The vision had disturbed me enough that my thoughts drove Dylan away to hide near Leonard. The sun had set, and the members of the Alliance were currently loading into nearly twenty different vehicles in front ‘Lulu’s Hideaway’. The sight was unbelievable as the crowd of people slowly thinned out, some running into the woods across the street, while others climbed into the different vehicles. It was a gathering of epic proportions, and the ensuing battle would be a nightmare to witness for any mere mortals. The vision still floated in the front of my mind, though, like a fly that just wouldn’t go away. I wanted to ignore it, pretend that it wasn’t of any great importance, but something told me that I should tell Evan about it, in the very least.
I glanced over to see Evan talking with David, Justin, and a boy that I had never met before. He smelled like Justin, but he smelled older, even though he looked like he was closer to my age. I wanted to go over and talk to them, but I felt my own intuition holding me back from the final destination. I saw the future. There was no denying it. Now, the only problem was how to keep it from happening. My stomach turned in knots at the thought of all of the blood spilling out on the floor in front of me. All of Ethan’s warm blood, fresh from his dying veins as Sonya slit his throat. I saw myself lurching forward uncontrollably as more of Sonya’s guards poured into the room and began to kill all of us. We were going to lose. Sonya had one last weapon up her sleeve, and I saw it working. We were too fresh, too young to be able to control ourselves around a fountain of virgin blood like that.
Jenna was suddenly at my side.
“What’s wrong, Tatum?” She asked under her breath.
“I saw us losing,” I told her sadly.
“Sonya is going to slit Ethan’s throat, right in front of us.”
“That seems like a problem,” Jenna said with a scowl. “I’ll tell Evan.”
“Thank you, Jenna,” I told her gratefully.
“What are sisters for?” She asked playfully before she darted over to Evan’s side. I saw her lean in close and say something. Evan nodded once and took a side glance at me. He said something to David and Justin before he approached me.
“Don’t be afraid to tell me about stuff like this, Tatum,” my Father said. “I don’t care what I’m doing, or who I’m with. If it’s life or death, then we all need to know. Okay?”
“Yes, Father,” I said humbly, bowing my head to avoid his blood red gaze. “It won’t happen, again.”
Evan laughed lightly and grabbed my chin. His eyes seemed to be dancing merrily as he forced me to look at him. Then, he pressed his lips fully against my own, and I thought for a moment that my heart was going to start beating again until he stepped away.
“If I were ever mad at you, Tatum,” he said with the same grin. “You would know it. Don’t worry about it. Just, remember to keep me in the loop, most of all.”
“Yes, Father,” I said with a shy grin. “So, I see that David and Justin picked up a friend.”
“That’s Wesley, the Fourth Hunter,” Evan said with a shake of his head. “It’s a long story. Now, I see that your visions are starting to get further in the future.”
“They are,” I told him. “But I didn’t see anything about him showing up.”
I motioned towards the new Hunter to join us.
“I doubt that you would, Tatum,” Evan told me. “The decision for him to join us was made well-before either of us joined this existence. Our powers only work on the decisions that we are making, now. Neither of us has any control over the past, so try not to worry about it, okay?”
“Okay, Evan,” I said quietly. He was right. There was nothing I could do to change the past.
“Now, come on,” my Maker said with a grin. “You’re riding with me and Dougie.”
“What about Leonard and Jenna?”
“They’re riding with Lulu and Dante,” Evan stated. “This gives you more time to get to know your new brother. Plus, David has a sweet set of wheels that the Royal Family gave him.”
“We’re riding with him?” I asked, suddenly nervous. If I was human, my cheeks would be flushing red in embarrassment.
“Yeah,” Evan said with a smug grin as we turned towards the SUV that David was standing beside. “Remember, his name is Wesley?”
“That rings a bell,” I said absently. “What about us, though?”
“I don’t think that I’m going anywhere, Tatum,” Evan reassured me. “You don’t have to worry about that.”
I thought about it for a moment, before deciding that my cousin was right. I didn’t see anything in the near future that was leading me towards a life without Evan. Everything that was after the battle was still a jumble, though. There wasn’t any clarity to it, constantly coming in clumps of images that were out of order. Felix had taught me a neat little trick of cataloguing the visions in a different part of my brain, so I would still be able to function on a slightly, below-normal level. I was able to think around the different visions. Jenna and Leonard would tease me if I seemed to daze out for a moment, but it was something we had all gotten used to. Especially now, that Felix was gone from our world.
“I hear that you’ve got some big shoes to fill, Tatum,” Justin told me as he pulled me into a hug. “Sorry, man. I’m here if you ever want to talk about it.”
“Thanks, Justin,” I told the young Hunter. “Are you ready for this?”
“As ready, as I can be,” Justin replied with a shrug. “Luckily, we have Wesley here to help us out. Would you like to meet him? I think the two of you would get along great.”
I smiled shyly, again. Grateful that I didn’t have blood rushing to my cheeks.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Justin said with a giggle. Then, he turned to the brown-haired boy that was staring at me with bright-green eyes. “Wesley, I’d like to introduce you to Tatum Bentley, the Second Member of the Bentley Coven.”
Wesley stepped forward and took my hand in his own. His eyes seemed lost as he stared at me, the pupils of his eyes were dilating wildly until he finally shook his head and smiled.
“Wow,” the boy said in a daze. “That is something else, Tatum. Your ability is amazing. I hope you continue to share it with me in the future.”
“I think he likes you,” Evan whispered loudly as he nudged me in the side.
“Evan!” I said in horror.
“Come on, guys,” David said as he shook his head and turned back towards the shiny-black SUV. “We’ve got a schedule to keep. You guys can suck face, later.”
“Later?” I asked meekly.
“Oh, there’s definitely going to be a later,” Wesley said slyly before he pulled me towards the waiting SUV. I swear I was blushing as Evan and Justin began to laugh in amusement. I glanced over to see Dougie just shrug his shoulders before he walked towards the SUV.
“Yes?” I asked as I glanced up at my office door to see one of my assistants standing there. “What can I help you with, Clark?”
“You asked me to inform you when the. . . uh. . . the Werewolves made their move, sir,” the younger man said nervously.
“Don’t worry, Clark,” I told him with a grin. “It was difficult for me to say it, too. Have all available Agents meet in the Ready Room. We need to have a briefing to go over our plan of attack. We’ll begin in twenty-minutes.”
“Yes, sir,” Clark said with a quick nod of his head before disappearing back into the corridor.
I grabbed my phone and called my son. I needed to keep him in the loop.
“What’s going on?”
I could hear the sound of an engine speeding up in the background.
“I was just informed that the Werewolves are on the move, Evan,” I told him.
“So are we,” Evan responded. “We’ve also picked up some extra help.”
“Good,” I told him. “Our intel is showing that Sonya has been increasing her numbers.”
“Just like Marcel said,” Evan stated. “Do you still have him in your basement?”
“No,” I admitted. “I let him out last night after I let him finish off the men that Croft had collected for his project.”
“How did you handle Croft?”
“His contract with the C.I.A. was permanently terminated, Evan,” I said. “I am the new Director of the Northeastern Division of Section-9.”
“Congratulations, I guess,” Evan said dryly. “It looks like we’re both murderers, now.”
I almost told him about his mother, but I decided that it would be a secret that I would be taking to my grave. I didn’t even want to imagine what it would be like to unleash that kind of anger upon the universe. Evan would kill me. There would be no place on the face of this planet that I would be able to hide from his wrath. And if Ethan was a vampire when he found out. . .
I shuddered at the thought of it. There would be nothing, but devastation left in the wake of my sons.
“I guess we are,” I said. “I’m going over the plan with my agents in a few minutes, Evan. We’re not going to leave until tomorrow afternoon, that way we’ll be available when you guys start moving into position tomorrow night.”
“That works for me, Director Bentley,” Evan said in a short tone. I could tell that he didn’t trust me after what Agent Croft had done to him. I didn’t blame him, though. “I’ll meet you at the motel, tomorrow night.”
The phone went dead, and I was left staring at the receiver before setting it back in its cradle on my desktop.
‘That’s it, then’, I thought bitterly. ‘My relationship with my sons is officially over.’
I frowned before I pushed back from my desk. There was work to be done.
Isabella and Oscar both did their job of keeping me out of Sonya’s sight. The closer it got to the day of the battle, the more Sonya and Adam started acting unpredictably, though. Oscar would spend the days with me, while Isabella would always take over at sunset. I was lying in my bed, with the television on in the background for noise when Adam stormed into my room. He stopped at the foot of my bed and glared at me.
“Tomorrow night, after I kill your brother, I’m going to kill you, as well,” Adam said darkly, his arms crossed against his burly chest. “Sonya told me that I could have fun with you. I just wanted you to know, Ethan.”
“Thanks,” I said dryly. “I appreciate it.”
Adam grinned, and I saw his eyes flash with fury, a hint of the monster hidden within the man. A chill ran up my spine as a low growl came from his throat.
“My wolf is getting excited, just thinking about it, Ethan,” Adam continued, almost gleefully. “He wants to tear you apart, piece by piece. Sonya is going to let us.”
Adam’s muscles were twitching beneath his clothing, as if the wolf was fighting to get out, his silver eyes were almost glowing by the time he finally turned and left me alone. I hoped more than anything that Evan would be able to save me from these monsters. Isabella came in to check on me after Adam left, and promptly held me while she sat on the bed with me. The woman stroked my hair gently, softly reassuring me that everything was going to work out in the end.
“How do you know, though?” I asked, barely uttering the words, hoping that she was going to hear me. The woman leaned over and squeezed my shoulder. I felt her breath against my ear.
“I don’t work for Sonya,” Isabella said. I didn’t make a sound. “That’s my secret.”
I barely nodded, just in case someone was watching us. The last thing I needed was to lose one of my only allies when my brother was so close to rescuing me from Sonya and her band of monsters.
‘Save me, Evan,’ I prayed silently.
“We’ll check the rooms, first,” Henry, Lusindra’s bodyguard was saying as the SUV we were riding in sped down the deserted highway. We had already been on the road for three hours, and it was getting closer to sunrise than the vampires we were riding with wanted. Lusindra’s driver, Harmony, was pushing the vehicle to its limits as she followed along in the convoy that the Alliance had formed on our journey to Philadelphia. “Harmony will stay with the group while William checks us into the safe house. The convoy is going to split up once we reach the outskirts of Philly, each of us has our own destination to make it to. We’ll spend an hour, or so, reviewing the plan for tonight, before we sleep for the day.” The man looked over at me and chuckled lightly. “Those of us that sleep, I mean.”
I couldn’t help but laugh with the olive-skinned vampire, his laugh was intoxicating, and it helped to relieve the stress that we were all feeling about the coming battle. Tatum’s vision was clear. There was a chance that we were all going to die, but it was to save Ethan, that made the risk worth it in my eyes. Leonard didn’t have to join us to save Ethan, but he did out of loyalty to Evan. He did it out of love for me. It was the same for Dougie, except, he was madly in love with Evan, you could see it in his eyes every time that he looked at our Maker for longer than a second.
There was also the problem that I was having with the vision Felix had told me about. I was going to die. There was no escaping the fact, it seemed, as Felix had chased down every possibility that he could find to avoid my demise. It was pointless, though. The vision was clear on what was going to happen. What I didn’t know, was when I was destined to meet my end. All I could do was wait, and try not to let it affect my life, or the coming battle. It was going to take everything I had to defeat the newborn army that we were on our way to face head on.
Leonard slipped his hand into my own, and I glanced over at him to find him smiling shyly at me. He nodded towards the other vampires that were looking at me, expectantly.
“Sorry,” I apologized, quickly. “I had a stray thought.”
“Would you like to share?” Lusindra suggested. “It might help to get it off of your chest, though, if it is what Felix told you, there is always a way to avoid it, Jenna.”
“How, Lady Lusindra?” I asked, hopeful that I had found my solution. “How do I cheat Death?”
“You’ve already cheated Death, Jenna,” Lusindra reminded me, grinning smugly. “Now, you just have to figure out how to stop yourself from dying in a more permanent manner. My first suggestion is to forget what Felix told you. The more you try to avoid the situation, the more likely you are to push yourself right into the moment that was predicted.”
“Did he tell you all of the details, Lady Lusindra?” I asked her quickly. “Did he tell you how I died?”
“No,” the Elder said softly. “I’m sorry, Jenna, Felix didn’t tell me too much.”
I frowned as I felt a knot forming in my throat. If I was still human, I would have been crying by now, but as this type of vampire, I couldn’t shed any tears. I couldn’t even shed blood tears like the others that came before my family. We were completely different than they were. We were. . . superior to them.
“I’m going to die, protecting the ones that I love the most,” I said sadly. “If I don’t, they will die in my place. All of them.”
Leonard squeezed my hand as I fought off a sob.
“I’m not ready to go, though,” I told the others. “Also, I can’t think of any other way that I would rather go.”
“There is no shame in dying to save the ones you love, Lady Jenna,” Dante said from his place beside Lulu.
“I don’t want to be a memory, though,” I said, pointedly. “I want to be a survivor, Dante.”
“Then, let’s find another way to change your destiny, Jenna,” Dante said with a grin.
I couldn’t help but to smile along with the nomad. At first, I had found him to be abrasive, but I was feeling like he was beginning to grow on me the longer that I was around him. I tried to relax, hoping that Dante was truly willing to help me change my fate. It wasn’t the fact that I was afraid of dying to save the ones that I loved. I had already sacrificed myself that way, once before trying to protect Ethan from the werewolf. I didn’t want to lose the opportunity that I had been given by Evan. This was my second chance at life.
We reached the motel, about an hour before sunrise, and almost immediately, we began receiving word from the other teams that they had reached their spots, as well. The motel room was small, but it wasn’t like we had to hide from the sun, so it didn’t matter for us. David went to take a shower while I went out and double-checked that we weren’t being followed by anyone. Once I was satisfied that our trail was clear of any tagalongs, I returned to the motel to find Tatum standing outside one of the other motel rooms. His fists were clenched, and I saw that it was taking him everything he had not to break down the door in front of him.
“What’s going on, Tatum?” I asked, my voice barely above a whisper as I stopped next to him.
“There’s a father in there with his son, Evan,” Tatum told me, barely containing an angry growl. “I was trying to see if there was going to be anything that could cause us any problems, today, and I saw this man murdering his son in the next room.”
“He’s going to murder his son?” I asked in disbelief.
“Yes,” Tatum replied with a nod of his head. “The boy is only twelve, Evan. If we bite him, now, he’s going to always be twelve-years-old.”
“Why would we need to bite him?” I asked, questioning as to why my cousin was even bringing it up. “If we stop the father, the boy will be fine.”
“No,” Tatum said sadly. “The boy is going to take his own life in two days if we don’t do something to help him.”
“What do you see if I bite him?”
Tatum closed his eyes for a moment, trying to concentrate around his barely contained anger. He grinned when he opened his eyes. “The boy will struggle for the first few weeks, as he learns to accept drinking blood, but he will never resent you for saving his life, Evan. He will love you as much as the rest of us do. Forever.”
“Will anybody else have a problem with it?”
“Only one person.”
“Arella,” Tatum told me grimly. “She’s going to demand that you destroy him, but I think that it’s just a power-play. Arella’s afraid that she’s losing control of everything, and she’s beginning to panic. She’s too stubborn to give up control, completely. She’s going to be afraid of Hayden, because Felix told her that she will die at his hand, if she turns against Hayden.”
It was the pain-filled gasp coming from within the room that made up my mind for me.
“You can tell me more about Arella, later, Tatum. Take care of the father while I handle Hayden,” I instructed my cousin. “Make sure that you keep the noise down, though. We don’t need to attract any attention, though.”
“Yes, Father,” Tatum acknowledged, practically bouncing on his feet, just waiting for me to give him the command to attack. “Should I take him away from here?”
“Only if you’re planning on having some fun with him,” I told Tatum. “Be back by five.”
“Are you going to spank me if I’m late?” Tatum asked me, smugly. I could tell that his anger was starting to fade, now that he was making jokes with me, again.
“You might enjoy it too much, Tatum,” I told him. “That’s not really a punishment.”
A painful gasp from behind the door distracted both of us.
“I’m going to torture the man,” Tatum told me. “Exactly, like he is doing to his son, but much worse.”
“Good,” I said in agreement. “Don’t be afraid to hold back, love. Go.”
Tatum stepped forward and with a slight bump of his shoulder, the door broke open. The scene inside made my own anger flare. Tatum was moving towards the father, faster than the human eye could see, who had his own son pinned on the bed beneath him as he strangled the life out of him.
“I told you not to tell your mother,” the man said as he raised his hand to slap the already battered boy. Tatum easily grabbed the man’s wrist and yanked him off of his boy. “What the-?”
The man let out a painful yelp as he slammed into the floor, his flabby stomach jiggling slightly from the shockwave of the fall. I could smell the blood on the man and had to force myself to focus on the boy that was currently fading from existence. I sat on the edge of the bed, biting my lip to keep from gasping out at the sight before me. The boy was a mess. He had been punched and beaten so many times, that he was bleeding internally, as well as externally. Tatum was right, there was no other way to save the dying boy.
“Do it, Evan!” I glanced over my shoulder to see David standing in the doorway, Tatum and the father were already gone. “He’s going to die, if you don’t bite him!”
I nodded solemnly and looked at the boy. His eyes fluttered open, revealing their deep green color. The boy looked at me in confusion before I heard him mutter something that I was barely able to make out.
“Are you an angel?” The boy struggled to ask me; his entire body was trembling from the exertion. I was taken back to that fateful January night when I had asked Leslie Thompson that exact same question as she carefully removed me from my car. I looked down at the boy lying on the bed before me. He had a dreamy smile on his face, and I knew that he wasn’t going to last much longer.
“No, child,” I said, repeating Leslie’s words to the boy. He frowned for a moment, obviously hearing the differences in my voice as I spoke softly to him. “I am going to save you, though.”
I took his hand into my own, and turned it over gently, so I could see his wrist. There were light scars running down the inside of his wrist from where the boy had tried to take his own life before. They wouldn’t be there after I bit him, and I needed him to know what I was going to do. It would be the only way that he could mentally prepare himself to become a monster. I leaned down closer to the boy’s ear, making sure that I could still see his face and gauge his reaction to my statement.
“Hayden,” I began softly. “You’re dying, my new little friend, and I don’t think that you deserve to die, yet.”
“Oh,” the boy said sadly. “My dad. . .”
“I know,” I said, quickly putting my finger to his lips. “Don’t exert yourself. I already know what he did to you, buddy. You’ll never have to worry about him, again. My cousin is handling him, as we speak. Now, I want to offer you something, and unfortunately, you don’t have very much time to think it over. I can save you, Hayden, but it’s not by healing you with magic. Hayden, I’m going to have to turn you into a vampire, in order to save your life. Do you understand?”
“I think so,” Hayden uttered.
“It’s going to be rough for you as a newborn, at first, Hayden,” I told the boy. “You’re going to want to drink blood all of the time, and your emotions are going to be all over the place, especially since you’re beginning to go through puberty. I can work with you on self-control, cutie, but it will be up to you in the end. Okay?”
“Yeah,” the frail boy replied.
“Do you want me to save you, Hayden?” I asked the boy in a serious tone. “It’s not a gift that I can ever take back, and you will always be sworn to me. You will never grow a day older, than what you are now, and you will never physically change once you finish crossing over. Do you think that you can handle being with me forever, Hayden?”
“Yes,” the boy gasped out. “Please, save me.”
“Try not to scream, Hayden,” I told the boy. “The next few days are going to hurt more than you could ever imagine, but you will never feel pain, again, once the fires recede.”
Then, I lifted Hayden’s wrist to my lips, and proceeded to sink my teeth into his tender flesh. I growled when the pure taste of his blood overwhelmed my senses, and it took David shouting at me, to remind me of what I was doing.
“Evan!” David screamed. “Focus on what you need to do!”
I opened my eyes, and saw Hayden wincing in pain. The image made me release his wrist from my mouth, and I let him have his arm back. Then, I moved up closer to the boy’s side, and pulled him into my arms. Red streaks were already beginning to move up the boy’s arm, and I could feel him struggling not to scream. All I could do, was hold the boy on my arms, and reassure him that he would make it through this in the end.
“We should go let the others know what’s going on, Evan,” David said from the doorway. “I’m sure Dougie is going to want to meet his new Coven member.”
I grinned at David.
“Everybody is going to freak out, David,” I told him with a shake of my head. “Arella more than the rest.”
“Bring your new son over to the room, Evan,” David said. “I’ll call a cleaning crew out here to handle this mess. Plus, we need to talk about the Mother of Vampires.”
“She’s able to hide herself from my visions, sometimes,” Tatum said from behind David, a gleeful smile spread across his face, as he stood there wearing only his boxer briefs. Tatum slipped around David and joined me on the bed, his smile spreading as he sat on the other side of Hayden. He kissed the startled boy on his cheek before patting Hayden on his bare chest. “Your father will never be a problem, again, Hayden. I made sure that he suffered for everything that he has ever done to you!”
“Thank you,” Hayden barely managed to say between his gritted teeth.
“I’m Tatum, and this is our father, Evan Bentley,” Tatum said, introducing us to the boy in my arms. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure that you know everything there is to know about your new life. Evan tends to forget to tell us things sometimes.”
Then, Tatum took the boy from me, gently transferring Hayden into his own care before he left me alone with David.
“It would seem that Tatum has decided to introduce Hayden to everyone else without us, Evan,” David said with a chuckle. Then, he motioned for me to go with him. “Come on, Evan. We need to make sure that you’re getting all the sides of the story.”
I looked after David as he left the room. He was right. There was always more than one side to a story, and if I was about to pass judgement on someone, I needed to know everything in order to form my own opinion on the situation. I needed to know the truth.