Ensnared

By: Marian Tee



“Yes, and my job is to protect my race. I’m asked to go to different places and make sure that vampires who violate our laws are…eliminated.”

She shivered at the last word. It made her realize that the vampire before her had likely killed some of the creatures inside the mining shaft. The fact should have frightened her, but she strangely found it reassuring. Somehow, she knew instinctively that he would only kill not to harm…but to protect.

“There’s nothing for you to be afraid of—”

Looking up, she burst out, “Why can’t I stay with you instead?”

The words left both of them arrested. She hadn’t planned to say them, and he had never expected to hear them.

Her silver eyes were round with worry, her body taut with anxiety. It was clear how she was doing her best not to break down, and her strength both impressed and frustrated him. It was great that she was so brave, but dammit, it only made her even more attractive to him, and that was what he wasn’t comfortable with.

He sought to make a joke of her words, giving both of them an out as he said in a deliberately teasing tone, “Will you be willing to be my human pet then? Because that’s the only way I can have you with me. As a human pet and nothing else.”

Alexandru expected her to say something sharp, but instead she asked seriously, “What does a human pet do?”

The words left him stumped. She was supposed to be furious and insulted, not curious! “It means being a life source to creatures like me. It also means following my every command and calling me Master—”

Zari repeated incredulously, “Master?”

Aha! An inborn feminist. He should have known. “Yes. It’s an unbreakable rule. I will of course give you permission to address me by my name in private—”

She said sarcastically, “Gee, thanks.”

“—but in public, it would be very offensive for otherworlders to hear you address me without respect.”

“You’re really serious?”

Alexandru said honestly, “It is the law.”

“You do know your law is antiquated, don’t you?”

He repeated, “It is the law. I am a citizen of the kingdom of Chalys, and thus I am bound to obey its rules.”

Her eyes widened. “Chalys?” Everyone knew about the kingdom of Chalys, a place where people still followed Victorian customs, from their clothing to their mode of transportation. Instead of dresses, women wore corsets and gowns, and instead of jeans, men wore britches. There were no phones, no Internet, and instead of cars, people there still rode horses and carriages.

If not for its strict policies for accepting foreign tourists, Chalys could easily have been the number one tourist attraction in the world. Instead, the kingdom remained a mystery to the outside world, with the way it clung to old traditions. But now that she knew vampires like Alexandru lived there? Its anti-technology ways made perfect sense. At least there was no way for people to ever take accidental photos of non-human creatures.

“I can see in your eyes you know the place.”

“Everyone knows about Chalys.”

“Would you want to live in Chalys?”

She almost said yes until he added, “The people I’d entrust you to live there.”

Zari looked down at that, not wanting the vampire to realize how his words hurt. He really was in a hurry to get rid of her.

Alexandru was about to speak again when a voice in his mind said, My lord, the ride for the soul seer has arrived.

And so it had.

Zari was surprised when Alexandru suddenly took her hand. “What is it?”

“Your ride’s here,” he murmured as they started to walk.

Oh.

This was really it. He had rescued her for some reason, and now he was passing her off. She had so many questions in mind but she just couldn’t ask them. She was too busy feeling betrayed that he was giving her up to people she didn’t know.

Didn’t what happen between them matter to him? The question had her cringing. Technically, nothing had really happened between them. It wasn’t as if he had taken her virginity.

In minutes, they had walked out of the clearing and she saw a huge black Jeep waiting for them. Alexandru dropped her hand, murmuring, “Wait here,” before walking ahead of her to talk to its driver.

This was really it. After this, who knew if she would ever see him again? And even if she didn’t, why should it matter? She should just focus on finding her parents and rebuilding her life. She should forget about ever finding out that not only humans existed in this world. That was the smartest thing to do.

“Zari? It’s time to go.”

She looked up at the words and found the vampire’s eyes hooded as he returned her gaze.

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