Make Me Yours
Helena grabbed her duffel bag from the collection belt and found Maya and Ben waiting for her at the arrivals. Both of them sat on the plastic bench with bored looks on their faces as if they had undergone this same scenario a million times.
She clutched her luggage closer to her side and strode over to them. “I’m done.”
Maya grinned, jumping out of her seat. “Nice. Let’s get going. I can’t wait to explore.”
“You shouldn’t wander around by yourself, Maya,” Ben grumbled as he picked up his bag.
Maya hugged Helena close with one arm. “I won’t be alone, right, sis?”
Helena lifted her free hand in defence. “I’m not getting involved in this.”
“Please?” Maya begged. Her large green eyes bore into Helena’s.
With a sigh, she finally caved. “Fine.”
“First, we must find the meeting place,” Ben said.
“We could take a cab,” Maya offered.
“None of us have enough money to do that unless you’ve robbed a bank when I wasn’t looking.”
Maya glanced at Helena with a hopeful look.
“I’m broke. Alexander pays the bills,” she replied.
Maya’s shoulders fell and a pout found its way to her face. “That vampire could have given us some cash for travelling expenses. Not only did we have to buy tickets ourselves, we flew Economy. I hate Economy!”
“We always fly Economy…” Ben said in a bored tone and aimed for the airport exit.
They trailed behind him as Maya grumbled curses and scratched her neon-red hair. Her dark roots were showing, making Helena recall the time she had her hair dyed purple. Since meeting the Council members for the first time, she hadn’t bothered changing her hair colour, leaving it her natural chocolate brown.
Ben led them to the tram station where they took a seat on the metal bench, putting their bags between their feet as it if was natural. Helena found it strange how they seemed to get along much better as the time went by. Could she put her faith in these people? She stared blankly at the pavement and lost track of time.
Maya nudged her side with her elbow. “It’s here. Let’s get on.”
Blinking into awareness, Helena found a red-bellied and white-roofed tram sitting on the tracks with its doors wide open. People pushed their way inside with large suitcases and overstuffed backpacks.
Within minutes, the three of them were squished between the door and other passengers who sucked the air out of the cramped compartment.
The heat in the carriage grew unbearable, but she couldn’t do anything about it. There wasn’t enough room for her to take her jacket off. If she did, she could hit someone, so she remained stationary and worshipped the coldness the glass window behind her provided.
Forty minutes later, they were nearing their destination. There was enough seating available for them to relax and enjoy the dusty air that had lingering scents of strong perfume.
Helena stumbled out of the tram, inhaling the late afternoon air. They were at the Wien-Mitte, close to a massive shopping centre. Groups of people carried colourful paper bags out of the building the front of which was perched on green glass-encased pillars.
“So where are we going from here?” Maya asked, seemingly unaffected by their journey.
Ben checked his phone, typing something on its surface. Once done, he shoved it back into his jeans pocket. “It’s a ten-minute walk from here. Apparently, the place is famous.”
Maya grinned. “Really?”
“Yes, it appears that vampires like the oddest of places,” Ben commented but didn’t offer anything else as he merged with the crowd of people.
Maya nattered about the European cities she had visited on their travels. Half-listening, Helena studied the buildings. The ones she recognised were of Baroque architecture and stood out amidst the sea of glass and steel, yet both styles seemed to complement one another. Vienna truly was a beautiful sight to see.
As Ben had said, they arrived ten minutes later at the Landstrabe district, on the corner of Kegelgasse and Lowergasse according to the signs they passed.
Helena marvelled at the multi-coloured apartment building. It was like a mosaic with each apartment painted blue, white, orange, or red to distinguish them.
“What’s this place called?” Helena asked him.
She repeated it in her mind. After a dozen times, she started doubting her mind’s pronunciation.
At the main entrance stood a man in a black hoodie, tracksuit bottoms, and sneakers. He waved them over with a half-smile on his bearded face.
“You must be Mr Grekov’s friends, no?” the man spoke with heavily accented English.
Ben said something in German, and the young man sighed in relief. The two of them resumed their conversation in the foreign language, leaving Helena out of it. Maya injected herself into the discussion with ease. To Helena, they sounded like they were arguing, but the smile on Maya’s face remained unmistakable—she was having fun.
According to Maya’s translation on the stairwell, one of the apartments in the building belonged to Alexander. The mention of his name caused Helena to furrow her brows. She had received no word about Lucious or his condition.
Upon entering the apartment on the third floor, Helena half-expected to find only beds and sex toys scattered around. To prove her wrong, the place seemed down-to-earth and cared for. The furniture was simple, monochrome, and scarce. A black carpet spanned the whole living room and, thereafter, the glossy polish of the dark oak parquet reflected the sunshine as it peeked in through the large windows.
“This is kind of cosy for a vampire lair,” Maya commented, scrutinising the room with her hawk-like stare.
“But, for some reason, I feel like something is going to go wrong,” Helena replied.
Maya snorted. “Never expect things to go right. Realistically speaking, they never do.”
“Is that your life’s motto?”
Maya scratched the back of her head. “Now that I think about it, yeah. It is.”
“Great, I never thought I would be learning life mottos of hunters.”
“And I never thought I would talk to a vampire instead of killing him. I’m half-expecting those vampires to pull one over on us.”
Helena frowned. “One what?”
“Don’t worry about it.” Maya walked to Ben. He was talking to the man who was handing him a key which Helena assumed was for the apartment.
The guide left, and Maya was engrossed in a conversation with Ben.
Helena looked out the window at the tired grey apartments across the street. The only lively piece of architecture in the vicinity was the apartment complex they were in. The rest of the neighbourhood appeared exhausted with an endless flow of tourists arriving outside to snap pictures.
Ben’s heavy hand landed on her shoulder. “Are you nervous?”
She took a step to one side, creating some distance between them. “A little.”
“I’ve looked into Reaver. Some hunters I know tried tracking him and failed. He never comes to the meetings in person.”
“That’s a good thing, isn’t it?”
Ben’s silence did nothing to reassure her. When he did not offer anything further, Maya waved at her.
“The sun will be setting soon, we should train while we can,” Maya said and shot Ben a hopeful look. “Are you coming with us?”
Helena mentally groaned at the word ‘training’. Her muscles were sore from the non-stop exercise Maya put her through. But, she didn’t see the need to complain. No matter how tough the training was, some part of her wanted to get stronger. She didn’t want to rely on Lucious anymore. He couldn’t keep both of them safe without bearing the burden of getting hurt.
Maya took possession of their bags and carried them into the hallway.
“Where are you taking that?” Helena called after her, trying to keep up.
“To our room, why?”
Helena froze. “How many bedrooms did the guy say this place has?”
“How are all of us supposed to stay in a one bedroom apartment?”
Maya shrugged and pushed the door open. Curious about the arrangement, Helena followed behind. The room was simple with one double bed and an inbuilt wardrobe with mirror doors. She looked at the way the mirror reflected the bed and rolled her eyes. This was definitely Alexander’s apartment.