Bane (Page 12)
Cassie, glanced at the strange girl out of the corner of her eye and said, “If I were you, I’d want to know everything. It’s the difference between surviving and living. But, you seem to have already chosen your fate.” Cassie didn’t think she should feel offended, but she did. Every time she tried to start a conversation with Kahli, she tensed up and didn’t respond. Cassie took it personally this time. She started to stand up to leave.
Cassie was the only person who showed Kahli any kindness. She didn’t mean to blow her off, it was just something that she didn’t want to do—she didn’t know how to react or what to say. The girl had been nice to her over the past few days, but Kahli acted cold. She didn’t want to get to know anyone here. Her plan was to escape and emotional entanglements would make it harder to go when it was time.
Kahli reached for Cassie, her fingers catching the cuff of her sleeve. “Hey. You’re right. I’m sorry. Please sit. I—I’ve never imagined that I would be here.” She ran her fingers through her bright hair. “I thought my main worries were wolves and food. Not vamps and blood.” Things had changed so fast. Her head was still reeling.
Cassie’s dark eyes assessed Kahli before sitting back down. Once she was seated she seemed to relax again. “I suppose it’s a bit of a shock.”
“You have no idea,” Kahli replied. She looked up at the girl and smiled softly.
Cassie went on to explain how feedings worked, and what to do when she was called. Cassie assumed that Will would get her when the time came. Kahli listened, trying not to gag as Cassie told her what happened, the way it worked.
Kahli asked, “So they use tools? Because they can’t just bite anymore?”
“Yes. Your Handler will use them to prick your neck and then to seal you back up. Some of us are paired based on the ability of their saliva to coagulate better. Will is pretty good, and gentle. He used to be my handler. Now I have Maurice. The man leaves a wake of drool on my neck every single time. It’s disgusting.” Cassie was repulsed, but Kahli was confused.
“The vamps don’t drink directly from us?”
“No,” Cassie replied, like it was no big deal, “it’s forbidden. There are several reasons why. Life expectancy is longer if they don’t drink straight from us, and then the other thing.” She said the other thing like Kahli should know what it was.
But she didn’t, “What other thing?”
The girls on the couch across from them burst out laughing. Cassie shot them a glance, but they didn’t stop. When she turned back to Kahli, she couldn’t believe she had to say it. “Sex. Sex with a vamp is forbidden.” Kahli still didn’t understand. She shook her head slightly. Cassie smiled and grabbed her hand, “Let’s take a walk.” The girls across from her did little to hide their laughter. Kahli growled at them as she passed, and their eyes went wide.
Cassie grasped Kahli’s arm the way she did with Will a few nights ago, and they walked. The maidens’ rooms were contained in a large section of the palace. They were allowed to roam freely, but everywhere she looked, Kahli noticed that the windows were covered with iron and the doors were blocked by guards. It was clear that they were prisoners.
Somehow Cassie didn’t notice anymore. She saw them more as guards to protect her, rather than guards to make sure she didn’t try to run. The girls passed from one room into a long hallway. Glass windows spanned from the floor to the ceiling on one side, the opposite side was covered in mirrors. Blue drapes accented the hall, and the carpet runner muffled their voices. The sun shone brightly, illuminating the long hall.
The girls walked side by side, Cassie leaning in closely, whispering, “I can’t believe I’m telling you this.” A blush rose to her cheeks. Her long brown hair was down, hiding her face a little bit. It was like she was somebody’s mom explaining the birds and the bees. “This is so embarrassing, but it makes sense that you don’t know. I mean, you’ve been locked away from everyone and everything forever. I guess this wouldn’t have been something you and your mom would have discussed.” She glanced at Kahli, the two of them walking slowly.
Kahli’s gaze was on the newly fallen snow. Gazing through the windowpanes, she wished were anywhere else at that moment. It’d been so long. She didn’t really want to talk about her mom. “Not really,” she hedged. After a second she decided to add, “Besides, my mom was taken by Trackers when I was just a kid. We never had a chance to have any awkward conversations. I learned almost everything the hard way. And for the life of me, I have no idea what you’re going to say, but you’re creeping me out pretty good. My skin is crawling.” Her lips pulled into that awkward smile that was too tight for her face.
Cassie snort-laughed, “Oh my god. Well, then let’s just cut straight to the juicy stuff, okay?” Kahli nodded and was relieved that Cassie didn’t ask about her mom. She knew nothing of Cassie’s life or if she even knew her mother. Things were different growing up here. That much she was sure.
Cassie flipped her hair back, a wide smile on her face, “Okay, here’s the other thing—if vamps drink straight from us, they get turned-on. Our blood makes them feel intoxicated, but it fills them with desire at the same time. I suppose at one point the two acts were connected, sex and feeding. But now they aren’t. That doesn’t mean that the vamps don’t feel it, though. And it doesn’t mean that we won’t either. If you get bitten, you’ll want it—you’ll want to be with your vamp.”
Kahli’s feet slowed as they walked, but now they had stopped. There was no way she would ever want to be with a vampire. The idea was disgusting. They were corpses. Their minds were savage, their skin like ice, pale and cold. The thought of desiring such a thing was repulsive. It would be like lusting after a wolf while it was chewing off her face. Kahli couldn’t fathom it.
Cassie saw her expression, and shook her head, “Just believe me, if you get bit, you’ll want it. When their fangs sink into your neck, it hurts at first, but then a rush of sensations drowns it out. Lust builds and well… you know how things go when both parties are hot and heavy. Things get out of control.”
Kahli nodded, not speaking. It sounded horrible. Questions were jumping through her mind, “So, the vamps’ teeth is like a toxin? A lust inducing toxin?”
Her lips pulled into a sneer, “Geeze, you make it sound clinical, but yeah, I guess you could say that. And lust isn’t the only thing it makes you feel, but the end result is the same—you’ll want more. It’s easy to get addicted and with the way things are, well, anemic girls and vamps don’t last long together. That’s why relationships and feeding like that were banned.”
Without thinking, Kahli asked, “But how would they know? Right?” She looked at Cassie. “If it’s forbidden, then how would anyone remember what it feels like? You’re talking about it like you…” Kahli’s mouth went dry and she didn’t finish her sentence. Was it possible? Did this girl have some sort of an affair with a vampire? The idea made her gag. A moment of silence passed. The girls stopped in front of a large window pane and looked out onto the snow-covered lawn. Finally Kahli understood. At least she thought she did. There weren’t very many explanations for why she would have had to endure a vampire romance if it was forbidden. Kahli asked, “No one follows the rules, do they?”
“Some of us do,” she said softly. “Some of us try to and others don’t let us.” Her dark eyes looked up, meeting Kahli’s. “Do yourself a favor, and don’t let Will leave your side. Things were better when he was around.”
The dreaded call came late that night. Kahli was in her night clothes—a sheer linen gown—and staring at the ceiling. She’d been lying flat on her back, in her bed, unable to sleep. Plotting all day didn’t help her figure out how to escape. There were so many things that could go wrong. And Will. Damn. He bothered her. It was bad enough he knew her full name. He could just say it and she’d be at his command. The idea made her sick inside.
The bedroom door opened. A sliver of light stretched across the ceiling, and before she could blink, Will was standing over her. She nearly screamed, but he placed his hand over her mouth. Whispering, he leaned close to her ear, saying, “Come with me. And if you try anything, you’ll regret it.”
Kahli rose, feeling self-conscious in the sheer gown. It was like all the girls were there for two purposes—blood and lust. There wasn’t one girl who wasn’t beautiful. Every single one was stunning. Kahli was the odd one. Normally, she didn’t care about what she looked like. But here, they constantly talked about her—her eyes, her hair, her skin—everything was wrong, like she’d been built from spare parts that were centuries old. Kahli wrapped her arms across her chest, trying to conceal herself.
Will reached for a blanket and draped it over her shoulders, and then indicated that she should walk out the door. Kahli looked down at a sleeping Cassie. If the girl hadn’t told her about Will, she would have panicked. Well, she would have tried to kill him to escape. But knowing what she knew, Kahli didn’t think her life was in danger at that moment. It gave her more time to find a way out of this mess.
Kahli glanced at Will as they walked. He was silent, his spine straight, his hands at his sides. He didn’t look over at her. They were both still, silent, like each one was waiting for the other to attack. It gave her the shivers, that creepy feeling that crawled over her skin when something bad was about to happen. He was gone for several days. She’d stabbed him, but vampires healed quickly. But he was Bane. For all she knew, he had stitches in his side.
When they were in the hallway leading away from the maiden’s rooms, she asked, “Are you all right?” Kahli kept her eyes on the floor.
Her head was down, looking up at him from under thick lashes. It was either a ploy to kill him, or she was sincerely asking. He didn’t know which she was after. Will arched a dark brow at her, “Are you asking so you can take me down if I’m not? Because I don’t think another attack is the best plan at this point.”
Kahli stopped and stared at her feet. Will faced her, his blue eyes unreadable. “No,” her voice was a whisper. She’d been thinking about the things Cassie had said. Regret bubbled up inside of her, “Maybe I should have given you a chance, and I didn’t. I stabbed first and had no intention of—” she looked up at him, her breath catching in her throat, “of anything.”
“So, you’re giving me a chance?” His lips twisted into a smirk. “Is that what this is?”
Kahli sensed he was teasing her and her spine stiffened. Her defenses were already in overdrive. Eyes narrowing, she replied, “Perhaps. If you’re not an ass and actually keep your word.”
Will laughed. The sound shocked her. It was rich and deep, like she truly entertained him. “Out of the two of us, I’m the only one who hasn’t been lying since the moment we met. That was you.” Well, he lied once, but that didn’t count in his head. She stabbed him and saw something she shouldn’t have seen. Will wondered if she remembered his runes, or if the memory faded after the compulsion. He tilted his head and slid his hands into his pockets. Will was wearing a black silk shirt that clung to his body, dark jeans hugged his legs. His hair was somewhere between black and brown, and seemed to be tousled like he was running his hands through it all day.