I stared at her in shock.
She used one hand to lean back on and raised the other to feel for her forehead. When she found the bullet hole she scowled.
“Damn! Why did he have to shoot my face? That’ll take forever to heal over!”
“Excuse me?” I gasped, feeling like I might faint. Charlotte wasn’t dead - she had been dead, shot in the head, but now she was sitting there and talking as if it had been a pebble and not a bullet.
“It might even scar,” she continued worriedly. “I’ll have to see an elf about this.”
“You’re dead,” I said stupidly. It seemed my mouth had a mind of its own.
“Uh, yeah,” she said in an irritated tone. “No, really, why do all mortals think that vampires are dead? Or the undead, or whatever?”
“No, you’re dead,” I repeated. “You were shot straight to the brain.”
“Oh, that,” she said, the annoyance sliding off her face. Then she snorted. “Thanks for thinking so much of me. I’m an Immortal, Ruby, I can’t die like that. Bullets won’t kill me. They’ll just make a mess.”
She frowned again and wiped the blood away from her eye with her fist.
“Ah, my head feels better now.”
She got to her feet lithely, offering me a hand, which I took with my own trembling one.
“Right, I think I owe this sucker a punch or two,” she said lightly, combing her fringe over the wound with her fingers. “Is he still out there?”
“Yeah,” I said faintly, hoping to God my knees didn’t give out like it felt they would any minute. I had already seen so much, and as it piled up it was becoming too much. This sort of thing just didn’t happen. “Phoenix is dealing with him.”
“Well, what are we waiting for? I’m sure even the hottest vampire can use a hand.”
“You think Phoenix is hot?” I said as she pulled open the door and tugged me out after her. She didn’t answer my question.
“Well, a lot of people do seem to find me charming and attractive.”
With horror I realised that the vampire in question was stood right on the other side, and had only heard the end of my sentence.
“I was asking Charlotte - “
“Enough chitchat,” she declared loudly, drowning me out before I could embarrass her. She looked over to where Willow and Meena were using their shoes to scuff out the chalk circle. There was nothing in the middle except a pile of black ashes, the wind sifted through them and scattered them across the cobbles.
“Damn, I owed him,” she muttered. “Did you find out who told him to kill me?”
“We didn’t need to. We know who he works for. He was a Bloodwolf. And I don’t think he was sent to kill you. You were the first person out that door, and I think he shot you because he thought you were Ruby.”
“Good thing you went out first,” Meena commented as she joined us. Willow was using the edge of her trainer to kick the remaining ashes away with a look of distaste on her face. I glared at her.
“Well, that’s such a nice sentiment.”
“What?” she said, raising her eyebrows as if she had not said anything offensive. “I doubt you would have survived a bullet to the head.”
I folded my arms and ignored her. Charlotte didn’t seem to be offended - she was too busy smiling in Phoenix’s (apparently, “hot”) direction.
“So,” she said, turning back to me in a blur of fluorescent redness. “Tenebrus is after you for something.”
“Yes,” Phoenix interrupted before I could open my mouth. “As to what that something is, it remains a secret between the Eternals and their chosen.”
“You’re one of the chosen to protect Ruby?” Charlotte asked, with a quirk of her lips. “Wanna sprinkle some of that luck this way, Ruby?”
“I’m sure I’ll see you around,” I glared as we started to walk away.
“I’m sure I’ll be in touch.”
I heard her laugh then the sound of the door closing behind her as she went back into the warehouse.