A Wind of Change(A Shade of Vampire,Book 17)(4) by Bella Forrest
I took the elevator down to the ground floor. Looking out across the gardens, I spotted Jeramiah by the lily pond again. He was talking with a female vampire I didn’t know the name of but had seen the night before.
“Jeramiah. What do you want me to do with these?” I asked, nodding to the buckets.
“Ah,” he said, looking pleased as he eyed the large buckets. He left his female companion and approached me. Taking three buckets from me, he led me back toward the bottom terrace. We headed straight for the room that led down to the prison. We both took the buckets inside, and as we reached the door at the back of the room, I noticed that the lock had been replaced. It looked much stronger and sturdier. When Jeramiah drew out a key from his pocket, I could see from the way that it was molded that this was a much more complicated lock—much more difficult to pick than the one I’d managed to crack.
I wondered whether they’d found out that someone had been down there—and that the intruder had been me.
Or perhaps it was a coincidence.
A very odd coincidence.
As he opened the door and stepped inside with three buckets, I motioned to follow him. Planting his buckets on the floor, he swiveled back around and held up a hand, blocking the entrance.
“I’ll take these. Thanks.”
He took the three buckets from me, placed them on the ground next to the others, and then closed the door behind him. There was a sharp click as the door locked.
A delicious aroma wafted into my nostrils from down below. I could appreciate the smell even as a vampire. Someone was cooking something exotic in the basement. It must have been for the humans. I was curious as to who exactly was doing the cooking and where. I had not noticed any kitchens. Then again, I’d only explored a small part of the maze that was their prison system. I actually had no idea how big it was. For all I knew, it could be spread out over several levels underground.
I decided to wait for Jeramiah to return. He did about five minutes later, locking the door behind him and slipping the key into the right pocket of his pants.
He flashed me a smile. “That can be a morning duty for you from now on. Six buckets of camel milk. I have to think what else you can help with around here. I’m going to discuss it with Amaya and Michael.”
“I was surprised to see Michael up there milking,” I said.
“Yes. Well, we don’t like too much hierarchy among us. Even I will take a turn in milking once in a while.”
We headed back toward the gardens, passing the lily pond and entering a sprawling orchard containing an array of exotic-looking trees.
He stopped and looked me in the eye. There was a faint look of amusement on his face. “Now, I know you said you weren’t interested in having any servants in your quarters. But wouldn’t you like a female companion? Sometimes the nights can feel long without one…”
I rolled my eyes internally. Girls were the very last thing on my mind right now.
“We do have some half-blood girls who aren’t yet coupled with vampires. I’d be happy to make an introduction. Just a suggestion. You are one of my people now, and it’s my responsibility to make sure your needs are met…”
“I appreciate the gesture. I’ll let you know,” was the politest way I could think to reply to his suggestion.
We continued walking through the orchard in silence. We had almost reached the end of it when a hissing sound came from behind us. I whirled around in time to see a giant snake with jet-black scales and a blood-red tongue launch toward me.
My first instinct was to launch right back at it and tackle it to the ground. But in the split second before the snake and I made contact, Jeramiah had flown at the creature and pinned it to the floor. The snake writhed and tried to wrap around Jeramiah’s body, but he kicked it to the side forcefully, holding its head from the back and positioning its gaping fangs away from him. He had a look of mild irritation on his face as he yelled out across the atrium: “Who let this snake into the orchard?”
A male vampire came hurrying out from one of the rooms on the ground level, carrying a long, thick sack. He and Jeramiah wrestled the snake into it and tied up the opening.
“Sorry about that,” the vampire muttered to Jeramiah before making his way back to the room, dragging the squirming bundle behind him.
What on earth was that about?
I’d expected them to kill the creature. It might not be something a vampire couldn’t handle, but it would certainly be a threat to half-bloods who weren’t as strong as us. Instead they seemed to be… keeping it.
Since Jeramiah offered no explanation, I didn’t ask. We exited the gardens and arrived back on the veranda that lined the ground level of the atrium.
He turned to me. “I’ll have a talk with Michael and Amaya, as I said, and get back to you about other responsibilities you can take on.”
I nodded. Parting ways with him, I headed straight back to my apartment.
Even aside from the fact this place was managed by Lucas Novak’s son, something about this place was off… though I couldn’t yet put my finger on exactly what it was.
All I know is, the sooner I get out of here, the better.
The trouble was, unless I managed to coerce a witch into helping me, it no longer looked like I was going to get the quick escape I’d been hoping for…
￼Chapter 1: River
I stared at my father through the glass separator. His black, gray-streaked hair hung limply at the sides of his face and his brown eyes looked dim and jaded. His face was speckled with more scabs than I wanted to count. His orange uniform contrasted starkly with his pale complexion and he looked thinner than I’d ever seen him. If I hadn’t known him to be forty-four, I would’ve assumed him to be in his early sixties.