“Fun? Ha!” He laughs, eyes raking over the costumed vamps grinding all around us. “I can think of better ways to spend the night, but I’m making the best of it.”
“Oh? Glow sticks and body paint isn’t your thing? Could’ve fooled me,” I retort, eyeing the trail of glitter that Jade has left on the front of his dark shirt. Perhaps it’s Jade’s way of marking her territory.
He doesn’t bother replying to my ridicule. He just stands there expectantly, eyes locked on mine. He’s not going to make it easy for me. And why should he? I haven’t exactly been easy to get along with or even to like. I don’t know why he’s offered to help, but I guess it’s time to find out. Time to swallow my pride.
“Will you train me?” I ask through clenched teeth. I practically choke on the words. I hate asking for help. I hate asking for anything.
“Sorry. I didn’t catch that?” he returns, raising his voice to be heard over the roar of the music. “It’s so loud in here, you know?” I’m certain he’s messing with me. He knows damn well what I said. Arrogant jerk! I turn to leave.
“Katia, wait!” He grabs my arm preventing retreat. “I offered, didn’t I?”
“What do you want in return?” It’s hard to keep the edge of suspicion from my voice. I know the lessons won’t come without a price.
“What makes you think I want something from you?” he asks crossing his arms over his chest. He’s clearly amused.
“The fact that I wasn’t born yesterday,” I retort. “So? What is it you want? Name your price.”
“Isn’t it obvious? I want to get to know you.” He’s got that mischievous look in his eye again. “You intrigue me. After all, there’s never a dull moment when you’re around.”
Right. I’m sure it’s that innocent. Probably he wants to get closer to me because of Aldo. It doesn’t matter though. Not as long as I get what I want.
“When do we start?”
“Tomorrow. Meet me in the training center at 11 o’clock.”
“I’ll be there.”
I nearly escape the dining hall without incident. Jade intercepts me at the door, grabbing my arm and digging her blood red nails into my skin like talons. If it weren’t for the baleful look on her face she might actually be able to pull off the white wings affixed to her back. As it is, there’s nothing angelic about her right now. “What do you want with Nikolai?”
“It’s a private matter,” I return, biting my tongue to keep from saying anything inflammatory. What is up with this crazy possessiveness of hers? Maybe she hasn’t heard the old adage about freeing that which you love the most. Then again, maybe she knows there isn’t creature in its right mind that would voluntarily come back for more of her bitchiness.
“Stay away from him,” she warns, her brown eyes flashing angrily. “Nikolai is mine.”
So much for playing nice. I can’t help but smirk at the tawdry threat as I wipe her glittery hand print off my forearm. “Jade, I have only one interest in Nik and I can assure you it’s purely physical.”
* Originally posted at Literary Exploration