The Vampire Peasant: A Sinister Heart Novel

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Chapter 7

7

“Uhhh . . . Vanni? Could you perhaps get off me?” Filamina, my lovely mate, asked. She didn’t yell at me this time. She was nice to me. She was acting somewhat pleasant toward me.

Yeah, only to hang you later.

No, she won’t. She will never betray me. Stop lying to me, demon!

Stupid vampire, I am not lying! It’s the simple fucking truth. She’s fae. You can’t trust her. You can’t ever trust the fae. They’re conniving creatures.

And demons aren’t?

Hey! We’re aren’t out to trick you about what we want. We don’t hide behind masks. They do. They like to play games and make you fall for them, and once they have you in their clutches, you are as good as dead. We play games and do harm, but we never kill. There’s a difference.

Sounds like the same damn thing to me.

Stupid, pathetic vampire. You’ll never understand until it happens to you.

I’m assuming you fell for one then?

Shut it. I didn’t fall for one of those damned creatures, and I never will. I’m just informing you, that’s all.

Hmmm . . .

“Vanni?”

The sound of my mate’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts. I shook my head to clear away the argument I had with my demon side to focus on her.

I stared down into those beautiful brown eyes, losing myself, as I did every time. She was looking back at me, confused.

“Huh?” I asked her.

I knew why she was confused.

She was probably confused as to how I had two different personalities. That, or she probably saw my eyes glossed over, leaving me out of it.

What the hell?

I suddenly heard Kai’s voice, and he sounded surprised. I was waiting for the irritation and hatred to come.

Three . . . two . . . one . . .

“What is that doing here, and why are you on top of it?” Kai yelled, angry. Yeah, he was angry.

Told you so.

Shut it, demon.

Let me out. I’ll save our asses—or, should I say, your stupid mess.

How? I don’t know how to do that.

Just close your eyes and count down from five.

Okay. Wait a minute.

What now?

I thought you weren’t going to help me.

Well, as much as I love seeing you in pain, it’s my body too, and I don’t appreciate bruises, bruises because of your dumb ass.

Hmmm . . . Okay . . . Five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . .

Yes! Finally! I’m free!

“Well?” Kai was growing angrier by the second.

“Hmmm. I don’t like your tone. I don’t do demands,” I said with a smirk. I was trying to rile him up, and it was working—not to my surprise, anyway.

“What did you just say?” Kai growled.

His eyes turned black. He was holding himself back from transforming, and I was liking every minute of it.

I chuckled, finding this very amusing, resulting in him getting angrier, lengthening his fangs and claws.

“Well, if you must know, I was seducing the bitch,” I said in a deep husky voice. I did that on purpose, staring straight at her. It was working. I could tell because she was growing angrier the more aroused she got. The air was practically polluted with her arousal.

“What the actual fuck? What happened to you? Better question is, who are you?” Kai asked, taken back as he transformed back to his usual self.

Besides the arousal and anger written on her face, she also had on confusion.

I laughed harder at their confusion. It was quite shocking that none of them had gotten that it was me, the demon, and not that pathetic, weak vampire. He would never say such as thing. He was a complete crybaby.

“My name is Xander. Xander Volkov,” I said, calming down.

I heard Keoni come out of the closet as soon as I said that. I knew he heard every word. So I didn’t bother to repeat what I had said.

“Man, you’re fat,” I said, keeping my eyes fixated on the ugly fae.

She glared hard at me, no longer confused or aroused. I just chuckled at her pathetic attempt to hurt me.

“Get off me!” she said angrily.

She tried her hardest to throw me off, but seeing as she was fae, it was useless. They were weaker than flies. That only made me laugh harder.

“You’re pathetic. I honestly can’t understand what that stupid vampire sees in you. You’re so ugly, it’s pathetic,”

I said, getting off her.

She held her hand out to me, expecting me to help her up. I mean, she had really expected help from a demon.

“Ha! You actually expect help from me? You must be weak in the head,” I said, glancing from her face to her hand and back again.

“Well? Help me up. You knocked me down. It’s the least you could do,” she retorted, still glaring at me.

“I didn’t knock you down. That vampire did. Also, I’m not required to help you, but don’t say I didn’t warn you,”

I said before holding my hand out. I smirked mischievously.

Just then, Kai spoke out in shock at my actions to help the fae.

“What the hell? You’re actually going to help it?”

He gestured to her.

I gave him a reassuring look before turning my attention back to the fae in front of me.

“What? What happened just now?” Keoni asked, confused. He was left out, and he didn’t like it.

“Just wait,” Kai informed with a devious look.

I helped her to her feet and waited for her to get comfortable and relaxed before I pushed her not so gently, sending her flying into the wall behind her.

“Asshole!” she said, getting up. “That hurt!” She was lying on the ground, halfway into the wall.

“Damn. Didn’t throw her hard enough,” I mumbled.

I heard the twins snicker at my comment to rile her up even more so.

She stood up and stormed out, fuming.

Mission success.

Once the fae had left, Keoni started to bore me with questions. “So . . . Xander, was it?”

“Yeah, that’s right. What of it?” I asked, walking back into the closet. I was sure as hell not going to wear purple.

That damned vampire is girlier than I thought. Wearing purple. Who in their right mind would wear purple?

I would. It matches my eyes.

Yeah, well, not mine. Unlike you, I have normal light brown eyes. The color ladies always fall for.

I have lavender eyes.

Lavender is purple, idiot.

I’m not an idiot, and when I say lavender, I meant light purple. When I say purple, I mean dark purple.

Oh my god. You sound worse than a girl. Purple is purple. If you want clarification, just say light or dark. No one is going to know what your dumb ass means.

Stop being mean to me. I didn’t do anything to deserve this.

Yes, you did. You lived.

If I wasn’t here, neither would you be.

Oh yes, I would. I could’ve easily overpowered and permanently possessed your human half, but no. You had to go and get turned into a fucking vampire. Not only that—you had to get turned into a peasant.

You should stop your cursing.

You’re one to talk.

I never curse. Only to you when you make me mad.

Hmmm . . . Let me think about that one . . . No.

Whatever. Anyways, aren’t we more powerful this way?

It’s a possibility. I’ll have to work on that one to see what I can really do.

Won’t the twins know? They can help us, can’t they?

Are you stupid or what?

Uhhh . . . no?

You really think they would actually help us become more powerful than them?

They might.

You really are dumb. No, they won’t. They’re using us for some unknown reason.

For what?

Didn’t you hear what I just said? I said they are using us for some unknown reason. You hear that? Unknown.

Well, geez. It’s just a question.

Don’t let your guard down, whatever you do.

Okay. You too.

I’m a demon. I don’t drop my guard for anyone.

So do we drop the help from the twins then?

No. They can teach you how to use and harvest my powers. They also have a lot of intel that we could use later. So for now, just stick it out.

All right.

I finally came out wearing a tight-fitting black dress shirt. It showed my abs perfectly—well, the little abs that vampire had managed to accomplish.

The pants I was wearing were black and tight fitting as well, showing off all the leg muscle that he had. Well, now that I was out, I planned on gaining more muscle to make myself look actually attractive. This peasant wasn’t attractive at all.

Well, he might be, if you’re desperate enough.

I heard that!

I chuckled at his comment. Yeah, I had meant for him to hear it. I liked making him angry. It made him sound more like a man and not a crybaby.

I’m not a crybaby!

At least he had a butt. It would have been very embarrassing for me as a demon if he—now I—didn’t.

I shut him out, not wanting to argue with him anymore. I had to focus on the twins now.

I ran my hand through my black hair, feeling the length of it. I liked how long it was. He had made sure to keep it long enough to get styled.

Nice length.

Thanks.

I wasn’t talking to you. I thought I shut you out.

You don’t have to be so rude to me. Apparently, you didn’t do a very good job.

Yes, I do, by the way. I’m a demon. Don’t expect any less. Well, since you have a way of wiggling your way back into my personal thoughts, I’m just going to have to ignore you.

I smirked at the thought of him frowning inside my mind. However, I was just glad that the twins had taken my smirk differently.

“Looking good,” Kai commented, looking over my style of dress. If they didn’t approve, they were going to have to suck it up and deal with it. I wasn’t going to change.

“Yeah, anyways, let’s get down to business,” I said, getting serious as I stuck my hands into my pants pockets.

“All right then. Let’s go,” Keoni said, leading me out the door.

From now on, life for that peasant was going to change, and mine was going to start, and I didn’t plan on letting him out anytime soon. I had to harvest my new powers as well as get intel on them. It was going to be tough from here on out.

I had no idea where the twins wanted to take me or what they had in mind, so I had to keep my guard up.

“Hey. Where are we going?” I asked.

“Just wait,” Keoni replied with a smirk, looking back at me.

They were currently leading me through the mazes of the palace. Every time I asked that question, they would reply with the same answer, sometimes annoyed and others deviously.

To tell you the truth, it was quite irritating. God forbid I snap at them or even let them sense my irritation though.

We were finally out of that forsaken palace, except there was one thing. We went through the back door, through the gardens. That had been a confusing maze as well. If I hadn’t been following the twins, I would’ve been lost inside the garden maze for hours.

“Okay. I’m getting sick of these ‘just wait’ answers.

Where the fuck are we going?” I demanded.

At this point, I didn’t care about them snapping at me. I was a demon too,

which meant I was not as soft as that pathetic vampire, who took anything thrown at him. I wouldn’t take just anything for very long. I had my limits on patience too, and these two were really pushing it.

“All right, I guess we can tell you,” Keoni said with a dramatic sigh. He was acting like it was chore to tell me anything, which really irked me, but I kept my mouth shut on that one—

for now.

“We’re going to the Du Sang River in the Les Maudits Forest,” Kai explained without any emotion. He never looked at me once when he had spoken to me, which got me curious.

“Why?” I asked him. I wanted to know ahead of time what they planned on doing. They were demons, after all.

They could be leading me to a trap. You never know with demons. I should know. I am one after all.

“We’re going to meet up with Dominique to see about that pathetic form of yours.”

Keoni replied this time. He glanced at me with a look of disgust. He was really starting to irk me. I kept my mouth shut though. I didn’t need to start any trouble before I got what I needed from these guys.

“It’s not my fault that Vanni is a peasant. Not my fault that he never got himself fit. He didn’t even notice me ’til a couple of days ago. I wasn’t able to influence him before then.

So don’t you dare go calling me pathetic!” I yelled back.

He just smiled deviously. He knew it irked me and obviously got what he wanted—me riled up.

I gave an annoyed sigh and looked to the side, deciding on ignoring them until we got to our destination.

We walked in silence for about five to seven minutes before we finally reached the end of the garden maze when the two in front of me stopped. It was so sudden that I had almost crashed into them as I was walking behind the two. For one, I had no idea where I was going, and two, I absolutely did not want to walk in between demon twins.

Twins had a tendency of reading each other’s minds well without the use of any telepathic powers, not to mention these twins were full-blooded demons, and to make matters worse, they were sons of the demon king, making them princes.

Not only did it boost their ego, but also, they got a bigger range of powers over other regular demons.

“Hey, what’s with the sudden stop?” I asked curiously.

They didn’t answer my question. Instead, they glanced between themselves before extending their claws, meaning they weren’t fully going to shift, just a partial shift, bringing out their claws, horns, and fangs.

Okay, now that got me on high alert. If these two felt the need to shift, it meant we had company and a serious threat before us.

Looking between the two, trying to get a glance at what they were looking at, I saw it, the threat. No one lived after looking at one. Yes, that’s right. It was a dullahan, and we all saw it, meaning we were marked for death. The twins were dead already, considering they were full demons, but I, on the other hand, was still alive, all thanks to this pathetic excuse for a vampire.

Although they were dead, that didn’t mean they were out of the woods with this guy. He was a dullahan. He would make sure to kill you after you were dead. He was still able to trap your soul in his wagon for eternity, making us demons vulnerable against them too. They were the most powerful beings walking this planet. All they had to do was speak your name, and you were a goner.

Right now, he knew all three of us saw him, so that only left us with one choice—prevent him from speaking.

“What the hell do we do now?!” I whisper-yelled, panic clear in my tone. I was scared. Yeah, me, scared. I was a demon, and I was scared. I had never thought that would happen.

Guess everyone is scared of something, that something always being a dullahan, unless you’re another dullahan.

“Shut the fuck up and let me think!” Keoni snapped.

He was definitely scared. His snapping tone gave him away immediately. I thought Kai was too, but I couldn’t be sure. He was good at hiding his emotions, unless it was anger, and even then, you only saw a bit of it.

“I would say invisibility might work, but this idiot here can’t do that. He doesn’t have that power,” Kai told his brother.

They’re talking like I’m not even here!

“Yeah, that’s a good plan. Maybe we can grab him and then turn. You think that might work?” Keoni whispered back. It was as if he was trying to make it discreet from the dullahan.

They are forgetting that dullahans have enhanced hearing too. Dipshits. Maybe they don’t know this, but nothing is invisible to the eye of a dullahan. As it was said, “No one can escape a dullahan, except a tiny sliver of gold.”

Wait, that’s it!” I practically screamed, angering the twins. I honestly thought they were more afraid than I was, and I was the one sharing a body with a vampire.

“Keep it down! You want him to hear you?” Keoni whisper-yelled.

I rolled my eyes at his attempt to lecture me.

“What? What have you come up with?” Kai asked curiously. His face may have been calm, but his eyes held fear and hope—mostly fear though.

“I don’t know if you two idiots know this, but no one can escape a dullahan—”

Keoni didn’t let me finish before he started snapping at me to keep my thoughts to myself if I wasn’t going to be of any help.

I looked at Kai to see his eyes now reading disappointment.

Guess I’d better bring their hopes back up before they do something stupid. It’s weird how the dullahan hasn’t made any sudden moves. It’s like he’s waiting for something.

If you would let me finish, Keoni, you would’ve heard that gold can stop a dullahan.”

Kai immediately brightened up at this realization, just like I knew he would. Keoni, however, took a while before doing the same.

I inwardly chuckled at his slowness.

“Okay, yeah, that might work, but what about right now? None of us have any gold, and we are too far away from the castle for any retreat. I doubt we can outrun him,” Kai thought, depressed once again.

Yeah, that did occur to me earlier as well.

“What now, genius? Since you’re the one with all the knowledge,” Keoni snapped. I was starting to see now. He got this way when he felt threatened.

We were all still in deep thought to find a way out of this situation when it was suddenly reversed.

The dullahan was retreating with a menacing glare. He wasn’t looking at us though. He was looking at someone behind us.

“You’re next . . .” he said before launching blood at us, almost staining our clothing—almost. We had jumped out of the way just in time to dodge it.

“Thank the heavens for that. Not only did we manage to escape with our lives, but also, we managed to dodge the cursed blood. Maybe we aren’t tagged. You think? You know, because we didn’t get hit with the blood?” Keoni spat out in gratitude.

Kai also let out a sigh of relief. I too let out a breath that I didn’t know I had been holding.

“Yeaaahhh . . . no. Just because you didn’t get tagged with his blood doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. He spoke to you. Remember?”

It was Veronique, that cursed woman, the one who liked that stinking vampire.

“Oh yeah. Dammit all to hell,” Keoni spat out angrily.

Veronique chuckled at his anger, which only riled him up even more. I rolled my eyes and looked away from her. She was enjoying this. Well, at least she wasn’t getting it from me.

“Anyhoo, why are you here? Also, how in the world did you get him to run away like that?” I asked. I was definitely curious. Whatever she did, I needed to learn it.

“I was just doing my job. Protecting this half-breed.

You,” she answered vaguely. She had totally ignored the question as a whole.

“Yeah, but how did you get him to run away like that?” I asked again in a dumber tone of voice, hoping she would pick it up this time. It only angered her a little, but she recovered quickly, just like all fae.

“I did nothing but show up,” she answered. To be honest, I had no idea if she was telling the truth or not.

“Well, let’s get you guys inside. We can conjure something up to prevent that dullahan from returning and following you guys. I trust you had a destination in mind. Yes?”

She was acting quite strange. She was usually all over Vanni, but right now, she wasn’t. She was acting way too nice for my comfort, and I was a demon. Demons didn’t get uncomfortable. Demons were supposed to be the ones making others uncomfortable, but here was this fae doing this to me.

I glanced between the twins and saw they had the same look I did—unease.

Now that I think about it, nothing and no one can stop a dullahan except gold, and I see and smell nothing of the sort or anything similar on her. So why the hell did he walk—no, run—away from her?

Something was definitely wrong here.

We were back at the castle in no time, following Veronique in silence. It was awkward silence too. For one, we had no idea why she had saved us, and two, she was acting strange.

It was almost like she had switched personalities, from all lovey-dovey on Vanni to formal and cold.

Yes, even though she had saved us with a smile on her face, her eyes said another story. There was no light in her eyes when she had saved us back at the edge of the garden. Her smile didn’t reach her eyes. Instead, they were cold as ice.

That was why we were uncomfortable. We all knew that fae could turn from light to dark, and back then, I had no idea if she really was on our side. Considering the dullahan had backed away with a glare meant something.

They had communicated somehow, and whatever she had told him, he didn’t like it but still complied. That was the uneasy part.

We had to find out what exactly she had told him and why he was able to back away from his victims. Nothing and no one can stop them from doing their duties and she did somehow.

My question right now was “Could she be a shapeshifter?” and if she was, then she was one dangerous predator.

Shapeshifters didn’t belong to any category under fae.

They could go everywhere. No place was hidden from a shapeshifter. That was what made them dangerous, if not more dangerous than a dullahan, because when they shifted, they gained the powers of the thing they shifted into.

Hey, Xander, you there?

Wait, you’re not Vanni. Then who are you?

It’s me, Kai. I’m in your mind.

What? You asses can read minds! I knew it!

Yes, we can. That’s not the point right now.

Then what is, smart-ass?

Why was she able to scare off the dullahan?

They don’t stop at nothing. They will finish their jobs to the end before they rest.

So if they don’t stop till their job is finished, then why did he back off? Wasn’t he supposed to kill us before he left since he knew we saw him?

I don’t know. This stupid woman in front of us did something to make him back off.

Like what?

I don’t know exactly, but I have come up with the solution that they had communicated somehow.

Does that mean she can read minds?

Yes, she can. When we first got here, she kept reading Vanni’s mind but turned it off because he didn’t want her to know what his personal thoughts were.

So she can turn it off? That’s impossible.

I don’t know if she was lying or not, but she said she did.

So she could be eavesdropping?

Yes, that’s possible. So it’s not safe to talk while we have company.

Okay, but one more question.

Yeah, what is it?

Where are we going? We are definitely going somewhere in the castle that my brother and I haven’t been in, and it is way off from your room.

I don’t know. Keep on your guard. Tell Keoni this too.

Will do.

“Hey, woman,” I spat out.

We had been walking for about ten minutes now, and I was getting agitated.

She didn’t reply to me, which made me mad. So I decided to yell.

“I said hey!

She stopped so suddenly, I literally crashed into her back and fell backward. The twins also stumbled. She turned around and glared at me hard. I was so shocked that I couldn’t say anything. So she spoke instead.

“What?” Her voice was ice cold, and let me tell you, it reached her eyes.

“What’s with you?” Keoni asked rudely.

Her head snapped in his direction. She glared at him as well, but he glared back. She couldn’t meet the hatred in his eyes, so she backed down. It was obvious that Keoni hated the fae more than she hated him.

So instead, she turned her attention back to me. There was no glare this time, so I recovered quickly, but I was furious. No one glared at me like that, especially fae.

“First off, you will do good to remember to watch your damn attitude with me, woman, or I’ll kill you, and that vampire peasant you adore so much will not help you,” I said in a low menacing voice as I towered over her small frame.

She visibly shrank back in fear. I growled lowly to let her know I wanted a response from her. She immediately understood and nodded vigorously.

“Good. Now answer me this. Where in the world are you taking me—I mean, us?” I added that last part because I was so furious, I forgot they were even here.

“I was taking you to the . . . uhm . . .” she started in a small voice.

“I, I, I, you, you, you—quit stuttering and get to the damn point.” I was already mad at this woman for glaring at me earlier, and drawing it out like this was even more irritating.

“Okay. I’m sorry. I was taking you to the cellars.” She answered so fast, I almost hadn’t caught that.

“What did you just say?” Keoni asked, voice full of venom.

She shrank back in fear.

“Hold on, Keoni. Let her finish. Now finish what you were saying. Why the cellars?” Kai asked calmly. Even though he was calm, his eyes held anger.

“Okay, uhm . . . I was taking you down there because there is a hidden passageway to a different room. A common room. It holds everything you need in that room. So yeah, that’s why . . .” she said nervously, looking down.

Yeah, there was the Veronique I knew—or, should I say, Vanni knew.

“Okay. Let’s continue on our way, shall we?” Kai responded before any of us could.

She nodded and turned around and started walking ahead of us.

It took about five minutes of walking down several flights of stairs and through hallways. Finally, we were at the door that led down to the cellars, and of course, this being a cover story for the fae, practically the whole place was abandoned except for the fae.

For some reason, I just got an eerie vibe, and I was not liking it one bit. I turned to the twins to see if they felt it too, and immediately, they turned to look at each other, which meant they had felt it too.

I decided I was going to question the fae, and if she played dumb, I’d punish her. I knew for a fact she cared for Vanni. She didn’t like seeing him in pain. Yes, although we shared a body, I was going to put him through pain, and I’d use the twins to do it.

“Hey, stupid.”

The fae had turned around. This time, she was ice cold again. I swore she was getting irritating,

switching personalities like she had two different ones. Then it dawned on me. She could either be a shapeshifter or a hybrid.

“What?” she snapped.

Oh man, this girl was really asking for a death wish. I mean, she had the nerve to snap at three demons, and we were not just any demons. We were demon princes.

“Are you talking to us?” Kai said through clenched teeth.

“You have some nerve talking like that, wench,” Keoni snapped at her. His eyes started flickering black as his fangs as well as his claws were lengthening.

I was not sorry for the wench, unlike that pathetic vampire would be. She deserved this. She had gotten away with it once. I would make sure she knew her place this time.

“Kai, Keoni,” I growled.

They snapped their heads my way. I thought to them, knowing they would read my mind, Wait for Vanni. They immediately caught onto my plan, remembering yesterday’s incident where she had cared for nothing but that vampire. He was her weakness, and we all knew it. The question was, did she know it?

I didn’t care whether she read my mind or not because even if she did, she wouldn’t understand what or why I had said what I said to the twins.

Hey, vampire. Wake up.

I’m awake. I never fell asleep. I know what you’re planning, and you can’t do this. Don’t hurt her. She’ll be broken forever.

Shut it! She needs to know her place.

No, she doesn’t. She already has one.

Yeah, where? In your heart? Forget it. She is most definitely not fae. She’s a shapeshifter. I just know it.

Well, if you know, then why hurt her emotionally?

Because, dumbass, she is trying to take control. No one—and I mean no one—takes control of demons. Especially demon princes. Plus, I am really getting sick and tired of that attitude of hers. It needs to change, and you’re going to be the one to do it.

W-what? N-n-nooo, not m-me. Why?

Oh, man up. It won’t hurt that bad.

What do you mean by “that bad”?

Oh, just fainting.

You m-mean I’ll b-be in so m-much p-pain that I’ll faint?

Yes.

I was going to put him through so much pain that he wouldn’t be able to take it and faint. Yes, I knew we shared a body, but it’d be worth it, watching that wench cripple with fear, not fear for herself but for her lover, Vanni.

Five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . Vanni, you’re up.

“Now, Kai,” I heard Keoni’s voice sound with so much rage, I was afraid for my life. I knew what the demon had said, that they’d only put me to sleep, but I just hoped the weak vampire side of my body could take it and not die on me.

Xander wouldn’t be able to forgive me. He’ll put me through hell.

Damn right, I will.

You should really stop your cursing.

Shut it.

“Right, Keoni,” I heard Kai’s voice growl out, snapping me from my conversation with my demon side, Xander, and back to reality.

“Let’s do this.” Keoni looked at me when he had said that.

I felt chills run down my spine. I didn’t even have to look at him to know that he had a devious smile on his face. I was pretty sure that his fangs might’ve been peeking through too. I knew that because every time he smiled like that, his fangs would always poke through.

“Right,” I heard Kai reply.

Then all of a sudden, I felt a hand being placed on each of my shoulders. Then I felt it, that same immense pain that I had felt before, the same feeling I got when I had grasped the cursed amulet, the feeling where my whole body felt like it was on fire, except this time, I felt that same feeling twice as bad.

I was in so much pain, it only took a couple of seconds for me to drop to the floor, screaming. I started clawing at my chest because that was where I had felt the most pain, near my heart.

Why Xander had thought this was a good idea, I’d never know.

It only took a few minutes of suffering so badly that I eventually stopped moving and screaming. I felt dead but still conscious. Yes, the immense pain was still there, but I couldn’t move anymore.

I was aware that I had clawed my chest open. My shirt was ripped into shreds, and my chest was bleeding profusely.

I was just hoping and praying to every higher being out there that Veronique would give in.

My prayers were finally answered in the nick of time too. Just as my body felt like it was going to give out, she pleaded for my pain to end.

Okay! Okay! Okay! Please! Stop this! Don’t hurt him anymore! Please! I’ll do whatever you want! Just please stop hurting him!” Veronique finally gave in. I was thankful for her.

Why didn’t she say that in the beginning? Does she not care about me?

Of course not, dumbass.

But why? Xander, why does she not care for me? She said she does.

Can you be any more stupid?

Why do you have to insult me?

Because it’s my job. Anyway, back to that ugly creature.

She’s not a creature. She has a name, and it’s Veronique.

Well, if “Veronique” cared so much about you, then why didn’t she give in like she should have the minute you were in pain? Tell me, vampire.

Uhm . . .

Exactly. Now move aside. I’m taking over. I can heal faster than your pathetic vampire side.

Hey, it’s not my fault I’m a peasant. Quit being so mean to me.

Pshhh . . .

“Know your place, pathetic creature,” I snapped at the ugly creature.

At this point, I didn’t know what she was. All I knew was that she cared for this vampire. Shapeshifter or not, she had a weakness, and hers was Vanni.

Everyone had a weakness, and that included the shapeshifters. I had no idea why he was her weakness, but he was, and he shared my body. I guess we got lucky with this one. We could make her do anything we wanted.

“O-okay. I’m s-sorry. Just please don’t hurt Vanni anymore. Please.”

She was stuttering, which surprised us all.

Of course, we weren’t showing it. We would never show any emotion besides anger, especially toward a shapeshifter.

We had no idea what her true form was. Maybe she’d reveal herself to Vanni, but considering he and I shared a body, she might not.

“Now let’s get moving, creature.” Kai snapped. He had so much hate in his voice, it was practically dripping with it.

“O-okay,” she stuttered again, eyeing me up and down.

She was probably looking at the wounds on my chest made by Vanni.

She turned and started walking on ahead. She was satisfied only because the wounds on my chest were almost healed, only thanks to my demon powers.

We slowly started to follow her once again, trailing behind her by a few feet. We knew how dangerous a shapeshifter was. They were the most powerful beings there were.

They were higher than us demons.

Also, considering the fact that she hadn’t argued with us when we had called her “creature” meant she was one, and now she knew that we knew. She also knew that we knew her weakness too. Let’s hope that this keeps her in check.

I turned to the twins and nodded. They smirked in response. We knew how to manipulate this shapeshifter.

Now we knew exactly how to protect ourselves from dullahans. We had a personal bodyguard.

Hearing that a demon prince needed a bodyguard sounded pathetic.

That is kind of lame.

Shut your mouth!

Ha ha ha!

Vanni, I swear, if you don’t shut that mouth of yours, you will regret it.

Ha ha ha! Sorry, Xander, but I can’t stop laughing. You’re the one who needs a bodyguard, and you’re a demon. Ha ha ha!

Do you want the twins to make you suffer from that pain from earlier? I won’t hesitate to tell them.

No, please. I’ll stop. Please don’t tell them. That was horrible. I promise I will stop.

That’s what I thought.

You’re really mean, you know that? Very twisted.

How many times do I have to tell you? I’m a demon. It’s my job.

Well, demons also have a heart too. Yours is just locked away somewhere, untouched. I don’t know why, but I will find out.

Shut up! I’ll put you through worse pain than before if you ever bring up my heart again. I don’t have one. You will do best to remember that.

I’m s-sorry. I promise I won’t bring it up again.

Better not, pathetic vampire.

“Here are the cellars. The room isn’t too far away now.

Please follow me, and keep away from the bars, please. It’s for your own good,” Veronique said softly.

If I wasn’t mistaken, she was still quite afraid of us, most likely because I had Vanni with me, and if she was good enough, she might get rewarded and see him.

That’s how we can manipulate her.

You mean you will actually let me see her? You really will?

Only because she’ll keep doing as we say. Then yes. She’ll get treats if she does good.

That’s kind of like slavery though. Isn’t it?

Maybe, or you can think of it as training.

Hmmm . . .

“Hey, why do we have to keep away from the bars, creature?” Kai questioned. Well, it was more of a demand.

She turned around, and as we suspected, she was still afraid of us.

“You won’t like what’s in there. Nothing good. I can promise you that,” she said vaguely and turned back around and kept walking.

I just shook my head at her answer. I hated not knowing things, but I left it at that, only because she was a shapeshifter.

After a few minutes of silent walking, she led us through a door hidden behind the bed of the last cell on the right-hand side. It was pitch black in the cells. If it wasn’t for my enhanced ability to see, I wouldn’t have gone in.

I was barely able to see inside the cell, enough to see that this one was empty and that the cells around this one had cement walls instead of bars, probably for their own safety.

She led us through a narrow tunnel made up of nothing but cement.

We had to walk through in a single file to get to where we were going.

It was a short walk to the next door. After squeezing through, we made it into a hidden library.

“What is this, creature?” Kai demanded an answer. I saw her visibly shrink down in fear.

“I-it’s a hidden l-library. It’s old, maybe six hundred to seven hundred y-years old. Gold is hidden inside these walls. I-it w-will protect you for now,” she answered softly while playing with her fingers and staring at the ground.

I looked at Kai as Keoni did the same. He was content with her answer.

They both were. They glanced my way. They were thinking the same thing I was. To fully manipulate her, we had to reward her when we deemed she was worthy of it.

All right, peasant. You’re up. Ten minutes. Make use of it.

Really? Oh my gosh, thank you so much.

Don’t think I’m doing this for you or for her. I’m doing this because it helps my case.

Yeah, I know, but I’m still grateful.

Whatever. Now go.

“V-Veronique?” I mumbled out quietly. I saw her look up into my lavender orbs with so much hope, it hurt to look, but for some reason, I just did.

“Vanni? Is that you?” I heard her say with hope.

I slowly nodded. I was still hurt that she hadn’t given in right away when she had seen me in pain. I couldn’t smile like she did. There was pain in my eyes, not physical pain but internal pain, pain coming from my heart, not my body.

She ran to hug me, but I backed away from her as she got close. She immediately stopped. Hope dissipated from her face as pain came back.

“Vanni? What’s wrong?” she asked. Pain was clear in her voice as she spoke to me.

I didn’t mean to, but a stray tear leaked out. She immediately wiped it away as I let her. The pain I saw on her face was slowly going away as I let her come closer.

I knew what she wanted. She wanted to be held. She wanted me to hold her tight, and I wished for that as well.

The only problem was that she had let them hurt me. She hadn’t stopped them from hurting me.

She must’ve been reading my mind as she let out a lone tear. I gently wiped it away from her face, and as I did so, a few more leaked their way out from those beautiful orbs.

She leaned into my hand as I kept it on her face, caressing it gently.

“Vanni, I can explain,” she said, pain in her voice.

She sounded as if she was going to cry. I didn’t want to see her crying. She looked much more beautiful with a smile on her face.

“It’s okay, Veronique. Shhh . . . Please don’t cry,” I said softly. I placed my other hand on her face too. I knew she was not my mate, but for some reason, I couldn’t get her out of my head. Unlike Filamina, she had treated me kindly from the start.

“Hey, peasant. We will explain her actions later. Five more minutes. Make the most of it,” I heard Keoni spit out.

He sounded disgusted, but right now, I didn’t care. I wanted to be with Veronique, and from the looks of it, she did as well.

I knew exactly what she wanted right now because I was thinking the same thing. I wanted to kiss her. At this point, I didn’t care if she wasn’t my mate. My mate didn’t even like me, but Veronique did.

I saw her close her eyes and lean into me. Still holding her face between my palms, I closed my eyes and pulled her toward me until our lips met. They were soft and gentle.

My heart was racing a thousand miles a minute as I kissed her. I loved it. It was over all too soon as I felt Xander take control again.

“That’s all you get, creature. Now leave us. We have things to discuss, and we don’t need prying eyes and ears. So get lost. We’ll find you when we need you,” I snapped.

I was disgusted. I knew I had said for Vanni to make the most of it, but I didn’t expect him to kiss her.

Yes, we shared a body, but no, I didn’t feel it. Thank god. If I did, I would’ve stopped him before it happened.

“Y-yes. Thank you for letting me talk to Vanni,” she said softly, smiling.

I did nothing but nod in her direction and then toward the door.

She put her fingers to her lips, smiling as she left.

Yeah, that definitely proved my point. She did have a thing for Vanni. He was her weakness.

The twins and I thought the same thing as we all smiled wickedly.

“We have our own personal shapeshifter,” I said with a sinister smile once I knew she wasn’t within earshot.

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