“What did you buy with my money?”
A voice colder than the ice flowing through my veins echoed down the hallway. I pressed myself against the wall, willing myself into invisibility. At first, all I could see were bright silver eyes, then the shadow of a silhouette. When he emerged into the light, I could have broken down and started crying.
He was as beautiful as they all were, but he looked ten times more lethal. His face was stern and his eyes empty. Long, black hair slicked back. High cheekbones and the palest skin I’d ever seen. His silver eyes told me one thing - he was an original. A vampire born rather than a vampire turned, and those were the elite.
Lukas and Markus both turned their heads to the vampire, who miraculously had not noticed me. He was staring down at the phone in his right hand, his other hand casually in his pocket.
“You sent us out for groceries,” Lukas called.
“And we brought back just that,” Markus replied.
The vampire turned, peering at Lukas, still by the fridge.
“Then where are they?” he asked dryly.
Lukas extended one long, slender finger in my direction. “She’s right there.”
I tensed even more, tears dancing at the very edge of my lower lash line, when he turned his moon-silver eyes on me. He said nothing, and only stared.
“Is this your idea of a joke?”
Before I could gasp, Markus had moved behind me, simply picked me up by the arms, and moved with me, setting me directly in front of this vampire. I cowered, unable to look away from his eyes, knowing very well that I shouldn’t.
“It’s not a joke,” Markus insisted. He reached out, picking up the chip hanging around my neck, laying it flat in his palm.
“She has sweet blood, she should be perfect for your tastes. It’s a birthday gift, from the both of us,” Lukas agreed. His grin was poisonous.
The vampire regarded me with his cool gaze, his face expressionless. “Blue chips are becoming more rare,” he finally commented.
“She was actually one of two, if you can believe it.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t get them both.”
“Well we would have, but Ravena got to the other one first.”
“What’s your name?”
“I don’t have one.” My voice was little more than a whisper.
“You must have been given a name when you were born?”
“I don’t remember what it was.” A lie.
He regarded me with cold eyes. “Do not lie to me,” his voice was a low growl, a warning.
His hand flew up, pulling me forward, pressing into my back.
I let out a loose cry.
“I said, do not-” he stopped talking, pulling his hand away from my back in surprise.
I could see from the corner of my eye what he was looking at- his hand was stained red. I closed my eyes tightly, suddenly able to feel my wounds which had just begun to scab over, opening back up. He turned me around swiftly. There was a loud ripping sound, and I felt a sudden breeze on my back. Wide eyed, I crossed my arms, gripping my shoulders with the opposite hand to hold up my dress and prevent my chest from being exposed. He’d ripped my dress down the back, from my neck to my waist.
“What is this?” he asked, and he sounded genuinely confused.
I didn’t know how to answer - I wasn’t totally sure what he was asking. I thought it was obvious what it was. I had been struck, I had been given wounds.
And for some reason, my wounds never seemed to close quickly the way the other girls had. Mine always took longer to heal. The scars took longer to fade.
I felt a faint breeze and Markus and Lukas were standing on either side of me, also looking down at my back.
“This is why blue chips are so hard to find lately,” Lukas commented as he stepped back, no longer interested. “They beat them within an inch of their life and then wonder why they get sick and die off.”
“Tell me your name, girl, and I’ll call a doctor for you,” the original offered. “The doctor can keep the infection here on your back from killing you.”
Did it matter if the infection killed me? Sooner or later, I would be dead anyway. Or alive, but living a life not much better off than death.
“Her name is Evelyn,” Markus provided. “It was in her papers.”
I closed my eyes in defeat. There went any sense of control I could have had. It was only a name, but it was mine. I could have kept it private. I could have welcomed a natural death.
None of the vampires spoke for a moment. I fought the urge to look over my shoulder, but I glanced at Markus and Lukas from the corners of my eyes. Finally, the original spoke again. “Call the doctor. Let me know when the infection is gone.”
And then, without having to turn around, I could sense that he was gone. His presence was heavy, and when it was gone, the room felt empty. Even with Markus and Lukas.
I stared at the two vampires who circled me, standing in front of me now.
“I suppose I’ll call the doctor,” Markus mused.
“Why does he want to bother with healing her?”
“The infection throws the taste off.”
I gathered from their discussion that the doctor wouldn’t arrive until the next night. In the meantime, I was taken to a room, if it could be called that. It was tiny, with just enough space to walk three steps forward from the door before reaching the foot of a small bed, and almost four steps from the edge of the bed, before bumping into a short dresser. The only source of light came from a sconce mounted on the wall across from the doorway. The bed was made up with a set of white sheets and an off white blanket. For such an opulent apartment, this room was shockingly drab.
Lukas and Markus closed the door behind me, and I heard a light click. I didn’t even turn around, but I knew that if I tried the door, it was locked.
I still had my arms crossed over my chest, holding my dress in place. It was ruined, unless I could get my hands on a sewing set. I looked around the small room only once, then walked to the foot of the bed. I let myself fall forward, lying on my stomach. I pulled my body up to the pillow, taking hold of it, and tucked it tightly under my head, against my chest.
For such a small, drab room, the bed was sinfully soft. I felt like I was laying on a cloud. I hadn’t even realized I was tired, but soon, I felt sleep yanking me away from reality.
When I opened my eyes, all that greeted me was darkness. My heart jumped to my throat and I scrambled, clawing the blankets beneath me. I shoved myself on to my knees and hissed at the strain it put on the broken skin on my back. I took a deep breath, willing my heart rate to slow down. Breathing heavily, I leaned back into a seated position, folding my legs in front of me. The darkness swam around me.
An audible click sounded in the small room, and the sconce on the wall lit up once more. I blinked as the memories came rushing back, and looked to the door just in time to see it open.
It wasn’t the original, nor was it Lukas or Markus. Of all things, a human. I froze awkwardly.
Where I should have been grateful to not be facing a vampire, facing a human that was not just another piece of cattle could sometimes be worse. The man was older but still somehow appeared youthful. He was tall and lean. His skin was smooth and wrinkle free. Although his hair was white, it hung down to his shoulders, parted down the middle of his head and tucked behind his ears. He looked the way I’d always pictured a doctor, and wore a long white coat over his khaki pants, carrying a leather brown briefcase under one arm
“Hello girl, I’ve been instructed to examine your back.” His voice wasn’t cold-it was empty, unfriendly, very matter of fact.
I didn’t respond, but it didn’t phase him. He set his briefcase down on the dresser and turned to face me, pulling a pair of blue gloves from one of his coat pockets. I hated the noise it made as he pulled them on, before turning his attention to me.
“Please turn around.”
I hesitated for only a moment before finally doing as I was told. I got up on my knees and maneuvered so that I was presenting my back to him, now facing the bare wall.
“Tell me about your medical history.”
I drew my eyebrows together, turning my head so that I could see him from the corner of my eye. “Medical history?”
“Yes, I know you have anemia. Do you have a history of any other medical conditions?”
Anemia? “I don’t know…”
The doctor didn’t respond. He did however reach out - I felt a sudden pressure on my back and could feel him poking and prodding my wounds. I clamped a hand over my mouth, my scream cut short into a sharp yelp.
The pressure on my back disappeared after a sharp snapping noise. There was suddenly more cool air on my back and I felt my chest bounce outward a little. He’d cut the back of my bra. I scowled at that, returning my hands to my shoulders to hold up my clothing.
“Redness, tenderness, warm to the touch…” his fingers began their prodding once more and I wondered if it was too late to send him away. Let the infection take me. “Come with me, girl.”
He walked out the door. I stared to my left out the open doorway for a moment before awkwardly climbing off of the bed. I walked out the doorway and came face to face with Lukas. I blanched, meeting his cold gaze. He only raised an eyebrow before extending his arm out, indicating an open door on the other side of the hallway. I could hear the doctor just inside.
Without turning my back on Lukas, I followed the doctor into what turned out to be a bathroom. Unlike the shabby room I’d spent the night in, the bathroom was just as opulent as the rest of the apartment.
The same black veined white marble that decorated the lobby of the castle was laid out on the floor. The sink was just a silver bowl on top of a shiny black vanity. Opposite the vanity was a large walk in shower. And every single wall was covered in mirrors. A million mes stared back at me from every direction.
Unfortunately, I now had a good view of my back.
It was something I’d never seen-something I’d never cared to see. After starting eyeing the five angry, bright red stripes - the result of my most recent lashing- laid over the lattice of fading scars that covered the expanse of my back, I wished I had never been given the chance to see it. Beneath the scars was a mural of green and yellow and blue. Fading bruises.
There was one lash mark at the top of my back. It stretched at a slight angle from my left shoulder blade to my right. It must be the one that everyone has been so concerned about, since it looked the angriest. I could practically feel it searing into my skin.
I jumped at the sound of falling water. The doctor had turned on the shower. I stared at him, my eyes wide as he turned to a small shelf where he’d laid out a few ointments and several white bandages.
“Go on and step in,” he instructed without looking at me. “The infection won’t go away while you’re covered in grime.”