Lulu had a room reserved for us at a small motel just north of downtown. With Jon driving, it only took us three hours to get to the city, giving us enough time to wander around for an hour or two before sunrise. Jon and Dylan went West, while Tatum and I went East. Jon had wanted Dylan to come with us, but Dylan was adamant that he needed to be with Jon for the remainder of the night.
“Felix told me to stay with you, Jon,” Dylan admitted.
I was surprised to Jon relent as fast as he did.
“Come along then, Dylan,” Jon said as he waved for Dylan to follow him.
Tatum spotted our victims before I did, and we followed them until they turned down a side street. That was when we launched ourselves at the two men and pulled them into the shadows. We made quick work of the duo before we hid their bodies in a nearby dumpster, and went to find Jon and Dylan.
“Want to have some fun?” I asked Tatum as I eyed the tall buildings surrounding us.
“What kind of fun?” Tatum asked with a raised eyebrow.
“The vampire kind,” I said with a grin. “Come on.”
Tatum followed me as I broke into a slow run, before I suddenly darted down a side street with my cousin close behind me. I slid to a stop at the base of a brick building, and stared up towards the top.
“How tall do you think that is?”
“I don’t know, Evan,” Tatum said, not quite understanding why I was even asking the question. “There’s ten rows of windows…”
“Ten-stories,” I said with a quick nod. “Let’s climb it.”
“You’re being crazy, tonight,” Tatum said with a giggle.
I reached out and touched the brick, feeling the rough texture of it against my fingers, before I began to dig my fingertips into the mortar to get a grip.
“Don’t move, blood sucker!” A familiar sounding voice growled from behind us. “I’ll kill the both of you if you even twitch a muscle.”
The strange smell of the man threw me off, but I could have sworn that I knew that voice. It was the night of my accident. That was the last time I had heard that voice. The man that had offered me a ride home. The man that could have saved my life if I would have just taken him up on his offer.
“Mr. Hunter?” I asked nervously.
“Evan?” The man asked in surprise.
I turned around slowly, but motioned for Tatum to remain still. Mr. Hunter looked completely taken aback as he held a loaded crossbow pointed in my direction.
“Would you mind, uhhh, lowering that thing?” I asked with a slight chuckle.
Mr. Hunter lowered the crossbow after turning the safety back on, and grinned at me.
“I didn’t think that I would be running into you this soon, Evan,” Mr. Hunter admitted. Then, his grin faded. “That means…”
I waited for him to finished his statement, but he changed the subject.
“Who is that?” He motioned towards Tatum.
“This is my cousin Tatum,” I said proudly. “Go ahead and turn around, Tatum.”
Tatum laughed nervously when he saw who it was.
Mr. Hunter snorted in surprise.
“Immortality seems to have saved your life, Tatum,” my former teacher stated with a grin and a brief nod. “I apologize for not recognizing you.”
“No apologies are necessary, David,” Tatum replied with a shrug. “I was wasting away the last time you saw me. I don’t even recognize myself anymore.”
“I do have to say that you are a beautiful vampire, Tatum,” then Mr. Hunter turned his gaze to me. “Both of you are.”
“Thank you, Mr. Hunter,” I replied with a laugh. I motioned towards his crossbow. “Were any of those things you taught us just legends?”
“No,” David replied. “Everything I taught you was real.”
“Oh,” I said softly. “Then, what are you?”
“I’m a Hunter, Evan.”
Dylan and Jon were waiting for us back at the motel. Both men were lying on one of the beds with relaxed smiles on their faces. I could smell the scent of shampoo and soap from the shower, and I knew immediately what the two had been up to.
“Get a room!” I said with a giggle.
“We did,” Jon retorted with a smug grin. “The shower’s free. The hot water doesn’t seem to run out, either.”
“What took you guys so long?” Dylan asked curiously. “I was beginning to get worried.”
“So worried that you had Jon comfort you in the shower?” I teased the mind-reader.
“Jon’s really good at providing support,” Dylan replied.
“Anyways,” Jon said to change the subject. “I believe you were going to tell us what took you so long to get back to the room?”
“We ran into a Hunter,” I said with a shrug.
“I could really use a shower,” Tatum said as he absently stared at the open bathroom door.
“Nobody’s stopping you,” Dylan told him.
Tatum nodded and started pulling off his shirt as he walked towards the bathroom.
“You met a Hunter, and lived to tell about it?” Jon asked in disbelief.
“Is it difficult, or something?” I asked, trying to keep myself from betraying the true worry I felt when I first heard the Hunter’s voice behind me and Tatum. Tatum ruined my fun, though.
“It was David,” Tatum called out from the bathroom before we heard him turn on the shower.
“You got lucky, then.” Jon said with a slight shake of his head.
“It’s almost sunrise,” Dylan said sleepily as he cuddled into Jon’s side with a smile on his lips.
Jon ran his fingers through Dylan’s dirty-blond hair until the boy fell asleep in his arms.
That night, we ran together as a Coven. Jon took point since he knew the city better than we did, and he was the slowest runner out of the four of us. Dylan was only slightly faster than Jon, but Tatum could easily keep by my side without even trying. We found several different traces of newborn vampire activities, and followed them back down towards the Delaware River. We crossed over I-76 and climbed up onto a building so we could get a better look on situation at the pier.
Jon frowned in disappointment.
“That bad, huh?” I asked before taking a quick glance over the ledge. My eyes went wide when I saw the number of vampires climbing in and around the different shipping containers. “Jesus Christ…”
“That’s what I thought, too,” Jon said. “How many of them do you think there are?”
“Over fifty,” I replied in disbelief.
“Yeah, Jon?” Dylan asked quietly, so his voice wouldn’t carry. We didn’t need to be discovered by a mob of this size.
“Are you able to pick up their thoughts from here?” The werewolf asked the mind-reader curiously.
Dylan closed his eyes, and cocked his head to the side.
“They keep talking about Sonya, Marcel, and Vincent.”
Jon let out a growl when he heard the last name.
“Friend of yours?” I asked with a slight chuckle.
“One of my father’s direct descendants,” Jon replied with an angry expression. “He challenged my father for control of the pack, and tried to cheat during the battle. Vincent was excommunicated for violating the Code of the Pack.”
“And now?” I asked as I took another glance at the newborn vampires dotting the pier.
“He appears to be working for Sonya and Marcel,” Jon said angrily.
“He’s supposedly keeping an eye on the newborns,” Dylan said thoughtfully. “They’re afraid of him. Marcel told them they have to listen to Vincent, or they’ll be put to the sun. He’s killed seven of them, already.”
“What do we do?” Tatum asked.
“First, we need to get away from here without getting spotted,” Jon said as he backed away from the ledge. I followed his lead, never taking my eyes off of the newborns below us, until we got the other side of the building. “Let’s get back to the motel. We’ve got about two hours until sunrise, and I want to try and call Lulu. She’ll be able to tell Arella what’s going on.”
We ran north along I-95 until it turned to go into New Jersey. Instead, we headed to our motel, only to find it engulfed in flames. Even Jon’s car had been set ablaze.
“They know we’re here,” Jon said.
“They’re watching us,” Dylan added as he turned to scan the crowd that was gathering as everyone waited for the fire department to arrive. “There’s three of them.”
“We need to go back downtown,” Jon said. “There’s another safehouse there.”
“We won’t make it there in time,” Tatum said pointedly. “There’s a building a few blocks closer that’s empty. It’s under construction. Most of the windows are still boarded up, so it’s not like we have to worry about the sunlight.”
“Lead the way, Seer,” Jon told my cousin. “Dylan, keep an ear out for our friends. I sort of want them to follow us for a few miles.”
“Yes, sir,” Dylan replied before we set out for downtown Philadelphia.
We weren’t going to go all the way into downtown; that would just have alerted Sonya of our presence, and that was the last thing we wanted to do. We didn’t need all of Sonya’s forces on us as we tried to find shelter. Three of us were destined to burn if we were caught out in the sunlight. Not to mention the fact that Dylan was probably already beginning to feel tired.
“Shut up, Evan!” Dylan said with a growl from behind me. “I’m trying not to think about it, damn it.”
“My bad, Dylan,” I said with a light giggle. “I have no control over my thoughts, though.”
“Think about what, Dylan?” Jon asked curiously.
“Nothing,” Dylan said. “They’ve stopped following our scent, Jon.”
“They wouldn’t have been able to for much longer,” the werewolf advised us. “How much further to your hideout, Tatum?”
“Six blocks, then hang a right,” Tatum told us. “Someone get ready to carry Dylan.”
“I’ll do it,” Jon said, and without even waiting for Dylan to pass out, Jon grabbed the vampire and carried him over his shoulder. Dylan slipped unconscious a moment later. “Good thing it’s only him that sleeps. I don’t think I’d be able to carry all three of you.”
“Lucky us, I think,” I said with a grin.
“Turn right here,” Tatum instructed.
Neither of us hesitated to follow his orders.
“There it is,” Jon said, pointing towards the building up on the left side of the road. It looked to be a future twenty-story building, and the majority of the window openings were indeed covered with boards. The werewolf led the way across the street, and soon we were in the safety of the building. “Let’s go higher. It’s too open on this floor.”
“Agreed,” I said as I turned to see all of the boards and boxes. Wires hung from the ceiling as the building awaited the arrival of the electrician team to finish hooking things up on the lower levels. Boxes of light fixtures were stacked in the center of the room, and there were crates of other construction supplies scattered about the room. “What if they show up…”
“They won’t,” Tatum assured me.
“How do you know?” Jon asked curiously.
“Avatar Technology is in the process of buying out this building after the original company went bankrupt,” Tatum said with a grin. “I’ve had a lot of time lately to study businesses. You’d be surprised what you can learn about the different companies out there when you have access to a government computer.”
Jon laughed and shook his head.
“Come on,” he said before he motioned towards the stairs. “Let’s go see what we can find a few levels up.”
Jon continued to carry the sleeping form of Dylan over his shoulder as we climbed the stairs. We were on the twelfth-story when Jon finally found a safe enough spot for all of us. Tatum held the door to a windowless office open long enough for Jon to put Dylan inside. Then, we walked around the level to see what else we could find. The floor looked like it was mostly going to be used for open cubicle space, with a few offices along the inner walls. Boards covered the window openings that lined the outer walls, and it made me nervous to see the sunlight coming in through the edges. On the western side of the building, there were several places where the boards had been left off, and the room was full of the morning light.
“At least it’s not direct sunlight,” Jon muttered as he stared at the sunlit room.
I squinted my eyes against the brightness of it as I followed Jon into the room.
“You guys will be safe here while I go try and get us a car,” Jon told us as he took one last glance around the large room. “Just don’t go sticking your head out any of the windows, and the two of you should be fine.”
“You’re leaving?” Tatum asked nervously.
“Yeah,” Jon said with a shrug as he walked towards the door that led to the stairwell. “We’re going to need wheels if we want to make it back to the Hideaway by tonight. Arella and the others have to be told what’s going on, Tatum. Sonya needs to be stopped before the entire world learns that we exist.”
Tatum nodded gravely.
“Don’t take any chances, Jon,” my cousin warned the werewolf. “There’s other events that have to take place.”
Jon and I both looked at Tatum in surprise.
“Got it,” Jon said quietly as he absorbed Tatum’s warning. “I’ll come straight back.”
“No matter what, Jon,” Tatum said carefully.
Jon nodded in acknowledgement before he slipped out through the exit door.
I went over to one of the windows that wasn’t boarded up stood off just to the side of it. It was strange being able to see sunlight for the first time since January.
‘At least now I know that I can be near it, I just have to stay out of the direct light of the sun.’ I told myself smugly. ‘That’s more than even Dylan can handle.’
“I miss the sunlight,” Tatum whispered as he slid up behind me, and peeked around me arm at the sunlit world before us. “My dad stopped taking me outside back in November.”
“Is it harder for you?” I asked as I pulled my cousin into a loose hug. He rested his cheek against my chest.
“I’ve had longer to adjust to it than you, Father,” Tatum said with a sigh. “I’ve been dancing with Death for a long time. If you wouldn’t have come back to the facility when you did…”
“Shh,” I said softly as I hugged him tighter. “That doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you’re here with me.”
“Too bad Ethan isn’t…”
His words caught me off guard, and it made me wonder what Ethan could possibly be up to. Today was a Saturday at the end of April. I tried to think of what Ethan and I normally had going on during this time of the year, but I was drawing a blank. It actually hurt slightly for me to think about it. I knew I always went to a school party this time of year, but after being on the Student Council, I didn’t have a choice in the matter. They had been planning for a sleepover at the school this year, but the details hadn’t been finalized by the time of my accident.
“What’s wrong?” Tatum asked softly when I hadn’t said anything for a while.
“Sorry,” I said. “I was just thinking…”
“Ethan,” I said with a soft smile. I felt Tatum freeze for a moment before he relaxed again. “No worries, Tatum. I generally think about Ethan on a daily basis. I’ve just been busy with everything that’s been going on lately, so he hasn’t been on my mind.”
“I’m sure he knows you love him,” Tatum whispered.
“Too bad he thinks I’m dead,” I said sadly.
“Only for now, Father.”
Tatum’s words brought back another hard fact I was going to have to face soon. I was supposed to change Ethan into a vampire. Everyone expected it of me.
“I hate that…”
“I know,” Tatum said quickly. “Sorry that I brought it up, Father.”
“It’s of no matter, Tatum,” I said with a frown. “I’m still going to be faced with the choice, one day. I just hope I make the right one.”
“You will, Evan,” Tatum told me with a grin as he stepped back from my embrace. “Just like you’ll make the right choice with the next three.”
“Three?” I asked with a scowl. “How do you know this?”
Tatum just grinned and tapped the side of his head.
It was sometime around noon when Jon finally returned with a look of fear in his silver eyes.
“What’s wrong?” I demanded of the man as the exit door swung shut behind him.
“I think Vincent spotted me,” Jon said grimly.
“What do we do?” Tatum asked nervously as he backed away from the stairwell door.
Jon stopped and glanced towards the open window. I could tell from his scowl that he was deep in thought, but there was another issue we had to deal with. I could hear three people running up the stairwell.
“Jon,” I said with a whisper as I turned my attention to the door. “They’re here.”
Tatum looked frightened as the sounds of the footsteps grew closer.
“Tatum,” Jon said calmly. “Go hide with Dylan until I come get you. Don’t let anybody hurt him. Is that understood?”
“Yes, sir.” Tatum said nervously before he disappeared without making a sound.
Jon was taking slow breaths as he waited for the intruders to make themselves known.
“What can I expect from these three, Jon?”
“They won’t hold back, Evan.” Jon said hesitantly. “They’re savages. That’s why Sonya hired them to keep her army in line.”
“So, we fight?”
“Aye, young blood,” Jon said warily. “We fight, or we die.”
I could sense someone enter the room from the other side, but I couldn’t tell who it was, and I didn’t dare take my eyes off of the door. I kept my back to one of the boarded up windows, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the sunlight, and I waited. Jon stood five-feet to my right and watched with me as the door knob slowly turned and the door swung inwards. The three men that entered were all wearing dark suits and they all had silver eyes like Jon did. The man in the center crossed his arms against his chest.
“Hello, Jon,” Vincent said with a smug grin. “What brings you to Philadelphia? With a bloodsucker, no less.”
“I had a few things that I needed to see for myself, Brother,” Jon replied with a frown.
“I don’t deserve that Title, Jon,” Vincent said with a scowl. “You and I both know why.”
Jon nodded once.
“So, what caused you to work for Sonya?” Jon asked. I could tell that he was just trying to keep the werewolf talking as the mysterious person to my left slid into position behind a stack of crates.
“Money, Jon,” Vincent said smugly. “Nothing more, nothing less. In this day and age, a man has to watch out for his own interests. My new boss has made certain that I won’t have to worry about money for a long time.”
“You won’t have to worry about anything once Jackson learns what you’ve been up to, Vincent.”
“What’s the difference between what you do, and what I do, Jon?” Vincent suddenly demanded angrily. I could see his skin rippled as he fought to control the beast inside of him. “You’re walking the streets of MY city with one of these fucking bloodsuckers, and you have the nerve to tell me that I’m wrong?”
“There’s a huge difference, Vincent,” Jon said calmly. “I’m working to maintain the secret. You’re working to enslave all humankind. Father was right about you.”
“He said you were a waste of the venom it took to create you,” Jon stated coldly.
Vincent growled angrily.
“I’ll make you fucking pay for that, Brother!” Vincent snarled angrily. “I’m going to rip you apart piece by piece until there is nothing left!”
Then, I saw a flash of silver as an arrow flew out of the shadows and struck the werewolf standing to Vincent’s right in the head. Vincent and the other werewolf jumped back in disbelief as their friend’s body hit the floor with a solid thump. Vincent let out a scream of rage before he and the other werewolf charged at us. Vincent pushed into me with all of his weight as the other wolf slammed into Jon. The force of Vincent’s impact knocked me off of my feet and sent me flying backwards. I didn’t even realize that I was in trouble until I felt my back break through the wood that was covering the window behind me. Vincent hadn’t attacked me to kill me. He was pushing me into the sunlight.
I felt the wood splinter at the same time that I heard it crack. My eyes went wide with fear as I saw myself go past the window frame. Vincent had a glimmer of hate in his eyes as he fell with me out of the window. I felt the heat of the sun bearing down upon my skin, and closed my eyes against the brightness of everything as I fell. Vincent pushed away from me, but I knew it was too late for me. At any moment, the sun would turn me into ash as it burned me alive. If I was lucky, I would be dead before I even hit the ground.
No fires came though…
Only the sudden impact of my body landing on top of a van, and the crunching sound of metal as it collapsed beneath my weight. I sat up on the van, and slid to my feet as a woman to my right screamed out in terror before fainting. I glanced over to see Vincent half-limping as he ran away down the street. Jon was looking out of the window with disbelief on his face.
“I’m fine,” I said with a whisper.
“We’ll meet you tonight,” Jon said with a brief nod of his head.
I turned to see David Hunter standing in the alley next to the building I had fallen from, and I quickly joined him as the sounds of sirens began to grow closer.
“You’re just full of surprises, Evan,” David said with a grin.
“You’re telling me,” I replied with a roll of my eyes.
“Come on,” David said as he motioned for me to follow him. “Let’s get out of here.”