The task Ren had assigned us was basically to clean each room in the building from top to bottom. Not an easy task when the cleaning team is made up of three short people. It took a lot of time and effort since only Adrianna and myself were working. We’d both agreed that Morrigan should sit it out and realign her face. The walls, floors and ceilings in whatever kind of building we were in were caked in a thick paste made from dirt and congealed blood. Adrianna’s mouth was watering as the water liquefied the blood again. It was Morrigan that kept her working. Having Morrigan there was like having Ren peering over our shoulders. Once or twice I even had to check it was Morrigan. When Morrigan joined in with the scrubbing, Ren waltzed past with a shadowy figure ambling behind. Something, and I don’t know what, told me it was Trace.
Ren was talking to Trace as they walked. They seemed to be discussing something important. One sniff from Trace was enough to stop him in his tracks. He caught sight of the three of us, knee-deep in blood and sniffed again. He stepped into the room we were in, shedding light on his face and its puzzled expression. He had shoulder-length black hair and eyes like melted chocolate. He had a light tan and a faintly feline face.
“Well, well, what have we here?” he asked in a voice softer than silk. There was something strangely fierce about such a smooth voice.
“Oh, new recruits. The other three are cleaning upstairs” Ren said, taking a step back so she was stood by the doorway.
She seemed reluctant to step into the room. Trace, however, had no problem walking further into the room. He glanced at Adrianna, the hunger in her eyes, and turned his attention to Morrigan.
“Someone with a will as strong as Ren’s. She should be that challenge you were looking for” he shouted slightly back at Ren.
His attention then turned to Adrianna. He stepped towards her. She dipped her head in respect. He didn’t appear to like that. He pulled her head up sharply and stared deep into her eyes.
“I’d like to see you upstairs” he said and a sigh came from Ren.
He turned to Morrigan in time to see her roll her eyes.
“I’d like to see you too. Something tells me you’re a very savage girl.” He grinned, “I don’t mind a few scratches as long as you don’t knock me out”.
“Trace, leave them alone, they’ve got work to do” Ren said.
“Aaw, but this pretty little hazelnut over here hasn’t had my verdict yet” he said mockingly but menacingly.
He looked at me, assessing me. He brushed my cheek with the back of his hand. His hand was nothing like Fang’s. It was ice cold and felt almost skeletal. I shivered against the ice of his skin and he laughed.
“I’d especially like to see you. You’re somehow different from the others here. It seems you’ve already become a personal interest of mine. Tell me your name, little hazelnut”.
“You can call her hazelnut until further notice. We have business to attend to” Ren said, pulling him away by the collar.
“Until next time, girls!” he said as Ren pulled him out of the room and down the corridor.
Adrianna’s face flushed pink. I’d never understood why some vampires could blush and others couldn’t. She picked up the scrubbing brush, which she’d dropped, and carried on cleaning. Morrigan, on the other hand, threw her brush on the floor and crossed her arms.
“Since when did we sign up to be prostitutes?” she said while Adrianna scrubbed.
“Come on, Morrigan, don’t forget your job. To clean this place up” I said, hoping she’d get the message.
She sighed and set to work scrubbing. Even with the three of us, it still took a few hours. In fact, I think the only reason we got it finished was because Luc came down to help. Actually, when Luc came down, Morrigan stopped. Apparently her face had her face had started healing. But, once we were finished Luc led us up to a room that housed a stone table and six chairs. Set on the table in front of each chair was a glass pitcher of red liquid and a crisp white napkin. Two of the pitchers were empty and one was half full. Adrianna didn’t bother to sit. She snatched one of the pitchers and drank it as if it were air. The blood dribbled down over her chin. She set the pitcher down and licked her lips.
“You might want to pace yourself. That’s all we get ‘til next week” Luc said.
Morrigan sat, poured out a glass and threw it back like it was whiskey or bourbon. She was even sat in the traditional pose: right elbow on the table with the right hand holding the glass, left arm folded on the table and slouching.
“No, if she needs any more she can take mine” I said, watching Morrigan.
“Oh yeah, you don’t… What’s she supposed to eat?” Luc asked, looking around as if a sandwich was going to magically appear.
Morrigan sighed and pulled a chocolate bar out of her pocket. For some reason it hadn’t turned into a melted mush. She took another glass of blood and slumped off into the next room. Luc started to sway and had to sit down. Adrianna murmured and collapsed, smashing the pitcher as she went down.
“Aaw, snap. They drugged the blood” Luc said. Well, tried to say. It came out more like “Aaw, ssshnapps. They drug the bluhd”.
His head fell forward and he slumped onto the table. Somebody was on my side, drugging the blood so the human could sleep. At least, that’s what I hoped. I slunk into the other room and saw three snoozing vampires and six uncomfortable looking beds. Bruno hadn’t quite made it all the way to his bed and lay sprawled half on the floor, half on the bed. Stepping over him, I flopped down onto the bed next to Morrigan. I hadn’t been drugged but I certainly felt like it. And before I knew it, I was asleep.
I could see Ren and Alex. I guess her blood was still in my system and she was thinking of the event I was witnessing. It was winter, it was snowing and it was cold. And there was Ren, in a knee-length summer dress, dancing in the snow. Alex walked beside her in a shirt and waistcoat with a thin jacket on. He didn’t particularly look like he was dressed for the winter but he looked more convincing than Ren.
“Ren, you’re going to blow our cover” he said. His voice showed no emotion besides adoration.
“I’m sorry, Alex, but the winters are so warm now. If I wore anything more than this, I think I’d faint from the heat” she said sweetly.
“Could you not at least manage shoes?”
“I suppose I could try”.
Alex smiled as she stopped and held out a foot. He wiped off the snow and slipped on a flat black shoe. Ren smiled.
“What, no heel?” she asked with a laugh.
He kissed her knee and took her other foot. He did the same as before and Ren started dancing again. Alex walked beside her once more but with a more cheerful expression.
“We need to lie low for a while. If we draw to much attention to ourselves the Vatican will be after us” he said solemnly after they had been walking for a while.
“You don’t know the Vatican will come. Do they even know we exist?”
“I know they’ll come because I’ve dealt with them before”.
“Then whatever you did last time will work again”.
Alex sighed. “I only got out that time because I was on my own. And because I faked my faith. If they come after us they wont be so forgiving”.
“Why not?” Ren was shouting.
“Because there are two of us. Part of the oath they made me take was to never force a mortal to become what I am” Alex was shouting slightly too.
“You didn’t. I asked you to. To get rid of the scars”.
“You think they’ll believe that?!”
“Sometimes, Alex, I wish I never met you” she said harshly and stormed off, ending the memory.
I woke up as soon as the memory was over. The vampires were still snoozing. Whatever they’d been given was powerful. And then there was the softer than silk voice of Trace. I wasn’t sure if it was in my head or if he was outside the room, but I heard it as clear as crystal.
“Come on, little hazelnut. I told you I wanted to see you upstairs. I’m waiting”.
And the strange thing was, I followed his voice up to the top floor.