Warning: contains violence.
“This is insanity, you know.” Tynan and Ellen followed Ciara from their suite to the gym, Tynan scolding her the entire way. “Key, if you lose this challenge, there’s not going to be anything we can do to help you.”
Ciara shook her head. “If he decided he was sick of waiting for me to give in and dragged me off into his room, what could you do?” she countered. “Ty, El, I have a plan.”
“Does it involve cookies?” Ellen asked, eying the platter Ciara was carrying.
“They’re the backup plan,” she admitted. “Stay away from the ones with the red sprinkles.”
“Right. Avoiding Ciara’s cookies.” Ellen rolled her eyes. “Tynan is right. This is crazy.”
“I know,” she agreed, keeping her voice quiet. “But so is he, so is this entire school. The only way to get through it is to be as crazy as everyone else.”
“Or, you know, just keep your head down and get through your first year. He’ll be gone and you won’t have to worry.”
“I’ve got this, guys. It’s too late to back out, anyway.” She set the cookies on the table at the side of the gym, and walked towards the circle Luke had drawn for them.
“Are you sure, Ciara?” the PE teacher asked quietly.
She wished everyone would stop asking her that, but totally understood why they were. “I’m sure,” she agreed. “Besides, here he comes.”
Amadeus looked a little bit lost. He came surrounded by his own friends, and yet, while they were talking to him, he wasn’t talking back. He barely seemed aware they were there. Ciara swallowed a smile. If she had knocked him off his game, even a little, she might stand a chance.
A tiny chance.
She stepped into the circle and bowed to her opponent.
“It’s not too late to concede, you know,” he grinned at her. “I’ll be gentle.”
“You could concede, too,” she reminded him. “I’d be gentle.”
That made him snarl. “You can’t win. Whatever trick you think you have, I’m still older and stronger than you are.”
“Then you have nothing to worry about, do you?” she smiled back at him. “Ready?”
“Ready,” he growled, dropping his Mask. “No Workings, first one to leave te circle loses.”
“Just remember everything you break Caitrin has to put back together,” he grumbled. “Begin.”
Amadeus’ eyes seemed to be flashing red flames. “You’re going to pay for this, little girl,” he snarled, and attacked.
She’d been expecting violence, and knew her own combat skills, while she’d been practicing, were probably not up to par with an upperclassmen. But getting hurt was part of her plan anyway, so all she had to do was dodge as much as she could without stepping out of the circle.
And he looked like he wanted to take his time. Break her down, break her… ow. Bones. She fell to a knee as he landed a sharp kick on her spine. He wanted to make her…ow. He kicked her in the shoulder, snapping something. He wanted to make her flee the circle, not to throw her out. That might mess with her plans a … ow. She managed to get back to her feet, just in time to catch his fist with her ribs.
“Think about it,” he hissed, “when you’re Mine…”
Oh, he was good and pissed now. She smiled through a cracked lip. “When you’re Mine,” she teased, and, finally, he rushed her.
He got her again, once in the face, once in the kidney, once in her ribs, snapping something inside of her, and then grabbed her, clearly intending to throw her out of the circle.
She was barely conscious. She hadn’t planned on that. Weakly, hurriedly, she pulled on her innate power – not a Working, not forbidden, any more than his
strength was – and sent most of the force he imparted in the throw back at himself, saving and redirecting just enough to send herself downwards, hard, still inside the circle.
“Done,” Luke shouted, as Amadeus landed against the gym wall. “Done, with Ciara the winner. Good job, girl.”
She looked up, weakly, as the promises they had made before the match made Amadeus say “Ciara – damn you, bitch – I Belong to you.”
“You do,” she agreed. “Grab my purse, don’t touch anything or anyone else, and…” that was all she had energy for. She let the pain take her away.
Ciara: Wolf in the Hand
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