C H A P T E R
Lea knew she must have been pouting. The reflection of her face in the mirror showed an aggravated teenager with a foaming mouth. The picture it presented seemed a fitting description to what she was feeling. Sighing out in defeat, Lea continued to brush her teeth so that she could already leave for school.
Last night was tiring. Due to all the nightmares she had, all the hours Lea had spent sleeping were summed up to a measly four and a half and being that she loved her sleep, it wasn't farfetched to say that Lea wasn't in a very good mood that morning.
After gargling and making sure she at least looked presentable, Lea fixed her shirt and tugged irately at her jeans. No matter how much she had looked earlier, she couldn't find the one and only belt she owned. Still, the lack of which wasn't really a problem. It just made her more annoyed.
Hurrying back to her room after approving her appearance, Lea snatched at her bag and double checked inside to see if all her books were there. In the midst of her task, she caught a glimpse at her now unblemished wrists and again grew amazed that her bruises were actually gone. The salve had worked, amazingly enough. Not allowing that thought to linger, she finally left for school.
As Lea walked absentmindedly along, the solid presence of her cell phone in her right hip pocket reminded her of the new addition in her contacts list. The only reason why she put the number there in the first place was because she promised she'd call if anything happened. Not that she would call, of course. Hopefully there wouldn't be any reason to.
Nearing Larrington, Lea looked up and tensed as she saw a familiar face in the crowd. No, it wasn't the pure blooded vampire she talked to yesterday but it was a certain Miss Shelly Gregory stepping off a black Bentley as a man in uniform kept the door open for her. Personal chauffer perhaps?
Lea halted in her spot and immediately felt ridiculous at her actions. This rich girl was harmless as compared to some people out there. Sure she could do damage with her high status and all but right now, Lea doubted that Shelly could match up to the notoriety of vampires with them sucking on people all night. Well, for the bad guys at least. Shelly fed on puppies and that wasn't even in a literal sense. They, on the other hand, fed on humans. Kind of.
Wait, was that right?
Where did Tobias get his blood supply if they were forbidden to drink from humans? Animal blood? Was that even healthy? Or did they get blood packs from certain organizations like Red Cross and sucked out those plastic bags with straws. Technically, that wasn't direct intake from a person so was that okay?
That trail of thought wasn't helping her situation and Lea gave herself a disapproving scowl inside her head. Straws on blood packs. Seriously.
Jarring her out from her thoughts, someone had bumped into her causing her to stumble a bit on her spot. A glance back and Lea found herself speechless. It was the supposed step-sister of Tobias. At that moment, the red head's name eluded her but the said lady didn't seem to have the same problem.
"Lea, right?" she asked with a raised eyebrow. Though the gesture wasn't really hostile, it wasn't kind either.
"Um, yeah. And you are?"
"Tanya Strom. Tobias' sister."
"Right," Lea replied, the word dragging in the end. What was she supposed to say? Up close the woman was dazzling. There was no doubt in her mind that this gorgeous red head was one of them.
"I was wondering if you'd mind if we had lunch at your table today. Me and my brother, I mean."
The statement didn't fully register until a little while later. When it did, Lea felt her eyebrows rise in surprise. "You want to have me for lunch?"
Hearing her question, Lea blushed hard and waved her hands in front of her face as if it would erase what she said. Now, Tanya was smiling at her in amusement.
"What I meant was," Lea finally stammered out with flushed cheeks, "You want to have lunch with me?"
"Yes," she confirmed. "If that's all right with you."
Now, Lea was confused. "Why would you want to have lunch with me? Didn't Shelly invite you to their table already?"
"True." Tanya started to walk and when she noticed Lea wasn't following, she gestured for her to do so. The blonde did so hesitantly. "The thing is, we don't want to draw too much attention to us right now."
Lea's expression turned incredulous. "Sorry to be blunt but isn't that a bit impossible?"
Catching what she meant, Tanya gave a little tinkling laugh. "Well, any more attention than the one we're getting. Is that better?"
Furrowing her eyebrows, Lea persisted. "Why me though? You could pick anybody else?"
"It's easier with you since you already know why we're here."
More confusion. "What? Why are you here?"
That stopped Tanya in her tracks. With a perfectly shaped eyebrow raised, she turned to the blonde beside her. "Tobias didn't tell you?" With a shake of the head as confirmation, she appeared confused. "We're here to keep an eye on the people bitten that night. I thought he'd at least told you that much."
Bitten? What? "Um, he said he'd just tell me some other time. More like implied actually. He didn't want me to ask anymore."
Crossing her arms, Tanya faced Lea full on and balanced her whole body on her right foot making her hip curve sending a handful of guys to stare. They were all ignored. "Ask?" she questioned curiously. "You asked him questions?"
"Yeah," Lea answered with furrowed, baffled eyebrows.
A long pause. Then, "Interesting."
Just like that, Tanya left her there wondering what had just happened. It didn't seem fair. The red head just came out of nowhere almost giving Lea a heart attack and she just left not even saying goodbye. The woman didn't even confirm if she was going to eat with her or not. Not knowing just made Lea feel uncomfortable.
Deep in thought, Lea didn't notice a figure approach her until a voice spoke up. "Was that Tanya?"
Surprised, Lea did her best in stifling the would-have-been embarrassing squeak in her throat and glanced behind her to see Tobias giving her a curious look. Unlike the red head, the sight of him made her nervous. Not only because he was a vampire but also because of his unbelievably good looks. It really wasn't normal.
Remembering his question, Lea retorted, "How many red heads do you know with the same shade as that? She's the only one here who has that kind of hair."
Though she didn't mean to, her tone sounded sharper than she intended. Instead of apologizing for it though, Lea decided to just continue with her walk to the front gates of her school. Tobias, like a puppy, followed loyally in her trail.
"Walking to school again? Don't you guys have a car?" Lea decided to ask once she saw the front doors to their school.
Tobias nodded and pointed to the school parking lot. "It's over there. Just got this from the café a block from here." He lifted a hand where he was holding a steaming paper cup.
"Coffee? You actually drink coffee?"
Tobias appeared amused by her question. "Yes. Didn't I mention that? We could eat practically anything."
Lea slowed her pace and bit at her lower lip in thought. "You didn't really mention anything about that. So, you get hungry?"
After taking a sip from his cup, Tobias nodded. "Definitely. Body needs some nutrients you know."
Hearing him say that, Lea suddenly stopped walking and scowled at the pure blooded vampire. "How could you act so normal? We just talked about –"seeing his warning look, she caught herself just in time so she changed her wording, "We just talked over some things last night and your acting as if everything's normal."
Raising an amused eyebrow at her, he replied, "This is my job. Of course it's normal to me."
Growing more irritated, Lea's scowl deepened much to Tobias' amusement. She was about to say something but thought better of it. Again, her mouth opened as if she was about to declare something meaningful but it closed for the second time. Giving out an annoyed sound, Lea finally blurted out, "You know what? Just stay away from me."
Tobias watched wide eyed as Lea marched off and stepped into the main building of Larrington Prep. Cussing inwardly, he put the paper cup to his lips and gulped down the rest of his dark beverage with a wince of pain. After it was all gone, he blew out air through his mouth hoping to chill his burned tongue and cussed again at how painful it felt.
Ignoring the soreness, he jogged to where Lea disappeared to and apologized to a few unlucky people he had bumped into along the way. Just as he saw a flash of white blonde curls, a grip in his forearm stopped him in place. A glance sideways told him it was Tanya.
"We need to talk," she said seriously and she forcefully tugged him to the same fire exit he had pulled Lea out of just yesterday. Knowing this was a lost battle, Tobias followed with a heavy sigh.
Once outside, Tanya looked around and when she was sure that nobody else was in the vicinity, she gave Tobias a serious stare that, if he wasn't used to it by now, it would have been intimidating.
"What is wrong with you?" She asked bluntly making him raise his eyebrows.
"What do you mean?" was his honest reply.
"You let her interrogate you last night?"
Oh, that. Furrowing his eyebrows slightly, Tobias gave Tanya a semi-irritated glance. "Where did you hear that from?"
This time, the red head had a slight glare directed at him. "From the woman herself." Before he could even reply to that, she went on. "Since when did you allow people to interrogate you, huh, Mordikai?"
Sighing out in frustration, Tobias combed through his hair with his fingers and threw the paper cup in his hand to the floor. With a fierce, disapproving frown from Tanya, he picked it up again.
"Why are you interrogating me now?" came Tobias voice which had a hint of impatience marring its tone. "She asked me questions. Big deal."
"Of course it's a big deal!" shot Tanya back with a worried expression on her face. "Tobias, you've been acting strange since the midnight hunt. You think I haven't noticed? Even Michael was asking about you."
This time, he was surprised. He knew he was being strange lately but he didn't think it was that obvious. Besides, Tanya was overreacting. It wasn't that bad.
As if to continue in his trail of thought, Tobias said, "You're being so dramatic. It's not as if I did something wrong."
The vampire had a point. Tanya was being dramatic. Pinching at the bridge of her nose, she sighed. Finally, after what seemed like hours of silence, she looked at Tobias with a mix of concern and frustration. Stepping closer to him, she cupped his cheek and looked him straight in the eyes.
"Tobias," she began in a whisper. "This is the first time you've shown any sign of life outside the Scouts after your brother died." Tanya felt him stiffen slightly but he didn't step away from her, which pleased her immensely.
"You've always worked so hard to the point that you've become one of Eli's best men. Then, you do the strangest thing. You let yourself be provoked by Zachariah of all people. All that for an untainted woman?"
This time, Tobias did pull away. "Of course not," he replied with a bit of force.
Crossing her arms yet again, Tanya gave him a pointed look. "Really? Ok, tell me this. Before I unceremoniously dragged you here, what were you so eager to do that you had to rush in a crowd of students just to get to her?"
In his opinion, this conversation was getting to sound rather juvenile. "I just needed to clear some things out with her."
"Not your problem," she shot back and put her arms akimbo. "Never used to be. In the past, a little misunderstanding was something you didn't even think about clearing up. I heard what she said. The girl wants to be left alone."
Tanya was sure Tobias was going to say something back but was greatly surprised to see his shoulders slump in defeat and his face contort into a confused expression. Exhaling deeply, he rumpled through his hair with his free hand while crunching the paper cup in his other in an act of aggravation.
"I don't know what's wrong with me," he muttered quietly but he was sure his companion had heard it so he continued, "Ever since the last close call with the Bagno Di Sangue, I've been obsessed in finally ending all this. My father died fighting to stop them, my brother, friends. How many more?"
Abruptly, he looked at Tanya and she was taken aback to see his gaze was the palest blue and a hint of his sharpened canines peeked through his opened lips. In broad daylight too. All caution be damned.
Just as Tanya was about to reprimand him for his carelessness, Tobias sent her a warning look that stopped her. "I want you to understand," he said with controlled anger. "These animals plagued my family for so long. That night, that midnight hunt – I wanted to kill Zachariah so bad. And you know why I felt that way? It was because he attacked her. That girl I don't even know."
Tobias paused with a sigh and Tanya saw the color of his eyes darken to its original shade and she listened intently as he proceeded with what he was saying. "Can you believe it? Years after everything and here comes a girl that I know nothing about and yet I ranked her up to the position of my family. That's how scared I was that night. I didn't want anything to happen to her. I don't even know her. What the hell is wrong with me?"
Alarmed wasn't enough a word to describe what Tanya felt but it was pretty close to that. It had only been at least three nights ago since he first saw Lea and here was Tobias all in confusion about it. This was definitely unknown territory.
Before they could add to their confusing conversation, the school bell rang leaving the both of them frustrated and completely lost as to what to do now. Obviously, they had to get to class first and postpone any talk for later on.
Having that in mind, Tobias opened the fire exit and gestured for his companion to enter. With an aggravated sigh, the red head did so followed by Tobias and they both went on their separate ways.
Lunch time and Lea was dreading it. In the vast cafeteria of Larrington Prep, there really wasn't a table there that she frequented, which was the dilemma. Usually, she just sat with people who invited her and it used to be a common thing that random people waved her over hoping to get first dibs on whatever was hot on the school newspaper during that time.
Now, with a tray in hand, Lea rejected some offers her way and looked for an empty table she could use temporarily. It wasn't that she wanted to hog the two transfer students to herself. It was just that she still had questions and she doubted they'd let anybody eavesdrop on their conversation.
Finally, she eyed a lonely looking table by the corner of the cafeteria and decided to maneuver herself towards it. The area where it was located would have been ideal for any clique of friends if it weren't for the poor lighting it had along with the unwelcome cool breeze coming from an air conditioner nearby. Still, it was better than nothing.
Seating herself in one of the five chairs the table had, Lea put down her tray along with some books and fidgeted as she waited for her visitors. After a few minutes had passed and they still weren't there, Lea sighed and poked at her food with her fork. Suddenly, she felt someone's presence arrive and when she looked up, sure enough there stood Tanya as stunning as ever with a tray in her hands.
"May we?" she asked with a small smile.
Lea looked behind her and saw Tobias approaching except he didn't have any food with him. Shrugging, she pointed at the empty chairs and replied, "Go ahead."
Tanya positioned herself diagonal from the blonde while Tobias sat himself directly opposite their untainted companion. Suffice to say Lea felt awkward. She could feel the countless eyes looking in their direction and she tried so hard to ignore all of them.
"Nice spot you got here," Tanya commented while looking around with a pleased face.
Lea tried to find a sarcastic tinge to her voice but there was none. Biting her lip momentarily in unease, a bad habit of hers, she made a quick glance at Tobias and upon finding him studying her, she felt her face flush but instead of looking away, she steadied her gaze on him.
Tobias gave a noncommittal shake of his head and replied, "Nothing."
Ignoring him, Lea looked at the red head and was unnerved to see her intently studying her as well. Annoyed, she crossed her arms and gave them a slight glare. "Why are you guys staring at me? That's rude you know."
Tobias raised an eyebrow at her and when he noticed that Tanya was eyeing the blonde with interest, he couldn't stop the slight irritation that crossed his face. Nudging the red head, he muttered, "Knock it off."
Tanya rolled her eyes at him. Turning to Lea, she said, "I just wanted to say a few things to you before things get complicated." Lea caught the look she sent Tobias and wondered what it meant. "We're sorry you had to see what you saw but we really need you to keep quiet about it."
Lea nodded her head slowly and felt her forehead wrinkle slightly as if she was having a hard time understanding what she was saying. "I'm not going to tell anyone."
"That's good. You were right to think that we should stay away from you. You're not to be involved in this in any way. However, my partner here somehow thinks that he should keep an eye on you for some reason."
Hearing her say that, Tobias glared at Tanya and gritted his teen in pure annoyance. Lea, meanwhile, felt confused and slightly nervous. "Why is that?"
"I don't know myself," said Tanya and she gave Tobias a challenging look that made him want to throttle her. "I was about to ask him this morning but he was saved by the bell."
The two women looked at him and Tobias felt betrayed. Sighing out in frustration, he turned to Tanya with a very solemn look. "Denny's missing and besides me, Alethea was the last person he saw. Zachariah is still alive out there and he wants to turn her." That last bit was said in a quiet whisper he was sure Lea couldn't hear. Tanya though looked surprised. "They're out somewhere in this city and they know I protected her. I don't want to risk it."
Lea grew more confused. She had no clue what they were talking about and seeing Tanya's troubled expression only made her even tenser. These two were strangers and yet seeing them here talking about her made her feel somewhat safe. Then, she remembered something. What were they doing here in the first place?
Turning to Tanya, Lea spoke up, "Why are you guys here anyway? You said something about keeping an eye on the bitten? What do you mean?"
Tobias was the first to answer, "Remember what I told you about that tainting expedition they do during the midnight hunt?" When she nodded, he continued, "We're here to keep an eye on some of the students that were bitten that night. The ones who'll turn into half-breeds, as we call them."
Wide eyed, Lea looked around the noisy cafeteria. "You mean to tell me there are some students here that were bitten that night?"
Tanya nodded. "It takes a full seven days for the change to take effect. Usually, we help them out as much as we could in the changing process and in the introducing of blood intake in their diet. With this large scale tainting expedition though, it's harder to do all that."
"Unbelievable," Lea mumbled quietly. Looking up at her companions, she called for their attention and started to fidget in her seat again when the finally glanced at her. "I promise I won't tell anybody about this. You guys don't have to approach me anymore."
For the first time since this morning, Tanya felt completely lost. She so wanted to agree with the untainted girl but she hadn't really heard Tobias' side of the story yet. Never in all her life had she seen Tobias get all anxious just by hearing somebody mention Lea's name. If Tanya was right, and she was almost sure of it, her dear friend Tobias liked this young, blonde girl.
If that was the case, she was slightly ecstatic to hear it. Tobias had never showed any interest in any particular girl before. Sure, he entertained some women but that was purely because of his mother's request. This was all his decision. Protecting Lea, keeping an eye on her, all of that was his choice. It was rather endearing but he was a scout and she was a stranger to their entire race. She knew close to nothing about what was happening.
So, what now?
After a long stretch of silence, Tanya finally spoke up, "As much as I would love to agree with you, Lea, Tobias does have a point."
"What?" questioned Lea with raised eyebrows.
"I do?" Tobias queried in pure skepticism.
Tanya gave a defeated sigh and nodded her head. "As of right now, we have no clue what the Bagno Di Sangue is planning. One thing I do know about them though is that they are very persistent. Someone tried to turn you, Lea, and they might just be waiting for the right time to do just that. Better to make sure than be sorry."
Lea paled in hearing that. Someone wanted to actually bite her and he was out there somewhere. It sounded weird in her head but the tone in Tanya's voice told her the woman was dead serious.
Food forgotten, Lea fiddled with her fingers and eyed the two pure bloods before her in apprehension. "So, what now?"
Tobias answered, "We don't know yet." The look of confusion that was etched on his face was not something Lea liked but she let him continue speaking. "I'm really sorry for all this."
Not wanting to seem ungrateful, Lea shook her head and tried to smile at him. "I guess its fine. Thank you for bothering."
Tanya watched the two and grew amused at how Tobias was staring at the blonde across from him. No doubt about it, he really was infatuated. It was a shame he still had no idea. Still, Tanya knew that he had to keep a sharp eye out with all that was happening.
"I'll make sure to check up on you once in a while," said Tobias suddenly and Lea paid attention.
The bell rang and they all stood up from their seats, both ladies with a tray in hand. Still dazed from the sudden turn of events, Lea didn't even notice the pure blood male approach her side. Once he reached for her tray though, she looked up to see him.
"I'll take that." Tobias didn't even wait for her to give it to him and he went off to put it away. Tanya followed him.
"How very gallant of you, Tobias."
The teasing note in her voice didn't please him. "Shut up. I just offered."
Once the two were done, they walked towards the cafeteria doors but Tobias stopped when he felt Tanya pull at his sleeve. "Seriously though, Toby. Be careful with what you're doing. I've never seen you act like this before."
Sighing, he nodded his head. "I know. I'll keep that in mind." With that, the two continued on their way.
Recalling what Tanya and he had talked about today, Tobias worried that he was way in over his head this time and he was in far too deep to do anything about it. He had no idea what was wrong with him and feeling so confused was such a foreign matter that he was afraid of making a big mistake somewhere along the line.
Seeing Lea's silhouette in the crowd Tobias felt an anxious tug in his gut. Whatever was happening to him, he couldn't stop it now. The top priority he had to focus on was to keep her safe. Why he had to, he had no clue but he was determined to make sure he at least did it right.
Thinking about his family, the Bagno Di Sangue, and his loyalty to the scouts, Tobias wondered if all the years of problems he had was finally catching up to him. Add the untainted, blonde stranger into the mix and he found himself having a slight headache.
Damn. This was going to be so complicated…
Done in a hurry. Did not read through. Please inform me if I should put this chapter down and redo another one with more sense. This chap seemed a bit off to me and I just didn't know what was wrong with it or what was wrong with me. I've been rushing to get this done since I've got things to do and had no time to finish this. Forgive me for my lateness and my rather weird update. BUT, thank you all for bothering to read this.
I'm always in a hurry these days so please forgive me. No review responses. Just a big shout out to all those who bothered to read and review this story. THANK YOU ALL!!
Disclaimer: Anything branded, not mine.