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A Vial of Life(A Shade of Vampire,Book 21)(6) by Bella Forrest

“You have been patient, girl,” he said. “And soon you will be rewarded. The time has come. The human boy has been turned and is closer to reaching us now than ever before. Go and wait in The Tavern, and keep an eye out for him.”

The Elder gave me a description of Benjamin Novak’s physical appearance, and warned me that he was stronger than most vampires. He also told me that he was being accompanied by two jinn—creatures I had thought were merely a myth. Other than that, he didn’t offer advice as to how I was going to pull this off. I guessed figuring this out was part of earning my right to see Hans again.

I hurried back toward the ship where Hans’ siblings waited for me. We left Cruor and sped toward The Tavern. The only thing on my mind was Hans. How he had been keeping all these years. How it would feel to touch him once again.

Hans’ siblings and I spent the following days in The Tavern. I figured that if Benjamin Novak arrived here, he was bound to visit the pub in the town square, since that was the central hub of this island. I decided that I would spend most of my time there. Hans’ siblings positioned themselves in other strategic points to keep a lookout.

It was on one such occasion that Hans’ youngest sibling—his sister, Arletta—spied two other members of our Chinese coven, brothers. They too had escaped and become wanderers in the supernatural dimension. Arletta reported that they were just passing through The Tavern, and she had overheard them speaking of a special box they had managed to steal from a warlock. It purportedly had the ability to contain ghouls and other subtle beings. I didn’t know whether it was true, but my instinct told me that this box could be useful for the task ahead of me.

And so we plotted to steal it. I recalled that those brothers had harassed me once in the coven. Soon after Hans and I had arrived, they’d tried to make an approach. That was before they’d been aware that Hans was my lover. Now I figured I could use their attraction for me to my advantage. I caught the two alone near The Tavern’s port one evening. Of course, they were shocked to see me at first, but I soon eased them into a conversation after explaining I’d split up with Hans. I seduced them into joining me for a walk along the beach, and in the meantime, Hans’ three brothers stole the box from the brothers’ ship and transferred it to ours.

I slipped away from them gracefully and returned to the pub where I sat facing the wall, looking back over the room every time the door opened.

That night, Benjamin Novak finally arrived. Since mine was the emptiest table, he headed straight for me and took a seat. My act had begun. I had to clutch my glass tight to stop my hands from trembling with anticipation. It felt like I’d waited an eternity for this young man. I didn’t know anything about him yet, but I did know that in order for me to bring him back to Cruor, I needed to be smart. The Elder had said that he was protected by jinn—and I didn’t know much about the creatures other than they were to be feared. I figured that the easiest way to gain his trust would be to begin by offering him casual, unconditional help, and later, make myself out to be a victim.

Two happy coincidences came along that very night.

First was the presence of humans in the guesthouse—not just the cleaner downstairs but also another apparently staying in one of the rooms near Benjamin’s—which forced Benjamin to come upstairs. And second was the two brothers smashing through my window. I’d known they’d be angered when they realized the box was missing and they’d probably suspect I had something to do with it—but I’d never dreamed that they would attempt to murder me for it.

This incident brought Benjamin to me yet again, and this time in a much more permanent way. I had an excuse to insist that we both leave the island immediately. I’d considered suggesting from the start that we travel together, but that might be coming on too strong. He would wonder why I couldn’t just travel in my own boat. So, as we arrived in the harbor, I stopped at a random boat and told Benjamin it was mine. Then I had a few moments to destroy the boat, leap into the ocean and slaughter the sea creatures. I’d worried he’d think it odd that my clothes were drenched, but I’d figured by now that Benjamin was a gentleman and probably wouldn’t pay much attention to it when he saw me “stranded” and calling for help. And that was exactly how it played out as he raced away with me on the boat he’d stolen.

After that, slowly but surely, I worked toward getting to know him and building myself up as someone he could confide in. When we went to meet with Arron for the first time, Benjamin revealed the level of trust he already held for me by defending me from the jinni who intended to kill me for my heart. I sensed the incident was a pivotal moment. From then on, I just had to keep sowing the seeds of my loyalty and concern for his well-being… all the while trying to figure out how the hell I was going to put a wrench in the works of this surgery Arron had suggested, get rid of the jinn’s protection over him, and deliver him safely back to Cruor.

It was a frighteningly epic feat ahead of me, and to make matters more difficult, I wasn’t a scheming person by nature. I considered myself honest and straightforward. But desperation did things to people. When a person had enough on the line, they could accomplish anything. I had to hope that if I stayed with Benjamin long enough and managed to prevent the surgery, sooner or later I would get him on his own, without a jinni protecting him. Although I had no idea how, and I certainly hadn’t expected that it would happen in such a smooth manner.