Chapter Sixteen

I didn't try to sleep or eat after I was returned to my room.  I didn't even put on new clothes.  I just sat in the corner, curled up in a ball with Dex's jacket wrapped around me, shaking like a crack addict.  Tears fell down my face, but I didn't cry or even whimper.  The only movement I made was to rock back and forth occasionally.
 
I could barely see the room around me through the visions that plagued my mind.  Even now, poor little Kimberly was probably locked in a cage that wouldn't fit a small dog, with acid being administered to her through a tube.  She would be scared and confused.  She didn't know why this was happening to her.  I hadn't even had time to tell her she was a werewolf.  I saw the tall imposing figure that was Victor stand over her, his rock-hard face not betraying an ounce of sympathy.  How loud would she scream?
 
“Snap out of it, girl!" I blinked in surprise, and I realized that I hadn't imagined Victor standing there- he was actually here in the room with me.  The door stood open behind him.  I hadn't even heard him unlock it.
 
“I knocked for five minutes," he griped irritably, his eyes narrowed in displeasure.  “The least you could have done was get dressed."
 
I tugged Dex's jacket tighter around myself, ashamed of my nakedness but unable to summon the energy to do anything about it.
 
“The board of directors wishes to see you again," he said.  “Now."
 
He waited expectantly for a few seconds, but when I didn't immediately hop up on my feet, his expression turned from one of annoyance to anger.
 
“We cannot keep the directors waiting, you stupid girl!" he snapped.  “Get dressed!"
 
And just like that, I sprang to my feet and dropped Dex's jacket, heedless of being naked in front of the terrifying man.  I went to the dresser and opened the one of the drawers to find a full set of clothes and another pair of shoes waiting inside.  I put them on as quickly as I could under Victor's watchful eye, unable to be anything less than completely obedient.
 
“So it's true," he mused thoughtfully as I got dressed.  “You really have turned submissive."
 
I wanted to ask him what that meant, but I remembered his instructions the previous day not to interrupt him, and kept my mouth shut.  I still wasn't sure what was going on with me.  Since the other werewolf had thrashed me, I hadn't been able to summon even the slightest amount of confidence.  I told myself it was probably because of what had happened to Kimberly, but deep down I knew that wasn't true.  It had started before Kimberly had been taken away- the moment I had accepted defeat at the other wolf's hands.
 
I slipped the shirt on over my head, feeling a little better now that Victor couldn't ogle me.  To my surprise, I even felt grateful to him for telling me to get dressed, because I wouldn't have done it on my own.  I turned to look at him expectantly, but when I met his eyes I blushed and turned me head down so I was staring at his shoes.
 
“Sorry," I mumbled, feeling inexplicably ashamed.
 
Victor chuckled darkly.  “I think I like you better this way.  Too bad I don't still get to keep you."
 
I didn't respond.  I only nodded, never lifting my eyes from his shoes.
 
“Come on, then," he said, grabbing me by the shoulder and pulling me from the room.  When Dex had done it, it had been gentle yet insistent.  Victor's hand, though, squeezed me painfully tight, and he moved so quickly that I almost tripped in my efforts to keep up with him.  I didn't complain, though.  Or couldn't- I wasn't exactly sure.
 
The journey to the meeting room was made in silence.  I wanted to ask Victor why the directors wanted to see me again, and whether Kimberly was okay, but I kept my mouth shut.  If Victor wanted to tell me any of this, he would do it himself.
 
What is wrong with you? I demanded in my head.  You've never been like this before!  Grow a backbone and stand up for yourself!
 
Unlike Dex, when Victor came to the massive door, he didn't fumble around with a key ring.  He quickly and efficiently placed each key exactly where it needed to go, and had the door open in less than five seconds.  Pushing me inside, he knocked three times on the smaller door, and then opened it.
 
“I have brought the Silverblood to you," he said immediately as we went inside.  His voice was just as strong as it had ever been, but now there was a clearly noticeable trace of respect to it.
 
“Very good," Vaazkima said, his claws steepled together in their usual way.  “Sit her down."
 
Victor pushed me towards the table, pulled out a chair, and then forced me into it.  Mr. Wrogan and Miss Shavver were both there too.  Dr. Lacken was nowhere to be seen- but Dex was.  He sat in a chair a little to the left of the directors.  What surprised me even more, though, was seeing Kimberly sitting in his lap, looking completely unharmed.  That didn't mean she was happy, though.  She was still shaking with terror, unable to take her eyes off of the skeleton and the ghoul sitting a few feet away from her.
 
“What Dexter said was true," Victor reported.  “She has been made submissive.  She did not even try to transform when she saw me."
 
“An improvement, if you ask me," Vaazkima said.  He put his palms down on the table in front of him.  “All right, for those who don't know, this meeting has been called to discuss the Silverblood issue again."
 
The Silverblood issue?  What issue was there?  Dex had said that they would be satisfied now that they had Kimberly.  What else was there for them to discuss?
 
Dex stood, picking up Kimberly and putting her down in the chair behind him.  The filthy, rotten, good for nothing liar, I thought.  He had tricked me.  It was his fault Kimberly was here now.  Anger rose up in me, but like before it wasn't enough of it to do make me do anything.
 
“I'll put it simply," he said.  “The lost Silverblood has been found."
 
If this was news to the directors, they did not show it.  It did, however, shock me to my core.  The werewolf that had bitten me?  They'd found it?  After finding out what I had become, I had spent surprisingly little time thinking about the werewolf over the past six months.  Part of me had assumed it was dead.  Such a large creature couldn't be around people for that long without being caught and killed.  But if they had found it, that meant that not only was it alive, but it was still out there somewhere.
 
“Amber fought it last night when we went to retrieve Kimberly," he went on, shocking me a second time.  “We were able to identify it by some of the blood it had left on her when she injured it."
 
The werewolf I had fought last night had been the same one as before?
 
But Dex was not done yet.  “I propose that we release Amber and Kimberly from our custody and put our efforts into finding the werewolf we lost in the first place."
 
“And why should we do that?" Miss Shavver asked, tapping her bony finger on the table.  “We have a Silverblood to experiment on.  In fact, we have two.  If I had my way, we would keep them both."
 
Victor didn't say anything, but I got the distinct feeling that he approved of this idea.
 
“Because that wouldn't be the honorable thing to do," Dex answered.  “I won't deny that we need a Silverblood, but can you tell me with sincere honesty that either Amber or Kimberly deserve what they are going to get here?"
 
“I fail to see where I'm supposed to care," Vaazkima said in a bored drawl.  “We are running a business here, not a charity."
 
“No, you are not," Dex agreed.  “But Majestic has always prided itself in being a good, honest company.  If we were to keep these two girls captive for an accident that we caused, how much would the company's reputation suffer for it?"
 
Vaazkima waved his hand dismissively.  “Nobody needs to know.  The company's reputation would not suffer in the slightest."
 
“But would it be a reputation we still deserved?" Dex challenged him.  “Would we still be able to speak with sincere honesty when we tell people how great Majestic is?"
 
“I think I could still live with myself," the ghoul answered.
 
Dex opened his mouth to argue, but Miss Shavver cut him off.  “Sincerity is well and good, Dexter, but not by any means necessary.  What you are asking is for us to expend even more of Majestic's resources to obtain something we already have."
 
“Foolishness," Vaazkima concurred.
 
“I agree with Dexter," Mr. Wrogan said, speaking up for the first time since I'd come into the room.
 
A sour look came over Vaazkima's face, and he turned to glare at the large man.
 
“You can't let anything be easy, can you?" he growled.
 
“This isn't about what is easy," Mr. Wrogan argued, standing up to display his full impressive height.  “I cannot condone what you wish to do."
 
Vaazkima rolled his eyes, and rubbed his forehead in aggravation.  “Wrogan, do you think this is the only secret Majestic will have swept under the rug?  Every company has them.  This one is no bigger than the others!"
 
Mr. Wrogan pounded his fists on the table with a loud boom, making me jump.  Kimberly curled herself into a tiny ball, trying to hide in the chair Dex had left her in.  “I don't care!  I will not stand for this.  This is my department, not yours, so once again the final decision in this matter rests in my hands."
 
He paused to take a breath, and looked over at me.
 
“I will release both of them.  Now that we know the location of the original Silverblood, there is no reason for either of them to be kept here."
 
Miss Shavver opened her jaw to speak, but Mr. Wrogan interrupted her.  “I am well aware that I can expect no help from either of you.  I will fund this hunt myself, and assign my own men to it.  You two need not bother yourselves."
 
Vaazkima's irises lit up yellow in anger, but his face remained expressionless.  “I wouldn't dream of it," he said after a long, tense moment of silence.  “That takes care of that, I suppose.  Goodbye."
 
He stood up abruptly, his chair rolling back until it hit the wall behind him, and marched stiffly around the table, toward the door.
 
“Mr. Vaazkima," Dex spoke quickly, and the director froze with his hand just above the doorknob.
 
“Yes, what is it now, Dexter?" he asked, his voice betraying his barely concealed anger.
 
Dex cleared his throat, and spoke cautiously.  “I, um, was just wondering if you had… well…"
 
“No, I'm afraid I have come absolutely no closer to finding you a cure than I was the last time you asked," Vaazkima answered, obviously knowing what Dex was talking about even if I didn't.  “I had thought, for a moment, that I was getting closer.  As it turns out, though, it was just another dead end."
 
Dex's eyes widened, though I'm not sure if it was in anger or pain, and he shut his mouth.  Without another word, Vaazkima opened the door and left, slamming it behind him.
 
“I hope you know what you've done," Miss Shavver snapped, standing up as well.  Instead of heading for the door, what looked like a pool of tar appeared on the floor beneath her high heeled shoes, and she sank into it.  When she was gone, Mr. Wrogan groaned, and sank back into his chair.
 
“I hope I do too," he said, running his hands through his wild gray hair.
 
 
 
NEXT TIME: Yay, Amber and Kimberly are both going free!  But first Amber needs to have a little talk with Dex…

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