By: Marian Tee

Even as her cheeks turned redder at his blunt words, she whispered, “Yes.” There was no other answer, not when she couldn’t imagine any other man doing what he did to her.

When his lips curved in a smile, her heart tripped, making Zari realized how much this person had suddenly meant to her. He meant so much, to the point that she hungered for his approval. The thought had her discomfited, and she blurted out, “Alexandru?”

He raised a brow.

After a beat, she realized what it meant and she said, “Master?”

His head bent, and then he was sucking on her lip, as if giving her a reward. When he lifted his head, he asked, “What is it?”

“Is seduction one of your powers?”

He choked.

“Tell me honestly.”

“How would I know?”

She said glumly, “It must be. I’ve never been interested in boys, much less kissing, but with you I’m just…” Her hands flapped in the air.

He suppressed a smile. “Just...what?”

She glared at him.

Too damn cute.

He kissed her again, and when he released her mouth, she said, “It’s definitely one of your powers.”

He laughed but didn’t answer her. He had a feeling it was better for both of them that the little soul seer believed he was manipulating the sexual attraction between them. Instead, he said, “If you are serious about being my pet…”

He stopped, giving her a chance to change her mind. In all honesty, he didn’t want to give her that chance. In his mind, he already saw her as his. But he was nothing but fair—

“I won’t change my mind.” She looked down. “Until we find my parents, that is.”

He inclined his head in agreement. “Understood. But for now…you are mine then?”

She flushed at the words, as expected. When she saw him grin, she said with a glare, “Stop it—”

He raised a brow.

She said chokingly, “Master.”

He stroked her cheek, and the tender gesture made her blush harder. She knew that it was his silent way of apologizing.

Alexandru sighed. “Those blushes of yours, pet…remember that they’re only mine, mm?”

Before she could answer, he was kissing her again, his tongue possessive and bold as it danced with hers.

When he released her mouth, she muttered dazedly, “Is there some kind of antidote I can take so I’d be immune to your kisses?”

He chuckled, but his voice was sober when he said, “There’s one last thing you have to know about being my pet…and about your real identity.”


“Why did you take us back here?” She tried to keep her voice from shaking when she found herself standing in front of the entrance of the mining shaft once more. Although it was already broad daylight, the sun appeared unable to penetrate the darkness inside the tunnels. Its blackness was like a living creature, hungry and intent on devouring everything made of light and life.

If she closed her eyes, she wouldn’t be surprised if she started to hear the same screams, over and over.

“I told you I came to rescue you, didn’t I?”

She nodded.

“It’s because I was sent to look for you.”

She shook her head, bewildered. “Why would you…a vampire…look for me?”

“Because you’re no ordinary human.” He took her hand. “Do you trust me?”


Again, her unquestioning loyalty sent a pang through his chest, and Alexandru swore to himself that it was something he would cherish forever. Slowly, he drew her inside with him, and again she didn’t hesitate even though he felt her body start to tremble in fear next to him.

When they had walked deep enough into the tunnel that it was black all around, he took her hand and placed it on the wall.

He said quietly, “I’m going to bite you now, just to open your mind a little more and let you see.”

“I don’t—” But she forgot what else she had to say when Alexandru’s fangs sank into the side of her neck. She gasped at the pain of it, and then she gasped again, her body jerking as images from long ago invaded her mind.



Everything in black jumped at Zari, leaving her blind to any other color but black.


The blackness of the soot that marked the children’s clothes as they crawled into the narrow passageways, their tiny fingers gripping explosives. The color of the sky as they worked into the wee hours of the night. The shadows under their eyes as they struggled against hunger, thirst, and most of all, fear.

And then the scene changed, hundreds of sheets of paper falling to the ground. She tried to reach for a piece, and it was only then she realized that she didn’t exist, not in this world from a hundred years back.

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