I kept staring, lost, my thoughts scattered as I processed this new information. I was used to rescuing crucial people, or helping stop an event, or just witnessing and reporting back to my masters. I was a tool in the hands of the Grey Lords, and I didn't question.
But this kid disconcerted me in ways I didn't understand. His eyes seemed to peer into my very soul, and I wanted to fall to my knees. I didn't know what else I was supposed to do with him; was he to die, or be rescued, or taken to another realm, or was I to train him, or just watch him? My breath choked in my throat, tears rising.
The mistress glared at me, and finally rose from her divan. "Why do you stare at my Steven?"
I blinked, broken from his eyes, and glanced at the vampire as she approached. "What?" Could I sound any stupider?"
Anger seeped into her features, and she stalked stiff-leggedly toward me. "Were you sent to steal my Steven? Who are you working for? Why are you here?" Spittled flew from her lips, her fangs flashing, eyes squinting.
Martel shifted behind me, and my blood ran cold. I was in danger, and I saw no means of escape. These two couldn't kill me; my ties to my masters insured that. But they could hurt me if they attacked, and I would suffer pain, and have to heal wounds.
"I'm not working for anyone," I said weakly. Martel was looming behind me, and my hackles rose as I felt the danger he represented. It was like being hunted, even though he wasn't moving, and I wanted to cringe away, to put my back to a wall. "It's just bad luck that I'm here."
Bad luck, and the will of the universe. It was a cruel joke that I sometimes got stuck in miserable situtations. All the power I had and amazing sights I saw made it worth it. Normally. But not when I was caught between two predators, with a little kid I was supposed to do something with.
She stood in front of me, head barely level with my breasts, pale and glorious and angry. "What is your interest in my boy?"
I drew back, and bumped into Martel. I tried to move, but he grabbed my upper arms, keeping me in place. I wondered why my masters had never given me the ability to lie and connive. I was their errand girl. I normally just fetched, or worked on the sidelines. I didn't work with natives; that was for other runners.
Maybe this was a test. Perhaps I was finally supposed to expand my career. So I opened my mouth, not sure what I was going to say, but trusting my instincts.
"Steven's my brother. I've been looking for him. I need to stay with him."
Martel squeezed my arms, pinching nerves, and my hands went numb. I winced, my breath dying, and I tried not to whimper as he kept squeezing. The mistress glared, and nodded once. Martel forced me to my knees, holding my arms above my head.
"Your brother?" She loomed over me, staring down her nose, hands on her hips. "Steven, come here." The child padded forward, wrapping his arms around her waist, laying his head on her chest. Up close, he looked fragile, vulnerable, and I started to realize I was to take him from this place. Anger warred with pain when I saw the bite marks on his slender neck.
She laid a hand possessively on his head, still glaring at me. "Steven, is this your sister?"
I met his eyes, amazed by the color, and felt laid bare again. How could such a slip of a boy have so much knowledge and power? I willed him to cooberate my lie, needing him to say yes.
Steven smiled, revealing two missing teeth, his eyes twinkling. "No, she's not."
My heart stopped. The mistress narrowed her eyes, and Martel knelt behind me. I couldn't move, couldn't react, could only stare in disbelief. How was I supposed to escape with this kid if I was a prisoner?
"Such a shame you needed to lie." She smirked, fangs sharp against her lower lip. "You might have been fun."
Martel bit me then, and I gave a strangled cry. I had no time to struggle before euphoria set in, rendering me into a helpless victim.