Blood on Roses

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Descended in Danger

“Humans will never realize that they are the real monsters.”
~ Hailee Greene

TWENTY-SIX

On Saturday morning, Alecx insisted that we eat breakfast at a local café. He vowed that they had the best blueberry muffins and the prettiest latte art.

We found a table near the window, which was a horrible idea on my part since the rising sun was scorching my delicate vampire skin.

I tried to ignore it and picked up the menu, but Alecx plucked it away from my hands with a cheeky grin. “I know just what you’d like. Wait for the surprise.”

I complied. Great, now I have to act like everything is scrumptious when it tastes like plastic.

When Alecx checked his phone, I scanned the interior of the cozy café. The decorations were aesthetic, and I saw some teens attempting to take artsy photos of their food.

I shifted around in my seat. There, in the far corner of the shop, I thought I saw a familiar mop of ginger red hair. But I got distracted by the sound of a barista putting down my mug of coffee. Drawn on the creamy dark background of the surface was a miniature white rose. It was no wonder Alecx thought I’d like this. Everyone knew I had a thing for roses.

Before I could express my thanks, the barista set something else in front of me. An ice cream-like dessert rested in the center of six cerise rose petals. The auburn-colored plate emphasized the light shade of the sweet and the pale pink cream around it.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Pistachio and cardamom semifreddo with rose cream.” She smiled before leaving me with a group of words that I barely understood.

“There’s no way I’m not taking a picture of this.” I brought out my phone. I snapped numerous different angles of the dessert and cappuccino.

Alecx had ordered a simple latte and muffin. I ogled the beautiful food set in front of me.

I murmured sadly, “Why didn’t you take me here before?”

“Relax.” Alecx chuckled. “You’ll taste it now, won’t you?”

No, I won’t.

I forced an expectant smile on my face and took a sip of the drink. I froze my features so my disappointment wouldn’t show. Something that should’ve been heavenly to my taste buds became a mixture of Coptis chinensis and cherry yogurt.

“I knew you’d like it!” Alecx bought my content expression easily and grinned proudly.

I pretended to eagerly scoop a spoonful of the dessert that I couldn’t remember the name of. I couldn’t even begin to describe the awfulness that befell my tongue. I kept a conversation going with Alecx so he wouldn’t question me too much about the food.

While Alecx busied himself with his muffin, I turned around and scanned the far corner of the shop. Just as I thought, Kaydence sat on one of the indoor swing sets across from someone.

I stretched my neck up further to look past her head and see who she was talking to. I saw none other than Grant. That made sense; they were both vampire hunters.

I once again felt hurt that Kaydence didn’t even tell me she returned from specialized training. I couldn’t help but suspect that she knew my secret.

But how? Ever since I became a full-fledged vampire, I hadn’t even seen her.

“What’re you looking at?” Alecx finally questioned. I pointed Kaydence out.

“Oh, want to go over and say hi?” he asked innocently. I frantically waved my hand no.

Alecx tilted his head, then made a face. “You see that guy she’s with? That’s Grant, the Elitist I told you about.”

“Which?” I glanced back once more to confirm that we spoke of the same person.

He leaned in and whispered, “The vampire that works as a vampire hunter.”

“Seriously?” I nearly choked on my cappuccino, but I managed to quickly school my panicked expression.

“There’s no need to be scared, jeez.” Alecx ruffled the top of my head in a very big-brother manner. “He may be a vampire now, but he used to be human. He didn’t want to be turned.”

Grant’s vampire origins were the least of my worries. Any vampire could tell that I wasn’t human. Did Grant approach me during the funeral because he suspected that I wasn’t human? Why was he talking to Kaydence, then? All he had to do was flash a camera at me to prove that I was a vampire.

I clenched my already pale fists until my knuckles were paper white.

Then, it was Grant who murdered Hailee during the first two times I relived Monday. He mercilessly lacerated Hailee’s entire body until she bled to death.

But Hailee was a Pureblood who held her own in battle. When Zach and I encountered Grant in the vast, vacant room, he was unscathed. How could that be? How horrifyingly powerful was he?

I was so preoccupied with my crazying thoughts and boiling rage. I nearly jumped in my seat when Alecx waved his hand in front of my face.

“It’s okay. See? They’re leaving,” Alecx comforted, still convinced that I found Grant terrifying.

I twisted my body around to see. Sure enough, Kaydence and Grant parted ways at the exit of the café. Grant instantly zoomed out of my sight. He was apparently rather open about his vampirism. Kaydence began speed-walking in the direction of the vampire hunter base that I visited some time ago.

There was a high chance that Grant told Kaydence about me. I could very well be exposed. But with Alecx on my tail, I couldn’t go anywhere that might reveal anything about The Ones.

Still, I didn’t want to ruin Alecx’s thoughtfulness. I ate every last bite of the dessert although each swallow was torture.

That night, Alecx set a sleeping bag in my room and wouldn’t budge on his decision no matter how I attempted to convince him that it wasn’t necessary. I was planning on meeting with Ashlynne tonight, but chances seemed slim now.

I turned to my side so it wouldn’t look like I was texting anyone. With my phone on mute, I explained to Ashlynne that meeting up this weekend had taken a turn to impossible. Afterward, I texted Hailee about the current emergency. After I sent the messages, I deleted the conversations to leave no traces of evidence.

I realized that Hailee’s number was the only one I had. These great-grandpa vampires needed to learn to get a phone! I wasn’t going to send a damn messenger pigeon to communicate!

After Alecx fell asleep, the only thing I could do was read books with my night vision. That night felt extra long, and so did the rest of the weekend.


It was Monday, April 21st, exactly one week since the day I lived thrice.

Alecx had driven me to school in my convertible, then headed off to, apparently, the hunters’ base to meet up with Arthur. He probably had investigating to do. I heard some vampire cases popped up near a nightclub.

During second period, our math teacher wasn’t present, and for some reason, no substitute showed. Sophi and I gathered with some of the girls in class to chat since we had nothing else to do.

“Say, like, you’re going off to this, like, place or country, and you can only, like, take one food with you. What would that, like, be?” one girl asked, quirking one of her filled-in eyebrows.

Sophi fluttered her mascaraed eyelashes and replied without hesitation, “Cooked rice.”

The rest of us giggled at her response. When confronted about her reasoning, Sophi said, “I’m fine with most dishes of the world, but my rice is the best rice.”

I didn’t pay much attention to their conversation afterward. Sophi’s eccentric and gregarious personality was what drove many to come to like her. Compared to her, sometimes I wondered if I should be more outgoing.

Just then, someone tapped my arm. Startled, I blinked at a girl who looked at me with an expectant glint in her eyes. “Say, Hazel, I heard a mega hot guy picked you up the other day. He’s in college, right? What’s he like?”

It never ceased to amaze me how much people loved to gossip. I mentally prepared myself for a squeal storm. I kept my mouth shut and right away, another girl jumped in.

“Oh my God, I dated a college guy two years ago. He was such a jerk! He wanted me to sleep with him after our second date!”

As the other girls burst into their own ex stories, I remained as a listener and reminisced the time when Zach waited for me by my car. He didn’t even notice how much attention he attracted.

I miss him, I admitted. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why he chose to distance himself out of the blue. Perhaps it was because of his haunting past, but Zach had always been too unpredictable.

During our lunch period, Sophi and I strolled down the semi-empty staircase while discussing an upcoming math test.

“Uh, hey! Hazel, right?” Sophi and I turned to a stranger stopping us on the second floor. Some of his friends stood behind him.

“Yes?”

He beamed. “Thanks for freeing me from that crazy bitch the other day. I’m Marc.”

I glanced at his outstretched hand but didn’t take it. Puzzled, I asked, “I’m sorry, who are you?”

I then noticed that some students around us have stopped or slowed to see our interaction. Specifically, glaring at Marc, but he didn’t seem to mind.

His friend nudged his arm. “See? She doesn’t even remember you.”

Marc retracted his hand and shooed his friend away, then looked back at me. “A couple of weeks back, my ex-girlfriend tried to stab me with a knife in the middle of the atrium. You seized her like a hero and saved me. I just want to say thanks.”

I instantly recalled Marc as the douchebag who cheated on Claire twice, drove her nuts, then pinned all the blame on her.

Sophi subtly tugged my sleeve a few times. I ignored her signal.

Marc’s smile dropped as words flew out of my mouth, “I was saving Claire, not you. If she harmed you with that knife, it would count as a criminal record and severely affect her future. Believe me when I say I want you to die a thousand times over. Approach me again, and the next one I’d be choking is you.”

I stared calmly into Marc’s bewildered eyes. The number of onlookers increased when Marc explained to me who he was. They all either gasped or whistled after my speech. Even Sophi had her jaw slightly ajar.

“Another insane woman.” With no other choice, Marc huffed and walked off, as if escaping, with his friends.

“Dang, I wish I got a video of that!” People’s chatter struck me awake like lightning. I did it again. I did exactly what Hailee had warned me not to. If students took out their phones like last time, I wouldn’t show up in them now.

I dragged a stunned Sophi with me until we arrived at the woodshop hallway. The woodshop classes were always loud, so not a lot of people sat here.

“Gosh, who are you?” Sophi said half-jokingly, attempting to ease the tension. A small trace of fear laced in her voice. We sat down, and for once, Sophi fell silent. I ate quickly and quietly, hoping to drown out the horrid taste of the sandwich with my thoughts.

I finished way before Sophi did and grabbed my water bottle. I had already dissolved the special condiment into the water this morning while Alecx was in the bathroom. The discomfort in my stomach eased as the mixture ran down my esophagus.

“Are you going through a tough stage of your life, Dawson?” Sophi suddenly asked as I lowered my water bottle.

“What do you mean?”

“I know Kaydence’s transfer affected you a lot, but I’m your friend, too. You can confront me about anything, too.” Sophi’s supportive smile almost made me cry.

I broke out into the same smile. “Thanks. I’ll never forget that.”

But gratitude was gratitude. I didn’t plan on ever telling Sophi my origin. I didn’t plan on ever telling anybody.

I checked my phone. Hailee still hadn’t read my message, and I couldn’t skip school, nor could I go anywhere with Alecx following me.

After Sophi and I parted ways, I headed to the washroom and tried to call Hailee, but it wouldn’t connect.

I had a good half hour left of the lunch period, and I had nothing to do. I traveled up to the third floor and found a corner in the math hallway to sit down. The classes here were usually quiet. I relaxed my head against the wall and closed my eyes.

I wish I knew how my power worked.

Instantly, every rule and trick of my ability flowed into my mind as though it had always been there. Presently, I possessed power equivalent to an Elite, so I didn’t have enough power to control another, but if I ever became a Pureblood, manipulating others would get easier.

The more specific the wish, the less energy it’d consume to make it a reality. Wishing for a new hairstyle was more draining compared to requesting for a particular color, texture, length, and style.

My ability would lock itself if I were ever in a very emotional state, almost like preventing me from doing anything by impulse. No wonder nothing happened when I wished that Hailee would come back to life.

All-powerful at first glance, yet containing such limitations.

If I didn’t want to die of exhaustion as a vampire, I’d better follow these guidelines.

I wish I knew where Hailee was. Asking myself for information was simple. The desired answer would pop into my hippocampus like I always knew.

Hailee was currently in a city in China that I didn’t recognize. She was probably there on a mission.

I slapped my forehead. What was I supposed to do? Alecx would surely be outside right after school. I had no time to go to the base.

Just then, I had an idea. I could probably go to the library, then say I had a bad stomach ache. He wouldn’t follow me all the way to the restroom, would he?

That afternoon, everything went as planned, except Alecx insisted that he waited around the shelves near the washroom. He had a perfect view of the main gates of the library. I groaned while shutting myself into one of the stalls.

I wondered what would happen if I wished to teleport.

I held up my wristwatch and observed the time. I wish I could teleport to Harvick’s office.

My eyes groggily opened. I quickly checked the time. I was unconscious for about three minutes. I sat up on the couch, but Harvick wasn’t here. I only needed a location in mind to teleport to a designated place. Now, I needed to wish for Harvick’s position.

Before I could do that, the door flung open, and Zach burst in. His eyes were fixed on a piece of paper in hand.

“Harv, about the stuff France compiled,” Zach began, then glanced up and realized that I was the only one here. I was surprised by how much I missed his voice. It brought back unwanted memories of his reassuring smile even when he was dying.

I shot up from my seat and immediately, my vision blackened in dizziness. I had to sit down for a couple of seconds before standing back up slowly. Wishing to teleport took a toll on my body.

In the corner of my eye, I saw Zach’s outstretched hands, but he quickly pulled them back to his sides. I brushed my hair out of my face and turned to him.

“What are you doing here?” Zach asked and folded the piece of paper into his pocket before I could question it.

“I need to talk to Harvick,” I explained. “I think my identity is exposed.”

His expression immediately took a turn. “Was it Carrington or Kaydence? Or your imaginary boyfriend?”

“Alecx isn’t my imaginary boyfriend. I just had a crush on him,” I clarified, slightly embarrassed. “It was Kaydence; she found out.”

“When?”

“Saturday morning.”

He fixed a piercing glare at me. “Why didn’t you tell us right after?”

I wasn’t sure if telling Zach was the right thing to do, but I had to say something threaded in truth to explain myself, “Arthur’s been worried. He assigned Alecx to act as my bodyguard. I couldn’t go anywhere with him around. I snuck out today to come here.”

Zach’s gaze softened when he saw that I was just as anxious as he was.

As usual, it was hard to pick up exactly what was on his mind. He marched over and seated me back down on the sofa by my shoulders.

“Obviously, you’re not going back to school,” said Zach. “Harv handles things like this. I’ll find him. Stay right here.”

He sped out the door before I could react. I restlessly crossed my legs and sank into the couch. Alecx would get suspicious if I left for too long. But maybe it’d be wiser if I disappeared from my old life.

But, then what? Was I supposed to live in hiding for the rest of my life?

Even if Zach were to erase Kaydence’s memories, it’d be of no use. I couldn’t stay away from her forever. As soon as she came within a two-meter radius of me, she’d find out that I was no longer human. I was sure Zach considered that, too.

Five minutes later, Alecx called me. I stared at his contact photo for the longest time, which was a picture we took together three years ago at his sixteenth birthday party. My face was that of pure jubilation since I just won a game against him.

Goodbye, Alecx.

I accepted the call and lifted the phone to my ear. “Hello?”

“Hazel, where are you?” Alecx’s voice rang, unusually stern.

“Don’t call me when I’m in the washroom, you dummy.”

“I asked other people to go in and check. There’s no one in there. Where’d you sneak off to?” Alecx demanded. “I don’t think you understand your situation. We’re here trying our best to keep you safe, but do you think this is a joke?”

Oh shit, he’s mad.

It was a lot more dangerous for me to stay with him, but of course, he didn’t know that.

“Tell me where you are. Please.”

I heard the desperation in his voice and knew that he was genuinely worried to death. I didn’t have much time to think about it, but there was only one thing I could do.

“I can’t. Have a chat with Kaydence. She’ll tell you why.” Not knowing what else to say, I snapped the connection and shut my phone off. I was surprisingly calm.

Time slowly ticked away while I gazed ahead at nothing in particular. At last, Harvick burst through the entrance. As the door shut behind him, he tugged his hood off.

Harvick jumped straight to the point. “Zachary told me what happened. If you could agree, I’d like to transfer you immediately to another location.”

“It’s no use if I go to another city. Kaydence has plenty of pictures of me. I doubt she’d give up if I disappeared somewhere. Let me stay here. I just won’t be active outside. Can you keep me busy with something in the meantime?”

He seemed surprised for a moment at my detached tone, but he briskly nodded in agreement. “I’ll fill Hailee in with the details once she returns on Thursday night. She has experience in both the vampire and the human world. You can go to her or me anytime you want. And, if you’re up for it, Roman’s leaving in ten minutes for a quick mission.”

That was how I ended up in Vancouver ten minutes later.

With powers as convenient and useful as Roman’s and Ashton’s, the mission was a breeze. Fortunately for us, it was a cloudy day. We had some extra time, so Ashton and I wandered down the coast and passed by the Canada Place. I took plenty of photos.

“Did something happen between you and Zach?” Ashton blurted after moments of contemplation. He didn’t want to pry, but curiosity got the better of him.

“How could something happen if nothing was there to begin with?”

“Yeesh.” Ashton chuckled lightly. “He must’ve taken an extra jerk pill if you’re already this salty.”

My face burned. I mumbled, “I’m not salty.”

“Don’t take that old man too seriously. He’s used to believing that he’s bad luck. One day, I’m sure he’ll realize he’s missing out.”

I’d probably be dead before that happens.

“Cheer up, onee-chan, life goes on,” Ashton added cheerily.

A small smile suffused onto my lips. I kept my head down. When I thought about Zach, I remembered that I completely forgot to tell him earlier that I needed to speak to him.

Oh, well. Hailee was returning in a few days, anyway. I’d ask her to communicate, then.

I took a deep breath and forced myself to clear my mind. Ashton was right. Life went on. I already decided that I wouldn’t give up. In the meantime, I needed to focus on staying safe.

“Thanks, Ashton. I feel much better,” I said gratefully and turned to shoot him a smile.

I didn’t expect his widened dark brown eyes to fix on me in utter shock and despair.

“Hazel,” Roman mumbled, nevertheless dangerous. “What did you just call me?”

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