I came to all at once, grogginess falling from me, making me suddenly aware of my achy head. My breath caught in my throat at the blinding pain, and I dug the heels of my hands into my eyes.
"You're up early." The speaker was male, his voice soft, surprised. I heard a whisper of cloth as he approached, the air of his passage painful on my skin. I swore to myself, upset that my senses were working so hard; they were as much a disadvantage as an advantage like this.
He sat beside me, the thin mattress shifting beneath his weight. I groaned, dizzy, and tried to regain control. How hard had I been hit? A soft hand touched my shoulder, and yet it was painful to my hyper-nerves. I winced, concentration gone, and tried to pull away.
"What's wrong?" he asked, withdrawing his hand.
I shuddered, rolling onto my side, feeling like I was going to be sick. I couldn't answer him, was trying not to feel him. My heart was racing, pounding like a tympani behind my eyes. I focused on slowing my breath down, on making my senses go back to normal.
He must have noticed the tension leave me, because he was touching my shoulder again, offering me a glass of water. "Feeling better?"
"A little," I croaked, sitting up, opening my eyes for the first time. The room was dingy stone, lit by two dim gas light. It seemed just a step above a cell, but it was definitely that.
I was on the only cot, my legs tangled in a ratty blanket. Now that I wasn't so overwhelmed, I could smell a chamberpot, human sweat, and plenty of fear. Studying my cellmate, I took in his condition. He was used, broken, hair a mess, skin dirty, his clothes falling off his frame. I saw a plethora of bite marks at every major blood vessel, and knew who'd captured me. "How long have you been here?" I asked.
"Long enough," he said, shuddering with revulsion. When I finished my water, he took the glass to get me more. "They keep the ones they don't like down here in the kennels."
He wasn't sued to company, and he kept turning his eyes away from me. "And the ones they do like?"
"Upstairs. With the mistress." He whispered the last, fear pouring off him. From his mannerisms, it seemed he was afraid of everything. If I'd grown up hunted by vampires, I might be the same way.
I leaned against the wall, suddenly hungry. "How long have I been here?" I hoped our captors kept a feeding schedule.
"A few hours. Martel brought you in, told me to keep an eye on you. Said he'd be back for you." My celly trembled, facing the door as if he expected this Martel at any moment.
"Who are you?" Might as well make friendly with the natives when I couldn't do anything else.
I sighed, picking at loose threads on the blanket. This incarceration was going to be boring. The perverse part of me thought it would be more fun with the vampires than this defeatist.
That was uncharitable of me. He was a living buffet kept in a little room, with no means of escape. Of course he'd stopped caring. If I didn't know I'd be leaving this dimension when I finished my task, I'd be upset too.
I heard footsteps approaching, and turned to face the door. A key rattled in the lock, and my cell mate groaned in terror, shuffling to the back of the room. I swung my legs to the floor, but remained seated to greet my captor.
The man who stepped into the room was damn hot. Lithe, with broad shoulders, he wore only tight leather pants, tucked in black knee-high boots. A leather collar encircled his neck, and him slightly curly hair fell to his shoulders. Dark eyes met mine, and my skin crawled.
"You will come to the mistress." His voice was flat, inflectionless. He barely moved, and I'd have quickly figured out he wasn't human even if I hadn't been told.
"Well, let's not keep her waiting," I said, rising. The sooner I got all this done, the sooner I could go back to my vacation.