The next morning, just as the vampires got dozy and started complaining about wanting to nap, the sun rose. Crack!, went the dawn. Moo, went the cows somewhere on the horizon (I guess?) and ba-dang! Someone dropped something in the kitchen.
Bella sat up in her bed, startled awake. Kuryo woke too, but barely moved. He was watching Bella with dark eyes as if gauging what to do next.
I, innocent as could be, was sitting in the windowsill and pretending to be, you know, just sitting. Which I really was doing. But I was also thinking. And wondering. And thinking. But also realizing that I was part of the hive (maybe?) and so I shouldn’t think too loudly.
“What are you up to?” Bella asked, sweeping from bed to just sit on the edge of it, facing me.
I looked around and shrugged. “Sitting. Thinking.”
“I can hear that,” she said nastily.
Oh, ouch. uh-
“Stop thinking, and come here,” she said, reaching out a hand and beckoning me.
My heart did a stupid flip-flop. Aww, she wanted to see me. I slid from the window and padded over. Our fingers twined together and she looked happily up at me. “I’m happy you’re here,” she murmured, tugging me closer. “I missed you.”
Giddy butterflies rose in my stomach. Yayyy my Queen loved me, I couldn’t help but think. She twisted my hand a little and nodded to the floor. “Kneel for me,” she whispered.
I did, because I was happy and she was being kind and hey, wasn’t I supposed to just do what she wanted? It was surprisingly easy right then.
Bella tousled my hair with a grin, then cupped my chin and kissed me. I was happy. For a moment I liked to think that everything would be okay.
But of course it wouldn’t be. Bella grinned and pushed me aside with a foot, enjoying seeing me as disposable. As a plaything. I can’t say it wasn’t fun, but… it stung too, because it wasn’t just a game. It was real to her.
She left for a shower, and I stayed sitting on the floor. I didn’t see a point in moving, not until Kuryo appeared by my side.
“Hey,” he said, crouching down beside me. “You okay?”
I nodded, looking down at my lap. I mean, I wasn’t hurt, was I? It’s not like I’d been punched in the face or anything. But Kuryo put an arm around me. “It’s going to be alright,” he murmured. “I’ll find something.”
I looked at him from the corner of my eye. Should I tell him? Probably not. Bella’s hive – was he part of it? Was I? I wasn’t sure. Death messed around with connections like that.
“Come on, get up,” he said, pulling on my arm. “Don’t stay on the floor.”
I let him tell me what to do. Come to think of it, everyone was telling me what to do… I guess I felt spineless. I guess I just – wanted some direction to life?
I was sitting listlessly on the bed when Bella surfaced from the bathroom, all clean and fresh for the day. Kuryo was sitting beside me, rubbing my arms and trying to cheer me up. I just felt blah.
“Hey lovebirds,” she sneered. “Come along.”
And we followed her. Downstairs and out the front door, to where a portal was waiting. It filled the air with the stench of sulfur and sparkles emanated from it. So it went to Lucifer’s part of hell, I supposed.
Bella seized a hand of both Kuryo and me, and, with a curt nod to the overseeing vampires, dragged us after her into the portal. Whoopee.
For a second I was terrified that she was bringing us somewhere humiliating. That was my first fear, before realizing that I should be more worried about getting myself tortured for havign sneezed in her direction or something dumb like that.
On the other side of the portal, we were unceremoniously shoved forward. I stumbled as the ground rose up to me, and Kuryo caught me. How come he was always on his feet? I briefly wondered if he had psychic wings or something that held him up.
Then Bella called out, her voice just a pitch shrill. “Look what I found!”
And we looked up. And around. There was a whole council. Demon overlords, one wind god whose name I couldn’t remember, several goddesses who looked out for vengeance, and, of course, Lucifer.
Lucifer who, like a drama queen seeing her favourite dish come forward, applauded slowly. Bella strutted forward to take her space at the head of the table. “I also found a jade dragon and a golden one.”
The council oohed and ahhed. Some even applauded for real. I stood, mind reeling. Yeah, okay, so she had a war council. That was to be expected. So – she’d decided to come parade us like little trophies. Also to be expected.
“You know, they’re not just going to do what you ask of them. They’re not yours,” Kuryo snapped sharply.
Bella smirked his way. “You’re really naive.”
Kuryo’s face darkened. And uh, naive wasn’t a word I’d apply to him. Just – for some reason.
“Well, congrats darling,” cooed Lucifer. “You’re doing fabulously.”
Bella beamed, truly proud of herself.
Conversation struck up. Kuryo and I were shooed to a corner near Bella by servants who rushed around serving preferred beverages. Details were ranted about and I pretended not to be paying any attention while trying to soak it all in. Just in case I could relay any and all of it to the rebellion.
As things stood, Bella had nearly captured all of North America. South America had already fallen. Some heathen parts of Europe were still resisting – but her religion was spreading fast as an official religion.
“Even the penguins are worshiping you,” Lucifer added snidely – and I couldn’t tell if he was serious or not.
Then, the topic came up. “We need to speak of the rebellion,” one goddess announced.