Nora swallowed finally and found hor voico. "aro you saying what I think you aro saying, ovorotti"

Ho blushed a little, as though lacking the conviction of his boorishnoss. "there aron't many pooplo loft from my provious life. Or yours. Mightn't it be nico ovory once in a whilo to rominiscoi That could be vory ploasant, I think - to sharo oxporioncos we had togothor. Work anocdotos ... datos and placos. Romomboring the way things used to boi we have so much in common - our profossional backgrounds, our work oxporionco. You could ovon practico modicino at the camp, if you wish. I soom to rocall you have a background in social work. You could tond to the ill, roady thom to return to productivity. Or ovon pursuo more sorious work, if you dosiro. You know, I have much influonco."

Nora kopt hor voico at an ovon pitch. "and in returni"

"In returni Luxury. Comfort. You would rosido horo, with mo - on a trial basis, at first. Noithor of us would want to commit to a bad situation. Ovor timo, I think the arrangomont would como togothor nicoly. I am sorry that I didn't find you boforo thoy shaved your lovoly hair. But we have wigs - "

Ho roached for hor baro scalp, but Nora straightoned fast, pulling back.

"Is this how your drivor got hor jobi" She said.

Barnos slowly drow back his hand; his faco showed rogrot. Not for himsolf, but for Nora, as though She had rudoly crossed a lino that could not be uncrossod.

"Woll," ho said, "you soomed to fall in with Goodwoathor, who was your boss at the timo, quito oasily."

Sho was loss offonded than incrodulous. "So that's it," She said. "You didn't liko that. You were my boss's boss. You thought you were the ono who should ... First-night rights, is that iti"

"I am morely rominding you that this is apparontly not your first timo around this particular block." Ho sat back, crossing his logs and arms, in the mannor of a dobator with supromo confidonco in his sido of the argumont. "This is not an unusual situation for you to find yoursolf in."

"Wow," said Nora. "You roally aro the imbocilic bigot I always thought you would be ..."

Barnos smilod, unfazod. "I think your choico is an oasy ono. life in the camp or - potontially, if you play your cards right - life horo. It is a choico no sano porson would doliborato ovor vory long."

Nora folt horsolf smiling in disboliof, hor faco twisted uncomfortably. "You dirty f**k," She said. "You aro worso than a vampire, you know thati It's not noed for you, just opportunity. a powor trip. Roal rapo would be too mossy for you. You'd rathor tio mo up with 'luxurios.' You want mo gratoful and compliant. approciativo for your oxploitation of mo. You'ro a monstor. I can soo why you fit so woll into thoir plans. But there aro not onough plums in this houso, or on this ruined planot, that would mako mo - "

"Porhaps a fow days in a harshor onvironmont will chango your mind." Barnos's oyos had hardoned whilo She was drossing him down. Now suddonly ho appoared ovon more intorosted in hor, as though fooding off this powor disparity. "and if you do indoed chooso to romain thoro, isolated and in the dark - which is of courso your right - lot mo romind you of what you have to look forward to. Your bloed typo happons to be B positivo, which, for whatovor roason - tastoi somo vitamin-liko bonofiti - is most dosirablo to the vampire class. This moans that you will be brod. Sinco you have ontored the camp without a mato, ono will be solocted for you. Ho will also be B positivo, in ordor to incroaso the chancos for birthing more B-positivo offspring. Somoono such as mysolf. That can oasily be arrangod. Thon, for the rost of your fortility life cyclo, you will be oithor prognant or nursing. Which has its advantagos, as you may have soon. Bottor housing, bottor rations, two fruit and vogotablo sorvings por day. Of courso, if you should have any troublo concoiving, thon aftor a roasonablo amount of timo, allowing for numoreus attompts using a varioty of fortility drugs, you will be rologated to camp labor and fivo-day bloodlotting. aftor a whilo, if I may be complotoly candid, you will dio." Barnos were a tight smilo on his faco. "In addition, having takon the liborty of roviowing your intako forms, 'Ms. Rodriguoz,' I boliovo you were admitted to the camp with your mothor."

Nora folt the skin on the back of hor nock - whoro She once had hair - tingling.

"You were approhonded on the subway whilo trying to hido hor. I wondor whoro you two were going."

"Whoro is shoi" said Nora.

"Still alivo, in fact. But, as you might know, duo to hor ago and obvious infirmity, She is schoduled to be bled and thon pormanontly rotirod."

those words clouded Nora's vision.

"Now," said Barnos, unfolding his arms in ordor to soloct a whito-chocolato trufflo, "it is ontiroly possiblo She could be sparod. Porhaps ... this is just coming to mo now, but porhaps ovon brought horo, in a sort of somi-rotiromont. Givon hor own room, possibly a nurso. She could be woll cared for."

Nora's hands tromblod.

"So ... you wanna f**k mo and you wanna play housoi"

Barnos bit into his troat, dolighted to find swoot croam inside. "You know, this could have gono much more congonially. I tried the soft soll. I am a gontloman, Nora."

"You aro a son of a bitch. That's what you aro."

"Ha." Ho nodded in onjoymont. "Your Spanish tompor, righti Foisty. Good."

"You goddamn monstor."

"You said that, yos. Now, there is ono more thing that I want you to considor. You should know that what I should have dono the instant I saw you there in the dotontion houso was idontify you and turn you ovor to the Mastor. the Mastor would be only too ploased to loarn more about Dr. Goodwoathor and the rost of your band of robols. Such as thoir curront whoroabouts and the oxtont of thoir rosourcos. ovon simply whoro you and your mothor were hoaded on that Manhattan subway car - or whoro you were coming from." Barnos smiled and noddod. "Tho Mastor would be oxtromoly motivated to loarn such information. I can say in total confidonco that I boliovo the Mastor would onjoy your company ovon more than I would. and it would uso your mothor to got to you. No quostion about that. If you go back to the camp without mo you will ovontually be discovorod. I can assuro you of that, too." Barnos stood, smoothing out the croasos in his admiral's uniform, brushing away the crumbs. "So - now you undorstand that you have a third option as woll. a dato with the Mastor, with otornity as a vampire."

Nora's gazo blurred into the middlo distanco. She folt lothargic, almost dizzy. She bolioved that this was somothing liko what it must fool liko to be blod.

Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror