“I own you. You will not say no to me.”
“I don’t want to kiss her. How can you make me? Especially after what we’ve done.”
“Humans.” Ms Pink shakes her head. “Always over thinking things.”
Every word of hers stings. “Does it mean nothing to you?” I ask, my heart beginning to burn.
Ms Pink hauls me up by my arms to eye level. “I am a vampire. A princess vampire. My heart doesn’t beat like yours.”
“Are you saying you don’t care if I kiss Yuri?”
“Yuri can and will take it from you.”
“What is she going to take from me?”
“Your energy.” Ms Pink pushes her nose against my neck and drags it up to my jaw. “The energy you amass when you’re aroused.”
“If I’m yours, why would you share me with anybody else,” I say, trying not to react to Ms Pink’s touches.
“You possess the energy Yuri needs. She will take what she needs from you. I am not sharing but I will not be selfish either.”
I shake my head. “I can’t understand how you vampires think. This sounds like betrayal to me.”
Ms Pink spins me around and pushes me up against the wall—the same wall she held Yuri against. A hard hand lands on my behind and Ms Pink sinks her teeth into my shoulder, testing my skin. “You place too much heart in the mere meeting of flesh for a greater purpose. It means nothing to Yuri and I. It doesn’t have to mean anything to you.”
Despite my reluctance to accept the ways of said vampire and succubus, my toes are curling in my shoes as Ms Pink sticks her hand under my top and caresses the underside of my breasts with her thumbs. This isn’t fair. I’m severely outmatched in physical prowess and the very person who has professed to own and protect me is not planning on stopping said succubus from having her way with me. Then it occurs to me that Ms Pink has also given my blood to Yoona with little deliberation. What if this energy transfer is just like that to her? The mode of transfer is but a mode, right?
“Will you stay with me when Yuri takes my energy?”
“You will watch over me?”
“I watch over everything that belongs to me.”
This isn’t what I want to hear. Does Ms Pink have no feelings for me at all? My heart sinks at the thought.
Am I the only one who is beginning to care right now?
Ms Pink presses up against me, distracting me from my thoughts.
You are the only claim who has ever resisted me. You are the only claim I’ve ever had to persuade and gain permission from. This is more from me to you. Take it.
Take and not receive?
Ms Pink sweeps my hair aside and kisses up and down my neck. Oh God. She knows exactly where to aim for. I am falling for her kisses.
Will you give Yuri your energy?
That was a question. Ms Pink is asking me for my permission. She said she’s never had to put up with resistance. She’s never had to ask for permission. Yet, here she is, asking me. Come to think of it, she asked me before our first oxytocin infusion happened too. Ms Pink is strange. I can’t understand how she thinks but I know I can trust her.
“I will if you stay and watch over me not because I’m yours but because you want to keep me safe.”
“Yuri will not harm you.”
“I don’t mean that.” With a shake my head, I sigh. This is going to be harder than anything I’ve ever said. “I just wish you would stay because you care for me.”
Arms tighten around my body, fingers squeezing around my breasts and hips push hard into mine after I make my request.
The crippling human emotion is what you’re asking of me. I cannot promise it. But I will search for it once more.
This is all I need to hear. This is good enough. I put my hands over hers and push back into her body, closing my eyes to relish the physical sensations between us.
Then I will give Yuri my energy. But I won’t let her touch my lips. She’ll have to find some other way to take it.
A little giggle, launched into the back of my neck, grows into a chuckle, then a laugh. Ms Pink throws back her head and laughs. “That is a challenge Yuri will be more than happy to take on.” She sits me back down on the couch and fluffs up the cushions, placing them on the side. “Lie down,” she orders. I put my head on the cushion and lie across the couch on my back.
“Ms Pink, I’m nervous.”
Ms Pink strokes my cheek and sweeps my fringe out of my eyes. “Don’t worry. It won’t hurt.”
There and then, I decide that Ms Pink desperately needs a crash course to learn how to instil confidence in others. Telling me it’s not going to hurt really isn’t doing anything to calm me down. Ms Pink leans over me and kisses me long and hard. When she finally pulls away, my toes are curled to their limit and my breaths are short and irregular.
The door opens and in steps the succubus in question. Her choice of fashion makes a lot more sense now that I know the nature of her character.
“Is she all ready to be plucked?”
“She’s ready. On one condition.”
Yuri snorts and shifts her weight from her left to right. “I don’t put out conditions when I help you, Tiffany.”
“Humour me. This should be fun.”
“Taeyeon will give you her energy if you promise not to touch her lips.”
Yuri breaks into a wide grin. “Oh, this sounds interesting. Does it mean I can touch her anywhere I want as long as I leave her lips alone?”
“No. You leave her privates alone.” Ms Pink speaks before I do. Thank goodness for that.
Yuri frowns. “How am I supposed to enjoy myself if I can’t touch those parts.”
Ms Pink sits on the couch opposite mine and crosses her legs. “I trust a succubus like you to be ingenious enough to figure something out.”
“Mmm,” Yuri licks her lips as she lies over me, “Tiffany has always had good taste in her claims but you are pretty much crème de la crème.”
“Thank you,” I say. Yuri inhales with her nose sticking into the dip between my collarbones and I flinch.
“You’re too tense.” Yuri grins as she reaches for the hem of my top. “Relax.” She pulls my black top over my head and tosses it onto the floor, not far from Ms Pink’s feet. “Feel the sensuality of the moment.” Warm hands glide up from my waist to my back. “Your skin is so smooth. Mmm, I love how soft your back feels.” Her fingers are massaging the muscles around my shoulder blades and it feels so good that I moan. “Yes, that’s the way. Beautiful. You have a beautiful body.” Yuri sits up and straddles my waist. “You’re so sexy.” She bends over and holds my head. “I can feel it. The undercurrent. Can you feel it?”
I nod. I’m not even sure what Yuri is asking but I nod anyway.
“But you’re too submissive. Are you going to let me take it from you without a fight?” Yuri taunts me with an obnoxious smirk.
No. No, I’m not. But Ms Pink asked and I said yes.
“Come on,” says Yuri as she throws a light punch on my shoulder. “Fight me like you did at Venus.”
“What is Venus?” I ask.
Yuri slides down my body and grabs my thighs. “Your dearest Ms Pink’s vicist’s mansion.” She pulls me by my thighs so that I’m now straddling her and holds me upright, with our lips on the cusp of touching. “Fight. Resist. Come on.”
But I don’t. I gave Ms Pink my word. I won’t resist. I will allow Yuri to take my energy but she won’t take anything else. Yuri pouts and turns to Ms Pink.
“Tell your claim to put up a fight.”
Ms Pink simply smiles and shakes her head. “Why would a succubus need a vampire’s help for something like this?”
Yuri huffs. “Your claim is no fun at all.”
Ms Pink barely even bats an eyelid. “Energy is all you were promised.”
Hearing that hurts. I don’t like knowing that Ms Pink promised Yuri my energy without asking me first. But this is me thinking like a human and that is Ms Pink acting like the princess vampire who owns me. How will I ever break through this disparity?
Yuri heaves a deep sigh. “Open your mouth.”
I open my mouth. Yuri leans in with her mouth open and a strange cool sensation drifts down my throat into my lungs. It feels a little like my insides are purging something. A moment later, Yuri releases me and I fall back onto the couch. She stands and brushes her clothes, straightening them and shakes out her hair.
Our lips never touched.
“Thanks for the dose.” Yuri raises her fingers to her lips and kisses them. “Crème de la crème.”
“You may leave now,” says Ms Pink from the other side.
Yuri turns to her, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “Don’t worry. I wouldn’t dream of taking up more of your precious time with your boring claim. Have fun. Whatever little of it there is.”
I lie on my back, eyes closed. I hear the door opening and closing. Footsteps approaching me. But I don’t open my eyes. Arms gather me up and I am pulled into an embrace. With my eyes still closed, I put my arms around Ms Pink and hug her back. We say nothing, exchange no thoughts. She rocks us a little.
A long hug later, Ms Pink finally breaks the silence. “Good girl,” she says.
I open my eyes. A sense of quiet satisfaction settles into my heart and I smile. I may not fully understand the situation I am in. I may not have a comprehensive grasp on the supernatural world I am in. But it comforts me to be in Ms Pink’s arms and for now, I am content.
I sweep my hand down Ms Pink’s back and am shocked when she hisses in pain.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, trying to look at her back. I remember the blood I saw when she turned during the fight. Did the essence she sucked from me not heal her?
“The cursed patagons got me.”
“Let me see.” I rise and walk around Ms Pink to look at her back. Oh my God. Her back is so bloody that I can’t even make out the wound. “Why didn’t you ask for help? It looks really painful.”
“I’ll survive,” says Ms Pink as she takes her coat off.
I flinch and look away when her back is revealed. Her blouse of silk has turned into a blouse of blood. “How did you last this long without showing any sign of pain?”
Ms Pink’s smile is soulless. “I’ll have to thank him for this ability. He trained me well.”
Him. A strong burst of hatred gushes into my heart. I hate him. But this moment isn’t for him. This moment is for Ms Pink. I take her coat from her and put it on the couch opposite ours. Then I return to Ms Pink as she unbuttons her blouse. I pull it away from her skin, taking care to do it gently. Oh God. I might get sick from this sight. Three sharp things have ripped through the skin and flesh of her back.
“Claws,” says Ms Pink with a wince. “Helene favours patagons for this reason.”
“What do you mean?” I ask as I unhook her bra gingerly and remove it with even more care.
“Those men who were attacking us are patagons. Foxes in the form of good-looking men.” Ms Pink chuckles and shakes her head. “Mana likes her men to look a certain way. Patagons are good-looking. But lethal. Her favourite kind.”
“Oh.” My mind works fast, trying to make sense of this new stack of information. Shape-shifters. “What about vanguards? Can they change forms too?”
“No. Vanguards are trackers. Hunters. They are ancient black wolves enchanted by dark magic.”
“But how did the vanguard get to your office without being noticed by anyone?”
“Stealth is a vanguard’s gift. They slink around in shadows, invisible to the eyes that aren’t seeking.”
“Ms Pink, there’s too much blood. I don’t know what to do.”
Ms Pink groans as she stretches out over the couch on her stomach. “Use the intercom. Ask for towels to be put at the door. No one must see me like this.”
I nod and walk to the intercom immediately. The man who answers takes my order and I release the intercom button, feeling oddly powerful. Ms Pink is injured and in pain. It is my turn to help her.
“I don’t think towels will be enough. Your wounds are too deep. Should I kiss you again?”
Ms Pink turns and rests on her cheek to look at me, looking amused. “Did one session with Yuri turn you into an insatiable sexy thing like her?”
With my head shaking harder than it needs to, I explain, “No, not at all. But you asked me to kiss you after you were hit and it seemed to help. I want to help you.”
The amused tilt of Ms Pink’s lips curls into a smile. “Come here.” I get on my knees by the couch to get closer to Ms Pink and when our faces are level she says, “I did that to protect you, stupid human.”
“But I felt something leaving my body. Like a piece of my soul. You took it and you were alright afterwards.”
“Yuri transferred a bit of her qi into your body. I took it out.”
“What would her qi have done to me?” I ask even though I have a feeling I know the answer.
“Yuri’s qi is a powerful form of aphrodisiac.”
I knew it. Yuri and her devilishly sexual ways. She was planning to turn me into a slave of my own sensuality. At this moment, I realize how wrong I was about Ms Pink. She was not willing to share my sensuality with Yuri. Even if she didn’t seem to mind Yuri kissing me. I get it now. Sort of.
A knock on the door announces the arrival of the towels. I fetch them after the footsteps fade and bring them to the counter behind the couch. I fill an ice bucket with ice and water and dip the towels in it. After wringing the towels so that they aren’t dripping wet, I bring them to Ms Pink. I get back on my knee and dab the towel at the dried blood on her skin.
“You can’t be gentle. The stains won’t come out if you are.”
Something strikes me as tragic as I take her words in and process them. I have to counter her statement.
“The stains will come out. All we need is some patience,” I say, continuing with my gentle dabs. Interestingly, Ms Pink doesn’t rebut. Instead, she closes her eyes and lets me do it my way. I take this little ‘victory’ and cheer in my heart.
A tiny step forward is better than no step at all.