Whispering… was I hearing whispers? I scowled, and then groaned as my head began to pound. “Shut up,” I said, annoyed. To my surprise, the whispering stopped.
“Tell me to shut up again, child,” Tristan growled. “I will have a witch cast a mute spell on you.”
“No, no need,” I said quickly and opened my eyes. I slowly sat up and frowned at him. “Is something wrong?” I asked, because… I couldn’t feel anything from him. I didn’t even have the urge to squirm or get away from him. The only one I could feel in the room was Sven, who was standing as still as the dead by the closed door. The silence stretched on for so long, alarm bells began ringing in my head. “Sire?” I said slowly and went over to him. He was staring out the window, but seeing nothing. “Tristan? What’s wrong?”
“Tell me something, sweetheart,” he said quietly and turned to me. “If I were on the edge of death, what would you do?”
I blinked slowly at him. “Is this a tricked question?” He remained silent, and the alarm bells rang louder inside my head. I gulped. “I would do everything in my power to prevent you from dying, and not because if you die, we all die.”
He blinked. “Would you?”
“Yes,” Sven said from behind me, and I almost turned around and punch him a couple of times. “We would. We all would.” Damn right, I silently muttered. Even though you’re a fucking asshole on most days. Tristan glared at me, and I cursed.
“And,” I said. “If someone had a hand in your dying, I would search hell, earth, abyss, Pluto, hell the fucking god damn motherfucking sun and make damn sure that someone suffers great, unimaginable agony for eternity.” I scowled at him. “That goes for anyone in the family. I’m sure you all would do the same for me.” I frowned. “Well, maybe not Brynna, but that’s not the point.” I grunted as Sven pushed a chair at me, knocking my legs out and forcing me to sit. “Okay seriously, what’s going on?” Tristan let out a heavy sigh and closed in on me. One hand cupped my chin as the other one went to my shoulder. I swallowed hard. “It’s bad, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” he growled softly and stared deeply into my eyes. “Brynna was pulled through a portal to hell a few days ago.”
“What?” I shouted and forced myself to stop as pain clouded his eyes. “Sorry,” I mumbled.
“And Ari was attacked by a Za’hara’gai demon early this morning, a couple of hours before dawn.”
“I’m sorry,” I said breathlessly. “What did you say?” With both hands on my shoulders, he pressed me back against my chair and growled. I cringed as his lower set of fangs extended to their full length.
“You will not do anything stupid,” he snarled. “Or I will put you back to sleep and not wake you until this is all done and over with. Do you understand?” I nodded rapidly, and I did understand. I sure as hell did not want to miss out on all of the fun, because that was just plain unfair. Tristan narrowed his eyes suspiciously, but gave the briefest of a nod and stepped back.
“Can I see Ari?” He hesitated and grimaced. Letting out another sigh, he held out his hand to me. I put my hand into his, and he pulled me to my feet as everything went dark.
When the darkness lifted, I let out a gasp so loud that could wake up the dead. Air locked in my throat as I saw Ari, her entire body an angry, red color. It looked raw and painful as hell. She let out a pained groan as I made to touch her cheek. I froze, as her eyes snapped open, her… solid white eyes. I instinctively jerked my hand back, but luck was never, ever on my side. White hot pain slammed into me as Ari’s fangs sank deep into my arm. I held back a scream as she pulled at my blood and her venom burned me. Sven cursed but didn’t move to help me. “Oh,” Sarisa said, stopping just inside the doorway. “Fuck me.”
“No thanks,” Sven muttered. “I prefer living if you don’t mind.”
“Jackass,” she said, sighing as she came further into the room, stopping on my other side. I poked Ari’s cheek gently, and I winced as her growl turned into a whimper.
“Release me,” I wheezed. “Please,” I finished with a groan. In response, Ari let out a strangled sound at the back of her throat. The chain around her ankles and wrists snapped, and I went flying. My back slammed into the wall, and I didn’t have time to take in air as her fangs ripped into my neck. Sarisa was gaping at the table as Tristan, looking like he was in pain, walked up to us and put a hand on Ari’s bare back.
“Sweetheart,” he whispered in her ear. “Let her go.” When all she did was snarl, he looked torn. I gave him a questioning look, and he sighed. Alexander appeared in the doorway, and Sarisa was a blur as she all but tackled him. Ari finally withdrew her fangs from my neck, only to let out a bloodcurdling scream. Tristan wrapped his arms around her as the door slammed shut. With his fangs bared, he flashed into another room as Sven offered his wrist to me.
“Did I do that to her?” I asked and sank my fangs into his wrist.
“No,” he said, wincing as Ari continued to scream. “Your blood is no longer painful to other vampires.” Great, I thought as Alexander and Sarisa entered the room a few seconds later.
“Get the fuck off of this floor!” Sarisa yelled over Ari’s scream. “Your knife-like auras are hurting her. Get the fuck out, or I won’t be the only one you all need to be worried about!” When the prickly, tingly feeling didn’t leave fast enough, she let out a warning growl that even Tristan could appreciate. Damn, Sven said into my head as I took one last pull and withdrew my fangs. I like her. I smirked. Don’t let Liana or Sergei hear you say that, I silently warned, and then laughed as fear flashed in his eyes. “Now!” Sarisa shrieked, and we winced. A few seconds later, I couldn’t sense anything. “Took long enough,” she growled as she slammed the door. She tapped something on the wall, and I blinked as a blue haze shimmered over the door, fading just as quickly as it came on. She said something about Freya as she led Alexander into the bathroom. Ari was no longer screaming, but I could hear her sobbing, and my stomach clenched painfully as a lump formed in my throat. A flash of rage entered Sven’s eyes, but it was there and gone. He put a hand on my shoulder and led me into the bathroom where Ari was submerged to her neck in the icy water. Sarisa stood awkwardly beside Tristan who looked like he was having a silent conversation with Alexander. With a feral snarl, Tristan reached out, resting a hand on Ari’s forehead. He leaned forward, looking her in the eye. With a curse, he straightened and stepped back. Alexander crouched beside the tub and with a growl, ripped into his wrist and pressed the bleeding wound to Ari’s mouth. Ari let out a snarl, her pain forgotten as her hands shot from the water and clamped around his arm. Alexander winced as she tore into him.
“Uh,” I said, clearing my throat and trying very hard to ignore the burning pain from the venom. “She will be okay… right?”
“She will be,” Sarisa said as she reached out and pulled me to her. Her hand moved down to my own, and she clasped it as her hand glowed white. My own hand tingled as warmth spread from my fingertips, up my arm to course through my entire body in a rush. When she was done, I let out a shudder.
“Handy trick,” Sven said, grumbling under his breath. “Hey, Tristan?” Tristan glanced over, scowling. “Do you think you can bite Sarisa, steal—ow!” he exclaimed as our sire’s hand shot out and smacked him upside the head hard.
“You deserve that,” Sarisa said dryly as he rubbed his head. He put up his hands, grimacing in pain. “What do you say?” Sarisa asked sweetly.
“Sorry,” he said, groaning as his nose began to bleed.
“Good,” Sarisa said cheerfully and released him. “For that, I won’t heal you.”
“Never mind,” he muttered. “I don’t like you.” She snorted and glanced at Ari, sighing in relief when she saw that Ari was no longer conscious. “Damn demons,” Sven growled as Tristan lifted Ari from the water.
“Why is the water blue?” I asked, noticing the slight tint of it in the tub for the first time.
“Magic,” Alexander said, grunting as he straightened.
“Is magic always blue?”
“It's not the spell that’s blue,” Sarisa said as we followed her and Tristan from the bathroom.
“No, it’s the caster’s signature. You know, like leaving a mark that is uniquely yours to warn others not to fuck with you or to identify to the others who you are without actually being present.”
“Oh,” I said and nodded. “Freya?”
“What?” a female voice said from the doorway that led out into the hall, and I let out a yelp, my eyes going to the tall vampire with ice-blond hair and pitch black eyes.
“You’re the one that tried to kill me,” I spluttered.
“Hardly,” she said and stepped into the room, closing the door behind her with a soft snap. Her eyes went to Alexander and narrowed dangerously.
“I’m Ari’s sire,” Alexander said quickly, putting up both hands and slowly backing away.
“Ah,” she said and relaxed slightly. She glanced over to Tristan and must have said something telepathically to him, because he nodded and straightened. Sarisa flashed over to him and whispered something I couldn’t make out into his ear. He hesitated, glancing down at the sleeping form of Ari.
“I would die to protect her,” the hunter said softly. “Alexander and I will not let anything happen to her. I give you my word. Now go.” She glanced around the room and scowled at the door as a knock sounded. Freya opened it to find Donnica standing in the darkened hall. “All of you.”
“I’m staying,” Donnica said and glanced nervously up at Freya.
Sarisa groaned and rubbed her temples. “Fine,” she growled. “Let her through,” she said with a heavy sigh.
“Hey,” Donnica said defensively as Freya stepped back to let her enter. “I have nothing better to do, and besides, I rather watch over and protect Ari.” She flashed to Sven’s side and waved to Tristan, who bared his fangs at her. She sighed. “You have not changed in the slightest bit since the last time I saw you,” she said and grumbled. He growled, exiting the room with Freya and Sven a step behind him. I took a step toward them, sighing as Donnica stopped me with a cool hand on my arm. “You’re with us,” she said sternly. “If anything happens to you, no one will be safe from your sire.” Do not even think about defying me, Tristan growled into my mind. I gasped as pain slowly built in my head. Because it will not be your own stupidity that kills you. Groaning, I clutched at my head. Do I make myself clear?
“Yes,” I wheezed mentally and out loud. The pain slowly eased, and I took in a deep, deep breath. Good, my sire mentally whispered. If I feel so much as a hint of you in trouble, you will wish for death when I see you. I gulped as I felt him leaving my head.
“Had a nice conversation with Tristan?” Donnica asked.
“Shut up,” I groaned, hopping onto the counter and letting my head hit the wall with a thump. I glanced at Ari, still angry red and raw-looking. “Why is she not healing like normal?”
“Because she was burned by demon fire, struck by lightning wielded by a demon, and she had demon blood in her,” said Sarisa. “Though she is no longer burning nor have demon blood in her, her energy had been stolen.”
“She had plenty of energy when she snapped the chain and attacked me,” I said, spluttering.
“That,” she said dryly. “Was her beast in her full glory.”
I shifted, scowling. “How will she get it back? I’m guessing it won’t return just by sleeping.”
“Tristan will feed her the moment I give the okay.”
I nodded. “Shouldn’t the blood help?”
“It is. But remember, she was attacked by a demon and one of the upper-class ones.” Sarisa pulled an IV stand over to the bed and hooked Ari up to it. “Donnica, you want to load up on blood?”
“Sure thing,” Donnica said and flashed to the closed door next to the bathroom. “Is this it?” Sarisa nodded, and Donnica opened it, stepping inside. A moment later, I heard the opening of a door, followed by the sounds of plastic.
“Want help?” I called to her.
“I got it.” I nodded and slipped from the counter. “Thanks though.” I grunted as I walked to the door that led out into the hall.
“Stay out of trouble,” Sarisa said as I opened it and stepped from the room.
“I always do,” I said as I turned left and headed for the elevator.
“I mean it,” she growled.
I sighed. “I won’t do anything stupid,” I said, annoyed as I hit the up button. “I swear.”
“You better not,” she snapped as I stepped inside and the doors slid shut. I held onto the railing as I was shot up to the main floor. I exited the elevator and pushed my way outside into the night, my skin tingling as the two hunters eyed me. I had no idea who they were, and I resisted the urge to start up a conversation with them as I walked into the surrounding forest. I paused, blinking in surprise as Aaron stepped from behind one of the trees, a flashlight in his hand.
“This place is confusing,” he said and frowned at me.
“How the hell did you get through the wards?”
“I didn’t. Corinne teleported me in,” he said and shrugged.
“I take it that you are allowed here since you’re still alive and talking to me.” He again shrugged, rubbing his arms. “Where is Alyssa?”
“In the sparring room… I think.”
“Want me to take you anywhere in particular?”
He shook his head. “I’ll find my way back, came out here to explore.”
I nodded. “Be careful, there are a lot of vampires out and about.”
“Is your sire one of them?” he asked and looked around. I smirked as I caught a hint of fear rolling off of him. “If he is, I’m jumping into the stream.” I laughed, shaking my head. “He was going to kill me,” he said and aimed the flashlight my way. I squeezed my eyes shut, turning my head away from the bright ass glare. “So is he?”
“No, he’s not. Don’t worry, he’s nowhere nearby.” Aaron actually let out a sigh of relief, and I held back another smirk. “If you run into any problems, just yell. There are ears everywhere.”
“Yeah, I know,” he said and shuddered. “I can feel them, even though I can’t see them.”
“Well,” I said and started walking back. “Have fun exploring. I’m going to find your girlfriend before she blows something up.”
“She’s not—” I flashed from the forest before he could even finished the sentence.
I found Alyssa, not in the sparring room, but on one of the prison floors. I scowled as I came up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder. She turned, and I glared at her. “The hell are you doing down here?” I whispered, so low that none of the prisoners but her can hear. “Are you insane? Some of these prisoners are over a thousand years old.” I glanced around, holding back a shiver as all of the prisoners eyed us silently and hungrily. The ones not watching us curiously were the ones lying in torpor in their cells. Most of them were rogues, but some of them… were not. They were all here for judgment or to be sentence on a later date.
“I was curious,” Alyssa whispered and scowled. “I’m not interacting with them in any way. I’m just… observing.”
“Observing can get you killed, idiot,” I hissed and took her arm, dragging her toward the opened door I came through. Once through, I slammed the heavy door shut and armed it.
“Don’t go in there again,” Iris said from behind us. We nodded and turned to her. She reached past us to re-arm the keypad beside the door. “I was curious myself when I saw you coming this way so I disarmed the security system,” she said and glared at Alyssa. “I mean it. Don’t come back down here, not unless you have a very, very good reason.”
Alyssa nodded. “Sorry, it won’t happen again.”
“Make sure that it doesn’t,” Iris said and nodded toward the stairs. “Go on, I have a report to write up.” Alyssa groaned as we climbed the multiple flights of stairs.
“I didn’t do anything wrong!” I called down to Iris. Her laugh rang in my head as Alyssa and I finally hit the residential floors. “You know,” I said to Alyssa as we walked into the common area. “Reading would really do you some good.”
“Not you, too,” she groaned.
“I don’t get it. What the fuck is wrong with reading a couple of books? It’s not like you’re going to die from it.”
“Of course she can,” Audrianna said and threw a huge bound book at her, grumbling when Alyssa caught it. I shoved her onto the couch and pointed to the book in her hands. “Read it,” Audrianna said and smirked. “Trust me, you’ll like it.”