“We can’t stay here, Lulu,” Evan told the woman plaintively. “They will kill all of us!”
‘Lulu’s Hideaway’ had been our home since we had first left the Section-9 Headquarters with Jon and Dylan nearly six months ago. It was amazing how time seemed to fly when it didn’t have any effect on you.
“Director Bentley is barely keeping control of Section-9 as it is, and now we have to deal with the fucking Purifiers,” my Maker continued, his voice taking an edge to it as he grew more upset. “According to Eugene, their intel shows that the religious nut jobs have been spotted in this area. It’s not safe anymore. For all we know, they could be preparing to attack as we speak.”
I frowned at my father’s mention of the religious zealots that had sprung up in the news ever since our battle in Philadelphia. Many of them were claiming that the Underworld was seeking its chance to rise into the light, and seize control of all humanity. If only they knew the truth. There had been a few cellphone videos that had appeared on the internet in the days following the battle, videos that would forever ruin any chance of keeping our existence secret. In one of the videos, I saw myself flying by the camera, just a blur as I sped towards downtown. Even the government had tried disproving the validity of the videos, using the excuse that Hollywood was simply promoting another movie. It was a flimsy excuse at best, giving voice to the dissenters, and those that were trying to prove the existence of vampires and werewolves. That is where the Purifiers had come from. They were the conspiracy theorists that would never take “No” for an answer, and now, they were hunting down Arella’s children, one by one.
“Jenna and Leonard are out scouting for new places for us to live, and should be getting back to me any day now,” Evan informed us.
“Tomorrow morning,” I said absently as I saw an image of Jenna dialing my cell number in her own phone.
“Thank you, Tatum,” Evan said with a grin. “Mr. Know-it-all over there seems to think it’s going to be tomorrow morning, so I think we should start preparing to leave within the next few days.”
“I can’t leave my home, Evan,” Lulu was saying just before the door to her suite burst open, and Jon entered the room with a wide grin on his face.
“He’s right, Lauren,” Jon said firmly as he joined us.
“Hello, Jon,” Lulu greeted the man, without taking her eyes from my Creator.
“The Purifiers have been spotted in this area,” Jon told us as he sat down next to me on the wide sofa, laying his arm across my shoulders. I stifled the growl that was trying to work its way through my body at the touch from the werewolf. Jon chuckled pleasantly. “You’re getting better, Tatum. You barely growled at all, this time.”
“I’m trying,” I said with a smile, enjoying the game we had going on with each other. Jon’s goal was to get me used to being around the werewolves, after one had nearly killed me during our climb to the top of Sonya’s penthouse. It was a near-miss for me, but it had scarred me for life. It took five weeks before I could even be in the same room as Jon.
“Any progress is good progress, my friend,” he told me before he smiled and nodded at the twelve-year-old sitting beside me. “Hello, Hayden. Has Tatum been taking care of you?”
Hayden looked thoughtful for a moment before he grinned, and nodded at Jon. “He always takes care of me, Uncle Jon,” the boy replied happily. I would have blushed if it was still possible. “Dougie does, too. They’re great big brothers!”
“That’s good to hear, Hayden,” Jon told the boy. “Make sure you let me know if they give you any trouble, and I’ll slap them back into line.”
“Yes, sir,” Hayden replied with a giggle.
“So, what’s the plan?” Nikolas Thompson asked, drawing Jon’s attention back to the small meeting.
“That’s not a very good plan, Jon,” Hayden said suddenly, making me turn to see that the boy was frowning at the werewolf. “It wouldn’t work that way. Just ask Tatum if you don’t believe me. He’s already seen you die seven different ways, now.” Hayden crossed his arms across his chest as if he dared the man to defy him. Jon looked at me in disbelief.
“He’s right,” I said with a shrug. I had gotten used to the nature of my ability, and had managed to set a part of my subconscious aside to focus on the different visions of the future that I was always becoming ensnared in. It was something that Felix had taught me the basics of before he had sacrificed his life to give Evan every part of his past. I frowned as I watched Jon get all of us killed with a single thought. “You’re just going to have to figure something else out, Jon. Attacking them head on, won’t work. The Purifiers are going to be armed with modern weapons and they would kill all of us within minutes of us setting foot on any of their properties.”
“Hayden?” We all glanced over to see Evan staring at his youngest child with a curious look in his red eyes.
“Can you hear our thoughts?”
“Yes, sir,” Hayden told us with a grin.
“Thank you, buddy,” Evan said with a proud grin. “So, I’ve got my own mind reader, now.”
“You’ll be wishing that he was a mute by the end of the week, Evan,” Nikolas teased my Creator. “Dylan is still a nightmare!”
“I heard that!” Dylan called out from the adjoining room where he was searching the internet for possible safe house locations.
“You were meant to hear it, Dylan!” Nikolas replied, grinning as he teased his brother.
“Let’s try to stay on topic here,” Evan said with a grin. “We are going to have to face the Purifiers sooner, or later. There’s no avoiding it. It’s just going to be a matter of whether we do it on our terms, or theirs?”
“I’d rather we face them on our terms,” Jon stated.
“I sure am going to miss this place,” Lady Lauren offered sadly. “I’ll start packing my things before I sleep for the day.”
I frowned as I watched all of them. It was time to tell them.
“They already know about this place,” I informed the others. They all looked at me in disbelief. “What? It’s true.”
“How do you know?” Nikolas asked me.
“He’s always watching,” Hayden answered for me, suddenly jumping into my lap and cuddling against my chest. “I don’t need television with Tatum around. I don’t like watching it, anyway. The news has been talking about the Purifiers, a lot.”
“I know,” Evan added with a frown. We had all watched the same news reports of buildings being burnt to the ground by the so-called religious group. They claimed they were doing it to protect humanity, but they were really only doing it out of fear. “Let’s plan a trap, then.”
“We have the perfect bait, already,” Dougie suggested as he glanced over in our direction. “We can use Tatum and Hayden to lure them in. I’ll act like I’m attacking the two boys, and that should make them freak out enough to act against me.”
“Older brother and younger brother,” Evan said absently, studying the plan over in his mind as he looked at Hayden and myself. “I don’t like putting their lives in danger like this, but it may be the only thing that truly works. Tatum?”
“It’ll work to draw them in,” I told our father. “But we won’t be able to do it by ourselves.”
“Who do we need?”
I turned and smiled at Jon.
“Good thing I’m here to invite all of you to a party in my honor,” the werewolf replied with a chuckle. “It’ll give Jackson time to think over the idea.”
“Why are they throwing you a party, Jon?” Evan asked suspiciously.
“It’s a secret, Evan,” Jon replied with a grin.
“I’ve never been to a party before,” Hayden admitted sheepishly.
“Then, it will be the best party that you’ve ever went to, Hayden,” Jon teased the boy, making everyone laugh.
“When do we leave?” The twelve-year-old asked.
“Tomorrow night,” Jon said. “As long as Lady Lauren agrees.”
Hayden was across the room in a flash, the boy barely a blur as he threw himself into Lauren’s arms, forcing the woman to hold him as he nuzzled into her neck.
“Please, Aunt Lulu?” Hayden purred softly. “Will you take me to a party?”
“How could I say no to that,” Lulu said in defeat. Then, she directed her gaze to Evan. “I see what you meant, when you told me that he wormed his way into your heart the moment he opened his eyes, Evan. I would kill anybody to protect this child.”
“I love you, too, Aunt Lulu,” Hayden whispered.
“Good,” Jon said happily. “Now, that that is settled, I’m going to go take a shower and wash the dog smell off of me.”
“Thank God!” Hayden teased the werewolf as he wrinkled his nose at him.
“He’s getting bolder, Evan,” Jon warned my father as he poked Hayden in his ribs. “You’ve got your work cut out for you with this one.”
“I’ve noticed,” Evan replied with a groan. Hayden shot over to Evan and was perched in his lap before a human could blink. Evan just grinned as the twelve-year-old cuddled up to him.
“Yeah, but you still love me, anyway.”
“Cheeky snot,” Jon chuckled as he went to go shower.
“I should go pack,” Lauren said with a smile as she moved to follow along behind Jon. “Sleep will be coming for me, soon. I can feel it.”
“Rest well, Aunt Lulu,” Hayden told the dark-haired woman as she disappeared.
“You should go race Dylan a few times,” Evan told his youngest. “He’s not going to be awake forever, you know.”
Hayden giggled and was gone a second later.
“Go enjoy your free time, while you can, guys,” Evan told the rest of us. “I have a feeling that we’re going to be in for a bumpy ride.”
“I’m going to call, Wesley,” I told Evan with a grin as I headed towards my room.
“That’s fine, Tatum,” he replied with a brief nod and a smile. “Make sure that you tell him “Hi” for me, and don’t talk about anything important.”
“We never do,” I replied with a grin as I left the room.
Tearless sobs racked my narrow frame as I sat in the middle of the woods behind ‘Lulu’s Hideaway’ letting the rain that had started to fall wash over me. My emotions were all over the place as I accepted the fact that I would never see my family again. Tatum was right in the fact that I wouldn’t have been able to accept this new life if I didn’t come into it the way that I had. Tatum had proven to me that I was no different than anybody else. I was nothing but a snob in my past life. Now, rain-soaked through my clothes, leaving them clinging to my icy skin as the excess water ran down my body. The sobs continued to rock my body, leaving me trembling as I silently said goodbye to my family. My mother and father had spoiled me in my years, providing me with whatever I asked for. Now, as I thought about it, they only did it to keep me away from them. Whenever I was busy with one of their distractions, I wasn’t bothering them.
‘They’re better off without me,’ I thought bitterly. ‘I doubt they have even noticed that I’m gone, yet.’
With that thought firmly set in my mind, I stood from the rain soaked grass and headed back to the motel. My family would forever be a thing of my past and I couldn’t wait for the day when I would no longer be able to remember my life with them. The rain turned into a thunderstorm, but I didn’t increase my pace back to the motel. It was pointless with how wet my clothes were.
“There you are,” a light voice said from nearby. I turned my head to the right to see Evan leaning up against one of the nearby trees with his hands in his pockets. “I’ve been looking for you, Payton.”
“I’m sorry, Evan,” I responded as I cast my gaze towards the ground.
“Don’t be,” the black-haired vampire told me with a shrug of his shoulders. “We all need private time, once in a while. I still slip away as much as possible.”
I grinned at his words and looked up at him.
“How long will I remember them?”
“Yeah,” I replied with a nod. “I don’t want to remember them, anymore.”
“I’m sure that if you try to picture their faces, you’ll find it already beginning to be difficult to do,” Evan explained. “I don’t remember my mother’s face, but I’ll always remember Ethan and my father since I have seen them after I went through the change. It’s different for everyone, though.” Then, Evan was standing beside me with his arm across my shoulders. I growled lightly at the sudden movement, but Evan waved me silent. “Hush now, Payton. There are bigger things to worry about.”
“Like the fact that you’re a newborn vampire and yet, you don’t seem to be affected by the thirst like everyone else has been.” Evan squeezed my shoulders gently. “You’re different.”
“Is that a bad thing?” I asked defensively.
“Not at all, Payton,” Evan reassured me. “It just means that you’re special. Has anything strange happened around you?”
I hesitated as I thought about the way I was able to find my Maker and his family. “I know where people are. It’s weird. I thought about Tatum after my second day of searching and I saw the motel in my head. So, I came here.”
Evan appeared thoughtful for a moment before he pulled out his cellphone and showed me a picture of a brown-haired girl with the same blood red eyes as myself. “This is one of my children. Her name is Jenna Holbrook. Can you tell me where she is?”
I looked at the picture before I saw an image of a log cabin sitting in the middle of a forest clearing with a bearded man standing on the porch. Then, my vision pulled back, and it was as if I was staring down at a large map. I took the cellphone from Evan and pulled up a map. With a few swipes I had a nature preserve in Canada pulled up and was pointing at the clearing where the log cabin was.
“She is there with others,” I told Evan. “Leonard, Justin, and a man named Demetrius are with her.”
“You know everyone that is around her, too?”
“Yeah,” I replied with a frown. “I told you that I was weird.”
Evan smiled at me and suddenly I was standing in a field of wildflowers with five versions of Evan standing across from me. Then, he chuckled before the vision evaporated and we were standing in the forest behind the motel again.
“What the fuck was that?” I asked in fear as thunder rumbled overhead.
“I can control someone’s mind,” Evan told me with a smile. “I can erase their thoughts, make them see things, or completely change their memories.”
“That’s scary to think about,” I told him with a shudder.
“It’s more power than I could ever want,” Evan admitted. “I’m terrified of my own abilities, and I’ve only just begun exploring them.” Evan glanced back in the direction of the motel before he urged me forward. “Come on, Payton. Let’s get in out of the storm,” he said as lightning temporarily blinded us. “I’m tired of being wet for one evening. Besides, I’m pretty sure that Lulu wants to have you try on some of Leonard’s clothes to see if they fit you.”
“I like trying on clothes,” I admitted with a slight smile.
“You and Lulu are going to get along great, then,” Evan smiled. “Let’s go.”
Lulu spent the remainder of the night going through outfits with Payton, while I played some video games with Hayden and Dougie. My family was continuing to grow, and I couldn’t help but to smile at the thought. The only concern I had, was the fact that we were feeding off the people that we were going to be protecting, if the Prophecy was right.
‘What do I do if Felix was wrong?’ The thought filled me with horror for a moment, but Hayden was quick to rescue me by bumping his shoulder into my own. I smiled down at the mind reader and silently thanked him. I couldn’t focus on those types of ideas. It wouldn’t help me in the end if we all failed to stop Orthis just because of my own self-doubts. ‘Felix is right. He must be.’
My family spent the day packing up all of Lusindra’s belongings, making sure that we didn’t miss anything as we stored it away in a special hidden chamber that could not be found by any normal mean. Lusindra did her final walk through shortly after sunset as I went outside with Hayden and Tatum.
Hayden was bouncing around happily through the tree branches with Tatum chasing along behind his younger brother. That’s what I had made them. Brothers. Forever bonded to live as creatures of the Underworld, bound together by me. We were monsters, but Hayden was different. He only preyed on those that deserved it, according to him. Hayden was a monster that had kept his conscious. He had managed to keep his humanity. I had never realized that it was because he was hearing the thoughts of his victims. Now I knew different, though. My youngest newborn was a force to be reckoned with. Suddenly, Hayden landed on my back, and wrapped his arms and legs around my body as he kissed my cheek.
“I couldn’t be happier, Father,” Hayden reassured me. “Though, I wish we could eat something else.”
“Yeah,” he replied with a giggle. “I’m going to draw too much attention if all I hunt is bad guys.”
“Always the forward thinker,” I told him with a grin. “So, we’ll try out some animals on our way to Jon’s home. How does that sound?”
“We’re still leaving tonight, right?” He asked suspiciously. I frowned when I realized just how badly his former sperm donor had screwed him up in the head.
“Don’t worry, Hayden,” I reassured him. “You’re a part of my Family. I will make sure that you are never left behind, again. The only thing that will ever make me break this promise to you, is if it is a situation that I believe will risk your life, young blood.”
“Okay, daddy,” he replied shyly before kissing my cheek and leaping back up into the trees.
I barely felt the force of his jump as the twelve-year-old used me as his personal launch pad to get back to his playtime. He was a graceful monster. The brown-haired boy’s smaller size made it easier for him to twist and spin around in tight spaces. Hayden was fast and would keep his victims guessing as to where the next attack was coming from. The only person that was an issue for Hayden to fight with was Tatum. Tatum was an issue for all of us. How do you fight somebody that knows everything that you’re going to do before you do?
“Are you okay?” Dougie asked as he joined me, slipping his arm around my waist.
“I’ll be fine,” I replied as I leaned my head on his shoulder.
“I’ve been hearing those words from you a lot, lately, Evan,” Dougie told me bluntly. “You’re obviously not fine and I think you need to talk to someone about it.”
“Why not, Jon?” Dougie countered. “He’s been around for a long time, Evan.”
“Longer than you could imagine,” I stated absently.
“How old is Jon?”
“Let’s just put it this way, Dougie,” I said with a grin. “Jon is Jackson’s natural son.”
Then, I turned back towards the motel to begin packing up the meager belongings I had acquired since moving into ‘Lulu’s Hideaway’. None of us knew what life had in store for us. Not even Tatum could get a firm grasp on what tomorrow would bring.
“There are too many variables, at the moment,” Tatum had told me when I asked. “I’m sure that if you check the memories from Felix, you’ll see that he came to the same conclusion a long time ago.”
“Fuck,” I muttered to myself. “We need an edge.”
“We have one, love,” Dougie said with a smug grin. Then, he motioned towards Hayden. “Only your inner-circle knows about Hayden’s ability.”
“We need to make sure that we keep it that way, Dougie,” I told him protectively. “Forever.”
I closed the news article in disgust, tired of reading about the Purifiers. On my computer desktop was a picture of Ethan and Evan when they were younger. Both of the boys were smiling happily as Ethan had finally ridden his bike for the first time without training wheels. I couldn’t remember their ages at the time, but I remembered their joyful cheers as they ran around in circles celebrating. Evan was proud of Ethan and was never afraid to show it. Brothers that if the right choices were made, would be spending eternity together as creatures of the night. My only job was to protect Ethan until it was time for him to join his brother in the shadows. A time that wasn’t very far away if the signs were correct. All I had to go on were scriptures that were centuries old, written by an old man just before his own daughter of flesh and blood made him a creature of the Underworld. Scriptures that were written while he was under the affects of a fever that made Felix sound like a madman. The only thing that saved his life was the bite from Lusindra. Then, before the man had even settled into the change, Lusindra whisked her father away, leaving the scriptures to be found by humans. Over the years, the scriptures made their way into the hands of the Catholics before being copied and released to the different governments of the world in the early nineteen-hundreds.
Then, Arella made her presence known to the American government, making a deal with them that could only be broken by an heir of Arella.
‘I’m the heir of Arella,’ I thought bitterly. ‘My boys are the heirs of Arella, and they don’t even know it. Does Arella know?’
The thought of Arella potentially discovering the heritage of my sons made my pulse race. If she knew, she would kill them. Both of them. Did she know that Orthis fathered a sin before he was changed into a monster? Did she know that Orthis had dedicated his life to protecting that family? Did Arella know that Orthis had purposely made a marriage contract with the Matriarch of the strongest witch family?
Before I registered what I was doing, I hit the speakerphone button on my desk and called my mother. She needed to be warned of what was coming. She was the only person still living that could stand any kind of chance against the Mother of Vampires. It helped that she was a descendent of the Baker Family.
“What’s wrong, Eugene?” My mother asked in concern.
“How did you know something was wrong, mother?” I asked in return.
“You don’t ever call me in the middle of the day, son,” the woman stated. “Now, what’s going on?”
“I think Ethan might be in trouble, mom,” I spat in fear. “I think our entire family is in danger.”
“Yes,” I whispered.
“It’s time, Eugene,” my mother told me coldly. “You have to start playing the game.”
“Isn’t that what I’ve been doing?” I demanded, trying to keep my anger from flaring up. “I killed my own wife to protect this stupid fucking secret! What do I need to do to keep Ethan safe?”
“Ethan’s destiny has been written in the stars themselves, Eugene,” the woman retorted in a patient tone. “Not even the Covens can change his future.”
“You’ve tried everything, then?”
“Short of going back in time, yes. There are no other options,” my mother said. “Do you need me to come back for a few days?”
“No,” I replied. “That won’t be necessary, mom. I’ll let you know where we’re at.”
“Stay safe, Eugene,” the woman acknowledged before the call ended.
‘There’s only one way to keep Ethan safe,’ I thought miserably before I called Ethan’s cell phone. It only rang once or twice before he answered it.
“Hey, dad!” His voice came across my earpiece. He seemed happy and full of energy. “What’s going on?”
“Hey, buddy,” I returned his greeting. “How would you like to go on a trip with me?”
Hayden was being extremely hyper as we waited for Evan, Jon, and Lulu outside of the ‘Hideaway’. The twelve-year-old had already run around the building nearly one-hundred times when I reached out to catch him.
“Calm yourself, Hayden,” I told him with a grin. “We’ll be leaving soon. You don’t want to act up until we’re deep in the woods, baby brother. If any of the Purifiers are nearby, then our plan to take them out later, will be ruined. Okay?”
“Okay, Tatum,” Hayden replied with a slight pout. “I’ll behave.”
I couldn’t help but to smile at the boy as I hugged him tightly to my chest. “Nobody is mad at you, Hayden,” I reassured him. “We just want you to be careful, is all. Remember, we can’t have attention drawn to us.”
“Sorry, Tatum,” Hayden replied bashfully. “When are we leaving?”
“In a few minutes,” I told him. “We can run all we want once we hit the forest, though.”
Hayden started bouncing on the balls of his feet, barely containing his excitement. “Sweet!” He crowed happily.
‘This boy was born to be a vampire,’ I thought with a grin before I remembered that Hayden could hear my thoughts. The boy giggled happily as he kissed my cheek.
“They’re coming, finally!” Hayden told me.
“I know,” I said as I tapped the side of my own head.
“Dylan isn’t going with us, though,” the boy said sadly. “He’s going to go find Marcel.”
“Good,” I replied. “Marcel was trapped into creating that newborn army by Sonya. He couldn’t have resisted Sonya’s orders, no matter how hard he tried.”
“Has Father ever used his power against you?” There was a hint of worry in the boy’s question. He didn’t want to be controlled like that.
“Once,” I told him honestly. “I asked him to do it, though.”
“Because I didn’t want to hurt anybody,” I said. “It’s the last thing I want to do.”
“Oh,” the boy responded absently. I could tell that his thoughts were conflicted, but he chose to keep them to himself as he worked through whatever was bothering him. It only took me a moment to realize what was truly weighing heavy on his heart.
“You don’t have to fear our Father, Hayden,” I tried to reassure the boy. “He is nothing like your human father. Evan would never do anything to hurt any of us.”
“Do you promise?”
“I promise to never harm you, Hayden,” Evan said as he joined us, making Hayden turn around in shock.
“How did you sneak up on me?” The boy asked in complete disbelief. “Nobody can sneak up on me.”
Evan only grinned as he scooped the boy into his arms and hugged him.
“Is it time to go, Father?” I asked as Dougie joined us.
“Jon is helping Lulu stow away the last of her belongings in the bunker,” Evan replied. “If Dougie is here, then they must be done.”
“Lady Lauren is doing one last walk through of the motel to make sure nothing was left behind,” Dougie informed us. “I don’t think we missed anything, though.”
Evan turned and took one last look at ‘Lulu’s Hideaway’. He frowned as he held Hayden against his chest. “I sure am going to miss this place, guys. It’s been like a second home for me.”
“Same here,” I agreed.
“It’s been my only home,” Hayden whispered.
I frowned at the boy’s words. Would we ever find a place that we could truly call “Home”? Hayden looked at me in shock before he frowned. I had just crushed another one of the boy’s dreams and hopes.
‘Sorry, Hayden,’ I thought towards the boy. ‘We will find our own place in this world. I promise.’
Hayden only nodded in acknowledgement of my words.
“It’s time to go, guys,” Jon called out as he followed Lulu out of the lobby. He had a small rucksack on his back and a grin on his lips. “We’ll stop at my place before sunrise, then we’ll carry on tomorrow night.”
“I’m going to be staying at Jon’s house for a while,” Lauren added. “I wouldn’t be very good company, at the moment.”
“That’s understandable, Lulu,” Evan stated. “Do you want one of us to stay with you?”
“That won’t be necessary, Evan,” Lulu replied quickly. “Thank you for the offer, though.”
Evan nodded before Jon motioned for everyone to follow him.
“We’re burning moonlight,” the werewolf chuckled. “We should get a move on.”
“Did you get ahold of Jenna?” Evan asked as I fell in beside him.
“Yes, Father,” I replied with a nod. “They are going to meet us in Allentown.”
“Works for me, Tatum,” Evan agreed. “Thanks.”
“There’s going to be a full moon in two days,” Leonard was saying as we sat on the porch of the log cabin together. “Demetrius said that there are werewolves in these woods.”
“Not many of them though,” I told him. “We could handle ourselves if it came down to a fight.”
“There’s no reason for it to,” Leonard said. “We’ll be to the Poconos by tomorrow night.”
“What we need to worry about are the Purifiers,” I replied.
“That’s true. Demetrius did say that he’s seen them around too,” Leonard added.
I glanced up towards the darkening sky, letting myself relax for a little bit as a gentle breeze stirred through the air around us. “It’s kind of peaceful here,” I said after a few minutes.
“That must be why Demetrius likes it so much.”
“I could definitely get used to it, Leonard.”
“Too bad we can’t stay here,” Leonard observed in a quiet voice.
“We’ll find someplace soon,” I told him. “I promise.”
We sat in silence for a few minutes before Leonard suggested that we go hunting before we continue on our journey.
“That’s a great idea,” I replied before we went in search of Justin and Demetrius. “We have a long way to go.”
“Are you willing to continue on this journey with me?”
“Until we meet our end,” I told Leonard honestly.
“Until we meet our end.”
The dark forest was a blur as I ran, slipping through the trees like a ghost as we headed back towards Jon’s house. Jon was running to my left in his wolf form, and Lulu was setting the pace on my right. Tatum, Payton, and Hayden were in the middle of our little group, with Dougie and Nikolas bringing up the rear. Nikolas did want to go with Dylan to find Marcus, but Lulu asked for him to remain by her side for a little while. Hayden and Payton played tag with each other, letting loose to see their true potential, while me and Jon kept an eye ahead of us. Dougie and Nikolas were making sure that nobody was following us during our travels.
“Jon smells someone,” Hayden said in a hushed whisper as he caught up to my side before falling back to his original spot.
I glanced through the foliage ahead to see if I could notice any movement in the trees.
“Marcel?” I heard Jon ask in a cautious voice. “Where have you been?”
“Hiding,” I heard Marcel reply as I ran to Jon’s side. The older vampire nodded at me. “Evan.”
“Good evening, Marcel,” I returned his greeting. “Would you care to join us?”
“You don’t mind?” Marcel asked. “After everything that I’ve done?”
“You were operating under your Maker’s compulsion, Marcel,” I countered. “You couldn’t have stopped yourself if you wanted to.”
“I’m sorry for everything, Evan,” the gray-haired man said with sincerity. “Truly.”
“I know, Marcel,” I nodded with a smile. Then, I motioned towards the direction we were running. “So? Heading our way?”
Marcel smiled at me and nodded his head. “Thanks, Evan. You’ve done more for me than you could ever imagine.”
“Let’s move out, guys,” Jon cautioned everyone. “We don’t know how the Purifiers are able to track us, yet.”
“Us?” I asked as Jon started to turn away.
“They’ve got silver bullets, now, Evan,” Jon told me with a scowl. “They’ve been taking packs out, left and right.”
“Why didn’t you tell us?” I demanded of the werewolf. “Don’t you think this is important information for the Council to hear?”
“Wake up, Evan!” Jon snapped, making Marcel flinch. Hayden was at my side in an instant, his hand firmly grasping my own. “The Council is gone! It fell apart the moment everyone went back into hiding after Philadelphia!”
“He’s right, Evan,” Marcel agreed. “I have no idea how the Purifiers are doing it, but they’re hunting us all down! Not even the witches are safe from these zealots.”
“Fucking psychopaths!” Jon muttered.
“Let’s keep moving, then,” I suggested with a nod. “Hayden and Payton need to stretch their legs, anyway.”
Jon shifted back into his wolf form and ran off in the direction we were originally headed. I motioned for my coven and Lulu to follow as Marcel took off after the werewolf, not wanting to be left behind. I glanced down at Hayden to see him smiling before he took off after Payton. A moment later, I was left alone with the sounds of my family disappearing in front of me.
“Evan?” I turned to see Lulu standing beside me, a frown across her pink lips. “Are you okay?”
“No,” I said as I tried to figure out how to defeat the Purifiers. “There’s nothing we can do, is there?”
“You don’t seem like the type of person to just sit back and let the danger come to him, Evan,” Lulu stated as she placed the palms of her hands against my cheeks, forcing me to meet her gaze. “Far from, actually. You’re the strongest vampire that I have ever met, Evan. You’ll come up with a plan that will save all of us from this infestation, once and for all.”
“I hope you’re right, Lady Lauren,” I told her with a frown.
“I always am, Evan,” she said with a smug grin, patting my cheek. “I always am. Where’s Dylan?”
“I sent him to meet with my father,” I replied as I narrowed my eyes. “There’s something in Felix’s memories that’s bothering me, Lulu.”
“What is it, Evan?”
“I think my dad is taking Ethan to the Purifiers.”
“Why don’t you ask Tatum to look?”
“He can only see what’s going to affect us directly,” I tried to explain. Luckily for me, Tatum was nearby and joined us.
“I’ve tried looking for Ethan and Eugene, Lulu, but I think I can only see those of us that I’m linked to through Evan,” Tatum explained. “It’s always from one of our perspectives. Never Ethan’s or Eugene’s. I can’t even see my dad. . .”
“Interesting, Tatum,” Lauren stated. “Very interesting. What makes you think it’s only the people linked to Evan you’re able to see?”
Tatum scowled as he spoke a few words that made Lulu growl.
“I can’t see Arella, anymore,” he answered softly. “I could see her until about a week ago. Then, she just vanished. I can’t feel the link, either.”
Lulu’s growl deepened.
“What is she doing?” I asked of Lulu.
“She’s trying to force her own Prophecy into existence,” Lulu hissed bitterly. “If she succeeds in finding Orthis before Ethan, then she will kill him. That’s when the world as we know it, will collapse. Another Age of Darkness will reign, and everyone you know and love, will be put to the fang!”
“We have to stop her!” Tatum cried out.
“We will,” I promised fiercely.
“We have to find the Keeper, Evan,” Lulu told me. “They are the only being in existence that knows where Orthis is.”
“Who is that?” I demanded. “Why doesn’t anybody else know where Orthis is?”
“Our memories were wiped out, Evan,” Lauren replied sadly. “There was a legend back then, that if you killed someone’s Maker, you killed that Maker’s entire lineage.”
“Holy shit,” I whispered. “What really happens?”
Lauren sighed, clearly wanting to avoid the subject.
“If their children haven’t been freed,” the shorter woman explained with her head down. “They will lose their minds. The children will become uncontrollable. It doesn’t matter what age they are, either. It could be a vampire that is centuries old. If his Maker were to perish, he would become a mindless animal that kills until the sun rises and turns him to dust.”
“Nobody has ever survived?”
“Very few, Evan,” Lulu said sharply. “They don’t interact with outsiders very often, either. That’s why Leslie set Nikolas and Dylan free. She knew her time was coming.” The woman looked up at me, her red eyes almost glowing in the moonlight. “We have a long way to go, Evan, and the sun isn’t going to slumber forever, just yet. We should catch up to the others.”
I nodded and motioned for Lulu to take the lead, while Tatum fell in beside me. My thoughts were all over the place as I struggled to come to grips with the fact that Arella was betraying everyone.
Jenna and Leonard left with one destination in mind, Jackson’s safe haven in the Pocono Mountains. Tatum had called with a message for them to head there for something that had to do with Jon and becoming an Alpha.
“It’s about fucking time he got his own pack,” Demetrius growled. The full moon was beginning to have an effect on him, and it made me wonder how far he would actually be drawn into the change that werewolves went through. “I’ve been known to change, once in a while,” my father replied when I had asked. He wasn’t even mad by my question. He simply shrugged like it was a fact of life. “At least you won’t ever go through that. If you haven’t turned, yet, then you won’t ever turn with the full moon. Most natural born Half-breeds don’t ever get that lucky.”
“Lucky?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.
“You’re lucky that you never have had to experience that level of pain, Justin,” Demetrius warned me. “Your entire skeletal and muscular systems are completely rearranged against your will. It is the worst pain you could ever imagine. The changing of a werewolf is a very physically involved task. Some humans don’t make it through their first change.”
“What happens?” I asked in disbelief as I listened to my Maker’s story.
“They die, Justin,” Demetrius whispered. I felt a chill go down my spine as I heard his words. “Lucky, lucky you,” he mocked me before turning to face the rising moon. The man sighed and spoke again without turning away from his view. “My apologies, Justin. I wish I knew what it was about the full moon that made all of us like this. I really do. Then, I would put all my efforts into curing it.”
“What if it wasn’t a cure?” I asked in a hushed voice. “What if it was a miracle?”
“Miracle?” He scoffed. “What kind of creature would create a miracle like us. We’re nightmares, Justin. Even you have fed off the blood of humans.”
“I know,” I whispered in dismay. “I take it David told you?”
“Arella?” I asked in surprise. “Arella comes here?”
“Often,” he informed me with a shrug. “Well, not as often as before you came to see me.”
“Sorry,” I replied meekly. “I just- I guess- I didn’t know where else to go, sir.”
“I know,” Demetrius reassured me. “I’m perfectly fine with having the company until you come to terms with what you truly are, Justin.”
“What do I do?” I asked.
Demetrius smiled at me and put his hand on my shoulder. “Go talk to Ethan. Let him know that you still care about him, Justin. It’s the only way to fix yourself.”
Then, he tapped me on my temple very gently. “Use this head, Justin,” He warned me. “It’s the thoughts up here,” Demetrius continued before he poked me in my chest. “And the feelings here, that matter more than anything. Don’t let this tear you up any more than it already has. Okay?”
“Yes, sir,” I replied meekly.
“Besides, you should enjoy these moments while Ethan is still human,” my Maker said nonchalantly.
“Wait,” I hesitated in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“Once he is turned into a vampire,” Demetrius explained. “His feelings towards you may change completely, Justin. You’re part hunter and part werewolf. You’re both going to be natural enemies.
“No,” I stated in a firm voice. “I won’t let that happen.”
“Then, you had better make sure that he never forgets his feelings for you, Justin,” Demetrius warned. “That’s one of the most important factors in making a relationship like yours work. I’m sure it doesn’t help carrying around all of the guilt that you’re feeling. Maybe, you could ask Evan to help you forget, just so you don’t have to worry about letting the secret slip out?”
“That’s a great idea, Demetrius,” I acknowledged quickly. I felt a wave of relief begin to come over me at the idea of being able to forget my involvement in the entire operation where we rescued Ethan from the clutches of Sonya. “I’ll leave in the morning to go find him.”
“Nah,” my Mentor said as he turned his gaze back to the sky. “You should stay here for a few more days. Then, you’ll get your chance to speak to Evan.”
“How do you know all of these things?” I asked, finally beginning to notice the different clues that had popped up in the past month. “First, you knew that I was coming. You even walked out of your front door like I was running late. Then, you already knew what had happened to Leslie and the fight in Philadelphia. You knew about Jenna and Leonard showing up. . . What’s going on, Demetrius? Do you have an ability like I do?”
Then, my Maker began to chuckle. “I should have known that you would figure it out, Justin. I can see the future. Now, when are you going to make the decision to tell me what your ability is?”
“Wow,” I replied in a stunned whisper. “I can, uhhh, I can move things with my mind.”
“That’s a nice gift, Justin,” my Maker complimented me.
“I used it to lift Sonya into the sunlight,” I said in a grim tone. “I’m the person that murdered Sonya. All Evan did was distract her from any pain.”
I growled slightly when Demetrius suddenly pulled me into his muscular arms, and hugged me tightly.
“I hope you never have to feel that sort of grief again, Justin,” Demetrius told me. “Are you certain that you really want to give up your memory of that? It’s an important event in your life.”
“I’m sure, sir,” I confirmed. “This is the only way that I’m going to be free of the guilt without swallowing silver.”
Demetrius grimaced. “It won’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried. Your body heals five-times faster than a normal werewolf or vampire. You’re the deadliest creature on two feet, at the moment. Nothing can stop you, unless God himself stepped in. . .”
“How do I learn my true potential, then?”
“You practice, young one,” Demetrius told me. “You practice until you can’t even concentrate, any longer.”
I looked at the man as he smirked at me.
“Good luck, Justin.”
“Thanks,” I acknowledged drily.
“Now,” Demetrius smiled. “Let’s practice for a little while. It will help you take your mind off of things.”
“Yes, sir,” I replied with my own smile. “Are we going to fight, or do you want me to use my abilities?”
“Whatever you do,” my Maker grinned smugly. “Don’t hold back, Justin. I’m not going to. . .”