Shelby V Painter

Episode 11

I chewed on my lip for a minute, but then I decided he was right. The girl’s already hate me. “Why not.” I told him with a smile.

“That’s the spirit.” He chuckled.

We sat that way, quietly holding hands in the dark, for a long time before I finally got the nerve to ask him something I’d been wondering about. “Can I ask you something?” I whispered.


“I supposed you will anyway.”

I looked away from his face. “How does this work for you? I mean like, is it hard for you to be around a human?”

“Do you know that you are the only one who has asked me anything like that?” He smiled. “It’s not as difficult as some think. Obviously, I notice your scent anytime I’m around you, and I don’t want scare you, but sometimes I get caught up in thinking of how amazing you smell, but I am able to ignore it. It’s harder for newly turned vampires, but after about a year most have an easy time interacting normally with humans. The only time I have a problem is if I’ve skipped a meal and I find myself around someone who smells particularly good. If it eases your mind at all though, I’ve never attacked a person before. I only drink from my blood supply brought to me.”

“I see.” I said trying to sound like this was a normal conversation. I didn’t point out to him that even though he may not be the one killing humans, he is still responsible for it in a way.

He laughed a little. “Don’t be afraid to ask anything you want.” He told me.

“You tasted all of our blood when we came here?”

“All but one.”

“One?” I asked.

He sighed. “They brought them all in, and there was just one that was a little too potent for me.” He smiled at the bed almost shyly. “Once you’ve tasted a person’s blood you become bonded in a way to that person. Like once you’ve tasted a certain person, you crave them sometimes. When they brought in the bags I set that one aside because I was worried how I would be able to interact closely, especially in an intimate type of situation, with that person without being too tempted by their blood.”
I nodded my head. “It was me, wasn’t it?”

He looked up into my eyes. “I didn’t know who it was until we met at the ball, but yes, you were the one.”

“I see.” I said. “Does it bother you then? When you’re around me?”

“No.” He said quickly. “I know you smell great, but since I haven’t tasted you, it’s not difficult.”

“Do you think that’s why you seem to like me?” I asked
nervously. “Because of my smell.”

He took me completely by surprise when he turned his body to face me and cupped the side of my face with his cold hand. “Breathe.” He whispered with a smile and I realized I was holding my breath. He looked into my eyes seriously. “To answer your question, no. Your scent is most definitely not why I like you. In all honesty, your scent made me not like you at first. I didn’t see how I would focus on building any type of relationship with someone who I feared would tempt me so much, but then I met you.” He smiled at me. “I like you because you’re strong.
You don’t put up with anyone’s bullshit, not even mine. You speak your mind, you’re kind and smart…beautiful.” He whispered the last word.

I felt my cheeks go hot, and I’m sure he noticed with his hand on my face. “I like you too.” I whispered.

His returning smile was brilliantly white, and his dimples dug deep into his cheeks. “Good.” He whispered. “Because tomorrow night, I am taking you on a date.” He grinned, taking his hand away from my face and standing up. “Lie down. You need to get your rest.” He told me and I inched down into the bed, laying my head on my pillow with a smile on my face. He reached down and pulled my covers up to my shoulders, then brushed my hair out of my face. “Goodnight, Rachel.”

Before I could say it back he was already gone.

“Tomorrow night.” I whispered to myself, then closed my eyes.

Tonight will be different.

Tonight will be the first time since I’ve been here that I have something to look forward to in that ballroom rather than the dread I’d been feeling every other time.

I woke up early just so I’d have extra time to soak in the tub and prepare. Fern’s easy chattiness easing some of my nervousness. After last night’s conversation with Calvin, I am going into this with a whole new mind set. I still don’t want to be here, but what choice do I have? I can’t leave, and if I did, then what? Humans are hunted and killed, at least here I am more or less safe. I don’t want to become a vampire, or be a princess, or carry the burden of birthing the heir to vampire royalty, but there is one thing I do want to do- Get to know Prince Calvin.

Thinking back to the night we met, it makes total sense that he had been rude to me. In his mind he’d already written me off as a non-option because of my scent. The sweet part was that even though my smell makes him a little more uncomfortable than the other girls, he seems to really like me, for just being me. My real life experience is lacking, but I read more than any other girl back at Drighten, and even though I’d never have admitted it to Greer, romance was always my favorite genre. I didn’t like to buy into being such a hopeless romantic before because it was too painful. I read those books as something that I would never experience in my real life, but now I had to wonder if it could really be so easy; girl likes boy, boy likes girl, happy ever after. Maybe everything doesn’t have to be so black and white to me anymore.

Lately, thoughts of Calvin and my involvement with him have been very gray.

“Miss?” Fern asked sweetly and I jumped a little. I’d been off in lala land in my head again and zoned out on her. “Would you like me to add some oils to your bath tonight?”
“Do you have the one you used on me the first night?”

“Yes, miss.” She blushed. “Of course.”

I grinned to her and she winked as she dropped a couple of drops into the water with me. The longer and longer I’ve been underground, the more I’ve started to miss the outdoors, and so the smell of the flowery scent was intoxicating. “Fern?” I asked while she busied herself cleaning the mirrors of the fog. “You mentioned that the prince would love this scent,” I reminded her.
“How did you know that?”

She looked around nervously again, then came a little closer to the tub. “Well, the prince’s mother used to adore flowers. Before she came here to be with the king, she was a florist. Once she moved here with us, the king gave her a special place. It was a two leveled green house.” She revealed. “One level is below the earth, that way our kind can go in and enjoy the beautiful plants, and then there was an upper level. A special one just for her that opened up into a beautiful garden, or so I’m told. I’ve never been to the upper world, but I heard from many that it was breathtaking.” Her eyes looked wistful.
“The prince and his mother spent days up there sometimes. I knew he’d enjoy the smell of this because it would remind him of his happy place.”

I smiled picturing a little brown haired boy with dimples running through a garden filled with roses. “That’s very sweet.” I smiled.
“Thank you for telling me.”

“Of course.”

I spent an ungodly amount of time picking the perfect outfit for tonight. I finally settled on a white quarter length sleeved sweater dress and knee high brown suede boots that made my tan legs look even longer. Fern braided my locks into a fishtail braid down my back and lightly applied my makeup, making me look refined, but not overly glitzed like some of the other girls like to look. Fern understood me.

Without the pressure of wondering what the other girls were thinking, or the uncertainty this display would hold tonight, I glided down the stairs and on stage with ease. The cheers for my welcoming were still less than exciting, but as long as Calvin didn’t care about that, neither did I. Our eyes met very briefly as I walked over to my seat, a coy smile playing on his lips, and electricity shot out between us. As completely cheesy as I felt thinking it, it really was like we were the only two people in the room and my blood buzzed with excitement.

Master Pedro made his announcements, letting the crowd get hyped. Next should have been when he asked Calvin who he wanted to pick, however, with a blur of movement, there were suddenly six podiums out on the stage and all of the girls gasped, myself included.

“Tonight, let’s get to know these precious ladies a little better.” Master Pedro laughed, then ushered us all to our own podiums, eyeing me slightly as he chanced a look my way. Of course I was the first in the line-up tonight. My eyes darted nervously to Calvin, and he looked just as surprised as I did as he turned to whisper something to his father. I turned to face the crowd, but they were terrifying to look at, all that judgement in their beautiful eyes, so I looked just over them at the screen facing me, and focused on staring at Calvin. “I have a few questions from the people for each of you. Everyone just try to relax, and answer your questions as honestly as possible.”

He said like it was a piece of cake. “First up, Miss Rachel.” Just the sound of my name was enough to make my heart hiccup uncontrollably. “What is your favorite thing about Castrum de Petra so far?”

I relaxed a little. That’s not a hard one. “The library is fantastic.” I smiled. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to spend some time there.”
I kept smiling even though from the opposite end of the line I heard Frankie whisper ‘nerd’ into her mic, and the crowd giggled.

The next questions were all just as easy. Everyone sounded poised and proper as they filled in the vampire population of what their favorite color was, or where they were from originally. As the questions came back around to me I sighed happily when Master Pedro announced that it was almost over.

“Rachel,” He smiled. “Please tell us all why you want to be our princess.”

I looked over to him in confusion, slowly knitting my together my brows at the question. I thought surely he was going to laugh and be like, just kidding, I know you have no choice in the matter. But he didn’t. He, and everyone else, just stared at me, waiting for me to explain to them why I was good princess material.

“I, um.” I fumbled for words, and it only became more difficult when the other girls began to snicker. “Well, I…I mean, really?” I huffed.

“Excuse me?” Master Pedro asked, giving me a hard look as he shook his head slightly. “Rachel, what makes you a good choice for our princess? Why do you want to be our leader?” He asked again, obviously trying to give me the right answer through his eyes, but I have always been an awful liar.

My brain, behind as usual, didn’t stop my mouth from speaking. “I don’t want to be a princess.” I said bluntly.

The room was full of gasps and whispering. “Then what makes you think the prince should chose you to marry him?”

My mouth felt dry and I looked ahead of me at the screen and saw that Calvin was hanging his head down, eyes trained on his hands in his lap. “I…I don’t know.” I stammered. I knew this was bad. I shouldn’t be allowed to speak ever again. Even without seeing his face I could practically feel the disappointment rolling off of Calvin. I hadn’t wanted to mess this up. Not this time. It was supposed to be a great night.

“I can answer that!” Frankie called out with a laugh. “He shouldn’t!” She cackled obnoxiously.

The crowd laughed too. Everyone in the room was laughing, even Greer and the king. I couldn’t tell what Calvin was doing because his head was still down, but the humiliation hurt anyway. I turned my body to face him, expecting him to say something or force everyone to be orderly to protect me from this ridicule, but he didn’t. He just sat there, not looking at me or anything inparticular, while I’m forced to stand in front of cameras and crowds of people teasing me.

Master Pedro got the room under control again and went about asking the same question to the rest of the girls. Any and all answers they were able to come up with were better than mine. All I wanted to do in this moment was runaway. My face was still tomato red when everyone was finished with their questions and the time finally came for Calvin to pick his date.

I sighed, knowing that soon this debacle would be over and hopefully by later tonight I could just forget it all ever happened. Calvin stood from his seat, taking the mic from Master Pedro, then walked towards me.

And then right past me, down the line until he reached Regina. “Miss Regina, would you please accompany me tonight?” He asked her into the mic, his voice flat.

She giggled and looked into the camera instead of at him. “I’d love to spend some time with you, Prince Calvin.”
I felt numb as everyone clapped and waved to the happy couple on their way to my date.

The only thing capable of making my night worse, was watching Greer loop her arm with Tessa and walk gracefully out of the room with the other girls. I followed pathetically behind them with no other choice than to hold my head high and endure it as every person I passed either laughed, pointed, or glared at me on my way out of the damned ballroom.

Every time I think my life is as low as it can get, I’m swiftly reminded it can always get worse.


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