“How long does that take?” Milo asked.
“It depends.” Rebekah tilted her head, thinking. “A decade before I’d let her live in a community with humans. Half-a-century until she matched your level right now. In a full century, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between her or Olivia, as far as control goes.”
“A decade?” My jaw dropped. “You’re saying she should live on some deserted island for a decade?”
“I prefer somewhere colder, but yes,” Rebekah nodded. “I’ve called in some acquaintances, and I have found us a place to live in Greenland. We should stay there, off the grid, for the next ten years.”
“That seems like an awfully long time,” Bobby said, echoing my thoughts exactly.
“For you, perhaps.” Rebekah gave him a condescending smile. “For me, for the rest of us, it’s a blink of the eye.”
“It’s longer than a blink of the eye for me,” Violet muttered. She’d stayed to the side of the room, avoiding Rebekah. That child vampire must’ve creeped her out the same way she did me.
“So, what do you think?” Olivia asked me.
“I think its… amazing.” I smiled gratefully at her. “I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to repay you.”
“Right now, you needn’t do anything,” Olivia returned my smile easily. “But eventually, I’m sure that I’ll think of something.”
“So, Rebekah?” Bobby asked, and she rolled her eyes when he spoke. “What’s it like being a child forever?”
“It’s an endless hell,” Rebekah said, accidentally betraying the emotion she felt. She hurried to erase it, though, so she turned to me. “I would like to leave in the next few days. Is that enough time to make arrangements with the child?”
“Um, yeah,” I nodded. “It should be.”
“With this settled, I’d like to excuse myself.” She stood up and turned to Violet. “Violet, isn’t there a human you’ve prepared for me somewhere?”
“He’s not really ‘prepared’ for anything, but there’s a guy in the room next to mine.” Violet pointed to the door. “And he’s open to… feeding you, I guess.”
“Olivia, you really must get better help,” Rebekah said as she walked around the couch, the hem of her skirt sliding across the floor. “One must have a reasonable chef on hand to prepare the food.”
“Violet isn’t help, Rebekah,” Olivia said, watching her as she disappeared into the guestroom. “Rebekah doesn’t understand that everyone in the world isn’t her servant. Despite that, she does know what she’s talking about, and she can help you, Alice.”
“How do you prepare a human?” Violet interjected, staring warily at the bedroom door even after Rebekah had shut it behind her. “Am I supposed to salt them or something?”
“Rebekah prefers it when someone else opens them first,” Olivia explained and pointed to her own neck. “Make an incision in the throat to get the blood flowing. Rebekah claims they bleed faster that way.”
“That’s interesting,” I said.
“I was gonna go with disturbing,” Bobby said.
“What the hell happened to your face?” Violet asked, referring the icepack Bobby had clamped to his eye.
“Got punched,” Bobby shrugged.
“How bad is it?” I asked.
I hadn’t actually been able to see what happened to him because he’d been covering it since it happened. All I knew is that Jonathan had hit him, and he’d bled.
“Not that bad.” He took off his icepack. “It wouldn’t have been bad at all if it weren’t for his ring, but at least his ring missed my actual eyeball.”
He moved his hand, and I finally saw his injury. Bobby kept talking, but I couldn’t hear him anymore. I couldn’t hear anything over the pounding of my own heart, and the blood rushing through my veins.
His eye looked swollen and red, but the bloody shape on his temple was unmistakable, even at an angle. I’d seen that mark before, looking nearly identical to this one. Though the mark I’d seen had been made with heat and not force. It looked like a U, but the scales had even left an imprint in Bobby’s skin.
It was a dragon, the symbol for Dracula. The symbol for vampires. That ring had been used to brand the dead girls.
I stood up, but it felt like I was under water. Everyone’s voice came out muffled, and I could barely stand up straight.
Every time I’d been around Jonathan, my blood burned. It was because I’d bitten Jane, and the blood left in my system reacted with the blood in his. It was like Jane had been trying to tell me he’d killed her, but I hadn’t known to listen.
“He fucking killed her,” I breathed, and my vision blurred red. I was getting hazy, like when bloodlust took over and I blacked out, but this was different. This was pure rage.
“Alice?” Milo’s face appeared in front of mine, and he put his hands on my shoulders. “What are you talking about?”
“Jonathan killed Jane,” I said. “I have to find him.”
“What?” Milo blanched and tightened his grip on me.
“He did do it?” Bobby jumped off the couch and hurried over to us. “How do you know?”
“That mark-” I pointed to his temple. “That’s the brand.”
Olivia and Violet both chimed in to say things about Jonathan and serial killers and demanding to know what was going on, but I couldn’t answer them. I could only feel what Jane had felt. Her terror and panic took hold of me again, and I pushed Milo’s arms off me and staggered back.
“Alice, where are you going?” Milo asked, trying to follow me.
“I have to….” I shook my head. I had to find him.
“You smashed his face, Alice,” Bobby reminded me. “He probably went home.”
“No,” I said. “No. He’s hurt. He has to heal. He’s feeding.”
When Milo had been hurt, Jack had given him his blood to speed up the process. Vampire blood was more potent than human blood, but fresh blood would do the trick if he needed it to. And after what I’d done to him, he definitely needed it to.
I couldn’t wait for the elevator, so I ran to the stairwell in the center of the penthouse. I’m sure someone tried to stop me, Milo had to have, but I didn’t hear him and didn’t slow down. I raced down the steps, leaping over several at a time, but I was still taking too long.