Read The Blood Bargain Online

Authors: Macaela Reeves

The Blood Bargain (23 page)

ultimate do whatever you want card. I made a note to talk to him about this tonight, hoping I remembered I made the note to talk to him about this tonight.

I stomped my feet a bit as I walked, this train of thought was getting a bit to twilight zone for my taste. Like living in a giant wooden pen assaulted by zombies and protected by vampires wasn.t already Sci-fi TV enough for me.

Maybe I was being weird because I spent the whole day reading about Halflings and elves. Maybe it was the impending trek into downtown that was making me twitchy. I wasn.t sure. It was probably a combination of both.

When I crossed onto the first sidewalk in town, I made a small
selfserving
choice to go back to the house. I debated about heading for the town hall to see
ol
. Zachary Graham, but as curious as I was I couldn.t bring myself to call upon the jerk. He may not remember what he said,

but I sure did. Too much to drink or nothing to drink, it was still uncalled for and not to be forgiven.

So I went

home

.

The front yard of the house had decided to wear an orange blanket. With fall in full swing there were crunchy leaves everywhere. The sun was still in the sky at about forty five degrees, indicating we had a few hours of daylight left. Running through my internal list of to-
do.s
I

knew I was in my last pair of clean jeans, the kitchen was low on produce and we needed more candles for the evening. Well I needed them anyway, I still didn.t know if Dimitri needed the light at night or if it was just for me. Either way I didn

t want to stumble in the hall.

First though,
I.d
tackle the one that needed to dry. I went out back and did a rinse out of all my dirty clothes on the washboard. It took me a bit to get the water soapy and get a rhythm going on the scrub, clothes cleaning had been a task of Zoe
and Candice at my old place. I’
d never really done this hands on. As I worked I felt bad for not acknowledging the amount of effort that really went into hand washing clothes. My fingers were pruned, my arms were cold and the muscles in my forearm ached. Gave my threads a quick pass through the hand cranked ringer then hung them on the line.
I.d
be able to bring them in by dark with the high winds.

Next I ducked into the community garden which was not far from the clothesline behind my house. There really was no such thing as a backyard in the traditional sense. All available
stretches of green between houses were plowed and sowed. Any fences that had stood were torn down and their materials reallocated to the construction of the wall. Initially this up close and personal gardening was done to keep our food source close to our housing in the event the wall was breached. I grabbed a few ripe tomatoes, a couple potatoes and a pumpkin.

A small plastic container sat in the grass off to the left of the pumpkin row where someone had begun to collect seeds for the next planting season. I made a mental note to return with my offerings for the box as well.

Like everyone I abided by the rules of never take more than
you.ll
eat and gather for the coming years. Sure there was plenty of ripe food hanging from the vines aside from what I took, but it would be collected by the farm crews soon who canned, labeled and stored for the coming winter.

Winter. The one word I didn.t want to think about at the moment. Winter was a bad time. Winter was usually the only time folks died around here anymore.

Unlocking the back door I dumped my produce on the kitchen counter then went on a foraging expedition. The old man who had lived here before had to have candle making supplies, every house stocked the stuff. Going through the kitchen cabinets I searched for the needed components. There was nothing in the uppers aside from a box of band aids and some cooking pots and plates. In the lowers I found measuring cups, massive amounts of tin foil and some oven mitts.

“Hmm...If I were an old man...where would I put my candle fixings?” I muttered to myself. Most people kept it in the kitchen, but the elderly tended to be a little more set in their ways. This house was tiny and low on storage so it was either the basement or the linen closet.

I whipped around the corner and threw open the small hall door to the closet.

Bingo.

On the top shelf there was a box containing a coffee can, wax, wicks and a column mold.

I got a flame going on the wood stove in the kitchen, then set the coffee can full of wax on the flame. As it melted I set the wick in the first mold.

An hour later I had a few new candles setting up, my clothes hung in my closet, produce cleaned and I had even brushed the leaves off the front walkway. It was enough for me to collapse on the couch with a proud smile on my face and exhaustion in my bones. I had busted my rear today and it paid off. I hadn't dwelled at all on my roommate, my pending journey, or the Cole and

Zack drama. None of it. It had been a simple afternoon of just living a normal post outbreak life.

In the quiet of the small ranch I felt myself drifting to sleep, releasing my mind into the beautiful simplicity of nothing.

             

Chapter
13

 

I wasn

t alone. Even with my eyelids shut I felt the presence of another, the weight of the couch dipping by my feet.

With a shriek I tucked my legs in, my eyes flew open. Blinking fast, I tried to boot my brain to understand
my surroundings. This wasn’
t my room. This wasn

t my
old room, this wasn’
t my house. It was dark and.

“Did you walk a dark dreamscape?” I knew that voice. Slowly, my legs straightened out.

“No, I just forgot where I was.” Rubbing my eyes, I saw
Dimitri.s
form in the candlelight.

“Sorry, I didn

t mean to fall asleep on the couch.”

“You

re apologizing for resting?”

“No, for occupying the couch.”

“I did
n
o
t mind.” That made me wonder how long he

d been sitting there.

“Watching me sleep?” To which he frowned and waved an issue of batman in my face.

“Reading, you left me a corner of space over here.”

“Do you need the candle to read?” I sat up with a stretch, my back cracked.

“It helps.”

I ran my fingers through my hair, trying to straighten it. I was sure I looked like a sleepy mess, but who was beauty queen material fresh off of couch nap? Oh well, not that I ever looked like much anyway compared to him. In a surprising fashion change, he had on a pair of jersey basketball shorts in aqua and a matching tee shirt with a team logo I didn.t know. Even in his ultra

casual athletic wear he looked like a model, eyes focused so intently on his reading as though his caped super hero had taken a role in a Shakespeare piece.

“So I saw Cole today at shift change. He
didn’t
seem to remember anything about last night. You wouldn

t know anything about that would you?”

Dimitri smirked and flipped the page in his comic.

“D!” I punched him in the arm. Something that probably hurt him a lot more than it hurt me. He didn

t wince or frown, instead he laughed.

“Should buffoons recall being such? It serves no purpose.”

“So you just blanked them out because you could?”

“I did not like that they knew of us.” I had to give him that one. Who knew what either one of those hot heads would do in t
hat situation. I remembered Zoe’
s
little talk with me the first night after I had met D. If either of those guys thought I was being used in that way against my will...who knew what they would do. Get the whole community stirred up, go to the council or worse yet just my
D
ad. A giant mess anyway I looked at it.

Even so it made me felt like he was embarrassed about me, which was an awful pain my chest. How many girls had I seen on TV or listen to my friends talk about a guy who wanted to keep it on the down low. All of those statements usually meant he wanted to keep his options

open.

Rather than get myself worked into a jealous state, I asked him the question I had thought of that morning.

“Have you ever done that to me?”

“No.”

I let his answer sink in while he flipped a few pages in his book. Such a stupid question for me to ask, I had no way of knowing if the answer I was given was correct or any way to validate his
answer. I was inferior and controllable to his kind, so even if he told me he was going to eat me in thirty minutes, he could just work his little magic and have me smiling and giggling without a

thought in the world toward my impending harm. Still...I remembered getting mad at him the night before. He wrote me an apology note. These were not signs of a controlling mind wiping
b
oyfriend. Or was it a deception for something darker?

“Would you tell me if you had?” I asked him softly. Dimitri set down his book and turned to me.

Placing his hand under my chin he tilted my head up, forcing me to look at him.

“I would not violate your integrity in such a manner.” His ice blue eyes bored into my own as he spoke each word with such sharp pronunciation that he lost all trace of an accent.

             
“I want to believe you.” I mumbled, noticing his fangs had elongated. White points dipping over his bottom lip.

“Then believe me.” I watched his mouth move as he spoke the words, a siren call to my heart. How could I not believe him, he

d given me no reason to doubt him.

“You

re getting pale again.” He pulled away from me with a grunt, turning his head toward the candle light behind him.

“I need to feed soon.” Dimitri all but growled at me. I started to extend my arm to him but he grabbed my wrist, forcing my hand back into my lap.

“No.”

“No?” I didn.t understand his hesitation, he was obviously in need and I was willing.

“Tomorrow.” He took a deep breath. “It is easier on your being.”

I gave him the critical eye. “How often do you really need to feed?”

“Every other day is the agreement.”

“Then why are you hungry now?” I had just fed him the night before, images of sitting on his lap flashed through my mind.

“The thirst is a constant. It is always with me regardless of what I am doing. Sometimes when you are close, it accentuates.”

“I make you hungry?”

“The same way the smell of bacon makes you hungry.”

“You did not just compare me to a pig!” I smacked him in the arm.

“Ouch.” He responded in a flat voice, eyes focused back on his graphic filled pages.

“Didn

t hurt.”

“True.”

“Are you going out tonight?” I didn.t want to mention the patrol or Antonia.

“Later. We have some time to hang.” His choice of words made me giggle.

“What is it this time?”


Sorry. You.re adorable when you’
re normal.”

“I am not adorable
.
I am adaptable to your tribal tongue.”

“Do you still speak Greek?”

“Yes and over a dozen others.”

“Impressive.” It really was. “Were they hard to learn?”

“I have found immersion to be the best method, I never stuck to one place or another really until the last hundred and fifty years or so.”

“What drew you to the Riviera?”

“It has Greek roots, having been colonized in 7th Century BC for trade routes. By the time I had taken an interest in the area it was home to many fine painters and the modern versions of nobility. Pablo Picasso,
Auguste
Renoir, Henri Matisse even F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the

great Gatsby in my area, not that I personally favor the book. It was a fine land for boating and the ample amount of tourists and seasonal visitors made for easy feeding.”

Dimitri smiled. “If it were not in a complete state of ruin, I would have loved to show you around.” I smirked.

“If it were not in a complete state of ruin, you wouldn

t know me to show me around.”

“Fair enough.”

“So who did you feed on over there?” I found myself feeling
kinda
jealous in asking the question. Which was insane, why was I jealous he used someone else for food.

“Whatever was easily available. Do not think of it like that, what you view as gross I see as necessity.” I had subconsciously scr
unched up my nose. What he didn’
t know was it wasn

t out of disgust, but a little visit form the green eyed monster. I pictured him speaking French and having all sorts of gorgeous models in his lap.

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