2 An unknown instinct (Leo)

The girl in front of me frowns while I disinfect her wounds, but she doesn't complain even once.

The scent of her blood has awakened my thirst when the ropes cut her skin for the first time. But I've been ignoring it for the sake of the interrogation.

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Her white skin shows the veins perfectly, and I hear her heart pulsing. Her tiny neck is so inviting...

I lick my lips in a daze but stop when she looks at me with those clear, trusting eyes.

She's still calm, even though she realised what I'm thinking.

I look to the side, surprised by my loss of control. It's the first time that I feel this way. How long have I been without blood? Is it because she's something new?

I finish to dress the wound, all to give the fangs time to retract before speaking.

«Done.»

«Is this academy a real school?» she asks out of the blue. She moves a lock of her black curly hair with her bandaged hand. «Do you have lessons and stuff?»

«Kind of. It's a school for soldiers.»

«And you're studying to become a soldier?»

«No, I'm not,» I utter.

I examine her other wrist and, since it looks fine, I get up to leave the room.

«Follow me.»

Julia obeys without words, and we reach my lodgings.

She hasn't done anything suspicious, but it could be all a trap.

A trap for what? Who would wander in Amadeus's territory? With what intentions?

The hunters are busy fighting with the king of Vampires. They surely don't have time for an independent town like Fortress.

I close the door when Julia is in, and the scent of her blood reaches me again. She has sweated a lot during her journey, which turns her presence even more pressing for my instincts.

«The bathroom is behind that door, you can take a shower if you want. Don't let the wounds be touched by water.»

I need to hide her from my senses for a few minutes, just the time to calm down.

She nods and disappears behind the door. A few seconds later, I hear the water flowing in the shower.

The first sounds she utters is a surprised 'oh', and then she giggles happily. Humans like bathing.

The scent of my shampoo fills the room, so light that I barely notice. I hear her fingers stroking her body and hair, the foam caress her skin... Her sighs.

She's very quick, probably because she doesn't want to try my patience.

«How do you manage to have hot water?» she asks with shining eyes, closing the bathroom door.

Her body is enveloped in a tiny towel, and her wet hair is leaned on her shoulder.

«Oh, I don't have other clothes. Can you lend me some?» Julia adds, blushing lightly.

«I can,» I answer but don't move. I'm busy looking at her.

She seems to realise the sort of situation we're in and steps back.

«Th-thank you,» she utters.

Her heartbeat accelerates, and I feel my shampoo entangled with her personal scent. All of this wakes up an instinct I didn't know I had.

For every step in her direction, she takes one back until reaching the wall. I look at the white skin of her neck. For once, I don't feel the urge to bite her. What I want to do is to leave a sign on her, to mark my territory...

Wait, what am I thinking about?

I grab her chin with a hand and move her head to the side, while I lean on the wall with the other arm. She doesn't resist.

She just clenches the towel with both hands with so much strength that her knuckles turn white. Her heart is racing, and it doesn't bother me at all. On the contrary, this crazy rhythm seems to be calling for me even more.

I lick her neck, moving my tongue slowly, and she holds her breath. I grab the towel and pull it until she lets go with a short, scared sound. On the corner of her left eye, there is a little mole. And next to it, a tear is flowing down her cheek.

That one single drop is enough to wake me up.

I step back in confusion, and she slips down the door, covering her naked shapes with her arms.

«Sorry,» I apologise.

To my surprise, there is no disgust on her face, no contempt. She's just scared like a little mouse that was caught by a merciless cat. Her reaction is not those of a hunter, in any way.

I take some clothes out of the wardrobe and throw them on the bed. After that, I get out to clear my mind.

I'll have to find other clothes for her soon, or I risk losing control again.

Why am I like this?

I look for Amadeus, in search of answers.

«What's the matter?» he asks with a lazy tone. He's sitting on the stone railing of the Governor's Palace. He wasn't expecting me to have issues so soon, but he was the one entrusting a human girl, a defenceless girl, to me.

«I felt strange today,» I explain, direct and solemn.

«Strange how?»

«That girl... I wanted to bite her, at first.»

«This is not strange for a vampire, Leo.»

«It's different from the usual, Amadeus. It's like there is a magnetic field guiding me to her...»

«Magic?»

«No, she's not doing it on purpose.»

I can't imagine those big eyes hiding such a secret.

«If you want to bite her, do it. She's just a scared puppy: you can obtain her trust if you're clever.»

«Even the fact that I wanted to walk by the gates that day is not normal. What is happening, Amadeus? Is she some kind of trap?»

«A trap?»

«She admitted the hunters wanted to use her as bait. Maybe her blood is particularly inviting, or something like that...» Right, maybe it's not my fault.

«I would have noticed. You seem to be the only one, at least among the two of us, being so attracted to her. Well, she's still a girl after all.»

«What are you implying?»

«I'm not implying anything, I'm just listing the possibilities,» he chuckles.

«I can't keep her by my side, I don't like this.»

«Ah,» he snorts. «Let's do an experiment. Try her blood and, if you still feel strange after that, I'll think of something. In the end, you only have to check she doesn't have malicious intentions. What better way than a bite for that?»

«You're suggesting I assault her?» I mumble dumbfounded. Has he hit his head?

«I don't think you can't find a way to get some blood without an assault.»

Amadeus jumps down from the second floor and elegantly lands on the ground. He winks in my direction and walks away with an excited grin. It must be time for his daily hunt.

I turn to the sky and observe the setting sun.

Maybe I should have some blood too, before going back to my room.

Maybe Amedeus is right, and mine is just thirst. Yet, the memory of her white, silky skin and shapely body is like an electric shock.

What I haven't told Amadeus is that I wasn't attracted by her blood. No, what was tempting me the most was something else.

I'm afraid that drinking her blood won't solve anything. On the contrary, my guts are telling me that it would make everything even more complicated.

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