The night after signing the paperwork to purchase Somerset Suites from my father, I slept for the first time in days. Even then, I only rested a few hours before finding myself perfectly awake. I wasn’t precisely tired when I decided to lie down, but wanted to forget things for a time and somehow managed to drift off. Had I been asked a year ago what I would be doing right now, I probably would have wagered on college of some sort. Instead, I found myself helping Alma and Mila spy on my newly purchased hotel chain.
I had spent the first couple days after purchasing Somerset Suites interviewing all of the staff with Alma and Aaliyah present as consultants, even though I knew a great number of them by name. I was quite surprised to find that two of the ones I knew from the night crew were vampires. Alma, of course, felt I was being naive to trust them at their word when each claimed never to have killed a human during their individual interviews, but I didn’t want to tell her about my gift quite yet. Seeing how long she took to discover my ability amused me.
To assuage Alma’s misgivings, I presented each of the vampires with a contract Aaliyah had prepared in advance. If they wished to continue working for me, they were required to sign. I was too aware that I couldn’t guarantee their safety if they chose to quit, but both seemed almost relieved to sign the things. I had mixed feelings about the affair but managed to assure myself things would be fine, given I knew neither vampire was a killer. The contracts, as written, hired the assassin to kill the signer should the signer ever kill a human, save for in self-defense. Forcing people to put a hit on themselves still didn’t sit well with me, but they merely had to continue their lives without killing others.
Things didn’t go nearly as well with the werewolf. When he entered the room, I could smell something different about him. I would have assumed he owned a pet of some sort, but the traces of residual energy clinging to him showed he had some sort of magic. Alma recognized the smell. When asked if he had ever killed someone, he lied, claiming he hadn’t. He grew aggressive when Alma confronted him about being a werewolf, and he was ash before he completely transformed. Mila assured us that no one saw him enter the room, and Alma was going to investigate into his affairs further.
Beyond standing outside the door during the interview, Mila was watching all of my hotels through newly installed sensors and mirrors similar to those in my home. Aaliyah had hired teams to renovate the hotels with her tech the day I purchased them, giving Mila quick access to all of the hotel’s security and guest information. Alma grudgingly signed a contract insuring my guests’ safety before I allowed her to help scrutinize the list, but none of us were having any luck figuring out who was creating zombies.
To help Mila and me recognize how magic might be implemented to fool cameras, Alma demonstrated a number of ways to create disguises with magic and pointed out the flaws in each, such as fabric not moving properly under a fan and the edge of a dress passing through the leg of a chair.
Now we scrutinized every bit of footage of my guests passing through the halls. Unfortunately. some of the guests didn’t leave with much frequency at all. In fact, there were a few who hadn’t left even once. I would have questioned if they were even alive if they didn’t get meals.
There were several guests that could use magic, but Alma felt all of the ones we had found seemed too sloppy to be our killer. I felt inclined to agree with her. Despite my relative inexperience, I was more skilled than they seemed. From what Alma told me, the creator of the zombies readily used very complicated spells in their creation. She believed the person was probably old but wouldn’t necessarily appear it. There were some of fey descent on record that lived nearly two hundred years.
Despite this, Alma didn’t seem to believe she’d live exceptionally long. At very least, she didn’t like talking about it too much. Slayers tended to move on relatively young. Though descendants like Alma tended to be exceedingly healthy, they often passed away “not too many years after one hundred”, which still seemed like a good long life to me. Still, I didn’t push the subject. She seemed surprisingly touchy about it.
I wondered how long I was going to live now. I probably could find out just by asking Aaliyah, but I wasn’t entirely certain I’d want to know. What if she told me the day I was going to die? I’d surely end up planning my life around my death, which felt wrong to say the least. I most certainly could have things in order, but Aaliyah kept things perfectly organized without my excessive worrying. I needed to work on relaxing.
Since father was still acting manager for Somerset Suites, there shouldn’t be a huge amount of new stress on that end after the killer was found. I was actually enjoying my coursework each night. In just two hours, I was able to cover more material than I would have been covering in eight hours before my change. The speed was addictive. Not having to sleep was pretty great for getting more done in a day as well. I wondered if father would be envious or horrified if he knew how busy my days were. Given that he’d have to know about my abilities to explain my schedule, probably a mix of horror and envy. Learning that magic exists was pretty shocking.
My phone buzzed in my pocket, and I pulled it out to find a message from Mila, gushing about our date tomorrow. She was probably texting instead of speaking about it due to Alma’s reaction earlier today. Apparently, the girls did discuss what Mila would wear while out shopping for their pseudo girls’ night, and Alma appreciated very few of the suggestions, considering that Mila might be mistaken for Alma.
Aaliyah was true to her word in helping me plan the date, but my enthusiasm just wasn’t there. To me, dates were a way of getting to know someone better or make special memories with someone you love. I wasn’t romantically interested in Mila. She had an absolutely wonderful personality, though the flirting was taken a bit far at times. I was very grateful for all of the things she did for me. She couldn’t be more beautiful to me, considering I did in fact pick precisely how she looks. I just wasn’t interested in her romantically. Still, I hoped she would enjoy our date.