Fatima aimed her bow at the target. She had only managed to drag the thing to the back of the house before becoming to exhausted to pull it into the grass. She had merely turned it to face her and propped it up against the house. She stared down the length of the arrow, breathing slowly. She heard a window open, becoming startled so the arrow flew high and smashed through Lombard’s bedroom window. She stood there, shocked that she had missed and so badly. She looked up at the window and there he was, aquamarine eyes staring at from across the lawn. She was in trouble, a lot of trouble. She swallowed nervously and ran with bow and quiver to the stables where they kept all the equipment. She put them back where she had found them and when she turned around he was standing there.
“I…I’m…” He held up his hand and she snapped her mouth closed.
“You know better than to shoot at the house.” He said calmly and that frightened her. “What if you had hit someone that wasn’t me? I can take an arrow, but one of the maids cannot.”
“I couldn’t get the target in the grass.” She finally managed to say.
“So you thought propping it up against the house was a good idea. You broke my window. It could have easily been a room with someone in it. I never took you for a foolish child.”
She glared at him. She had never been angry at him, never in her life. She crossed her arms and stared into his eyes. “I am not foolish and not a child.” She snapped.
“Young ladies don’t do stupid, dangerous things that could easily end the life of an innocent person.”
She could feel herself trembling, feeling angry and upset. He had never chastised her. He had been nothing but supportive and now he was treating her like an idiot. “I hate you.” She said before she was thinking and stomped off.
“Good,” he said as she walked away, “better to hate me than accidentally kill someone.”
Lombard sighed as she stomped off to the house. He had been holding the arrow behind his back. He slipped it into the quiver and went back outside to bring the target back in. He would have to talk to Shane and then order a new window. Fatima had to understand that doing things like this were extremely dangerous. It could have been her mother or father standing on the other side of a window. Even being vampires they would not like being shot with an arrow by their only child.
Fatima sat on her bed reading a book about zombies. It was a horror story and she couldn’t help but giggle at the way all zombies were portrayed. She thought people should meet a real zombie before writing this stuff. Lombard was nothing like these drooling, moaning monsters or at least he wouldn’t be as long as he ate human flesh. She frowned at the thought of him and flipped the book shut. She had said she hated him. She had not meant it. She felt really bad about it, but he had made her feel so small and ignorant. She suddenly felt like crying. She sat her book down next to her bed and picked up the stuffed wolf he had bought for her for her sixth birthday, hugging it tightly. It still smelled like him after all these years, but she had a very keen sense of smell. There was a light tapping on her door and she put down her wolf to answer it. She wrapped her arms around Lombard’s waist and he hugged her back.
“I’m sorry I said I hated you. I didn’t mean it.” She said softly.
“I know that. You just needed a few minutes to cool off. Next time you need help with something don’t be afraid to ask me. You don’t want anyone getting hurt do you?” He held her at arms length and looked down at her.
“No I don’t, I’m very sorry.” He pulled her back into a hug, making everything right again.
“Now, Donald Rutherford is here and Gregory has followed him as usual.”
“Great, I go out with his cousin and he follows us around like some jealous ex girlfriend.”
Lombard’s lips twitched. “Would you like me to make him go away?”
“No, lets not start anything right now. If I have to I’ll deal with it later. Walk me downstairs?”
“It would be my honor.” He held out his arm and she took it.
Donnie smiled the minute he saw her and she let go of Lombard to give him a hug. He was a sweet young man, seventeen years old and cute. He had soft brown eyes and short brown hair. He had always been extremely sweet to her. “You look beautiful Fatima.” He said softly.
“Why thank you Donnie. That’s very sweet of you to say.” She replied and he kissed her cheek. She spotted Gregory standing behind him and frowned. “Oh hey Greg, what are you doing here?”
“Hanging out with my cousin, what does it look like?” He replied flatly, but she could see the anger in his eyes.
“It looks like a lot of things, but I don’t feel like discussing them with you.” She turned her attention back to Donnie. “So where are we going for lunch?”
“The Shake Shack. You said you loved the place the last time we went so I figured I’d treat you to a good burger and a strawberry shake.” He answered happily.
“Hold on one second.” She turned and hugged Lombard, savoring his scent for a moment. “I promise to be back by dinner.”
“Please be careful.” He said and she pulled back to smile at him.
“I will I promise.”
She grabbed Donnie’s hand and headed out the front door with Gregory following sulkily behind. The driver, Keith, opened the back door for them. Fatima got in first, followed by Donnie and then Gregory. She refused to sit in the middle and touch him. Keith closed the door and then got in and she gave him the name of the burger shop. He pulled out of the driveway and she laced her fingers through Donnie’s. She stared out the window until they made it to their destination and Keith let them out.
“Would you like me to wait ma’am?” He asked as he closed the door behind her.
“No, I’ll call the house.” Fatima answered with a smile.
“Yes ma’am.” He got back in the car and drove away.
Donnie pulled her into the diner and they found a booth. A waitress came by and they all ordered. She walked away with a smile. Donnie ran his thumb over her knuckles and then leaned in and kissed her cheek. She smiled and whispered in his ear that she wanted to go to the beach again after lunch. He blushed and she giggled. It infuriated Gregory who did his best not to stare at the very beautiful Fatima. He didn’t understand why she wanted his skinny little dork of a cousin instead of him. Their food arrived quickly and he took a big bite of his burger to keep himself from saying something nasty.
Lombard swept up the glass on his bedroom floor and dusted it off his bed. The arrow had imbedded itself in his bedroom door at head level. No one would have come back from that one. He dumbed the glass in the wastebasket next to his bed. He had already informed Shane of the accident and asked him not to reprimand his daughter until after her date. Shane had agreed and Lombard had left to clean up after the very spirited Fatima. He lay the dust pan and broom on his bed then grabbed the clear piece of plastic sheet. He used duct tape to keep it in place over his window. Shane was having a new one delivered in the morning.
After lunch Fatima walked hand in hand with Donnie down to the beach. They found their way to the underside of the dock to the flat stone where they had had sex for the first time. They sat down together and Donnie shooed Gregory away. He walked far enough back and then hid where they couldn’t see him. He watched as they starting kissing then undressed and had sex. He was both angry and aroused. He wanted to toss his cousin in the ocean and show Fatima what a real man was like. He would have his time. He just had to get her alone.
Fatima checked Donnie’s watch as they lay together under the dock. It was starting to get dark and she needed to get home. They dressed quickly and called for Gregory you walked quickly down to them. “Time to get Fatima home. She needs to call her driver.” Donnie said as he picked her up and carried her out into the fading light. He sat her down and took her hand and they walked back to the diner. She used the phone there and they waited patiently outside. Keith pulled up and opened the door, letting them in. Fatima rested her head on Donnie’s shoulder and almost fell asleep. They arrived at her home and Keith let them out. Donnie walked Fatima to her front door and she gave him a kiss before going inside. Lombard met her at the door and she smiled at him.
“Your father would like to speak to you.” He said.
“Shit,” he arched an eyebrow, “I mean shoot. I better hurry and face the music. Wish me luck.” She said and he stepped aside to let her by.
She went straight to her fahter’s office, feeling very nervous. She knew she was in a lot of trouble. Lombard had had no choice but to tell her father of the incident. She took a deep breath and pushed the door open. “Fatima, my angel please have a seat.” Shane said and she swallowed. She crossed the room and sat in the chair across from him. “You know why your here so I will just get to the point. You could have killed someone Fatima. Archery is not a game no matter how many competitions you win. Lombard said the arrow hit his door at head level. What of he had been standing there?”
“I’m sorry daddy. It was incredibly stupid of me. It won’t happen again, I swear. Next time I will get Lombard to move the target for me, I promise.” She replied.
“See that you do. I will let it go this time, but another accident like that and you will be grounded.”
“I understand sir, I really do.”
“Good, now go eat dinner and get to bed.”
She stood and walked around the desk, giving him a kiss on his cheek. She saw a brief smile cross his lips and knew everything was alright. She tried not to run out of his office and let go of a breath she had not know she was holding once she closed the door behind her. She hurried into the dining room and sat down. Lombard brought her her dinner and she ate in silence with her mother. Ruth smiled at her and she smiled back. Shane was the disciplinarian and she was the one who kissed the boo boos.
“Did you have a good lunch sweety?” Ruth asked and she stopped mid bite. Her eyes jumped to her mother’s face and the older woman gave her a knowing look.
“Yes ma’am.” She answered and took another bite.
“Using protection I hope.”
“Always, I mean just with Donnie. I’m not you know doing it with multiple guys or anything.”
“I didn’t think you were.”
Fatima quickly finished her dinner and gulped down the glass of blood. She kissed her mother’s cheek and raced upstairs. She went straight to her room and shut and locked her door. Her mother paid very close attention. She hoped Donnie never found out. The poor young man would be so embarrassed. She took a quick shower and then jumped into bed, grabbing the stuffed wolf and holding it tightly to her. She drifted off to sleep, so exhausted. She dreamed about Lombard. His scent, his eyes, his voice. He kissed her and touched her, whispered sweetly to her. She woke up with a gasp, covered in sweat. She didn’t understand why she was dreaming of her closest friend. She thought she should be dreaming about her boyfriend. She jumped out of bed and back into the shower, switching the water to cold and standing there until she was shivering and her lips were blue. She dried and pulled on a long t-shirt then got back in bed. She couldn’t bring herself to fall back asleep. She grabbed the book setting on the table next to her bed and flipped it open. Reading about zombies wasn’t helping any. She sighed and decided she needed a different book.
She moved silently out of her room and downstairs, going to the large library. She slipped her book back on the shelf and ran her fingers over the spines of the other ones. She didn’t know what else to read. “I thought you were sleeping.” She jumped and spun around. Lombard was standing there in a pair of sweats. She swallowed and pressed her back into the bookshelf.
“I was…uh…looking for a new book.” She stammered. He looked her over and she blushed.
“Are you wearing shorts?”
She opened her mouth to lie, but knew he would know. She shook her head and he looked very serious all of a sudden. He moved closer and bent down so he was at eye level with her. “A young lady should wear pants when walking around the house. We have other young men who work here like the stable boy and Keith. Do you understand?”
She nodded and swallowed nervously. His scent washed over her and she couldn’t help but give him a good once over. He was lean in build, but muscular. He had scars, bit marks from the zombies that had changed him. He blinked and her eyes jumped back to his face. Those lovely aquamarine eyes just stared at her warmly. “Sorry, yes I understand. It won’t happen again.” She finally said.
“It isn’t polite Fatima.” The way he said her name gave her chills. She wondered of he had always said it like that. “Now get a book and get back upstairs.” She nodded and quickly snatched Grimm’s Fairytales off the shelf and hurried passed him.
Lombard watched her run away. He put the book he had just finished back on the shelf and grabbed another one. He didn’t care what it was. He would read anything. He wondered what was wrong with her. She had looked thoroughly embarrassed and maybe even a little scared. He shrugged, thinking he must have really startled her. He had not meant to sneak up on her. He had always been light on his feet, never making a sound. The cook had asked him to start making noise before entering the kitchen so as not to cause him or his assistant to burn themselves. He headed back upstairs, leaving his bedroom door cracked in case someone needed something that way they didn’t have to knock and wake the rest of the house.
Fatima’s heart was pounding painfully hard in her chest. She sat on her bed, face buried in her hands. She couldn’t be crushing on Lombard. He was her friend, her protector. She would be a fool not to admit that he was hot, especially when he wore his uniform. She loved that uniform. She had not always found him attractive, had not always noticed how lovingly he said her name even when he reprimanded her or how good he smelled. It was all over her wolf. She was afraid to go back to sleep, not wanting to dream of him again. She flipped open her book and started reading.
Morning came faster than she would have liked and she quickly dressed. She put her sunscreen on, deciding she wanted to go horseback riding. She grabbed her boots and tugged them on. She went downstairs and tripped going down the stairs. She shielded her face, squeezing her eyes closed and braced for impact. None came. She opened her eyes, finding herself held securely in Lombard’s arms. “How did you do that?” She asked.
“You didn’t see me coming up the stairs?” He asked, looking worried.
“No, sorry. I was in my own little world. Could you put me down please?”
He sat her on her feet and she straightened her shirt and jeans. “Where are you off to?”
“I’m going to take Splash out for about an hour. I’ll be in the woods behind the house.”
“Would you like me to make you a quick breakfast?” He brushed a stray hair behind her ear and she inhaled sharply.
“Could you get me an apple and a carrot?”
“Of course, wait right here.”
He walked away and she took a deep, calming breath. He was far to gorgeous and it wasn’t fair she was only sixteen. She paused at that thought. She was actually wishing she was an adult so she could sleep with him. She shook her head at the craziness of it all. Lombard worked for her father, was a loyal and trusted friend. He returned quickly and handed her what she asked for along with a bottle of blood.
“Thank you, Lombard.” She said softly.
“You are very welcome.”
She moved passed him and out the front door. She ran to the stables and to her horse. She fed Splash her carrot and then ate the apple. She grabbed the bridle and opened the stall gate. She put the bit in the horse’s mouth and led her over to the saddles. Splash stoo obediently still as Fatima lifted the saddle onto her back. She made sure everything was buckled before climbing into the saddle.
Fatima gently tapped her heels against Splash’s ribs and the rose trotted out of the stable. She rode into the woods, glad that her father had so much land and she could explore to her hearts content. She breathed easier away from Lombard. She couldn’t believe the dream she had had about him. She blushed again just thinking about it. She had wanted to kiss him on the stairs, but if she had he would quit and she would never see him again. She felt tears stinging her eyes as she rode deeper into the woods. She came to a lake and looked around. She had never been this far in before. She swung down and sat down next to the water. It was nice and shaded in here, the air cool and slightly wet. She leaned back against a tree and closed her eyes. She didn’t know what she was going to do about her attraction to Lombard.
Gregory went with Donnie to Fatima’s house. Donnie knocked and Lombard answered the door. He sneered at the butler, Fatima’s biggest crush. He just knew she had a thing for this butler. It disgusted him beyond words. “Donnie, Gregory are you here for Fatima?” Lombard asked and it angered Gregory that he used her first name so freely.
“Yeah, is she around?” Donnie asked with a nervous smile.
“She went out into the woods with Splash. I’m sure you could find her if you headed out from the back of the house.”
“Thanks Lombard.” The butler closed the door and Gregory followed Donnie around the house and then off into the woods. If she was out here alone then he could ditch Donnie and find her.
Lombard was worried about sending Gregory into the woods after Fatima, even with Dnnie there. The young man had a volatile temper like his father and hated taking no for an answer. He told himself that Fatima was strong and could take care of herself. The worry nagged at him as he helped clean. The fact that she had been acting strange lately didn’t help. He wondered what was on her mind.
Fatima took off her boots and rolled up her jeans then put her feet in the water. It felt good. Since it was so shaded, she decided she would go for a swim. She pulled off her jeans and t-shirt so she was in just her bra and panties then waded into the cool water. She floated on her back with her eyes closed it felt good to just relax. She wished she could stay out here forever. She finally decided to get out of the water and lay in the grass until she was dry. She felt drowsy and before she knew it she was sleeping.
Donnie called Fatima’s name as they walked through the woods. Gregory was becoming more and more irritated the further they went. He wanted to go off on his own, but Donnie kept glancing back at him, making t really hard to slip away. It was noon and he had had enough. He picked up a big stick, telling Donnie it was to help him walk. When his cousin looked away, he smashed it against the back of his head so he was knocked unconscious. He walked off, searching for her.
Her eyes snapped open and realized it was almost passed noon. She jumped up and quickly pulled her clothes on. Her sunscreen was water proof so she didn’t have to worry about getting burned. As she was pulling her boots back on she heard a twig snap behind her and turned around. She found herself staring into the eye of Gregory Rutherford. She just stood there frozen, wondering why Donnie wasn’t with him.
“Gregory, what are you doing here?” She asked, trying to stay calm.
“I’m here for you.” He answered and she forced herself not to take a step back.
“Is Donnie with you?”
“He was, but he had a little accident.”
She found herself wondering if he had killed his cousin to get her alone. “I was just heading back to the house.” She moved towards Splash and Gregory cut her off.
“I don’t think so Fatima.” He took a step towards her and she side stepped while backing up. She turned to run and he grabbed her hair, pulling her back. She screamed and he punched her on the face. Slash whinnied and reared up then took off. She fought him and he punched her in the stomach so she doubled over, gasping for air.
Lombard became more and more worried as he worked in the garden. It was almost one and Fatima and the boys were not back. He heard a soft thumping sound and Slash came running out of the woods and to him. He grabbed the horse, feeling panic rising as he wondered what had happened. Splash wouldn’t just leave Fatima for no reason. It had to be Gregory. He ran inside, going into Shane’s office and telling him what he feared. Shane came to his feet. “Go and find her. I have to get my sunscreen.” He ordered and Lombard gave a quick bow before running out of the house and taking off into the woods.
Gregory hit her again so she fell in the grass. He pinned her wrists a over head with one hand while the other tore at her clothes. He ripped her shirt open, his hands moving over, groping her. She screamed and tried to buck him off. He hit her in the face, causing her vision to blur. He kissed her, his tongue sliding in her mouth. She bit him then head butted him in the nose. He jerked back, gripping his nose as it gushed blood. She scrambled to her feet, running and screaming through the woods. Her heart beat furiously. She could hear him behind her, cursing her and threatening her. She screamed again and then tripped over something. It was Donnie and there was blood on the back of his head. Gregory caught up to her and she crab walked backwards. He was close enough to touch her. He reached for her and was suddenly tackled into the grass and leaves.
Lombard wrestled with Gregory, rolling across the ground and punching him. He managed to straddle the boy and punch him in the face. Gregory’s eyes became unfocused and the closed as unconsciousness slipped over him. He looked at Fatima who had a terrified look on her face. He stood, walking slowly over to her and pulled off his jacket then draped it over her shoulders. He sat down and pulled her into his arms, between his knees. He cursed himself for not following his instincts.
Fatima’s father showed up with the driver Keith. Fatima looked up at him when he came upon them, but did not move from where she sat. Lombard stood and lifted her into his arms. “Is she alright?” Shane asked.
“I’m fine daddy, I just want to go home.” Fatima answered. Her father lifted Donnie and Keith grabbed Gregory. They left the woods and found there way back to the house where the police and an ambulance were waiting. Shane gave them Donnie and Keith handed the cops Gregory. “He tried to rape me.” Fatima said softly. “I broke his nose and Lombard knocked him out.”
The police took her statement, along with some pictures, and Lombard’s and then left. Lombard carried her upstairs and to her room. “You should take a shower. You are covered in blood and dirt.” He said as he sat her on her feet.
“Thank you for coming for me.”
“I had a feeling that little punk would cause you trouble. It should have taken more than Splash to send me in there after you.”
“Still, thank you.” He kissed her forehead and left her alone. She wanted anything but to be alone. She put his jacket on her bed and then went into the bathroom. She showered and then dried. Her face was still bruised, but healing quickly. She suddenly felt like crying, tears stinging her eyes. Before she knew it they were spilling down her cheeks and dripping off her chin. She cried until she couldn’t anymore then got dressed. She grabbed Lombard’s jacket, needing to take it back to him. She left her room and went to his. She knocked, but there was no answer. She went downstairs, searching for him. She found him in the library reading a book. He didn’t look happy. He looked up at her and smiled. “You forgot your jacket.” She said and crossed the room.
“No I didn’t.” He replied and she held it out to him. He took it gently from her and patted the cushion next to him on the love seat. “Would you like me to read to you?”
He had not done that in a long time, not since she was thirteen. She sat down next to him and rested her head on his shoulder. He was reading Emerson. He read out loud, his voice helping to calm her down and making her wish she was eighteen again. She sighed softly, breathing him in. There was a tap on the door frame and they both looked up. It was Ruth with the phone. “It’s Donnie sweety.” She said and Fatima got up and crossed the room.
“Hey Donnie. How are you?” She asked. She listened to what he was saying, feeling very sad. “I understand, I really do and I know you love me. Just get better. Alright, bye.” She hung up and handed her mother the phone.
“Is everything alright?”
“Donnie just broke up with me.”
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry. Did he say why?” Ruth hugged her and stroked her hair.
“He said he didn’t want me to get hurt again by his family.” She started crying. “I know it’s for the best, but it still hurts.”
“I know baby, I know.” She cried until the sun had gone down and her mother’s legs began to cramp.
“I just want to go to bed.” She finally said and her mother walked her upstairs. Fatima crawled in bed and grabbed her stuffed wolf. Ruth covered her, kissed her cheek and then left. An hour later there was a tap on the door and Lomabrd slowly opened it and peeked inside. “What is it?”
“Could I read you a story?” He asked and she nodded. He came in and sat down on her bed. He had Little Red Riding Hood. He started reading and she couldn’t help but laugh at his wolf voice like she always did. He finished the story and hugged her. She felt much better, happier even.
“Thank you so much Lombard.” She said and he squeezed her.
“Sweet dreams Fatima.”
“Sweet dreams Lomard.” He left and she drifted off to sleep, his warmth chasing away her pain.