Dylan spent more time with me than I really wanted, but I didn’t let it bother me. I didn’t blame him completely for my accident anymore, I just felt different in his company. It felt to me like Dylan could read me like a book. If I was considering changing the channel, then Dylan would reach out and just do it. He stayed with me in my apartment during the long nights, and I let him sleep in my bed during the days. He would talk very little and it made me confused as to why he wanted to spend any time with me at all. I had tried to kill him after all. Tatum had been placed in my old room while he went through the change, but I could still hear his heart beating rapidly within his chest. His screams of agony cut me to my core, and Dylan would flinch when I did. It was three days into Tatum’s change when Dylan and I finally had our first meaningful conversation. We had been watching some stupid late-night talk show when I got bored and switched off the television.
“Are you always this quiet?” I asked the blonde-headed teenager. All Dylan did was shrug his shoulders. I rolled my eyes. “How old are you?”
“Sixteen,” he stated.
“I’m seventeen,” I told him. I tried to think of something else to talk about while Dylan twitched in his chair. “What kind of music do you like?”
“Heavy Metal,” he stated with a slight grin. I smiled and told him that I liked classical music which made Dylan giggle. “What? What’s wrong with classical music?”
“Nothing, if you’re an old man.” Dylan teased me with another giggle.
“Oh, whatever!” I stated with a roll of my eyes. “At least I’m not out there in the middle of a crowd, throwing myself into other people as hard as I can while my brain rattles against my skull from all of the head banging!”
“The head banging is the best part of it, Evan!” Dylan chided me. “It’s like being able to completely release yourself from society’s standards and just be whatever you want.”
“But, you’re just fitting yourself into another standard,” I told him. “You’re fitting in with everyone around you that also likes metal music. You all dress the same and you dance the same. Isn’t that a society?”
“You’re a tough nut to crack, Evan,” Dylan reached over and pushed me lightly.
I glanced at Dylan before I turned the television back on and tried to lose myself in my thoughts. I realized that Dylan wasn’t a bad person at all. He had just been dealt the same shitty hand that life had dealt me and was just trying to make the best of it. I had started to feel comfortable with Dylan and I glanced over to see him gazing at me with a look of confusion on his face.
“What?” I asked nervously. “Is there a booger hanging from my nose or something?”
“No,” Dylan said with a shake of his head before he took on a lower voice that I could barely hear. “It’s nothing like that. I’m just amazed that the Prophecy really is coming true.”
“The Prophecy?” I scoffed.
“Yes,” my new friend replied. “I met a vampire before we came to visit you that could see the future. He took me aside and told me that there were several of us with roles to play in the Prophecy, and he told me that mine would be one of the most important.”
Dylan sighed and glanced towards the curtained window. We both knew that someone was standing in the observation room, so it was nearly pointless for us to have this conversation. Some secrets had to be kept from the humans.
“How much longer until sunset?” Dylan asked in his normal tone of voice. “I’m getting thirsty.”
Then, the speaker clicked on.
“The sun is scheduled to set in one hour, gentlemen.” A woman’s voice said over the speaker. It only proved that they were always listening. “Agent Wells is going to come get you when the building is locked down for the night.”
“Thanks,” I stated dryly and rolled my eyes towards Dylan.
Dylan giggled again and settled in to spend the next hour watching television. As we sat there, I began to wonder what Ethan was doing at that moment. I saw Dylan stiffen out of the corner of my eye, but I let it go for the time being. Dylan could keep his secrets, but I knew that I would figure them out soon enough. Dylan seemed to flinch slightly, and he looked beyond uncomfortable.
I found myself enjoying the time Dylan and I hunted together that night. We weren’t able to finish our discussion right away as the Thompson Coven had decided to join us. Leslie and Nikolas were both pleasant to be around, but Marcel, the man that was supposedly in charge of the coven grumbled continuously about them getting involved with the government. Dylan and I were busily launching ourselves up into the branches of the trees when I heard Leslie finally let loose with a ferocious growl. We both turned around immediately and ran back to where Leslie had Marcel pinned up against a tree.
“Don’t say another foul word about my choices, Marcel.” The tone of Leslie’s voice sent a chill up my spine. I had completely misjudged the dynamic of Dylan’s new family. It wasn’t Marcel that was the leader of their coven. It was Leslie. “All you have done is complain since we left to come here, and I’m tired of it. If you hate my leadership so much, then why don’t you just go inform Arella that you failed her?”
“That won’t be necessary, Leslie.” Marcel said in a subdued voice.
“Good,” Leslie stated with finality in her tone. “IF you don’t stop, I will have our new family friend over there rip you to shreds.” Leslie jerked her thumb in my direction as she spoke. “Have I made myself understood?”
“Yes, Leslie.” Marcel agreed once he took a nervous glance at me.
Leslie released him slowly and took a step back from the older vampire without taking her eyes off of him.
“Well done, Leslie.” Jon told the woman affectionately. “I’m pretty certain that Evan was about to step in and handle the situation for you.”
Leslie glanced at me for a moment and I felt myself shy away from her. I could feel my hands trembling with the rage I had felt over Marcel and Leslie’s brief encounter. Dylan stood next to me and I could see that his hands were balled up into tight little fists. Leslie smiled at me.
“Appearances can be deceiving, Evan.” She said with a simple grin before she released Marcel from her grasp.
Marcel adjusted the front of the jacket he wore before he turned away from the blonde-haired woman. Leslie continued to smile at me, and I felt myself smiling back at the woman as I remembered how she had pulled me from the wreckage of my car.
“Thank you, Leslie.” I said with a humbled tone. “I owe you my life.”
“I’m glad that everything turned out as well as it did for you, Evan. Make sure that you tell your Uncle Mason the same thing, though. It took away a part of his own soul to put this curse upon your head.” Leslie bowed her head to me before she turned back to where Jon was watching Marcel walk away.
“I don’t trust him,” Jon stated quietly.
“Neither do I, Jon.” Leslie said in reply. “I never have.”
I turned back to Dylan.
“That was entertaining,” I stated dryly.
“To say the least,” Dylan grinned.
We both chuckled lightly and followed Leslie and Jon when they called for us. I decided that it was as good a time as any to bring up our earlier conversation.
“So,” I said in a low voice as we trailed behind Leslie and Jon. “What’s all of this about the Prophecy?”
Dylan grinned slightly.
“Would you believe me if I told you that there were vampires out there that had special abilities?” Dylan asked me curiously.
“Like what?” I asked skeptically.
“Moving things with their minds, flying, seeing the future, plus many more.” Dylan stated.
“You’re bullshitting me!” I scoffed in disbelief.
“I wish that I was, Evan.” He said in a remorseful tone. “I really wish I was.”
Then, something seemed to click into place for me. I had witnessed a subtle shift in Dylan’s demeanor when I had him pinned up against the wall whenever I thought about Ethan or Tatum. Then, whenever we were in our apartment, Dylan would flinch or stiffen up whenever I thought about my little brother. I felt like a clueless idiot for a moment as I looked at Dylan in a different light.
‘Do many people know?’ I asked the question with my thoughts to see if I had jumped to the correct conclusion.
“A few,” Dylan replied with a shrug. “Marcel isn’t permitted to know, though. That would take away some of Leslie’s advantage over him.”
“Wow,” I said in awe as I bumped my shoulder into his. Dylan chuckled. “I never thought that I’d meet someone who could read my thoughts. I thought you were just bullshitting me the other day.”
“I wish that I could turn it off,” Dylan said with a shrug. “It’s horrible when you’re trying to feed off of someone, and all they think about is everything that they’re leaving behind.”
I frowned as I considered the possibilities of hearing every thought around me without any way of tuning it out. I tried to imagine what it was like to be in Dylan’s shoes and to know that he heard every terrible whisper that a person considered to be their most private of possessions. The monster deep within me seemed sort of delighted at the prospect.
“There’s a part of me that finds it thrilling, as well.” He said in an offhand manner. “It’s the only way that I’m able to make it through a feeding session.”
“So, what does this Prophecy have to do with me?”
“You’re the one that’s been destined to come and lead the world into a new age,” Dylan stated with a hint of pride in his voice. “You’re the Father of the New Breed, Evan. You’re the one that the world has spent the past millennia waiting on.”
“What’s your role in all of this?” I asked quietly as I tried to process the information that he was giving me.
“I’m the Listener, Evan.” Dylan told me with a smile. “I’m the one responsible to provide you with certain information over the next few years as the battles begin to get underway.”
“Battles?” I asked nervously. I didn’t ask for this”
“None of us did, Evan.” Dylan told me. “I can promise you that.” Dylan turned to me and smiled. “From what I’m told, your Coven is going to be capable of great things, Evan.”
“My Coven?” I asked nervously.
“Did you honestly believe that Tatum would be the last vampire you ever created?”
“I’ve never really thought about it before,” I replied. “I don’t think I should create anymore vampires, Dylan.”
“You’ll change your mind in time,” Dylan told me bluntly. “Everybody does.”
Tatum had been undergoing the change for six days when his heart finally started to skip and stutter in its rhythm. I had him moved to my room so he could at least be comfortable while we waited for the sun to set. I knew that he was going to be very thirsty. I positioned him on the sofa before I sat down in the recliner and watched television. I had the volume turned down to where I could barely hear it because I knew how sensitive Tatum’s hearing was at that stage. He grunted and whimpered as the fire receded from his extremities, but he was well beyond the stage of screaming for someone to kill him. All he could do now, was wait for it all to go away.
Tatum was beautiful when he awoke from the change. The very first thing he did when he awoke was to stand in the mirror and run his fingers through his thick black hair. I heard my uncle chuckle lightly as he watched from the observation room on the other side of the mirror. Tatum’s wide smile quickly turned into a snarl as he glared at the glass. I watched patiently as he kept balling his hands up into tight fists before stretching his fingers all of the way back out. He took several deep breaths before he was able to smile happily again.
“How do you feel?” I asked him as I stood off to the side.
He turned and his smile broadened as he focused his attention on me.
“Amazing!” He stated cheerfully. I couldn’t help but smile.
“That’s good, Tatum,” I told him. “No regrets?”
Suddenly, Tatum was standing in front of me, but I had watched his every move with ease. Tatum couldn’t escape my sight. He slipped his arms around my body and pressed his cheek against my chest. I put my arms around his small frame and squeezed him gently.
“Thank you, Evan!” He told me happily. “I owe you everything!”
Tatum was short enough that I could easily kiss the top of his head gently. I felt like the proudest parent on the entire planet at that moment. Tatum was still alive, and he was magnificent.
“I love you, Tatum,” I whispered quietly.
I could feel a gentle buzz coming from his touch, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. It left me feeling excited and confused as Tatum stepped back from me shyly. He was almost afraid to meet my gaze, but he eventually did. Tatum bowed his head respectfully to me and I completely understood what was happening in that moment. There was fear in Tatum’s blood red eyes as he stared at me. I could see it in the way his muscles flexed as he stood before me. Tatum was submitting to me and I felt a thrill go through my body the moment he did.
I had officially formed my own Coven. I smiled at the idea of being able to protect my cousin from any kind of harm as we traveled through the years together. The idea of it was romantic enough for me to fall in love with the idea. Tatum’s lip twitched slightly as he tried to stifle a smile.
I glanced towards the mirror to see the same welcoming committee standing there that had been there when I awakened from the change. Director Croft was the first to speak and I flinched slightly as the speaker crackled to life. Tatum growled under his breath and I grabbed his hand to keep him in place. The heartbeats didn’t have the same effect on me any longer. Somehow, being able to let go of Tatum was enough to help me gain a new perspective on life. I was able to do something that modern medicine couldn’t. I saved my cousin from dying of cancer. One bite was all it had taken to save him. One bite and I was his Creator. I watched Tatum closely as he listened to Director Croft explain a few of the new rules that had been placed around the facility. It amazed me how Tatum was able to keep control of his emotions as his senses were overwhelmed with his new abilities. The same buzz that I had felt when he hugged me and submitted to me was still present, and I decided to let it sweep over me for a moment. I wanted to know what truly made Tatum tremble with excitement.
Tatum’s mind seemed to open in front of me and I found myself looking through his eyes. His memories passed through my mind faster than I could grasp on to them, but Tatum didn’t seem to notice, or he didn’t care. He had submitted himself to me and I could do no wrong in his eyes. I felt a wave of devotion flood over me as my cousin stared at me with his blood red eyes. I smiled at the feeling and couldn’t help but compare it to the relationship I had with Ethan. It began to grow easier to single out my cousin’s memories and I latched on to certain ones for as long as I could. I saw a memory of when Tatum had stayed the weekend with Ethan and me when we were younger. He had managed to break his wrist when he fell out of a tree that the three of us had been climbing. It was how the doctors had found Tatum’s cancer. He had went downhill from the moment that they started his treatments. Then, Uncle Mason had said he was putting Tatum into a special institution and we had to say our goodbyes. I cried right along with Ethan and Tatum that day. I felt his anger and fear at getting sick, even though I couldn’t see my own memory of the evening. Tatum was scared that he was never going to see either of us, again. Then, I saw the memory of the day that Tatum had begged me to save his life. Deep down inside, he was terrified. Even more than the day he was forced into leaving his cousins behind. The last thing I saw was the relief that Tatum felt when my venom started burning through his veins.
I pulled back from the memories as fast as I could, and Tatum gasped for air. He looked bewildered for a moment before he dropped his head in shame. I realized that I had witnessed his most personal thoughts and memories and had to take a step back to process it all. Tatum looked like he was about to cry, so I quickly stepped forward and pulled him into my arms.
“I love you, Tatum.” I whispered quietly before I kissed the top of his head. “Nothing will ever change that. I swear to it. We’re a Coven now, and we must always stick together.”
“I love you too, Father.”
Tatum’s words seemed strange to me, but it felt right for him to give me that title. I was his Father. I was the one who had bitten him and given him the gift of immortality. We sat down on the sofa next to each other and I turned up the volume on the television.
“Let’s kill some time before sunset”