The vast amount of space that was a single hallway in Durand’s mansion stared back at me as I looked down it. If only I had the talent of disappearing and reappearing like Durand and that guy named Felix, this would not be a pain in my immortal ass. Shrugging my shoulders, I walked down the hallway as many glowing eyed maids curtsied at me while I made my way to a set of stairs.
Nodding to each maid that curtsied, I wondered why they were all giving me the royal treatment. Guessing that it had to have been the fact that I was sleeping in the same bed as King Durand, I pushed the curiosity aside and grinned at stair rail that met me in the hall. I wonder how royal they would think I was if I rode that rail all the way down to the main floor.
With a grin, I hopped on the rail and felt the fabric of my jeans flapping against my legs as I made my way down the curved railing. Giggling maids smiled at me and stopped curtsying when I front flipped to land perfectly and gently onto the floor.
“Good gloaming,” I greeted to each of the maids then paused when one of them waved me down to pull me off to the side. “Hey, what’s up?”
“I am pleased to know that you are not a bitch like the many women that Felix brings here, but please be careful not to break anything. I’m Liza, Durand’s constant companion and first fledgling. I know all about the strength and hunger. If you have any questions, please, feel free to come to me, but make sure not to do anything irrational with the new strength you have.”
Her eyes were wide and concern brimmed inside of them like a caged animal. They made me think back to the sympathetic expression that Durand had inside of his own core. Why did everyone look at me like that now?
I nodded. “Of course, Liza, I’ll try not to mess anything up. Sorry.” My hand went behind my head as I self-consciously brushed my hair down.
Geeze. Looking at this girl was like staring into the eyes of your nanny. I was totally feeling like she had an iron grip over everyone and everything over this place. Even though she looked cute and sweet, there was something right beneath the surface of her skin that had my instinct telling me to stay on her good side.
The maid grinned, a sad movement of her lips. “Is there any questions you would like to ask? You’re still so young. The hunger must be a constant distraction,” she examined and sat the basket of laundry she’d been carrying on the steps.
Thousands of questions that I’d needed to ask Durand appeared inside of my head, and I chewed on my lip with my more human teeth. Remembering my deceased friend, I asked, “What is an Exorcist exactly?”
The maid nodded, her golden hair tumbling away from her face. “Of course, you wouldn’t know. The Exorcists are either a pain in the ass or a blessing. It all depends on who you are in the Underworld. They are the trackers of the creatures, including humans, which have become rouge. You’d placed a bounty on your head after killing all those mortals. Many young Exorcists will come after you, but the older and more informed will leave you alone since Durand has taken you under his wing. Your friend Lizbeth was just a child in the Exorcists ranks. She had no idea that you were one of Durand’s fledglings. If she would have known that, she probably would have taught you how to control yourself.”
My hand flowed to my hip. What was Durand’s placement in the Exorcists? What kind of influence did he have on them? I decided to ask. “Why is Durand so amazing to them?”
The maid smiled once more. “Durand is a powerful political figure. He controls all of the Draco vampires even some of the Chiropterans, they are our bat shifting cousins. Since not all Exorcists are humans, Durand can bribe the Exorcists to do what he pleases. He used disposables to hide your identity until Xavier, the leader of the Exorcists, and Abigail, the second-in-command of the Exorcists, can round up everyone to call off the bounty on your head.”
“Alright, and what’s Felix’s story? That guy gives me the heebie-jeebies.”
“Felix is Durand’s older brother. He was supposed to get the right of control over all Dracos, but since he was unable to be trusted among the ranks of their father, King Reule gave all of his power over to his second born child, Master Durand. He’s a jealous prince and is trying to do anything possible to unbalance Durand’s control over their people. Right now, he’s plotting to get Durand to permit him control over a bushel of the militia to earn more respect and then attack Durand’s ranks after he defeats the rebellious Thanatos.”
“Whoa! How do you know that? Does Durand know that?” I thought back to myself. How could a maid know more than a king? The only way for her to know this kind of information would be if she was more than just a maid. Besides, it didn’t make sense that she was telling me all of this. Could it have been because of my relationship with Durand? Did they really not expect me to ditch out on my crazy leechly lover?
The maid nodded her head to me and explained, “I may be a maid, but even I am permitted to walk in and out of Felix and Durand’s quarters without supervision. The master frequently requests for me to snoop through his three brother’s items.”
Slowly, I shook my head. I was right; the instinct was right. There was something much darker inside of Liza than what appeared on the surface. Still, I just couldn’t understand why she would trust me with all this knowledge. I could easily decide to get out of this mansion by joining Felix or someone else of power.
I wonder if all of this would have been any different if one of Durand’s other brothers would have come calling for me. It probably would have been. I’m sure that Liza wouldn’t trust me with the information she was giving me now.
The maid picked up her laundry and turned towards a hallway that had just randomly appeared. There was no way that hall was there before. I would have noticed that. Breaking me out of my mental confusion was Liza saying, “If you have any more questions feel free to ask, but I have to leave. Durand’s calling me to the meeting room. Do as you wish. Anywhere you’re not supposed to get into is already properly sealed. You shouldn’t get into any trouble.”
A wave of spite went through me. What a bitch! I was not a child. I didn’t need boundaries. Gah. Was it just so awesome to boss people around?
As soon as Liza disappeared my tongue stuck out, and I turned around to meet face to face with a small boy with fangs. He looked like Durand’s mini me as he gazed up at my face with his golden eyes and dishwater blonde hair waving around his face. “You must be my new sister,” the boy stated, and I realized that the stuffed animal he was holding was headless. Creeptastic. He stretched his free hand out to me and explained, “You will come with me. My big brothers are gone, and I have no one to play with.”
Before I could protest, the child snatched my hand, and we suddenly appeared in what I suspected was his bedroom. It was completely normal as long as your eyes didn’t drift to the coffin on a large stone pedestal. As my head continued to reel from the strange change in backdrop, I scanned the area of the average bedroom then had to keep from jumping when the kid grasped my pant leg.
“Would you like to play tag?” the strange, glowing eyed child asked. “You cannot trace yet, so I believe that I would win easily.” He grinned, and I noticed the creepily adorable fangs in his mouth. He looked devious, a troublemaker.
I put my hands on my hips and leaned down to the kid’s level. “Listen, little guy, I’m not your new sister. I’m just visiting before I hijack it out of here. Now, take me back to where we were, and I’ll carry on with my business.”
The kid stared at me like I was an alien. “A fledgling is telling me what to do?” he wondered and cocked his head to the side like a confused dog would.
“Yes, I am,” I explained. Carefully, I studied the child. He was an odd one, a bit of a brat. “So, are you going to take me back or what?”
The kid gave me one of the cutest and most innocent smiles that I’d ever seen on a child. “Sure, Naomi, you’re not a wimp like the other fledglings.” He laughed. “This was all a test to see if you were worthy of my brother or not.” His tiny hand reached out to me, and we appeared inside of the foyer that we’d started out in. He looked up at me with innocent yellow eyes. “Where are we going next?”
“Uh…” What was wrong with this kid? He was totally whack. “Where should we go?” I asked as the kid continued to hold my hand as if I was his babysitter.
The young vampire put a hand to his mouth and vaporized with me. Appearing in the kitchen that was the size of three of my classrooms slammed together, the kid said, “Since I’m not immortal yet, I have to eat mortal food along with blood. We have pitchers of blood in here if you’re thirsty.”
Despite the fangs growing sharper in my mouth, I shook my head. I wouldn’t want to harm Durand’s little brother. He’d kill me for sure if I did something crazy like that. Besides, I was warming up to the brat. He was kind of cute when you passed his test.
“Tell me more about being a vampire, little guy. How many times do your brothers drink blood?” I flipped one of the extravagant chairs around to straddle it without any extravagance whatsoever.
The kid pulled a pitcher of thick, delicious blood out of the fridge before snagging a pack of cookies off the counter before dragging it all to the table. “Felix is always drinking blood. If he’s not drinking the maids or from the pitcher he’s out hunting for blood. Durand drinks two times a day, dusk and dawn. I drink once a day. Elliot drinks three times. It varies. Most newborns like you drink like Felix or Elliot.” He took a bit of the cookie, and I tried not to smirk at his fangs sinking into the dough. It looked so out of place. “I’m Reule, by the way. I was named after our dad because he died the day I was born.”
I nodded and grinned at the cute little kid, waiting for him to talk more. He was so cute. I could just hold him all day and spoil him like crazy. He reminded me of my little brother back when we were younger. I sure did miss the little brat.
“What was it like being a human? Did you eat cereal like me and walk in the daylight without getting sunburnt?”
“Well, yeah, but I could still get a sunburn. It would just take longer for me to get one.” Amazing, vampires were just as curious about humans as we were them. It could almost make me wonder if they wrote mortal stories while we wrote their stories.