club.
I was horrified of the thought of going out there. The speakers blaring music ringed the dance floor and the smell of hot and sweaty people was likely to turn my stomach. The pain ramped up a notch and as my stomach roiled my eyes squeezed shut again. Definitely getting worse and I hadn’t even stood up yet. I held onto the bar with one hand and took shallow breaths.
The letch leaned down toward me again and I caught a whiff of scotch barely covering the odor of onion on his breath. My stomach rebelled and I stiff armed him without even looking at him.
“What the hell is your problem?” he huffed.
I just pushed him a bit farther away, desperately trying to keep from puking right there. Everything was getting worse; the smells, the sounds. I had to get out of the club before I passed out, preferably after taking my meds. The pressure against my hand disappeared and I heard the obnoxious man move away, muttering about stuck up assholes under his breath.
I ignored it, he wasn’t my type anyway. I couldn’t ignore the way the pain was ramping up so quickly. I didn’t want to head out on the dance floor where the music was bound to be louder and the laser lights were flashing over a happy crowd of sweaty bodies but I had to find Matthew. He was a lightweight and those shots he took before going on the dance floor probably had him feeling pretty good already. Besides, I doubted he had enough cash on him for a taxi ride home if I left, he always brought just enough cash to get comfortably hammered but not so much that he’d become a stumbling drunk.
Forcing my eyes open, I slid off my bar stool only to stumble as I was caught in a wave of dizziness. Keeping my balance with one of my eyes completely blind was impossible and I couldn’t see anything on that side. Unable to catch myself, I stumbled into a solid body that protested vehemently at my clumsiness.
“Hey asshole, what is your problem?” the large man snarled as he looked down at the wet stain from his spilled drink on his red shirt. Shit, it looked like silk. I tried to step away and knocked over my stool as I apologized profusely.
Groaning, I stopped moving, standing hunched over and shaking as the agony of the pain spiking in my head consumed me. I could hear some yelling going on but I couldn’t focus on it. Suddenly I felt a large hand close around my arm and haul me up straight, snapping my head back. The sudden movement sent a white hot bolt of agony through me; I was unable to stop the rebellion of my stomach. I puked all over the shoes of the person holding my arm in an iron grip.
“Son of a bitch! These are Italian!” the man exclaimed in disgust. He yelled at the bartender, “Why in the hell did you keep serving this guy Brad? He should have been cut off a long time ago!”
The bartender raised his hands in protest. “I didn’t serve him anything, boss. He’s been drinking straight soda or water all night. He was fine a few minutes ago. Maybe someone spiked him.”
The man’s grip loosened a bit but didn’t let go as I recovered a little and tried to pull away. I was too weak and in too much pain to put up more than a token resistance. I stood there shivering, praying Matthew bahis firmaları would see the scene I was making and come over. I knew there was no way I was even making it out of the bar by myself in my condition now.
“Are you okay? Do you know what’s wrong with you?” the man asked me, bending down a little to peer at my eyes. I barely had them open but I was gazing over his shoulder, still looking for Matthew. Besides, the fireworks going off in my brain from the pain of vomiting weren’t any better than enduring the flashing lights over the club’s dance floor.
“No. I mean… yes. I know. Wasn’t drugged,” I managed to squeeze out. It was a struggle to think or speak clearly.
The man looked skeptical. “Your speech is slurred,” he pointed out to me, “and you can’t even stand up by yourself up right now.”
He was right. I had sagged against his side and was shaking hard enough that if he was to let go I would probably fall right on the sticky floor right there. I knew better than to shake my head though.
The guy’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open. “You have a headache?”
I closed my eyes; the halo was getting worse though it did interesting things to his face. “Uh huh.”
“A headache, that’s it? Are you sure?” His voice was too loud and I groaned.
“Need to go. Need Matthew,” I slurred.
His body stiffened. “Is that your boyfriend? Where is he?”
I was beyond explaining at that moment but thankfully I heard a happy voice calling my name. I cracked my eyes open as Matthew came toward us. His eyes widened as he caught sight of my face and he rushed to me.
“Hey baby, what’s the matter?”
“Migraine,” I managed to get out, moaning as a rumbling bass beat from the speakers drew a large yell from the crowd.
“Oh shit!” Matthew began patting me down.
“Where the hell are they?”
He was still checking my pockets like he thought I was lying. Was it just me or was he swaying a little? His face was highlighted by a bright blue halo from the lights behind the bar and it made him look like a smurf. I giggled, and then shrugged one shoulder without thinking. The movement jostled my head and the world went black.
I had no idea where I was or how long I had been out when I woke up. I twitched when I felt a cold cloth being placed on my forehead and over my eyes. The too loud music and noise from the ground was gone. I was someplace quiet but I could hear men’s voices whispering.
“Take the boyfriend and go search his car. See if you can find his meds.”
“He’s not my boyfriend!” Matthew protested quietly. Ahh, the guy talking must be cute for Matthew to make sure he knew he was single. I wanted to giggle but I was too lethargic.
“Just go with Benny and try to find something to help your ‘not-boyfriend’ then.”
I wanted to smile at the sarcastic tone. I could just imagine the big eyes and slightly open lush lips routine Matthew was hitting this guy with as he made sure his single status was know. Odd, apparently the man either didn’t care or wasn’t buying it. Matthew had that twink body and blond hair thing going for him, most guys noticed.
I heard a door gently shutting and then hands were removing the cloth on my face and turning it so a fresh cold side was settled over my forehead. The blessed darkness and the lack of throbbing bass filled music was easing the worst of the migraine but I knew better than to move, even to bring a hand up to that welcome coolness.
“Where am I?” I whispered. I was still in blinding pain but I needed to know where I was. I really wanted my room with my soft pillows and my dark curtains sure to block out the light.
“You’re at my place. Don’t worry, no one else is here.”
The smooth voice sounded familiar but it was too hard to think. “Who are you?” I asked. Talking hurt, thinking hurt. I whimpered.
“My name is Davis Retic. You can call me Dav.” The washcloth lifted from my head but I resisted the temptation open my eyes to catch a glimpse of the man helping me. It was usually hours before my vision came back in my right eye and it was disturbing to lose half my sight when I had one of these migraines. I heard water running and then the washcloth was gently placed back over my forehead and eyes.
I moaned as the pain spiked again. The cold felt good against the fire in my head. I really wished I had my pills; nothing else worked. Once Matthew found them I would be able to sink into oblivion and when I woke up the pain would have faded. Without them I wasn’t sure what would happen. The last migraine I had slept off had lasted seven hours. Seven hours of this awake would be sheer torture I wasn’t sure I could stand.
I heard small rustling noises like pants swishing as someone walked around. The noise of knocking at the door made me wince which sent another stab of agony lancing through me. Oblivious to the conversation taking place I panted as I tried to ride the wave of pain and not throw up. The very thought of the pain that kaçak iddaa would explode in my head if I dared to get sick was enough to make me swallow repeatedly until it was under control.
The door clicked shut. “Sorry about that. My bouncer said they couldn’t find your pills. Your friend volunteered to get more from your home and bring them back. He had a little bit too much to drink so I sent him with Benny in your car. They shouldn’t be gone too long.”
I whimpered. This was not good. “No more pills there. The pharmacy was closed. All I had left were the back up.” I began to breathe faster and shake at the thought of not having my pills. I wouldn’t be able to sleep with this amount of pain; I was going to have to go to the hospital. I hated going to the hospital, plus it would take forever to get through the emergency room on a Saturday night. I tried to take the washcloth off my face and roll over so I could sit up.
Strong hands and arms wrapped around me as the lightning exploded behind my eyes. I sagged into them as I retched helplessly again and again as tears ran down my cheeks. I fisted one hand in the silky shirt and held on as the pain filled me until I blacked out.
The second time I woke up I was still lying down again but I was somewhere new. There was a musky scent around me, strong but not overpowering. It should have made my migraine worse, most smells were much stronger when one hit and made me sick to my stomach, but it didn’t. Once again, I had a cold cloth over my forehead but the second thing I noticed was the warm body around me and the fingers gently moving over my forehead and down into my hair.
“Where–” I winced as I spoke, my throat and stomach sore from my body’s earlier attempt to vomit repeatedly.
“Shhh,” the voice said, “you’re still with me.” Dav’s hands never paused in their slow massage. “Try to relax. I’m told this will help since you clearly can’t be moving around until your headache goes away.”
“I don’t want to trouble–“
He interrupted me again, “You could never be trouble. Just relax. Your friend is safely home and you are here with me. I’m not going anywhere so you don’t need to worry about anything. We’re in my bedroom and no one will disturb us.”
“No lights either. I have very thick curtains. It’s darker than a moonless night in here.” Dav’s hands kept up the slow massage and he began humming.
I was still groggy; the pain making everything seemed surreal. I was safe from anything that would make my headache worse. His scent covered any other smells that might make me nauseous, his voice blocked out any noise outside the room and he must have the same need to have a dark room when napping that I did. I let my eyes open in thin slits; there was no light in the room even though it must be close to dawn. It was strange how safe I felt in a stranger’s arms but I was still in too much pain to dwell on it.
I carefully stretched one hand out, feeling the same silky soft shirt under my questing fingers. Wrapping them up in the edge, I sighed and felt my mind go blank. The tension in my face and shoulders eased as he let out a sibilant hum as he massaged my forehead, temples, and scalp in gentle swipes with his fingertips.
I can’t say how long we lay there before I fell asleep but I do remember the feeling of the pain gradually fading away. Dav never once stopped up the slow stroking or quiet hum. I think I sensed him there as I slept, as if somehow his presence keeping the pain from coming back. I had never had a one night stand or slept in a stranger’s bed before so it should have felt awkward but it didn’t. I couldn’t explain it, the feeling of rightness when I woke up and he was still beside me.
We had shifted in the night, turning until we were facing each other on our sides, sharing a pillow. One of his hands was wrapped around the back of my neck and I could feel each puff of his breath on my lips as he exhaled. I moved and he shifted as well, yawning. When I stiffened in surprise his fingers began massaging my neck even before his eyes snapped open and he studied my face. His lips widened as he smiled at me; I continued to stare at him silently until his smile faded.
Studying my face, he spoke quietly, “Are you feeling better?”
It was the same voice I remembered from the night before. Though its smooth tenor had underpinned all of my dreams; the reality was even better. I had to suppress a shiver at the thought of how that voice might sound making other noises. But… he was a Snake. I had seen his fangs when he yawned and the sight of the long white teeth had me frozen. The way he was watching me… I felt like prey.
Then his eyes changed. He looked sad and went to move away from me. I didn’t even think about it; I just reached out and touched his cheek gently. His eyes met mine.
“Yes, I feel much better.”
The vision had come back in my right eye and while my head was sore it was the difference between an ice pick digging into my skull and a tight ache behind my eyes. kaçak bahis All because this man had taken care of me. So what if he was a Carthera, and a Snake at that?
“It’s not noon yet, are you hungry? I could order some breakfast.” Dav smiled when my stomach growled. “Sounds like you’re ready to eat something. I skipped dinner last night; I could swallow a whole ham I think.”
I stared at him in shock, wondering if he could do that. Carthera had traits from their animal kinds; I had seen his fangs. Unhinging his jaw would just be freaky though it might help when… I felt my face grow hot as I blushed. Gods, I was becoming Matthew.
Dav laughed quietly. “You should see your face, Ellis,” he said, his voice hissing a little.. “I can’t eat a whole ham in a bite.”
I turned my face into the pillow, hiding my face in embarrassment. His hand stroked my hair. I know people say whatever I think shows on my face but for him to have seen me thinking about sex with him? Maybe he didn’t understand what the blush meant. If there was a god watching out for me, he wouldn’t have figured out what I was thinking.
“Wait, how did you know my name? I didn’t tell you.” My head shot up. “Can you read my mind?”
Dav burst out laughing again. “Really? You think that’s something a real person can do?”
“Oh god. I’m not usually this stupid.” I groaned and buried my face back in the pillow.
“It’s okay, you are probably still a bit fuzzy from yesterday, I won’t hold it against you. Matthew told me last night.”
I sighed; I did still feel a bit out of it. It was taking longer and longer to recover from my headaches. I needed to call Dr. Bakier again. I really didn’t want to though.
“So, does a full breakfast work for you? Juice, coffee, tea?”
I peeked at him with one eye to see if he was still smirking at me. “I don’t like to eat too much in the mornings. Could I just have a muffin and orange juice?”
He smiled. “Sure, what kind?”
Dav got up and went into the living room. I heard him on the phone as I sat up carefully. I was still a bit dizzy but the sugar in the food would help. My hands shook as I pushed back the light blankets. I gasped when I looked down and realized I didn’t have any pants on. Dav rushed back into the room.
“What’s wrong? Is your headache coming back?” His hands were on my shoulders and he pushed me back gently. “Lie back down.”
He still had clothes on. Black lounge pants and a white tank top to be exact, so he’d changed sometime in the night. I shook my head slowly. “Where are my pants?” I asked faintly.
“Oh.” Dav reached over and snagged my jeans off a chair where they had been neatly folded. “You kept mumbling about how uncomfortable you were and tugging on them. I figured you’d sleep better with them off. You should lie back down though, you’re really pale.”
He looked straight into my eyes and I was mesmerized by the yellow of his eyes and the slit pupil. He had snake eyes and when he looked at me like that I couldn’t help but freeze. Maybe it was instinctual.
“Sorry,” he said as he looked away. “I know it makes people uncomfortable when they see my eyes.”
“No, I like them,” I said, wanting to reassure him. “I think they’re… fascinating.”
His mouth dropped open in shock and I could see his fangs. Slender white points extended beyond his other teeth.”Don’t those hurt? How do you close your mouth?”
“They fold up, like a regular snake.” He studied me, a quizzical look on his face. “Really, I doesn’t freak you out?” The words held a hope in them that I didn’t quite understand.
I shook my head. Sure, it had been a shock when I woke up and realized he was a Carthera and a Snake. They had really bad reputations since they were unlike the other clans in almost every way. They were also loners. The only species that didn’t band into clans, I had only heard about them living outside clan lands. Dav seemed to be unique even among his unique kind.
“I’ve always had a thing for snakes. I think they’re amazing creatures but they have a really bad reputation. I think that is part of why your kind is shunned by other Carthera and humans alike. It’s only logical to fear a creature that has the power to kill you, I guess.”
As soon as those words popped out of my mouth his eyes went cold. I clapped a hand over my mouth and wished I could take them back. I didn’t mean it like that, not at all. I could understand how others could fear him; though I wasn’t afraid, I was angry with myself for what I said, without meaning to. His lean face and high cheekbones somehow matched the icy chill in his eyes. I swallowed hard.
“I’m sorry. Really, really, sorry. You’ve been nothing but kind to me and I insulted you. I didn’t mean to, I swear,” I was whispering, unable to look away.
The anger in his voice was almost palpable. “We are not responsible for the perceptions of small minded and fearful people. A lion could kill you just as fast as a snake, there are fish as brightly colored and even more poisonous than the deadliest of venomous snakes and yet they are what people choose to fear. Then, because I have some of the same traits as my clan animal I am labeled as dangerous, deadly, someone to shun or drive away.”
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