Chapter 22

 H.M. Ward

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Although he didn't want to, Reggie knew that he couldn't get caught with Kahli, but he didn't know what to do with her. He wanted to keep her, use her blood for himself, but having her body around - and that uncouth mouth - was not smart. If the girl escaped her cage while he was unaware, she'd slit his throat and set him on fire. There were things vampires had once been able to recover from, but being beheaded and burned alive wasn't one of them. His eyes flicked to Kahli. She sat in the center of the cage, cross-legged, picking her nails like an ape.
"Must you do that?"
Kahli looked up at him, her eyes narrowed. She flicked a nail and it made that awful sound again. "What? You mean this?" She did it again, watching Reggie cringe.
"You know exactly what I mean, you barbaric simian. Stop making ghastly sounds." He pressed his fingers to his temples. "I need to think."
Kahli sighed and fell onto her back. Staring at the cage ceiling, she said, "Simian? Really? We're resorting to name calling now, Reggie?"
"Reginald," he bit back, his hands flying away from his face. Although he desperately needed to figure out how to play this hand, he couldn't think. Every time his mind brushed the surface of an idea, it slipped away. Exasperated, he strode toward her cage and stopped in front of it. "Did William teach you to act this way, or is this your own concoction?"
Kahli grinned, still looking at the ceiling of the cage. Not lifting her head to look at the vamp, she said, "William taught me not to trust anyone. My manners are my own creation. I know how much you like me, Reggie. I think we'd get along way better if you didn't treat me like a monkey." Kahli looked at her nails and then pressed them to the bottom of the metal cage, and pulled. They made a shrieking sound that made Kahli cringe inside, but she scraped her nails all the way across the cage bottom, which made the hideous noise louder. When she finished, Kahli looked at her nails. Two ripped, but it was worth it.
Reggie's arms tensed at the sound and pulled tighter to his body. His shoulders went rigid as he watched the girl. Plugging his fingers in his ears, he yelled, "I'll stop treating you like a monkey when you stop acting like one!"
Kahli jumped to her feet. "I'll stop acting like one, when you stop treating me like one. Let me out of this damn cage. We want the same things. We should be working together. You already know that, but you're too arrogant to say you need my help."
Reggie left his fingers in his ears, and pressed his eyes closed, "Silence, beast." When Kahli didn't stop talking, Reggie grabbed a remote off the side table next to the couch. He pressed a yellow button and a jolt of electricity shot through the cage, zapping Kahli. She gasped, rendered momentarily silent. When Reggie released the button, he said, "That's better. Remember, no matter what your puny mind might be telling you, you're trapped, little girl. Unless you chew through those bars, you belong to me."
Kahli's hair smoked lightly. The ends had that singed hair smell. It filled her nostrils as she pushed herself off the cage floor. Laying down and getting zapped was way worse than standing up and getting zapped. It was the second time he did that to her. "We're wasting time, you arrogant bastard." Her voice came out in a breath, completely lacking its normal venom.
Reggie folded his arms after he put the remote down. Scolding her, he said, "Then, shut up, Miss Kahli Wildgirl and let me think." His head hung between his shoulders like the world was crushing him flat.
Kahli rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand, trying to push away the effect of the shock. "There's nothing to think about. You want your sister dead. So do I. So does Will. So does the King. Pick a side, you coward, and go run her through with a pitchfork. Now'd be a good time."
Reggie turned and tilted his head at her. "You understand nothing. Sophia expects to be attacked and out of all people, she suspects me. How am I supposed to waltz right in there and walk out with my head? Come on, chimp-girl. If you're so smart, tell me how." Reggie walked next to her cage and snapped his fingers at her like she was a misbehaving animal.
Taking a ragged breath, she looked up at him. Kahli's eyes were livid, green as emeralds, and just as hard. "If you snap at me again, I'm going to chew through these bars and bite off your fingers, one by one." She held his gaze for a moment, before continuing, "You are so dense. Return what's been stolen from her. Show up with me in hand, and she'll let you in. You can walk straight into the ballroom."
"And then, what? You saw what she did to me before."
"You didn't have me before. You didn't have my blood inside of you before. This time Sophia won't suspect a thing. She's had more of my blood, but it didn't metabolize as quickly as it did with you. You can probably manage another drop or two before we got there."
"How'd you know the Queen had trouble with your blood?"
Kahli looked at him like Reggie was retarded, "The King. Hello? He tried to rip my neck out. Remember? Come on! Pull it together. We have to get out of here, and you're wasting time asking for a rehash. The King is the one you have to watch out for, not her, and he's not there right now."
Reggie paced in front of her, his slender arms folded over his chest. "How do I know I can trust you?"
She laughed, "You can't. But for the moment, we share a common problem."
"For the moment," he agreed.