As far as opening lines went, Richard had heard scarier ones. But none of those had been delivered in the cheery voice Elisabeth adopted. And none of the people saying them had looked like punk reject teenagers and spent three lessons a week in his class.
So yes, he felt just the slightest bit dumbstruck. So did Anita, judging by the fact that the first thing to leave her mouth was a sophisticated, “What?!”
It seemed to be enough to break everyone out of their stupor as Elisabeth’s words finally registered. Jean-Claude sucked in a sharp breath even as Ahser and Damien slipped a bit closer to him in reaction to the crude title. Jason and Nathaniel both pressed tighter against their sworn protectors.
There was a hole in the room, left by one single word - slayer
. A hole that would be filled either with aggression or peace, violence or questions.
Micah proved to be the calm one once more, filling the hole of expectation with a simple statement that served to put everyone back on track, “I haven’t heard the title before.”
She shrugged. “You couldn’t have. Tell me, do you believe in divine interference?”
“God?” Anita asked.
Another shrug. Somehow, she looked smaller suddenly. “You call them God. I call them goddamned sons of bitches. The Powers that Be, on a good day.”
Richard could see the acid rise in his ex girlfriend. Anita may not have been a catholic anymore, but she was a firm believer. Had to be, because her cross still glowed near vampires. She didn’t take well to people bashing God.
Nathaniel seemed to notice too, because he put his head against her thigh from his seat on the floor, forcing her to divide her attention between her anger and him. It helped.
“How does that answer my question, ma chérie?”
“Getting there,” she offered. “You asked what I am. The answer is: Nothing you’ve ever seen before because I was not born in this world but dumped here. And if you want details, you better get creative because I don’t like pouring my heart out to strangers. I’m sure you understand.” Her smile was saccharine with a bitter undertone, white paint over a black wall.
The Master of the City opened his mouth, probably to ask more questions but Richard cut him off the only way he knew. He opened the hated link between them and hissed into the vampires thoughts, “Stop. Every question you ask will make her shut down more. If you want answers, you have to wait for them.”
“And yet,” the vampire responded the same way, “She is in my city without my knowledge, posing a potential threat to my people. I cannot let her go like this, no matter how you feel about it, my wolf.”
Richard swallowed his usual retort to the nickname, opting instead to point out, “Then ask her about those things. If she’s as powerful as Jay implied, we don’t want to piss her off. If not, you can still interrogate her later. When you know
she can’t harm us.”
There, that should be Machiavellian enough to satisfy the vampire for a while. And it should give Richard a few days to try and finally figure his student out so he could help her. Because, for some reason, he still wanted to. She had not given him reason to go against her.
“Next question,” Anita snapped into the ensuing silence, speaking for her Master, “Why did you not ask for permission to enter the City? You’ve been here almost a year.”
“Yeah, that’s the thing.” She pulled a face like only a teenager could. “I didn’t enter the city as much as I got dumped here, without clothes, money, ID or the slightest idea where I was.” She let go of Jay to step further into the room and offered, ”By the time I had enough money get some halfway credible ID, I’d been here a month. By the time I had enough money to leave town in case I had to, it was two months. Not to mention it took a while for someone to tell me I even needed permission. After that it was already too late.”
A sad half grin crossed her face. “So I decided to hell with it and enjoyed a few months of anonymity.”
She spoke with the same flippant tone she had used since she had entered the underground lair but there was something different underneath. Real longing. And defeat. As if she knew she was doomed to never get what she wanted.
Richard looked away.