Slowly, warily, she lowered her hands from her ears.
And there was still silence.
Good, she told herself. This was good. This was what she wanted.
Taking a deep breath, she started again. “I want you to know—-” And she paused, seemingly for effect but really it was to fight the weakness that threatened to overcome her and make Arabella burst into tears. “I want you to know—-” And she prepared herself to scream.
But in the end, the words came out painfully tired.
“I want you to know I hate you.”
And then she started blinking and blinking because she didn’t want to cry.
She hated him, and that was true. But she also still loved him, and that was true, too.
“Do you have nothing to say?” she whispered brokenly. “Nothing at all?”
When Aurélien still refused to speak, Arabella’s pain grew. She couldn’t help but think he was bored of all this, couldn’t help but imagine Aurélien probably looking at her with his lip curled in disdain as he silently wondered why she was dragging this out when all she had to do was leave.
And that was when it hit her.
“Oh my God.”
Arabella stumbled back in shock. “You are just waiting for me to leave, aren’t you?” And when Aurélien still didn’t say anything, pain ripped into her anew—-
It was too much.
Just too much—-
The need to hurt him as much as she was hurting lashed out inside of her, and her mind worked itself into a feverish frenzy, thinking of the best way to make Aurélien bleed.
And as she stared into the darkness, it came to her.
She remembered why he was always one with the dark, remembered why he didn’t want her to see him—-
Arabella heard Aurélien suck in his breath and knew she had done what she wanted, but it wasn’t enough. It just wasn’t. And suddenly, she couldn’t stop herself. “You’re a monster, a fucking monster—-”
“Tais-toi.” Shut up.
But still, Arabella kept screaming, “You’ll always be a monster!” Her every word was like a punch to its guts, and even though the beast knew that Arabella would never have used the words if she had known what they truly meant to someone like it—-
It didn’t matter.
It was still the beast’s worst nightmare come true.
“Did you hear me, Aurélien?” Arabella was screaming now. “You’re a monster—-”
Pain slashed into him as he heard her say the words over and over, and the beast swung away in an effort to control his emotions. “No more, Arabella. No more.”
Never, Arabella thought wildly. She needed to twist the knife deeper into him, needed him to bleed the way she was bleeding.
“Maybe,” she heard herself sneer, “that’s why your first love really left you. Because you’re a fucking monster—-”
Hapless rage threatened to overwhelm the beast’s reasoning at its words, and it slashed the wall in an effort to release its pent-up anger. “Enough, Arabella. I am warning you.”
“I don’t care what you want,” Arabella raged back at the beast. “I’m over you playing God in my life, you monster—-”
“Call me that again, and you will regret it—-”
The beast struck the window behind Arabella, and she screamed as the glass exploded into pieces behind her.
“If you want me to be a monster,” the beast growled, “then that’s what I’ll be.”
And Arabella screamed again as a pair of hands seized her.
“Put me down!”
Her mind reeled, and with her senses still dulled by alcohol, Arabella could no longer figure out what was real or imaginary. It seemed as if they were moving too fast—-
This was impossible. Impossible!
His speed was inhuman, his strength, his ability to see in the dark—-
Before she knew it, the doors of the Great Hall were flung open, and she was suddenly on the ground. The pouring rain had her drenched in seconds, and as she opened her mouth to scream at him, she heard Aurélien release the most inhuman growl.
Her entire body shuddered in terror at the sound, but when lightning flashed above them, illuminating the sky, that was the moment Arabella realized she didn’t know what true fear was—-
Until she found herself staring into the glowing red eyes of a beast.
She screamed and when thunder roared above her, she screamed again.
Oh dear God, what was this powerful creature looming before her?
Its arched horns, its claws—-
The beast took a step towards her, and Arabella automatically crawled back, her heart thudding against her chest. What could this creature be, she wondered crazily. It had the most beautiful face, but even so, Arabella couldn’t stop staring and trembling at the large horns that protruded from its head and the razor-sharp claws that grew from its hands.
It suddenly moved, so fast that it became a blur—-
And then suddenly the beast was crouched right in front of her, pushing her down, and Arabella screamed as she fell on her back and found herself trapped underneath the beast’s body.