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Why does the Elder want to keep me completely isolated?

Chapter 16: Sofia

Aiden took hold of my hand and led me out of the emergency room, Derek following behind us. In the hallway, I was met with a group of familiar faces: Vivienne, Cameron, Claudia, Gavin, Eli, Shadow and Landis.

“Sofia!” they exclaimed and rushed forward to greet me.

They all looked delighted to see me, except for Shadow. His first instinct was to arch his back and snarl. Eli tugged on his leash.

“Come on, boy. Stop that. Don’t you remember your friend, Sofia?”

Shadow’s snarls turned into barks, then whimpers. He dragged Eli away from me.

Eli glanced in Vivienne’s direction. She too looked perturbed by Shadow’s restlessness. Then Vivienne’s eyes fell on me again.

Vivienne, if there’s anyone in this place who can see through me, it’s you. Please, Vivienne. Understand, I thought, hoping that she’d somehow read my mind.

Then I addressed the Elder directly. Why do you want me apart from Derek? I thought you wanted him as protection?

There may come a time when he will prove to be useful. But in the meantime, he’s just an obstacle. And so are your other friends. We can’t have anyone hampering our freedom of movement or monitoring you during the night, he replied to me silently.

Once the group had finished greeting me, Aiden said, “All right, guys, Sofia needs some rest. No doubt you’ll have time to catch up later once she’s feeling better.”

Derek’s hand found the small of my back as he walked on one side of me, with Aiden on the other. We made for the elevator and Aiden punched in the button for the top floor of the building. Once the door opened, we took a right turn and headed toward the very end of the long corridor. Despite staying at Headquarters for weeks at a time in the past, I’d never been to this part of the building before. We stopped in front of door number 721. Aiden pulled down on the handle and led us inside.

“Here you go, darling,” Aiden said. “I hope everything is to your liking. This is one of the quietest apartments we have in Hawk Headquarters. Nobody will disturb you here.”

I looked around the place briefly; there was a double bedroom with en suite bathroom, a kitchen area and a cozy sitting room. These living quarters were small compared to others that I’d seen in the building, but all the Elder cared about was its location.

“And where are your and Derek’s apartments?” I asked Aiden.

“If you need me, I’m currently in room number 120 and Derek is number 219. Vivienne and your other friends are occupying rooms 340 to 346, in case you want to visit any of them. Don’t worry, I’ll write all this down on a piece of paper so you don’t forget. And, of course, I’ll be leaving you with the direct landline codes so you can call us whenever you want.”

My father scribbled some numbers on a scrap of paper, which he slipped into a drawer. Then he pulled a phone out of his pocket and dialed a number. “Sarah, bring some goat blood up to room 721 as soon as you can.” He hung up and looked at me again, pulling out two keys from his pocket and handing them to me. “Here’s the key you should use whenever you leave the room. It locks the door from the outside. And this key you should use if you want to lock the door from the inside. Having two makes for better security. I’ll put them in this drawer here. Okay, darling?”

I nodded and thanked him politely once again. But Aiden hadn’t yet finished.

“Also, I’ll leave you a spare key to my office as well as to my own apartment, so if you feel like it, you can go and hang around in either place in case I’m not there. And here’s a spare key to Derek’s apartment… So you’ve got plenty of places you can go to relax. I just need you to avoid all the main communal areas like the reception and training rooms.”

Derek had remained silent the whole time. But his intense gaze bored into me. I didn’t believe for a moment that he wouldn’t still keep tabs on me.

“Okay, that’s all clear,” I heard myself say. “I’d like to be alone now. Please give me at least five days. I’ll come find you when I’m ready.” I walked to the door and held it open for them. “Thank you both for understanding.”

Aiden walked out first, followed by Derek. I had almost closed the door when Derek’s hand appeared through the crack. He pushed the door ajar just enough so that his face was visible.

“I’m going to find you again, Sofia.” His look of determination sent chills running through me. Then he pulled the door shut and his footsteps disappeared down the hallway.

I just hope that it won’t be too late, Derek.

I meandered over to the large French windows and opened them, sticking my head out and taking in the surroundings. Looking down at the ground made me feel nauseous. I doubted that even a vampire would survive that fall. The vineyards surrounding Headquarters stretched out for miles and, in the far distance, a towering wall enclosed the whole area.

Someone knocked at the door. I looked through the peephole before opening it. A middle-aged blonde hunter was standing outside, holding a large glass jug filled with blood.

“Here you go, dear,” she said as I opened the door. “You should keep that in the fridge so it doesn’t go stale.”

I took the jug from her without even saying thank you and she left. I pried the lid off and drank directly from the container, blood spilling down the sides of my mouth. It tasted unbearably sour and I realized why vampires hated animal blood. Despite the taste, the Elder made me drink half of it in one go before placing it on a shelf in the fridge. I guessed that it wanted to make sure its vessel was nourished.

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