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Rain POV Leaning against the door of my small dorm room, I felt my heart pound against my chest. It was a sensation I felt with fear, but this time it was different. There was something about Caleb that made my heart flutter and my body tingle with an unfamiliar sensation. Shaking off these distracting thoughts, I reminded myself to stay focused on my job. Caleb was another addition to the Collector’s collection, and failure was not an option. Leaving the door, I sank into the plush mattress of the bed. I couldn’t help but revel in its comfort. It was a stark contrast to the discomfort I was used to. As I opened the small box containing the new phone, I marveled at its sleek design. The device resembled a miniature computer, far more advanced than anything I had ever used before. It took me a few moments to navigate its unfamiliar features, but eventually, I set it up. Upon turning on the phone, I noticed an unread message icon blinking. It was a message from the Collector, reminding me to check in. I acknowledged his message with a brief response and then programmed Caleb’s number into my phone. With the task completed, I sent him a quick text, providing my number and name. Almost instantly, my phone buzzed with a new message. Surprised by Caleb’s fast response, I read his words: “It was nice meeting you today.” Feeling a glimmer of hope that this job might be easier than expected, I replied, “Likewise.” A few minutes passed, and my phone buzzed again, but this time it was a message from the Collector. The message contained an address and specific instructions: “Go to the bar in the red dress provided in your room and sit at the booth closest to the exit. There, you will meet one of my informants who will provide further instructions for your stay above ground.” Determined to carry out my mission, I responded, “On it.” I dragged myself out of the bed and looked through the closet. Finally, my fingers grazed the fabric of a red dress, though it barely deserved that name. I hastily undressed, feeling the cool air against my skin as I slipped into the tight, revealing dress. Walking into the bathroom, I applied makeup and fixed my hair, the strands slipping between my fingers as I tried to tame them. Gazing at my reflection in the mirror, I groaned, disgusted with my attire. The dress clung to my body, barely covering my backside, and I couldn’t help but sigh at the audacity of it. But there was no time to dwell on it. Leaving my dorm, the click of the door echoed through the empty hallway. I pulled out my phone, the bright screen illuminating my face in the darkness. With the GPS app open, I followed the directions, the sound of my footsteps blending with the distant hum of the city streets. The darkness enveloped me as I made my way through the unfamiliar paths. The bar, fortunately, was just a short fifteen-minute walk away. I followed the GPS and settled into the booth. Suddenly, a bartender approached my table and placed a drink in front of me. “Rain?” she asked, her gaze fixed on me. Confused, I replied, “Yes.” She seemed to already know who I was. “This is for you, sweetheart,” she said, nudging the drink closer. The unmistakable scent of strong liquor wafted towards me. “What is it?” I asked. “Something special for your first time here,” she answered, her eyes turning black, revealing her true nature as a demon. “Am I meeting with you?” I asked. “Yes, but I’m quite busy at the moment, so for now, I’ll keep the drinks coming,” she replied. As I brought the drink to my lips, I felt the burn of the alcohol as it traveled down my throat. Yet, it also had an addictive flavor that enticed me. After several more drinks, the bartender joined me and handed me a small thumb drive. “Here,” she whispered, “Boss said you have a computer in your dorm. This contains some important information for you.” “Is it true you can get guys to bend to your will?” she asked, a mischievous smirk playing on her lips. “Boss said I could test you.” My suggestive attire suddenly made sense. “Fine. What do you want me to do?” I muttered. “See that vamp over there? He won’t dance or talk to any girl here. Get him to buy the entire bar a round and dance with you,” she instructed with a sly smile. “Easy,” I said, setting my drink down and rising from my seat. A little fun for the night wouldn’t hurt. Making my way over, I brushed my hand against the vampire. “Hey,” I greeted him. He shot me an irritated look. “Mind your own space,” he muttered, annoyed. I lowered my shield, concealing my true nature, and making sure the bartender wouldn’t catch on. I looked at the man again, my power ready to take hold of him. He was weak, not pure blood, so my enchantment should work effortlessly. “Dance with me,” I commanded. To my relief, he reached out and grabbed my hand, leading me to the dance floor. His eyes were fixated on me as his hands slid down my body, and we moved to the beat of the club-style music. After a while, I glanced at him. The poor fool was completely entranced under the spell of my power. “I’m thirsty, but so is the whole bar. Why not buy us all a round?” I commanded him. Without hesitation, he took my hand and walked up to the bar, requesting a round of their house shot for everyone. The bartender looked at me in amazement. “Damn, you could be very useful,” she remarked. I nodded, acknowledging her observation. But if this vampire had been stronger, I would have needed to exert much more power, just like I would with Caleb. My main concern now was getting Caleb all the way to the Undercity without arousing suspicion. I had to gain his trust first, tricking him into joining me. Given his strength, he could break free from my enchantment. So, it was crucial that I deceived him into coming part of the way. The bartender poured me another shot. “I’m Ray,” she said with a smirk. “I think we will become good friends. Maybe the boss will loan you to me sometime. That talent of yours could help in this bar.” She poured another shot as I downed the previous one, the burn of alcohol intensifying. “I doubt he will allow me to come up again,” I mumbled, the alcohol seeping into my system. My phone started buzzing in my small purse. I fished it out and saw Caleb’s name flashing on the caller ID. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I muttered, catching Ray’s attention. “He’s calling me,” I said, pointing to the phone. “f**k, you work fast,” she laughed. I answered the call, the phone pressed against my ear, my speech slurred. “Hello,” I said, my words laced with alcohol. Caleb’s voice boomed through the phone. “Rain, where are you?” he demanded. “Out, why?” My mind foggy, I struggled to comprehend the reason for his call. “Where?” he pressed, his voice stern. “A bar,” I responded, the vampire under my enchantment wrapping his arms around me. “Let me buy you another drink,” he announced, drawing attention. Caleb’s voice grew more agitated, his words piercing through the phone. “Are you with someone?” he asked. “I’m kind of busy, Caleb,” I slurred, my inhibitions loosened by the alcohol. “But I’ll see you tomorrow morning before classes.” I hung up the call, placing my phone on the bar, craving a moment of freedom. Guided by the vampire’s firm grip, I allowed myself to be led back to the pulsating dance floor. The music throbbed in my ears, the bass reverberating through my chest. Lost in the rhythm, I let go of time and count of the drinks that were passed around. all shot burned its way down my throat, the intoxication heightening my senses. The vampire’s hands moved against me, a combination of familiarity and danger. We danced in sync, our bodies moving as one with the music. But, a low growl pierced the air, sending a shiver down my spine. In a split second, warm hands pulled me away from the vampire, breaking our connection. As I turned to face the being, I was met with Caleb’s angry gaze, his eyes blazing with possessiveness. “You found me,” I slurred, startled as Caleb grabbed my hand. “We’re going. Get your belongings,” he ordered. I pulled away and looked at him, the dim lighting of the bar reflecting in his intense gaze. I should have just gone along with him since I needed to win his trust, but I hated being ordered around. “I leave when I want to,” I responded, my words slurred. “You’re going with me. The training academy has a curfew. Do you want to get in trouble your first night?” he said, his voice tinged with an underlying tension. I could see he was trying to stay calm. “I did not know,” I responded, my breath hitching as I grabbed my belongings. “Have fun,” Ray said, her laughter echoing in the background as Caleb pulled me out of the bar with him. The chilly night air crashed into me, causing me to shiver. I hugged my arms around myself for warmth, my skin prickling with goosebumps. “Here,” Caleb said, his voice softer now, taking his jacket off and placing it on me. “I’m fine, you don’t have to,” I said. But he refused to take it back. “Get in,” he ordered, opening a car door for me. “You have a driver,” I mumbled, my voice barely audible. “Just get in,” he sighed, his patience wearing thin. I hesitated for a moment before obeying, sliding into the car seat. Caleb got in the back with me as the driver started the engine. The entire car ride was spent in silence, the only sound being the soft rumble of the engine and the occasional honk from passing vehicles. I glanced out of the window, the city lights flickering by in a blur. As we arrived back at the campus, Caleb helped me out of the car, his hand warm against my cold skin. The crisp night air enveloped us, contrasting with the warmth of the building. He walked me into the building, his grip firm yet gentle. But before I could break away to go to my room, he pulled me into another room and closed the door behind us. “Why did you bring me in here?” I asked. “Are you in trouble?” Caleb asked. He looked into my eyes, his gaze piercing through my facade. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, the sound reverberating in my ears. “Why would you think I was in trouble?” I slurred, my voice unsteady. “I can tell you’re hiding something. You’re avoiding saying where you were from. You met a strange man outside of the coffee shop, and then you went to a low-life bar in the city and were dancing with scum. Yet, I don’t think that’s who you are. I think someone is ordering you around,” he said, surprising me with his perceptiveness. I took a deep breath, trying to steady myself. I couldn’t afford to let my guard down. “I’m not in any trouble,” I responded, my voice calm and composed. “You reek of that vampire,” Caleb growled, his tone filled with anger. He got closer to me, his presence overwhelming. “Why were you dancing with him?” he demanded. “For fun,” I responded, my voice steady but my mind racing. “I don’t believe you,” Caleb said. He got close to me, his breath mingling with mine. My heart skipped a beat, my body tensing up. “You’re making me uncomfortable,” I muttered, relieved when he stepped back, creating a small distance between us. I reached out to open his door, but he stopped me, his warm hand resting on mine. “I won’t force you to tell me the truth, Rain,” he said softly. “But I sense that you’re hiding something. Let me be there for you before things get worse. This person in the red dress, she’s not who you are. If you’re in trouble, I can help.” Something about Caleb made me want to confide in him, to admit that I needed help. Yet, I hesitated and shook my head. “I’m fine,” I assured him, before opening his door and retreating to my room.
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