Julie moved the mop up and down in the bucket of water. Wringing it, she walked to the place where spots of blood had dropped. Once they were done cleaning the floor, they threw the water and put the mop back in its closet. While they were in the locker room, Roman hadn’t bothered to speak to them again.
When it was time to leave, Melanie caught hold of Julie’s hand and started to walk away from the room. Julie’s eyes fell on Roman, who stood in front of his locker, pulling out his things before they left to meet Conner, who was lying in one of the beds of the infirmary.
Reaching the infirmary, Julie noticed all the beds had been occupied by both the team’s players after being injured in the game.
“Julianne,” Olivia greeted her, “I was expecting you to visit the infirmary. Your friend is on the third bed on the right side from the back.”
“Thank you, Olivia,” Julie appreciated it, and they walked to where Conner was lying on the bed. “Are you alright, Conner?”
“I think I sprained or broke my leg,” answered Conner. “Did you two watch the whole match?”
“No, we didn’t stay back, but we did see you play. We wanted to make sure you were doing fine,” replied Julie before asking, “How do you feel?”
“For a moment I felt like my life flashed in front of my eyes before I hit the ground,” Conner scratched the back of his neck. “But I am doing alright. Nothing that can’t be fixed.”
“I am glad to hear that,” Julie looked relieved.
Melanie patted Conner’s shoulder and said, “It was good to see you stick in the first half of the game.” This brought a grin to Conner’s lips.
Julie’s eyes then fell onto the IV that had been injected into Conner. It wasn’t just him but also the other players who had been injected. They were giving glucose to replenish the energy in the students body. The IV set-up was fixed to another monitor to check the heart rate. How strange, thought Julie to herself. Maybe that was what all wealthy university’ infirmary did.
“I didn’t know you were playing in Mateo’s team,” said Melanie. “We were worried for you. And then worried for ourselves.”
“Why? What happened?” questioned Conner, and Melanie explained the things that happened with them before they came here. “I don’t think I remember what happened until I was half way here in the infirmary.”
“How long are you expected to stay here?” asked Julie, her eyes returning to meet Conner’s eyes.
“Just until tomorrow morning and then we are free to go, except for the injured ones,” said Conner, looking at the two boys who looked like they had broken their noses in the field. Thinking about broken noses, Julie thought, didn’t Porcupine and his friends need some medical help? Maybe coming here would only get them into more trouble.
They sat there talking to him until it was the end of visiting hours and time to leave. The doctor said, “All visitors are supposed to leave so that the patients in here can have some rest.”
“We’ll see you tomorrow, Conner,” said Julie offering a smile, and Melanie waved her hand.
“Get a lot of rest,” said Melanie, wishing her friend to feel better, and Conner nodded his head. The visitors started to leave the infirmary, and as Julie got nearer to the exit, she saw Olivia, who was talking to the doctor, her face serious and her lips slightly moving.
Stepping outside the room and walking away from the infirmary, on their way, Melanie said, “It was quite an evening, wasn’t it. I was worried that Roman was going to make us do something far worse. I mean, there was this rumour once that he hit a female freshman.”
“Why?” asked Julie, her eyebrows furrowing in question, but Melanie shrugged her shoulders.
“I have no clue. She probably pissed him off about something,” replied Melanie in a low voice so that no one would hear what she was saying. “You never know how his mood is. One minute he is calm, the other minute he’s in some fight. It is why the rule about him is hard coded by the other seniors.”
On their way out of the infirmary, Julie saw the university counsellor coming from the opposite direction. He walked past them ignoring her as if he hadn’t met her in the forest, and he disappeared into the building.
Reaching the dorm, Julie saw a new letter waiting for her near the window. Walking towards it, she picked it up and read—
‘The unexpected penpal. I have laminated your letter so that I can distribute it if you try to cross me. I didn’t see you at the bleachers during the second half of the game. Not interested in the game?’
The person saw her at the game? Of course, thought Julie to herself. All the students had come to watch the match. Not to mention, compared to the others, she and Melanie had made their appearance later.
It seemed like she wouldn’t be getting her letter back any time soon.
Pulling out her notebook, she wrote—
‘My friend Conner was injured and I wanted to get away from someone, who was sitting next to me during the game. Where were you sitting?’
After putting a question mark, Julie wondered if the person’s answer would make any difference. She had no idea who it could be. She then decided to add another question ‘Do you live in my dormitory?’ A girl might have been pranking her because who else would be able to move back and forth outside her dorm window.
Julie changed into her nightdress and she got into the bed.
In the meantime, away from the dormitories and in the infirmary, Mr. Evans stood in the corridor looking at his watch. It was past midnight and the students had gone to sleep, which included the students who were in the infirmary.
The university doctor stepped out of the room. She noticed him standing there on guard.
“How are they?” questioned Mr. Evans, his eyes cold with a faint smile on his lips that was enough for any human to have an unsettling feeling.
“Sleeping,” answered the doctor, and she heard footsteps approaching from the entrance of the corridor . “The students were very happy to be taking part in today’s game even though some have broken bones or sprains.”
“Of course, they are, Isolde. It is a win win for everyone,” replied Mr. Evans. “The young ones want to play and we let them, while having our kind take a backseat. In some way, we promote equal diversity. Don’t you agree?”
They heard footsteps coming from the entrance and noticed it was the headmistress, and the assistant teacher, who had arrived. The headmistress walked straight towards the door of the room, stepping inside where the students were sleeping, and she stared at them.
The previous IV that had been injected into the students to feed them glucose was now drawing out blood from them. A little amount from each of them, while monitoring their health to make sure they wouldn’t take more blood than necessary. The glucose that had been injected earlier, had been mixed with something else to make sure the humans here wouldn’t wake up startled.
Closing the door shut, Dante questioned, “Where is Roman and Mateo?”
“Probably in their dorms or outside unless you asked them to meet you in here,” hummed Mr. Evans, his eyes leisurely moving to look at the end of the corridor that offered nothing but silence.
A few seconds later, Roman appeared, and so did Mateo, offering a small bow. On looking at Mateo’s injured face that was still in the process of healing, a frown appeared on Dante’s face.
“What happened to your face?” questioned the headmistress.
Mateo had a controlled scowl on his face while he stood in front of the headmistress of Veteris, “It was his doing. He got into a fight with me for no reason!” he gritted his teeth.
The headmistress’ eyes shifted to look at Roman, and to Mateo’s words, Roman said, “That’s a little misleading. He was trying to stir trouble by trying to drink blood when we were already harvesting blood.”
“The only blood spilt was mine-”
Hearing this, the woman’s eyes narrowed, and she glared at Mateo, and he looked down. Her hand was quick to catch hold of his neck, pushing him against the wall as she asked, “Did you forget the protocol, Jackson?”
Mateo struggled to get away from the hold that was too strong and Dante released him after a few seconds.
“I didn’t draw a single drop of blood,” coughed Mateo and touched his neck, “It was Moltenore who stepped in and created trouble!”
Before Dante could get to Roman, he said, “I was merely following the rules.” Mr. Evans, who stood there, raised his eyebrows as if to question since when Roman had started to follow the rules, knowing well the number of rules he broke in a day.
Dante glared at them, before saying, “Choose better team members. Especially you, Mateo. You picked humans who need blood rather than being able to be draw out from them. Fix it by tomorrow evening, else I will have someone else to do your job.”
After Ms. Dante finished passing some more instructions to the people who were in the corridor, the headmistress walked away from there as she had other important things to do while the rest were still there.
“I am going to go and take a look at the bottles. It is nearly time to switch back the infusion,” said the doctor named Isolde, turning her back and walking into the room.
Mateo turned to Roman and snarled, “Fucker, don’t think I will let you off the hook that easily,” not bothering to hide his feelings in front of the university counsellor who was still there.
Roman stepped away from them as if he didn’t hear Mateo. His footsteps took him to stand near the door, behind which the infirmary doctor had disappeared. He watched the students, who were now fast asleep.
Mateo brought his hand to rub his neck, feeling the burn of his skin on either side that was caused by Ms. Dante’s nail when she had grabbed his neck. His eyes snapped at where Roman stood, glaring at him in distaste and rage.
“What were you thinking by trying to draw blood from a human today, Mateo,” questioned Mr. Evans, who hadn’t left the place and leaned against the wall with a peaceful expression on his face.
“I didn’t do anything to her,” Mateo rolled his eyes, tired of the false accusation. Though he did wish to mince the girl for the trouble she caused and for denting his reputation.
“I know both of you, so there’s no need to be shy about it,” replied Mr. Evans, his eyes shifted from Mateo to look at Roman. “You know the rules of not touching humans during the time of harvest while the rest of the time is a free game unless you aren’t able to compel. Tonight is for the elders and not for us,” he offered them a polite smile.
“Having fun with one girl wouldn’t change anything tonight. She wouldn’t have even remembered and I wanted to teach her a lesson,” Mateo retorted with a huff.
“Pathetic little loser,” murmured Roman under his breath, but the other two who were in the corridor heard it clearly.
Mateo took one step towards Roman to repay the insult, but Mr. Evans placed his hand on his shoulder. “No fighting in the infirmary and not in front of me. It wouldn’t look good if a teacher like myself didn’t try to maintain decorum.” Mateo pulled his shoulder away from the counsellor’s hold. He walked away from the corridor and out of the infirmary.
“You did too much damage to his face, Rome. More than usual. Taking out the game spirit on him because you didn’t get to finish the match?” questioned Mr. Evans, watching Roman’s back.
“Isn’t that the normal amount?” came the nonchalant words from Roman while he continued to stare inside the room. Doctor Isolde had brought out the metal box and had started to place the bottles of blood in it one by one.
A chuckle escaped from Mr. Evans’ lips as if he were amused by something, “How long do you think I have been here, not to know what an average and the next level after that when it comes to you?”
“Not much,” said Roman, turning back to meet the man’s eyes. “But enough to know when you start to pry,” one side of his lips curled.
“You should be careful with how much amount of damage you cause. You never know when you are walking on thin ice and when it breaks,” advised Mr. Evans with a smile.
“Well noted, Counsellor,” responded Roman, and he made his way out of there without sharing another word.
With the hour of midnight, the students were sleeping in their dormitories while a few of them, who were older, patrolled the grounds to make sure the students didn’t break the rules set in here. On his way, Roman was stopped by a young woman.
“Where do you think you are walking at this hour of the night, Roman? Waiting for me to send you to detention?” she asked him.
“Summoned by the headmistress,” responded Roman.
“The last time you said that, you made a fool of myself and Mr. Borrell had punished me for not being meticulous,” she said to him, her eyes checking him out. “Are you lying to me again?”
Roman stopped walking and said, “I don’t know. Why don’t you verify it with Ms. Dante?” He offered her a slight smile and walked past her.
On his way to the Dormitorium, he dropped by outside another building. The lights around it had already been switched off, which made it easier to walk without being spotted, and he came to the window, noticing the letter that had been placed for him.
When he went to pick it up, he noticed the girl, who had turned her face to face the window while she was sound asleep. This one seemed to like getting into trouble more often than others, thought Roman to himself.
She had braided her brown hair, and her head rested on the pillow as she softly breathed. His black eyes took in the side profile of the girl. Her face was bare without the glasses hiding her. Her eyelashes were long, and her figure petite, which was now half-covered with the blanket.
Taking the letter, he closed the window and disappeared from there.
When Roman reached near his dorm, he caught sight of Maximus and Simon, who hadn’t slept yet.
“How did it go?” questioned Simon when Roman entered the corridor.
“Boring as usual, but successful,” replied Roman, walking to where they were and noticing the full moon through the window.
“I cannot believe we cannot draw out blood at this time. It isn’t as if we are getting in anyone’s way because the elders aren’t here,” muttered Maximus under his breath.
“What happened to canned blood?” questioned Roman, and Maximus smiled.
“All finished. The cans can’t compare to the fresh and warm blood directly from the body. You should know that better than anyone,” stated Maximus, putting his hands in his pockets. “I am surprised to see that you break every rule except for this one during the Harvest.”
Simon’s eyes fell on Roman’s hand, first noticing a letter and then at the bandages wrapped around his knuckles. He said, “I didn’t know you hurt your hand in the game,” and his eyes moved back to look at Roman’s eyes.
“It wasn’t from the game,” replied Roman, but he didn’t give anything more to the curious eyes that looked at him in question.
Maximus asked, “And Dante didn’t say anything? She must have been in quite a hurry if she didn’t give you an earful,” his tongue peeked out while the pin in it touched his teeth.
“Every month of this time is busy and important. People need a distraction to get out of our way, but I wonder when we’ll get to play than behave as if we are playing with children on their levels,” commented Simon, a frown coming to fall on his face. They had to hold back their strengths. For the freshmans’ of their kind, it was a test to not act on their instincts but adapt.
“Dante said we could have it next month. A proper match,” said Roman, a smile coming to form on his lips. It had been a while since they had played only with their kind with the same strength.
After a while, Roman stepped inside his dorm, shutting the door close with his leg. Walking to the mini-fridge that was placed in the closet, he took out a can, pulling its lid open before sipping blood from it.
Lying on the bed, he brought the letter forward and read the short letter.
“Looks like you are popular, troublemaker,” murmured Roman, while his eyes subtly narrowed in wonderment of whom she wanted to get away. Jackson? But he was on the field and had shown up near the locker room later.
A sliver of annoyance crossed his features, remembering what happened before he had broken their noses.
Julianne Winters was his prey. If there was one thing Roman Moltenore didn’t like, it was sharing something that he had his eyes on with others.