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Adaire looked around the new apartment like how she looked at most things- appraising the value and judging how secure it was placed. Her finger had gotten a lot less sticky over the years, but old habits die hard and every once in a while, Hella received an item back that she knew she hadn’t borrowed Adaire consciously. Hella also knew that Adaire only did that because she knew Hella didn’t care, she would’ve given her whatever it was anyways. It was more fun this way though.  

“You’ve got a nice place- how much did you say the rent was?” “Really not that high, I got very lucky.” “Everyone who gets a place in this area says that. Who did you know?” Hella laughed. “Calhoun. His sister owns this building. They’re not really on speaking terms, but his word apparently still means something to her.” “How is she?” “What?” “Y’know, your new landlord? How is she?” “Weird. Very pretty, but weird. She looks like Calhoun but acts nothing like him.”

Hella remembered her well. Tall, dark skin and that calm smile. The pointed tone in which she had said “my brother”, the piercing eyes and the effortless elegance. Her long fingers when she shook Hellas hand and told her she could move in.

“Pretty?” Adaire waggled her eyebrows.
“No, Adaire.”
Adaire laughed and Hella shook her head. It was always the same. It was always nice with Adaire, always easy. “Well, does my new place have your approval?” “Let’s see. If your kitchen survives me cooking for us, then sure.” “Sounds like a plan.”

The first weeks in the new apartment passed without incident. Work was going decent, Hella finally finished unpacking and the place started to feel lived in. She threw a small party/ housewarming and used that as an excuse to meet the neighbors, warn them in case of potential noise. It was during that visit that she met Adelaide again.

Hella had knocked on her door, the one on the highest floor and almost immediately the door opened, and Adelaide stood there smiling with closed lips and eyes scanning Hella with great interest. Hella tried to shake the feeling of being sized up and instead forced a smile.

“Hi! Thanks again for the opportunity, I’ve really enjoyed my first few weeks. I wanted to come by and warn you that I’ve invited a few friends for the weekend and, well, I promise we won’t party, but they will stay longer and if anything gets too loud, please just call. I don’t want to be a nuisance or cause any issues.” By now it felt like she had memorized a script as she told Adelaide what she had told about fifteen other folks.

Adelaide smiled a little wider, still not showing teeth, which Hella found odd, but she had no time to focus on it. “Sure. That’s fine. A housewarming?” “Yes, something like that. Lem also just officially released his first song and we’re celebrating that.” “Lem?”

Hella paused and pulled back. “A friend and a musician.” “I see.” An awkward silence filled the door way, but Adelaide did not seem to care. She waited another eternity before nodding. “Alright, I won’t bother you unless it gets too out of hand. I doubt it will, you strike me as someone who is very responsible.” Her tone indicated some kind of joke but Hella couldn’t find anything funny. So, she just nodded and said: “Thanks, I’ll see you around.”

 

The housewarming went fine, a comfortable evening between friends with Pizza, music, alcohol, and gossip. And even though Hella brushed it off when Adaire brought the topic of Adelaide up, that very night she dreamed of those intense eyes staring at her, looking her up and down like a valuable piece in a museum.

However, the dreams didn’t stay and Hella kind of forgot about the whole thing. She rarely saw Adelaide and the few times they spoke their conversations were normal. Sometimes Hella had the feeling she was missing something, like Adelaide had some private joke or knew something she didn’t.  She always did her best to ignore that feeling.

She had also gotten to know a couple of other tenants and most of them were nice. Two of them had brought her cookies as a welcome present. And she was in semi-regular contact with the two groups right next to her, usually exchanging packages always getting a bit of gossip as well. And well there were a lot of rumors that circulated about Adelaide. Apparently, she was:
related to royalty, had killed her father, had killed her brother- sometimes both of them, died once before, was an omen of death, a vampire, a witch, committed tax-fraud, owned another one of these buildings, had a private plane and was friends with the president of a company that Hella was vaguely familiar with, the man’s name was Samothes? It didn’t really matter because Hella didn’t care. She still remembered all of them.

Anyways! All was fine until her boss decided out of the blue and without proper warning to cancel a week of Hellas shifts. She quit as fast as she could, but the issue was that with that change she wouldn’t have enough money to pay rent this month. Great. Hopefully, Adelaide would understand.

 

Adelaide had opened the door almost immediately after Hella had knocked. “Hello, what can I do for you Hella?” “I would like to discuss something important; do you have time right now?” There was a moment of surprise that passed Adelaide’s face and Hella realized how rarely Adelaide did something that wasn’t smiling. Weird.

“Come on in, do you want coffee? Tea?” “Ah, no thank you.” Hella followed Adelaide into her apartment and tried to keep her eyes to herself- or well staring at the marble floor. (who has marbles floors?) She was led into a living room and Adelaide gestured for her to take a seat on the couch. She did just that. Adelaide sat down on a chair across from her. “How can I help?”

Hella explained the situation in as much detail as possible. She tried to stay neutral and professional but she wasn’t sure she was succeeding all that much. “-yes so in short, I can’t pay full rent this month. Is there a way I can maybe pay part of this month now and the rest next month? Or just pay double rent next time?” Adelaide smiled.

“You scared me Hella, I thought this would be something far more serious than a month worth of late rent. Don’t worry We will work something out.” Hella sighed. “Thank you.” “Oh, don’t worry about it. I try to be as lenient and open as I can, I found that that makes tenants nicer.” Hella laughed. “I can imagine that.”

Silence fell over the room and Adelaie stood up and moved over to a window. She seemed to consider something. “Hella?” “Yes?” “You’ve been talking to the other residents, yes?” “Yes? Are you okay?” “Yes I am fine. You’ve certainly heard the odd rumor about me then, right?” “I mean, yes? Adelaide where are you going with this?” “I have an idea how we can solve your issue.” “Oh good. What does that have to do-“

Adelaide spun around her dress fluttered around her legs. “Not all of the rumors are wrong you know?" Adelaide smiled again but there was something new in her face. Hella swallowed heavily. “What?” She managed

“Like I said,” Adelaide’s voice was so quiet “Some of the rumors are true.”

“What do you mean?”
Adelaide laughed a clear laugh, like glass and then locked eyes with Hella.
“Let me show you.”

Hellas body tensed and her brain cleared as Adelaide opened her mouth, smiling, and presenting long, sharp fangs. She ran her tongue along between them and something inside of Hella turned.

“You’re a Vampire?!” Adelaide laughed again and despite all of the adrenaline coursing through Hellas blood, she adored the sound. Who knows maybe the last thing she heard was at least a nice sound? “That wouldn’t be inaccurate to say.” “So, what d’you want?” “To offer you a deal.”

Adelaide moved with speed and precision like always, suddenly she reminded Hella less of a Queen and more of an animal on the hunt. She had to stop herself moving back. Instead, she straightened up so that when Adelaide stood infront of her the height difference wasn’t as severe. Still looking up at Adelaide who returned the look with a lot of intensity and sharpness made her shiver.

“What-?”

“Calm down. I can feel your heart pounding from here. I won’t do anything to harm you. You’ve given me no reason. I truly just want to offer you an opportunity.”
Hella breathed through her teeth. “Alright, tell me.” Adelaide’s smile got sharper and Hella leaned back instinctively eyes transfixed on those sharp teeth.

“You’re a good tenant and I like you. I don’t want you to move out and negotiating late rents is always an awful inconvenience. So, I offer you a substitute. Pay me your rent in blood, just this once.” Hella felt her fingers shaking and she straightened her back even more. She wouldn’t let Adelaide intimidate her. So, what if she was a Vampire.

“Speechless?” Hella ignored that: “What would that mean? How much?” Adelaide’s eyes locked onto her like she wandered into a trap and maybe she had, but maybe getting the bait would be worth it.

“I can’t tell you anything in milliliters but not enough to harm you. You might be a little tired a day after and you’d need to cover the wound for a few days- it’s not subtle- but no more than that. I can control myself. And Ang- my brother would be so upset. So?” Hella licked her dry lips. “Yes.” “Yes?” Hella rolled her eyes. “Yes, I’ll take your stupid deal.”

“Excellent.” Adelaide’s tongue slid over one of the fangs and Hella couldn’t help but follow the motion with her eyes. “Tell me when you’re free. It won’t take up a lot of time, but I don’t like to be rushed.” “Not a lot of time?” Adelaide smiled- closed lips again. “Not unless you want it to. I expect a prompt reply.”

Hella made the way from Adelaides apartment back to her own as if in a trance. As soon as she arrived in her own living room she let herself fall onto the couch, hand covering her eyes. What the hell had she gotten herself into?

She elected to ignore the strange feeling in her heart and the pit of stomach and instead got up and shook herself. She’d go for a run. Maybe then her head would be clearer.

 

Roughly a week later Adelaide sat in a chair at Hellas kitchen table and Hella sat down across from her after serving dinner. “Hope you like it.” Adelaide chuckled. “What’s so funny?” “Nothing, this is just a very big appetizer.” And she didn’t wink but Hella felt a wink implied and felt blood rush to her cheeks. Luckily, blush was hard to spot on her and if she just started eating Adelaide wouldn’t notice. Right?

If she had noticed she made no comment, instead she also began eating and a silence fell over the room. The whole meal passed silently and Hella couldn’t say she was mad about. She didn’t know what to say her head swirling with ideas about what might happen next. She almost didn’t notice the clatter of Adelaide’s cutlery. Almost.

“Are you finished?” When Hella looked up, she found Adelaide staring at her with an unwavering stare. And she felt her pulse quickening immediately and swallowed.
Adelaide smiled, fangs just peeking out between the lips. “Oh no, my main course still awaits me.” Hella felt a shiver run down her spine and Adelaide smiled wider. Hella drew a shaky breath and tried to reassert herself in a less helpless position.

“So how is this going to happen?” “However, you want. I will say, couch or bed are probably better, because its more comfortable and well…” “What?”

“If I am reading the signals right, and I usually do, then you want more out of this evening than just me feeding and leaving, correct?” Hella sputtered and coughed. And she heard Adelaide laugh again and my- what a sound. But still, how dare she? Just because she had a pretty laugh and looked like a goddess…

Hella looked up and the smirk that Adelaide gave her made her whole body heat up. Perhaps she was right. But Hella was nothing if not stubborn.

“And if you are correct, what would that mean?” The look she received was a victory in Hellas book.

“If I am correct, then I am happy to inform you that this can be a very intimate experience. If I am wrong, which I seldom am, then I am just as happy to inform you that it doesn’t have to be.” Why was she so pretty while she was being a dick? Why did Adelaide’s self-assured smirk Hellas knees so weak? Why was she suddenly into Vampires?

Hellas silence clearly lasted too long for Adelaide’s taste and she got up and within no time she stood above Hella. Hella looked up and- oh wow she had forgotten how much taller Adelaide was from this perspective. Adelaide smiled and put her hand on the crook between Hellas shoulder and her neck. “I can hear your heart pounding from the other side of the room. I can feel your pulse and my fingers aren’t near it. Either you are so scared that we should not do this at all or… well.” The look on Adelaide face was enough to break Hellas resolve.

“Yes.” The word came out rough and quiet, so Hella cleared her throat and tried again. “You are correct.” Her own hand came up and she laid it atop Adelaide’s, who smirked, her fangs on full display. “Excellent.” Her voice was like Honey and Hella felt another shiver.

“Follow me.” And Adelaide did follow her, brushing their fingers together, dirty dishes left on the table without a second thought.
“The bedroom is down the hall; I’ll grab a towel.” Adelaide smiled and Hella heard her bedroom door from the bathroom. She used the opportunity to cool down, very literally with some water, but somehow, she didn’t loose the heat in her stomach.

Hella took a deep breath before opening her own bedroom door and immediately gasped. Adelaide had exchanged the dress she’d been wearing for one of Hellas shirts and it was certainly a little big on her, but it barely reached mid-thigh. Hella couldn’t look away, dizzy with a new flash of heat that overtook her body and she did all she could not to sprint to the bed.

With shaking hands, she laid the towel onto her bed and sat down next to Adelaide her eyes unable to look away. She started flexing her hands trying to control them and when Adelaide’s eyes found her, she was smirking again. “I promised, didn’t I? You will be fine; this will be good.” Hella almost laughed at the implication that she was shaking in fear. “I know, just tell me what to do.”

Shed meant that to sound strong and in charge but it came out much more like a plea. Adelaide’s smirk softened into a smile fangs disappearing behind her lips as she pressed Hella onto her back. “Relax. Let me guide you.” Hellas hand dug into the covers and she took a shaky breath, her best attempt to calm down. Adelaide laughed softly, and cupped Hellas cheek. Her fingers seemed ice cold against Hellas burning skin and she leaned into the sensation.

Then Adelaide hands traveled down her neck along her bicep until she reached her shaking hands. She took them into hers. Then they locked eyes again. “Hella, do you trust me? I will not do anything you do not wish me to do.” Hella shook her head.

“No, please.” Her voice cracked. “I want you to do this.” Adelaide smiled. “Very well.” She chuckled. “You can touch me; these poor covers didn’t do anything to you.” Hella was too far gone to respond with anything besides following Adelaide’s suggestion and putting her hands on her hips.

Adelaide meanwhile let her fingers travel back up Hellas arms until they reached her neck. Hella followed the motion, tilting her head to the side to give Adelaide better access. And she leaned down. Hella braced herself but instead of pain she felt Adelaide kissing her neck. Then Hella noticed hands traveling down her sides, brushing against her hands, her cheeks, the strip of stomach her that was exposed-

The prick of teeth sinking into her neck felt sudden and surprising and Hella almost screamed but the small bit of pain that had been there quickly became a pleasant sensation that forced Hella to bite down another kind of scream. She was almost overwhelmed with Adelaide’s hands still roaming her body and her teeth in her neck. It felt like an eternity passed before Adelaide removed her head from Hellas neck.

Hella had to open her eyes- she hadn’t noticed that she had closed them- and saw Adelaide sitting above her, a little trickle of blood on her chin and a glint in her eyes that Hella hadn’t seen before. She couldn’t help herself as she yanked Adelaide down and kissed her, messily, tasting her own blood on Adelaide’s lips. When they  separated something had changed in Adelaide’s face. Something that told Hella that this would be a long night- in the best way.

--

The sun shone through Hellas blinds and she angrily tried to blink through the brightness. When she tried to move however, she was stopped by a weight on her chest. When she looked down, she caught the sight of Adelaide opening her eyes. Hella smiled at the unfiltered tired look on Adelaide’s face. “Good Morning.” “It’s too early for this Hella, I will keep sleeping.” Hella laughed. “Can I close the blinds? Then I will join you again.” Adelaide grumbled as she moved for Hella.

Hella laughed again but that got stuck in her throat as she saw her reflection while getting up. Adelaide had been right the small wound on her neck would be gone in a couple of days but right now it was clear as day what had happened last night. My god, if Adelaide weren’t against it, she’d have to tell Adaire about everything- that could wait. She had more important things right now.