|In case you missed it, "Blood Secrets: Part 3"
Utter disbelief and confusion froze my entire body when I stared into my mother's eyes. My mouth hung open as I contemplated how in the world she stood there so calmly. She looked just as I remembered her; only now she wore a short, tight, blood red dress and heels. She seemed so much younger somehow. True, she had only been a couple years older than I was when she was turned. I swallowed hard and shook my head.
“But, but,” I tried to form words, but none would come out.
She smiled sweetly, walked around me to stand next to Julian, and then hooked her arm in his. I looked swiftly between them and pointed in their direction as the realization finally hit me.
Julian kissed her on the cheek. “I’ll let you two reminisce while you take Evelyn to her room. I think the ivory room in the North Wing will suit her fine.”
As Julian walked in the other direction, my mother put a hand to my shoulder and pushed me along.
“I know this must come as quite a shock,” she began, trying to sound reassuring.
“A shock? I’m more than shocked. I’m furious! You abandoned me! For the past eight years, I thought you were dead! I have been drifting across the country for eight years. I went without food and blood for weeks in between cities. Do you have any idea what I’ve been through? I almost killed a man after I thought you died! Have you been with him this whole time?” My disbelief mixed with anger that my own mother would fake her death. Her placid expression left me confused. I couldn't understand why she was acting so strangely.
“I wanted to tell you, really I did. It was difficult for me too, to see you out there on your own. But we wanted to see how you would do in the real world. We were surprised at your toughness and stamina. I knew you’d never reach your full potential if I were still around. Your father suggested the whole thing.” Her voice was sweet, and yet the words she spoke seemed the complete opposite.
“Is Julian my... father?” I gulped as she slowly nodded in confirmation. “How?”
Her shoulders hunched up in a light shrug. “He’s a scientist and is obsessed with vampire genetics. His goal has been to create the perfect vampire. For years he’s tried different experiments. Unexpectedly, I became pregnant. Mind you, I was still human at the time.”
“So everything you ever told me was a lie?” I stopped in the hallway before a set of stairs. My mother ushered me up them before continuing.
“Not exactly; I did fall in love with Julian. He was interested in my blood type and I was captivated by his power and dashing good looks.” She reached into the bodice of her dress and pulled out a nail file. Nonchalantly, she held out her left hand and gently filed an edge of the long, blood red nail on her index finger. Without missing a beat, she continued to climb the stairs as she inspected the nail. Once she was satisfied with its appearance, she returned the file.
“Are there more like me?” I asked, growing curious. The prospect of having others like me made me feel slightly less alone.
“I'm afraid not. Julian tried everything to recreate the situation, but nothing worked. They were all too aggressive and had to be disposed of.”
Her last words caused me to stop in my tracks. Did she just say what I thought she said? “Disposed of? How many people have you killed in pursuit of this fantasy?”
She shrugged again and spoke as if it was no big deal. “Oh, not too many, and they were all bad, sweetie. Don’t worry. He’s given up on that, for now. That darling is always coming up with new ideas.”
My mother led me down another hallway to a simple door. “Here’s your room,” she stated simply. “Don’t try to kick down the door; they all have steel alloy cores. Don’t look at me like that. It’s for your own good. Knock on the door three times if you need anything.”
Without another word, my mother shoved me into the room and locked the door behind me. As the heavy door slung closed, I banged on it. Then I turned my back to it and sunk to the floor. I slumped forward in disbelief that all my mother had told me was a lie. I was nothing more than the result of an experiment led by an arrogant, self-absorbed maniac.
For a while, I set my head against the door, wallowing. I was furious and terribly depressed all at the same time. Part of me felt as though I should give up and go along with them, but another part of me couldn’t let them continue their escapade. It seemed that Jonathan had only known part of the story, and I refused to let his work go undone. I had to finish it, for him.
With a new found purpose, I jumped up from the floor and banged furiously at the door. It hurt. The doors were hard, and I shook my hands to stop the stinging. Apparently, my mother hadn’t lied about that. Turning away from the door, I wondered if the walls were reinforced as well. Listening for hollow sounds, I knocked along the ivory walls. The wall containing the door looked solid, but the adjoining wall wasn’t load bearing, so there was a chance of breaking through it into the next room to escape. On the other side of a large wardrobe, I found a hollow spot. With my fist, I punched it lightly to test the drywall. If I made too much noise, the guards would show up in a second. Gnawing on my lower lip, I wondered how softly I could punch or kick through a sheet of drywall.
Turning around towards the rest of the room, my sharp eyes darted back and forth in search of something sharp that I might use to poke through the wall. There wasn’t anything under the mattress of the grand bed or in the drawers of the carved nightstand next to it. Spying a chair next to the window, I considered breaking a leg off, but they were too short to get the proper leverage. The metal lamp on the nightstand caught my eye and I jogged back to it. A metal thing around the light bulb held the ivory shade, and the top pointed slightly. Satisfied, I threw off the shade, unscrewed the bulb, and unplugged the lamp.
Slowly but surely, I pushed the tip of the lamp into the wall. Part of me felt bad since the pale wallpaper was quite pretty, but there had to be a sacrifice in order to permit my escape. After taking a deep breath and ignoring the voice in my head that scolded me for the foul crime on decency I was about to commit, I shoved the tip of the lamp into the wall. The hard metal began to whittle away at the material. A couple of times, I quickly jabbed the point into the wall to try to create a hole. Since no one had come to investigate, I felt I was doing a fairly good job at keeping quiet. Luckily, the wardrobe shielded my work from the sight of the door. As I turned my attention to the hole, I realized I had created it at chest level. It would have taken forever to work my way down to the floor in order to get a hole big enough for me to get through. Maybe, I thought, if I jab the lamp into the wall in a line, it’ll act like a perforation and I'd be able to pull the wall out in pieces. It took a bit of force, but I was able to push the tip of the lamp far enough in the wall to get through the drywall. I went along one stud to the floor and repeated the process with the next stud. Then, I stuck the lamp into my first hole in the wall and wedged it in. A crack split the drywall as I wiggled the tip of the lamp underneath and tried to lift it.
It seemed that I pulled at the drywall and shoved the lamp into the wall for hours, attempting to make as little noise as possible. When the muscles in my arms started to hurt, I finally had to take a break. So, I crossed to the tall window behind me consisting of small diamond shaped panes covered in a dark film. After finding no way to open the window, I scratched at the dark film until it came off. A bright beam of light burst through the tiny pane, practically blinding me.
“Do you think it’s still light out?” I sarcastically asked myself as I rubbed my eyes.
After taking another deep breath, I went back to my hole in the wall. Growing impatient, I jammed the tip of the lamp back into the wall and used it as a lever to get the drywall up. My hand barely fit in the crack I created. With an extremely controlled motion, I pulled at the drywall and stuck my other hand in. Even more slowly, I worked my way down the wall until I pulled off my drywall door. Unfortunately, that was only my side of the wall and I still had to break through the other side to get into the next room. To make sure no one was in the room before I started to shove the lamp through, I rested my ear against the wall and listened.
My second drywall door went a lot quicker and smoother than the first, and before I knew it, I stood in a room of red tones. To my relief, the door to that room was unlocked. I would have kicked myself if I found that door locked too. Surprisingly, there were no guards along the hall. Quietly, I crept along the corridor to the left of the red room, opposite to the direction that my mother had brought me.
When I reached the corner, I plastered my body against the wall peeked around. One intimidating guard stood at the very end of the hallway. My spirits fell when I saw that a tall, rather menacing, black dog stood leashed next to him. I could not give up, not after I busted through a wall with a bedside lamp. Still in stealth mode, I continued to hug the wall and make my way back. As I stood in the center of the corridor, I bit my lip, unsure of what to do next. A deep bark made my decision for me. Frightened by the low growls that followed, I quickened my pace and darted into a smaller hallway, which led to a few doors and a dead end. The barks grew louder. There wasn't enough time to get back to the main corridor and find another way out. A narrow door at the end of the hall caught my eye, so I quickly threw myself in it and shut the door.
It was dark and musty. Groping the air with my hands, I searched for something that would turn the lights on. My right hand closed around a chintzy chain and I slowly pulled down. I found myself in a broom closet. Frantically, I started to grab everything I could get my hands on to put in front of the door. There were boxes, cans, and all sorts of other things that I piled against the door. Nonetheless, I found myself trapped in a broom closet. This is just great, now what do I do? Getting an idea, I took a step to the back wall; it was very thin and didn’t contain any studs. There was no time to be quiet, so I braced myself against the pile of stuff, brought my legs up, and swiftly kicked the thin panel out of place.
There was only a small jump down to a stone floor at the top of a staircase leading downward into the depths of the mansion. Sheer curiosity beckoned me to follow them. I was in enough trouble as it was, so I figured why not take the chance to explore the place? Electric lamps created an eerie golden glow on the stone. Since there was no railing, I placed my hand on the wall as I stepped to the stairs. The stone felt cold, and the farther down I went, the colder the air got. Somehow, the cold was a bit of a comfort to my edgy nerves. At the bottom of the stairs was yet another corridor. This one, however, led to what looked to be a dungeon.
A door stood to my left at the bottom of the stairs, but I was more curious to see what was at the end of the hallway. I slowly made my way down the dank, chilly corridor and came upon a half a dozen cells lined against the wall. Four of them were empty. The second to last one contained a woman lying on a cot. She appeared either unconscious or asleep. Her clothes were tattered and a bloody bandage encircled her left elbow. She did not move when I called out to her. A man lay on his back in the last cell. He also didn't stir when I attempted to wake him by banging my fists on the hard, metal bars and yelling at him to wake up. An IV stuck out of his arm that attached to a sack containing a red liquid. The liquid looked far too dark to be human blood; it was vampire blood. My eyebrows furrowed in wonderment of why they would pump vampire blood into a human.
Knowing that those two weren't going to be of any help and there didn't seem to be a way to help them, I started to turn around to see what else I could find. What I found across from the cells left me frozen with shock.
A glass wall separated the cold dungeon from a white room. Shelves of beakers and flasks filled with different colored liquids lined the wall. Jars of powders also sat on the shelves and the two metal tables. The room looked like a combination between a hospital and a laboratory. It was far larger and more immaculate than the one Will showed me. Even a large freezer took up a good portion of the room. My eyes darted between the prisoners and the lab, and I realized Julian had to have been experimenting on the humans. Jonathan had not told me about this. The two remaining prisoners were still alive, but barely. I wracked my brain in attempt to figure out what Julian was doing. Then I remembered that my mother had told me that Julian was trying to create the perfect vampire. What’s the perfect vampire? I asked myself. Could it be that Julian’s attempting to turn them without killing them? Maybe he figures that if he puts enough vampire blood into the man, the blood will eventually turn him. My shoulders shot up to my ears in a heavy shrug as I scratched my forehead in thought.
“But, what’s the point of creating a living vampire?” I asked myself aloud.
“To create vampires that can breed; and then we won’t need humans anymore.” My mother’s elegant voice rang in behind me.
The sudden sound of her voice made me jump up and wish she would stop doing that. “What? How’d you find me?”
She smiled and clasped her hands behind her back. “The guards have been going crazy looking for you. This is the only place they haven’t looked. I knew you’d eventually find your way down here.”
"So, exactly what am I? Am I half-vampire or what? Did he turn you before or after I was born?" I felt my mind would explode if she wouldn't tell me the truth. My eyebrows scrunched together so much as I concentrated on her, I nearly gave myself a headache.
My mother's gaze softened as she looked truly puzzled. She shook her head. "I don't know. To make sure, Julian bit me and fed me some of his blood just before you were born. Heaven only knows what would have happened if he had waited. You could say you're half-blood; it sounds more interesting than half-breed, hybrid, or any other name we might use. I suppose, technically, you are half-vampire. However, since Julian turned me before you were born, you might be a little more than half. Since you age, albeit rather slowly, there has to be some human in you. In order to be sure, we'll have to wait."
Ignoring her last statement since I didn't want to stay there any longer, I stared at her again. She was my mother and I loved her. How could she have changed so much in such a short time? Perhaps, I hadn't known her as well as I had thought. True, she did spend a lot of time away getting blood and doing things that I had no idea. But then again, she was always so sweet and loving when it came to my schooling and other motherly things like reading me bedtime stories and snuggling with me when I felt scared. Maybe she had multiple personalities and since she hadn't been acting as my mother lately, she was still acting as the sexy vampire. It was puzzling, though. Exactly how much of me was human and how much was vampire? “What about those men who told me they killed you?"
"They were well paid to fool you."
"And the scratches?"
Her countenance grew serious and her low voice spoke with conviction. "Incentive to make sure they didn't cross me. It also made the fight seem real. You didn't think a mere handful of men could have really taken me down did you?"
Ignoring the proud tone in her voice, I continued. "Why is Julian experimenting on humans?”
She shrugged. “Humans are the origins to all vampires. He figures that the answers to his questions lie with them.”
“You said that he attempted to create another me, but failed. What happened?” While I had my mother alone, I wanted to ask her as many questions as I could. Even though I wanted to stay there and get reacquainted, I didn't want to be around Julian and he was sure to show up sooner or later if I stayed around too long.
“He tried biting pregnant women. They were all willing participants, of course. The women and their human partners wanted to become vampires, so Julian used them. It didn’t work out as well as he had hoped. A couple of the women died in childbirth, and the others…” My mother looked away and twirled a lock of hair around her finger.
She seemed so cold; the exact opposite of the mother I thought I had. Her emotionless facade really annoyed me and I grew even more angry. “What about the others?” I urged.
“Well, they lived for a while, but they were too aggressive. I was afraid for a moment that you were going to be like that.” Realizing she’d said too much, my mother shut her mouth quickly.
Holding up a hand, I asked, “Wait, but I thought you said I was the first one, and why did Julian act like he didn’t know who I was?”
She pursed her lips in annoyance with herself. “Okay, there were many years where he tried to use human women to create living vampires. You and I were in the middle somewhere. You were his only success. When Philippe described you, we weren’t sure at first. Julian wanted to make sure you were who he thought you were. ”
“What’s different about this time?”
“Now Julian wants to turn the humans and keep them alive, in hopes that they will be able to breed vampires. The rare bloods take to vampire blood cells easier and quicker than others do. As you can see by the people behind you, it’s not going very well. They’re still dying before turning to vampires.”
In sheer disbelief of what I was hearing, I started to back away. “Maybe he should just give up.”
My mother shook her head quickly and stepped forward. “Oh, he won’t give up now. Now that he’s seen you, he knows it’s all possible. Because of you, he’ll never stop until he gets it right. That’s why he won’t let you go; he needs you.”
I stepped back again. She was definitely not the mother I had remembered. “How do you know I’ll be of any help? What if I’m unable to bear children like all other vampires?”
Her eyebrows furrowed as her face became more serious. “I’m sure he’ll figure something out; he always does." Seeing me turn my head to check out the corridor behind me, she answered the question that hadn't quite formed in my mind, "There’s no way out that way. You’ll have to get by me to reach the stairs.”
Growing scared, I bit down on my lip. “Why are you helping him? He’s completely crazy.”
She shrugged lightly. “It’s better to be on the right hand of the devil than in his path.”
She’s just as crazy as he is. Her willingness to continue an obviously futile goal confused me. As I searched her expression, I found no signs that her maternal instincts were going to return. What would they do to me if I stayed? In my mind, I still felt too young to think about motherhood and a little apprehensive about the act required to impregnate me. A good mother wouldn't let someone do such terrible things to her daughter; and by the look in her eyes, she was not a good mother. Her love for Julian seemed to cloud her ability to reason. There had to be a way to get out of there, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. Oh, how I wished that Jonathan were there. I pictured him growling at me and scolding me for acting human, but then he’d be nice and call me ‘rookie.’ Oh, Jonathan, I called out with my thoughts. Why? Why couldn’t I have done something to save you? Why can’t you come back from the dead like my mother did?
With an expression full of hope and love, my mother reached out a hand to me. “Come on honey, let’s go back upstairs. I’ll put you in a nice room that doesn’t have a big hole in it. It’s no use fighting; your friends aren’t coming to get you. You have to face it, Julian and his men were too strong for them. Don’t worry, we’ll find you a nice mate too. I know a cute vampire who’s ten times better than Jonathan.”
A tear slid down my cheek at her harsh words. I could not accept the fact that all of my friends had died. I would not accept it. “No,” I simply stated, gathering up my courage to defy her.
She smiled sweetly, showing her sharp canines. “No? What do you mean, no? Don’t talk back to your mother.”
Holding up my chin in defiance, I took a deep breath. “My mother’s dead.”
At my words, her face finally showed some emotion. Now she looked pissed. Her eyes narrowed unattractively and her hands clenched in fists as she tried to control her growing anger. “You’re coming upstairs with me and that’s final.”
“No!” I shouted, startling her. Quickly, I bolted straight past her before she knew what happened and I raced up the stairs. She angrily called after me, "Evelyn Nicole Knightly, you get back here right now!" Then she yelled for Julian.
It didn’t take long for me to pass the hole where I jumped from the broom closet. I followed the stone corridor until it led to a landing that started the wood floors. When I turned left down the hall, I encountered a locked door. Without a thought, I fiercely kicked it down. The door led into the great room, between the double staircases. I spied the front door, only yards away. Before I reached it, however, a figure darted in front of me. Julian looked infuriated.
“Going so soon?” His intense gaze met mine.
I shrugged, “Oh, I just thought I’d go outside for a little stroll.”
“To find my friends.”
“They've all been destroyed.”
“I refuse to believe that.” The tension between us filled the room. Then the guards finally came up the corridors and stopped at the sight of Julian and me facing off.
“You’ll never get through me. Even Jonathan was no match for me. How can you ever hope to escape?” Julian continued to stare me down with his condescending gaze.
He did have a good point though. Before I could think of a snappy comeback, I heard a strange noise and two thuds that sounded like the guards slumping against the door. Julian jumped quickly aside just as the double doors flew open. The light began to fade as a hooded figure flew in along with four others. Julian’s jaw dropped at the sight of them. My stomach jumped into my throat at the sight of the hooded jacket. A pair of strong hands threw down the hood.
Jonathan smiled crookedly at me.
I wouldn’t have thought it possible that Julian could be angrier, and yet, when he saw Jonathan, his face turned beat red. “But, we used a silver stake!" He stammered. "You’re supposed to be dead!”
Jonathan kept on smiling, “Oh, didn’t I tell you? Not all vampires are allergic to silver.” He looked to me and shook his head. “I’m sorry Evie; we had to make it look convincing.”
I shook my head in disbelief. “What is this, come back from the dead week? First, my mother comes back and tells me Julian’s my father, and now you?” Secretly, of course, I was immensely happy just to see him alive, so to speak.
Jonathan shrugged, “I told you I’d come for you.”
Julian continued to stare at Jonathan, slack-jawed. Then he straightened up and pursed his lips. “I see I’m going to get a second chance at killing you myself.”
“Not if I kill you first.” Jonathan’s icy eyes gleamed with fury.
“A duel then? To the death?” Julian bared his teeth.
“To the death.”
Vic, Will, Chase, and Brian surrounded me, thus blocking the guards. Will stepped beside me and set a hand on my shoulder.
“Are you okay?”
I nodded, “What’s happening? Are they going to fight each other?”
Will’s icy eyes looked serious and he nodded, “Vampire death matches are pretty serious.”
Jonathan threw his coat to the floor; underneath it, he wore a tight, black short-sleeved shirt. “Shall we face off right here?”
Julian replied by tossing his thick, blood red waistcoat to reveal a thin, pale colored silk shirt. “No, I can’t stand the risk of bloodying up my Persian rugs. Dusk is approaching; we’ll end it in the front yard.
As Julian and Jonathan made their way outside, I looked to Will. “So, they won’t stop until…”
“Until one of them destroys the other. This could take a while; we’ll go sit on that log at the tree line. We’ll be out of the way there.”
The sun had almost set and the moon brightened as we filed outside. I sat next to Will and the others on a log a few yards away from where the fight would begin. Julian and Jonathan stood across from each other, unarmed.
I looked back to Will, “Are there rules to vampire death matches?” I bit my lip as I waited for an answer.
He looked nervous and thought for a moment before answering, “Yes and no. The combatants usually aren’t allowed weapons. It’s strictly hand-to-hand combat, which is why I said it could take awhile. It’s very difficult and messy to kill a vampire barehanded. Also, spectators are not allowed to interfere. Other than that, just about anything goes. They’ll start the fight when the last bit of light leaves the field.”
My eyebrows crunched together and I wrung my hands as we waited for the sun to set fully. Even some of the guards stood at the door to watch.
The tension mounted as the sun set slowly. Icy eyes glowed in the growing moonlight. Julian and Jonathan began circling each other. They bared sharp teeth as darkness approached. Deep, animalistic, guttural growls emanated from Jonathan's throat. I grew increasingly nervous as I wondered what would happen. Looking between Jonathan and Julian, they seemed evenly matched. Their body types were similar and they both had the age and strength behind them. It worried me that Julian’s age would be a slight advantage. On the other hand, Jonathan had the determination and a sheer feeling of duty to stop his former friend.
Jonathan cracked his knuckles and glanced to the setting sun. “Let’s finish this.”
Julian smirked wickedly as he cracked his neck and rolled his shoulders. “Do let’s. I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
Before I knew it, the sun sank beneath the horizon and the two vampires roared fiercely as they launched at each other. They punched, scratched, and kicked. I even thought I saw biting. I half stood up. Will set a hand on my shoulder and pushed me back in my seat. He frowned and shook his head, but said nothing. I gnawed on my lower lip as I watched Jonathan and Julian try to rip each other apart. It was odd, because there were rips in their shirts but no evidence of those scratches on their skin. After close inspection, I saw fingernails dig into skin, trail a little blood, and heal moments later. It didn’t take long before their shirts were in tatters, exposing their pale skin. Through the rips, I instantly took notice of Jonathan’s strong upper body muscles. He was slightly leaner than Julian, but there was still a lot of raw power behind Jonathan’s toned body. Then they rolled in the grass, fists flying. As the fight continued, it seemed more and more unreal to me. It was as if I wasn’t there, or I watched the fight on a movie screen instead of where I was.
I jumped up when I saw Julian sink his teeth into Jonathan’s forearm. Once again, Will pulled me back with a tug on my arm. Jonathan kicked Julian hard in the head, causing him to let go. Blood trailed down Jonathan’s arm for a couple seconds before the wound healed. I let out a sigh of relief when Jonathan jumped to his feet to tackle Julian. Their entangled bodies in the moonlight made it difficult to discern Jonathan from Julian. I looked up to the sky; the moon was bright, but clouds began to roll in.
Will and the others seemed to sit back and casually watch, while I was on edge every second. After the first few hours, I began to wonder exactly how long the fight would last. I turned, yet again, to Will. “How long do these things usually go?”
He shrugged, “Oh, it varies. Death matches aren’t very common either, so I can’t assume anything. Many times, it’s clear who’s stronger. When one vampire is much stronger than the other is, the fight can last a couple hours. In this case, their strengths are even. It could take all night. Days even. It’s not like human fights either. Those two won’t tire. They could go on forever if one doesn’t take the advantage.”
I didn’t want to wait forever. The sun would rise in a few hours. In fear of what would happen when the sun hit them, I desperately hoped that it would be over before then. “What about when the sun comes up?”
“They may continue fighting in hopes that the other will weaken enough in the sun. They could also take cover and keep fighting, or wait until dark comes again. I doubt, however, that either of them will want to postpone the fight for daylight.”
Will patted my shoulder to try to comfort me, but it didn’t seem to help much. I didn’t want to have to lose Jonathan again after I thought he was dead the first time.
“How do you guys keep so calm?” I looked to the four of them seemingly relaxed. “I’m going crazy over here.”
Vic spoke with a strong, deep voice. “It’s all we can do to keep from jumping up and mauling Julian ourselves. We’re just as on edge as you are, but we keep it hidden.”
“Oh.” I felt slightly embarrassed for not being able to keep my emotions more in check; but for some reason, I found it terribly difficult. I supposed it was because there was a life, albeit an undead one, on the line and I couldn’t possibly hold in my apprehension.
So, the fight kept going deep into the night. Because of my good night vision and the moon illuminating the lawn, I could continue to watch. However, the only discernible difference was Jonathan's shorter hair. In the moonlight, I saw no colors, only the blue light it shed. As if by fate, the closer it came to dawn, that many more clouds covered the sky. I looked up at the darkening clouds. Off in the distance, a bolt of lightning hopped along the clouds. Several seconds later, a low rumble followed its counterpart. Suddenly, Will reached behind me and produced an umbrella. He smiled at me as he opened it up, shielding us from the coming rain. Chase opened up a bigger one to cover himself, Vic, and Brian. I liked the rain, but was glad that it would not soak me. Another flash of lightning split the sky and produced a louder rumble that shook the ground. I wondered if the rain would change the fight at all.
It didn’t take long for the sprinkling to start. Jonathan and Julian didn’t seem to take notice that they were getting wet. Shortly after, the rain became heavier, until it grew into a steady downpour. As the two continued fighting, the ground grew muddy. The scene then got slightly lighter as dawn came and went. Eventually, I could see the fight clear as day, but the clouds remained thick, shielding everyone from the harsh rays of the sun. The mud covered their bodies and stuck in their hair as they rolled across the ground. When Jonathan righted himself after a blow to the chin, I noticed the mud plastered his once beautiful hair to his forehead. I couldn’t imagine getting myself so dirty, but supposed that all they cared about was putting an end to their rivalry.
Out of the blue, I realized something. Jonathan had told me that I thought loudly, and I believed that I finally understood what he meant. I realized that thinking was exactly like talking, but only in one’s head. If I imagined that I was whispering my thoughts, I could keep them to myself. On the other hand, if I felt I was yelling my thoughts I could project them to where Jonathan could hear. I hoped that I hadn’t distracted Jonathan by thinking too loudly. Then I wondered if Julian could hear my thoughts as well, but he didn’t seem to be the kind of person who paid attention to anyone but himself.
I leaned forward to look at the sky; it seemed to lighten as I watched it. The rainfall was much lighter and the clouds looked like they were on the move. Off in the distance, I saw a patch of blue peek out between the clouds. I nudged Will in the side and pointed off to the break in the sky.
He watched it intently for a moment. “I think our cover is going to subside soon.”
Very slowly, the clouds began to break up. Patches of the clouds burst apart, shedding little shafts of light down to the ground. I looked to Jonathan; Julian stood behind him and they struggled to throw each other to the ground.
*Jonathan.* I called out with my thoughts.
*I’m kind of busy right now, Evie.*
*Jonathan, the clouds are breaking up. You might want to think about ending it soon.*
Jonathan took a hold on Julian’s head and threw him hard over his right shoulder. Before Julian got back up, Jonathan looked to the skies to see that the clouds began to dissipate. Overhead the clouds split in two, forcing Jonathan to jump back to avoid being enveloped in a ray of light. Julian finally stood up and stared at the beam of light that separated himself from Jonathan. He didn’t look too happy about it.
Julian pursed his lips and straightened what was left of his formerly white shirt. “I see we’re in a bit of a predicament.”
Jonathan cracked his neck, “What do you want to do about it? Do you want to wait until dark or finish this elsewhere?”
Julian brushed his pants off a little. “I’ve waited far too long for this to stop now.”
Jonathan smiled, “My sentiments exactly. Shall we then?”
Julian nodded and they leaped at each other. They were punching and kicking like before, but it seemed as if they were losing steam; often falling out of the sky to the grass below, only to launch themselves up again to continue the fight. I worried about Jonathan. The rest of us were safe under the umbrellas, but the light seemed to spread slowly across the yard and I wasn’t sure how long it would take before everything was covered in broad daylight.
The two adversaries seemed to avoid being under the open parts in the clouds. The day was hardly half over and the shaded spots in the yard became fewer and fewer. I swiftly turned around to the forest. The thick trees and their topmost branches seemed to keep most of the woods in shadow. Several shafts of light broke the shadows, but it seemed a better alternative than waiting for the front yard to lose its shade.
I turned back to the fight. *Jonathan, lead him into the woods; they’re still shaded. And Jonathan, he’s not only using the humans for blood, Julian is experimenting on them.*
Jonathan seemed to look back at me for a second before running towards the woods with Julian following close behind. They stumbled over fallen trees and stumps as they kept on fighting. Julian picked up a heavy branch and attempted to hit Jonathan with it.
I stood up and looked to Will, “Hey, can he do that?”
Will shrugged, “Well I don’t know, but he is. We’ll see what Jonathan does.”
Jonathan jumped back as Julian wielded the branch like a sword and cut at the air back and forth in front of him. Then Jonathan grabbed the end of the branch and tried to rip it from Julian’s grasp. I looked back to Will, worried.
He looked back at me and whispered, “I think Julian’s getting desperate. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be working.”
I bit my lip as I watched Julian and Jonathan dodge each other around the trees and throw whatever they could lay their hands on. To anyone else, the fight might have looked like a game, except these participants were growling and hissing at each other. To get a better look at how Jonathan was doing, I tiptoed into the forest a little. Their moves were so erratic that it was difficult to follow them through the trees.
Jonathan roughly pushed Julian backwards. He tripped over a log and fell into a shaft of light. His pale skin seemed to glow as the rays bounced off it. Julian hissed and yelled as he struggled to get back up. His sharp fangs practically glistened in the light. Jonathan took the opportunity and pounced, sinking his teeth into Julian’s arm. Somehow, Jonathan didn’t seem as affected by the light as Julian was. Julian clawed and kicked as Jonathan kept a tight hold on him. Jonathan glanced back our way, his mouth firmly clamped on Julian's arm, but didn’t make eye contact with me. Blood began to trail down Julian’s arm as he flailed and cried out in pain.
I jumped as Will sat a hand on my arm.
“Let’s go back to the house.” He had a commanding look in his eyes.
I furrowed my eyebrows. “Why? What’s happening?”
“Jonathan doesn’t want you to see how it ends. He doesn’t want to feel like he has to hold back because you’re here.”
Will put an arm around my shoulder and ushered me away. I glanced over my shoulder. Jonathan still held Julian in the light, but I worried how long the advantage would last. “But,” I began to protest.
Will looked down on me with authority and shook his head. “You shouldn’t see this anyway; far too messy.”
“But, what if something happens and Julian retaliates?” I attempted to turn around, but the other three guys surrounded me with the same look on their faces.
Chase broke in with a commanding voice, “Then it’ll happen. We cannot interfere. I’m surprised we let you watch as long as we did. We don’t want you to see how vicious Jonathan can be. Come on, we’ll wait in the house.”
In retaliation, I dragged my feet as they pushed me into the mansion. I told them I felt as if I would go crazy if I couldn’t know what was happening and wondered how much longer we would have to wait. They all shrugged and told me I was better off that way. Feeling Jonathan had looked vicious enough until then, I wasn't sure how worse he could get. A couple of times, I heard painful, agonizing, gut-wrenching screams and almost bolted back to the forest. Vic quickly restrained me.
Inside the main hallway, I sat on a soft couch next to Vic. Will had the 250 pounds of muscle sit next to me so I wouldn’t be tempted to jump up and run outside at every terrible sound. Vic kept a close eye on me and I knew how strong he was, so I just sat back and pouted. After a while, I put my head in my hands. I nearly drew blood as I gnawed on my lip with worry. An aching knot began to form in the pit of my stomach. Jonathan had been out there a long time. He had been partially in the light along with Julian and I hoped that he wouldn’t die too. I looked down the hall to the windows; it was getting late into the evening. Even the guys were having difficulties maintaining their cool. Will, Chase, and Brian paced up and down the hall as we waited. I twiddled my thumbs and tapped my feet. I had so much built up energy in me that it threatened to tear me apart. Swiftly, I jumped up. Vic hopped from the couch to set a hand on my shoulder.
I sighed in exasperation, “I can’t take it anymore; I need to pace or something. This is driving me crazy. I have to know if Jonathan is still alive.”
Vic stepped in front of me with his hands on my shoulders and smiled. “Hey, don’t worry. You and Jonathan seem to have a special connection. I think you would feel it if he were truly dead.”
I looked into Vic’s hazel eyes and thought about what he said. Did I have a connection with Jonathan? I closed my eyes and searched for him with my thoughts. Something told me he would be okay, but I wasn’t so sure. As I leaned against the wall, I watched the light coming in from the windows fade. I hoped Jonathan had ended it before nightfall, when Julian could regain his strength. When my lip grew sore from the gnawing, I started picking at my nails.
Not long after, we heard footsteps on the sidewalk outside. I stood up straight and we all stared at the door, waiting. The unknowing of who strode towards the door nearly tore me apart. If Julian strode through that door, I wanted to be the first to get at him. My mind was caught in between anger and fear. A feeling of despair washed over me as a little voice told me that Jonathan wasn't coming back. The door slowly opened. Far too slowly for my liking. Jonathan staggered in. Half his shirt was gone and the rest of it stuck to his body, caked in blood and mud. His hair, still matted to his forehead, hung over his eyes. I ran up to him, butterflies fluttering again in my stomach. He had blood under his fingernails and at the corners of his mouth. As I approached him, I noticed how terrible he looked. His face was gaunt, and almost transparent. Jonathan’s icy eyes seemed glazed over, as if he wasn’t quite all there. He stumbled towards me and collapsed into my arms.
“Vic, help me.” I called out, as I struggled to hold up Jonathan's limp body. Vic took him by the arm and easily picked him up. I told them I would find the kitchen and get Jonathan some blood. Down the hall, I ran into one of the guards. I roughly grabbed him by the collar and asked him where the kitchen was. He seemed frightened of me and took me there himself. In the fridge, there were pitchers and bags of the red liquid. Quickly, I took a pitcher and slowly jogged back to the front door. Will was waiting for me. Vic had laid Jonathan in a room down the other hall. Jonathan lay unconscious when I got to him. I sat down next to him, with the pitcher in my hands. For a moment, I contemplated on what to do. He was lying down, so it would be difficult to wave the pitcher under his nose. I almost contemplated putting my wrist to his mouth, but thought better of it. Not knowing what my blood would do to him, I instantly decided it was a bad idea as soon as I thought it. So I dipped my index finger into the pitcher and brushed some of the blood on Jonathan’s cold lips. His lips twitched and he slowly licked them clean. Just as I was about to repeat the process, Will came in with a small glass. I thanked him and filled the glass, then set the pitcher on the bedside table. Jonathan gulped down several glasses before he was able to sit up. Then he picked up the pitcher and downed the rest. As he drank, his skin regained its color and softness.
“What happened out there?” I asked when Jonathan had finished off the first pitcher.
A solemn look crossed his cobalt eyes. “You don’t want to know.” Jonathan wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and sat back. “I’ll tell you this, though; Julian tasted terrible.”
"Don't I know it." I replied. We laughed. Because of the look in his eyes, I didn’t want to question him further in that direction. “So, how did you find me?”
He smiled. “I followed your scent, and the tire tracks. Then I heard your thoughts and knew you were here. What happened with your mother?”
I shook my head. “I think Julian must have been controlling her; she was definitely not the mother I remembered. There’s no sign of her now, or Philippe. They must have run off.”
Jonathan took my hand and squeezed it. “I’m sorry.”
“That’s all right, it’s not your fault. Will you be okay?”
“Oh, yeah, I’ll be fine. I’ll either need to take a cold shower, or have a rest in Julian’s freezer.”
“The freezer?” I cocked my head and furrowed my eyebrows.
Jonathan nodded, “Yeah, Julian uses it to keep fresh. I need a shower either way, though.”
I chuckled, “No doubt about that.”
He put a hand to his heart, feigning shock. “Ouch, that hurts. I'm heartbroken.” Then he laughed and squeezed my hand again.
“I didn't think you had a heart." I teased.
Jonathan shrugged. "It's in there somewhere...I think."
"Are you ever going to tell me what happened?” I asked.
“Maybe when you’re older. So, Julian was experimenting on those humans?” I nodded slowly and recounted my discovery in the dungeon. “I didn’t know that. I’ll have Vic and Will release them before I clean up.”
While Jonathan took a shower, I laid in the bed and thought. I wondered what happened with Julian, and where my mother had disappeared to this time. Maybe, I thought, she and Philippe ran off together. Now that Julian’s gone, Philippe will be the strongest. He must have taken control over her after Julian died. Then I thought about Jonathan and couldn’t help myself from thinking about him in the shower.
I closed my eyes and wondered what we were going to do now. Since Julian was gone, what was there to do? I sighed and tried not to think anything for a moment. Then I felt a presence in the room and a pair of soft, cold lips press against mine. A pleasant warmth spread through my body as I kissed him back. Only when he slowly pulled away did I open my eyes again.
“What was that for?” I asked as Jonathan sat next to me. His hair was damp and he now wore clean clothes. The intact button-down shirt he wore left me feeling slightly disappointed since I no longer had a glimpse of his creamy, pale skin.
He shrugged. “Just a thank you, I guess.”
“For what? That was some thank you.” I stared into his cobalt eyes as I waited for an answer.
“For everything.” He said simply and smiled. I smiled back and Jonathan pulled me to my feet to stand in front of him. Then he brought my hand to his lips and kissed it. “Come on rookie, let’s go home.”
All of the commotion with the fight and returning Jonathan to his old self had made me forget what I had discovered about myself. I bit my lip. "Jonathan, there's something I have to tell you about myself. Something that has to do with Julian."
He shook his head and pressed an index finger against my lips. "You don't have to tell me. I know."
Unsure and slightly confused, I asked, "How?"
Smiling, he replied, "Remember when I told you that you smell different? There's a little bit of Julian in there. The only way Julian could sire a twenty-four-year old is through science." Jonathan then put an arm around my shoulder and ushered me out of the room. "If you like, you can tell me all about it when we get home. We'll have some alone time so we can talk, or not, about whatever you wish. I don't know about you, but I want to get out of here as soon as possible."
I chuckled and blushed at the idea of alone time with Jonathan. Home. I couldn't believe that I had finally found a place to call home, as well as friends to go with it. Even more than that, I felt loved. As Jonathan and I walked, hand in hand, down the hall to where the others were waiting, my thoughts couldn't help but go back to my mother. I again pondered over where she had gone and if I would ever see her again. She may have been brainwashed, but she was still my mother.
Jonathan squeezed my hand.
"She'll probably turn up when you least expect it." He faced forward and took a sidelong glance at me.
I stopped and glared at him. "You're doing that thing again." Then I teasingly put my free hand to my hip.
He raised an eyebrow and kept a straight face, "What thing would that be?"
I scrunched my face at him and stood on my toes to kiss him lightly.
Jonathan chuckled and squeezed my hand again. As the six of us made our way outside, I pushed the thoughts of my mother to the back of my mind and thought only of Jonathan and the fact that I was finally going home where I belonged.