It wasn’t the obvious things. She knew she was surrounded by vampires and about to give her blood up to one on a regular basis. She had more or less come to terms with it, but something else bothered her.

“Why was I selected?” she asked instead.

He pursed his lips. “You fit the profile.”

“And what profile is that?”

“Young, fit, and the proper match.”

“You said something about my history in my file. What about my history?”

Dr. Washington narrowed his eyes and then pulled up her file on the computer.

“It says here that your parents are deceased. Car accident. You were only eight. Your brothers, Brian and Drew, were fourteen and twelve. Both are currently employed at Cartwright Warehouses. Your uncle is your only other living relative. He left you at age eleven and as far as our records show disappeared completely. No death has been reported. Your history, Miss Carpenter, shows that you are entirely alone other than two brothers who despair having another mouth to feed.”

Reyna defiantly raised her chin. Hearing her bleak history spelled out before her in such terms made her heart constrict. “I know my own history well enough. But it doesn’t explain how that makes me a good match for your Permanent program. Do you just want someone without family? Someone that if things go south for you, there is no one who will be blowing up the papers in anger over my disappearance?”

He laughed. “I already told you that you will be perfectly safe. You’re hesitant. I understand that, but you have the wrong impression of our organization.”

“Do I?”

“We’re not selecting you because we don’t want any liabilities later. It’s because you need it the most, Miss Carpenter. You have no one to help you and you are a burden on your siblings,” he said bluntly. “A permanent placement with Visage would provide all you’ve ever dreamed and more. We are looking for people who are truly interested in a permanent partnership with our Sponsors. If you’d rather a more temporary position for less pay, then this is not the service for you.”

Reyna needed time to think. Brian and Drew wouldn’t be happy that she had agreed to a month of work at Visage. She couldn’t even imagine their reaction when they found out that she had agreed to a permanent spot in a vampire’s home. She had never even considered working for Visage permanently. It was supposed to be a temporary fix for her family. Yet, even when she came home from working at Visage, she would still have to find a way to afford food long term, which meant she needed that degree.

Was everything the doctor had said true? Was she just burdening everyone in her life?

The fact that she didn’t have an immediate answer unsettled her.

She didn’t know how long she would need to be a part of Visage before all of this could unfold and she and her brothers were living comfortably again. On the base salary…much longer than the Permanent wage.

“I could still leave at any time if I need to, right?” she asked again for confirmation.

“Yes, of course,” the doctor agreed. “If you find that the situation is not for you, then we would remove you from the program. But we have been very particular about our selections for you as well as the Sponsor and we do believe this will be a great match.”

Reyna sighed. Here’s to hoping that all her dreams really could come true. How much worse could it be?

“All right. What do I need to do?”

* * *

After Reyna had completed a mountain of paperwork, Dr. Washington returned to her room to collect all the documents. It felt a bit like she was signing her life away, but she made sure to read every line.

Dr. Washington scrutinized the many places she’d had to place her signature and then nodded. “This is satisfactory. Your Sponsor just arrived to collect you.”

Reyna jolted. “What? Now? Already?”

The doctor gave her a confused look. “You’re not reconsidering, are you?”

Reyna tucked a lock of her brown hair behind her ear. “No. I’m not reconsidering. I was just unaware that my employment began today and that I would be leaving with my Sponsor immediately.”

“Well, employment does start as soon as the paperwork is signed. Plus, your Sponsor is a very busy man, and he won’t have time to return to collect you another time.”

“Oh. I see, but I need to speak with my brothers.”

“I’m sure you will be able to get a message to them once you are settled into your new living quarters,” the doctor said.

Reyna frowned. She couldn’t believe she was about to divulge how utterly destitute they were, but there was no other option. They clearly had done their homework on her background already. It couldn’t come as that much of a shock to them. “But we don’t have a phone or anything.”