Evan screamed in agonizing pain for three days before his screams finally began to subside. He was never left alone for a single moment. Each of his children took shifts watching over him as he suffered. We needed to be with him. Leonard and I seemed to be the least affected by Evan’s condition compared to Tatum and Dougie who had both entered a sort of catatonic state of existence. The members of the Alliance were worried, and they had good reason to be. The majority of our coven was officially out of the picture if Evan didn’t recover soon. Arella turned to me for frequent updates on Evan’s condition, and I tried to remain as hopeful as I could even though everybody’s hopes were beginning to fall. The worst part of the entire situation was the fact that Felix , The Seer , was dead. When Evan had taken away the man’s memories, he had also managed to take the very essence of the man himself. Then, Felix, hollow and empty inside, stumbled out into the sunlight while Evan writhed in pain on the floor. Dougie was the unfortunate witness to that event.
Without Tatum or Evan, we were blind to the events of the future. Felix only told people enough to get them by. That was how he remained neutral in every encounter. The act that led to his demise was a complete betrayal of his entire belief system. He would no longer be considered a neutral being if he remained alive after he gave Evan his memories. The only way for him to have a clean slate was for him to sacrifice himself for the good of all humanity.
I sighed and wiped down the counter in the hotel lobby one last time before I was certain that Lulu would appear from the basement. I volunteered to watch the counter during the daylight hours since Leonard and I were able to walk in the sun. Leonard kept watch over Evan, Tatum, and Dougie while I kept everybody happy with fake charm and answers.
Tatum came back to his senses about a day before Dougie did, and he joined me in the motel.
“Jenna?” My brother approached me hesitantly as I looked at him in disbelief.
“Tatum?” I asked nervously. “Are you really there?”
“Yeah,” he replied with a smile of relief.
I rushed around the counter and grabbed the smaller boy up into my arms.
“Don’t ever scare me like that again, Tatum!” I scolded the boy as I held him tightly.
“I’m sorry,” he tried to apologize.
“There’s no need for that, Tatum,” I told him as I released him slowly. “I’m just glad that you’re okay, brother. You had me worried.”
“All I saw was my future being taken away from me,” Tatum explained quietly. “And there was no way for me to avenge his death. I had nobody to blame. That’s what made me freeze, Jenna.”
“What made you come around?”
“I heard Evan sigh with relief, today,” Tatum explained with a smile. “I think he’s waking up.”
I couldn’t help but smile along with Tatum.
“What about Dougie?”
“He was stirring around, too.” My brother replied. “I’m sure that he’ll be awake by morning.”
“Good,” I said as I allowed the smile to return to my lips. “This will make Arella happy.”
“How long have we been out of it?”
“Four days, now,” I told him.
“Really?” Tatum asked in disbelief.
I nodded and smiled at him.
“Don’t worry, Tatum,” I said reassuringly. “Leonard and I can catch you up.”
Dylan returned along with seven other members of the Alliance that I had never met before the same evening that Tatum had awoken. Arella took the time to introduce them to me, but I was too worried about Evan to pay attention. It was Dylan who got me to finally come to my senses. He dragged me down to Evan’s room and made me stand next to my Sire while he told me everything that was going on in Evan’s head.
“It’s a lot of information,” Dylan said coldly as he put his hands against his temples. “His brain would have overloaded if he had been a human.”
“It could have killed him?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied honestly.
“What about Dougie?”
“I’m fine,” the older boy stated as he glanced up at me from his kneeling position beside Evan. “I will be, at least.”
I breathed a sigh of relief and reached down to hug Dougie tightly.
“Oh hush,” I chided him when he growled at me and tensed up. “You’re just going to have to get used to my hugs, Dougie!”
Dylan laughed nervously as he stood behind us. Our reunion was interrupted for a brief moment as Evan suddenly sat up gasping for air. I jumped back with a growl as my Sire glanced around with a bewildered expression on his face.
“Am I really here?” He asked in confusion. “Did I finally make it out?”
Dylan was at Evan’s side in an instant and held his friend tightly.
“You’re safe, now, Evan,” Dylan reassured my Sire quietly. “Everybody is safe, now.”
“No, we’re not, Dylan,” Evan said in a voice that trembled with fear. “None of us are safe unless we can get Jackson to join us. I need to talk to Arella.”
Evan was on his feet in an instant and out the door. Dylan and Dougie both stared at me in confusion before we followed along behind Evan.
“What’s going on, Evan?” I asked curiously. “You’ve been out cold for five days, and then you just get up and run off to speak to Arella?”
“This is important, Jenna,” Evan stated calmly as he continued to the lobby of the motel. “We need to get a hold of Jackson as soon as possible. We’ll all die if we don’t.”
“Not if we run away,” I stated hesitantly.
Evan’s hand froze on the handle of the door before he turned to face me slowly.
“Don’t ever suggest that we run from this, again.” He said in a stern voice that made me tremble with fear. “We’re not cowards, Jenna.”
“Yes, Father,” I stated humbly as my head fell in shame. I’m sure my cheeks would have been red if I could still blush.
Evan nodded once before he stepped into the motel. I took a moment to gather my thoughts before I followed behind him. Tatum and Leonard were at the door greeting Evan when I walked in, but he was busy scanning the crowd for Arella.
“I’ll explain in a minute,” Evan stated before he pushed forward to where Arella was seated at one of the tables behind the counter. The room was full of vampires, hunters, and a few witches, but there was still no sign of the werewolves that Jon had promised to return with. The room went completely silent when Arella noticed Evan approaching her.
“Evan!” Arella called out pleasantly. “You’re finally awake!”
“We need to talk, Arella,” Evan said bluntly as he sat in one of the empty seats at the table. “I know what Jackson wants.”
“He shouldn’t get anything,” the older man that was in the seat across from Evan said with a frown. “It’s his duty to help the Alliance in times of need.”
“Hush now, Dominick.” Arella chided the man and I realized that it was one of the Elders. “How do we get Jackson to join us?”
“We need to offer him a seat on the New Council, Arella,” Evan said calmly. “It’s the only way. The Werewolves deserve representation, and you know it as well as I do.”
Arella sat back in her seat and crossed her legs at the knee. Her red gown shifted like liquid as the woman moved.
“I don’t like it, Evan.” She said finally. “You could always force him to join us!”
“You don’t have to like it, Arella.” Evan countered. “Besides, I would never force anybody to join me against their will.”
Arella glanced at the vampire named Dominick.
“If it ensures the support of the Werewolves, then I say we do it, Great Mother.” The Elder conceded with a nervous frown. “Evan is right. We don’t have to like the idea, Mother. We only have to think about how it’s going to affect our future.”
Arella nodded grimly.
“Fine,” she stated loud enough for everyone to hear. “From this day forth, the Werewolves shall reserve two seats on the Council of Elders under the stipulation that they adhere to the same rules as the other Elders of the Alliance.”
Evan nodded before he asked for a cell phone.
“What are you doing?” Arella asked curiously.
“I’m making sure that Jon relays the message to Jackson,” Evan explained as he dialed a number and held the phone up to his ear. “Jon? I need you to tell Jackson something for me. Tell him that he has two seats on the Council, but he must follow the same rules as the other Elders.” Evan paused for a moment as he waited for Jon to relay the message. “It’s true, Jackson. I swear to it.” Evan smiled. “Good. I look forward to fighting next to you in Philadelphia, Jackson.” Evan closed the phone before he tossed it back to its owner and smiled at Arella. “Jackson will be there with his forces.”
I flinched as everyone in the room began to cheer loudly.
“Now,” Evan continued once the cheering died down. “We need to come up with a different battle plan. Sonya has made a few changes that we need to account for.”
I stared at my Sire rather proudly at that moment. All through school, Evan and I had stuck together through everything. He focused on sports and I helped him keep his academics up. The one thing that he has always shown though, was the trait of being a true leader. Everybody followed Evan with any choice that he made, and he was able to convince naysayers into agreeing with just a brief conversation.
“What kinds of changes, Evan?” Dominick asked with a frown.
“The size of her army has almost doubled, for starters,” Evan explained. “Second, she’s managed to set up a few ambushes that we’re going to have to navigate through as we approach her building in the downtown part of the city.”
“We could send the wolves in just before sunset to spring the traps,” Dominick suggested.
“No,” Evan shook his head. “That won’t work. We need the Hunters for that, instead. The Werewolves won’t make it until the final hour as we approach the final nest.”
“Our casualties are going to be heavy, Evan,” Arella said wryly.
“Not if we split up and enter the city from different directions,” Evan stated with a shrug.
“What about Section-9?” Tatum asked as he edged his way over to the counter. “Have you called Agent Bentley yet to see if he’s sending anybody to help?”
“I’m sort of hesitant asking the humans for any kind of assistance at this point, Tatum,” Evan said with a quick glance at Dougie who stood to my left. “Only one good thing came out of all of that.” Evan returned his attention to Arella and Dominick.
“It would help our chances of survival, Evan,” Arella stated with an indifferent shrug.
Evan groaned in defeat before he asked for the phone to be handed back to him. My Sire dialed a number and held the phone up to his ear again.
“Dad?” Evan spoke quietly. “It’s Evan. I need your help. We need your help.”
We broke up into five different groups about an hour before sunset, and we were instructed to get to know the members of our teams. I was teamed up with, Leonard, Dougie, Lulu, Justin, David, Lusindra, and Nikolas. David was immediately elected to be our Team Leader as we sat around in one of the motel rooms talking about our pasts and what we expected out of our new lives.
David spent a little bit of time covering where Sonya had come from, and how she had resented Orthis being imprisoned due to his blood lust. David told us how Orthis wanted complete dominion over the world, and how he had very nearly executed his plan.
“You never covered this in your lessons,” I accused the man who had been my teacher.
David chuckled lightly.
“I never expected it to come up like this, Jenna.” He told me. “If you haven’t noticed yet, I only taught you things that I thought you would encounter within your first year or two as a vampire.”
“You knew that this was going to happen to me?” I asked in disbelief.
“No,” he corrected me sternly. “I knew that it relied on you making the final decision to become what you are, Jenna. All I knew, was that I had to put Evan into the position of giving you the Choice, Jenna.” The former teacher looked at me thoughtfully for a moment. “Just like I had to give Evan the Choice to drive home the night of his accident.”
“Holy shit,” I stated in disbelief as everyone else laughed lightly. “There’s so much that I didn’t know.”
“Don’t you believe anything that you’re told?” David asked.
“It depends on what I’m being told,” I chided my teacher.
David shook his head in dismay, and I couldn’t help but giggle at the man. David sighed in defeat before he changed topics.
“Let’s at least learn some hand signals, so we can be prepared for tomorrow night,” he suggested. “I don’t want us to get eaten by newborns just because we have to yell everything back and forth.”
Everyone giggled before we spent the rest of the morning learning different hand signals from David. Leonard and I went in search of Evan while the others went to sleep for the day. We found our Sire standing in the lobby having a short conversation with Arella before she made her way downstairs for the day. I saw David and Justin climb into my teacher’s truck and drive away without a word to anybody. I made a quick decision to keep the information to myself, for now.
“We have to stay focused, Evan.” Arella was saying when we entered. “That’s one of the main jobs of being a leader, keeping everybody focused on the task at hand.”
Evan smiled and motioned for us to join him.
“It’s not a private conversation,” he stated reassuringly. “Arella can’t be up for very much longer, anyways. She was just giving me a few pointers before she retired for the day.”
“We could teach you everything that David knows about hand signals,” Leonard stated with a chuckle. “Where did David and Justin run off to, anyway?”
“I’m sure they’ll turn up, tomorrow night,” Arella said with a tired smile. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, some of us need to get our sleep.”
“Rest well, Arella,” I told the Mother of Vampires.
“Thank you, Jenna,” Arella replied. “Enjoy your sunlight.”
Evan laughed before Arella dismissed herself for the day. Dougie and Tatum joined us a short while later as we all decided to spend the day watching television. Even with a battle looming over our heads, my new family was able to smile. I glanced around at our little group and smiled to myself. These guys were my brothers now. I would do anything to protect them. . .
Even if it meant giving up my life. . .
“Yeah, Justin?” My Mentor asked as he navigated the back roads.
“My throat is still burning,” I told him disappointedly. “Where are we going, anyway?”
“I have some people that I need to chat with,” David said briefly.
David nodded solemnly.
“How many of us are there?”
“There’s, maybe, two or three thousand of us throughout the entire world,” David informed me. “You’ll never see more than five or six of us together at a time, though. If you do, it means that there is a major battle coming.”
“Oh,” I said humbly. “I’d hate to be on the receiving end of that.”
“Me, too,” David said. “It hasn’t happened in many years, though.”
“How old are you, David?”
David just chuckled.
“Old enough, Apprentice,” he said with a grin. “Old enough. Now, let’s discuss etiquette for this meeting that we’re going to, Justin.”
“Etiquette?” I asked nervously. “Are they important people, or something?”
“They’re royalty, Justin,” my Mentor said soberly. I felt myself pale. “We’re going to see if they’re willing to help the Alliance during the fight against Sonya. Normally, they remain aloof of these situations, refusing to get involved and remain hidden. If they decide to join us, it’s only because they believe that we can’t handle it.”
“Are they dangerous?”
“Very much, so, Justin,” David told me seriously. “One wrong move, and their guards will kill you on the spot. Hence, the etiquette lesson.”
“Okay, then,” I said soberly. “I’m listening. . .”
The drive only took us six hours, and David spent the entire time going over every little detail of the trio that I was about to meet. When we pulled up to a security gate, my heart was hammering in my chest as David spoke with the guard on duty. The guard let us through after a short call to someone else, and a minute later, David had us parked in front of one of the largest mansions I had ever seen. I stared up at the five-story structure, unable to take my eyes off of it as David urged me to get out of his truck.
I nodded and quickly slid out of the truck and stood next to the side of it as I waited for David’s next instructions. There were already eleven guards watching us from several different points nearby, and four more men wearing black suits were approaching us as David moved to my side.
“Turn around,” the man in the lead ordered. “Put your hands on the side of the truck so you can be searched for weapons and paraphernalia.”
David and I both did as the man instructed, and two of the guards were quickly patting us down. They stepped away from us when they were done, and the man ordered us to turn back around.
“State your business,” the man in charge demanded.
“I am David Hunter, and this is my apprentice,” David introduced us. “We are here to seek an audience with the Royal Family.”
“The Royal Family does not take visitors unannounced,” the man stated hotly.
“Tell them that Sonya has broken the treaty,” David said tersely. “I’ll wait while you deliver my message.”
David crossed his arms against his chest. The man in charge of the guards was about to say something when there was the distinct sound of a cell phone chiming. The man frowned and pulled a phone out of his pocket. He held it up to his ear without saying a word, only nodding as he listened to whatever he was being told. Then, the man slid the phone back into his pocket and glared at us.
“One wrong move, and my men will end you. Is that clear?” The man said, almost angrily.
“Crystal,” David replied shortly.
The man turned his attention to me.
“Yes, sir,” I responded quickly. “I understand.”
“Good,” he said before signaling his guards. “Follow me.”
The man turned, and I fell in beside David as he motioned for me to join him. We followed the man into the mansion, the other guards following closely behind us. I gave David a worried glance, but he just kept his eyes trained forward. The walls were decorated with old pictures from a time well before I ever existed, and there were different artifacts decorating the main hallway that the man was leading us down. I kept my gaze focused on a set of double doors at the end of the hallway, not wanting to offend anybody. David had warned me that the Elders of the Hunter’s Council were not the people that you wanted to mess with. Two men standing on either side of the doors pulled them open and stared straight forward as if their very lives depended on it. They led us into a large sitting room and motioned for us to remain by the door. There was a large fireplace on the far wall with a long table set in front of it. A small boy with bright-green eyes sat at one end of the table, eyeing us almost lazily. There was something about him that seemed familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. There were chairs surrounding the table, each one covered with a green-velvet pillow that had golden tassels hanging from the corners of each one. The man leading us motioned to two of the chairs that were closest to us.
“Sit, and don’t move until the King and Queen have taken their seats,” the leader said angrily. “If you so much as flinch, I will personally kill you. Clear?”
I nodded emphatically.
“Good,” the man said darkly before he patted my shoulder roughly and left us alone.
The boy continued to watch us, well, he watched me. His eyes never turned away as if he was studying me. I refused to make eye contact with the strange boy, though, and kept looking forward until a door off to the side opened, and I heard several people enter the room.
“David?” A woman asked in surprise. “To what do we owe the pleasure?”
I saw my Mentor glance over and a man shouted from the back of the room.
“I told you not to fucking move!”
I trembled slightly at the sound until the boy giggled.
“Pablo,” the tiny boy said in amusement. “Why don’t you go feed the dogs? You’re scaring my guest.”
His guest? The boy’s words drew my attention, and I couldn’t help but look over at him as he smiled at me.
“His bark is worse than his bite,” the boy said shyly.
I blushed and looked away from the boy, focusing my attention on the top of the table in front of me. I heard him giggling lightly.
“Stop teasing your guest, Wesley,” a woman said in a soft voice. I heard the chairs across from me pull out as two people sat down. “It’s not polite. He’s probably frightened to death.”
“Sorry, mother,” the boy at the end of the table said meekly. I glanced up at him in surprise, then turned my attention to the woman that was sitting directly across from me. She smiled warmly at me, and he’d her hand out to me. I glanced up at David and he nodded at me. I looked back at the woman as she laughed lightly.
“Relax, young one,” she said warmly. “I would never hurt someone that I so carefully nurtured into being.”
“What?” I asked in confusion.
She waited until I placed my hand in hers before she said anything else. The woman took her other hand and used it to hold my hand in place.
“There is so much turmoil in his mind, David,” the woman said, sadly.
“I know,” David replied with a nod. “I’ve been trying to help him find his answers, but it is sort of difficult to do when Demetrius is being elusive.”
The woman frowned but nodded. She closed her eyes for a moment before she looked down at me.
“You are a beautiful soul, Justin,” the woman told me humbly. “Even in your darkest moments, you are surrounded by light.” I looked at her in confusion, but she just turned her attention to David. “It’s been a long time, David. How have you been?”
“I’ve been alright, I guess,” my Mentor said with a shrug of his shoulders.
“So, no complaints since you’ve left us?”
“None that matter,” David replied. “How about you, Lady Breck? I see that you have started coming out of hiding. Why, after so many years of silence, have you decided to show yourselves, now?”
“An old friend came to visit us,” Breck said with a grin. Her green eyes seemed to sparkle with amusement. “He told us that if we didn’t come out of hiding, we were dooming ourselves to death.”
“The one and only,” the man sitting next to Breck stated with a roll of his eyes. David sighed sadly. The man looked concerned. “Did something happen, David?”
“Lord Antoine, Lady Breck,” David began in a soft voice. “The Seer has passed into the sunrise.”
Breck gasped in disbelief.
“When?” Antoine asked in shock.
“It’s been four days,” David told them.
“Five, now,” I corrected David without even thinking about it. The boy at the end of the table laughed as I realized what I had done. “Oh, sorry, David.”
David chuckled and patted my shoulders affectionately.
“It’s alright, Justin,” he told me cheerfully. “You can relax, now.”
“Have you been scaring the poor child with stories, David?” Antoine asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Mostly, just to protect him from your trigger-happy guard back there,” David jerked his thumb over his shoulder towards Pablo. I refused to follow the gaze of the man and woman across from me. They both scowled darkly at the man.
“We’ll have to update our security procedures, now that we’re out in the open, like this,” Breck said. She smiled at me. “I apologize for the behavior of my guard, Justin. I will be sure that they remember that you will always be welcome in my home, whenever you wish.”
“Thank you, Lady- umm- Breck?” I stumbled across the woman’s name.
“Forgive me, Justin,” she said with a giggle. “It would probably help you if we introduced ourselves. I am Lady Breck, the First Hunter.”
“Oh,” I said with a gasp. My heart began to beat rapidly in my chest as I realized why David considered them to be royalty. Breck had long blonde hair, and her skin was smooth and pale, not a single blemish in sight. “I thought we were meeting a Council.”
“They only convene for special sessions, anymore,” Breck said with a grin. “They’re quite lazy if you ask me. I’m certain that we could do without them if we had to.” Then, the blonde-haired woman touched the man’s hand sitting beside her. “This is my husband Antoine, the Second Hunter. The boy at the end of the table is our son Wesley. He is the Fourth Hunter.”
“Who is the Third Hunter?” I asked curiously, hoping that I wasn’t breaking some rule that I didn’t know about. I still didn’t trust these people, completely.”
“Didn’t David tell you, Justin?” Antoine asked with a laugh.
“Tell me what?” I asked, beginning to feel like I was at the receiving end of a joke. I glanced up at David as he rolled his eyes and sighed in defeat. “I am the Third Hunter, Justin.”
“Why don’t you tell him the other thing?” Breck urged.
“Do I have to?”
“It would probably help him understand a few things, David,” Antoine said.
“Fine,” David said quietly. “Justin, you are the First Naturally Born Hunter in existence. Also, you are the first apprentice that I have ever taken.”
A rush of emotions ran through me as I tried to keep a strong grasp of the situation, but I soon found my shoulders trembling.
“You’re also my real-life nephew, Justin,” David added. “Your father was a direct descendant of my brother.”
“So,” I tried to form a single coherent thought. “I just-. I’m not sure I can follow this. I thought I was an orphan.”
Breck and Antoine both frowned in concern as I lost control over my emotions. The woman reached out and took my hands into her own, holding them tightly. David put his arms across my shoulders.
“I’m so sorry, Justin,” my Mentor said softly. “I never meant for you to be alone for so long. I tried to find you once I had heard about the accident, but as you know, that didn’t work out, too well.”
I nodded absently, tears falling down my cheeks as my vision blurred.
“You’re not an orphan, Justin,” David continued. “You will always have me.”
I looked up at David and pulled my hands away from Breck so I could hug him. He wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly as I continued to cry softly.
“I’m so, sorry, buddy,” Uncle David said.
“Don’t let it happen, again,” I mumbled. David laughed quietly and continued to hold me against his side.
“My apologies, Lady Breck,” David said, keeping his voice low. “I should have. . .”
“It’s fine, David,” Breck said, cutting off his apology. “He’s a beautiful hybrid. I was hoping that I would get to meet him.”
“He’s come a long way in just a few weeks, Breck,” David said humbly.
“He has an ability, too,” Wesley said with a grin. “I can feel it.”
I tensed up, but David rubbed my shoulders to keep me from freaking out.
“Now, what’s the reason for you wanting to seek out an audience with the Council?” Antoine asked, changing the subject.
“Sonya has broken the Treaty of Israel,” David said shortly.
“How so?” Breck asked.
“She’s ordered the creation of a newborn army, and has taken a human child hostage, bringing the attention of the government on us and those of our kind,” David told them. “I have seen these things with my own eyes, Antoine. The Alliance is moving against her within the next week to rescue the boy, who just happens to be the little-brother of Evan Bentley, and to also kill the army before Philadelphia is lost to Sonya and her minions.”
Breck and Antoine looked at each other, thoughtfully.
“This isn’t a good sign,” Breck said quietly. “Is Jackson helping?”
“I don’t know,” David replied. “Jon was going to ask him when we were leaving.”
“Did Arella send you to us?” Antoine asked curiously.
“No, Antoine,” David told the man. “This is all on me. I only told Jon where I was going right before we left.”
Breck and Antoine both nodded.
“It’s time, then,” Breck said humbly.
“Just like Felix said,” Antoine finished for her. Then, the man looked at the bran-haired boy at the end of the table. “It’s time for you and Justin to get to know each other better, Wesley. Make sure that you pack all of the necessities.”
“Yes, father,” Wesley replied before he stood from his seat. He walked over and sat down in the chair beside me. I couldn’t help but watch him in a confused daze. “This is going to be fun.”
“What’s going on, David?” I asked nervously.
“We just got our help, Justin,” David replied, gratefully. “Our chances of surviving the battle against Sonya just increased by ten-fold.”
“Really?” I asked in disbelief as I glanced to my right at the boy that appeared to be younger than me. The boy giggled mischievously.
“This is going to be a lot of fun,” Wesley said, his grin spreading wider as he gazed at me. “Just wait, Justin. You’ll see, soon enough.”
“If you say so, Wesley,” I said doubtfully.
The atmosphere relaxed after that, and Wesley managed to give me a brief tour of their home while Pablo trailed along behind us. I learned that all of the Council Members were over three-thousand-years-old, and a seat had never been vacated by anyone. The only way for a seat to be vacated, was if the counselor holding that chair was to die, which wasn’t often with Hunters. I listened to Wesley’s every word, soaking up his knowledge of the Hunters like a sponge. He claimed to have even met Demetrius, the hybrid that was my Father. Wesley said that Demetrius was usually friendly to those of his kind, but he had not been met with, in a very long time, so the Fourth Hunter was working on dated information. We were soon in another sitting room where Antoine, Breck, and David were all sitting in high-backed chairs in front of another fireplace. I hesitated briefly at the door until Wesley turned and motioned for me to follow him.
“When my mother says that you are welcome here whenever you want, it means that you’re considered to be family,” Wesley explained as he took my hand and approached the three adults. “Isn’t that right, mother?”
“Dear?” Breck asked, looking at us with a warm smile.
“I was just telling Justin about your standing invitation, mother,” Wesley told her. “I don’t think he fully understands the extent of it.”
I blushed as Breck smiled at me.
“Did he forget that he is a direct relative of David?” Breck asked curiously. She stood and crossed the room and knelt in front of me. “Justin, your invitation to our home stands for eternity. You are our flesh and blood, and you will never be turned away. You are the only Hunter related to us, something that we have carefully protected throughout the years, hoping that you would come along, eventually. It was Wesley that noticed the shift in the balance of power before the rest of us when you started to come into your own. He was the one that kept pressuring me to call David and telling him to keep trying to find you. I only wish that we could have found you sooner.”
“Me, too,” I said quietly before the woman pulled me into a hug. Then, an idea hit me about something that David had said earlier. Something that I had completely missed. “David?”
“Yeah, Justin?” My Mentor asked as Breck led Wesley and me over towards the fire. “What’s up?”
“You said that I’m a descendent of your brother, right?” I asked him as the theory continued to solidify itself in my mind.
“I did,” David answered with a smug grin.
“Is Demetrius your brother?” I asked nervously.
David looked shocked for a moment before he grinned at me.
“Son of a bitch, you’re smart, Justin,” David said proudly. “I can’t believe you figured that out from just a passing comment.”
“I’m disappointed that it took me as long as it did,” I told him honestly.
“So,” Wesley asked as he sat on the floor with his back to the fireplace. I hesitated briefly before I joined him. “When are we leaving?”
“First thing in the morning, Wesley,” David informed us. “Make sure you guys get some rest, tonight. It will take us about seven hours to get to ‘Lulu’s Hideaway’.”
“Does she still have the continental breakfast?” Wesley asked, hopefully.
David laughed. “Only when she has special guests stay, Wesley.”
“I hope I qualify!”
I couldn’t help but giggle at his excitement. It seemed that my life was going to be getting more interesting.
“Are we doing the right thing, Mason?” I asked my brother quietly as we relaxed in my house. “Or should we just pull out of this, now? It’s not even our fight.”
“Why isn’t it, our fight, Eugene?” Mason countered and I wasn’t really sure that I had an answer for him. That didn’t seem to faze him, though. Mason was always the talkative one of us. “Our family is more involved than anybody else! You and I have roots in this bullshit that goes back to the fucking Stone Age! How is this not our fight? What about Ethan? Don’t you want to rescue him?”
“Why?” I demanded angrily. “He’s just going to be taken away from me, anyway!”
Mason grinned smugly and sat back in his chair.
“What?” I asked. “Does that make you happy, or something?”
“Not in the least,” Mason said calmly. “I just wanted to see if you had a reason for wanting to give up. It’s not like you.”
“I’m not giving up, Mason,” I said.
“What do you call it, then?” Mason shouted at me. “Huh, Eugene? Do you have an answer for that? Your own son’s life is in danger, and you don’t even want to fight to spend as much time with him as possible? You would rather just sit back, and leave everything up to chance? I’m pretty sure that everybody else on this God-forsaken planet would call that giving up!”
“What do you want from me, Mason?” I asked wearily. I was exhausted from everything that I had already been through. “My eldest son is a vampire. My other son was kidnapped by a fucking bloodsucker from the Stone Ages, as you call it.” I couldn’t help but sigh in defeat as I got ready to reveal my darkest secret. The only person that knew about it was Director Martinez from headquarters. That was whom the order had come from. “I had to kill my wife.”
“Oh, shit,” Mason said in a shocked whisper. “Why? What happened, Eugene?”
“She found out the truth, Mason,” I told my brother, honestly. “She overheard me on the phone with mom, and Cynthia freaked out on me, Mason. There was nothing I could do. She was threatening to call the cops and everything if I didn’t bring Evan back to her right that minute. I told her to give me a second, that I needed to arrange it so she wouldn’t be killed by Evan.”
“What did you do?”
“I called, Director Montgomery,” I said. “He told me that I knew what needed to be done, and that if I needed somebody else to do it, he would have it handled.”
“Holy shit,” Mason said dryly. “That’s unreal.”
“So, I did what I had to do,” I said quietly. “That’s why I want out of this, so bad, Mason. It’s not because I want to quit. It’s because I’ve been through so much, already. I don’t know how much more I can take.”
“I think that you need to ask Director Montgomery for a vacation once you have Ethan back,” Mason said with a shake of his head.
I nodded in agreement.
“If we get Ethan back.”
“Do you honestly think that Evan is going to let Sonya get away with kidnapping his little brother?” Mason asked with a chuckle. “If I were Sonya, I would be running for the farthest corner of the Earth, right about now.”
I smiled and relaxed, slightly. Talking with Mason had always helped bring me out of any foul mood I had been in before, and it was no different this time. I was on the verge of giving up everything that I had worked so hard to accomplish until I was able to discuss the situation with my older brother. Now, I just needed to figure out a way to tell Evan what really happened to his mother.