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“You better call me as soon as you get to London!”

“I will, don’t worry.”

Ruby didn’t call, not for a long time.


London wasn’t what Ruby remembered, or maybe it was, and she’d just forgotten the accusing stares. This part of London wasn’t at all what she’d hoped, but it was what she’d expected, what she’d grown used to. The back alleys were filthy, and the streets were littered with garbage of both the living and non-living sort. For the first time, she was utterly alone in the world.

The orphanage had long since been closed. It had been nearing its downfall when she had walked out the doors for the last time. The world had not treated her kindly. London had turned its back on her, and America had shoved her into the slums.

The American school had taught her many things. It taught her to keep her things locked up tight, her chin high, her back straight, and her tone cold. It taught her to never look anyone in the eye unless they wanted a fight. It taught her to build a façade of grace and poise that would protect her from the world.

She didn’t belong here.

The streets may have raised her, taught her how to survive, how to get by in a world without morals, but she no longer fit. Jo was back in America, the only friend she’d known, and there was nothing ahead of her.

“What’s a highblood like you doing in a place like this?” the man was American. His voice gave it away. Ruby turned, eyeing him before choosing her words. He was dignified, his clothes expensive, his stance easy and relaxed.

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean.”

“Bull, you’re not a bitten, that’s for sure, and I’d know a vampire anywhere. What’re you doing out here, kid? I thought the system like folks like you.”

“I-“ she didn’t know what to say to that. “I’m an orphan. No traceable lineage. No proof of a bloodline.”

“That’s ridiculous,” the man scoffed, flipping a gloved hand. “you’re a highblood! Any self-respecting vampire could tell!” Ruby stared at him like he’d grown a second head. This man had to be out of his mind. “Come on, it’s awful cold out here, let me buy you a coffee, I’d like to continue our conversation somewhere less, ah, shifty.”

“Perhaps it would be best if you introduced yourself first.” She held her tone steady, suspicion nagging at her.

“Ah! Where are my manners? I’m Waylon Mathias, Lord Waylon Mathias to be exact, but that’s not worth fretting over.” Ruby felt her breath catch in her throat, like a sort of nausea bubbling up from her lungs. Lord Mathias was an American highblood, one of the most powerful, most influential. She’d made a fool of herself.

“My apologies sir, I was not aware of your title.” She gave a curt bow. “I am Ruby.”

“Don’t worry about that, girl.” He gave another flippant wave of his hand. “Tell you what, I’ve got a proposition for you, and I know this may sound sudden, but just lend me your ears if you will.” He began walking towards the shops, likely to find that warm drink he’d mentioned earlier. Ruby followed dutifully. “Come back to America with me, work for me, I’m afraid I’ve got a retched idea for the two of us.”


“We’re going to change the world Ruby, if that’s what you want at least.”

She did want it. She wanted to burn the whole world and rebuild it, incinerate the hate and the violence. She wanted to grow a better world from the ashes.

Submitted: November 16, 2018

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