3 Vampires' charms (Julia)

I collect the clothes from the bed and wear them without delay. They're too large but better than my old, dirty tatters.

I sit on the sofa and wait for Leo to return. Meanwhile, I observe the room I'm in.

It's quite cold and impersonal. There is a wardrobe and a big bed on one side, a desk on the other.

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In the centre, a sofa, two armchairs and a low table complete the furniture.

A window is hidden behind heavy curtains that don't let light pass.

The lightbulb over my head works perfectly, which makes me remember the pleasure of hot water in the shower. It looks like they have electricity here. If they share resources like in the Order, then Leo must be someone important.

He doesn't seem just a random soldier. Even though that Amadeus looked like a higher charge. Maybe the boss of the place.

As time passes, my muscles relax. The adrenaline leaves my exhausted body.

I arrange the pillows on the sofa in a corner and lean my head on them. It should be all right, to rest for a bit. I haven't slept for days, since the moment I left the Order.

I close my eyes, giving in to the temptation. I lift my legs, cuddle on the couch and sigh. I haven't noticed how tired I was.

When I open my eyes again, I feel warm and comfortable. I'm lying on a soft mattress, and the curtains were moved to show the window. It's still night, but the lights at the horizon tell me that dawn will come soon. Good, I can stay here a bit more. I don't need to wake up before the second alarm. How lucky that I woke up early today...

I rub my eyes and turn around, giving my back to the scenery.

«Aren't you hungry?» a voice startles me.

I remember where I am and what happened in these last days.

Leo is sitting on the sofa, reading some papers.

«Not really,» I utter.

I'm not in the Order anymore.

I'm in a new place. And it feels so cosy.

«I didn't want to wake you up, so I brought some food before they closed.»

They? Who?

«Thank you,» I say.

Even though I haven't eaten in a while, I don't want to get up now. My legs are tired, and the warmth will disappear as soon as I get out from the sheets.

I sigh and force myself to move the blanket away. I shiver at the fresh air at first.

I stroll to the table and sit on an armchair, on the opposite side to Leo.

On a tray, there are a few sandwiches and a jug with water. I pour myself a glass and drink it in a few gulps.

My stomach starts to ache soon, but at least I'm not thirsty anymore. I grab one of the sandwiches and begin to eat, but I can't finish it.

The cramps in my belly become painful, and I leave the rest of the sandwich on the table.

«You should take it slow,» Leo says without moving his eyes from his work. «You haven't eaten in two days, right? Your stomach doesn't remember how it feels like, to be full.»

I hug my legs and nestle on the armchair.

I observe the vampire in silence.

He's very handsome, indeed. Will I ever stop being amazed in front of his face? Do I have to be this charmed every time?

The teachers always told us that it's not rare for vampires to have lots of charisma or unbelievable beauty. The magic that they add to make any prey fall in a trance is wasted. Their appearance is really enough.

Leo's movements are elegant, like those of a tiger, and he doesn't make any sound while walking.

When our eyes meet, I realise they're not grey, as I first thought. They're the colour of the sky, a very light azure. My eyes were very tired after the long day, and the interrogation didn't help the rest of my senses.

Now that I'm back in some sort of shape, I can fully grasp their colour.

«I found some clothes for you, I hope they'll fit,» he continues, ignoring my insistent glare. «You'll stay here until we find out whether you're harmless or not.»

«What will happen then?»

«If what you told us is true, we'll give you shelter and let you live in Fortress. If you lied, well... Depends on how bad the lie was.»

«Okay,» I whisper. «What are the rules here?»

«What do you mean?»

«What do you ask in return from humans that live in your city?»

He looks at me with those beautiful, confused eyes.

«Will I have to give you my blood regularly? Or just when you ask for it?» I continue.

He narrows his brows and puts the papers on the table.

«Indeed, there are people that made a pact with a vampire, but it's not so frequent. You don't need to pay with blood, to stay here.»

Is that so? Did the teachers lie about the rules of the cities ruled by vampires?

«You can pay taxes with money, you know? We're not tyrants here...»

«Oh,» I utter. My cheeks turn hot from embarrassment, and I look down. «I'm sorry.»

I shouldn't have talked so freely. I'm relieved that my beliefs turned out false. Yet, a part of me keeps wondering how it feels.

«How bad were you treated by the hunters, if you came here thinking that?»

«I told you already. I want to live. It doesn't matter where, or at what cost.»

«They wanted to use you as bait, right? Is your blood especially tasty or what?»

«Oh, no. I'm just useless.»

I was born without any talent. My senses didn't become acute, like those of the other hunters.

«That can't be the reason, come on. Hunters aren't that cruel with their own, usually.»

«I'm really useless. Every family has to provide a hunter for the Order. My brother has been working for them until... Until he wasn't able to, anymore. They said that it was my duty to help them, now that he can't, but I'm no good at fighting.»

«And your parents? Aren't they hunters too?»

«They were,» I confirm. «But they died long ago. It's always been my brother and me, alone.»

«Your story is too twisted to be made up. I'll believe you, for now.»

I smile. Leo startles when he sees my reaction, but it's too late to hide my relief.

«But I'll keep an eye on you twenty-four hours a day.»

He gets up and walks to me. He grabs the armrests, blocking me from both sides. His eyes stare directly in my eyes.

«If I find you suspicious...» he murmurs in a threatening tone.

I lean back on the chair, waiting for the end of the sentence, but he looks somehow distracted. His gaze is analysing me, staying a bit too long on my neck.

Is he thirsty again? Will he bite me, this time?

I can't defend myself, either way, so I just wait for any reaction, trying to keep my breathing regular. His irises are now darker and shining like crystals, while his fingers move a lock of hair from my forehead. His touch is gentle and light, almost like a wind breeze.

If his intention is to be threatening, he's totally failed. Instead of fear, I feel a weird heat crossing my body from head to feet. Even the fangs pricking on his lips are not enough to make me shiver.

Oh, well. I do shiver. But fear doesn't have any role in it.

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