Chapter Fifteen: Calm Before The Storm

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                                                                                    Annalise

The vampires had been drinking for a solid 3 hours now, and were only just feeling the effects of the alcohol. Annalise was watching bemusedly as they continued to indulge on the liquor. True to her word, Dawn had not let Annalise be excluded, she even poured her a drink despite the fact that Annalise couldn't drink it.

Annalise didn't need alcohol to feel warm inside at the gesture.

The night had started on a sour note, but now here they all were playing cards at the kitchen table. Of course Annalise couldn't actually play, so she had joined sides with Dawn. Dawn had taught her the basics of the game poker. And now they were playing around, with Annalise pointing out tips or moves every so often.

She didn't care that these people were Vampires, that they were decades older than her and probably ten times more dangerous. For once, she was having fun. She laughed as Cassius took another loss, shaking his head in dismay as he gave up more of his money.

"I thought you hacked the mortuary! Aren't you meant to be good at this sort of thing!" Annalise joked, leaning in towards where Eugene was sitting besides her. Eugene lent towards her in response, so close they were almost touching. Cassius snorted, muttering under his breath something in Spanish.

Raul, completely loosened by the alcohol, slapped him on the back with enough force to send Cassius forward. He only just managed to catch himself before he face-planted the table. "No need to be a sore loser, my friend. Here are some of mine," He said joyfully, his pale cheeks flushed with alcohol.

Annalise giggled as Raul passed Cassius a metal button and a few pennies that he happened to have stored in his pocket. Cassius seemed less than pleased, and immediately shoved them back to Raul.

"I wish I was hacking the mortuary. Would have been easier," he mumbled grumpily. A laugh broke round the table at that, with Dawn sputtering out some of the wine she was drinking.

"Isn't it like bed time for you guys?" Annalise asked, interrupting Dawn as she was laughing at Cassius' expense, after a brief look at the clock. It read four am. Surely it was time for them to retreat? Dawn yawned, pushing her chair back and stretching. She slapped her hand on the back of Annalise's chair and nodded.

"Come on boys, time to get back to the lair before Daddy gets angry at us," she said, collecting her belongings. Raul groaned, standing to follow Dawn as she left the room. Annalise trailed after them both, leaving Cassius and Eugene in the kitchen on their own.

"So, Dawn, do you guys really live in a lair?"

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                                                                                Eugene 

Back in the kitchen, Cassius managed to grab him before Eugene could leave to go after Annalise. Cassius had a sombre look on his face, his thick eyebrows drawn together, forming wrinkles on his forehead.

"I have something I need to tell you. It's about Annalise," he said. Eugene's stomach dropped. He could hear Annalise laughing with Dawn and Raul at the doorway of the house. It was a stark contrast to the girl he had first met. She was excitable yes, but sad, lonely and withdrawn. She seemed to flourish among people, blooming under the presence of others into someone who was happy, sociable and kind. There was no trace of that initial awkwardness left in her.

He didn't want to wreck that. But he had long since learnt his lesson. Whatever he was told tonight, or well this morning, he would relay back to Annalise immediately. He nodded, gesturing for Cassius to continue.

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