Terra (The Vulgri Hybrids Book One)

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Chapter 22

| Nathalia |

“Are you looking for me?”

Kagame studied the four of us through her lashes. Up close, she resembled an Asian porcelain doll, her skin so vibrant and smooth. Her hair was fully covering her forehead and was slightly longer on the sides. She had big round eyes with cafe au lait irises, defined further by the black eyeliner she wore with a cat-eye finish. Her cheeks had a lovely natural pink-tinge, her nose dainty, and her rosy glossed lips were small and luscious, contributing nicely to her overall beauty.

Cassy was the first one to recover. “Hi! I’m Cassy. This is my twin, Lia,” she motioned her hand to me. “Lana and Princess Yllona,” she pointed to the other two.

“Hi,” I smiled and offered my hand, the surest way to know if she was what we were looking for.

Kagame’s eyes wandered to my hand but she outright ignored it. Instead, she grabbed a rubber band from inside the pocket of her skirt and tied her hair in a flawless bun. I casually retrieved my hand and put it behind me, slightly embarrassed by her rejection.

“What do you need from me?” she asked, stepping away from the lake and sitting on a nearby bench where a bag, most probably hers, was waiting for her. She proceeded with untying the laces of her ice skates.

Lana finally spoke up, fixing a warm smile on her face, she introduced herself, “I am Lana George, Ilwani, a guild member of Aquarius. We need to talk to you in private.” Lana extended her arm in greeting. I arched my brow to see if she would be successful. To my surprise, Kagame accepted Lana’s hand, and her eyes slowly widened in surprise. Yllona was right, she was our girl.

Kagame jerked her hand back as if she touched a searing torch. She quickly pulled out a pair of sky blue doll shoes from her bag and slipped them on her feet. Tossing her skates unceremoniously inside her bag, she stood up and glared at us. “Do not go anywhere near me again. I don’t want to be a part of this.”

We watched as she disappeared into the Syren building.

“Now, what?” I asked, balking at our failure.

Lana slumped on the bench that was previously occupied by Kagame, looking flat out crestfallen. “She knows. Somehow, she is aware of the prophecy but she doesn’t want anything to do with it.”

“Then, let’s convince her,” Yllona said. “She must want something. We give it to her in exchange for her cooperation,” she said as if it was all that simple.

Cassy placed her thumb in between her lips, not really biting it, but more on nibbling, something she usually did when thinking. “Let’s look into her first. Find out all about those rumors you’ve said,” she said looking at Yllona.

“That could work,” interjected Lana. “Oh God, this is all making me thirsty.” Lana stood up and looked at me and Cassy. “I’ve completed the renovation of the storehouse. Wanna check it out?”

“Sure, I’ve got nothing to do,” I said then regarded Yllona. “You coming with us, Princess?”

She hesitated for a second before nodding. Together, the four of us traced our steps back to the parking area. We followed Lana to her red CRV. Before entering, we all watched Yllona glamour her wings, the edges disappearing in a dispersion effect, like millions of pixie dust eating it all away. It felt weird looking at her without her angelic wings but we were going to human territory so she needed to disguise them for a while.

I sat in the passenger’s seat next to Lana while Cassy and Yllona sat together in the backseat. With all of us inside the car, Lana maneuvered out of the parking into the only road leading out of Mesina. When finally past the checkpoint, she stepped on the gas and tripled her speed, laughing as she did so.

“Oh holy angel, are you trying to kill us?” Yllona shrieked, grabbing the seatbelt and tightened it around her.

Lana chuckled. “I’m trying to get us there faster, Princess. Don’t worry, I’m serving steak.”

“Steak? R-really?” Yllona stuttered, suddenly forgetting our current speed.

“Yeah, you’re not the only one with a secret craving,” Lana muttered. What would normally take us an hour to be fully immersed in human territory took us only twenty minutes. Lana parked the car in reverse, not even checking her mirrors and her back, and the car landed perfectly in the middle.

“You got some awesome driving and parking skills,” I commented, my mouth slightly agape.

Lana winked. “Thanks, girl.”

Going out of the car, I scanned the storehouse. From outside, I could easily see that it was abandoned a long time ago. The brick wall had torn posters, hanging creepers, and ghetto vandalism plastered everywhere. There was a fade out sign hanging above the double doors and dried leaves littered the stone pavement.

“Did you rent this whole place?” Cassy asked.

Lana walked ahead of us. “Oh no, I bought it. The human owner gave it to me for a steep price.”

“Wow. How did you manage to afford it?” Even with all my savings from my gigs and street performances, I still wouldn’t be able to buy this kind of place.

Lana shrugged. “Guild quests. I managed to finish a lot these past three years so I earned enough.” This new information made me respect Lana more. She was a self-made independent woman and I admired that about her.

“You could clean this up with magic,” Yllona commented, surveying the scene in front of us.

Lana smirked. “I liked it this way actually, it contributes nicely to the disguise.” With a flick of her hand, the doors opened and she ambled inside, motioning for us to follow.

The stark contrast of the exterior to what greeted us inside was explicit. Lana turned the whole place into a modern industrial loft. You could see everything from the door. At our right was a split-level living room with a comfortable-looking black sofa and a flat-screen TV attached to a red brick wall. The kitchen was directly in front of us with a shining obsidian rectangular island counter and metallic red cabinets on the wall. On our left was her elevated bedroom with a king-sized bed, scarlet covers, and two black faux fur rugs showing underneath the bed.

I whistled. “I love what you did with the place.”

“Oh, it’s nothing. Come, I’ll show you what’s more important.” Lana walked past her bed and at the corner of the room was a single wooden door. She touched the knob and smiled at us with pure excitement. “Ready?”

I eyed her suspiciously. “Don’t tell me we’re going to freaking Narnia.”

Yllona snickered and I smiled at her for appreciating my humor; she smiled back. I decided that she was okay.

Lana gave me a bored expression before opening the door. ”Tada! Welcome to our own personal training room.”

The space that stood before us was a place that every bodybuilder would dream of. At the very center of the room was a boxing ring twice the size of an ordinary one and around it were a mixture of gym equipment. Everything were in perfect order. The dumb bells, kettle bells, and barbells were neatly stacked in one area, and in another were different kinds of benches. There were also cables and pulleys, five treadmills, stability and wall balls, and machines designed for specific body parts. The high ceiling was also quite impressive with its display of bright aluminum lights and of course the overall theme of the room was in red and black.

“Oh wow, this is impressive, Lana,” Cassy commented.

Lana grinned. “I know right. I’ve been working on this since you guys arrived and I’m quite proud of it.”

“Not bad,” Yllona said, nodding while looking around.

“Thanks, Princess. I better start on that steak I promised.” Smiling, Lana went back to the first room and went straight to the kitchen. Cassy, Yllona, and I sat on the bar stools at the island counter. We watched Lana as she took a pan from one cabinet and placed it on the stove to let it heat. She then retrieved four steaks from her fridge, placed her hand above it, and all of them thawed instantly. As she seasoned the steaks with salt, pepper, and olive oil, my mouth felt like it conjured a dam of saliva. When I looked at Yllona, I bit my lip to suppress my laughter because she was watching Lana’s every move like a hawk. I guessed being a hybrid didn’t make her a complete vegetarian. I could have only imagine how it was for her to eat almost the same salads everyday. It must had been a complete torture. If it were me, I would go insane.

My hunger doubled when the savory aroma of the steak filled the room. Yllona licked and bit her lip in anticipation. This time, I deliberately let out a chuckle, looking straight at her. She stared at me with embarassment, her cheeks turning beetroot red. My chuckle turned into a full blown laughter and I only stopped when Cassy gave me her classical ‘Stop it Lia’ eye.

“You’re so funny,” I told Yllona while wiping the sole tear that left my right eye.

“Shut up. You’re a fucking wolf so you should know how delicious a steak is!” exclaimed Yllona.

I stopped riling her because Lana already served the steak in front of us. I eagerly grabbed my knife and fork. Lana did not join us yet and instead went to the ice cream freezer and opened it. I wondered why she would serve dessert already, we hadn’t even started eating. But when I saw her grabbed a blood bag with small crushed ice still present on its surface, I almost gagged. She got a straw from somewhere, punctured the bag and drank thirstily from it.

My jaw went slack and I just watched her finish the entire content of the bag in mere seconds. It completely slipped my mind that Lana was a Suuri. Lana sighed in satisfaction after finishing her ‘appetizer’. Joining us, she smiled cheekily, “Let’s eat?”

Suddenly, my steak seemed less appetizing.

***

It was almost midnight when we arrived back in the dorm. I had a nice day and I was glad to get to know Yllona even just a little bit because I could feel that she was still hesitant to fully open up.

I remembered to check my phone when I was inside of my bathroom. Theo had three texts and one missed call. I quickly opened his texts.

Where are you, baby?

Are you with your twin and Lana?

Call me when you’re back to the dorm.

Smiling, I opened recent calls and called him. He dropped my call and called back.

“Hey...” I said, picking up. I wanted to pinch my sides for my sudden sultry tone. When did I become like this? Jeez.

“Hi,” Theo’s voice made my skin tingle, like the good kind of goosebumps. “Busy day?”

“Yeah sorry about that. I was in Lana’s place with Cassy and Yllona. We had a great time and I sort of forgot my phone,” I said, making sure my tone was apologetic.

“It’s fine, babe. I had something to do too today.”

I straightened my spine and frowned. “Like what? Who were you with?”

He chuckled. “Are you jealous?”

“Of course not! Why would I be?” I said in the most gentle voice I could muster but my grip on my phone tightened.

He chuckled once more and I could already imagine the smirk forming on his face. He yawned before answering, “Let’s sleep, baby. I had a long day with the boys dealing with some pack issues.”

Upon hearing that he was with his friends, my shoulders relaxed and I found myself smiling again. “Alright. Goodnight, Theo.”

“Goodnight, baby.”

I pressed the end button and went on with my planned bath. Feeling completely refreshed and invigorated, I went out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around my body and my hair.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. And I knew instantly that it was the bad kind of goosebumps.

Someone was in the room.

The window was open and the cool breeze of the night hit my face in such a cold, threatening way. I took a few steps back until my shoulder blades met the bathroom door.

I opened my right hand and summoned a long thorny vine.

A hooded figure emerged from the shadows. He drifted slowly towards me, his built lean and muscular. At this moment, I regretted dimming my lights in preparation to sleep, it made this would be assailant more ill-boding. He was wearing a black mask that covered both his mouth and nose and his eyes were not visible due to the hood of the jacket he was wearing.

With a big lump forming in my throat, I asked the most obvious question, “W-Who are you?”

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