Family Ties - (Book 3 of the Marvelous 3 Saga)

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12 - Family Secrets

“Good Afternoon, Evangeline!”

Kiara placed an adorable carved pumpkin in the window and stuffed a few lavender roses in the vase next to Evangeline’s bed. She sat down next to her and smiled. Evangeline was looking surprisingly better. She was still weak and could barely speak, but some color had returned to her pale skin. Her lips looked pinker. Her eyes brighter the few times that she opened them. There was more strength in her grip whenever Kiara would hold her hand.

Kiara had been working to create a cure for Evangeline’s illness. And with Evangeline’s slow but consistent improvement. She felt she was nearly there. As she waited for another mixture she created to finish simmering in a flask on the table, Kiara rummaged through a couple of old books on the shelves in Evangeline’s room. She found an old photo album pushed all the way to the back.

“Finally! I swear these guys only have drawings of themselves.”

She flipped through the book, eager to see pictures of the Blackbournes and frowned when she realized they were pictures of other people. None of them being the men she was currently living with. She continued to flip through the pages, browsing all the unfamiliar faces that seemed to range from different times in history, when something peculiar caught her eye. She stopped and flipped back two pages.

She noticed the picture of a strikingly beautiful dark-skin woman sitting in a full garden. She was looking at the camera with a bright smile on her face. Kiara tucked her finger behind the thin film of plastic and pulled it out to get a better look. The picture was really old. She flipped it over to read the writing on the back in fine cursive. Her eyes squinted, trying to decipher the old faded writing.

“1881. New Orleans, Louisiana. Melissa LaFleur... Wait, what?!”

~*~

Marshala smiled warmly as she heard the giggling of children running around on the other side of the park. They were dressed up in their little Halloween costumes as they set out early to enjoy the night’s festivities. She truly loved this town that was so dear to her.

She turned her attention to the serene body of water in front of her and watched the friendly waves ripple gently as the wind blew a soft breeze. With her hands stuffed in her coat pocket, she closed her eyes and deeply exhaled as she focused on feeling the cool breeze gently caress her face.

“Thinking about me again, baby...” She felt strong hands slip underneath her arms and wrap around her waist, pulling her backward. Marshala enjoyed the comforting embrace for a brief moment, inhaling his woodsy musk that she had missed so much. She stepped forward out of his embrace and turned around to face a smirking Nick wearing a pair of dark blue jeans and a black leather jacket.

“You know we can’t be like this in public. You’re constantly tempting fate by pushing the wrong buttons,” she said to him.

“Babe, there’s only one button I want to push and it’s right between your sweet thighs,” Nick teased.

Marshala rolled her eyes with a grin as she felt herself flush over. Despite the authority he consistently commanded, his flirtation knew no bounds when it came to her. “Behave yourself, Nicholas.”

“You know that’s nearly impossible for me when I’m around you, Shal,” he shrugged nonchalantly. “Especially when I miss you this much...” She slowly exhaled as she threw her head back, trying to relax. He went to approach her but she took a step back from him. “What’s the big idea, Shal? Why the hell did you ask me to come out here? So you can tempt me? Tease me with how badly I want you just so you can pull away from me again? The conditions of this treaty are painful enough.”

“You know that’s not on purpose, Nicholas,” she said. “Stop acting like I want this.”

“We could have met at your place. Or mine...” he said, taking a step towards her.

She took another step back from him. “I need you to be focused when I talk to you.”

“I’m always focused when you talk to me,” he said. He took another step towards her as she took another step back. “Focused on giving you the most mind-blowing fuc-”

“Nicholas!”

He quirked an amused brow before stuffing his hands into his pockets. “I’m only teasing, Shal... but...why here?”

Marshala locked eyes with him. “Don’t be upset... this is strictly business...”

He looked at her confused. “What do you-” His entire body abruptly tensed up when he felt the familiar unwanted presence. He glanced behind Marshala to see Elijah walking towards them wearing a pair of black slacks and a long black trench coat. Elijah stopped a considerable few feet away from them.

“Marshala...” Elijah said softly as he met her gaze. His eyes raked subtly over her body when he heard an intense growl come from behind her. He glanced over to see an angry Nick. Elijah quirked a mocking brow and gave an amused smirk. “Nicholas.”

“What the fuck is he doing here, Shal? What the hell is this?!” Nick growled angrily.

“Still an untamed brute, I see,” Elijah scoffed.

“You wanna run that by me again,” Nick seethed.

“Can you both stop!” Marshala snapped with agitation. A strong wind picked up around her, causing the fallen leaves to flurry rapidly around her. “I didn’t ask you both here to tear at each other’s throats. I think you’ve done enough of that in the past already,” she scolded.

They both looked at her a little guilty without saying another word. She stepped forward, away from them to gaze at the lake again. “This lake was the first symbol of freedom that my family stumbled upon when they fled The New Orleans Witch Massacre over a hundred years ago. My very existence contingent upon the survival of my ancestors just barely escaping one of the most ruthless genocides of my people in history... but you both already knew that...”

She turned to look at both of them and wasn’t at all surprised by the saddened expressions on their faces. They usually had no words to say whenever she brought up the violent bloody history that the NOLA witches suffered. “We are all victims of that time. And we’re working to fix what was broken. Undo the damage that was done. Kiara is nearly there. Most times when I’m near her, I can feel Melissa. Her power, her spirit. Kiara is strong. Just like Melissa. It’s only a matter of time before she realizes it.....However....”

She looked at them both sharply, her entire demeanor changing. “She can’t focus on discovering who she is and tapping into her power if she keeps getting distracted by your brothers.”

They both gawked at her in shock. “The fuck?!” Nick said.

“Surely you’re mistaken,” Elijah said.

Marshala rolled her eyes as she leaned back against a withered tree. “Unless I’m thinking of an entirely different Alexander Blackbourne and Leo Volkov of which neither are your family,” she said sarcastically.

“I think it’s time I’ve dealt with Alexander’s insubordination,” Elijah said tightly.

“I’m gonna fucking kick Leo’s stubborn ass,” Nick said angrily.

Marshala shook her head in disapproval and put her hands up in a calming motion. “Let’s not be so rash. Leo and Alexander both have... seemingly strong feelings for Kiara, and I’m sure they can’t help that. Knocking them upside the head for it isn’t going to help,” she said.

“It will if we hit them hard enough,” Nick grumbled.

~*~

Kiara tucked the picture into her back pocket before she put the album away. She looked at Evangeline’s peaceful sleeping face, feeling more confused than ever. “Who are these people...?”

She grabbed a small vial of Evangeline’s blood and the one she had taken from Elijah prior. “I need answers,” she said, stuffing her things into her bag and rushing out the door. She nearly bumped into Alexander before she could fly down the stairs. “Oh! Alexander! Hi...”

Alexander gently held her arms, trying to help her find her balance before she quickly pulled out of his grasp. She looked down, away from his probing gaze. Alexander furrowed his brow. “Kiara... can we... talk?” he asked.

She looked up at him nervously and bit her lip. Her mind was screaming ‘yes.’ They had been inadvertently avoiding each other since their last encounter, only sharing quick side glances and brief stares of longing. She truly missed him but felt distance might do them both some good. “I’m sorry, I cant... I have a lot of work to do,” she said.

She quickly maneuvered around him and headed down the stairs. She ran to the kitchen to grab a few snacks.

“Where are you off to on this fine Hallow’s Eve, little thing?” She barely noticed Cole sitting on the kitchen countertop, tuning his guitar.

“Oh, you know. Out and about,” she said. “See you, Cole.” She left the kitchen before running out of the house altogether. Alexander strolled into the kitchen moments later and stood by the window as he watched her take off.

“What did you do now, brother?” Alexander looked at Cole to see a knowing smirk on his face.

“I can’t do this anymore... I need her, Cole. I know Elijah said to stay away but... I can’t...”

“Need... or want? Those are two very different things,” Cole said, strumming his guitar. “And Elijah has his reasons for keeping you at bay.”

Alexander gave Cole a dark look. “I have not fed on a human in years.”

“I didn’t say you had,” Cole shrugged. “But you can’t blame Elijah for being a little weary.”

“I care deeply about Kiara. I would never-”

“You’re obsessed with her,” Cole chuckled, cutting him off. “And you want her. You want to make her yours and yours only. Shit, it’s like watching Marshala and Elijah all over again. Why can’t you just fall for one of your own kind, Alexander? It’s less painful that way.” Alexander grumbled and looked down, rubbing the back of his neck. “Let her go, brother. We’ve seen this play out many times before. You already know how this will end if you try to pursue anything more with her...”

Alexander looked at his brother with pain in his eyes before he shook his head in defiance. He left the kitchen and flew out of the house.

~*~

Nighttime had fallen when Kiara hopped off of the bus and looked up at the old familiar hospital building she had once called home. She pulled her jacket tighter around her body before she headed in the direction of the emergency room.

She stepped into the busy ER and was immediately smacked with a wave of nostalgia. The sound of beeping machines, several people talking and yelling, the shuffling of feet. She looked around and realized... the emergency room was packed!

“Move out of the damn way!” She jumped back as a nurse pushed a roll-a-way bed past her.

“Ma’am you can’t just stand here,” a voice said. She turned around to see one of her old fellow nurses, Selina, holding a clipboard. “Kiara? Oh shit!” Selina blurted. She ran up to her and hugged her.

“Selina!” Kiara hugged back.

“Girl! Where you been, chica?”

“I told you I was going back to school for my research.”

“Oh right! I forgot you were going away to some fancy-ass white school up in the ‘burbs. How the colonizahs treatin’ you?” Selina smirked.

Kiara rolled her eyes. “Girl, shut up. There are black and Latinos there.”

“Sure, sure. Lemme get out my phone so I can turn on the flash and make sure they didn’t brainwash you,” Selina joked.

“You’re a fool,” Kiara laughed. “But listen... I came here so I could use the lab. The equipment that I have can’t do the analysis I need. But the machine here can.”

Selina lost her teasing smile and frowned. “You don’t work here anymore, Kiara. That’s against protocol. Patricia would have my head on a platter and serve it up to my Yorkies.”

“I know, Selina. But I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t important. Please just... at least ignore me slipping through the back door?”

Selina groaned as she rolled out her neck. “Fine. Follow me. Quickly.” Kiara and Selina slipped out of the emergency room and walked down a narrow corridor. Selina looked around before inconspicuously using her badge to open the door to the lab. “I never saw you,” Selina said to her sharply. Kiara nodded gratefully and stepped inside.

She immediately placed her bag on the table before taking out the two vials of blood. She walked over to one of the hematologic machines she had gotten so well acquainted with in the past and placed the vials in each section before starting the machine up. “Let’s find out who you guys really are… watch them be related to some plantation owner…” she muttered.

She took out her notebook and started going over the notes she had taken from details she could remember of her dreams. She pulled the picture out of her back pocket and looked it over again. “Evangeline calls this woman ‘Mellie’ in my dreams... but on the back, it says her name is... ‘Melissa’... Maybe ‘Mellie’ is a nickname?” she pondered, tapping the pencil against her lip. “Lord... I can’t believe I’m actually entertaining the idea that this picture is somehow related to my dreams. I really have lost my mind, haven’t I?”

She went to take out her phone when she heard tapping on the small window above the shelves in the lab. She walked over to the shelves and climbed on top as she looked out the window. But she saw nothing. She went to climb down when she heard the tapping again. Peeking through the window she saw a woman that looked more like a patient walking aimlessly in the parking lot.

“Where the hell is security? They should be monitoring all the patients, but they just let them walk right out of the ER? Honestly, they did just let me waltz in here so I don’t know why I’m even surprised…” she sighed. She looked outside at the woman again and frowned. “She’s going to hurt herself if someone doesn’t help her.”

She quickly hopped off the shelf and impatiently waited for the diagnosis to finish. She grabbed the vials and ripped out the final report before stuffing them into her bag. She slipped out the back door of the lab that locked behind her. Her eyes scanned the parking lot for the wandering patient, but the patient was nowhere to be found. She let out a frustrated sigh as she felt a cool breeze ruffle her hair.

“Kiara...”

She spun around towards a familiar warm, feminine voice that called her name. “Hello?” she said, looking around. But there was no one else in the lot but her. She adjusted her bag on her shoulder and started heading out back home.

“... Kiara..”

“Who is there?!” she shouted again. “Selina?” She turned around a few times, trying to see in the dark. “Ok... I just need to go home. I’m going to lose my mind.” She started jogging out of the lot when she heard her name called again. She spun around once more, completely irritated until she saw a different, more obscure shadow lurking by the trees at the edge of the lot.

She froze in her spot not knowing what to do as the shadow started to move towards her. “No, no, no. I’ve seen this horror movie way too many times before,” she said, turning around and jogging in the other direction.

She heard her name get called again, this time with warning. She glanced back to see the shadow gaining on her. She felt the hair on her neck stand on end and an electrified spark course through her body. She immediately picked up the pace going from jogging to running. She ran around the corner of the hospital, looking for something she could defend herself with. A rock on the ground caught her eye. She picked it up just as she heard her stalker turning the corner. Yelling angrily, she raised her fist, getting ready to attack.

“Woah, Angel! It’s just me,” Leo said, quickly grabbing her arm before she could make contact with his face.

She looked at him in shock. “LEO?! Holy freaking moly you scared the crap out of me!” she said, putting her hand to her chest.

“Sorry, Angel... I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

She dropped the rock to the ground, her hand shaking as she tried to find her heartbeat again. “Were you the one following me?”

He looked at her confused. “No, I literally just pulled up on my bike a moment ago.”

She frowned as she looked behind him to see there was no one there. “I didn’t hear your bike,” she said. “I didn’t even know you rode a bike.”

“It doesn’t make much noise...” he said.

With a sigh, she dropped her bag to the ground and ran her fingers through her hair. “What are you doing here? How did you find me?” she asked.

“I have my ways...” he said. He rubbed his twitching nose slightly before approaching her. She took a step back from him when he stepped forward. “Please don’t do that, Angel... don’t move away from me,” he said, quickly grabbing her by her waist.

“Leo... I’m... I’m kind of busy right now,” she said hesitantly.

“I just want to explain what happened in the locker room,” he said to her. She looked at him curiously, waiting for him to continue. “I didn’t mean to come at you so hard before, Angel. It was a bit immature of me and I could have handled that differently. But for a little transparency...” he sighed as he let her go and rubbed the back of his neck. “The truth is that I’m in love with you.”

She widened her eyes and looked at him in surprise. “Love?! Like... love love?”

Leo chuckled. “Is there any other type?”

“Sorry, I just... wanted to make sure I heard you correctly. Damn, Leo, I thought you were just messing with me. It’s not the first time a guy has pulled that sort of crap on me. Toying with my emotions just to get his kicks cause it’s fun to pick on the girl without a family.”

Leo tensed up with anger. “I can’t believe people have the fucking never to treat you like that. I would never do that to you, Angel. I care about you so much.”

Kiara shrugged with a faint smile. “I tried not to let it bother me. But... you’re the most sought-after guy on campus, Leo. I thought you were just playing with me...”

“Trust me, Angel, I definitely want to play with you,” he said, taking a step closer towards her. “But not with your feelings. Mine are sincere… They always have been...”

She chewed on her bottom lip as he brought his hand to her cheek. “For how long?” she asked, looking up at him.

“Since we were kids,” he said, wrapping his other hand around her waist.

Her eyes bugged. “That long? Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

He pulled her towards him as he tightened his grip. “I don’t know... Scared of rejection. Maybe that you wouldn’t feel the same way.”

“And now...?” she said breathlessly as he lifted her chin.

“Now...” He grabbed her chin and tilted her head as if inspecting her. “I’m taking a leap of faith. Reclaiming my love. And giving my heart to the woman who owns it.” Firmly planting his lips against hers, he wrapped both arms around her waist and lifted her off of the ground. Leo nearly sucked the life out of her from the intensity of his kiss.

“Jeez, Leo,” she said dazed, trying to catch her breath.

“Sorry, Angel… you have no idea how badly I’ve wanted to kiss you again,” Leo said, trying to swallow down his hunger.

She nodded as she panted, still out of breath. “I can see that, but… I feel like you’re kinda skipping a few steps here, bro.”

He chuckled as he grabbed the back of her head and kissed her again. “I’ve waited so long for you, Angel. To kiss you. To taste you. To touch you.”

She felt goosebumps form on her skin as his light blue eyes peered into hers with such love it took her completely by surprise. “You... you don’t even know if I feel the same way, Leo...”

“I know you feel the same way, Angel,” he said, kissing her neck.

“...Oh yea?” she breathed out as her womanhood quivered. “...And.. h-how do you figure that?”

He rubbed his lips against her lobe as he spoke softly in her ear. “Because I can feel your heat radiating off of you whenever I’m near...” He slipped his hand in the opening of her jacket and underneath her shirt, touching her bare skin. “The way you tremble when I touch you...” He caressed the small of her back as he gripped her tighter, pulling her body flushed to his. “Your want for me is palpable, Angel...”

Kiara sucked in her breath and swallowed down her anxiety. “You sound arrogant, Leo,” she said, trying to stifle her raging emotions.

“I don’t mean for it to come off as arrogance, Angel. I just know you better than you think I do. And I know what you want... what you need... and I can give it to you...”

“Ok, Leo, please just... slow down a minute,” she said. She pushed him slightly and he reluctantly let her go.

She ran her fingers through her hair as she tried to think. He watched her pace back and forth. “Come back with me, Angel. We have so much catching up to do,” he smiled.

She groaned as she rubbed her hand over her face. “Leo... you can’t just... this is all really fast. I need a minute to process all this.”

“Process what? You’re mine and I’m yours, Angel. That’s all you need to understand.”

“Leo! That’s not how any of this works. Years for you have been only minutes for me. I need time to... digest this. Besides, I was in the middle of something really important before you distracted me.”

He looked around for a moment, reassessing their surroundings, before setting his eyes back on her. “Why are you here, Angel?”

She chewed on her lip as she hesitated to speak. “It’s... kinda personal, you might think I’m crazy.”

“You’re already mine, Angel, and soon I’ll know all there is to know about you both physically and emotionally. You might as well tell me,” he shrugged as if it were no big deal.

She looked at him irritably. “Okay, we seriously need to talk about this ‘mine’ thing you’ve got going on. But in the meantime, ... I was trying to run a few tests on the Blackbournes.”

Leo’s jaw tensed with frustration. “Why?”

“Something doesn’t seem right. I can’t place it but-”

“That whole family isn’t right. Fuck them. Just come stay with me. I’ll take care of you,” Leo insisted.

“Leo...” she groaned. She pulled out the picture from her back pocket and handed it to him. “I found this picture in one of their photo albums.” She handed him the picture of Melissa LaFleur. “Look at the last name. It’s the same as mine. That can’t be a coincidence, right?”

Leo looked down at the picture nervously before looking back up at her. “You shouldn’t be snooping through people’s things, Angel...” he said cautiously.

Kiara’s mouth dropped. “Dude! Whose side are you on? Just a minute ago you were telling them to eff off.”

“I’m just saying...” he said, running a shaky hand through his hair. “You go snooping around and you may find things you would have been better off knowing nothing about.”

She squinted her eyes at him. “That’s... cryptic...” He glanced at her before looking away. “Leo,” she said firmly. “What are you not telling me?” Leo went to speak when they both heard a noise from the right as someone rounded the corner. Leo immediately tensed up as his eyes went to its fiery amber. Kiara raised her eyebrows in surprise.

“Alexander...?”

~*~

“Instead of using the ‘tough love’ approach that you’re both so convinced are the best methods. Can we try an alternative? Like... talking?”

Elijah and Nick both looked at Marshala like she was crazy. “We’re creatures of the night, Shal. Hobbies include hunting, fighting, and fucking. We don’t... ‘talk’,” Nick said sarcastically.

Marshala rolled her eyes. “Can you at least make an exception?”

“It’s better if we handle the boys our way. We know how to get through to them,” Elijah said.

“And it sure isn’t through no damn talking,” Nick grunted.

Marshala deeply exhaled as she rubbed the top of her head in frustration. “All this machismo is giving me a headache. I’m just saying that I think their feelings are too strong for your more... physical approach to truly make an impact. You’ll just harden them against you. Besides, I don’t really want to interfere too much with Kiara’s um... ‘love life’, but I do want her to focus first on tapping into herself before all of... that...” she said, gesturing towards them with her hand.

Elijah looked at her curiously. “What are you implying?”

“I just think they’re taking after the two of you. You- I mean... ‘we’ need to set a better example,” she said.

“Well, that depends,” Elijah said, cocking his head to the side. He glared at Nick. “Is Leo as tactless and undomesticated a barbarian as his kin?”

“Elijah...” Marshala said with warning.

“Is Alexander a manipulative, lying asshole like his shithead of a brother?” Nick seethed.

“Guys, please,” Marshala said exasperated. “That’s not what I meant. Maybe I should just talk to them. They always listen to me.”

“You’re not bewitching Leo out of getting this ass-kicking,” Nick warned.

“I understand that Alexander has a soft spot for you, Marshala, but if he has defied me this much, then I must make him see reason,” Elijah added tensely.

She rolled her eyes as she ran her hand over her face. “Do you have any idea where either of them is right now?”

“Alexander is at home with his brothers.”

“Leo is on a hunt with the pack.”

“Alright... then why don’t-” Marshala suddenly cringed. She bent over feeling a painful stinging sensation in her head. She put her palm to her temple as she gasped in agony. It felt like an explosive migraine.

“Shal!” Nick blurted. They both rushed over to her as she leaned back against the tree, trying to maintain her balance.

“What’s happening? What’s wrong?” Elijah asked quickly.

“Something’s coming... or.. already here,” she groaned. “People are hurting. There’s something- I think...” Suddenly her eyes shifted frantically. “Oh no...” she stopped and looked at them. “The ferals. They’re in town. Several of them. You both have to go now! Before they start killing all those people!”

Nicholas growled angrily as his eyes went completely amber. His teeth bared and his claws elongated.

“Will you be okay here?” Elijah asked. She looked up to see his pupils were constricted and blood red, his fangs descended. His hands twitched as his nails sharpened. She nodded at both of them before they immediately took off.

~*~

Alexander stopped short when he looked at Kiara and glanced behind her to see Leo.

“What in the world? Did you guys put a tracker on me or something?” she said.

“Kiara,” Alexander said, approaching her. “We need to talk.” He looked up at Leo with a hard glare. “...alone...”

“She doesn’t need to be alone with your kind,” Leo said tensely.

Alexander sucked his teeth and cocked his head to the side mockingly. “As if your kind is any better.”

“Um... okay...” Kiara said, looking between the two of them bewildered. “If y’all weren’t both white this would sound... a weeeeee bit racist. So... I’m a little confused...”

“Why did you fucking come here?” Alexander snapped angrily at Leo.

“I don’t have to explain shit to you!” Leo growled back.

Kiara rolled her eyes listening to them argue when she noticed what appeared to be the same wandering patient she had been looking for earlier. She squinted her eyes as she walked forward, stepping away from the guys. As she got closer, she realized that it wasn’t a patient at all.

“Kiara...” The voice was feminine again. Soft, kind, and alluring just like its faint appearance. Kiara kept moving forward, hoping she could make out the woman’s face. She looked so awfully familiar, but couldn’t place from where. “Come, Kiara...quickly. It isn’t safe for you here.”

“Who are you?” Kiara said, getting closer. “Do I know you? Why does your voice sound so familiar?” The shadow started to disappear and Kiara started to jog towards it. “No, wait!” But by the time she reached the shadow, it had already disappeared. She put her hands on her knees, trying to catch her breath. “Why is this happening to me? Why do I keep seeing and hearing things? Am I actually crazy?!”

She turned around to head back to the guys when a large hand smacked her so hard in the chest, she went flying. She caught some wind before she landed hard on the pavement. She could hear ringing in her ears from how hard she was hit. She rubbed the side of her head and felt liquid. Looking at her hand, she noticed blood.

She heard a low, deep guttering growl and looked up to see what had hit her. Her eyes widened in terror and her whole body froze over as she got locked into the glare of those terrible red eyes that had been haunting her since that night of her attack.

The menacing creature took a step towards her, towering over her. It was so close she could now make out all its horrible features. Its skin was wrinkled and grey. In some places on its wretched body, the skin was torn, showing the deteriorated muscle underneath. Its long spindly fingers with sharp nails that were longer than her face twitched rapidly. The creature was hairless with a large head and hollow cheeks. It had a large mouth full of sharp teeth dripping with saliva.

Kiara tried to scream but nothing came out. It was as if her voice was trapped in her throat. She crawled backward on her butt, trying to get away. But it grabbed her by her jacket and yanked her backward, throwing her to the ground again.

Tiny pieces of pebble dug into her skin as she struggled to get up from the ground. Her whole body ached from being thrown around like a rag doll. She heard the creature above her and turned to face it. Its large mouth full of too many teeth reached for her. She blocked her face with her hands and finally found her voice as she let out a bloodcurdling scream that pierced the night air.

Leo and Alexander immediately turned their heads when they heard Kiara scream.

“Shit!” Leo’s eyes turned a bright, amber-orange. He crouched down before jumping several feet in the air to get to her. Alexander was behind the creature in seconds, getting ready to attack. But what they saw was not what they were expecting.

Kiara looked up at the two of them terrified, her bloodied hands shaking. She looked down at the creature laying in an ashen heap on the ground, smoke still emanating from its burnt skin. She looked at her hands in horror, not understanding what just happened.

“Kiara?” Alexander said, taking a tentative step towards her.

Her hands trembled terribly as her whole body started to quake. “I-... I didn’t-! It was-! I don’t know what I just-” She looked up at them with tears in her fear-filled eyes. “I swear! I didn’t mean to!”

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