Chapter 14: Out of ten? Fifteen
I hugged Rustin tightly when I saw him waiting for us in the hall, “Hey, coffee guy!”
“Hello, Ash.” He said warmly and held me tightly against him while I drowned in his wonderfully comforting smell.
When he finally let go of me Rose was beaming and Nadine gave me a small nod of approval. I merely rolled my eyes at them and didn’t let go of Rustin’s hand, “So where are the other two?” I asked Rustin.
He shrugged, “Late, obviously.” I playfully elbowed him in the ribs, “Ouch!” We laughed a bit, “They said to go on without them. Apparently they have other things to do or something.”
Rose and Nadine grumbled unhappily but we headed towards the mezzanine deck where all the shops were anyway.
“So?” Rustin asked as he intertwined our fingers, “How’s the day been treating you?”
Suddenly my thoughts were flying back to how I’d woken up this morning and my cheeks burned. After Alexander had asked me what I was doing with my hand on his face and staring at him, I’d flown out of bed without answering. The bathroom had been my only escape and I had taken my sweet time in the shower, trying to get over my humiliation.
About half an hour later he’d knocked on the door and told me he had to go to some important meeting and he’d left. I’d been very grateful that I hadn’t been confronted by him. Yet.
I knew he wasn’t going to let it go.
What had I been thinking anyway? Why had I done that? Just thinking about it again I felt humiliated and stupid. I was just some stupid human to him and he was just a blood sucker to me. And a bodyguard.
I sighed before I answered Rustin, “My day hasn’t been all that great.” I told him truthfully.
He frowned in concern, “Why?”
“Um….” I trailed off. I wasn’t about to tell him about my humiliating encounter! He didn’t even know who Alexander was… “I… um… I have a massive headache and it’s killing me.” Yeah, the headache was called Alexander.
Rustin put a hand on my forehead needlessly, “We could stop by the ship’s doctor to get you some painkillers.” He suggested thoughtfully.
I waved him off, “Don’t worry, I’ll deal with it.”
“Tell me if you feel any worse alright?” Rustin said and I nodded, “I heard some people have the flue, you should be careful to avoid getting sick on this piece of metal, they don’t really have enough medicine for all of us.” He grimaced.
“I’m not that sick.” I assured him just as we arrived on the mezzanine deck.
I spotted Troy and Kevin at one of the pool tables and thanked my lucky stars that Rose and I now knew how to play pool. “There they are.” I told Rustin, Rose and Nadine with a pointed finger.
Rose rushed to them with an insanely happy look in her face and we slowly followed.
I walked into Nadine when she suddenly stopped right in front of me. “Oof!” I exclaimed in shock and spat out her hair. “Ever heard of warning a girl before you stop in the middle of the walkway?”
“Sorry.” She apologised absentmindedly while standing on her toes to see over the heads of all the people.
“What is it?” I asked her, trying to see what she was looking at “What do you see?”
She looked at me, “A group of vampires just walked by over there,” she looked at me worriedly, “And you know they don’t come out in the daytime.”
Realisation hit me almost instantly, “There’s some sort of meeting going on today.” I told her as- a-matter-of-factly.
“Oh.” She said with a small frown.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her with concern. Why was this bothering her so much? It didn’t make any sense. She should know that the vampires did whatever they wanted.
“Oh, it’s nothing.” I watched her with doubt and she sighed dejectedly before she said, “I just saw a royal.”
“So?” I asked and suddenly became aware of Rustin’s hand protectively tightening around my own.
Nadine smiled sadly, “I used to be his ‘food’, remember?”
My eyes widened in realisation and my mouth formed an ‘o’.
Nadine chuckled at my expression before she continued gravely, “He rarely leaves the lower decks, it is strange that he would come here for a meeting. If the meeting was so important they could just have held it down there.” She lazily gestured to the floor.
I shrugged, “It’s hard to tell what’s going through their minds.”
Nadine nodded, “That’s true.”
“You should show me who the royal is when you see him again, I haven’t met him yet.” I told her, eager to meet this supposed ‘son of the demon.’
Nadine watched me like I was crazy, “Meet him?” She exclaimed, “Are you insane?”
“Maybe.” I said playfully.
She sighed, “I’ll point him out to you if I see him again.”
Insanely positive thoughts were coursing through my brain at a thousand miles an hour. I wanted to get a vampire on our side; the best thing would be to get someone with as much power as a royal on our side. But that would be too good to be true and it was highly unlikely that I would ever be able to accomplish something like that.
But there was always hope, or however that saying goes.
“Have you seen him before?” I asked Rustin softly.
He shook his head, “No, but I’ve heard stories.”
“Yeah, rumours.” Kevin piped in with an arm around Nadine who had an uncharacteristically dreamy look on her face.
“Like what?” I asked them.
“Like how he’s strong enough to rip the earth apart with his bare hands.” Troy said and patted Rose’s head.
“Or how he’s fast enough to run on water.” Rustin added.
“Or how he’s handsome enough to charm every single female that’s ever laid eyes on him.” Kevin said “Even some males…”
We all stared at him open mouthed, “Do you have a little man crush?” Rose asked him gushingly.
“What?” He asked, getting a bit red, “No! Of course not!”
We laughed at him until I finally returned to the topic and asked Rustin, “Is all of that really true?”
Rustin shrugged, “I don’t know. I’ve never seen the guy.”
“Is it true Nadine?” I hated to ask her, but I wanted to know what we were really up against.
“I don’t know, when he drank from me he was fully in control. I never saw his strength or speed.” Nadine said nonchalantly and Kevin hugged her tighter to him like he could actually protect her from the bad memories of the royal.
“How does he look?” Rose asked eagerly with wide eyes and a suggestive grin, “Is he as good looking as they say? Is he hot and super sexy? Does he make you want to turn vampire?”
I groaned out loud, “I swear, it doesn’t matter how hot he is, I won’t turn into a vampire.”
“I don’t know…” Nadine said as she thoughtfully stared at the ground, “You might change your mind when you see him for the first time…”
My mouth fell open dramatically, “You don’t mean…”
Rose squealed, “You’ll turn vampire for him!”
Nadine snorted, “No chance of that ever happening but… he is pretty hot.”
“Put him on a scale of one to ten.” I said eagerly.
Nadine’s cheeks turned a bit red, “Fifteen.”
“Wow.” Rose and I said simultaneously as we imagined this unbelievably beautiful person she was talking about. And I mean, it was Nadine, calm, emotionless, practical, Nadine that had said it, so he really must be something to behold.
“We are right here!” Kevin exclaimed dramatically as he threw his hands in the air.
We laughed at him and started our game of pool. Unfortunately my mood fell a bit when I realised the person I’d been picturing as this super hot royal was Alexander.
Wonderful. Just wonderful.
After a few thousand games of pool we hit the bookstore where we spent the next couple of hours. The boys got bored soon after entering and begged us to leave but we paid them no heed. Nothing could come between us and our reading material.
When we’d finally left the bookstore they had already gotten new movies for us to watch and it had been agreed that we would be watching them that night, even if they had to work the next day.
It was really sweet that they were prepared to spend time with us even if it meant that they would be exhausted the next day. Very sweet indeed.
Rustin and I were walking hand in hand with the rest lazily tailing behind us and flirting their little hearts out. I was absolutely content with my life in that moment.
My thoughts were everywhere at once. I was thinking about home and my family, Alexander, the royal, my new friends, Africa… a lot of things that had absolutely nothing to do with each other.
Rustin suddenly came to a stop and pulled me closer to him. I looked up at him questioningly, “What?” Only then did I turn my head to see what he was glaring at. A group of nobles were watching us with interest and smiling evilly.
“They’re looking at us, Ash. I don’t like it. What’s going through their minds?” Rustin hissed under his breath in hope for his words to avoid their keen hearing.
My eyes met Fabian’s and he waved me closer. I sighed and took a step forward but Rustin held me back. “He called for me.” I told him, “You don’t have to come with me; you can just stay here if they make you feel uncomfortable.”
Rustin’s hand tightened around mine, “I won’t let you face them alone.”
That comment made me all gushy and happy on the inside as we walked towards the vampires. “Hey guys,” I said casually and I swear Rustin’s mouth dropped open. He couldn’t believe how calm I was around them and neither could I, for that matter.
Fabian smiled, “Hey Ash.” he had gotten used to me since we met and he spoke a lot more now.
The other vampires nodded their silent greetings and I grinned at them, “So why are you all out here in broad daylight?” My tone darkened as I thought about the humans below deck, “Did you get bored with that crammed dark make-out slave hole?”
Mr sadistic chuckled, “Yes, we all know how you feel about that place… but be fair, they chose to be there and it is our home.”
I snorted, “I still don’t like it.”
He shrugged with his signature sadistic grin.
Someone suddenly patted me on the head and didn’t even need to turn around to know it was Zaiden. “Hello, Zaiden.”
He laughed as he came around and hugged my side against him. He breathed me in, “Goodness, I am starving.” He grinned wickedly, “I can’t wait to suck your blood.”
I playfully rolled my eyes at him and used the same words he had when we’d first met, “That is such an overused term.”
“You can’t fight the truth.” He said as he pulled away and inspected Rustin with measuring eyes. When Rustin said nothing Zaiden said, “I don’t know why but I thought he would have just as sharp of a tongue as you do Ash, but he seems like a normal terrified human to me.”
Rustin did indeed look terrified and stiff and I looked at him carefully, “You alright?”
Rustin nodded stiffly and he seemed to calm down when I put myself between him and the vampires.
“Well,” Theresa said happily as she clapped her hands together and looked at Rustin longingly, “I think it would be very nice if you introduced your friend to us Ash. He seems a bit on the shy side.”
“Of course.” I said, “Everyone, this is Rustin. Rustin,” I said, “These are a close knit group of nobles from Africa.” I individually pointed at each of the vampires as I introduced them, “Theresa.” She did a little bow, “Fabian.” He didn’t even acknowledge me, “Zaiden, the first noble and my master.” He tilted his head to the side, “And…” I paused dramatically, “Mr doom and gloom himself, Sebastian!” I did jazz hands.
The nobles laughed and Mr sadistic said with a smile, “It’s Samael.”
“Mr sadistic is actually Samael!” I said again with some enthusiasm. I turned to Samael, “I’m sorry, I keep forgetting.”
He waved me off, “You’re amusing so I will forgive you.”
A deep chuckled came from behind me, “I thought I told you no one calls him that to his face, Ashira.”
Shivers ran up and down my spine and my heart raced even though Rustin was right next to me. My mind started singing as I felt his presence behind me and I wondered if anyone else could feel it.
He sighed, “I leave you guys alone for a second and this is the company I find you with?” he asked the nobles in mock disappointment. They all merely grinned at him, except Theresa who glared at me.
“And this,” I said in a squeaky voice to Rustin as I turned around, “Is…”
My train of thought derailed the moment I came face to face with Alexander.
Goodness. That was the same face I’d woken up seeing this morning. And those piercing eyes had looked right at me, just as they were doing at the moment. I relaxed and my heart thudded forth. “Alexander.” I whispered softly.
Alexander smiled at me but his eyes soon hardened when they landed on my and Rustin’s interwined fingers, “So this is the human you’ve been going on about, is it, Ashira?”
“Yes,” I told him, “This is Rustin.”
Alexander snorted, “You can do better.” He said casually and the grinned forebodingly, “You said I couldn’t kill someone I have never met, so introduce me already so I can rip his throat out.”
My mouth fell open in horror. Rustin was already scared half way to death and he just threatened him! Jerk! I poked Alexander in the chest as I stepped in between him and Rustin, “Back off!” I said heatedly, “You can’t just come here and threaten the poor guy!”
“Actually I can.” Alexander said and he crossed his arms over his chest.
I became aware that Rose and Troy were standing behind us and worriedly looking at me but I chose to ignore them for the moment.
“And why is that?” I asked him sharply.
Alexander grinned beautifully, “Because you are my PA and you wake up in my arms every afternoon. I can’t have someone else holding your hand, love.” He pulled me away from Rustin who basically just let me go and held me tightly, “It makes me mad.” He whispered into my hair.
I stood there eating air as I couldn’t think of anything to say. Why would he say that out loud? He makes it sound like we actually like each other or something! And poor Rustin looked like and injured puppy. Life was a mess.
I wriggled out of Alexander’s grasp and looked away from him. I crossed my arms, feeling frustrated, “Jerk.” I hissed under my breath.
He merely smiled at me, “I’m not the one who invades someone else’s personal space while they sleep, Ashira. Like you did this fine day.”
Oh crud, I thought and my cheeks burned from embarrassment, “There was a fly on your face.” The lie tumbled out.
Alexander snorted, “Of course there was.”
“There was!” I insisted stubbornly. If I was going to lie I was going to make it believable.
“You know you can’t lie to me, love.”
My face felt like it was on fire and all of my friends were seeing me interact with Alexander. I was going to die of humiliation, “Don’t call me that!”
Alexander’s face fell into confusion, “Call you what?”
“Love.” I said softly, hoping the word would wouldn’t be heard by my friends, “Don’t call me love.”
“You prefer towel girl then?”
I nearly choked. He did not just- “Jerk!”
Suddenly, as if she was an angel sent to save me from mortification, Nadine appeared next to me. She fell down on her knees in front of Alexander, “Please forgive her! I beg of you.” She said and my mouth dropped open.
I laughed nervously, “Nadine, what are you doing?”
She looked up at me with pleading eyes, “Bow and apologise for your rudeness, Ash.”
“Um…” I said hesitantly and I glanced at Alexander who had a worrisome frown on his face, “It’s just Alexander.”
Nadine frowned at me and opened her mouth to speak but Alexander cut her off, “Good to see you again, Nadine.” He turned to me, “A friend of yours, Ashira?”
I nodded, “Yeah, the two of you know each other?” I pulled Nadine to her feet but she struggled against me. “Come on,” I said, “stand up.”
“Yes.” Alexander said stiffly. “We’ve met before.”
Nadine’s frown became even deeper, “The two of you know each other?”
“Sure.” I said happily.
“But I thought you said you haven’t even seen the royal before, never mind knew him.” Nadine said.
I froze and stared at her, “W-what?”
I slowly turned to look at Alexander and for the first time, everything made sense. The way he wasn’t a noble but hung out with them anyway, how all the vampires liked him and wanted to be his friend or lover, the reason why the sun hadn’t burned him that day, everything made sense. “You’re a royal.” I stated to Alexander.
He looked at me with some sort of sadness in his eyes,, “I did tell you.”
The only thing that didn’t make any sense was, why.
Why would he, if he was so important, spend so much time with me?
“You’re the son of the demon.” I said.
“I am.” Alexander said darkly and I took a step backwards in fear.
“You are a demon.” I accused weakly.
He took a step closer to me and trapped me in his arms, “I am.” I wanted to look away from him but he gently took hold of my face, “And Ashira, my love, this demon has somehow managed to fall in love with you.”
And then he possessively pressed his lips against mine.