Continuing after Offer
“It may seem ‘cool’ to your standard, this so-called secret, elite society, Darren, but do take my advice to heart and be choosy about the company with which you hang out in the future.”
A dull thud was caught in Darren’s ears, followed by the immediate sight of a red fleshy glob in front of his eyes. Darren had to blink a few times in order to recognize the thing was actually an unfortunate bloody heart. No pun intended.
He tried to swallow the wave of nausea that was rising in his throat.
While Elijah now was standing in his usual elegant pose, Darren was lying face-flat on the floor and staining the polished white marble with the red fluid oozing out of his numerous wounds. Although he felt the injuries closing up on themselves – the perk of having ancient vampire blood in his veins – there was simply no supernatural painkiller for the ache raking all over his tattered body. It was as if he was going through the beating in high school once again, although Brook’s fist was nowhere close to the vampire one that had been punching the breath out of him in the last minutes. And while Zack’s sidekick had had no other intention other than to teach him a tough lesson, this vampire had meant to severe his mortal coil once more, this time for real. Had Elijah been a minute late, it would have been Darren’s heart that lay discarded on the floor.
That chilling thought successfully subdued the feeling of sickness in him.
Darren suppressed a groan as Elijah helped him to his feet; the broken thighbone jabbing into his muscles should take a few more minutes to heal. Nasty wound. He was immensely grateful that his sire silently took the hint and supported most of his weight.
“Well, aren’t you on time, Elijah?” Tristan de Martel, who exuded a cold air of wickedness despite his façade of civility, said. A doppelgänger of Darren, with a millennium-gap in between, he was the reason Darren was in this mansion, all beaten up and had nearly lost his un-life.
Still, if Darren really had to blame someone for his peril, he only had his own foolish naiveté to blame.
“Keep your vultures’ talons off him, or don’t complain when I feed you every one of them, Tristan.”
The half-smile Tristan had been wearing since the beginning didn’t waver in the face of Elijah’s threats. He sauntered to them, took out a handkerchief from his breast pocket and gently wiped the clotting blood on Darren’s face. Darren shuddered at the touch but didn’t make any visible protest.
In front of Elijah, Tristan would curb all his vicious trickery, or so Darren was told. It turned out very close to the truth.
The fabric smelled of cologne that Darren didn’t quite attach with a brand, only knew it to be very expensive. Strangely, he remembered catching this scent on Elijah sometimes.
“Rest assured, Elijah,” Tristan said, “it has never been in my intention to harm your precious little boy. I merely wish to place him under my wings for better protection. This lovely city has never been a particularly safe and nurturing ground for fledging vampires.”
“By reducing him to a bloody pulp? Your demonstration of self-proclaimed goodwill is most peculiar, Tristan.”
“For me to take better care of him, he must be one of us. The rule is the rule, Elijah, and as far as I’m concerned, it was you who created and imposed it,” Tristan explained, his half-smile widening into a full one. “No exception. Jonathan here only adhered to it. A shame he had to lose his life.”
Tristan picked up the daylight ring the vampire Jonathan had stolen from Darren earlier. He presented it to Darren together with Jonathan’s own.
“Congratulations on passing the test, Darren. This shall be your first trophy.”
“But I didn’t—”
“I said ‘by any means’, and that doesn’t exclude the hand of our sire. Welcome to The Strix, Darren. You’re one of us now.”
While Darren was still trying to process Tristan’s unconventional logic, Tristan reached into his pocket and took out a cell phone.
“You dropped your phone a while ago,” he said, handing the item to Darren. “Better be careful next time.”
Darren didn’t realize its thievery until his phone was returned to him. Must have been Jonathan’s ‘clever’ hand.
There was a strange message he knew he hadn’t sent. It said nothing but the address of this mansion.
The receiver was his sire, Elijah.