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She lay on the floor, beaten, and bloody. Her will was broken, her body violated. All she wanted was to get off the floor, and out the door. Her father sold her when she was ten, and she'd had five other masters since then. Four of them treated her well, when she did what she was told, but this one had made her a whore.
This morning, she told him she was leaving. There was no screaming, no yelling, just fists, and feet. He'd violated her, the last time. The only thought that was going through her mind was that she was leaving, this wouldn’t happen anymore. Then he left, telling her that if she wasn’t gone by the time he was back, he'd kill her.
She looked down at her hand, her brother's phone number smeared on the palm of it. She willed herself off the floor, and to the table where the phone resided. She fumbled to pick the phone up off the cradle.
Carlos touched the wound on Zane's arm, impressed that it was healing so fast.
"I don’t think that you need stitches." He said, pressing a gauze pad to his friend's arm.
"I never do." Zane answered as he stood up off the table, replacing Carlos's hand with his own. His cell phone vibrated on the table, the number was blocked.
"I think you need to answer that." Carlos was frowning, which was never a good sign. The guy was either happy, or in no mood at all, just existing. You learn to do that after twelve hundred years. Zane flipped his phone open, and held it to his ear.
"Zane?" The voice on the other end was female, soft, barley audible.
"Who is this?" He didn’t mean his voice to come out so harsh.
"My name is Jade."
"What is it that you want exactly?" He could see the question marks in Carlos's eyes.
"To speak to Carlos."
Zane wordlessly handed the phone over to Carlos.
His friends expression was hard to read, as he talked to the mysterious female on the other line. The two audible things Zane heard him say were ten o' clock and bye.
"Someone is coming by tonight." Carlos said as he handed the phone back to Zane, "Her name is Jade, and we share the same mother."
"You're not going to be here at ten o'clock, what am I supposed to do with her?"
Carlos glared at him, "Just let her in, give her something to eat, or better yet, let her get it. She's not in very good shape, and I don’t feel like explaining. Just take care of her." It was the end of the conversation, Carlos stared him down, and left the room.
His rule was law in this house, no one defied him. Zane envied him. The power that came with being a vampire, an ancient one at that, was a rush, a high he wouldn’t know for at least another five hundred years. Even that was only a small portion of what Carlos could do. There was a small knock on the door, Zane realized he had been spacing for the past half hour, and got up to answer the persistent knocking.
Jade glanced around nervously, the security cameras following her every move. The mansion was a fortress, complete with iron wrought fending surrounding the entire house. It was a masterpiece of gothic architecture. She worked the courage up to knock on the door, and stood back when she heard footsteps coming from the inside.
The door swung open to reveal a very large male, his shoulders filled the doorway, his presence overbearing and frightening. His eyes were kind, and sympathetic, a great contrast to the rest of him. He looked like he could break her in half, not that it would be hard. He took a step outside, and Jade felt herself shrink away from him, ashamed that she had no courage left.
Zane looked at the small female standing in front of him. She was standing in the shadow, hiding herself, as if afraid.
"You can come in." She jumped at the sound of his voice. What had meant to be in soothing tones, came out as a bark. Guilt flooded him, and he stepped into the house, giving her space. Her gaze was intent on the ground. The cement surface under her scrutiny, as if interesting.
"I'll just leave the door open. If you want food, the kitchens the first door on the right, the living room's on the left, and your bedroom is up the stairs, third door on the left. If you need anything, I'll be in the living room."
Jade watched as he walked down the hall, shadows engulfing him until he disappeared. She didn’t know what to do, stay, and adjust living with a houseful of men, or run, and try to make it on her own. She crossed the threshold, and knew her life had somehow changed.
Her eyes focused on the blue walls, meant to calm, and relax those who came into the mansion. She walked slowly down the hallway, making note of where everything was, mirrors, pictures, anything that could be broken. She stopped at the kitchen, and peered inside. The interior reminded her of a desert. The counters were red granite, with specks of orange. The floors and walls were a dusty brown, again, mixed with a little orange.
“Someone really likes orange.” The opinion voiced itself to her own ears, and she smiled for the first time in months. No one dictated her thoughts, or actions anymore. She wandered further down the hall, finding the opening leading to the living room. The man that had opened the door was sitting across the room, the couch that was his background for the moment was painted in black leather. He looked up at her, surprise flickered around his eyes.
Her unannounced presence had startled him. The sight of her startled him even more. No bathed in light, he could see the scars that clung to her skin where they were visible. They followed her movements, and he noticed that they were designs, very tribal, very human. Vampires didn’t scar, Only salt kept the wound from healing completely. His eyes widened in disgust as he realized that she had been tortured. Where she had avoided his gaze, she now drank it in. Brave in the absence of her master, she spoke to him is slow, halting English.
She realized it was a statement. He had known her, once. They stared each other down, her brilliant eyes reflected in his brown ones. He watched her fangs elongate, and realized that she might not have fed for a long time. She sat on the floor abruptly, facing away from him, covering her mouth with her hand. Zane realized that in a world of humans, she was different.
“How long have you been like this?” She could almost feel the concern in his voice. She sat, silent and frozen on the floor, “Jade, how old are you?” She turned her face away from him, and held up ten fingers.
“Just ten?” Christ, that would make her a newborn!
She shook her head, and made an ‘o’ with her pointer finger and thumb, and repeated it three times.
That was a thousand, she was an ancient, the last of the females her age alive!
“Jade, have you ever tasted human blood, or just blood in general.?”
Her eyes widened, as if in horror, or guilt, and she looked at him straight on.
“You know you’re not human, don’t you?” He crouched down in front of her
She shook her head, “Please, please, don’t hurt me.” Tears were starting to form in her eyes as she pulled her hand down from her mouth.
“They’re nothing to be ashamed of.” Zane told her, allowing his own fangs to elongate, smiling at her when she gasped.
“Christ Zane, you could’ve warned me.” There was a voice from the door way, the obviously male form that belonged to it hidden in shadow.
“Damien,” He cleared his throat, “This is Jade, She’s Carlos’s sister. She’s staying with us now.”
Zane stood as another form came into view. He felt Jade trying to shrink behind him.
“Jade, this is Damien and Danni, our resident werewolf, and the witch he’s mated to.” He turned back to look at her. She was tucked into herself, legs drawn up, hiding her arms, hands covering her face. She’s trying to hide her scars. He thought, watching her peer out from in between her fingers. Danni came into view, Damien following her. The pair were smaller built then he was, maybe they wouldn’t frighten her as much, at least Danni wouldn’t. Though smaller, Damien had a menacing look to him that all but spelled out what he was.
“Do you want me to show her where she’s sleeping?” Danni was speaking, she sounded far away.
“Yeah, that would probably be a good idea.”He answered, “Jade, do you want to go to your room now?” He posed the question, knowing the answer, but wanting to make her feel like she a choice. She nodded, still hiding behind her hands.
“Alright, Danni will bring you-“
Jade shook her head violently, the movement repositioning her arms so they were visible. The other pair in the room audibly gasped. Zane ignored it.
“You want me to take you?”
She nodded, and stood. Her body noticeably trembled as she walked down the hall, and up the stairs behind Zane. He escorted her down another hall, to the last room.
“Here you go.” He said, backing away to give her room to open the door.
She dropped her hands away, and kept her eyes on the floor, her hair taking the place of her hands in hiding her face.
“Um, you might want to feed. You look a little weak, and I know it’s a little awkward, but, you could take from me, or Carlos when he comes home.”
She just stared at him.
“Have you ever fed from another vamp?”
She shook her head no.
“Well, lets get you some real food, and we’ll try that later.”
She nodded, and disappeared from view.
Jade looked around her new room, the canopy bed, the overstuffed chairs, and the plasma screen TV. Were they really hers? She had never owned a single thing in her life, let alone a whole room filled with stuff that belonged to her, at least, for the time being. She began opening things, dressers, closets, and a door that led into the bathroom. It was floor to ceiling black granite, with what looked like blue veins running through it. The bathtub was spa sized and the shower looked fit to hold four people. A slight knocking interrupted her moment of awe.
She turned around, looking toward the door.
“Can I come in?” The voice belonged to Zane, who, when she opened the door was carrying a tray of food. It was balanced on one hand, and looked to have a very big assortment of food. She moved aside to let him in.
“I didn’t know what you liked to eat. So, I brought you a little of everything.” He smiled.
The plates were covered, but a pleasant smell filled the room, telling her that she would like everything that he brought. She walked to the bed, and crawled over it to reach the tray, sitting cross-legged in front of it. She opened the first dish, to find a steak, cooked rare. Jade felt her stomach growl. Picking up the plate, she looked around the tray for a fork. She found it hiding near the Jell-O.
She ate quickly, devouring almost all the food in under a half an hour, all while staring at him. Zane had seated himself on one of the chairs in her room, making himself comfortable. He didn’t stare at her, and he didn’t once try to take to food from her, or hit her when she ate. She smiled to herself. For once in her life, she felt like she was in a safe place. There was a knock on the door.
“Zane, you in there.” It was the one he had called Danni.
“Yeah.” He answered back.
“Carlos is home. I told him that she was a little skittish, and he understands, considering, but he wants to talk to her, and come up here to do it, is that alright with her?”
When Jade nodded, Zane responded.
Its wasn’t two seconds later that Carlos rapped softly on the door, and opened it. He was even taller than Zane, with black hair that fell to his shoulders. They actually looked a lot alike. He stared at her, tracing her scars with his eyes.
“Are you okay?” He asked, walking toward her slowly, trying not to frighten her. She didn’t answer.
“How is she?” He looked at Zane for an answer.
“Well, considering she just ate half the kitchen, I think she’ll be fine. But she needs to feed.” Zane responded, looking at her when he said the word feed. A chill raced up her spine, how could they expect her to accept something she’d been taught to hide as a little girl? She just couldn’t.
“I’ll let her decide who from, but other than that, she had no choice.” Carlos said, looking as though it was paining him to force the words out. She realized that he was taking a choice away from her. Just like master. She thought. Carlos snapped his head up, as if he’d heard what she had said.
“You will die eventually if you don’t feed, you know that right?”
“Then why do you not want to.”
“I have been taught to hide what I am. I cannot change my ways because you dictate it so.” Her broken English was effective enough.
“Alright then, how about from a glass, if not directly from one of us. Would you agree to that?” Giving her options was the best thing for her when, like now, there was no other way.
Slowly, she nodded, seeming to have used up her maximum number of words for the day.
She watched as Carlos reached into his pocket, and pulled out a knife. The sight of it made her flinch. It was the same one her master had used on her to brand her.
“Do not worry sister, this is not for you.” His concerned eyes told her is was the truth. Zane materialized a glass in his hand, and reached back to hand it to Carlos. Jade watched as he slashed his wrist, letting the blood drip into the small glass, looking to much like fine wine. As soon as the smell hit the air, she realized that her fangs had elongated. She looked to Zane for comfort, and received just that when she saw his fangs had appeared to. Carlos was standing in front of her now, holding the glass expectantly.
“Please.” He said.
Not needing anymore prompting, she took the glass and tipped it to her mouth. With this one glass, she was promising her self a future, one without violence. She was giving herself freedom, and the independence she had longed for all theses years.