I slowly blinked my eyes open. Taking in everything, I noticed that I was lying on a different bed and in another room. I felt a presence with me, and I looked around. Jesric stood leaning against the wall, watching me. “I’m okay,” I said with a sigh.
“Are you?” he asked and pushed from the wall. He came over, and the bed dipped as he sat. I nodded. “Change for me.” Blinking, I just stared at him. “You’re going to make me say it, are you?” Shrugging, I threw the blanket off of me and slipped out of bed. Reaching deep inside myself, I let the hot tingling sensation wash over me as I shifted into my small kitten form. My two front paws hit the floor with a thump, and I glanced up at Jesric, my eyes narrowing. “Good,” he said and frowned at me. “You can change back, if you like.” I nodded and shifted back to my human form. Getting to my feet, I dropped onto the bed and crossed my arms.
“I need clothes.”
“I can see that,” he said dryly. There was a tap on the door before it was pushed open. “You’re in luck.” Corinne stepped into the room and came over to us, holding out a plastic bag to me. I took it from her and nodded my thanks.
“Can you still shift?” the redheaded vampire asked. “Oh, before I forget, welcome to the family.”
I snorted. “Thanks,” I drawled. “And yes, I can still shift.” She nodded, and I quickly dressed in a white T-shirt and a pair of black jeans. “So, how many times was I shot?” I asked, taking the two bags of blood from her. I quickly drained them and scowled when no one answered. I crumpled up the plastic bags and threw it at Jesric who caught it. “How many?”
He sighed. “Thirty-three.”
I stared at him blankly. “I’m sorry, how many times?” I asked again.
“Thirty-three,” Jesric repeated.
“You’re fucking with me.”
“No fucking way,” I said and ran out of the room.
“Hey, wait up,” Corinne said as she followed me. I grunted as a tendril of shadow came out of nowhere and pulled me to a stop. Corinne came to a stop beside me, smirking.
“Where are you going?” Jesric asked from behind me. I looked around and frowned, because I had no idea where I was. I knew I was on the residential floor, but that was all.
“Tell me you guys didn’t throw away the bullets,” I said and glared at the ceiling.
“We did not,” he said slowly. “Why?” he asked cautiously as the icy cold tendril dropped from me.
“I need to see them for myself.”
“I’ll take you,” Corinne said and put a hand on my arm.
“Do you know where they are?” Jesric asked dryly.
“No, but I’m pretty sure they’re stored in a container of some kind and on the medical floor… somewhere.” He grunted and put a hand on my shoulder. A second later, everything went dark. When we appeared back in the room I was in earlier, Sarisa was waiting for us. She held the container in her hand as if it was going to bite her. Jesric took it from her and popped the lid, setting it on the counter beside Corinne. Turning, I looked inside and winced. The bullets were covered in blood, and I wondered how on earth I was going to count them. I shuddered as I was hit with phantom pain. Cursing, I glared at the plastic container. Jesric dropped the lid beside it and looked at me expectantly.
“What?” I asked and scowled.
“Think about what you want to do and will it to happen.” I narrowed my eyes at the bloody misshapen bullets and willed myself to mentally pick one up. I shouldn’t have been surprised that it worked, but I was. I dropped the bullet on the lid and began to count, getting more and more annoyed by the second. When I was done counting, I still couldn’t believe it. Yep, I was shot thirty-three times. Thirty-three. Fucking… times.
“Really?” I spluttered. “Really? They had to put an extra three bullets into me? Really? What is wrong with them?” I asked, fuming. Yes, I knew that it was stupid to be pissed over such a thing, but honestly, thirty-three? Why? Why not thirty? Or twenty? Or hell, why not just shoot me once and be done with it? But oh no, they’ve decided to shoot me thirty-three times instead, as if a single bullet wasn’t fucking painful enough to begin with. Stupid! God damn! Demons and their fucking logic! They’ve ruin everything! Grrr!
“Aisley?” Sarisa said cautiously.
“What?” I snapped and glanced around. “Oh… sorry,” I muttered. “Got a little carried away.”
“Yeah,” she said slowly. “I had to get your attention before you decided to do something stupid.” She pointed, and I looked down, realizing that I was holding the edge of the plastic lid, as if I was about to pick it up and throw it.
“Oh,” I said and dropped my hand back to my side.
“I’ll just take this,” Jesric said slowly and picked up both lid and container. His head tilted slightly, as if listening to something or someone. He shrugged, dumping the bullets back into the container and closing it before it vanished into thin air. I ran my hands through my hair and cursed under my breath. Chuckling, Jesric put a hand on my shoulder, and everything once again went dark.
“Have a seat,” Jesric said, applying pressure to my shoulder until I sat. I looked around and studied the wall of monitors with interest.
“Your office?” I asked.
“No, but this is where I mostly spend my time when I’m not out… working.”
“Don’t you get bored?”
He shrugged, hitting a switch on the desk. “Natalia, where are you headed, sweetheart?” I glanced at the monitors, spotting the little girl in the one that was focused on the elevator. Natalia looked up, a cup in her hands.
“Ari,” she replied and pouted.
“Did Sarisa say you can see her?” She nodded, sticking the straw end of the cup into her mouth.
“Okay, be very careful, sweetie.”
“I will, I promise.”
“Good girl, are you ready to go down? It will be fast.” She nodded and grabbed onto the railing. “Hold on tight,” he warned, and when she took in a deep breath and nodded, he pushed a button labeled M1. Natalia let out a squeak as the elevator dropped. Smirking, he hit the switch to off.
“Is there medium and slow? Or does it just have the one speed?” I asked.
“If you’re not gravely injured or dying, you don’t get to have the smooth ride down.”
“Oh, that is just lovely.”
“Very,” he said and turned to me. “Now, do you have any questions for me?”
I shrugged, frowning in thought. “I’m faster than average right?”
“Right,” he said as someone knocked. “You’re also stronger than average.”
“Am I faster and stronger than you?” I asked a little hopefully.
“Judging by the fact that I am four thousand years older than you?” he drawled, and I winced.
“I’ll take that as a no,” I said and grumbled.
“And you would be right.”
“Am I stronger than the fledglings?”
“Yes, though I’m not sure if you are against Kira or Corinne. Ask them to spar with you one day.”
I nodded. “I think I might just do that,” I said and turned to the door to find an imp waiting there. If Jesric hadn’t put a restraining hand on my arm, I would have launched myself out of my chair to rip her head off.
“Ketra, what do you have for me?” The imp stepped through the door and scuttled to him, a small notebook in her hand. She handed it to him, and he nodded, taking it from her. “Thank you.” She nodded and scuttled back out the door, disappearing down the hall. “A word of advice, don’t attack any of the demons here. In fact, don’t attack any of them unless they attack you first.” I nodded. “They’re not the ones responsible for killing you,” he said softly, gently squeezing my arm before dropping his hand from me.
“I know,” I said with a heavy sigh. “Speaking of the ones who shot me, what happened to them?” I asked and got to my feet.
“I killed them, though one managed to escape.”
“Damn,” I muttered.
“Damn indeed.” I walked to the opened door and peeked out. At the end of the short hallway was another door. “If you head down the hall and go through that door, you’ll find the kitchen. There are bags after bags of blood in the refrigerator. Help yourself.”
I nodded. “Thanks,” I said and stepped from the room.
At the end of the darkened hall, I pushed open the door and stepped through it. Come to think of it, the entire building was dark except for the single light over the window that looked out toward the entrance. Spotting the large refrigerator, I walked over and pulled it open. I whistled when I saw that it was indeed, filled with blood. On the refrigerator’s door were bottles of water, bottles of sparkling flavored water, different types of juices, sodas, PowerAde’s, Gatorades, and more. Wow, I thought in amusement. They don’t just stock up on blood, they went all out. “You should see what we have in the drawers and cabinets.” I cursed, closing the refrigerator and turning around.
“Skyler,” I said and scowled at her.
“Wow,” she said, coming to a stop in front of me. “Did you know your green eyes ringed with blue are now ringed with red too?” I blinked. “I’m guessing the red will darkened when you’re hungry. If you’re starving, I’m thinking the black will swallow the blue too. If you’re really, really, really hungry, I bet it will swallow up the green until your eyes are fully black. Oh, your skin is also paler than normal.”
I winced. “Don’t tell me my hair is pink. If you do, I just might have to murder you.”
She laughed, shaking her head. “Don’t worry. Still black, and no pink anywhere in sight.”
“How comforting,” I said dryly.
“You must be Aisley,” she said and held out her hand.
“I am, and you must be Skyler,” I said and shook her outstretched hand. “It’s finally nice to meet you.”
She nodded. “Same,” she said, pulling her hand from mine. “I actually came to find you.”
“Oh?” I asked, opening the nearest drawer to me.
She again nodded. “Come with me, and you can take whatever you like. We have plenty to share.” Grunting, I grabbed a large bag of sour patch kids and followed her from the kitchen.
“So,” I said, opening my bag of candy and popping a few into my mouth. “Where are we going?”
“The residential floor,” she said as the elevator opened. We stepped inside, and she hit the button marked R1. I reached out, grabbing the railing in time as the lift dropped us.
“P?” I asked. “The hell does that stand for?”
“Prison,” she said as we stepped out.
“Oh,” I spluttered, mentally slapping myself as she led me down a hallway. “Guess my IQ dropped a point or two in result of me becoming a vampire.”
Skyler snorted. “You start losing brain cells by the end of the year. So you have that to look forward to,” she said sarcastically.
“I can’t wait,” I said dryly as she stopped before a door and opened it.
“This is my apartment,” she said and stepped aside for me to enter. She followed me inside and closed the door behind us. “Elena?” Skyler called out as we took the ten steps or so down into the living room. “Kira? Alyssa? Get your asses out here.” I looked around, taking in the purple carpet and white walls. Situated around the apartment were a couple of couches, tables and chairs. Lining up one wall were a couple of bookshelves filled with a good amount of books. One of the doors opened, and Kira, Alyssa, and Elena stepped out. Kira flashed over to me, and I grunted as she gave me a bear hug. I gave her a one-armed hug as she pulled back.
“Are we having a slumber party?” I asked suspiciously. I continued eating my sour patch as Skyler led me to a couch and gently pushed me onto it. “An intervention of some kind?” I asked when no one answered. I scowled. “Do I have to keep guessing?” Skyler picked up a small plain-looking white box and held it out to me. “What’s this?” I asked slowly and took it from her. “It better not be a bomb.”
“It’s not,” Kira said, smirking. “Just open it.” I looked to Skyler, who nodded. Jesric, I mentally hissed. There was the slightest of a stir in my mind, and it was strange to say the least. If they blow me up, I want you to avenge me. Jesric’s low laugh sounded in my head, and I grimaced. You have my word, he mentally drawled. Shrugging, I opened the box, and just stared at the iPhone inside.
“Jesric said your stuff was destroyed,” Skyler said and shifted uncomfortably. “So… Kira and I uh, went on a shopping spree.” I carefully reached inside and picked up the phone. “It’s a 5S… under your name and everything.” Speechless, I just stared at the shiny screen of the phone. I could still feel Jesric’s surprise in my head as I looked up at them.
“I… I don’t know what to say,” I finally said, swallowing.
“Say nothing,” Skyler said, taking the phone charger, earbuds, and plan information from the box and putting them on the table before trashing it. “Think of it as… a welcome to the family gift from us to you.”
“We got you other stuff, too,” Kira said and set a bag on the couch beside me. This was why they were asking me all these weird questions, Jesric silently muttered. I should’ve expected something was up.
“Thank you,” I said, feeling… oddly welcomed. “Those two little words aren’t enough to express my thanks, but it’s all I can think of to say.”
“Think nothing of it,” she said assuredly. “Besides, we need something happy for once.” She leaned in, and Skyler eyed her suspiciously. “By the way,” she whispered in my ear. “Alyssa is a fucking bitch. She didn’t help.”
“What?” Alyssa spluttered, smacking Kira on the back of her head as she straightened. “I did help, you bitch!”
“I chipped in more than that!” Alyssa exclaimed and continued to splutter in outrage. I couldn’t help it, I laughed. To piss her off even more, I kicked her just for the hell of it. “Ow! Aisley!” she groaned, rubbing at her shin. Chuckling, I pulled her into my arms and hugged her.
“However much you chipped in, thank you. Even if it was only a dollar.” I smirked, grunting as she elbowed me in the side. I released her, and she straightened, scowling down at me.
“You’re welcome, I’m just glad you’re still with us.” I nodded.
“So,” Kira said, walking over to the bookshelves. “What shall we torment Alyssa with today?”
“Noooo!” Alyssa moaned before cursing at Kira. She flopped onto the couch, still cursing and looking miserable.
“Honestly,” said Kira. “How in the world’s fuck did you get through high school and college?”
Alyssa shrugged. “Please, can I go without reading for a day?” I looked to Skyler, to Kira, and then to Elena. They looked back at me in turn, and then we all stared at Alyssa who had a terrified look on her face.
“No,” we said in unison. And with that, several books flew at her, forcing her to catch them, or let them hit her.