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Blood Queen: Chapter 1
She was playing again.
It was the first thing he noticed. The low, crooning notes of the cello echoed through the halls of the great ocean liner, the sound unfamiliar to everyone. They had prepared for it, they thought. But then, reality was always different than expected.
It had taken almost two years to find her.
She had awakened early, according to Dr. Sara Willows, by three days. In basic survival instinct, she left where she had been sleeping, doing as needed to in order to survive. She had wandered on the restored strength from her sleep for a year, learning of the world again and creating herself a new identity. It was when she had been forced to a clinic for her “treatments” that they found her. Now that she had been found, it was necessary to keep her under tightly controlled conditions where her work could be monitored.
He knocked on the door before entering.
“Come in,” she answered, her voice low and mellow as was her instrument of choice. He walked in and smiled at the sight of her refreshed appearance, noting the change from the rags she wore before to a lovely dress—reminiscent of happier times. Mentally, he made a note to thank the female agent who saw to her care. She put away her cello in her case carefully, seemingly ignoring him now.
“It was for your own good,” he told her for what felt like the hundredth time.
She whirled around and glared at him, making him flinch. “No,” she said, “This is for my own good.” Her sword was in her hand, her eyes fierce and unnaturally bright. Those bright eyes were a warning, he knew. It was the last image he remembered before the world went black.
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Seth Clearwater had actually been reduced to the point of counting the ceiling tiles. His boredom had reached new heights. After all the excitement of facing down a newborn army, attending a wedding where the groom was a vampire while the bride was human, and then watching the council argue with a family of vampires over changing a human or else the vampire royalty would descend upon them all, Geometry seemed pretty tame. And it was only his third hour class; there were three other classes, lunch, and homeroom left to contend with before he was free to take off for Sam’s. He briefly thanked his brilliance for signing up for work program. His last hour of the day was spent on patrol as a “job” rather than sticking him in another useless class for an hour.
Thankfully, the bell rang before he was actually called on in class. Gathering his book and notebook, he headed for his locker by the office. He had a short morning, so now he had homeroom before lunch in the cafeteria with the other high school students. Because the reservation school was kindergarten through twelfth grade, they divided the classes up for lunch. First lunch went to the elementary level kids, middle lunch to the middle school level, and then freshmen through seniors took the final lunch. Seth was humming cheerfully as he twirled the combination to his locker, the door sliding open easily. Inside, however, was the pure chaos of a teenage boy’s organizational system. He was able to find space for his math supplies, though, and he was quick to slam the locker door closed again before it all came tumbling out.
Just as he was turning to walk back down the hall to Mr. Stark’s classroom, he heard from behind him, “Oh, Seth!” Turning around, he was met by the school secretary, Mrs. Jones. She was waving for him to come into the office. Briefly, he wondered what he had done now as he did as she was silently ordering.
Inside the main office, sitting in one of the chairs in front of Mrs. Jones’s desk, was a girl. But she was unlike anything Seth had ever seen before, and that was without her being aware that she was being observed.
Hair the color of obsidian was carefully braided and pinned to form a crown around her head—not a single hair out of place except for the overly long bangs brushing across her forehead, the ends skimming against her cheekbones. Her skin was pale, but with a healthy glow from time spent in the sun, the complexion looking like rose petals in their most perfect state. A round face held a full, pouty mouth set under a thin, slightly perky nose, almond-shaped blue-gray eyes focused on the papers in her hands. It was a relief to see her in something as normal as a pair of dark, tight jeans and a black wool trench coat, the jeans tucked into a pair of knee high black boots with killer heels. Growing up with an older sister had made him appreciative of a girl’s clothes, and this girl knew how to flaunt her willowy frame.
“Seth Clearwater, this is Eve Lareine. She’s a foreign exchange student from France, and just arrived here. Eve is in your homeroom, so I thought you could take her to Mr. Stark’s room, rather than have her stumble around,” Mrs. Jones explained, her tone leaving no room for arguments. For a tiny, frail looking woman, she always intimidated the students to the point that they did as she asked.
Smiling slowly, he nodded his head in agreement. “Sure thing, Mrs. Jones,” he answered casually, as the girl raised her head to look at him, her face nothing but serious. “Nice to meet you, Eve,” Seth added once he had her attention, offering her his hand.
She eyed it for a moment before taking it lightly in her own. Her palms were dry and freezing cold to the touch. For a moment, he almost wondered if she was a vampire, but her scent was normal, so that wasn’t a possibility. He was startled from his analysis when she spoke. “Hello, Seth,” she greeted, her voice mellow and warm, while her accent was not so heavy that he couldn’t understand her. “The pleasure is mine.”
“Seth, don’t make the girl late on her first day.” The secretary’s scolding snapped Seth out of the trance he was in. Clearing his throat roughly, he took back his hand and shoved it into his pocket. Eve was far more settled about it; she simply stood and picked up the charcoal messenger bag at her feet, swinging it over her shoulder with practiced ease. Once she was ready to go, Seth turned and began to walk out of the office, Eve catching up to his long strides fluidly as she put the papers away in her bag.
As they pulled even in the hall, Seth decided to break the awkward silence. Looking at her out of the corner of his eye, he remarked casually, “So, France huh? You from anywhere famous?”
“My former home is located in Bordeaux, near a vineyard,” she answered coolly, not even turning her head to look at him.
“Former? I thought you were just an exchange student?” Seth asked curiously, turning his head fully around to watch her face, wanting to get a read on her.
Sadly, he wasn’t disappointed. Pain flashed across her face and she lowered her gaze to the floor in front of her. “There was a great fire… The house burned to the ground,” she said softly. “My foster father died that day…”
“Eve… I’m sorry…” he told her, regretting asking. However, he had to ask, “Your foster father? What about your birth parents?”
She stopped in the middle of the hallway and stared at him, her eyes narrowed into slits. Noticing, he stopped as well, meeting her gaze and feeling like he was a toddler about to be scolded. “My father died before I was even born, and my mother died giving birth to me. I was raised by Joel, with some aid from his assistant. He was an English doctor who moved to France for privacy. His assistant, Amshall, was a local man who was working to earn money for college. There were no siblings, no childhood pets, no family vacations, and I was home schooled for most of my life. Are you done with your interrogation yet?” she asked him, her tone having gone from cool to glaciered in a matter of seconds.
Flinching from her icy fury, Seth muttered an apology. She didn’t defrost in the slightest, and if she hadn’t been dependent on him showing her the way to their homeroom, she would have left already. Rather than risk another verbal attack, he turned around and started walking again. The only sign he had that she was following him was the clicking of her heels on the tile.
It was a relief to enter the lab of the biology/anatomy/physical science teacher. Mr. Stark was sitting at his desk, right across from the door with only the teacher’s station between them. Seth hurried to where Collin was sitting; the homerooms were mixed grades, so there were seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen all together, letting Collin, a freshman, have an upper classman werewolf nearby in case he lost his temper. Once he was next to his friend, Seth was able to watch Eve more closely. Her face was like stone; the pain that he had seen when he asked her about home was gone. She was entirely stoic as she handed a slip to Mr. Stark for him to sign.
The purpose of homeroom was for the students to get the daily announcements, and to give them time to study or do homework. As it was now, Seth relied on Collin for help on his Geometry homework. Annoyingly, one of the youngest members of the pack was a math genius, already taking Combined Geometry this year, with Math Analysis and Trig to follow. Unfortunately, there was no assignment today for him to work on, meaning his thoughts could still center around the French exchange student. Beside him, he felt Collin straighten up as he finally noticed the dark-haired, pale-skinned girl.
“Jeez, would you look at her?” the younger boy hissed, leaning forward so his arms were resting fully on the lab table. “Where is she from, and are there more like her back there?” Much like all the pack, Collin was gangly at this age, without the heavy muscle that the older members of the pack held, bulk that Seth was had gained over the past three years.
“She’s from France, here on exchange,” Seth whispered back, surprised that his voice was a low growl.
Collin heard the difference and looked at him slyly out of the corner of his eye. “You are so into her already,” he said smugly.
“Shut up!” Seth snapped at him, a change in pace, seeing as usually he was the one being a pain.
Rolling his eyes, Collin teased, “Dude, she looks like an airhead. You should be able to snag a date, or at least a kiss. Maybe it would even be of her nationality…” He waggled his eyebrows to accent what he was saying, till Seth punched him in the shoulder. He only laughed, not upset in the slightest.
“Eve isn’t an airhead,” Seth assured him, remembering the moment in the hall, “She’s touchy though about back home. Unless you want to feel your blood turn to ice, I suggest not mentioning it.”
The freshman grinned again, saying slowly, “Eve, huh? Already on a first name basis with her? Damn, man, you move fast.”
“Seth, it’s not like-.
“Excuse me?” Both boys’ heads snapped up and they stared as the girl in question glowered at them, having been standing in front of them for the past few minutes. She continued to speak as if she were speaking to small children, “If you are going to gossip like a couple of bag ladies, I suggest keeping your voice down.”
With that, she walked past them and took her seat at the empty table in the back. While Collin and Seth were turned around watching her, she pulled out a copy of Les Misérables in the original French, opened it to the blue ribbon serving as a bookmark, and began to read.
“Dude,” Collin finally said, “You are so in for a rough ride if you are after her.” Before Seth could respond, she raised her head and glared at them. They both instantly turned around so they weren’t looking at her anymore.