The Queen in Shadows

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Chapter 6

Leaning my head against the cool tile of the shower I let out a loud yawn. I’m so tired. I stayed up for most of the night, my head spinning with everything that I learned.

There are fourteen other wolves out there, living as humans. The only alphas I have ever sensed are Alex and his father, they are both collared. Who else is out there? I spent a long time thinking about Alex. How he said he was proud of me, the look on his face when he came out, his beautiful hair and the unnecessary cruelty of cutting it.

I know we are enemies, I know we are sworn to hate one another but I wish we could find a way to do it less hideously. We used to live peacefully, no group having power over the other.

I’ve heard my uncle say that it was foolishness on our part to be blindsided by this. Vampires have always been sneaky and the peaceful balance was never comfortable.

I let out another loud yawn before turning off the shower. I wish weekends were a thing for everyone, not just vamps. I could use a day to sleep in.

Today will be a busier day than a weekday and I don’t think I have the energy for it. On the weekends, when Master Vicioso is home, I have to clean and press his uniforms for the week. While I’m doing that, I’m usually asked to do everyones. The laundry room is hot and crowded, I dread this day all week.

Braiding my dark hair I look at myself in the mirror. My hair is long, dark and thick, I didn’t get my fathers curls. My eyes are big and dark, and my skin is like golden honey. I’m short for a wolf, actually, I’m short for a human.

I think back to Alex again. His handsome face and tall, muscular frame. I wonder if anyone thinks I’m beautiful?

I’ve never been allowed to really have friends. My aunt and uncle needed me to keep myself very private, to make sure no one found out about anything they shouldn’t. Before joining the workforce at fifteen, which is the common age for wolves and humans, I was taught at home.

Almost all human children go to school, most wolves do too, though it looks very different from how the others learn. We don’t have actual school buildings so small groups of eight to ten kids are taught in someone’s home by an older or injured wolf who can’t work anymore.

I always wanted to join the “school” on our street. It was a larger group, twelve kids, that I would watch gather at the house down the block. I would sit at my window, alone, watching them go inside together, laughing and pushing each other around. It always made my heart ache with loneliness and jealousy.

My aunt is amazing but I wish I could have one friend. Understandably, boys weren’t allowed either, not that any one had ever asked.

I rush toward the cafe at the edge of the city. This is the Viciosos favorite, the place where they have an account. I have to get here before six on Saturdays to make sure that they haven’t sold out of anything. Every Saturday I pick up four fresh croissants, a platter of cut fruits and cheeses and two bottles of B-negative. It’s a rare blood type, if they don’t have it stocked I have to get another kind and everyone is extra snappy and rude to me all day.

I start to jog, I am about five minutes later than usual, thanks to the time spent standing in the shower doing nothing. I round the corner in time to see a few people exiting before a few more enter. Great.

Joining the small line, I look around the cafe. There are only humans in here now, wolves aren’t served here and no vampire is awake this early. The front area looks like a normal cafe, a few small tables set up in front of pastry cases filled with delicious looking treats I’ve never tried.

The wall behind the cases holds baskets full of fresh breads, fruits and wheels of cheese. Behind the registers are floor to ceiling shelves. They are lined with bottle after bottle of blood. The shelves are backlit which makes the bottles glow slightly and gives the room a reddish color light. It’s so creepy. This place is owned by humans, they are clearly aiming for a certain type of clientele, and they’re nailing it. This place is very popular with higher class vamps.

The only comfort is that, when I am here, the place is full of humans. When I walk past in the afternoon it is always busy, full of vampires.

When it’s my turn to order the boy at the register recognizes me. He smiles at my new gray uniform.

“Hey! The Viciosos usual?”

“Please. Do you still have B-neg?” I ask hopefully.

“Yup, you’re getting the last two bottles!”

I sag, letting out a relieved breath “Thank God!”

Maybe today won’t suck so bad.

As he hands me my order I can hear a few people behind me grumbling about my bottles. They are going to have grumpy bosses today.

Walking toward the door the boy calls out, making me turn back, surprised, “Hey! Happy birthday!”

I blush slightly and nod.

I forgot today was my birthday. My aunt and uncle are always gone when I wake up. The boy doesn’t know that today is my actual birthday, as far as he knows it could have been any day in the past week. I smile like an idiot all the way to the house. He noticed my uniform change from one week to another. Maybe I’m reading too much into this but this is the first time a boy had ever seemed to notice anything about me.

Setting up the breakfast table I try to have everything set before anyone comes in. I’m nervous that they will ask me about the test or say something about how great it is that I’m not a “flea-bag.” Just as I place the blood on the warmers, I hear a door closing. Master and Madam come into the kitchen.

“Oh! Nancy! Human! Congratulations!”

“Thank you, Master Vicioso.” I grind my teeth together. I’ve been working for them for two years. He has called me Nancy, Nora and Nina...never Noelle. No one ever corrects him which leads me to believe that they don’t know my name either. Cool.

Madam looks up, “what?”

“Her uniform,” he points “she’s wearing gray now.”

“That’s not new,” she scrunches her nose.

“Yes, it is dear.”

“Oh, I could have sworn...” her voice trails as she looks over the breakfast table “oh, good! B- Negative!”

I curtsey and head down to the laundry room, quickly. I’ve never been foolish enough to think that they care about me in any way. I’ve always gotten the sense that they look right through me. When I’m in a room and they enter, I might as well be furniture. It still took me by surprise that she didn’t even realize that I wasn’t tested yet. She sees me every day.

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