“You know it does,” I yawned.
Ezra complied, still fiddling around with his phone, and I hoped that meant that he had a lead on something. His half of the room was already completely straightened up, the bed made and everything, and I wondered what time he had gotten up.
“I wish I still drank coffee or Red Bull or something,” I said as I stumbled out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. (Fun fact: Vampires still pee. Blood is a liquid, after all.)
“Just take a cold shower. That’ll perk you right up,” he said.
Following his advice, I took a quick, cold shower, and it helped some. I dressed in a hurry and blow dried my hair so it wouldn’t freeze outside.
The hotel was alive with people today, and I pulled my scarf over my mouth and nose to muffle it. When we were walking out, I noticed the décor in the hotel was distinctly green. Potted plants were everywhere, probably to counteract the long winters and oblique white window views. I enjoyed winter, but it would be odd to live in a place that had snow eight months out of the year.
It really wasn’t that cold out, only in the low thirties, but I bundled up in a winter jacket and boots, like any normal person would. There wasn’t that much snow yet, only enough to crunch underneath my feet.
“So what’s the plan?” I followed him out of the building, and he walked towards the silver Range Rover he’d rented yesterday.
“We’re going for a drive,” Ezra answered vaguely, and I wondered if he was purposely infuriating or if it was just force of habit. He got in the driver’s side, so I hopped in.
Without looking, he whipped the Rover into reverse and sped out away from the hotel. Usually, he was a mild driver, but it became apparent where Jack’s driving skills came from. As he sped down the road, I pulled my hood up over my head and sunk lower in my seat, hiding myself from the sun’s rays as much as I could.
“How is this gonna work?” I yawned when we’d been on the road for ten minutes. Already, I felt like napping, and I knew as the day wore on, I would only get sleepier.
“We’ll be in tree cover most of the time.” He motioned to the thick pine trees that filled the world around us. “You have your hood and sunglasses, and when we get back in the morning, we’ll both eat. We’ll be fine.”
We traveled about a half hour or so when he turned off the road and parked in a small clearing. I’d been dozing a bit, but I sat up when the vehicle stopped. I leaned over to inspect the GPS system in the dash, hoping to find a clue about where we were. Finnish words and names looked like gibberish to me, so I didn’t gain any insight.
“Okay. What’s going on?” I asked, but Ezra turned off the car and jumped out in response. “Thanks.”
I scrambled out after him, and I slipped on an icy patch of snow. When I tried to catch my fall by grabbing onto the car, I only succeeded in denting the side. It was pretty awesome having almost no control over my body. I couldn’t wait for the grace and strength to really kick in.
“Are you coming?” Ezra paused long enough for me to collect myself and scurry after him.
“Yeah. Where are we going?” I asked when I caught up with him.
“The woods.” We were already walking into a very thick patch of trees, so he was doing nothing more than stating the obvious.
“You’re really becoming my least favorite person,” I muttered as I nearly tripped over a fallen log.
“I don’t know exactly where we’re going,” he reluctantly admitted. “I just know the area we’re supposed to be in, and this is it.”
We were in the shadows thanks to cover of trees, so at least that was something. Looking around, though, everything appeared the same as everything. Evergreens blanketed the area, and somewhere up ahead, I could hear a river flowing.
Other than that, I had no idea how Ezra could tell one tree from another, or how he could possibly have any clue where we were. He was much more familiar with the area than I was, but I couldn’t see what distinguished these trees from the rest.
“Where are we?” I stopped walking and stared up through the trees at the sky.
“The lycan live around here.”
I would’ve liked to press him further about it, but he didn’t want to talk. Ezra didn’t even slow down for me, so I learned my lesson about stopping for no reason. We trekked through the trees all afternoon, and while the sun didn’t directly shine on me, I felt a burst of energy when it finally went down.
Once night closed in completely, Ezra started to wait for me and insisted I stay close to him. During the day, other vampires were much less likely to be out, which was why he wanted to check things out then.
The biggest excitement of the night was when we saw a few reindeer walking in front of us. Ezra explained that many Europeans say that this is where Santa Clause lives, not the North Pole, partially because of the large reindeer population. We weren’t that far south from the North Pole anyway, so it wasn’t much of a stretch.
By the time the sun started to rise, I was completely exhausted. There’s a myth that vampires don’t ever get tired or run out of energy, and Ezra did seem to exemplify that. Maybe I’m just a wuss. I don’t really know. We made the long walk through the trees back to the car, and I was incredibly relieved when I sat down inside the Range Rover.
The gnawing hunger set in a few hours ago. Ezra’s pulse had gotten more noticeable, and my hands exhibited a fine tremor. The early morning light that filtered in through the windows only made it worse.
When we got back to the hotel, I must’ve been jonesing noticeably because Ezra put his arm securely around me when we walked inside. It was after seven in the morning, so the breakfast crowd filled the dining room. The scent of eggs and deer sausage made me sick. Over that, I smelled the delectable scent of blood, and I was grateful for Ezra’s strong arm steering me towards our room.
Once inside, I peeled off my jacket and kicked off my boots.
“That was a total waste of a day,” I said, squirming about the room. My clothes felt too heavy and uncomfortable, and it was hard not to take them off.
Ezra turned the temperature down low and filled the bathtub with ice and blood bags before we left last night, so the blood was still cool and intact. While I was in the room twitching and not taking off my clothes, he was in the bathroom getting food for us.
“We figured some things out.” Ezra came out of the bathroom with a several bags of blood. “Tomorrow we’ll have a better idea of where we need to go.”