Ever since my first hunt I had avoided working with anyone. It’s not that Michaela was a bad partner. We disagreed on everything. She was a kill first ask questions later type of girl. Most Venatori hunters were of the same mind. They didn’t care why a supernatural being was doing something. They put an end to the current law being broken and didn’t care about anything else.
No one cared when a vengeful ghost possessed a little girl and then went on a killing spree starting with their murderer, but I did. I tried to save the little girl in my first hunt, but it came down to my life or hers and I had to kill her with the ghost inside. Later when I was out on my own, I could explore the reasons behind the ghosts actions. Turned out, an abused boy possessed the little girl. His own father beat him and later killed him. After killing his father, the ghost killed every other person who didn’t stop the abuse but knew about it, until I stopped him.
It wouldn’t have changed the outcome but there was a reason, maybe if I’d understood in the beginning I could have done different things. I tried to see things from their side because I was more on their side than any other side. I wasn’t Venatori – not fully anyway, and I wasn’t human either. The line that every hunter drew in the sand, I straddled it daily. But, I choose my path, and no one liked working with me because of it. I was okay with that.
Walker was no different. He eyed me up and down as we walked. I had no destination, but we walked. He turned to the elevators and pushed the button to go up. I took a deep breath and pushed the anxiety away.
We ascended 14 floors in the plate glass elevator that overlooked the middle of the AU Building. The height was dizzying as we moved up and even closing my eyes didn’t stop the anxiety from rising the higher we rose.
When the door opened, I hurried out and Walker was chuckling. “Big bad hunter afraid of heights?”
I shrugged. “It doesn’t stop me from doing anything. I take it you are hungry?”
Walker nodded. “You mind if we work and eat at the same time? Or don’t you like to socialize, always choosing to eat in your apartment?”
He was being snide and condescending and it was something I was used to. “I socialize just fine.” With those I felt worthy of my time. Most people in the cafeteria were not.
The line waiting for their own food was short. I grabbed a bottle of water, a banana and some yogurt left over from breakfast. It wasn’t quite lunch, but there was more lunch than breakfast being served.
A friendly face peaked over the hot serving line. “Hey, darling. Hold up. I got something for you.” Ms. Sheila’s southern drawl was never quite removed from her personality. It made me wonder if she exaggerated just for the sake of being different. I know it was something I would do.
I raised my eyebrow in question as Ms. Sheila hurried off into the back of the cooking area to fetch something. Walker grinned. “You like them all sorts of ways don’t you.”
“I do.” I wouldn’t let him get under my skin.
At that moment Ms. Shelia in her dyed pink hair – it was supposed to be auburn, but it always came out pink. She said she tried to fix it, but so many people loved it she kept it that way. That was shy of 15 years ago. She handed me a bag with a wink. “Don’t look at it until you leave the line.”
“Okay.” I smiled at her and then blew her a kiss which elicited a snicker and a giggle from Ms. Shelia.
“Always the charmer. I’m surprised Mia hasn’t found you a young lady to settle down with yet.”
I waved at her with another smile. “Oh, she’s trying.”
Walker was waiting for me at an empty table. The cashier scanned my ID, and the charges applied to my account for the day. But I’d gotten a free meal or something out of it. It was worth coming down to the cafeteria some days. Ms. Shelia enjoyed spoiling me.
I sat down in front of Walker and set my tray on the table while I put the bag in my lap to see what was in it.
Walker leaned over the table trying to grab a peak too. “You must be a good lay to get special treatment.”
“Ms. Shelia likes me, what can I say.” I said with grandiose voice. Ms. Shelia treated me like her own son. She looked after the small skinny kid who ate the same thing everyday at the same time. I was so bad as a child, Ms. Shelia made my plate before I got there, and putting new things on it for me to try.
It was one of those change a little at a time so I don’t freak out moments. The first time it happened I hyperventilated and passed out and Dae’lin took me to the infirmary where she later bitched at me for freaking out, which sent me into another attack and on and on for three hours until Dorian came and calmed me down. I was a fucking mess.
I’m not much better now, but now I know how to cope. I’m not five anymore.
In the bag was a large freshly baked loaf of bread, still warm from the oven. I wasn’t a big carb eater but one of my weaknesses was fresh bread. The moist warmth radiating up from the bag made me wonder if Ms. Sheila knew I was going to be downstairs for breakfast, but it didn’t matter.
I tore a piece off and offered Walker the piece he shook his head. “No thanks.” He made no snide remarks which surprised me. But I was thankful.