Chapter 14: Friendly Invites
“Tall man wearing a black hoodie and denim blue jeans.”
I sighed as I leaned back on my chair, acknowledging the brunette that stood before me, “Genesee, that information isn’t very useful.”
At my statement, she huffed and rolled her eyes. She had crossed her arms and shifted her weight to one foot as she glared at me. “Well, Erebus, why don’t you go and investigate yourself? I impelled the only witness to tell me what he saw and that is all he said,” she added.
I hummed in irritation, allowing my eyes to slip shut as I pinched the bridge of my nose.
There had been another attack in Central Park a few hours ago: fifteen people were killed. That was the second attack within the same week and it was all too obviously done to draw my attention; they had gotten it, whoever the hell they were.
“Why won’t you just call the Seekers? Let them do their job,” Genesee suggested. “This isn’t your problem, Erebus.”
My gaze reverted to her and I scoffed, “It is my problem, Genesee. This is my territory.”
She rolled her eyes at me once more and she shook her head as she lifted her arms in defeat. “I’ll keep looking, then.”
I watched her turn on her heels and walk out of the room while murmuring words under her breath I clearly heard, “Eres tan terco...”
(“You are so stubborn...”)
“That woman is so sexy,” Zeus’ husky voice met my ears. I caught sight of him as he and Mardel stepped into the room with smirks on their faces. It was as if they had anticipated what I would do next and they had prepared to accompany me.
“Let’s go,” I said as I stood from my throne.
After being assured that the area was clear, I studied the crime scene carefully. I looked over the concrete floor that was still stained with blood and I searched for anything that would give me some kind of explanation as to what or who had been guilty.
I had discovered one thing: judging by the amount of blood spilled, the humans killed did not serve as meals. No, whoever had done it was not here to feast but merely cause distress.
Although I found it highly unlikely, I couldn’t help but wonder if my little slave had friends who trespassed with her. She was not from this world and I would like to think that if she had come with friends, they wouldn’t have left her to be caught alone nor would they have stuck around after they noticed she went missing.
Whoever was responsible, I had to find them before the problem got out of hand. I did not need the Seekers stepping in, because when someone of a greater power steps into my world, I am forced to step down.
I could not allow that, especially not in my territory.
“The king couldn’t take care of a couple of pathetic vampires, so the Seekers had to step in.”
Luckily, my brother wasn’t one to investigate. However, even if he was, he wouldn’t intervene or alert the rest of the Seekers unless I asked him to for we both knew that coming across any of them wasn’t good news.
I walked further into the park, my senses going on alert as I could feel someone else’s presences--a familiar one, that is. With a sigh, I came to a halt and drew my attention to the symbol painted on the floor that I had caught out of the corner of my eye.
For unfortunate reasons, I knew the symbol all too well: a witch’s hex, “X”.
“Can’t keep the witches under control?”
I wasn’t taken off guard, nonchalantly turning to the man standing in a suit a few feet before me. “Enos...”
My eyes narrowed on him and I caught the smirk on his face as his brown eyes stared directly at me. He chuckled, “You know, Erebus, if you cannot handle the role of a king...perhaps you should reconsider giving it to somebody else.”
The way he went about bringing up the topic struck a nerve and my suspicion of the true criminal shifted to him instead. “Are you responsible for this?” I asked.
“Of course not,” he scoffed. “I wouldn’t dream of going up against the king.”
Of course you wouldn’t.
I wondered...what the hell was he doing so far away from home? As far as the U.S. goes, I own the states from Texas to North Dakota and east from that. He, however, owns everything west from it. My home resides in New York, New York, his in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“What are you doing here, Enos?” I questioned.
He chuckled, “I thought it’d be a good idea to get here before the rest of the purebloods do.”
“Hmm...” I eyed him for a while longer before I reverted my gaze to the symbol on the concrete. I heard Mardel’s and Zeus’ steps near and they ceased as they came to stand behind me. I had given them but a mere glance in acknowledgement, and when I returned to Enos he added, “That is if I’m still invited to the ball.”
What are you playing at..?
I chuckled, pushing through the obvious looks of suspicion on my features. It was no secret that I wasn’t in particularly fond of him, but for professional purposes, I had to pretend otherwise. “You are a...dear friend of mine,” I stated. “Of course you’re invited.”
His presence was unpleasant and it was so even to the men standing behind me. Mardel and Zeus had cleared their throats, I knowing it was a cue for us to take our leave for it wouldn’t be long before the sun would rise.
In leading up to my parting words, I acknowledged, “Well, you know the rules: keep a low profile.”
“Of course…” his voice trailed off. I had parted my lips to speak, but before I could, he added, “I heard a little rumor about you keeping a pureblood vampire as a slave.”
My eyes snapped to him, an even deeper unpleasant feeling striking my chest. He stated, “I look forward to meeting her within the next couple of days. Perhaps I may have a dance with her.” He paused for a moment, winking at me before finishing, “If you wouldn’t mind, of course.”
Without another word, he turned on his heels and walked off. A growl emitted from the back of my throat, a possessiveness unlike any I have ever felt before overcoming me. I didn’t want anyone I didn’t trust around my little Hope.
She is mine.
“Let’s get out of here,” Zeus urged as I turned on my heels to face him and Mardel. I nodded at him and in the next moment, we were off.
I walked down the empty halls of my home, my footsteps breaking the silence in the atmosphere. It was at the crack of dawn and the day guards were barely waking while the others retired to their respective bedrooms.
When I came around the corner of the furthest corridor on the east wing, I took a deep breath and an all too familiar scent met my senses. A smirk played on my lips as I continued my steps until I met the set of double doors that had been positioned open.
I stepped inside, following her scent until I noticed the closet door open and the light on. The thought of the incident of the last time I walked in on her in the exact same place surfaced and I shook my head at her stupidity.
My little slave keeps trapping herself.
I clicked my tongue as I moved my hands over my head, grasping onto the back of my t-shirt and pulling it over my me before tossing it onto the bed. I stood still for a moment and after a few seconds, I expected her to have walked out, but she never did.
“Slave,” I called out for her as I cautiously walked toward the closet; there was no respond.
I furrowed my eyebrows as I came to a halt, and I scanned the room until I caught sight of her out of the corner of my eye. My gaze fell to her, watching her lay still with her face pressed against the marble floor.
Aside from the slight movement of her shoulders caused by her breathing, she didn’t move.
What the hell?
My heart sunk to my stomach. “Hope?” I called out for her again, this time I moved to stand beside her still form. When I crouched down to her, apprehensively eyeing her, I pushed her on her back and slid my hand under her cheek to gently tilted her head to me.
Her long hair covered her face, and with my unoccupied hand, I pushed it out of the way as I caressed her pale cheek. I eyed her soft and peaceful features, admiring her beauty until I spotted the black liquid on the corner her hairline. Hesitantly, I touched her stained forehead with the tips of my fingers and turned my palm up to examine the stain on my own fingers.
Her blood has turned black...
A sigh passed my lips and I straightened on my feet, briefly glancing at my bed through the doorframe. I thought about having her lay in my bed, feeling a sense of sympathy for her, but when I reverted my sight to the woman lying on the floor, I scoffed to myself, “I wish I could trust you.”
With that, I crouched down to her once more and placed an arm under the back of her knees while positioning the other on her upper-back. I lifted her up and into me, and I began my way out of my bedroom and to hers on the west wing of the mansion. All the while, I couldn’t help but stare at her as she nuzzled her head into my chest. She took deep breaths, inhaling my scent and shifting just slightly till where she appeared to have found some sort of comfort.
You are oddly beautiful...Miss Hope.
Her entire being was mesmerizing to me and I all too often found myself mentally disoriented when I thought of her too long. It was sickening and, by frankly, terrifying. She was supposed to mean nothing to me, yet I felt awfully drawn to her in more ways than one; I had not the slightest clue as to why.
Considering possibilities, the thought that she could have been my fated beloved crossed my mind only once: the day my body became resistant toward intentionally inflicting pain on her.
However, she was merely a slave and nothing more--or at least I was supposed to see it as such.
When I came to stop before the door to her bedroom, I noticed Mardel walking out of his slave’s bedroom. He silently closed the door behind him and smirked at me as he noticed my own presence. With little acknowledgement, I emerged into Hope’s bedroom and set her on the bed.
Once doing so, I glanced back to see Mardel standing on the doorway, leaning against the side of the doorframe. His gaze had fallen on Hope then averted to me as I stated, “After awaking from your slumber, bring her a couple of blood bags.”
He nodded in response and I carefully removed the heels from my little Hope’s feet. I moved to the chair of the vanity and took the blanket resting on it to pull it over her resting form, and I spent the next few minutes staring at her. I had lost myself that I hadn’t notice that Mardel had taken his leave until I glanced at the doorway to find that he had gone.
I had only turned to assure myself of his absence because...before the sun rose entirely, I wanted to do something I had been tempted to since the last time my lips touched hers: I cupped the side of her face and brushed my thumb against her temple before lowering myself to her and pressing my lips against her warm and soft ones.
And she is nothing more...
“Thank you for tonight, and the night last week.”
Celic smiled as I walked beside her to escort her to her bedroom after a second night of standing on the dock of that lake we had gone to prior.
“Yeah, don’t mention it...” I mumbled.
I heard a sigh pass her lips and she stopped on her tracks, forcing me to stop on my own as she directed to full sight and attention to me.
“Why do you do that?” she asked with a pout.
“Do what?” I asked sincerely.
She had furrowed her eyebrows at me and in a matter of seconds, the look on her face softened and she shook her head as she mumbled away, “Never mind.”
I was utterly confused by some of her actions, but I chose to disregard them just as she usually asked me to.
When she began walking again, I continued beside her until we met the door to her bedroom and she returned to me. Her eyes locked with my own and I awkwardly stared back at her. There was something that I had been wanting to ask her, but I wasn’t sure how to go about doing so.
She was weird and got overly excited about a lot of things. I didn’t want her to make a big deal out of it, because it really wasn’t.
It. Was. Not. A. Big. Deal.
“So, um...” I hummed as I scratched the back of my head. “Listen, uhh… My brother is hosting this stupid ball thing. I don’t...” I shifted uncomfortably and I was just about ready to tell her to disregard it, but she looked at me with that irresistibly, annoyingly, adorable way that urged me to say what I was going to so, I did, “I can’t show up without a date, and you’re pretty chill. So, I was wondering if...you’d like to...uh...go...with...me?”
This is so fucking awkward...
After a moment of horribly awkward silence, she smiled and an excitement lit up back her eyes. “I’d love to!” she chirped.
At the sound of those words, I let out the breath that I had been holding in my lungs and I nodded. “Okay...Cool...”
She giggled at my response before wrapping her arms around me, and she whispered, “Good night.”
Is this the part where I’m supposed to hug her back?
“Uh...” I hesitantly wrapped my arms around her waist. “Good night,” I responded. She then pulled away from me and she shot me a small smile before retiring to her room. “I’ll see you later,” she whispered through a small crack before completely shutting the door.
I stared at the door for a couple of seconds longer until I turned on my heels and headed to my own room. A few steps in and something felt...off. I felt as if I had done something I wasn’t supposed to and it was...
No, that wasn’t it.
I hadn’t realize what I had done until I passed by the set of twins, Isabelle and Max, standing at the top of the staircase and the image of a nearly identical to Isabelle flashed in my mind.
Silver…The ball…Oh, I’m a fucking idiot.