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Chapter 28 – Memories
The battle was complete carnage.
There was nothing but piles of dust and burning body parts as I walked around the battlefield with Leonard and Harmony. Harmony had been created by Lusindra and served as the Elder’s counselor and also her handmaiden. Lusindra had asked her to come along with us, just in case we came across any leftover newborns trying to hide away from the battle. I didn’t want to kill them if I didn’t have to, and Harmony was there to help negotiate a peace agreement, if it were possible. If their minds had been too brainwashed, Leonard would dispatch them. We had already found three newborns, and sadly, only one of them had agreed to follow the rules, before leaving with Harmony’s blessing. Leonard performed his duties for the other ones as expected. They just couldn’t be trusted without their Creator around to keep them in line. Evan was the last person to see Marcel alive, and none of the newborns had the same drunken appearance that Nikolas and Dylan both had at the loss of Leslie. The reactions from all of the newborns only proved that Marcel was still alive, somewhere.
A sharp yelp made me look to my left where I saw Jackson with another werewolf kneeling before him. Leonard and I both stopped to watch as Jon stepped forward and stood beside Jackson with a look of disdain on his face.
“How dare you dishonor our father by working with Sonya,” Jon said scornfully. The man in front of him looked defiant until Jackson spoke.
“You have dishonored all of us, Vincent,” Jackson told him, making Vincent flinch. “I wish I would have never wasted the venom it took to create you.”
“Father, no!” Vincent tried to plead as Jackson held his right hand up above his head. I watched in amazement as Jackson’s hand shifted into a wolf’s foot, with the claws fully extended.
“Do you have any last words?” Jackson asked.
Vincent looked like he was about to say something, but the Alpha Werewolf didn’t give the traitor a chance to utter a single word. He dispatched Vincent with one fell swoop of his claw, sending blood flying along with the man’s head. I cringed slightly as the tainted smell hit me, turning my head away from the scene as Vincent’s torso fell to the side.
“I didn’t want to hear what you had to say, anyway traitor,” Jackson said with a growl before he spit on the corpse. “Burn the body.”
“Damn,” Leonard muttered as Jackson headed back towards the front of the warehouse, leaving Jon to dispose of the body. “That was intense.”
“That’s an understatement,” I told Leonard with a roll of my eyes.
“We should get back,” Harmony stated, bringing both of us out of our stupor caused by the violence we had just witnessed.
“Agreed,” Leonard stated dryly. “I’m sure Evan wants to get Ethan before it’s too late.”
I took one last look at the body of Vincent as Jon dropped a burning branch onto the corpse. The flames danced across the body like it had been doused in gasoline, and I had to force myself to turn away as Leonard and Harmony led us back to where Evan would be waiting for us.
Nikolas and Dylan held each other, the loss of their Maker destroying them to their very core. The two teenagers were never going to be the same, again. Left feeling as though they are missing something, simply because their Maker was never able to give them their freedom before she died. Leslie was gone. Through the venom clogged memories, I could vaguely remember seeing her standing alone, in the center of that beam of light as the snow cascaded down around her. Then, she had pulled me from the wreckage of my car, resisting her own craving to drain me dry, just so I could be pulled into the Realm of the Underworld by my own uncle. In just over five months, I had gone from being a timid newborn, amazed by everything, to being the Creator of a Family and leading the Alliance against one of the strongest Elders in history. Sonya had thrown an army at us, nearly one-hundred strong, and we still overcame the odds and destroyed all of the newborns that refused to surrender. While we had suffered several losses, the Alliance was still strong and had proven to the other Elders, that we would always be the strong ones.
Only Sonya stood in the way of me getting my brother back, now. It was only her and whatever minions she had decided to throw to the fire as the flames of my wrath destroyed her ivory tower, piece by precious piece. I was going to destroy her when I finally got my hands on her.
“Relax, Evan,” David told me as he joined me. “You’re not going to be able to control your ability, if you don’t.”
“I’m trying,” I told the Hunter. “Justin did amazing, tonight.”
“He made a good team with Wesley and Tatum,” David added. “They’ll be unstoppable when Ethan finally, joins them.”
“I’m doing my best to keep that from happening, Mr. Hunter,” I said coldly.
“How do you know that your actions are not leading Ethan straight into your arms?” David suggested before he turned and walked away.
I stared at his retreating form in disbelief. He was right, though. The world that we were in was changing. Everything seemed to be working against me, when it came to keeping Ethan mortal. Why couldn’t I change Ethan into one of us? Didn’t I just start the process on somebody else? Somebody even younger?
I frowned as my thoughts drifted to Hayden. He was currently on the way to Lulu’s Hideaway along with Lulu and Dante, where he would be safe until I was able to return to his side. The boy was being raped by his father when I found him, and it had seemed like the right thing to do, at the time. If I changed Hayden, though, why wouldn’t I change Ethan? Didn’t he deserve to be safe from our father, the man that had murdered our mother? No, he would be safe. I would make certain of that, but how long could I hold out against the Prophecy before I ran out of time? How long could I keep him mortal? Would it be safer to send him with our grandmother, instead of our dad? It didn’t matter what I chose, Ethan would always be in danger. Unless I. . .
“Evan?” I turned to see Tatum calling for me, so I walked over to where he stood with Dougie, Wesley, and Justin.
“Is it time?” I asked as I joined the small group.
“It is,” Jon stated as he walked up.
“Good,” I stated. “Let’s get everyone together, so we can go over our plan.”
Sonya was pissed.
No, that’s a complete understatement.
She was beyond furious.
The moment that the messenger arrived with news of the fall of her newborn army, Sonya staked the vampire in the blink of an eye, causing the man to turn to dust before my very eyes. My heart immediately started racing in my chest as Sonya turned her gaze to me. Her eyes flashed in anger, and I saw myself die in their reflection. This was the moment that I was going to die. Evan wouldn’t even arrive in time to save me, now. It was Adam of all people, that kept the vampire from attacking me when she started towards me.
“We still need him alive, Sonya,” the werewolf growled fiercely. “Don’t be a fool, now!”
Sonya froze and took a deep breath to calm her nerves before she turned her attention to the man. The blonde-haired woman nodded in acknowledgement of Adam’s statement, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I almost thanked Adam myself, until I realized that he was only keeping me alive to better his own chances for survival. I was just a pawn in this game of Chess, stuck waiting for my player to make their next move. Luckily for me, the Queen didn’t go for the killing blow right away. No, Sonya was going to wait to remove me from this life. She was going to wait until the last moment, the moment when Evan had her life in his hands, before she decided to end my smudge of an existence. If I was lucky, Evan would be able to put a stop to the crazed monster before she was able to follow through with her plan. Only, if I was lucky.
Isabella remained by Sonya’s side, while Oscar stayed with me. Adam had left the werewolf with the firm instructions that I was not to move from the chair he had sat me in. If I even tried, Oscar was to kill me. No matter what I did, I was destined to die, tonight. My heart raced within my chest as the fear filled my body. Sonya was pacing through the different rooms of the penthouse, stopping to gaze out the open balcony doors in the living room. She would cock her head to the side, as if she was listening to something in the distance, before she would storm off to another room with a look of anger on her face. Isabella refrained from even looking at me as she followed her mistress through the home. Whenever we were alone, Oscar would rub my shoulder gently, but he wouldn’t say a single word to me. I wanted to ask him what was going on, but I knew that he wouldn’t answer me, for fear of giving away his true position in the situation.
The realization that I was on my own sent a chill down my spine, and I began to fidget with the hem of my jeans. I glanced towards the door that led out to the hallway before I looked over at the doors leading out to the balcony. There were only two ways out of this room, and they would both lead to my death. Wasn’t that my destiny, anyway? I slid towards the edge of the oversized chair, and Oscar’s silver eyes immediately focused on me.
“Don’t do it, Ethan,” Oscar said with a frown. “They’ll kill you if you try.”
“It’s the only way to end this,” I told him quietly, barely breathing out the words. “Sonya is going to kill my brother if I don’t do this.”
“Don’t be a fool,” Oscar scoffed. “Your death won’t stop shit! Evan will be here within the hour, and then your life will be saved. Don’t underestimate your brother, Ethan. He’s capable of more than you could ever imagine. Now, sit back and be quiet. Sonya is a ticking time bomb.”
I stared at the werewolf in disbelief but nodded and slid back in the chair. I pulled my knees up to my chest and rested my chin on my knees as several tears fell down my cheeks. All I could think about was Evan, and what Sonya had planned for him. If Evan failed, then I would certainly be put to death. Oscar and Isabella wouldn’t be able to save me from Sonya and Adam.
The battle with the newborns was over, but my heart was still racing in my chest as I thought about all of the close calls I had witnessed during the encounter. Wesley, my new best friend, hovered nearby, as he watched me in concern. This had been my first battle of this magnitude, something that he had been through numerous times. There was something else about Wesley, though. He made me nervous. He made me feel the same way about him, that I felt about Ethan. I felt a connection with Evan and Tatum, also. The thread was there with Dougie, Leonard, and Jenna, as well. I could feel all of the individual connections holding us together, but all of the threads connected to Evan, at one point. He was the anchor that brought all of us together. Without him, none of these threads would even exist.
Eleven of us stood in a circle, listening as Evan, Eugene, and Jon, each went over the information that they had gathered regarding Sonya’s penthouse. Jackson and Wesley both added to the mix from what they knew about the Vampire Elder. Our group was mostly made up of werewolves that were hovering nearby, and a group of Hunters that looked over at us with edgy expressions on their faces. The monsters gathered here made them nervous. I didn’t blame them. I was nervous, too. Except, I was nervous because I was afraid that I was going to tear into one of the C.I.A. agents that were standing with the Hunters. Luckily for them, the vampires that couldn’t be out in the sunlight had already left to find shelter. We still had three hours until sunrise, but nobody wanted to take any chances. We weren’t even sure that we would be able to break into the building where Sonya’s penthouse was located.
“Let’s go, guys,” Evan said with a nod. “We’re not going to fix anything by continuing to talk about it. Jon and Jackson will go in with their packs, first. I’ll follow behind them with my Coven, and the Hunters will play clean-up crew. I want Wesley, David, and Justin to run with my family, though. My father will hang back until the floors are cleared, and the C.I.A. can move in and secure the lower floors.”
“You’re not going in without us,” a familiar voice said behind me. Tatum and I turned around to see his grandmother approaching our circle. Beside her was the black-haired witch named Cordillia. I stepped to the side so Patricia could reach her family and Cordillia filled the gap I made with a brief smile in my direction.
“I really don’t think it’s a good idea for you to come along with us, grandmother,” Evan stated coolly.
“I don’t think I asked your permission, Evan,” Patricia Bentley replied shortly. “Did you honestly think that I would let my grandsons go off to war without me?”
Evan glanced over at Tatum with a look of shock.
Tatum held up his hands and backed away slowly from the witch and the vampire. “Don’t look at me, Evan,” the boy replied with a giggle. “I’m not getting into the middle of this one.”
“Fine,” Evan groaned. “My grandmother and Cordillia will travel with me.”
“I’ll do my best to keep you safe, grandson,” Patricia said with a light laugh as she patted Evan’s chest with the palm of her hand. “We should go, though, Evan. Your little brother is strong, but I don’t think he can fend off a Vampire Elder.”
Evan nodded in agreement.
The air was thick with tension as we followed along toward downtown. I could just make out the shape of Sonya’s building, the lights in the top floors glowing dimly. The closer we got to the building, the faster the werewolves began to run. It was Evan that called out the signal for us to follow the monsters. I glanced over at Tatum and saw that the vampire had one of his hands on Wesley’s shoulder, using the Hunter to guide him as he focused on trying to use his ability to see if anything was coming at us. Leonard and Jenna were running behind me, constantly scanning the surrounding buildings in case something slipped by Tatum’s power. My only job was to keep up with the group as we ran towards our final battle. The battle that would determine whether Ethan would survive this night, or not.
“Incoming from the left!” Tatum called out just before seven vampires pounced on us from the top of a low building.
“Duck!” I screamed out to my new family, just before I pulled several arrows from the pack on David’s back and threw them into the air above our heads. With barely a thought, the arrows went shooting into the newborns, piercing each of their blackened hearts. They were dust before their feet even hit the ground. It wasn’t often that I had used my power, but I was definitely getting better at moving things with my mind.
“Nifty power you have there, Justin,” Evan commented with a grin. “Don’t be so shy about using it, from now on, man.”
“Sorry, Evan,” I replied quietly. “It won’t happen, again. I’m still a little shaky using it.”
“It’s not a big deal,” Evan stated. “If you ever need help trying to master it, I would be glad to help you.”
“Really?” I asked in disbelief.
“Of course, Justin,” Evan replied as if it was no big deal. “Why wouldn’t I help you? You’re a part of my family, whether you like it, or not.”
I couldn’t help but grin at the teenager.
“There’s an ambush, up ahead,” Tatum said calmly.
“Code yellow, Jon,” Evan relayed to the front of our group.
Immediately, the werewolves started scanning the buildings around us, never slowing for a second. We had just cleared a small bridge when a large group of vampires tried to surround us. There were easily twenty newborns in the group, but the werewolves mowed them down as if they were simple blades of grass. Leonard and Jenna both jumped ahead of us and started helping the werewolves clean up the weak force sent to take us out. Cordillia stayed close to my back, with Patricia beside her, both of them mumbling words under their breath that I couldn’t make out.
“We should be clear, now!” Tatum called out.
“Good!” Evan declared. “We’re almost there!”
“Group Two, hit the back!” Evan commanded as we finally made it to the skyscraper with Sonya’s penthouse sitting on top. “Group One will hit the front door, and we’ll all meet back up when we make it to the top! The C.I.A. will be covering the exits to make sure that nobody comes back out of this building until we do! Understood?”
Everyone agreed to the order before we split up. I saw Evan lead the first group in through the front doors just before I followed Leonard around the corner of the building. Jon was the leader of our group, with seven werewolves following him. Then, it was Leonard, Cordillia, and myself, followed by David and five Hunters.
“Keep your eyes open,” David warned us. “Sonya is dangerous.”
“I take it that you’ve had run ins with her before?” I asked, more to calm my nerves than anything. Something was very familiar about all of this. Just as I saw the werewolves bust through the back door of the building, I knew immediately where I had witnessed this moment before. It was the vision that Felix had shown me. I was going to die soon.
“Not as many as you would think, Jenna,” David told me, not noticing my inner turmoil. “It does help us, that we have two people on the inside.”
“We do?” I asked in surprise.
“Is that so hard to believe, Jenna?”
“Not really,” I replied. “I just didn’t think. . .”
“Didn’t think that monsters could be civilized?” Mr. Hunter asked with a chuckle. “You’ve still got a lot to learn, young blood.”
“Watch out!” Jon yelled from the front of our group as a pack of werewolves swarmed out in front of us. We didn’t stop, though. Our group flew into action, immediately. Cordillia started whispering words from behind me and I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as the energy of her spells passed by me. Then, one of the enemy werewolves yelped out in pain and I saw the monster freeze in his place.
“Got it!” I told Cordillia, throwing myself at the hound. I wrapped my arm around the large dog’s neck, and let my momentum carry me around until I was seated on his back. The creature was struggling to break free from Cordillia’s spell, but I had another way to end the werewolf’s suffering. I quickly wrapped my arms around the monster’s throat and squeezed until his neck snapped. I jumped away from the beast just as its body collapsed to the floor.
“That was the last of them,” Jon commented, making me glance around to see that there were fifteen dead werewolves lying around us. Several of them had turned back into their human forms, still showing their gruesome wounds from their encounter with us. My stomach turned at the sight of so much death, an action that I never thought I would experience as a vampire. “We have to keep moving! The stairs are right over here.”
Jon led the way to the stairwell, motioning for his pack to take the lead. I followed along behind them, zigzagging back and forth, as we climbed the stairs. The werewolves were jumping up the stairs, clearing entire floors in a single bound. The pack was nearly four levels above me when an explosion rocked the stairwell, filling the air above us with heat and fire, and making my ears ring as the explosion seemed ten-times louder with my sensitive hearing. I dropped to the floor and covered my ears, praying that the ringing would stop. Leonard, David, and Jon were all having the same issue. A fight erupted above us, as Jon’s pack fought to keep whatever was attacking them at bay, long enough for us to help them. I had to regain my senses.
Suddenly, it began to rain in the stairwell, and I glanced down to see Cordillia holding out her hand with a dreamy expression on her face, her lips moving rapidly as she whispered another incantation. I silently thanked the witch that had saved us twice now, before I grabbed Leonard’s shoulder and forced him to follow me. Jon and David joined us as we ran up the stairs, using the walls of the stairwell to help us turn faster. The rain was putting out the fire, while a sudden updraft of wind from below, quickly cleared out the smoke.
It wasn’t something I wanted to see, though. Jon’s pack was down to two werewolves that were fighting for their lives, as six newborns attacked them. Jon charged in with a roar, seamlessly shifting into his wolf form and killed three of the newborn vampires with a few swipes of his massive claws. Leonard and I made quick work of the other three bloodsuckers, checking out in the hallway for any sign of any vampires. We didn’t return to the stairs until we were certain that the floor was clear.
“Anything?” Jon asked with a scowl, standing there in his human form, once again.
“No,” I told him.
“Good,” he responded with a brief nod. “Let’s go, then. We can mourn our losses, later.”
I patted the man on his bare shoulder, only pulling my hand away when he shifted back into his wolf shape.
“You’re not as ugly as I thought you would be, Jon,” I told him with a light laugh. The werewolf glanced back at me and rolled his silver eyes with a huff of annoyance. Then, he stuck out his tongue, and actually barked at me before bounding up the stairs. I couldn’t help but laugh as I followed along behind him.
We were nearly to the top when we were attacked, again. This time, we were attacked from above and below, by two separate groups of newborn vampires. David helped the other Hunters fend off the lower group, while Cordillia focused her magic on the group above us. Then, Cordillia was hit from the side as three vampires broke past the Hunters. I saw David try to shoot at them before he was pulled out of my sight by several vampires. Leonard was helping Jon and the two werewolves fend off the vampires from above, but nobody was helping Cordillia. It was up to me.
I jumped down at one of the vampires, and easily removed his head from his shoulders, and tossing it down the stairwell. Then, I kicked his flailing torso away before I went after the other two attackers. Cordillia moved her head to the side, just as I punched one of the men in the face, caving his nose into his brain. If he had been human, I was positive that he would have been dead from the blow. I wasn’t sure how an injury like that worked on vampires, though. I turned back in time to see Cordillia stake the last vampire through the heart, a look of bewilderment crossing the man’s face as he turned to dust in front of us.
“Thanks, Jenna,” Cordillia said with a grin. “I don’t think I could have handled them all on my own.”
“No sweat,” I replied with a shrug. “Us girls have to stick together.”
I started to take a step forward when I felt my entire body freeze in place. I couldn’t move a single muscle, no matter how much I struggled. Cordillia frowned as she watched whatever was happening behind me.
“I was wondering if I would find you here, Cordillia,” a deep voice said from behind me. “You’ve come a long way, haven’t you?”
“No thanks to you, Garret,” Cordillia replied coldly. “Why are you helping Sonya?”
“I’m not,” the man replied, his voice coming from somewhere to my left. “Not really, anyway. It’s been a long time since there’s been a battle of this size, and I wanted to see what all of the fuss was about.”
“You shouldn’t be here, then, Garret.”
“Why not?” The man asked sharply. “Why is it alright for you to stick your nose into this, Cordillia, if it’s not okay for me to do it?”
“I don’t want you to be mistaken for an enemy, Garret,” Cordillia told the man.
“Why would I be mistaken for an enemy?”
“You did freeze my friend,” the witch replied pointedly. “Do you mind?”
“Oh, her?” The man asked from beside me. “Sorry, young lady. I wasn’t meaning to cause you any harm.”
Garret chuckled lightly as I felt his power slowly release me from its hold. Once I was able to move again, I shot to Cordillia’s side and turned to face the man. I was surprised to see someone that looked like they were only twenty years old, with curly brown hair that hung down over his ears, and gray eyes that seemed to sparkle with energy. The young man was smiling as he bowed with a flourish towards me.
“My apologies, miss,” he said grandly. “I was only trying to get Cordillia’s attention.”
“You have it,” Cordillia cut him off. “What do you want?”
“A truce,” he replied simply.
“You don’t deserve one,” the girl said. “You killed my parents.”
“It had to be done, Cordillia,” Garret told her. “Your parents were dangerous, and they refused to follow the rules.”
“Like you do, Garret?” Cordillia stated snidely.
“You were there, Cordillia!” Garret suddenly snapped, angrily. “You saw what they were doing to those children! There’s a big difference between sacrificing little kids and selling drugs to a few street dwellers, don’t you think?”
I glanced over as Cordillia frowned.
“Fine,” she finally said. “A truce. I won’t cause you any harm or distress, as long as you swear to the same rules.”
“I swear, by the Gods, that I will not cause you any harm or distress,” Garret stated. Then, he and Cordillia each whispered quietly before tendrils of magic could be seen floating through the air around them. The tendrils reached out and touched each other before coiling back into each other’s body. Garret and Cordillia both let out a long sigh. “You won’t regret this, old friend.”
“Would you mind helping us out, for a few minutes?” Cordillia asked, motioning towards the vampires approaching from below.
Garret turned and frowned at the approaching horde. He held up his left hand and snapped his fingers. Instantly, the vampires all turned to dust and collapsed to the ground in heaps of clothes and dirt. Before Garret could turn back around, another group of vampires swarmed over Jon and ran into me and Cordillia. We both began fighting, each watching the other as we took out as many of the vampires as we could. Garret was casting his own spells around us, killing as many of the vampires as he could, without interfering with Cordillia’s own spells. Leonard jumped down into the fray, throwing newborns off of us as fast as he could. Garret threw spell after spell at our attackers, some of them flinging wildly to the side and striking the walls. I knew what was happening, right away.
“One of them is a shield!” I called out to my friends.
Then, Garret threw another energy blast straight into the group of vampires. Instead of it destroying them, it curved above the group, and headed towards me.
“Watch out!” Cordillia screamed, pushing me out of the way just as the energy blast slammed into her chest. I stared in horror as the life faded from her eyes before her body even fell into my arms.
“No!” Garret screamed from behind me before everything slowed to a complete stop.
The next thing I knew, Cordillia and Garret were both gone, and every single newborn vampire that was in the stairwell was dead. Leonard and I exchanged looks of disbelief.
“What happened?” Jon demanded as David joined us from below, with only one of his hunters remaining. Jon was down to one member of his pack, and that man had a metal piece of pipe sticking out of his shoulder. The man grimaced as he pulled the object from his body, and let it fall down the stairwell. The resounding echo made my ears ring, again, and the teenager quickly frowned and covered his ears.
“Sorry,” he muttered when he realized his mistake.
“Where’s Cordillia?” Jon asked, ignoring the blond-headed teen. “I could have sworn Garret was here, too.”
“He was,” I replied. “I don’t know where Cordillia is, though. I watched her die, and then, everything just. . . Changed. We were losing, then we weren’t. I don’t know how else to explain it, Jon. She pushed me out of the way, and she was hit. One of the newborns was a shield, and they deflected Garret’s spell towards me. It all happened so fast.”
“Garret’s a Timekeeper, Jenna,” Jon informed me as Leonard helped me to my feet. “He only uses those powers in extreme emergencies, or in moments of overwhelming grief.”
“Did he love her?” I asked, remembering the pleading sound of his voice as Garret spoke about Cordillia’s parents. Jon could only nod.
“Come on,” he said softly. “We’re almost there.”
Step, after step. We were getting closer to the top of the stairwell. We had already been attacked seven times and had suffered our own losses. I couldn’t even focus long enough to send a tendril of thought out to Jenna or Leonard as we forced our way through each ambush. We were near the last door, fighting off several newborns when my grandmother gasped loudly. A moment later, all of the newborns turned to dust.
“What the hell was that?” I asked my grandmother who had a look of complete surprise on her face.
“Garret was here,” she said softly.
“Who is Garret?”
“A witch from the ancient times,” my grandmother replied in disbelief. Then, her blue eyes were filled with sadness. “I can’t feel Cordillia anymore, Evan. I. . . I think she’s dead.”
“I’m sorry, grandma,” I tried to say.
“I’ll be fine, Evan,” my grandmother said with a firm nod of her head. “Let’s go get your brother.”
I nodded and motioned for Jackson to open the door. It was time for us to face Sonya. The three werewolves remaining from Jackson’s pack, pounced through the open door, leading the charge into the hallway outside of the penthouse. The rest of us followed, with my grandmother bringing up the rear. I was nearly to the door, with Dougie and Justin right behind me, when gunshots rang out from the open door. Yelps of pain could be heard as Justin leapt over me and through the door. I followed him in a single bound, throwing my body in front of his to protect the teen in case they fired at him. I felt a heavy thump against my back in various spots as the guns fired off behind me. Justin held up his hand with an angry glare in his green eyes, and the sounds of gun fire ceased immediately. I turned around to see four guns hovering in the air with the barrels facing a small group of vampires. Justin didn’t hesitate to pull the triggers on the weapons, turning the newborns into dust.
“Thanks, for the help, Evan,” he told me as the guns slowly glided to the ground.
The others joined us in the hallway, just as the door at the far end opened slowly. I took up a defensive stance until Jon stepped out. I sighed with relief as I saw Jenna and Leonard come out behind him.
“It’s about time you got here,” I teased him.
Jon just shrugged his shoulders at me. “We were delayed by an unexpected guest.” Then, Jon turned and bowed his head slightly to my grandmother. “I’m sorry for your loss, Lady Patricia.”
“Thank you, Jon,” my grandmother replied stoically. “I do not think that we have seen the last of Cordillia, though.”
“How do you know?” I asked doubtfully.
“You’re not the only one that has to face evil, Evan,” my grandmother told me smugly.
“More secrets,” I said with a disgruntled shake of my head.
Both of our groups met in the middle of the hallway, directly in front of the double doors that led into Sonya’s penthouse.
I’m coming, Ethan, I thought as Jon yanked the doors open roughly.
Inside, was a large living room, with several leather sofas and chairs spread throughout the room, and two werewolves standing near the far door. One of them looked like he was only seventeen, with short brown hair, and the other had an angry scowl on his face.
“Hello, Adam,” Jackson stated calmly as we entered the room.
“Hello, Father,” the black-haired man replied. He appeared to be Jon’s height, with thicker muscle, and there was an evil glint in his silver eyes as he glared at us. “I didn’t think that I would ever see you working with the abomination.”
I couldn’t help but growl and Adam chuckled at me.
“Do you think I’m scared of you, bloodsucker?” Adam asked with a snort. “And when I’m done killing you, I’m going to tear your little brother limb from limb. The best part is going to be when I get to see the life fade from his pretty little blue eyes.”
“That was the wrong thing to say, Adam,” Jackson stated as he stepped to the side. “I wish things could have been different.”
It wasn’t me that acted, though. Adam yelped when Jenna’s hand suddenly punched into his chest, his silver eyes going wide in disbelief. Nobody had even seen her move. She didn’t make a sound. She just, acted.
“My favorite part,” Jenna taunted the bigger man as she squeezed his heart. “Is going to be when the life fades from your silvery eyes, Adam.”
The werewolf only struggled for a moment before Jenna squeezed his heart tighter, making it explode into her hand. Adam’s eyes paled as his last breath slipped out of his lungs. Jenna pulled her hand from his chest and watched as his body hit the floor before she turned her attention to the teenager. He immediately held up his hands in surrender.
“I work for Lusindra!” He blurted out, quickly. “I swear to it! She sent me here to keep Ethan safe!”
“Is he?” I asked.
“Not for long,” he replied in a trembling voice. “Please, hurry. Sonya has lost her mind, Evan. She is willing to take down the entire realm of humanity, just to free Orthis.”
“Because,” the teen told me. “She loves him.”
I nodded. I knew exactly what I needed to do.
“Isabella is on our side, as well,” the boy whispered, barely loud enough for me to hear him.
“I’m only here to stop Sonya,” I acknowledged as I took a step towards the doors that Adam had been guarding. My hand was on the doorknob when I finally heard the sound of a human heartbeat, fluttering in fear, coming from the other side of the door. “Who is all behind this door?”
“Sonya and Isabella are the only ones that are left,” the werewolf told me.
“What’s your name?”
“Oscar,” he replied.
“Thank you, Oscar,” I said with a nod. Then, I turned my attention to Jackson and Jon. “I want you guys to stay out here. We’ll be right back.”
I saw Oscar nod before I pushed the door open to the next room. Inside the other room, Sonya was standing near an open set of balcony doors, with her left hand firmly grasping my brother’s shoulder. Standing off to the side was another woman with long-dark hair, and a worried expression in her blood red eyes. I nodded once at the woman, and she seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. I stood just inside the doorway, my brother’s blue eyes staring at me in disbelief. Jenna, Leonard, Tatum, and Dougie all moved to my right, while Justin followed David, Jon, Jackson, and my grandmother over to my left. Ethan’s eyes were scanning each of us, growing wider as he saw the people that he loved standing in front of him. Then, my dad entered the room and moved down to my right. Ethan looked like he was about to faint as his eyes got wider. The only thing holding him up was Sonya’s grip on his shoulder. There was a slight flash from Sonya’s hand as she moved, and was suddenly, pressing the blade of a knife against my brother’s throat. Tatum, Jenna, and even Justin all growled in anger as a small drop of red ran down the front of Ethan’s throat. I could feel Tatum’s fury as he was struggling to remain in place. It wasn’t the scent of the human blood that bothered him. Sonya had hurt someone he loved.
“Don’t move another fucking muscle!” Sonya warned, pressing the blade tighter against Ethan’s skin. “I’ll kill the little blood bag if you do! They’re so fragile at this stage, too. The skin is so easy to break through with just a little pressure.” Ethan winced as Sonya took her left hand and started digging her fingernails into my brother’s shoulder. “It would be a shame of my hand slipped. . .”
Sonya’s voice faltered. I had had enough of her bullshit, and let my powers loose, freezing the woman in place as I took control over her mind with a simple thought. Her eyes went wide in fear when she realized she had antagonized the wrong person.
“Stay here,” I told the others as I started walking towards the Elder and my brother. I could see her shoulders shaking as Ethan just stared at me like I was a ghost. I smiled at Ethan as I stopped five feet away from them. “I’m sorry that I took so long to get here, baby brother.” I glared at the blonde-headed woman. “Somebody has been getting in my way, every chance that they could get.”
“You can’t do this!” Sonya whined when I gave her control of her voice back. “I’m an Elder from the Original Order! You don’t have the authority to kill me!”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Sonya,” I said, making her fall silent. “I have the authority to do whatever the fuck I feel like doing. You can’t stop me. Arella can’t stop me. Jackson can’t even stop me. Now, drop the knife.”
I felt the power of the command push out with my words, but it wasn’t my ability that I was using to do it. I was using the power of an Elder. Sonya’s eyes went wide in disbelief as she fought to disobey me. I could feel the tendrils of power forcing the woman into submission as her right hand released its grip on the knife, letting the blade fall to the ground. The blade clattered against the ground as Sonya’s bottom lip began to tremble.
“That’s impossible,” Sonya spat. “Orthis is supposed to be the True Elder! Not you! You’re nothing but a mutt!”
All I could do was grin as Sonya revealed a small piece of information to me, something that even Jon had withheld. I had had enough of her foolishness, though. It was time for the woman to pay the price for what she did to my little brother.
“Sonya,” I began in a dry voice. “It is my obligation to pass judgement on you for the crimes you have committed against Humanity and the World of Darkness. You have made our presence known to mortals with your actions, and you have endangered all of us. You took it upon yourself to force a false prophecy into action, and in doing so, you’ve managed to piss off every single race that hides in the darkness. Now, release your grip on my brother’s shoulder.”
Ethan winced as Sonya tried to fight my command, but my power was too strong for her. My little brother threw his arms around me, his entire body was trembling as he sobbed with relief. I gasped slightly when I felt his warmth envelope me, his heart was hammering against my chest, but the monster wasn’t interested in him as a meal. The monster inside of me was actually more worried about Ethan’s well-being, something that I did not expect at all. I kept my attention focused on the woman, though. She was still a threat to Ethan’s safety.
“You were dead,” Ethan whispered. “They all said it was true.”
“Shh,” I tried to console him. “Go stand with Tatum and Jenna. They won’t hurt you.”
Ethan looked over my shoulder before he practically ran to Tatum and Jenna. Tatum growled slightly as my brother grabbed him into a tight hug. Ethan was still sobbing as Tatum and Jenna held the human between them.
“Isabella, you may want to go find shelter from the sun,” I told the other woman. She nodded before I saw her dart around the others. She stopped beside Ethan and touched his cheek gently.
“I hope I get to see you, soon, Ethan,” I heard her say quietly. “You have such a beautiful soul.”
“Give Oscar a hug for me, Isabella,” Ethan said softly. He had grown attached to the two monsters that had protected him while he had been under Sonya’s imprisonment.
“I will,” Isabella replied. The dark-haired woman kissed Ethan on his cheek, before she slipped from the room.
“Turn around, Sonya,” I told the woman. “I want you to step out onto the balcony.”
“Please, no,” the woman begged softly.
“It’s too late, for that,” I told her pointedly before I repeated my command. “Turn around, Sonya, and step out onto the balcony.”
Sonya began to cry tears of blood as she slowly complied to my command. She fought against each precious step, knowing that the sun was just beginning to peak out over the eastern horizon, and her life would soon be nothing more than ashes drifting away on the wind. With each step, I could see in her mind that she was reliving the death of every vampire that she had witnessed, and she was afraid of the pain that it would bring. She was also afraid, of what was waiting for her on the other side. Sonya was afraid of the unknown. The moment her foot stepped out onto the balcony; the first rays of the morning sun struck her tear-streaked face. I stepped out beside Sonya, slipping my hand into her own.
“What are you doing?” She asked in a breathless whisper.
I turned my eyes to see her looking straight out at the city below us, the skin around her hairline was beginning to turn gray and ashy as she continued to reflect on her past.
“You don’t deserve to die alone, Sonya,” I told her calmly.
“But you’ll die, too,” she retorted as I finally, released her from my control.
“No,” I said. “I won’t, actually. The sun doesn’t affect me in any way.”
“That means,” her bottom lip began to quiver. “I was wrong the entire time. It was never Orthis. It was always you.”
“There’s a lot that you don’t know about me, Sonya. I just wish that you had come to me in the beginning. If you had talked to me about your worries, I could have talked to you about what I really wanted out of all of this.”
“I’m sorry that I started this, Evan,” Sonya whispered humbly. “I know it doesn’t mean much, now, but I am being honest. Please, tell your brother that I am sorry.”
“I’ll make sure that he knows, Sonya,” I replied with a nod. I heard Sonya whimper softly as the sun begun to hit her with more of its heat and light, causing the venom to boil beneath the woman’s skin. I turned back to see Justin watching me and I motioned for him to join me. “Justin, I don’t want her to suffer. She doesn’t deserve that.”
Justin nodded in agreement. “I understand.”
“Are you ready, Sonya?” I asked the Elder. The skin on her face was starting to flake away as the sun continued to bring Sonya to her end.
“Yes,” she answered in a cringing voice.
“Goodbye, Sonya,” I said. “I wish we could have met under better circumstances. We might have been able to work this out, differently.”
“Good luck, Evan,” I heard her say as Justin used his telekinesis to lift the woman into the air, directly into the light of the morning sun. Soon, all that was left of Sonya, was the white gown she had been wearing as she became nothing more than a memory.
Justin and I shared a look before we turned back to the others.
“It’s done,” I said solemnly. “Sonya is dead.”
Jackson and my grandmother bowed their heads in respect. David said a silent prayer to the Gods to save the soul of the woman, while I went to my brother. I stood in front of him as he stared at me in awe.
“I. . . It’s. . . But. . .”
I put my finger to his lips to silence him.
“I’ll tell you everything,” I told him with a grin, before adding, “eventually.”
“What do you mean?” He asked with a frown.
“You’ll figure it out, soon enough, Ethan,” I informed him. “The secret must be kept, though.” I ran my thumb across Ethan’s cheek, sadly, before I pulled his human form into my arms for a final hug. Everyone, except my grandmother, started leaving the penthouse, giving me privacy to do what had to be done. “I love you, Ethan. Always remember that, no matter what.”
“Will you be okay, Evan?” My grandmother asked softly.
“It’s Ethan that you should be worried about, grandma,” I said.
“What’s going on?” Ethan asked in confusion as I continued to hold him against my chest. I couldn’t get enough of the feeling of his heartbeat, though. He was so warm and lovable. . .
“Just relax, Ethan,” I told him softly before I kissed his throat. “This will all be nothing but a bad dream in a moment. . .”
It had been five days since Sonya had been forced to meet the sun, and in the bowels of Lulu’s Hideaway, a newborn vampire was about to open his eyes. He would look upon the world with a fresh sense of purpose, and a dreaded thirst that would haunt him for eternity. His vision would be better than you could ever imagine, and he would be a force for any mortal being to have to face. He would be a true monster. Evan hadn’t left his side, since we returned from Philadelphia, never ceasing to whisper words of love and encouragement to the fledgling bloodsucker. We needed him to come through this with a clear conscious, for Evan’s sake, if nothing else. Evan would never forgive himself if he had to destroy any of his own creations, especially one that he had already bonded with, emotionally. The heart skipped another beat, and I couldn’t help but smile as Jenna and Leonard glanced up at me.
“Well?” Jenna asked.
“Well, what?” I asked with a smug grin as I had a momentary vision of the boy opening his blood-red eyes. The time was coming closer.
“Don’t make me come over there, young man,” Jenna scolded me with a teasing growl.
I couldn’t help but giggle at the sound of the worry in her voice. She cared about him, just as much as the rest of us.
“Any time, now,” I told her with a grin.
“Will Evan get mad if we go down there?” Leonard asked doubtfully.
“He’ll get over it,” Jenna said pointedly. “I have a new little brother to meet.”
Leonard laughed as we followed Jenna down into the basement of the safehouse. Dougie came barreling in the door behind me, nearly pushing me down the stairs as he ran into me.
“Watch it, ya big goof!” I told him.
“Sorry,” Dougie apologized quickly. I caught the fresh scent of the pine trees across the road on Dougie’s hair and clothes and breathed in deeply of the earthy scent. “Did I miss it?”
“No,” Jenna replied, leading the way across the basement to the hidden door. “You’re just in time.”
“Good,” our brother said happily. “I can’t wait to meet him, finally. His heart sounds like it’s going crazy!”
“Leonard sounded like he was trying out for his own drum solo, when he went through his change,” I told him. “I had a migraine for two days.”
“You love me, and you know it, small fry,” Leonard said with a laugh.
“Sometimes,” I teased him with a grin.
The downstairs hallway wasn’t as bright as it normally was, the lights being kept dim, so they didn’t harm the newborn’s eyes when he finally, woke up.
I can’t wait, I thought happily, as we neared Evan’s suite.
Jenna only knocked once, before she pushed the door open and stepped inside.
“Hey, guys,” Evan greeted us from the sofa, where he was lying with the future vampire in his arms. “I’m glad you could join us. Give us just a minute, and I’ll introduce you to your new baby brother.”
I smiled at my brothers and Jenna as Evan started talking softly to the newborn in his arms.
“Your brothers and sister are here to see you,” our father whispered. “Just in time, too.”
The boy in Evan’s arms whimpered as his heart skipped a few more beats, before stopping, completely.
“Is it over,” a small voice asked.
“Yeah, Hayden,” Evan replied as he slowly sat up, still holding the boy. “It’s over. You never have to go through that, again. Now, you’re better than ever.”
Hayden turned his head slowly to look at the rest of us.
“Are you my family, now?” He asked sheepishly.
“Whether you like it, or not, little one,” Jenna told the boy as she held her hands out to him.
Hayden looked at Evan, and once Evan nodded his permission, Hayden let Jenna take him into her arms.
“Oh my, God!” Jenna cooed. “You’re so cute, Hayden!”
Dougie and Leonard each went over to greet our new brother, while I turned back to Evan.
“How is he?” I asked, knowing that he would know who I was talking about.
“As good as he can be, I guess,” Evan replied sadly. “It’s not like I wanted to do that to him, Tatum.”
“I know,” I quickly reassured my Father. “You did it out of love and responsibility.”
“Does it bother you that he’s not one of us?”
“No,” I replied honestly. “Ethan will join us when the time is right. Do I wish that you had given him to my dad, instead? Yes. But that’s not my place to say anything. It’s going to be hard enough for him to get through this, as it is. I mean, you had to erase nearly three months of his life away from him, Evan. Now, he’s going to be stuck trying to remember everything that he has forgotten, while also dealing with the death of his mother. Which, to him, has only been a week ago. I just hope that you’re ready to deal with the consequences of everything that we did, five days ago.”
“It would have been easier to just change him into a vampire,” Evan said humbly. “I know that, Tatum. It wasn’t time, though. He wouldn’t have been able to handle becoming a monster with all of the grief he was suffering. Our life would have been a continuous nightmare for him to live.”
“I know,” I told Evan. “He would have never been able to accept it like I did. He still felt like he had a chance at life.”
Evan smiled and pulled me into a hug.
“Thank you, Evan,” I whispered into his chest. “I’ll never be able to thank you enough for making me a part of your world.”