“Yeah but -”
“By joining the legion, you can be part of something momentous. Your name would go down in vampire history. You will be respected, admired and prized by all of vampirekind. You cannot tell me that this is not something that appeals to you.”
If I was being totally honest, I’d admit that being part of something so grand was tempting, especially when you’d not really had or done anything that you could be proud of in your twenty years of human life before then being Turned into a vampire. Even before I was Turned and had to disappear from my family’s radar I’d never had much to boast of. I’d always wanted to be something more and had wanted to attend university so that I could do a degree in Law. Of course the vampirism put a stop to that.
Sebastian sighed as he leant against the refrigerator, then he cast a look at the faded, slightly rusty thing and moved away from it as though it might stain his suit. I stifled a smile. “Since observing you duel last week I have followed you and observed you further,” he informed me. “I have seen that, even in spite of your strong dislike of Victor, you are loyal and trustworthy. I have noticed that you are also headstrong and ambitious. Good qualities, both of which Victor seems to be determined to crush.” He drawled out the last word.
I shrugged. “What can I say? That’s Victor.”
“He already controls your actions. Do you want him to have control over your emotions and strengths as well? Of course you don’t. His Grandness would respect these qualities, respect you, and give you room to be your own person. He certainly wouldn’t force you to be his lover.”
This bloke really knew how to play someone. “Haven’t you heard that being a vampire’s consort is an honour?” I said bitterly.
“That all depends on the vampire.”
“Look, you can’t be sure that His Grandness would be interested in having me in the legion. I’d just be a possible candidate. I can’t just flit off to attend some tryout. Victor would lose the plot. Would you like to know what he does whenever he’s stressed out or I rebel? Drags an innocent human – usually a kid – off the street and kill them slowly and painfully. He gets off on fear and pain.”
Sebastian’s face and voice softened. “Is that not all the more reason to escape his hold? Sam, I know his Grandness extremely well. And I know that he will have the same opinion about you and your potential that I do. I am more than confident that you will impress him as you have impressed me.”
I rubbed my temples, totally undecided. It wasn’t just Victor’s response I was wary of. It was all very well Sebastian saying the Big Man was super, but of course he’d say that. The last thing that I wanted was to be serving an even more powerful arsehole. But then he couldn’t be the Grand High Master if he was all that bad, could he? Then again, neither option was particularly that fantastic to someone who hadn’t wanted all this. It wasn’t exactly a childhood dream to become a vamp and join a vamp-type army for the whole of eternity.
Sebastian clearly picked up on my inner conflict and pounced on it. “You may not particularly like the fact that you are a vampire, but you have the opportunity now to take your situation and make something good of it. To rise above the suppression that it has so far had on you. To illustrate to vampirekind and to Victor that you are much more than his pet, and that he cannot control you any longer. And if you decline you will have the remainder of your immortal life to question that decision, and wonder what would have or could have been. So, which will it be?”
A queasy feeling overcame my stomach as I was teleported by the vampire that Sebastian summoned to bring us to the Grand High bloke’s mansion. It was more like a museum with its ornate columns, rare artefacts, and statues of unnecessarily naked people. The walls were a brilliant white with massive pieces of art scattered here and there. The floor was a beige marble that was so well polished I could see my reflection in it.
The bright walls and marble flooring continued throughout the house as I followed Sebastian through the corridor that was as wide as a standard room and as long as...well it looked eternally long. Like markers, tall Hungarian vampires were planted all over the place. Guards, obviously. The power humming around them indicated that although they were merely guards, they were actually master vampires.
Behind us was one of the servants, elegantly strolling with my bulging duffel bag. He was extremely tall and had an Egyptian look about him. Occasionally as we walked I’d see a small sitting area branching off the corridor. Everything gleamed and reflected. Even with clean hands I’d be frightened to touch anything in case I dirtied it.
Sebastian finally stopped at another sitting area which had a huge sofa-slash-bench in front of a set of extravagant patio doors. “I’ll be back momentarily,” was all he said. The servant placed my bag near the bench, nodded once and then strode off. Too restless to sit down – being in strange places made me restless – I strolled over to the patio doors. The small balcony overlooked a large swimming pool which was, uniquely, the shape of a bat with its wings outstretched. It was nice to know that the Big Man wasn’t without a sense of humour. Unless your vampiric gift was shape-shifting, morphing into bats didn’t come with vampirism.
Noticing that one of the doors was slightly ajar, I quietly stepped out and absorbed the night-time. Beyond the pool was a beautiful beach decorated by palm trees. So he really did live in the Caribbean. I imagined that the place would look all the more inviting in the sun. Although sunlight didn’t affect us in any way, we were nocturnal and naturally preferred the cover of darkness for hunting.
A lover of swimming, I was unable to resist a trip down the small set of steps to go to the pool where the water twinkled in the moonlight. I was just about to dip my fingers in when there was a huge splash and the water began lapping against the edges. My gaze found a delicious sight that sparked a rush in my blood. Burly shoulders and arms seemed to glide across the surface of the water as the swimmer moved with such ease. Even from the opposite end of the pool his gorgeousness was apparent. His chiselled facial features and perfect bone structure made me think of the statues inside the mansion. The way his jaw was set gave him a very determined look. His hair was short but not so short that I couldn’t run my hands through it. Bloody hell, where had that sleazy thought come from?
And now he’s caught me staring.
And I can’t think of anything to say to excuse myself.
He didn’t speak as he climbed out of the pool, all the while glaring at me suspiciously, probably contemplating the idea that I could be some kind of stalker. As he approached me, dabbing himself with a towel, I tried to concentrate on his intense hazel eyes rather than his alluring pale skin or his mostly naked body that was as defined as they came. Heat blast throughout my body as a heavy throb of desire settled low in my stomach. Up close I could see that not only did he have a red tint to his irises, marking him as a Pagori vampire, but that those irises were glowing. He was either a pissed, horny or thirsty Pagori vampire. Not good.
“What’re you doing out here?”
What a welcome. Not that I would expect a Pagori to ever be anything but moody. They were naturally irritable and easily became aggressive. So would I be if my irises flashed red. The Pagori strength came with a price. So did the Keja beauty; they had fangs. “I’m just -”
“Are you a friend of Joy’s?” He was appraising me from head to toe now, making me feel self-conscious. His nostrils flared as he took in my scent. “Or a servant?”
“No, I -”
“Only a select number of servants are permitted to have access to this section of the house.”
“Well that’s great for them but I’m -”
“This pool is especially off limits.”
I huffed. “Do you always interrupt people mid-sentence?”
His mouth curved up on one side. “British,” he observed in an approving tone. I quite liked the South Californian twang to his American accent too. After a short pause, made uncomfortable by how much he was staring, he said, “You’re new here. Who is it you’re working for?”
“Depends how the tryout goes.”
“For the legion.”
He looked taken aback but didn’t miss a beat. “Tell me you’re kidding.” His grin was mocking. “Tell me you’re not here hoping to try for a place in the legion.” When I didn’t say anything he laughed. “Let me give you some advice: run along home.”
“Why? Because I’m a girl?”
What an arrogant little sod. I folded my arms across my chest and snorted. “Are you for real?”
“Listen, this isn’t a cheerleading squad. You don’t get points for being pretty. It’s some serious shit which is why a girl has never been accepted, and never will be. There’s no place for a female in the legion.”