Vincent ignored the flow of the woman’s form and the way that she looked to him for assurances. Mallory knew what she was doing. She knew that the pants she wore were too tight and her shirt was too revealing. It was all to entice her fellow classmates. Vincent wasn’t supposed to be looking, but just like everyone else in the training room, he was.
The fact that he was, just pissed him off. It wasn’t his fault. It was practically all in his face. There was nowhere else to look.
“Mallory, come up and show us what you have been working on over there. I have heard a lot of talking, but not much else.”
Her face turned red and matched the shirt she was wearing, the one that was driving her instructor crazy. Vincent had a clip to his tone. He didn’t even know why she was in his school. He didn’t want her there. He didn’t want anyone there to remind him of his cousin Balthazar, Mallory’s soon-to-be-mate.
She came up to the front of the class and didn’t even look at Vincent. She kept looking down, and although she wasn’t paying attention, it wasn’t long before the woman had turned into a pearl-colored dragon. They were working on shifting seamlessly, and it hadn’t taken Mallory long at all to figure it out.
“Right. Well, you must be one of those students that can talk and listen at the same time. If everyone else could do it so quickly, I wouldn’t even have to be here.”
He was a bit perturbed that she hadn’t landed on her face. Vincent was sure that if he put a little pressure on her and enough of it, she would eventually want to leave, and then he wouldn’t have to look at her anymore.
Instead, though, she kind of showed him up and Vincent made sure to give the whole class more practice so that they could be as good as Mallory.
Vincent liked it because several of the students gave her a dirty look. It made it easier when he wasn't the one that had to be rude to get her out.
It was actually kind of sad, if Vincent thought about it. Mallory was gorgeous, and if she wasn't set to marry the cousin that was basically his arch enemy, maybe he wouldn't think about her that way. She was beautiful and with long, flowing, blonde hair, tiny waist and full assets, Vincent wanted to look at her in another way. He refused to, though. It didn't matter that she was smart and funny. He was bound and determined to hate her.
The rest of the class was pretty standard, and Vincent was trying to forget that he was frustrated. He shouldn't have let Mallory's presence bother him. He was supposed to be the teacher, the mature one. He didn't feel very mature at the moment. He felt like if he had an option, he would just kick her out and be done with the whole mess. She was Balthazar’s promised mate. He didn't want anything to do with that.
The bell rang and the students started to collect their things. Vincent did the same with his own desk. He had a meeting that he had to attend, and the rest of the classes that day would be taken over by a substitute. Nathan was semi-new to the Academy, but he had already proven instrumental in helping Vincent make time for all of his other obligations.
He immediately knew who it was by the tone of her voice. It was the tone of his enemy’s voice. Or close enough.
“Mallory, I see that you’re talking out of turn again. What can I do for you?”
His voice was clipped, and he saw her shrink back. Why wouldn't she just leave? Didn't she realize that she wasn't wanted there?
“I wanted to talk to you about getting some extra lessons. I know that you do some tutoring on the side when you feel like the student is worthy. I was hoping that maybe-”
Vincent stopped her right there. While Mallory was one of the best students that they had in all the classes, that did not mean that he was willing to spend any more time around her than he already had to. It was bad enough that he had to have her in his class several times a week. Anything more than that, when it was already like pulling teeth, didn't make sense.
“Why would you ask that? Did Balthazar put you up to that?”
She shook her head. “No, it's nothing like that.”
“I'm surprised that my cousin would even let you go to school here. What little bit of his family is left would know that I am the one who runs it. Maybe you are sent here as a spy to collect information? Take people out of the Academy and send them toward Balthazar?”
He was really trying to figure out what her angle was rather than actually being interested in talking to her. Vincent didn’t believe that Mallory would tell him the truth, anyway. He knew better.
“You know what, never mind. Let me just say that while you have high marks, I will not be tutoring you.”
“Can I ask why?”
“Because you're marrying my enemy. Is that not enough of a reason for you? We shouldn’t even be talking.”
She agreed and didn't say another word as she walked away. Vincent took the time to watch her ass as she walked. It was a shame, really, because Mallory was beautiful. She was a perfect specimen, perfectly proportioned, and he would have had a fine time chasing her around. If only she wasn’t already promised to his cousin. He hated that side of the family, and there was no way that Vincent could ever see past it. He didn't know what Mallory was doing there, but to mitigate the damage that she caused, he was just going to ignore it. Ignore her.
The next day, Vincent was relieved to see that Mallory wasn’t at school. If it was any other student, he would call and find out why, but it wasn’t until the third day that she was gone that he did. Vincent, of course, was trying to get rid of her, at least that's what he told himself. He liked to watch her perform ritual dances and shift flawlessly into her dragon form. It was a thing of beauty. But maybe that was the problem.
When he finally found her number and called, his cousin answered, and Vincent was quick to hang up. His teeth were grinding against each other and all he could think about was Balthazar's father, his cousin Dale. Balthazar’s father was the one that killed Vincent's father, mother, and sibling. All to become King. His own father was killed in the fray, and now neither one of them would be King, but their other uncle. He’d saved Vincent, and he was now King.
Vincent cursed under his breath and tried not to think about it, again. It was another couple of days before he tried to call the number again. He should have been satisfied that she was long gone. That was the point, anyway. He wasn't there. When he didn't get an answer, Vincent decided to go by her house, just to see if she was okay. Something was telling him to go.
When he got to the door, he could sense that there were other shifters around, but only one in the house. Maybe two. Vincent could sense another, but their life force was weak, and he wasn't sure who it was. It certainly wasn't the man that he wanted to kill.
Mallory opened the door. She looked tired, disheveled. She looked like she didn't feel very well, and he immediately wished that he hadn't come. She was happy to see him, and the smile on her face made him frown immediately. It just made her more beautiful, along with the twinkle in her eye, and the fact that she was wearing no bra...
Vincent had to pull himself together. Ever since Mallory had started at the school, even knowing who she was, it had been impossible to keep his eyes off of her. Why did Balthazar get everything? He was the one that was kin to the man that ruined Vincent's life. How could they have ever been friends?
“Mallory, I have called several times. I wanted to find out why you haven't been coming to school.”
She told him that she had been sick and was trying to get better. He could tell that she was weak, and Vincent knew just from the look in her eyes and the feverish creep of red on her neck, what it was. It was something that their kind were susceptible to every change of seasons.
“Are you sure you don't have allergies?”
“Allergies? No, I don't have allergies.”
“You might. We are allergic to poplar flowers. They are blooming right now not too far from here.”
Even as she shook her head that it wasn’t possible, Vincent was pushing his way into her house, not listening to a word she said. He wasn't even sure who she lived with, didn't want to know pretty much any information about her, but he was thankful that there was no one around immediately. How bad would it have turned out if Balthazar had been there?
“Where is your kitchen?”
“Yes, you need to put some yarrow root on your neck to stop the swelling, then we will make you a tonic. You will take it every night for the next week or two, until the blooms fade. I expect you not to miss another day of school.”
He walked where she sent him and quickly got her herbs and found what he was looking for. His mother had known the ways of the healing herbs and he’d picked up enough. Vincent didn’t think about where he was or who he was with at the moment. All he was thinking about was the task at hand. Later, he could ask himself why he was helping her to come to school more often, when he was supposedly trying to get rid of her.
Vincent was going to have to reevaluate the idea that he wanted her to leave. That didn’t seem to be the truth of it at all. If he didn’t want her to leave, though, what did he want?