He locked the door, and the metallic click made my skin crawl. It felt like a death knell for the man I'd left behind. I was certain he wasn't what I was hear for, and I made myself forget about him as the vampire guided me through the halls.
Sometimes neutrality sucks.
The vampire grabbed me by the upper arm, dragging me along the hall. "Hey," I barked. "I'm not going to try anything funny." I bit my lip as I stumbled. He jerked me closer, and I lost my balance. "I can walk on my own."
We stopped, and I stared at him. He glared back, his mouth a tense line. "Humans always attempt escape."
My arm was starting to go numb, and I might bruise if he kept gripping me like that. I said nothing, trying to show him how docile I could be. "You'll just catch me again. I wouldn't know where to go even if I did get free. I'm yours, I know it, so let's just get along." Straightening my shoulders, smiling brightly, I introduced myself. "I'm Morgan Grey. From what my cellmate said , I'm guessing you're Martel."
He said nothing, just turned and continued down the hall. "The mistress will be pleased by your compliance." Martel still spoke in that flat voice, but there was just a bit of curiosity in it. Not often that the cow offered to go up the slaughterhouse ramp.
We walked for a while, up stairs and through halls. The complex was huge, and seemed to have been built all at once, not added on to as her brood grew. It was opulent, and the richness of everything appealed to me. Given a choice, I might enjoy vacationing here. Especially if everyone was as good looking as Martel.
Eventually we stepped into a solar. I smiled to myself, wondering why I was calling it a solar; vampires don't need sun rooms, so maybe it was a lunar. I stifled a giggle, and Martel shot me a dirty look. I apologized, then followed him to the woman in the middle of the room.
She was petite, pale, lounging on a rose-colored divan, dressed in only her auburn hair. Not knowing she was a vamp, I'd have placed her in her late teens. No way of knowing how old she really was, but my implanted memories said she'd ruled this area for at least two centuries.
Martel stopped us a few feet from her divan. She studied me with languid eyes, and I tried to look non-threatening. I wasn't sure how I'd accomplish that when I was nearly a foot taller than her, but she was also under the impression I was merely human. I needed to work that to my advantage.
We all remained quiet, and I surreptitiously studied the rest of the room. Doors led to other parts of the estate, tall windows overlooked lantern-lit gardens, and a fountain splashed and burbled in a corner.
On a table beside the mistress, I saw my music player, my necklace, and my wallet. I reached to my throat, impressed that I hadn't realized the moonsilver balance scale was missing.
She saw the direction of my gaze, and smiled softly. "Are you surprised that we searched a stranger before bringing her in?"
"Not really," I said softly, dropping my hand. I met her eyes briefly, then dropped my gaze. Must remain docile. Must lay low until I discovered my goal.
"We know you're not from around here. You don't even smell like the natives." The mistress sat up, hair falling away from tiny breasts. "Who are you, and why are you here?"
I chewed my lower lip, wondering how much I could tell her. I didn't normally have to explain myself. Not that many realms actually knew of the Grey Lords, or would understand my duties to Balance. I wasn't fast enough to lie, and hated when I was forced to.
Someone entered the room, bare feet padding across the stone floor. My nerves all raced with electricity, my breath catching in my throat. I looked up, my eyes wide, and I watched as a small boy came to the mistress's side. Gunmetal blue eyes met mine, and he beamed a smile at me.
The pit of my stomach dropped. This kid was why I was here.