The Thrall (Seven Sins MC #3) by Jessica Gadziala

"Have you been taking your iron?" she asked, slipping a pair of rainbow-colored hoops I'd given her for her last birthday onto her ears. "I worry about you. I can practically see through you these days."

She wasn't wrong.

When I turned my arms, my veins stood out in shocking blue contrast to my skin. I could trace one from the bottom of my hand, up my wrist, forearm, all the way up to where it finally disappeared in my upper arm.

"I know," I agreed, sighing. "And yes."

"Who has been drinking from you so much?" she asked.

We each had one "true" master. And then there was our core "family" of five. But any of the vampires in the home could feed on us. That was how it worked.

Guests and friends came to stay all the time, taking a fancy on some of us, and choosing us for their personal thralls for the length of their stay.

I didn't mind my "core family" so much.

But they'd been into the new girl lately.

Which left me as free game to the guests.

To one guest in particular.

One who showed no signs of ever leaving.

"Davor," I said, feeling my bile turn bitter in my mouth even at the mention of him.

Irina's face went hard at that even as her eyes filled with sympathy. "He's evil."

"They all are," I reminded her.

"But he is a different kind of evil."

Again, she was right.

Davor was old for a vampire. I think the story went that his son had been turned, and he'd been upset at the idea of living eternally without his father, so he'd turned him as well.

Davor was seventy if he was a day with age-spotted hands, a face of cavernous wrinkles due to a lifetime out in the sun as a human, and skin that sagged off his bones. He was tall and thin, and should you see him around, you'd think him frail.

Only, he wasn't frail. He had the same strength they all did. The kind that left bruises if they weren't careful. And, typically, our masters were.

Davor, though, he was truly the sick kind of evil. He liked to grab me too hard, to leave finger or hand-sized bruises on my delicate flesh. He liked when I winced or cried out in pain.

I didn't even want to tell Irina this, but when he was going to feed off me, he made a sick, painful game of it, sinking his fangs in little by little, pricking my skin until I writhed and tears slipped down my cheeks.

Only when he'd tormented me to his satisfaction, had gotten his fill of my fear, did he drink.

"I think he chose you because you are weak," Irina suggested. "He gets off on that."

"I know," I agreed.

"We need to fatten you up a bit, get some color in your cheeks. Maybe he will leave you alone. Maybe we can even hope that he will get the fuck out of here already with his stinking old ass. I swear he smells like mothballs. Who smells like mothballs anymore?"

I admired Irina's fighting spirit, her spunk, her absolute refusal to sink into the dark moods. I didn't know where that strength came from, but I wished I did. I wished I could learn to find some for myself.

I was just too tired, too worn down.

"We can try," I agreed, moving to sit down at my own vanity, looking at the sunkenness of my cheekbones.

There was a knock at the door before Alice, the new thrall, everyone's current favorite, with her blonde hair, her chubby cheeks, and her bright green eyes, moved in. She had a smile that could make a preacher forget his vows. I hated, when I looked at her, that I could just imagine what she would look like in two to five years. With that bloom gone. With that smile more infrequent and not so wide.

"Hey, girlie," Irina said, giving Alice a smile as she reached for her lipstick tube.

"Oh, did you hear already?" she asked, pouting.

"Hear about what?"

"Where we're going tonight," Alice said, brightening.

"No, babe, I just like to be prepared," Irina said as she pressed her now bright red lips together. "Where are we going?"

"This fun club called Sanctuary!" Alice declared, making dread fill my stomach. Irina, usually so go-with-the-flow, even stiffened. "Isn't that so fun?" Alice babbled. "I am going to go get dressed. What should I wear, do you know?"

"Something that comes off easily," Irina said, getting up to cross the room, and close the door in Alice's confused face. "Babe," she said, shaking her head.

"I know," I agreed.