18 Keeping it secret (Leo)

After ordering a bunch of new clothes from Dafina, I bring Julia back.

«You're still suspected to be dangerous, but I can show you the city when we have time,» I offer.

«Wonderful,» she answers, but she's not really listening to me. Rather, she's gazing and observing even the details of Fortress' buildings. If she turns out to be a spy, then we're doomed.

«We're going to have lunch now,» I continue.

At the word lunch, her eyes land back on me. Now, I have her complete attention.

Should I bring around candies and snacks? Will she listen to me with more attention?

«I thought lunch didn't exist here.»

«Most vampires don't eat too often, but there are humans in the academy. That's why we serve three meals a day. There are more people at lunch.»

We sit at the same table as last time.

«There are no desserts at lunch,» she whispers, beaten.

Well, I drank quite some blood yesterday. She must be starving.

«I'll ask in the kitchen if there is some cake left. You liked it, right?»

She smiles happily and nods.

I will buy some candies next time I go to the city.

However, she's surprisingly healthy: her heart is beating steady, and her blood pressure is ideal. She didn't have time to recuperate in just one night, even if she ate like crazy during breakfast.

While the others sit around us, I remember that lunch is indeed a crowded moment.

«We thought you died!» Luciana says while sitting next to me. She doesn't pay any attention to Julia, even if I'm sure she already noticed her presence.

With her sensitivity, Luciana must have already sensed the bond too. She hugs my arm and leans her head on my shoulder.

Damn witch, what is she trying to do?

«Don't make trouble,» her brother reprimands her. To no avail. When Luciana is set on doing something, there's no way to prevent it.

«Lucas, don't interfere. I'm studying,» she reveals and moves her head forward to stare at Julia. «Who is this beauty?»

«Julia.»

«And is Julia free for having some fun?» she offers with a charming grin. «She looks entertaining...»

«No,» I stop her and cut the beef on my plate. I'm not hungry, as I've already eaten breakfast. Julia, on the other side, is munching so gracefully. I think she didn't eat meat for a while, judging from her reaction when the cook passed her the plate.

There are so many concerning facts about her, but I don't think she means ill. She was frightened for her life for real, or she wouldn't have asked for help in a city where she thought vampires torment humans for fun.

«Is she already yours?» Luciana continues. «I see there is a link between you two, but I can't quite understand the nature of it.»

«It's not your business.»

«What about asking her, ah?» Luciana starts and tries to focus on Julia.

«No,» I repeat and shove her away. «And you can stop clinging on me. I won't tell you.»

The siblings start to eat in silence until the rest of the group arrives.

Alex and Sam have their plates full as always.

«This is Alex,» I whisper to Julia, and she lifts her head, full of questions. She's wondering why I'm introducing someone in particular to her.

«He's human,» I reveal, and she nods, understanding. «And Sam is a hybrid.»

Hearing that word, she puts down the fork and turns toward the two boys.

«A hybrid?» she repeats. «How cool!»

The rest of the people stop eating and turn to her, astounded. I would react like that as well if I didn't spend so much time with her in the last three days.

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«I've never seen one from this close,» she explains while her cheeks turn slightly red. «Where I come from, they're rarer than locators.»

Samuel examines the girl with caution, trying to figure out whether she's serious.

«Here we're as good as monsters,» he utters, in a bad mood.

He has always had problems with blending in. The vampires look down on him, while humans are scared to the guts. It's a pity since he's so kind-hearted and considerate.

«Monsters?» Julia whispers. «Do you kill people based on your mood? Do you torture kids?»

«No, I don't do that kind of thing,» he says, annoyed.

«The real monsters are different from you, trust me.»

After those words, she looks down again and doesn't talk anymore.

I'd like to ask her what she wanted to say, but she's feeling uncomfortable and... Wrong?

Hybrids are particularly suited for killing vampires, so their life is quite difficult among us.

Even the hunters were just a group of half-vampires in the beginning. After many generations, their blood was diluted, but some of them still have a trace of their ancestors' power.

In the middle ages, they even tried to reinforce their blood by making hunter women have children with vampires. The results weren't what they expected. From then, the hybrids have been cursed from both worlds, and they live quite a solitary life.

Why Julia feels so much sorrow, I don't know. She's now chewing the food begrudgingly, probably conscious that most of the people around the table can hear her heartbeat.

I feel the fangs pricking my lower lip, and I wake up from my daze. It was just yesterday that I had enough blood. Why am I already thirsty?

What more, Julia can't stand too much loss of blood. She doesn't heal as fast as I do.

Maybe, I can just take a drop... from a scratch... Not too much, just a drop...

When I look around, trying to distract myself, I see that the vampires at the table are staring at me with utter surprise.

They noticed that I was losing control. It's something that doesn't happen so often. So, they're all trying to figure out why I'm behaving like this.

I bet they can tell that I wasn't just lusting for blood, but I wanted a specific source.

I roll my eyes and lean back on the chair.

So much of keeping it a secret.

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