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Last Hope - Chapter 7: Attraction

A sweetly venomous smile lit up her face. "You're not scared of your own wife, are you?"
Veepo, Online Chat Group

[Nat sends Ayu a private message.]

Nat: (1:22PM) So, tell me the juicy details! I wanna know everything! How did it go?

Ayu: (1:23PM) Haha! Well, it was interesting. Nothing like I imagined it would be.

Nat: (1:23PM) Ooo! You've got me hooked already. Spill!

Ayu: (1:24PM) Well, straight off the bat, Riku is SO cute.

Nat: (1:24PM) Really?

Ayu: (1:25PM) Yes! Like really, really cute. Dare I say the most cutest boy I've ever met in my life?

Nat: (1:25PM) So on a scale of 1 to 10, he would be...

Ayu: (1:25PM) 10 for sure.

Nat: (1:25PM) OMG!! Seriously?!

Ayu: (1:28PM) Honestly, I thought I'd be meeting a nerdy, angsty kid but instead he looked like a heavenly angel that somehow found himself on Earth.

Nat: (1:28PM) Wow!! Am I dreaming? Did you really use the word 'angel' to describe RIKUN of all people?

Ayu: (1:30PM) Haha, I don't believe it either! Riku seems so... intense online. But in real life, he was so different! He was actually so sweet and funny. And he was dorky in a cute way. Did I mention that he's so cute?

Nat: (1:30PM) Ughh! I wish I could see him!

Ayu: (1:31PM) [Sends image]

Ayu: (1:31PM) Took this pic of us at the park today. Judge for yourself!

Nat: (1:31PM) Wow!! You two would make beautiful babies together ;)

Ayu: (1:32PM) Hehe stop!! [Blush emoji]

Nat: (1:32PM) So does he know you've got a lil crush on him?

Ayu: (1:32PM) No! Shhh! DON'T tell anyone else, okay? This is strictly between you and me.

Nat: (1:33PM) Not even Haru?

Ayu: (1:33PM) Especially not Haru! He doesn't like Riku much, so it'll just be awkward...

Nat: (1:33PM) Okay! Your secret is safe with me.

[Nat sends Kai a private message.]

Nat: (1:34PM) Oniisan! Guess what!

Kai: (1:34PM) What?

Nat: (1:34PM) Ayu-chan has a crush on Rikun!

Kai: (1:34PM) Ok.

Nat: (1:35PM) Isn't that so exciting?

Kai: (1:38PM) Idc.

Nat: (1:38PM) You can't tell anyone else about this, okay? It's our secret!

Kai: (1:43PM) Ok. Change the topic.

Nat: (1:45PM) Did you hear the news about the two guys that were rushed to the emergency room?

Kai: (1:45PM) Oh?

Nat: (1:46PM) They were trying to catch V-T bullets like Killo-san, but one shot his eye, and another broke his rib cage.

Kai: (1:46PM) Morons.

Nat: (1:47PM) I feel so bad for them... it goes to show, V-T bullets are just as dangerous to humans after all!

Kai: (1:49PM) I guess.

[Nat sends Riku a private message.]

Nat: (1:34PM) Hey Rikun! :)

Riku: (1:39PM) Hey, Nat. What's up?

Nat: (1:42PM) I'm just wondering, did you have a good time with Ayu-chan?

Riku: (1:50PM) Yes.

Nat: (1:50PM) What were you guys doing?

Riku: (1:50PM) Just chatting and stuff.

Nat: (1:51PM) Do you think she's cute?

Riku: (1:55PM) Why?

Nat: (1:56PM) I'm just curious.

Riku: (1:56PM) Ok...

Nat: (1:57PM) On a scale of 1 to 10, how cute is she?

Riku: (1:57PM) I'm busy now. TTYL.

*********************************************************************************************

Location: Kamakura Manor, Kanagawa.
Time: 10:06pm, 17th February 2072.


There was a sadistic glint in Seraphina's dark-purple eyes, as she watched Sharugo pull out a pale, slithery tail from his shoe. The tail was connected to a little, stiff creature that was frozen in place like a statue. It was an albino rat, as its ruby eyes were dim and its mouth was open with its little pink tongue sticking out.

Sharugo examined it closely next to the tatami lamp that emitted a bright-amber glow. He could see microscopic pieces of metallic strips glued to the rat's fur around its neck. Sharugo suspected that it had been strangled by some kind of wire, which upset him to imagine.

"Oh my, is that a dead rat?" Seraphina gasped dramatically, as she covered her mouth with her hands, hiding her faint smirk.

Sharugo looked over at the vampiress, surprised. It was the first time that she spoke to him today. She was resting against the creamy-colored sofa, stretching out her legs and taking up as much space to prevent the human from sitting next to her.

"How on earth did it get into your shoe? One can only wonder."

She giggled with merriment. It was a strange sight to behold. Usually, she stayed tight-lipped and scowled around him, but now she appeared to be enjoying herself.

"Perhaps this whole place is infested with dirty rats, for all we know," she shrugged nonchalantly. "No one will blame you if you want to move out."

Sharugo stepped closer to her, as he held the rat up by its tail with his one hand. He gave her a suspicious look.

"Did you... did you do this?" He asked, dumbfounded.

She snickered, as she brushed a strand of her hair to one side. "You're not as stupid as you look, human."

"Why would you do that?"

"It's my present for you," Seraphina said with a thin smile. "You gave me so many gifts for the yuino and I didn't give you a single item. So, take this as my token of affection to you."

Sharugo stared at her in shock. Then he snapped out of his daze.

"Thank you," he said, surprising her. "Nimi will appreciate this."

She raised an eyebrow in curiosity. "Who's Nimi?"

"She's the only lady in Ryuu Sensei's life," Sharugo replied with a low chuckle. "He's the old man that you met at our yuino - the one who got a bit tipsy and danced like he had two left feet."

"That was dancing? I thought he was having a fit," Seraphina scoffed, making the agent chuckle more.

"He's a bit wild sometimes," he admitted. "Still, I've got nothing but respect for my old man. He raised me when I had no one. If it wasn't for him, I'd be-" He paused, looking at the helpless, tiny creature in his hand. There was a flicker of sadness in his eyes, but he shook his head, hoping the vampiress didn't catch that.

"Now, I'm all grown up," he continued, "and I think he's missed looking after someone. So, he adopted a Persian cat called Nimi. He rescued her from the streets two years ago."

"I don't like cats," Seraphina said with a face of distaste. She wasn't keen on any animals. Draku was possibly the only exception, yet she still found him annoying from time to time.

"Nimi doesn't like people either. But I'm sure once you get to know each other, you'll both warm up to each other," Sharugo said. He brought the rat closer to the vampiress' face.

"Maybe you'd like to give her this treat yourself? She'll take an instant liking to you."

Seraphina shuddered in disgust, as jumped up from her seat and backed away from the dead animal. She gave Sharugo a fierce glare and then her eyes widened a little, when she saw the playful smirk that hovered on his lips. At that moment, she was struck with two realizations: one, she had inadvertently learned something new about him and two, he was onto her.

Game on, she thought.

*******************************************************************************

Location: Kamakura Manor, Kanagawa.
Time: 6:25am, 18th February 2072.


"The things I do for revenge," Seraphina muttered, as she held a healthy-looking, juicy apple in her hand. She took a deep breath.

You can do this, she told herself. Other vampires do this all the time. It's a basic survival skill. A stupid little apple can't do much damage. What's the worst that can happen? Food poisoning? Pfft. It'll be worth it in the end.

She bit into the crisp apple, crunching loudly as she did. The disgusting continents were in her mouth, and the vile juice was already oozing down her throat, making her retch. She forced the remaining white mush down, feeling the continents as they slid down her esophagus. Immediately, she doubled over as there was a burning pain in her stomach. Acid was frothing inside of her and bile rushed up her throat.

Later on, Sharugo entered the room. Instantly, he caught a whiff of something strong and pungent. His suspicions were confirmed when he lifted up his top hat to see watery vomit floating inside of it, almost filled to the brim. The stench hit his nostrils, making him wrinkle his nose. Seeing and smelling the vomit made him close to vomiting himself.

"Oops, did I ruin your hat?" Seraphina asked rhetorically, appearing beside him. She looked paler than usual. "I didn't feel well... And I figured, it's an ugly hat, anyway. You won't miss it too much, right?"

"Never mind the hat, are you feeling better now?"

She paused, seeming surprised by his worry. She scanned his face carefully, trying to decipher any traces of annoyance or agitation. Yet, by the way that he was looking at her, it was as if she was the center of his attention and nothing else mattered to him except for her well-being.

Bullshit! Does he think I'm stupid? If something bad happens to me, the goons will come for his throat! He only cares about himself. He doesn't give a toss about me.

"I'm fine," she said bitterly.

"If you want, I can drive you to the doctors for a quick check up."

"I said, I'm fine!" She snapped, visibly annoyed, as she stormed away.

How was it that she set out to annoy him, yet somehow he turned the tables on her? If only she could get under his skin! She needed to be more outrageous, more daring.

*********************************************************************************************

Location: Kamakura Manor, Kanagawa.
Time: 6:15am, 19th February 2072.


Splash!

Sharugo's eyes shot open, as cold, white liquid hit his skin, soaking him from head to toe. He accidentally swallowed some of the sour, unpleasant substance, which resulted in him choking furiously. Instantly, he sat up on his bed, whilst he was shivering like a leaf on a windy day. Standing next to his bedside table was Seraphina, holding an empty milk bottle over her head, making sure the last few drops got him.

"Oops!"

She lowered the bottle and tried to feign her concern, but she instantly burst out giggling at his puzzled reaction.

"My bad! It was an accident."

"Accident?" Sharugo echoed in disbelief.

"Mmh. Sometimes I like to walk around with a gallon of milk while I'm sleepwalking. It's just one of my odd habits."

She had an arrogant smirk across her face, as she threw the bottle away into the trash can.

"I presume my subconscious mind thought you needed a shower, so I threw this expired milk all over you! I woke up just now while you were choking... Oopsy daisy!"

She was aware that it was an outlandish excuse, but she figured that it was the perfect way to get a rise out of the human.

Sharugo rubbed his eye sleepily, before he got up from the bed. He loomed above her, as he looked down at her. It was an amusing sight to see such a big and burly man drenched in spoiled milk by the work of her own hands. Seraphina looked up at him expectantly, waiting for an emotional outburst. Instead, he gave her a small smile.

"Don't worry about it," he murmured in a low, tired voice. "I was afraid that I would sleep through the alarm. Last night, I couldn't get much sleep, you see... So, thanks for waking me up."

She gritted her teeth. She decided to poke the bear further.

"Just so you're aware, I pull some of the most craziest stunts while I'm sleepwalking. You'll never know what I might do to you next."

She prodded his hard chest with her finger. Sharugo nodded, his features remained neutral.

"Good to know, Princess. At least you're not boring, so thank you for the entertainment."

Seraphina prodded harder, digging her sharp nail into his skin. She laughed humorlessly.

"You sure like to say thank you an awful lot, don't you, human?"

"There's no harm in being polite."

"You stink," she hissed, enunciating every word with a vicious poke of her angry, little finger, "like rotten milk. Are you still going to thank me for that?"

Sharugo wrapped his hand around her little finger gently. His hair had become one with his face, wetly draped over his bone structure. He looked into her dark eyes, in a way that was unusually intense, which made her heart skip a little faster than usual.

"I appreciate the concern," he said. "If you don't mind, I'll have a real shower now."

Seraphina blushed lightly, as a series of unsolicited images flashed through her mind.

"I'm not concerned, you silly human!"

She snatched her finger back from his hold, as she stomped away and slammed the door shut, absolutely livid.

************************************************************************************

Location: Kamakura Manor, Kanagawa.
Time: 12:17pm, 19th February 2072.


Sharugo had returned from work, taking a lunch break. He heard rustling coming from the kitchen, pans clunking, and oil frying. As he entered the kitchen, dark steam and a burning smell lingered in the air. The vampiress had her hair tied up and she wore a cooking apron gifted to her from Ryuu Sensei. She was standing behind the stove, seeming focused that she didn't notice Sharugo approaching her.

"Hey," he said.

"Oh, hello there," she said casually.

"Whatcha cooking?"

She turned to give him a wink.

"Something special for you."

"For- for me?"

Sharugo reached a slippery section of the floor, and he almost fell over, if he didn't support his weight against the fridge opposite him. Seraphina giggled - a cute little laugh that brightened the atmosphere.

"Careful there, sweetie," she purred.

"Sweetie?" Sharugo murmured, confused by her sudden change of attitude. Was she possessed by a friendly ghost? Was she finally getting comfortable around him? Or was she, more than likely, plotting something against him?

"Yes, be careful," she repeated. "I accidentally spilled vegetable oil over where you're just standing. We don't want you to slip and crack your skull open, now, do we?"

"I'll keep that in mind."

"Take a seat over there," she instructed to him, as she turned around. She pointed towards the dining table behind the countertop, into the open space.

Sharugo obeyed her instruction. A couple of minutes passed and she placed a plate of what suspiciously looked like brown dung in front of him. Her eyes sparkled with an evil glint, noticing the hesitation that crept across his face.

"Eat up, sweetie."

He poked at the brown mush, his fork going through the soggy mixture with little to no effort. He gulped nervously.

"What is this?"

"It's a special dish that I made for you," she said.

Her heels clicked against the tiles, as she walked over to stand behind him, while she giggled with secret merriment. His spine straightened, like a cat on the alert. She leaned down, her face next to his neck. He could feel the warmth of her breath tickling his ear.

"I call this the Husband's Delight," she whispered sensually, her blood-red lips smirking when his body became tensed.

"Did you... poison this?" He asked cautiously, which made her giggle again.

"No, silly!" A sweetly venomous smile lit up her face. "You're not scared of your own wife, are you?"

She ran her fingers over the firm muscles of his biceps and then along his strong shoulders. Usually Sharugo would have to exercise like a madman to make his heart race so fast, yet Seraphina had a type of magical touch that not even his exercise regimen could compete with. He gulped. Yes. Yes, he was scared of her. Especially when she was acting like this. He preferred her moody demeanor because she was transparent with her feelings. However, this new persona of hers made the hairs on his forearms stand to attention. But he couldn't let her know that. Predators loved to feed from the fear of their preys.

Sharugo exhaled deeply. The sooner he got this over with, the better. Wasting no time, he scooped up the brown mush in his fork and shoved it into his mouth. He tried to swallow the mixture, but as soon as it touched his tongue, he instantly bolted towards the sink and spat everything out. It looked like dung, it tasted like dung.

Seraphina crossed her arms and huffed. "So, you don't like it?"

Sharugo didn't bother to answer her. He switched the tap on and lapped up the gushing water like a thirsty dog on a summer day.

"I can't believe this!" Seraphina exclaimed, as clutched her chest dramatically. "My own husband doesn't like my cooking! How tragic. Perhaps this marriage isn't meant for us, huh? Do you really want to stay with someone who can't satisfy your stomach for the rest of your life? No? I don't blame you. Perhaps we should-"

"It's fine," Sharugo said, regaining his composure. "It's the thought that counts. I'll get Ryuu Sensei to send us his recipes and we can learn and cook together. How do you like the sound of that?"

Seraphina snorted. "You must be joking."

Even though she looked visibly outraged, Sharugo felt relieved that she broke out of character. She backed away from him, looking at him as if three heads had sprouted from his shoulder blades.

"Is there a screw loose in your head somewhere? Were you dropped as a child often? What the hell is wrong with you!? Why can't you just-!"

She was so heated during her ranting that she failed to notice she had backed up a little too much, until she reached her oil spillage. Her eyes widened as she tumbled backwards.

Quickly, Sharugo caught her in his arms before she hit the ground. His arms were wrapped around her waist and hers were wrapped around his neck, clinging for dear life. They gazed into each other's eyes. Her eyes were dark and hypnotizing, reeling him closer, while his were a light-brown that reflected the warmth of the golden sun. He looked at her in a way he had never looked at a girl before. He could hear her breathing become deeper and her arms were shaking. Seraphina commanded her brain to let go of him, but her body refused to obey her order.

Slowly, Sharugo pulled her up against his chest and she was so close to him that she inhaled his intoxicating scent. That delicious aroma of his sweet, mouth-watering blood filled her nostrils. For a brief moment, she lingered against his chest, greedily soaking up his fragrance in pure ecstasy. She hid her face from his view, refusing to let him see that she was blushing furiously.

All too soon, she broke free from his arms and turned her back towards him.

"You foolish human," she muttered, feeling somewhat breathless, as she walked away.

************************************************************************************

Location: Itakane Forest Park
Time: 8:32am, 21st February 2072.


"Nothing is working!" Seraphina exclaimed, kicking the tree for the tenth time in frustration.

"Must you take your anger out on the innocent perennial plant?" Draku questioned.

"I tried reciting Satanic verses to creep him out," she punched the tree with her bare knuckles, "but the fool thought I was singing and he said I had a sweet voice!"

"The nerve of him!" Draku said in a mocking tone. "How dare he compliment your voice?"

"I know! It is completely unwarranted!" Seraphina kicked the tree again, making the branches rustle on impact and causing a couple of leaves to fall. "And then he bought me a bouquet of roses for vomiting in his hat! Who does that?"

"Oh my goodness, that is madness!" Draku roared. He breathed wisps of fire through his nostrils. "Who does this man think he is, buying you flowers when you're sick? Your husband? Bah!"

Seraphina rolled her eyes.

"Then I put horse manure on the roof of his car! You would think a normal person would lose their mind, right? But not Mr. Nice Guy! He scooped it up and put it in the garden! According to him, it's good for the plants. How absurd!"

Draku tilted his scaly head in curiosity. "How on earth did you get your hands on horse manure?"

"My family owns a stable," she answered. "I tend to avoid that wretched place, but desperate times equates to desperate measures."

"Ahh... is it cozy there? Is it big enough for a dragon to nest?"

Seraphina slumped down onto the ground, ignoring his question. She pulled her knees up to her chest and looked up at the cloudless sky with a grumpy expression.

"How am I supposed to scare him away? The fool doesn't seem shaken at all!"

"It's a tremendous shame you're not a mighty, terrifying dragon like me. One look at me sends people running in the opposite direction!"

The vampiress' eyes sparkled with joy.

"That's it!" She squealed excitedly. "I'll lure him to you-"

"Ahh, say no more! I know where this is heading," Draku said. He jumped to his feet. "I'll scare his very being with my thunderous roar that'll make the ground shake and send him flying away!"

The dragon opened his mouth wide. His guttural veracious sound appeared to come from deep inside the earth, echoing through and vibrating the tall moss trees. His wet spit sprayed everywhere, raining upon the vampiress, and his hot breath reeked of a junk yard. Seraphina's face stiffened, unamused.

"Draku-!"

"And I'll shoot fire as hot as lava! As hot as the surface of the sun! I'll make him so terrified of my scorch, my flame, I'll scare the very soul out of him!"

He tilted up his head and began shooting miniature fireballs into the sky, the orange burst of glow lighting up the forest like sudden sparks of fireworks.

"Or you could eat him."

The dragon paused in his tracks. "I beg your pardon?"

"Look, I would do it," she grumbled, "but I was forced to sign this stupid contract that threatened to cut off my head if I attacked him in any way!"

Draku exhaled sharply, as gray smoke escaped from his mouth and nose. "Oh, so let me get beheaded instead?"

"Trust me, that won't happen," she waved her hand dismissively. "He's a puny human. No one will miss him that much to send men after you. You have my word."

"Hmm... I'm not sure."

"I'll reward you with treasure."

"Really?"

"Yes. Gemstones. Rubies. Diamonds. Gold. Whatever your heart desires, you've got it. All you have to do is consume the human for me. Can you do that?"

Draku grunted in uncertainty. "I'm still not sure..."

Seraphina clasped the palms of her hands together.

"Please, Draku. I promise you won't be disappointed. His blood smells so delicious and he's got a lot of meat in him. Guaranteed he'll taste like barbecue chicken. You will get so much nutrients from this human. Plus, you'll be saving my life if you do."

"Well, it would be nice to be the hero for once," the dragon contemplated.

"We, dragons, are painted in a bad light. People naturally assume we're villains, but I want to prove them wrong. Can you imagine the headlines? 'Handsome Dragon rescues Princess Hamasaki from the shambles of an arranged marriage'!"

Draku paced around excitedly, his huge tail wagging with his enthusiasm.

"Oooh, I really like the sound of that! Can you imagine the celebratory feast the kingdom will offer to me? It'll be splendid! Perhaps I'll even get a monument made for me! I'll be the first dragon in the history of dragons to be seen as the knight in shining armor! How exciting! How-"

"Draku!" Seraphina snapped. "Will you help me, yes or no?"

"Yes, I will!"

"So, will you eat the human?"

"Yes! Bring him to me at once!"

***********************************************************************************

Location: Kamakura Manor, Kanagawa
Time: 1:07pm, 21st February 2072.


Sharugo was making his way to the front door, when Seraphina jumped in front of him and blocked his path.

"Hey, you," she said, out of the ordinary.

He looked at her suspiciously. "Yes?"

"Let's go for a hike," she said, twirling a hair strand with her finger. "There's a beautiful forest nearby that we can explore together."

"Uh, well, I have to be somewhere-"

"Oh," she dropped her arms to her side. "I was hoping to spend some quality time with you... right now."

She lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theater curtain. It was the look she gave to guys to make them roll over on their back with all four paws in the air. They would be putty in her hands. Sharugo was no exception.

"Alright," he sighed softly. "I'll always make time for you, Princess. Would you like to lead the way?"

"Of course!"

She clung to his arm, taking him by surprise, as she looked up at him with a dazzling smile. Sharugo knew it was a facade, yet her beautiful smile made him feel weak to the knees. It was a smile that could drive any man crazy.

"We're going to have so much fun, just you wait and see," she said. Her giggle alerted him that there was trouble waiting ahead.
By
Published: 4/11/2019
Bouquets and Brickbats | What Others Said