Before we can investigate the surroundings, a woman appears from behind us like she was waiting in the room’s corner. Right away, she attacks us. Carter shields me from her blows. Carter dodges her attack and counters with a swift punch.
Then he forces her to look at him and says, “You didn’t see us here. You are leaving to attend a meeting.” She becomes motionless and nods her head. Carter releases her, and she leaves.
As I stand there, I couldn’t tell what had just happened. “Carter, what did you do to her?”
He grins, “That’s called compulsion. She won’t remember this. Now let’s go. We’ve still got work to do.”
As I rush to Mcclean’s desk, I whisper, “Okay, you take one side, I’ll take the other, and Carter, you are sure she won’t remember?”
“Nah, she won’t, but we shouldn’t stay for long.” Carter moves towards a wall aligned with filing cabinets and searches through the drawers. As my eyes skim over all the documents and folders on the glass desk, one immediately catches my attention. In bold red letters it says, “Classified V Virus; Rena’s Case.”
Wait! I thought humans didn’t know we existed. And why is there an entire folder named after me?
“Hey, I found something. Look at this.” I wave to him with the folder in my hand.
Carter crosses the room until he stands side-by-side with me, examining the front cover.
“Shit. You definitely got something, little kitten. It seems like they know more about our kind than they are letting on, but why the fuck is your name on it?” Carter sighs then continues, “Anyway, let’s see what’s in there.”
Before reading the contents, I hesitate for a moment. I can’t help but feel anxious as I slowly peel back the pages. Having watched the news report of the crime scene, I am fully exposed to the horrific images in front of me. It’s one message, but that one message has such power. Then I notice a plastic bag sticking out from behind more papers and photos. After carefully pulling it out, I discovered a bloody key along with a diner photo inside. It’s not just any diner. I sat in those sticky red leather booths, my mouth watered as I ate pancakes soaked in blueberry sauce, and it is hard for me to forget the sound of my sister laughing as we shared a sundae topped with two cherries as we waited in line. Rococo’s diner in Royalvia.
With my hands shaking so much I can’t hold on to the photo.
Carter notices my reaction and takes the photo from me before I realize. “What is this?” he asks.
I try to speak but only two words came out, “...my...home.”
Suddenly, Carter became immediately alert and stares at the door. “We need to leave. Someone’s coming.” He pulls at my free arm.
“But what about the folder?” I ask, frantically panicking.
“Take the goddamn thing. It’s not like they will know who took it. We have to go. Now!” Carter whispers with frustration and concern.
So, I place everything back into the folder as we head to the window. I didn’t dare ask how we will escape because I knew he would say, “the same way we came in.” Instead, I wrap my arms around him before he has time to.
As time runs out, he quickly pulls me closer to him, surprised by my reaction.
And, just like that, we saw towards the ground until we land with a soft thud.
I ran as fast as I could, pushing my body to its limits in order to catch up to Carter. I didn’t have time to hesitate, so I quickly got into the car, and we sped off. It was a risky move that could have gone wrong. I can feel a sense of relief washing over me because we somehow went through the plan with no unexpected hiccups.
I have no clue where he’s taking us or what we are planning to do. We just need to get somewhere. I doubt that he’s planning on taking us back to Dahlia’s. His demeanor made me feel like he had something specific in mind, and it wasn’t just a random drive. He seems determine to keep driving, so I didn’t ask questions.
We drive for what feels like hours before finally arriving in an area surrounded by snow-covered forests. It’s a dead-end road that leads to a small lake. Carter parks the car on the snowy sand near the lake’s edge. The frozen lake immediately catches my eye as we exit the car, and I can see our breath forming small clouds in the chilly air. We stand there for a moment, taking in the beauty of the blanketed landscape. The sight of it mesmerizes me; the beauty of the lake illuminating by the sun’s rays was simply breathtaking.
Carter stands and watches as I sit atop his car’s hood. I can feel the warmth of the engine through my jeans and the sun on my face as I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Again, I can feel a sense of calm, and the sound of Carter’s voice breaks the moment.
“Hey kitten, you remember what you offered? This is the second time I have helped you. So now, I want something in return for all the trouble you caused me.” He smiles mischievously at me.
“Well,” I reply slyly, “you can have whatever you want—as long as it’s not illegal.”
He raises his eyebrows and challenges me with a smile. “Oh, really? What could be more illegal than breaking into a police station?”
I laugh heartily before replying, “maybe this time, it should be something a bit more mundane... like ice cream?”
He smirks and shakes his head. “Ice cream? That hardly seems an appropriate reward for such an illegal act.”
“But,” I respond with a frown, “what other reward could be so sweet?”
Carter closes the distance between us and leans in.
“Your body,” he says with a mischievous glint in his eyes. “And you don’t need to break into a police station for that.” Carter’s low and seductive voice fills my ears, leaving no doubt in my mind about his intentions.
My heart racing, I take a deep breath before I dare to ask for clarification, my voice barely a whisper. “Are you serious? You want my body?”
He responds without hesitation, his voice soft and determined, “Kitten, you need to stay true to your word if you want to know the full story of how I met your sister. However, this is a onetime offer; I take mine seriously and if you don’t agree, I won’t tell.”
There is a tension in the air as we stare into each other’s eyes. My heart is pounding, and my palms are sweaty as I struggle to find the courage to speak, but the fear of what I might hear keeps holding me back. There’s something about him that stirs up unfamiliar emotions within me. His voice is smooth and mesmerizing, his eyes are piercing and hypnotic, and my body can’t help but respond to him. I know I have to resist.
He’s dangerous. He’s something I don’t want to be. No matter what happens, I refuse to lose my sense of humanity. It’s hard to imagine letting go of that aspect of myself. I won’t accept being a dhampir. But he knows something I don’t. He knows about my sister. Who’s clearly alive and well!
I take a moment to think about his words and their meaning before I breathe out. “Really? So, for my body, you’ll tell me... what happened?”
His eyes are full of sympathy, and he nods. “Yes,” he says softly. “I will tell you what I know.” He pauses for a moment, gathering his thoughts. “It’s not much, but it’s the truth. I hope it helps.” He gives me a reassuring smile before sitting down beside me.
He seems to care about me and my situation, and I appreciate the effort he’s making to help me. His simple act of kindness made me realize I wasn’t alone in this, and that I can get through whatever awaits me. The sense of hope I feel is unlike anything I’ve felt in a long time.