Blaire’s eyelids fluttered, slowly revealing her bedroom ceiling. A pale light from the moon seeped into the dark room, setting a soothing and confusing atmosphere.
“How do you feel?” a dreadfully familiar voice asked. “Better? Invincible?”
She lifted her hand above her head, as if to find herself glowing. The pain had vanished. She felt almost…flawless. Strong. Much healthier than the suffering from before. Breathing came easy, her wretched agony gone.
Before Blaire could speak, much less move, a hand shot out and wrapped around her hovering wrist, yanking her cruelly upward.
Blaire’s sight adjusted, focusing on the face above her. The face of her greatest nightmare. Maybe she was in one. Last she remembered, Coal was taking away her suffering; the desire for the bite.
She flinched at the memory; the thought that she had not only given in but demanded to be bitten pained her.
Swallowing, Blaire asked, “Where am I?”
“Passing out after a feeding is not uncommon. It’s especially easy when the Original has refused sleep and food.”
Blaire stared into the eyes of Death. Unfathomable and empty, it was like staring at a corpse. Pale, cold. Even the irritation in Death’s voice was unseen. He was so…unsympathetic. He was the demon she met as a child.
But she wasn’t curious about him. Never again would she even consider learning who Death was. She knew enough. Or at least believed so.
“Instead of searching for me for relief, you turn to my son. You abused the power I've given to you.”
“So, are you going to kill him?” Considering how their brunch had gone, she wouldn’t put it past Death. She wasn’t quite sure how she felt about that. Should she feel guilty? Remorseful? Concerned?
Blaire shoved away any building thoughts. She couldn’t and wouldn’t let them come to life.
She hesitated, unsure if she wanted to know, but couldn’t resist asking in the end. “How much alive?”
“You stupid, stupid little girl,” Death sneered. “For how long did you believe you could avoid me? I own you. I choose when you are bitten and by whom. And it will always be only me. Either you accept a shot or accept me, which you will, I have no doubts about that.”
Blaire’s free hand was captured as she attempted to slap him. She struggled in his vicious grip, fighting futilely as he shoved her backward.
She bit her lip to resist crying out as she was slammed into a wall. Pain rippled up her spin, inducing a faint headache.
“I’ll give you this warning. But if you ever attempt to displease me again, do not expect forgiveness without some consequences. Do you understand?”
Blaire drew in her breath and spit in Death’s face, watching in pleasure as her saliva glued to his face.
Death’s hands curled to a tightness that almost snapped Blaire’s bones.
He slowly leaned forward, his lips grazing the two holes in her neck. With her saliva still on his face, he whispered against her throat, and suddenly spitting at Death didn’t seem so wise.
“If you can’t understand now, you will tomorrow night.”
The ‘Or else’ hung in the thin air.
As slowly as he moved towards her, he pulled away. Blaire was too confused, too stunned to react as he released her wrists.
Death released a grimace in which Blaire was unsure was his smile or a real grimace. Before she could think of a response, he turned and left her to her own devices. Leaving her to battle her ghosts of regret and fear.
By the time she remembered Death had not answered her question about Coal, it not only did not matter, she just didn’t care. She had her own self to worry about.
“What do you think “Death” had been doing during his absence?” Arie asked, showing some bemusement on her beautiful face.
Blaire scowled as she stabbed her skin with a needle filled with relief from a bite, imagining stabbing Death instead. It was much easier being confident when Death wasn’t around. Yes, he had always been fearsome. But her hatred for him drowned out that fear.
Arie laughed. “You’re healed now, and have been ready to be introduced as my father’s Chosen.”
“I’ll never be ready.”
“You have to be. And it won’t be so bad. It’ll be fun.”
Blaire scoffed. “For who?”
“Everyone wants to meet you. To pay respects to Viperei’s legendary Chosen.” Arie leaned back on Blaire's couch. “You aren’t the only most valued Chosen but the one Viperei waited for. For years everyone has started to assume that my father is weak. That he doesn’t have the right to rule. Secretly, most don't respect him anymore.”
Blaire dimly recalled the human auction in which Coal crashed. From what she saw, the Ophidia clan, Viperei’s people, were very respected. Or maybe it was fear.
“But now you’re here,” Arie said brightly, “and everything will go back to normal.”
Blaire scowled. If she could, she would have kicked Arie out of her bedroom the moment she stepped inside. It was obvious Arie’s purpose was to make Blaire feel welcome, feel comfortable.
Blaire could still see markings on her wrist from Death’s aggressive hold yesterday night.
Until it was dark, Blaire had been locked in her room until further notice. The notice being a party, planned to commence after dark. Apparently, while Blaire was caged in the Ophidia mansion, Death and his family had been out to spread the message: Blaire was here, and the requirement to see her was mandatory.
She could only imagine the idiots who chose not to show. She wanted to be one of those idiots. She craved it. But then she would see her arms and remember Death’s unbelievable warnings.
“If you can’t understand now, you will tomorrow.”
His voice haunted her. She had no idea what would happen to her if she was captured. Sure, she had some ideas. All of which made her reluctant to run or hide from tonight’s event.
“Could’ve done with a warning,” Blaire grumbled.
“Why? It was going to happen,” Arie said with a shrug.
“The sooner the better.”
Blaire dragged her hand down her face. “Does this happen to every Chosen or am I just special?”
“It happens for the powerful rulers. No one cares about my or my sibling’s Chosen. We’ve never had to introduce them.”
Blaire tilted her head, remembering the blonde girl on Coal’s bed. Where was she? Dead? Since then Blaire had only crossed paths with the dreaded family and their minions.
“Where’s your Chosen?”
“She has her own room. They all do. It’s important that they live close to us, in case we or they need a bite.”
“Why?” Blaire grinned. “Jealous?”
“Curious. Sue me for wanting to know where other humans are.”
Arie shrugged. “I could introduce you. Set up a date for you to meet my Chosen. Maybe the others will join. I doubt Father would mind.”
Reluctance filled Blaire. Sure, of course she wanted to meet others like her. Victims that she could relate to. Yet Blaire didn’t know how to react if she met them. What if they enjoyed their lifestyle?
Coal’s blonde girl invaded her mind and she scowled. No human could hate his bite. She knew that from experience.
There was a high possibility that if that girl or any of the others enjoyed their life, she would hurt them.
“So does-did,” Blaire corrected herself, “Cole have a party also?”
Arie smiled, but it was different than her others. It looked pained, forced.
“Yes. But he was a child. The party was boring.”
Somehow Blaire doubted that.
As Blaire stared out her window, her thoughts began to backtrack in time. Time to when Coal bit her.
It was…nice. Better than nice. But when it was over, and she had passed out like his Chosen had, he hadn’t left her to whatever monsters were in the forest. No, he took her to her captor, knowing full well both of them would be punished. She thought maybe he felt something as well. Apparently not.
Blaire used this rage to give her courage as night fell.
Servants filed into her room, carrying boxes upon boxes of what Death had prepared for her to wear.
Blaire realized with amusement that tonight wasn’t any party. It was a costume party. And Death wanted her to play the part of a demon queen.
Unoriginal, but it could have been worse.
A cluster of maids helped her into the gorgeous shredded, sleeveless, black ballgown. She wore chandelier silver earrings and a thin silver necklace roped around her body, appearing more of a slave’s chain than an actual necklace.
Blaire could see Death’s bruise and Coal’s bite on her neck as her arms were left bare and her raven hair piled on top of her head.
For the first time, Blaire’s face was painted. Her lips were a bloody rouge, her blue eyes glowing through the black cat-liner. Rather convincing tall and curved animal horns were fastened onto Blaire’s head with a gorgeous black and silver diamond tiara circled around it.
After she stepped into black stilettoes that would be the sure death of her, Blaire not only looked like the Queen of Death, she felt like it too.
“You don’t like it?” Pima asked anxiously.
Even if Blaire did, she didn't have the power or time to change.
“No,” Blaire answered, reluctantly honest. “It’s amazing. I just…”
Don’t want to be Death’s queen.
It’s just for one night, Blaire scorned herself. One night. Let people see you and throw it off.
Blaire sighed and turn to the handful of maids. “So. Where do I go?”