The gist of it was—needles.
Lots and lots of needles.
Reyna gagged. She hated needles. Always had. She didn’t even know where the fear stemmed from. If she’d had a traumatic experience as a child, no one who was still in her life knew about it. Considering what she was about to do, it was ridiculous to fear needles. They were going to be the least of her worries where vampires were concerned.
But if there were another choice, then she would have already found it. Visage was the only option, the absolute last option.
Just the way they liked it.
Still, seeing the white door gaping wide in front of her made her reconsider. It was the first time all day she’d had that reaction. She was set in her decision to work for Visage. She had come to terms with the decision over the course of the last couple weeks when she had snuck away to apply to become a blood escort. No one else would hire a warehouse rat. She had finished out secondary school only to be faced with a direr situation than she could have dreamed. Without a college degree she was useless, but to afford a college degree she needed money. Yet no one would hire her without a degree so that she could afford to go get one. It was an endless pathetic cycle that only infuriated her more.
So, her brothers started taking more shifts and working consistent doubles. The thought of her two brothers slaving away in the warehouses just to stay afloat through this depression made her sick. She wanted to do something. No. She needed to do something. She couldn’t let them work day in and day out in such horrible conditions for pitiful wages.
Visage didn’t care that she was a twenty-one-year-old girl without a degree. They cared that she had the one thing the vampires desperately needed—blood.
Better yet, with Visage she would make a livable wage, have a solid roof over her head, and finally eat regular meals again. She would be able to funnel her money back to her brothers. They could take fewer hours at the plant, and things could finally get back to normal. She could start living that dream her parents had instilled in her all those years ago. Before they had died and left all three of their children alone with only one living relative, who didn’t even want them.
At least, she hoped that dream was still alive and well. And that once her brothers found out what she was doing, she would be able to send money back to them. They never would have approved if they had known she was here. No one would approve of their little sister becoming a blood escort to a vampire.
“Are you ready, 492?” the woman snapped. At least there was some kind of reaction.
Reyna bit back a snide retort. “Yes.”
Reyna walked through the door.
The admin escorted her down the long white corridor studded with white doors and past starkly dressed administrators standing like ducks in a row.
“He’s plainly unfit. We’ll have to turn him aside,” a male admin murmured to another as they passed.
“Agreed. Let’s speak with the doctor…” the woman responded.
Whatever she said after that was lost to Reyna. She craned her neck in their direction. “Are some people not picked to work for Visage?”
The admin didn’t even turn around or acknowledge her question.
She knew it was possible that people were turned away. Everyone had heard horror stories about blood diseases and worse. The blood donors at Visage were supposed to help control vampiric urges, or so they said, not make them worse.
Reyna bit her lip and tried to slow her breathing. She couldn’t have a blood disease. It wasn’t possible. She couldn’t even fathom it. She needed the money too bad for anything to go wrong. She was determined to pass and get an assignment working for a vampire. She didn’t care how many times she had to master her fear of needles and blood. In the end, it would all be worth it.
“This way,” the administrator said.
Reyna followed her around the next corner. Her arm itched all over again and she had to resist the urge to scratch. She steeled herself, pushing her shoulders back, and refused to let her dark gaze stray from the direction she was being led.
They took a right and the admin stopped in front of one of the plain white doors. She removed an identification card from her pocket with her name and picture on it and swiped it over a glass screen by the handle.
“Patient identity?” the machine chirped.
“Number four hundred and ninety-two. Miss Reyna Carpenter,” the woman said.
Reyna watched in awe. The Warehouse District didn’t have technology this advanced. Hell, machines everyone had taken for granted before the collapse—cellphones, laptops, cars—weren’t even available to most people. Voice-activated locks were practically from another world.