The thought left my mind pretty much as fast as it came. Having Joy transfigure was always fun; what guy wouldn’t want to sometimes have Jennifer Aniston or Cameron Diaz suddenly underneath them? But in this instance it just wouldn’t work. I didn’t just want Sam’s body. I wanted her – her mind, her blood, her voice, her scent...everything. The whole package. Not in the sense of having a relationship, but in the sense that I wanted all of her to belong to me and only me while she was with me. Joy could look like her but she’d never be her. Whether I liked it or not, it wasn’t just curiosity that made me want Sam. I hated both her and me for that.
So I sighed and did the only thing I could really do: I left Joy on the bed gawping while I grabbed my clothes and, without a word, teleported to the bathroom of my apartment. A cold shower had a way of making me less stressed. I did feel better after it. Less frustrated, less dreary.
Deciding that seen as I was going to dreamland soon there was little point in picking out an energising drink, I retrieved two Lager flavoured NSTs. The first barely touched the sides as it went down my oesophagus. I was a little more civilised with the second, taking little swigs as I passed the kitchen on the way to the living area. That was when I felt it. That tug in my stomach. Every one of my senses seemed to be having a sing and a dance. My senses led me to the balcony. I didn’t open the doors, but I looked down to see what I expected to see: her. She was in the pool. Fully clothed? As she rested against one of the walls of the pool she was glaring up at the moon as though it might answer a question that she wished she didn’t have.
I didn’t go out onto the balcony. I didn’t want her to sense me watching her like she did last time. Besides, I meant what I’d said...I’d never come onto her ever again.
Sucking in a long breath, I started to move away from the window. But then a vision of something snagged my full attention and I wanted to punch that something’s lights out. Slap-head.
Why couldn’t I have just said a big resounding no when Jared had asked for me to feed off his energy? Then I wouldn’t be in this mess at all. I wouldn’t have kissed him again, I wouldn’t have teleported us both to the training arena so we would never have had a big blow out, and he wouldn’t hate me. Amazing how one little decision could have such an effect.
Right now, I really wasn’t impressed. I’d been in my apartment totally brassed off and thinking that I just needed to cool off, and the next thing I found myself at the bottom of the pool! Damn this teleporting shit. I didn’t bother getting out. I’d wanted to have a dip in the pool the minute I saw it. Only problem was that when I thought of the first time I saw it, I remembered how Jared had been swimming in it.
Tonight had been one of the worst nights ever. First I’d had my squad being absolute sods to the point that I’d had to send a blast of air at them to knock them off their feet. Then I’d had to see Victor again. Then I’d killed Victor. Then there’d been that horrible, indescribable agony while my body grieved. Then there’d been all that stuff with Jared. And now I was stuck worrying where this teleporting power was going to take me to next.
I definitely had to stop thinking about Jared in case it took me to him. That’d be bad.
So I thought about the pool. Technically I should then stay where I was. I enjoyed the feel of the water on my skin and how it lapped up against my body. I thought of how weird it had felt swimming just minutes ago, it had been my first time since becoming a vampire and God it was effortless. I didn’t struggle to stay fully afloat no matter how tired I was, I didn’t have to dig deep in myself for the energy to keep going after a few minutes, and nor did I have to wait long before my hair dried. Closing my eyes, I thought about how peaceful it was here in the water alone, and how relaxed my body was becoming, and how –
I opened my eyes to find Max the Slap-head in the pool. He hollered a noise of exhilaration.
“I’ll say this only once,” I told him. “Fuck off.”
“Now, now,” he said, wagging a finger. “Sure you have your authority when it’s training time. But right now I’m on my own time. And I’m staying.”
“Tosser,” I cursed, too brassed off to take much notice of his bare chest. There had been a lot of bare chests going around tonight.
He came a little closer. “I heard what happened.”
I tensed. A lot had happened tonight so what exactly did he mean?
“Must have been a hard thing to do; killing your Sire.” There was a lot of sensitivity in his voice. I hadn’t thought of Slap-head as the type to have a sensitive side.
“Yeah well he was a dickhead.”
“I heard that too.” His smile was only small but it held all its usual cheekiness. “At the risk of sounding like a pervert, why are you fully clothed in the pool?”
“Ah you sound so disappointed. Had you been hoping that jumping in here would get you a better look at what lies beneath?”
“Oh I can see your assets just fine, don’t worry about it. In fact, with your wet clothes clinging to your skin it’s a really good view.”
I splashed a handful of water at him. He shook it off like a wet dog and then edged even closer, but not too close, which I appreciated.
“I wanted to ask you something.” His tone was serious now. “If you knew that rumours were getting spread round about someone...would you tell them?”
It couldn’t have been more obvious what he was getting at. “What have people been saying about me now?”
“The messengers get shot a lot,” he continued, ignoring me, “so if you were the messenger would you risk getting shot?”
“Slap-head, tell me now,” I ground out.
His eyebrows shot up and a smile crept onto his face. “I’m not telling you a thing until you drop the Slap-head thing. We’re not working now, it’s on my own time, and my name is Max.”
“Either get out of the bleeding pool and leave me in peace or cough up.”
“Is it really that hard for you to say my name? Does it make you shudder or something?” He was even closer to me now. “Or maybe I just make you nervous.”
“You make me want to slap you.”
“Alright, fair enough. People have been saying that something’s going on between you and Commander Michaels.”
I stiffened. Had someone been in the arena who we hadn’t noticed? I played it aloof. “And this rumour is based on...?”