Sun Kissed (Guardian Angel #2) - Page 8
The inside of the tent wasn’t a tent at all. I was in a brightly lit, undistinguished room. It was like a normal open living house. The floor was hard and a deep crimson color. It was warmer in here, for which I was grateful. The walls were off-white and sturdy; there were no windows or any gap for air or light to flow through, but regardless of its set up, it still had that ‘tent’ smell. I stood in the main room; it wasn’t much different than an actual living room and my eyes met the curious gazes of several people. The low discussions that filled the room when I entered were gone. My stomach dropped down into my intestines, sending my heart up into my throat. I wasn’t surrounded by gods, goddesses, or guardian angels. I was surrounded by vampires.
My stomach turned to ice and a cold sweat began to form on my forehead. I tried hard to swallow the panic rising rapidly in my throat. Vampires can smell fear; they know when your heartbeat increases, I know because I’ve experienced it. It explained why they were staring at me, amused and hungry. A woman sitting to the left of me rose from her chair and approached the guard that escorted me in.
“Thank you, Aalin,” she whispered seductively, running a long, pointy index finger along his chin.
He nodded and exited the tent, leaving me alone with the vampires. The woman slowly walked towards me, her long pale legs stretching out from underneath her dress. I bit the inside of my lip in hopes of calming my nerves.
What was going on? Had vampires taken over? I shuddered at the thought of them killing the higher power. Mr Aleksandrov said he was strong enough to take on loads of vampires, maybe it was merely talk.
“Aren’t you just delectable?” she growled, licking her lips. Her fangs clicked out. I shut my eyes as images of myself as a vampire filled my brain. I ran my tongue along my teeth to reassure myself they were, in fact, gone. She ran her long nailed finger against the skin on the back of my neck and I clenched my jaw as an ice cold trail followed her touch.
“Don’t touch me,” I snapped. I couldn’t help it, the words leapt out of my mouth before I had the chance to fight them. There was a ghost of a smile on her lips and her eyes were alight with humor, as if she was enjoying some kind of private joke.
“But we’re sisters.” A slight Russian accent laced her words.
My heartbeat accelerated, it drew her eyes to my chest and she smirked.
“Stop teasing the girl, Ludiia,” a man snarled as he entered from a side flap in the wall.
Ludiia strolled back to her seat, but my heart rate didn’t ease off. The man was very old, older than Ivan Aleksandrov, but his hair was cut just above his ears and no beard occupied his face. The only connection between the strange vampire and Aleksandrov was that the vampire wore a long, pitch black robe that rustled as it dragged along the floor.
“Why’d you bringing her here, Lucian? Exposing yourself puts everything you’ve worked for at risk.”
I should have guessed the strange man would have a strange name. Lucian shot the random vampire a threatening glare and the vampire slunk back into his seat.
“So, you are Ruby Moore?” His attention returned to me.
“I thought I was meeting with my people?” I asked, forcing confidence into my tone hoping that it would, in turn, make me confident. No such luck.
“We are your people.” Lucian chuckled, his deep coal eyes pierced mine.
“No. My people help the world, not destroy it.”
The room erupted in laughter, but I didn’t take my eyes off Lucian. I wanted to. I wanted to squeeze my eyes shut and wait for someone to save me but I couldn’t. I needed them to think I wasn’t afraid.
“I can see why the guardian angel is so captivated by you.” He approached me and circled me slowly. “Absolutely stunning.”
He twirled my ponytail around his finger and I shivered at the thought of him being so close to me.
“Where is the higher power?”
“Oh my dear,” he said, coming face to face with me. “I’m right here.”
No. It couldn’t be. The higher power was supposed to be a god. He was supposed to be on our side, not theirs. Everything was in fast-forward and I was motionless in the middle of it all. How could this happen?
“I- I don’t believe you,” I stammered.
“Not many people do.” He sighed. He clicked his fingers and a vampire handed him a manila folder. Lucian clicked his tongue against his teeth as if in thought. “Here are a few reports that were made against you, Miss Moore.” He cleared his throat and opened the envelope. “It seems a few of your peers have a problem with you.”
“So I recently discovered.” Although I had no idea there was a few. Lucian glanced at me in amusement.
“You got into a fight with a goddess, ran away from school, hunted a vampire, which cost the lives of three guardian angels —” He paused and smiled a fang-filled smile. “And then there is the issue of Eli De Luca, your guardian angel.”
“Ex-guardian angel,” I corrected bitterly.
“Oh yes. I ended that, didn’t I?” An icy chuckle seeped through his lips, causing my skin to erupt into goosebumps. My fists curled into balls at my side as I remembered the morning my tattoo washed off like dirt.
“Protocol. Sorry.” Lucian’s grin widened and his eyes held a devious gleam. “Ah, speak of the devil.”
He pointed behind me, bringing my attention to the opening. Eli was escorted in the same way I was.
“Yummy,” moaned Ludiia. I ignored the urge to scowl at her.
“What is he doing here?” I couldn’t keep the panic out of my tone.
Lucian’s charcoal eyes narrowed in on me as Eli came and stood beside me, but I still couldn’t bring myself to relax, in fact, it made me tenser. I could feel the tension radiate off his body. I glanced sideways at him; he was just as nervous about the surrounding vampires as I was. I could tell by his clenched jaw, his clouded, intense eyes, and his lips that were held in an impassive line.
“You look a little … uncomfortable, angel,” Ludiia purred. She zipped over to him. “I’m sure I could find a way to relax you.” She began running her long fingers over his shoulders, causing jealousy to burn relentlessly in my chest.
“I’m fine. Thank you.” His voice was strained and cautious.
Ludiia’s lips stuck out in a pout, but she didn’t take her hands off him.
“Well, Miss Moore. It just so happens to be your lucky day. I want you to work for me.”
I couldn’t think straight, I was too confused. The higher power was no longer one of us, he was one of them. I would die before I helped out any vampire.
“No. I’d rather die.” I didn’t mean to say it. The words just fell from my lips.
Lucian drifted forward rapidly, his movements too fast for me to realize his cold fingers grasped my jaw tightly. I winced at the pressure I felt under his grasp as all pretense of civility disappeared.
“Be careful what you wish for,” he hissed.
The eyes that bored into mine were deep and black. I shuddered as they searched every inch of my soul. They held no emotion, no life. I felt a lump form in my throat as I thought back to the night my mother was killed, when I was turned against my will. I closed my eyes, swallowing hard in an attempt to hold back the tears that threatened my eyes.
“Let her go,” Eli growled.
Lucian chuckled and released his grip. I opened my eyes as a single tear fell down my cheek.
“Interesting, isn’t it?” Lucian said, addressing the entire room.
The surrounding vampires chuckled and agreed.
“Perhaps, you would do it if I —” He kicked Eli to his knees and exposed his throat. Ludiia giggled and knelt on the floor beside Eli. Lucian’s fangs shot out of his gums and nicked the skin of Eli’s throat.
“Stop!” I shrieked, my voice echoing in the silence.
Ludiia looked up at me, smiling with pleasure. I couldn’t bear to see another loved one killed in front of me and the smile that spread across Lucian’s face made me nauseous.
“Tell me about this proposition,” I stammered. I swallowed, reminding myself to force confidence back into my voice.
“Atta girl,” a random vampire cheered.
Lucian appeared in front of me once again and Eli rose to his feet, standing closer to me. I could feel his body heat radiating onto me and I relaxed in it. It made me feel safer, it offered me protection, and it soothed my soul. Ludiia appeared behind Lucian, keeping her spiteful eyes on me.
“Ruby,” Eli muttered into my ear. “You don’t have to negotiate with these people.”
I ignored him. “Your plan?” I prompted Lucian.
He clicked his fingers and a big rust colored chair was brought out for him. I bit the inside of my lip in nervous anticipation as he got comfortable.
“You might not know that vampires outnumber your species a hundred to one. If you want to survive, you’ll take this offer I’m about to explain to you.”
“I want to harvest both your species’ blood.”
I stared at him in astonishment. He couldn’t be serious? Did he actually think I’d go along with that? Eli fumed beside me. I could hear a rumble in his chest, building toward a growl.
“If I can provide my kind with your blood without many deaths to your species, then your kind can thrive longer. Your kind will also remain oblivious to what I really am.”
“Why are you doing this? Why do you care if we live or die?”
“When you were a vampire, did you ever taste god or guardian angel blood?”
I shook my head, but I remembered the smell distinctly. They had the sweetest scent I’d ever had the pleasure of smelling.
“What a shame. No vampire would give your blood up, but if I can harvest it and sell it, your species will survive. If goddesses, gods, and guardian angels survive, then as the higher power, I’m doing my job and no one will know.”
“What do I do?”
Eli inhaled sharply, no doubt confused why I was even considering his job offer.
“You will travel to various vampire sectors and impose my will upon them— No goddess, god, or guardian angel deaths until I say so. As for your kind, I will issue mandatory blood donation. It shouldn’t be too hard. Don’t you worry about the technical side of things.”
“And if the vampires don’t want to conform to your new law?”
A nervous chuckle left my lips. “I don’t know how to fight and I can barely use my magic. You chose the wrong girl.”
“Did I?” His lips separated into a smile, exposing his fangs.
I shivered as he stared at me, like he knew something I didn’t.
“You have no idea who your father is, do you?”
What was he talking about? I repeated his words over and over in my mind. Why wouldn’t they make any sense? What did my father have to do with anything?
“Did anyone tell you why Hank’s venom couldn’t fully turn you? Did they tell you why he came back for you a year later?”
I heard a low growl escape from Eli’s chest.
“Mr Aleksandrov told me a charm had been put on me as a baby, preventing the venom from turning me completely.”
“How creative.” Lucian snickered, the other vampires joined in. “And incorrect.”
I chewed the inside of my cheek in thought. I hadn’t thought about my father. My mother told me he’d bailed on us, plain and simple. I didn’t ask any more questions because I didn’t care. As for Mr Aleksandrov, why would he lie to me? What would he get out of it?
“Why should I believe a word you say?”
“Because I’m the only one telling you the truth.”
I couldn’t help but glance at Eli. He was watching me curiously, apologetically.
“Did you and Ivan lie to me?” I asked quietly.
The vampires shifted in their seats, leaning closer, making sure they didn’t miss anything. Ludiia dashed over to Eli and leaned against him, claiming him. The jealousy she forced into my chest distracted me from keeping my eyes solely on him. She was smirking at my frustration.
The territorial feeling that surged through my body felt alien-like. Only Eli De Luca could make me feel things I’ve never felt before.
“Ruby, you don’t want to get into this.” His voice was hard.
“What’s the real story?” I asked Lucian, ignoring Eli’s comment.
I didn’t know if I could trust what Lucian said, but I had a backup plan. Eli wouldn’t lie to me now, not after everything we’d been through together.
“Tamzin!” Lucian called.
A tall Indonesian man walked in through a flap in the side of the door. He wasn’t like me or Eli, he wasn’t even a vampire. He was human. Tamzin’s skin was a deep olive; his hair was slicked back, exposing a narrow face and high cheekbones.
“Bring him in.”
“No, don’t do this, Lucian. If this goes wrong, you could destroy everything,” Eli shouted.
“Do you think you can order me around? You’re nothing more than a lowly guardian. You’re disposable, replaceable.” His voice was icy and flat.
All I could get out of my brain were words. Not formed in sentences or anything that made sense. Was he going to bring in my father? Was my dad a vampire? I couldn’t help but feel like my brain was short circuiting and it needed rebooting.
“Wait,” I called to Tamzin. He turned to face me. “I accept.”
“Ruby!” Eli growled at me.
“But on a few conditions.”