• Vincent reacted immediately as he unsheathed a silver dagger from underneath his vest, the same black lettering on her gun shimmering over its metal. His body moved faster than Kida’s eyes could adjust. She scrambled to her feet and reached around her back for her gun but realized she’d left her bag in the gym.

    Kida crawled frantically through the hole in the wall and was stunned to see the creature in front of her. Its body appeared to be a huge blob of mold with two black eyes floating about in its head.

    “Vincent,” Kida screamed as its arm-like appendage knocked Vincent to the ground. Jeff was nowhere to be seen. “Vincent,” she screamed again, hurling herself onto the ground toward him. His head was bleeding profusely, and the knife had been dislodged from his hand.

    The creature growled low in its throat before speaking in a foreign language. The words were unfamiliar to her, but she understood what it was saying.

    Kida’s heart felt numb in her chest. “Murderer,” she whispered. “What do you mean?”

    “We will not let you murder her.”
    “Murder who?”

    But it didn’t answer. Its body began to convulse, and that’s when Kida noticed the body inside of its massive stomach. “Jeff,” she screamed.

    She could see the mold taking over Jeff’s body, and her vision started turning red, literally. Her veins burned inside of her, as if her blood was boiling. Kida threw her head back as a blood-curdling cry erupted from her throat.

    The last thing she felt was a ripping in her back before the world around her went black.

    Blood spewed from Kida’s mouth as she was awakened by a violent cough. She rolled onto her side in an attempt to catch her breath, her lungs sore from wheezing. Her body felt as if she’d been hit by a semi-truck and then thrown off of a cliff.

    Kida forced herself onto her knees and took in the site of the room around her. The stalls were destroyed and the walls nearly so. The creature was gone, which she was relieved to see, but panic swarmed her as she looked around for Vincent and Jeff.

    She saw Vincent leaned up against the wall across from her, his eyes an ocean of fear.
    And they were looking at her.

    “Vincent,” she said relieved, pulling herself toward him.
    He shouted abruptly before trying to push himself farther away.

    Kida looked at him confused. “What is it?”
    His body was trembling, but he didn’t answer.

    “What happened? Where’s Jeff?”
    Kida followed Vincent’s eyes to the side where Jeff’s body laid inside what used to be a stall. His skin appeared to be rotting. “Jeff!”

    She felt the sting of tears as she slid over to his body, relieved, however, to see his chest moving slowly up and down.

    “He’s alive.”
    She turned toward Vincent, her frustration growing as he continued to sit there terrified. Kida had never seen him like this. “Come on! We have to help him!”

    His Adam’s apple moved up and down as he swallowed hard. Vincent took a deep breath before lifting himself off the floor. Kida moved out of the way as he wrapped his arm around Jeff and effortlessly threw him over his shoulder.

    “I’ll meet you outside at my car. Hurry before people start to show up.”
    Kida nodded and ran toward the gym to get her bag. Already people were beginning to come down the hallway, so she quickly evaded into another hallway.

    What are people going to think?

    Kida saw her bag and grabbed it quickly before Julie or anyone else could see her. She didn’t have time to answer questions.

    When she walked outside, Vincent was waiting by the door with the car running. She hopped in and didn’t ask where he was taking them. There was only one thing running through Kida’s mind.

    What happened?

    They’d been driving a long while before Kida finally realized that they were driving to Chicago. She glanced back at Jeff often, relieved every time to see his chest still rising, albeit slowly. But his skin was rotting increasingly, and the stench was almost too much to bear.

    She’d asked Vincent several times if they were going to be able to help him. He assured her that Jeff would be back to normal in no time—that he’d been cursed by the demon that had attacked them and that he knew someone that could help him.

    He didn’t, however, know where the demon had come from, or why it had attacked them.
    Kida watched curiously as Vincent parallel parked outside of a popular club downtown Chicago.

    “A club,” she asked.
    Vincent didn’t respond as he stepped out of the car. Kida took in a deep, steady breath to calm her nerves. She wanted nothing more than to knock him out, but the fact was that without Vincent both she and Jeff would probably be dead.

    “Come over here,” Vincent said.
    She gave him an inquisitive look but obeyed nonetheless.

    Vincent had her pause in front of him before running his eyes up and down her body like a metal detector.

    “Looking for something,” she asked sarcastically.
    He ignored the taunt and reached for her fake wings. Kida gasped as he ripped them from her back.

    “They were already falling off anyways,” he said. It was true. After the demon had attacked, it left her costume nearly shred to pieces in the back. She was horrified to notice the hint of blood left on the wings.

    “Is that my blood?”
    Vincent looked at her with something of terror. “Probably.”

    She wanted to ask more, but Vincent was already reaching behind her neck and pulling off her hair clip, releasing the heavy locks of curls to fall around her shoulders.

    “This is better,” he said. “More convincing.”
    “Convincing of what?”

    The corner of his lip pulled up slightly, but he didn’t respond. “Follow me. And stay close.”
    Kida’s heart hammered nervously. Where on earth was he taking her? She followed close behind into the club, which at first glance seemed fairly normal. People were gathered around tables and at the bar, flirting and laughing—nothing out of the ordinary. But when he led her to a man standing next to a large red door, she knew that she had yet to see the real club.

    Vincent looked at the man, and the man looked at Vincent. They stared into each other’s eyes for a few moments, communicating silently. What, Kida wasn’t sure. The man nodded, and Vincent proceeded to open the door and walk in.

    Kida felt all the hairs on her arm stand on end as she followed Vincent inside the other room. There were creatures that she’d never seen dancing as if in a trance to the ambient music in the background. She could feel herself losing consciousness just watching.

    “Don’t look at them,” Vincent warned, freeing her from her stupor.

    Kida watched quaintly as a translucent-colored waitress brought a tray of wine glasses to a table full of well-dressed, normal looking people. She was horrified, however, as one of the men at the table locked his intriguing red eyes on her. He smiled alluringly as he slowly brought the glass to his mouth, leaving a trail of thick red juice running down his mouth.

    Her body trembled as her blood ran cold. Was he a vampire like Vincent?

    She forced her eyes away from the man with a feeling of uneasiness, but she could still feel him watching her. Vincent stopped one of the waitresses and began whispering in her ear. Kida was so frightened that she wasn’t even aware of her own consciousness.

    A pull on her wrist left her frozen in panic. Her body was pulled around, and she was face-to-face with one of the most beautifully striking men she’d ever seen. His blonde-hair was slicked back perfectly, and his skin was as smooth as a river stone.

    “What is your name,” he crooned.
    Kida was too stunned by the melodious sound of the man’s voice to answer.

    “Kida,” he whispered. “Such a lovely name.”
    Panic consumed her once again. How did he know her name?

    “Are you thirsty, Kida?”

    “Try this,” he said offering her a glass full of the same red liquid she’d watched him drink a moment ago.

    She didn’t want any, but she couldn’t stop herself from reaching for the glass and lifting it to her mouth. The scent was so sweet and enticing that she almost couldn’t handle it. She tilted her head back and waited for the sweet liquid to touch her tongue when the glass was slammed out of her hand and shattered to pieces on the floor.

    Several creatures stopped to see what had happened. Kida stood too stunned to respond.
    She watched as Vincent slammed the beautiful man into the wall next to them.

    The man laughed mockingly. “Easy, Sir Vampire. We were only having a little fun.”

    “Go back to your table, faerie.”

    The man smiled mischievously, revealing a set of perfectly sharpened teach. Kida was absolutely disgusted. “You have no jurisdiction over me, Balentein.”

    “Then you’ll excuse us as we leave you here.”

    The man responded with a wicked sneer.

    Vincent’s face was contorted with anger as he grabbed tightly onto Kida’s wrist and wrenched her away. “I told you to stay close.”

    She was too frightened to respond—just thankful that Vincent had saved her from whatever was in that drink.

    They stopped in front of another door that was also closely guarded by a large man—or creature. “We’re here to see Drake.”

    The man eyed him suspiciously. “Is he expecting you?”

    “Tell him Vincent Balentein is here to see him.”

    The man’s eyes widened but only slightly—the most emotion that he was probably able to display. “Balentein?”

    Vincent nodded, his face as cold as stone.
    “I will announce your arrival.”

    The man disappeared behind the door only to return a few moments later to let them through.

    Kida held onto Vincent’s hand as he led her into a dimly lit room decorated with a medieval sort of atmosphere—very gothic. She felt a tingle in her spine as they approached a desk at the back of the room. The chair behind the dusk spun around to reveal a striking man in a suit, which Kida assumed to be the Drake that Vincent had asked for. He wasn’t attractive in any sort of way, but his features were masculine, his cheekbones defined and his jaw strong.

    He smiled charmingly. “Vincent Balentein. So good to see you again.” The words flowed from his mouth with a legato-like smoothness, his accent unfamiliar to Kida but very enchanting.

    “And it’s good to see you—Ipos.”

    Kida watched Drake’s brows rise clearly beguiled by Vincent’s greeting.