What if you magically won a free stay at a luxury hotel right in the heart of Washington, DC? What if the only other guests were devious witches and bloodsucking vampires?
Would you still take the offer?
In case this question seems super random, you should know that these predicaments are way more common than you may realize. Just ask Serwa Boateng.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t have much choice in the matter . . .
At least the breakfast is complimentary!
You know something has gone horribly wrong in your life when you wake up surrounded by three vampires wearing bow ties, and that’s not even the third most craptacular thing that’s happened to you in the last twenty-four hours.
The trio are adze in their giant firefly form. They have not only bow ties but also little jackets and hats, and they’re each holding a silver tray filled with bagels, fruit, and other breakfast foods. A normal person’s reaction to something like this would probably be:
D) All of the above
By my first groggy, sleep-addled thought is Wow, I’ve never seen an adze wear clothes while in monster form before!
My second thought is I need to get the heck out of here now.
I leap from the covers, wobbling only a second from the thick pounding in my skull. This isn’t my cousin Roxy’s bedroom. Why aren’t I in Rocky Gorge? What’s going on?
Doesn’t matter. When there’s an enemy in front of your there’s only thing to do—attack.
I crouch low to sweep the first adze’s feet out from under him. He goes down with a surprised screech, a glass bottle tumbling from the tray in his claws. I snatch the bottle before it hits the ground and smash it against the base of the bed. Sparkling grape juice flows everywhere as a I point my makeshift weapon at the other two adze, the jagged neck of the bottle in my hands, my back flat against the wall.
“Back up!” I yell. “Twe wo ho!” I repeat the command in Twi just in case they don’t understand English. The adze let out nervous titters, but they don’t come any closer. Even though my instincts have my muscles battle ready, my head feels like it’s been squeezed through a trash compactor. Where am I? Why does my body feel like someone shoved it into a Nutribullet on high?
I hear my parents’ voices in my head whispering at me to orient myself. For some reason, thinking about them only makes the pain worse. But still, I take a moment to search my surroundings.
I’m in a hotel room, the fancy kind with a mini bar and towels fluffy enough to steal. Though my head’s killing me and my body aches, I don’t have any physical injuries. I’m wearing silk pajamas, and they feel so nice they’ve got to be the real deal and not the cheap knockoffs Mom used to buy at the beauty supply store. The room has two viable exits: the front door and the window.
Speaking of the window, from here I can make out a host of gray buildings outside, traffic moving as a city wakes up for the day, and a white dome-shaped building in the distance.
Holy mmoatia dookie, that’s the Capitol! I’m in a hotel in Washington, DC.
I’m in a hotel in Washington, DC, and surrounded by vampires.
But this doesn’t make any sense. Rocky Gorge, Maryland, the town I’ve been living in for the last few weeks, is miles away from DC. How’d I get all the way here? My memories feel like dandelion fluff—the harder I try to catch them, the farther away they fly. I’m shaking in confusion, looking wildly around the room for something, anything, that might explain how I got here, when my eyes land on my reflection in the mirror across the bed.
Specifically, on the crimson eyes wide in my face and the blade-sharp fangs jutting out of my mouth. The answer to my confusion hits me harder than a semitruck:
There are vampires in this room because I’m a vampire, too.
A floodgate opens in my mind, and the memories pour our faster than a tsunami. Defeating the adze that possessed my old bully Ashley on Back-to-School Night. Discovering that the infamous obayifo Boahinmaa is my mother’s sister. Confronting my parents over lying about my heritage my entire life. Unleashing a wave of black magic that plunged all of Rocky Gorge into a blackout.
And maybe worst of all, erasing the memories of the only friends I’ve ever had.
Tears burn the back of my eyes as the echoes of my friends’ desperate screams ring in my ears. No, no I can’t think about Roxy, Mateo, Gavin, and Eunju now because if I start crying, I don’t think I’ll ever stop.
What happened next? Okay, I erased their memories and then ran into the forest, which is never when my aunt—
As if my thoughts summoned her, Boahinmaa—no, my Auntie Effi—enters my room without knocking.
“I hope all the commotion in here means you’re getting ready for breakfast, because I am famished.”
Even it’s too early to legally be considered a time humans should actually be awake o’clock, my aunt looks like she’s ready to step onto the red carpet with her waist-length silk-pressed black hair and sharp business suit. She takes a sweeping look at the adze on the ground, the other two quaking in the corner backed against the wall, and lifts a single eyebrow. “Did you make a shank out of a sparkling grape juice bottle?”
When I glare at her, she lets out an amused chuckle. “My sister certainly raised you well. But come eat breakfast. We have a lot of ground to cover today, and you shouldn’t do it on an empty stomach.”
I have spent the entirety of my twelve years on this planet training to be a Slayer of creatures of black magic. All my instincts are screaming at me to attack this woman before she attacks me. But a voice in my heard that sounds like neither my mother nor my father but my own reminds me of a single crucial fact: I have nowhere else to go. The Abomofuo, the secret society of vampire hunters I was raised in, will never accept me after I broke the seal that kept my black magic at bay. Neither will my parents. I can’t go back after I literally attacked them in an IHOP parking lot. That’s one occasion Hallmark doesn’t make an I’m Sorry card for.
Besides, I spent the entire night surrounded by several vampires and one of the most powerful witches who has ever existed, and nothing happened to me. If my aunt wanted to hurt me, she would’ve by now. Even though it goes against everything I’ve been taught, I’m safer right here than I would be anywhere else at the moment.
Then again, that might change if I don’t put this shank down.
“One question before I follow you: Where am I?” I demand.
“Isn’t it obvious, Serwa?” Auntie Effi’s mouth curls up in an expression far too sharp to be a smile, her fangs gleaming over her bottom lip. “You’re with the vampires now.”
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