“Open the throttle…”
“Pull the collective up…slowly…”
“Push the left pedal…”
Oh my God. I’m flying. I’m fucking flying the fucking helicopter. Oh my God. I knew it. I knew all those simulation games I played when I should have been studying would come in handy one day.
“Now keep it steady.” Ms Pink’s hands guide my arms. “Follow the arrow.”
“Okay. I can do this.” I don’t know how I did it but I did it. Oh my God. I can’t say it enough. This is a fucking miracle. Ms Pink is groaning behind me as I sit between her legs, stiff as a log of wood. I’m utterly focused and nothing can distract me from my mission. Nothing—oh God. Her thighs. So warm and nice. Her hands on my waist. Oh God. My eyebrows furrow as I double up on my concentration. Keep it together, stupid! I gotta get us back home. Yeah, and it’s only about an hour’s flight. Plus a landing. No sweat.
Fuck. Who am I kidding?
“Oh my God! I see it! I see it! We’re back!” I’m ecstatic. I can’t help it. After fifty-five minutes of deep concentration, I’m more than relieved to see the big, pink cross that demarcates Ms Pink’s landing pad.
“Toggle the pedals. Lean the chopper on one side as you draw nearer.”
I sneak a glance at the airspeed. Ms Pink’s instructions are to slow it to 40 knots before descending. Right. 30. 20. 10. The big, pink cross is right beneath us right now and Ms Pink drops the collective. Pulls something else.
“Cut the power,” she orders.
Power cut. Holy creeps. We made it. I flew a fucking helicopter and I’m not even in an action movie. Is this real life? My celebratory thoughts are cut short as Ms Pink slumps onto my back.
There is no answer and she feels heavy on my back. Oh no. I turn around with dread and the sight of her out cold is causing me more anxiety than I thought I was capable of having.
“Ms Pink! What happened to her?”
Thank God! Seo is here! “It’s my blood. It hurt her but she made it all the way back here before blacking out.”
Seo wastes no time in hauling Ms Pink out of the helicopter. She dashes away in a blur, leaving me alone on the helipad. But I’ll be alright. Ms Pink needs help. I can find my way into her castle by myself. When I finally make my way back in, Seo is dashing towards me.
“I’m sorry. I had to put Ms Pink down first.”
“It’s alright. How is she?”
“Bad. Your blood is suppressing her supernatural energy. She’s losing her life force.”
“Does that mean she’s…dying?” I’m horrified.
Seo nods, looking grimmer than ever. “She’s in the freeze chamber right now. Hopefully, it will slow down the effects of your blood and give her energy some time to recharge.”
“Why are you freezing her?” Wouldn’t it cause another set of problems?
“Low temperature damages the RBC in your blood. I’m not sure if it’ll work since your blood is unusual but it’s worth a try.”
I blink. What? “How do you know this?”
“I studied Science in college.”
“Right.” I feel a little better about my ignorance since I’m studying Art and not Science in college. “That’s…good, right?”
“Destroying the integrity of your blood is the only thing I can think of right now. I hope your blood reacts to freezing the same way regular blood does.”
I cross my fingers. “I hope so too.”
“You have a class to attend,” says Seo.
“What day is it today?”
“Thursday. You have a class. Go. I will have your school things sent to the car.” Seo begins walking down the hallway so I follow her.
“Are you sending me to class? What about Ms Pink? You can’t leave her here by herself.”
Seo turns to me and smiles. “You are quite right. My loyalties are to Ms Pink. One of our drivers will send you to class.”
“Don’t worry. The Sovereign has been alerted. Whoever sent the vanguard will not send one any time soon. You are safe. For now.”
For now. That’s…comforting to know. “Do you know why everyone seems to be out for my blood?”
“It’s complicated. Everybody wants your blood for a different reason. Each reason suits their purpose. Ms Pink included. But Ms Pink’s purpose inclines towards the greater good and is less self-serving than the others.”
How reliable is this, coming from a subject loyal only to Ms Pink…
“I have multiple degrees and doctorates from universities all around the world. “I am capable of objective reasoning. I am also capable of discerning right from wrong even though I’m a vampire.”
How did Seo even know what I was thinking about?
“It shows on your face. Quite plainly. I don’t need to be a mind reader to see your thoughts forming on your face.”
I purse my lips. Perhaps it is better to have a mind as empty as a brand new canvas. That way, she won’t be able to—
“I am also able to deduce that you’re considering driving all thoughts from your mind. Let me assure you that your secrets are safe with me. I will not divulge any private thoughts to anyone but Ms Pink.”
Ms Pink? That’s the worst person you can convey my thoughts to…
“Into the car you go. Your school things are already on the back seat. Have a nice day.”
The door closes on me and the car moves off. I can’t see who the driver is in this limo-like car but I still feel safe. It’s Ms Pink’s car after all.
It seems a little crazy to be presenting my floral logo design to my little class of fifteen when I’ve been attacked (almost), claimed by a royal vampire, and forced into flying a helicopter at a moment’s notice (to which I’m still thankful for all the time I spent on simulation games). You know you’ve gone through a life-changing experience when a seemingly ordinary activity feels so weird. I mean, there are beasts like Gerant and supernatural beings like the Sovereign and Ms Pink out there yet here we are, discussing how violet might bring out the message better than turquoise would. Everything seems so…trivial. Like who the fuck cares if the petals are violet or turquoise. Who the fuck cares about things like that when the vampire who claimed you is lying in some freezing chamber being frozen into ice to have a second chance at life? Can I even call it life when she’s been dead for hundreds of years?
“Thank you, Taeyeon. That was a lovely presentation and fantastic points brought up by Pepper. I hope to hear more from the rest of you too. Remember, class participation counts towards your grades as well.”
I sit through the rest of the class in a daze. So much for class participation. I hate it when the tutor brings it up. It makes the following discussion sound forced. Full of pretence. Full of over-eager, meaningless questions. Why are some of these people even in this course?
The tutor dismisses the class just before time and I am grateful. It’s hard to get through another minute and I’m beginning to feel sick from worry. Is Ms Pink getting better? Or is she deteriorating? What’s happening to her?
“Hey, Taeyeon, wait up.”
I barely hear him before he jumps in front of me, blocking my path. This really isn’t the time…
His expression betrays a degree of uncertainty as he leans in a little. “Could we speak for a moment?”
“Not right now. Another time please.”
“I wanna apologize—”
“Not now. Please.”
Max raises his arms in surrender. “Okay. Got it. No means no. I’ll catch you again tomorrow?”
I shrug. “I guess…” I know that Max is a decent person at heart. He crossed a line that night and he wants to make amends. But I don’t have the mental capacity to handle anything else right now. All I can think about is Ms Pink. I have to get back to her castle. But how? There’s no car waiting to bring me to her castle. In my daze, I had gotten out of the car and headed straight to class. Calling Ms Pink’s phone isn’t yielding any results either. I can’t even contact Seo.
It’s suffocating to be in a situation as helpless as this. When you want so desperately to get to someone yet have no way to do it. What else can I do but go home and wait? Nothing much else.
“Taeyeonieeeee…” Sunny pounces on me the moment I step into our apartment. “You’re finally home! I’ve been pining for you since Tuesday night.”
The wicked smile on Sunny’s face tells me she has done none of the pining she speaks of. It also tells me she thinks I’ve been up to no good with Ms Pink. Up to no good. That’s an understatement.
Her arms fall away from my shoulders and she holds me at arm’s length, her eyes roving up and down. “Holy shit. Somebody got a makeover by the famous PINK designer herself! Just look at you, so pretty in pink!”
I push her away, not in the mood to monkey around. “I’m tired.”
Sunny’s eyebrows bow in concern. “Are you alright? I heard you left the party with Ms Pink. Did she do anything to you?”
“No.” I shake my head. “She didn’t do anything to me.” Then, just to throw her off the scent, I add, “It was Max.”
Her eyes open wide, showing white. “Max? What did Max do? Oh my God. Is that why he’s been asking about you these past two days?”
“He tried to kiss me. Actually, he did kiss me. Then I pushed him away but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He was forcing himself on me when Ms Pink appeared and pulled him off.”
“Shit! So that’s why you left with Ms Pink!”
“Yeah.” Not that I had a choice in the matter…
“Oh my God. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you went through so much that night.”
You don’t even know half the story. “Anyway, Ms Pink brought me back to her place.”
“I know. She sent her assistant to collect your things. I got so excited. I mean, I thought you two were getting it on and all that.”
“We didn’t get it on. I didn’t have classes yesterday so I hung out with her at her office and she invited me to stay another night at her place. That’s all.”
Sunny waggles her eyebrows and pulls her lips into a cheeky smirk. “That’s all huh. I think she likes you.”
“What about you and Summer?”
Just when you think the sun can’t get any brighter…
“Oh my God!” Sunny squeals. “Summer is so funny and charming and cute and everything a girl could wish for!”
I had only asked that question to change the subject but Sunny’s reaction is adorable. “I’m assuming you met her again? When? Yesterday?”
“Yeah! She appeared on campus out of the blue. Like it was such a romantic gesture. One minute we’re texting and the next—” Sunny squeals again and giggles.
A thought strikes me just then. “What time did she appear?”
“Mmm…around three I think. But I wasn’t really looking at the time. I mean, I still can’t believe she really came. She was so casual too, like ‘Babe, where are you right now? I’m coming for you’ then, she really came! In a really cool car too.”
So Summer came for Sunny around the same time when the vanguard attacked. Did Ms Pink ask Summer to protect Sunny too? The possibility of it being true warms my heart. “And what did the two of you do?”
“Oh, she brought me to a movie, dinner at a barbeque restaurant and the meat was sooo good. Then she sent me home.” Sunny giggles. “But I didn’t let her leave.”
I groan and drag my palm down my face. “Don’t tell me you jumped her again?”
Sunny smiles and nods. Her entire body is bursting with vivid happiness seeping from every pore. At least someone is happy at a time like this…
“Are you sure Ms Pink didn’t try to make any moves on you? You can be quite dense at times, you know.”
“I’m sure.” Ms Pink doesn’t have to make moves on me when she can literally move me like she’s been doing.
“Well, maybe she’s the slow-to-warm-up type. Sometimes the ones who appear all confident and out-going are the ones who are shy when it comes to true love.”
“True love?” I almost snort. I don’t think vampires have the capacity to love, do they? I mean, if it weren’t for my blood…
“Okay, maybe it’s too soon to talk about love. But I’m pretty sure she likes you. She’s interested in you.”
Oh, she’s very, very interested…in my blood, that is. “Maybe.”
“Anyway, you should take a shower. You look like you could use one.”
Yes, I definitely could use a shower right now. If only it doesn’t remind me of the way Ms Pink claimed me. Her lips on mine, skin-searing hot, hormone-messing soft and mind-blowing dominant…
My mood is plunging to an all-time low as the professor rattles on about the reasons why people prefer curves in design over lines.
“And I quote Vartanian when I say, ‘Curvature appears to affect our feelings, which in turn could drive our preference’ which is a theory you could do well to read and look into when designing in future. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that linear designs bear no merit.”
The prof lost me at ‘affect our feelings’. Right now, my feelings are affected and it isn’t because of a curve or a line.
The lecture comes to an end eventually. Thank God. I can’t handle much more of this. It’s the worst feeling to wander around, doing things I’m supposed to be doing, all the while wondering if Ms Pink is dead or undead. This must be how some people go crazy. I mean, seriously, if I don’t figure out a way to get back to Ms Pink’s castle—oh wait. Shit. Why didn’t I think of it before? High Society. I can go to High Society. But is it safe to ask about her like that? I mean, what if she doesn’t want people to know that she lives in castle? She certainly doesn’t advertise the fact…
“Shut up, stupid human.”
Did I just hear—
“Stop screaming. You’re giving me a headache.”
For once, her reprimand doesn’t affect me. Instead, I jump forward and throw my arms around her like Hagrid would to a dragon egg. “Ms Pink…you’re not dead…”
“Stupid. I’m already dead.”
“You’re not dead dead.”
“I’m not. Why are you overjoyed? Shouldn’t you be happier if I died?”
I pull away and look into Ms Pink’s eyes. “Why would I be happier if you died?”
“You would be free from my claim.”
“Being claimed by you isn’t so bad.”
“Do you actually think that.”
“You sent your sister to protect Sunny, didn’t you. You sent her to Sunny right after the vanguard attacked.”
“That was the logical thing to do.”
I shake my head. “That’s not only logical. That’s what somebody with a heart would do.”
“I have a heart. But it’s not beating anymore.”
“A beating heart doesn’t translate to having a heart.”
“Getting philosophical, aren’t we.”
I grin. “It’s only logical.”
Ms Pink frowns. “Don’t you get all smart-mouthed just because you managed to fly the chopper back to my castle. I will spank you if you deserve it.”
Nothing can wipe the smile off my face. “Spank away then, if I so deserve it.”
Ms Pink takes a step closer to me, her eyes narrowed and flashing the pink that I’m beginning to get used to. “Then I will. Right now.”