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

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14 - The Aftermath

“She’s okay. She’s fine. This is Evangeline we’re talking about, Mellie. I know she’s okay. She’s always okay.”

Mellie paced the dark corridor of the hidden tunnel, anxiously waiting for Evangeline to return to her. It had been hours since Tobey Tui left in search of her. There was nary a person in town sympathetic to their plight. Even the wolves who had always been allies to the witches made sure to steer clear of her and Evangeline. She was thankful for Tobey’s friendship and for being the only wolf and person in town willing to help them despite his disdain for vampires.

“Why isn’t he back yet?” Mellie said impatiently, pulling anxiously at her hair. A wind picked up around her as the flames of the lit candles around her grew. “Calm down, Mellie... calm down,” she told herself as she tried to soothe her nerves. “She’s okay. She’ll come back to you. She always does...”

She forced herself to stop pacing as she walked to the side of a wall and leaned against it. She tried to think back on the last conversation they had together before she left.

~Mellie’s Flashback~

“You can’t leave!” Mellie said, grabbing Evangeline’s arm.

“I have to, Mellie! I have to stop them!”

“You promised, Evangeline! You said that we are stronger together! You are breaking that promise if you leave! Please, I beg you! Don’t go!”

“Mellie...” Evangeline took Mellie’s small face between her hands and stared into her dark brown eyes filled to the brim with fear and anxiety. “I am not leaving you, Mellie... I promise you I will be back. I’m doing this for you. For us. If I don’t stop them now, more will die. They will never stop hunting us! I must do this!”

Evangeline’s heart broke as she heard Mellie whimper in defeat. She saw a tear slip down her soft brown cheek and over her pert, plump lips, and quickly caught it with a desperate and loving kiss. Mellie desperately held Evangeline’s hands to her face, holding her close. She melted into her kiss as her tears of desperation and fear mingled with Evangeline’s passion and lingering promises.

Evangeline broke their kiss and rubbed her thumb over Mellie’s wet cheek, wiping away her tears. “Please don’t cry, my dove. I promise I’ll come back to you. I promise...” Evangeline struggled to let her go, wanting to hold on just a little longer. She headed to the opening of the tunnel and looked back at her to see tears falling relentlessly down Mellie’s face.

“I love you, Mellie...I will always... love you.”

“... I love you too, Evangeline,” Mellie choked out as she watched Evangeline disappear into the night.

~End Flashback~

That was hours ago. It was nighttime when Evangeline left. It was now morning. Mellie felt like she was losing her mind. She couldn’t bear sitting there, waiting, doing nothing.

“I should have gone with her! I shouldn’t have let her leave by herself!” She stormed towards the exit when a tall Native American man with beautiful bronze skin and straight jet black hair appeared at the entrance with a torch in his hand. “TOBEY!” she screamed as she wrapped her hands around his neck and hugged him tightly.

“Melissa! Thank goodness you’re still safe. How are you? Are you well? You haven’t been injured have you?” he asked, holding her tight.

“Yes! Yes! I’m fine! I’ve been going mad wondering when either of you might return! Where is she? Didn’t she come with you?” she said, looking past him outside. The silence was deafening as Mellie turned around to face Tobey who was looking down. “Tobey?” she probed.

He looked up at her and she could see the sorrow in his eyes. “Tobey? Tobey, where is Evangeline?! Tell me where she is! Is she okay?!” Mellie panicked.

“Melissa...” Tobey approached her and gently touched her arm. “She...”

Mellie’s eyes got big as she looked at him with shock. “No... No! Don’t, Tobey! Please! Tell me where she is! Where is my Evangeline?!” He couldn’t look at her for long and dropped his head.

Mellie’s eyes welled up with tears before they gushed down her cheeks like a waterfall. She felt like her heart had stopped beating. She clutched her chest as she struggled to breathe. It felt like all the air had left her lungs. She made strained noises from her mouth as her vision blurred.

“Melissa? Melissa!” Tobey said, trying to hold her.

“NO!!!”

Tobey went flying backward and smashed hard into the wall behind him, knocking him out. Mellie’s eyes turned a bright jade green. Her long hair flew up around her face as the flames from the candles around her and Tobey’s torch nearly reached the ceiling.

She let out a bloodcurdling scream that could wake the dead as a strong wind picked up around her. She immediately left the tunnel, robbed of all light and hope, with a shattered and broken heart in search of violent and bloody revenge.

~*~

“Angel? Angel! Angel, wake up!”

Kiara’s eyes flew open. She looked to see a frantic Leo sitting in front of her, panicking as he shook her. “...Leo...?” she said wearily.

“Oh thank goodness!” Leo breathed out. He pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly in his protective embrace.

“What... what happened? What’s wrong?” she asked sleepily.

“You were shaking violently in your sleep. I thought you were having a seizure,” Leo said with concern in his voice.

She sat up on his bed and rubbed her head, trying to remember where she was. “Shoot... I don’t even remember falling asleep...” she muttered. She looked around his room when she realized. “How long have I been out for?”

“A few hours,” he said, getting off the bed. “Are you okay?”

“Yea... I guess...” she said, rubbing her head. “I have a massive headache, Leo.”

“You’re probably hungry, Angel. Come. I’ll make you something to eat,” he said, extending his hand.

“No, it’s okay, Leo. I’m just-” Suddenly her stomach grumbled loudly and Leo gave her a teasing smirk. “Hush, you,” she grinned, rolling her eyes.

He grabbed her hand and pulled her off of the bed and into a possessive hold. He brought a palm to her cheek and softly caressed her dark, mocha brown skin. She looked into his friendly blue eyes and felt that strange sensation once again overwhelm her body from head to toe.

“This is so weird,” she hesitated, searching his eyes.

“What is?” he asked.

Kiara swallowed thickly. “This, Leo… why do I feel this pull to you?”

Leo smiled ironically. “I told you why, Angel.”

“What you told me was fairytales, Leo. We’re not kids anymore. It doesn’t even make sense,” she said annoyed. “I’m a science expert. I need logic.”

Leo grinned at her defiance and gently stroked her cheek. “You don’t need logic for this.” He tenderly planted his lips just below her lobe. His tongue ran gently over her skin, a wave of goosebumps formed as she shivered at his touch.

“You’re teasing me...” she groaned, enjoying the feel of his lips against her skin.

“I’m not teasing,” he chuckled. “I’m just trying to get a taste of what I’ve desperately desired.” He smirked as he softly rubbed his forefinger against the back of her neck. She felt his other hand caress her backside and lightly squeeze it.

Her body temperature was scorching from his provocative touch. “I don’t think we should be alone in your room for so long,” she said meekly. She was more concerned about her own actions than his. Leo brought forth confusing feelings from her and she had a hard time figuring them out.

He raised a curious brow. “Why’s that, Angel...? What do you think will happen?”

She felt a strange warm feeling in her lower belly as she bit her lip nervously. She told herself to pull back from him but her body wouldn’t listen. It didn’t make sense. Where did these feelings come from?

She felt his hand tighten its grip on her backside, eliciting a slight moan from her. She immediately pressed her lips to his and felt that strange warm feeling flood her entire body again. She wrapped her arms around his neck and impatiently pulled him down to her as she felt her body start to mold into his embrace. Both of his hands possessively squeezed her backside before straying to her thighs. He wrapped his hands underneath them to lift her onto his waist. He massaged her ass aggressively as his lips scoured to her neck, nibbling at her skin. She threw her head back and moaned her steadily growing intense desire.

“Возьмите меня, Leo, пожалуйста...” she moaned out desperately.

“I want to Angel. But I can’t... not yet,” he groaned. He slipped a hand down the back of her pants and squeezed a panty-laced cheek.

Kiara’s eyes popped open before she wiggled out of Leo’s arms. He quickly put her down as she stumbled backward against the dresser. She looked at him completely flushed, not knowing what the heck just happened. “I-... why is-...did you just respond to my gibberish?” she asked, surprised.

“It wasn’t gibberish. It was Russian,” he clarified.

“But, I don’t speak Russian! Wait... you’re Russian?!”

“My last name’s Volkov, Angel,” he chuckled.

“Right... sorry. I don’t know why I didn’t connect the dots. I didn’t know you spoke Russian. Heck, I didn’t know I spoke Russian. In fact, I’m certain that I don’t!”

Leo scratched the back of his head awkwardly. “We should get you something to eat.”

“Leo, don’t change the subject! Please stop hiding things from me...” she pleaded.

He grumbled with his head down, trying to think of what to say. He knew it wasn’t his place to speak anymore on such a matter. He ran his fingers through his hair multiple times before looking at her. “You should talk to my brother... Nick. He’ll explain better than I can...”

~*~

“The attacks came from over here... and over here...” Marshala said, making marks to the map on the large table in the Volkov’s basement.

“Don’t forget there were a few from the East,” Rhea said, circling two other sections on the map.

Marshala leaned over the table, peering at the map. “There’s no pattern here. It doesn’t make sense. Did they all just come from different directions?” she wondered.

“Here,” Nick said, snatching the marker out of her hand. He connected the marks on the map, making a haphazard triangle that pointed upward. He angrily tossed the marker on the table, causing Rhea and Levi to look at him surprised. Marshala sighed in resignation. “They all pinpoint to this location. Which means it wasn’t random. This was a planned attack,” Nick said tensely.

“You think someone turned all of those vampires into ferals at the same time and sent them in our direction? That’s ridiculous,” Levi said.

“Well... it’s not ridiculous, depending on the motive,” Marshala said, analyzing the map. “Kiara is growing stronger each day. It’s possible others may be aware of her existence if not her presence here. I wonder if she’s spoken to anyone outside this town.”

“Well, she’s here if you want to talk to her,” Levi said.

Marshala and Rhea looked at him startled. “Wait, what?” Rhea said.

“Yea, she’s in Leo’s room,” Levi added.

Rhea smirked while Marshala groaned. “Come on, Marshala, be happy for Leo. He’s been waiting for her forever,” Rhea smiled.

“This really shouldn’t be our point of focus right now...” Marshala said, running her hand over her face.

“Oh, right. You prefer her to be with your boys the Blackbournes. By all means, Shal, send her ass their way. I’m sure Alexander is just waiting to take a huge bite out of her,” Nick snapped.

Rhea and Levi looked between the two of them before looking at each other with concern. “We’re... gonna go say hi to Leo and Kiara,” Rhea said. She grabbed Levi’s hand and led him up the stairs. Levi looked at his cousin with a frown and glanced at Marshala before following Rhea up the stairs.

Marshala leaned back against the table, looking down. Nick ran his fingers through his hair, grumbling to himself. “Nicholas... I am truly... truly sorry... I can’t say it enough,” she said somberly. He sneered and approached her, going to speak before shaking his head and pacing. “...This isn’t easy, Nicholas... none of this is. I’ve been carrying the weight of all this for so long... I get tired...”

“But, you don’t have to carry it alone! You know that!” he snapped at her. She dropped her head as she took a deep breath. “You’ve been taking it again, haven’t you? The serum...” he muttered.

She looked up at him to see his angry blue eyes penetrating her. She hesitated to admit that she was taking a serum to help her handle the emotional and mental stress of being a high priestess during one of the most tumultuous times in her life. In Nick’s opinion, the damaging side effects often outweighed the good. “...Nicholas, I-”

“And don’t lie to me, Shal. You know you’re a shitty liar.”

She took deep breaths, trying to calm herself. “I have to... It’s the only way for me to-.. to get through. To deal with all of this without losing my sanity,” she said exasperated.

“And at what expense, Shal? At the expense of us? You succumbing to the demons of your past again? He walks through your damn door and it’s that easy for him to fuck you?”

“I was weak, Nicholas,” she pleaded.

“You are not weak, Shal! You’re just too busy trying to save everybody else and destroying your damn self in the process! Stop taking that damn serum! It’s fucking you up! You don’t need it! Not when you have me!”

She struggled to speak, but couldn’t find the words she wanted to say. She wrapped her arms around herself and felt her body shiver just thinking about that serum. Ever since she, Nick, and Elijah took on the treaty and signed their names with their blood in an attempt to save them all, it had taken a toll on everyone: vampires, wolves, and witches alike. But most especially... her.

Maybe because she was the head and everyone was looking to her for salvation and an end to this wretched curse that had plagued them all. Maybe because while Nicholas and Elijah only had to worry about their respective kin, she felt responsible for everyone involved.

It wasn’t easy being solely responsible for keeping the balance of nature, vampire, wolf, and man. Nor was it easy loving two leaders of warring worlds. The lives of hundreds if not thousands contingent upon her ability to remain neutral among a most violent and increasingly hostile environment.

Nick eyed her shivering and walked up to her, immediately enveloping her in his arms. Marshala’s body stopped shaking as she felt the heat of his body permeate from him and against her skin. “...Do you remember when we first met?” he said. He nuzzled the side of her face as he tightened his embrace.

“You attacked me,” she chuckled against his chest.

“I didn’t attack you... I... wooed you,” he smirked.

“That was not wooing! Wooing involves words. You snatched me, pushed me up against a wall and nearly had your way with me right there!”

Nick snickered as he kissed her temple. “You were so fucking hot... and resistant...”

“Well obviously, Nicholas, because you were really aggressive!”

He smiled knowingly. “I just... had really strong feelings at the time.”

“At the time? You still do, foo...” she chuckled. “Just make sure Leo doesn’t try that same caveman tactic on Kiara. She may not be as nice as I was.”

“Nice? You nearly took my head off with your crazy, witchy magic shit,” he said, tightening his grasp on her.

She smiled proudly to herself. “Serves you right. That was fun...”

“For you maybe,” he smirked as he roughly squeezed her ass. “Though watching you get all fired up has always been a huge turn on...”

“You’re such a freak, Nicholas,” she chuckled.

“Only for you, baby...”

She sighed against his chest. She felt anxious but couldn’t help asking. “Do you ever regret marking me, Nicholas...? Making me your...”

He tensed up a bit at hearing this. He considered marking Marshala to be one of the best decisions of his life. She was always meant to be his. From the moment he first lay eyes on her years ago, he knew she was the one. His desire for her was obsessive. She became his addiction. She rejected him numerous times in the beginning, but they both enjoyed their little game of cat and mouse before she realized her feelings for him were very real, very strong, and very intense. At the first meeting, she would have never guessed how intense this love between them would be. But several life-threatening experiences that tested their relationship made it clear as day.

The blood treaty felt like more of a curse to Nick than the actual curse itself. Ever since they signed their names in blood and he and Elijah transmuted part of their spirit to her to cement the bond, the link between him and Marshala fractured. He could feel her being pulled in multiple directions, and the weight of it all was starting to take its toll. Being her lover also meant being her protector. He couldn’t stand to see his mate suffering. He understood why she took that serum. To keep her mind whole and the power surging through her from tearing her apart. But she was becoming too dependent on it. And it was stripping too much of her from him.

Nick didn’t care for Marshala’s past relationship with Elijah. Nor was he threatened by it. Marshala belonged to him and that was all that mattered. He knew that the blood treaty had caused a strain on their relationship and that the serum was slowly deteriorating her mind and often her judgment. But that did not worry him. On the contrary, her health and bad habits of putting the weight of the world solely on her shoulders was what concerned him most. He was starting to wonder if this Kiara girl, supposed descendant of the great Melissa LaFleur was really worth... all of this...

“Nicholas?” she asked again with apprehension in her voice. It made him smirk. How could she make such an assumption?

“Never, Shal. There’s not a soul on this planet that I love more than you. You own my heart. You always will. I get times are tough right now and I can be a bit... hard to deal with. But you’re worth it, baby.”

She smiled as he lifted her chin with his pointer finger to look directly into her eyes. “And you’re mine, Shal. You’ll always be.. mine. Do you understand?”

She looked into his eyes and could see the authority in his unwavering glare. Not many women could handle a guy like Nick. In fact, she was certain no woman could handle him. Guess that’s why he was hers. “Yes, Nicholas.”

No sooner had those words left her lips that he immediately possessed her lips with his in a fiery kiss. He swiftly lifted her onto the table. “Lay back, baby. I’m hungry,” he said, pushing her down.

“Nicholas, we can’t do this right now. Everyone’s upstairs,” Marshala squirmed as she felt him tug her pants down from underneath her rear.

“They can wait,” he groaned as he slipped her pants off of her. He pulled her legs apart and leaned over the table, nestling himself between them. “Besides... I told you I’d remind you who you belonged to.” His teeth grazed over the waistband of her panties before pulling at it. She felt the thin cloth rub against her throbbing nub before his tongue wrapped around it. His tongue moved the cloth out of the way and slid between her lips. “Mm, baby... you know how long I’ve been craving to taste your sweet pussy again,” he moaned as he rubbed his nose along her dripping slit.

“It hasn’t been that long, Nicholas,” she whimpered.

“It’s been long enough, Shal... too long...” With his lips, he caressed just underneath the side of her thigh, close to her apex, where he first marked her. He slid his tongue over it, eliciting soft moans from her before softly kissing it. “There’s nothing sexier than seeing my mark on you, baby... you wear it so well...”

She quickly put her hand to her mouth to stifle her moans as his tongue dipped into her tight hole and his lips french-kissed hers. He sucked the juices flowing from her before dipping his tongue in again and curving it upward, massaging the soft nerves sending her over the edge. Marshala never understood how Nicholas always managed to drive her wild like this. He seemed to know her body better than she did.

“I know you’re trying to be quiet because of the company upstairs... but you know what I wanna hear, Shal. And I’m not letting your sexy ass come until you say it.”

“Nicholas, please!” she breathed out. She tried desperately to stifle her moans as his tongue teased her puckered star.

“Whose pussy is this, Shal...”

“I-it’s yours, Nicholas,” she breathed out.

He flattened his tongue and licked her from the crack of her ass up to her throbbing nub. “Say it again, baby. Who do you belong to?” He took her small nub between his lips and pressed down, feeling her shake underneath him. He slipped two fingers into her dripping cunt massaging the hood of her pussy. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she swore she was having an out-of-body experience. “I’m waiting, Shal. Who do you belong to,” he said, pumping roughly into her.

“You, Nicholas! Oh god,” she moaned as she covered her mouth. A wind picked up around them that sent the map on the table flying across the room. The lights flickered and Nick smirked as his eyes went a bright amber.

“That’s right, baby. You belong to me. Now come for me, Shal. Before you break my damn house down,” he snickered.

She screamed into her hand as she came all over his and into his mouth. He took his time licking her up before he pulled her panties off of her. “Nicholas! You can’t keep stealing those!” she scolded.

“Of course, I can. See? I’m doing it right now,” he teased as he stuffed them into his pocket. He slid her pants back on and helped her off of the table. She leaned against him, still trying to catch her breath. He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. “You’ll always belong to me, Shal. Don’t you fucking forget it.”

~*~

Leo’s hand felt warm in Kiara’s grasp as she followed him down the stairs. She appreciated that he allowed her to wash up in the bathroom and was surprised that he had provided her with a fresh new toothbrush and washcloth to freshen up. He had been so patient with and attentive to her, that it only made sense why she had started to feel increasingly more comfortable with him. However, because she had only ever seen him as a friend, this new dynamic of their relationship was throwing her for a loop.

The house felt warm and smelled like shepherd’s pie. She felt Leo’s hand tighten around hers as he smiled down at her. “You okay, Angel?”

“Yes, Leo...”

They entered the kitchen where she saw Levi sitting on a stool, sipping on a beer while Rhea pulled a large pie out of the oven. “RHEA!” Kiara blurted.

Rhea turned around just as she placed the pan down and caught Kiara in her arms. “Kiara!” She hugged her back tightly. “Girl, I’ve been calling you forever!”

“I’m sorry, I lost my phone,” Kiara said, pulling back from her. “I’ve missed you so much! I have so much to tell you! I think I’m having a quarter-life crisis. I might be possessed or something. I’m trying to think back on all the horrible things I’ve done in my life to put me in this position because I think I’m losing my mind. Like it’s gone. Put me in an asylum cause nothing makes sense! I don’t know what’s happening. This crazy creature looking like an orc straight out of Lord of the Rings nearly attacked me! And then my hands like... farted fire or something and I have no idea what the hell is going on and I think I’m having a panic attack, oh god!”

“Breathe, Kiara! Breathe!” Rhea said, grabbing her shoulders. Kiara put her hands on her knees as she tried to catch her breath and started hyperventilating again. Rhea glared at Leo who nervously rubbed the back of his neck.

“...Eh...she was fine before...” Leo muttered.

“Don’t even try it, cousin,” Levi smirked.

“Rhea, do you know what’s going on? I’m trying so hard not to freak out but I think I need to see a doctor or something,” Kiara panicked.

“Kiara, hun... maybe we should get some food in you first,” Rhea said.

“Why does everyone want to feed me? I need answers!” Kiara said, feeling fed up. Suddenly, her stomach grumbled loudly.

“Food first!” Rhea said. She turned to the counter and sliced the pie she made. Kiara stared at Rhea’s back, growing more impatient.

“Come on, Angel... take a seat,” Leo said, grabbing her hand. She looked up at him and sighed. She followed him to the table and sat down next to him. Rhea put multiple slices of the pie on separate plates before giving one to each person. Levi and Leo literally wolfed down their food, meanwhile, Kiara picked at it, getting lost in her thoughts.

“Kiara...?” Rhea called her.

Kiara looked up at her with watering eyes. “Sorry, I’m just... I’m terrified. I’m trying to stay calm and think logically. Use science to rationalize what’s happening, but I’ve got nothing. I used to tell my patients all the time not to worry about something they don’t have control over because it will work out in the end. But I can’t even take my own advice because I don’t know what the hell is going on with me...”

Rhea and Leo exchanged uneasy glances before Rhea nodded to him. “Angel, why don’t we go for a walk?” Leo said, standing from his chair.

“In the woods? I thought we had this talk, Leo,” she chuckled nervously.

“Come on, Angel... Some fresh air will do you some good,” he said, holding out his hand.

She looked at Rhea who smiled reassuringly. “Go on,” Rhea insisted.

Kiara took Leo’s hand and followed him out of the kitchen. “She’s gonna give that boy a run for his money,” Levi smirked, watching them leave.

“She just needs time... This is a really scary moment for her. She wasn’t fortunate like me to grow up knowing she was a witch. Nor did she have a family or coven to teach her at an early age like I did,” Rhea sighed. “But now she has Leo... and it will get better from here. Just like it did for us.” She grabbed Levi’s hand as he leaned in and kissed her on the lips.

~*~

“I really need to find my phone. The guys are probably worried sick about me,” Kiara said, following Leo into a dense part of the woods.

“They’ll manage...” Leo muttered.

Kiara grabbed Leo’s hand, causing him to stop walking. He turned around and looked down at her questioningly. “Why don’t you like them, Leo? What was up with all that tension between you and Alexander?”

Leo sighed in exasperation. “We just... have bad history...” Kiara scrunched up her nose, feeling even more in the dark than before. “There’s no need to worry about it, Angel. Not everyone’s going to like each other,” he said, caressing her cheek.

“Yea, I guess...” she said, looking down. “But you’ve always been so sweet, Leo. For as long as I’ve known you. And I care about you both. It sucks that you have such... animosity towards each other.”

Like a switch, Leo felt his anger flare up. “Why the fuck do you care about him?! He’s no good for you, Angel! He’ll only hurt you!” Kiara looked at him startled by his angry outburst. “... sorry... I didn’t mean...”

He ran his fingers through his hair as he tried to calm his nerves. He turned away from her, taking deep breaths. He hated feeling so possessive of her when he just barely had her. He wanted her so badly but that damn bloodsucker was getting in the way.

“I’m just… I’m really protective of you, Angel… and I don’t trust them. Not with you,” Leo breathed out.

Kiara smiled. “It’s okay, Leo...” she said. “Though, I’m honestly not that surprised. You’ve always been pretty protective of me. Remember back in grade school when that kid twice my size used to pull on my pigtails and call me Aunt Jemima?”

Leo turned around to face her and grumbled irritably. “That racist piece of shit. I got suspended because of him.”

“Yea, because you stuffed his face into a huge pile of dirt and tried to choke him out,” Kiara laughed.

“I mean… he fucking deserved it,” Leo grinned. “Nobody fucks with my Angel.”

Kiara shook her head with a chuckle. “What happened to my goofy, cornball Leo?”

Leo smiled down at her. “He fell in love…”

Kiara looked up at him and felt her cheeks not only warm up but swell. Her eyes shimmered as she took him in. Her emotions were confused and raging.

“You have no idea what you do to me when you look at me like that, Angel,” Leo said, swallowing hard. Kiara felt her heart race as she bit her bottom lip. Leo quickly shook his head. “Fuck.” His hands targeted her waist as he picked her up with one hand underneath her rear and slammed his lips into hers.

“Leo!” she squealed against his lips. Kiara didn’t understand how Leo went from being sweet and chill to constantly horny all the time. The guy couldn’t seem to keep his hands off of her for more than 5 minutes. He pushed her up against a tree, wrapping her legs around his waist as he sucked on the soft flesh on her neck. He cupped her heated core over her pants and roughly palmed her sensitivity as he groaned in agony against her neck. He was quickly losing the battle of trying to restrain himself from taking her.

“Oh god, Leo,” she whimpered. She bit down on his shoulder, feeling her climax rise within her.

“Fuck, Angel. I want you so badly, baby...” he groaned as his eyes flickered between amber and blue. He rubbed his fingers harder until he could practically feel her nub through her pants.

“LEO!”

Kiara and Leo both jumped from the loud growl that resounded throughout the forest. Leo quickly put Kiara down as she rushed to fix her shirt and hair. She looked up to see Nick and Marshala strolling towards them.

“Marshala!” Kiara squealed as she ran towards her. She nearly knocked her over as she hugged her tightly.

“Kiara, I’m so happy you’re safe,” Marshala said warmly as she hugged her back.

“What are you doing here?” Kiara asked.

“I came to see you,” Marshala smiled.

Leo smiled contently, watching Kiara hug Marshala before he met his brother’s angry hard glare that said ‘I’m gonna fuck you up.’

“Nick, I-” Leo started.

“Just get to the goddamn house!” Nick growled at him.

Kiara looked at them wide-eyed. “Wait... but Leo didn’t-”

“Kiara, let’s go have a chat,” Marshala said, cutting her off. She grabbed her hand and led her in another direction. Kiara watched Nick escort Leo back to the house.

~*~

“Did I just get Leo in trouble? Why does Nick treat him like a child? And not just any child, but like he’s Bebe’s kids,” Kiara said, walking alongside Marshala.

Marshala laughed out loud. “I know you did not just say Bebe’s kids.”

Kiara giggled with a shrug. “Leo’s such a sweet guy. I don’t know why Nick is always ragging on him.”

“He’s just... being a big brother. Nicholas and Leo lost their parents when Leo was still a child, so... Nicholas has sort of taken on the more... parental role,” Marshala explained.

“Oh, I see...” Kiara frowned. She had no idea Leo had lost his parents and at a young age.

Marshala glanced at Kiara. “So... I heard you went through some pretty serious stuff last night.”

Kiara stopped walking and looked at her wide-eyed. “I’m officially losing my mind, Marshala. I think... maybe I should leave school and seek help... a doctor maybe?”

Marshala grabbed Kiara’s arms and looked into her eyes. “Kiara... there’s nothing wrong with you, sweetie.”

Kiara looked at her confused. “You wouldn’t be saying that if you saw what I did last night... what I faced. I have so many questions but no one to answer them. Leo is keeping things from me. Rhea won’t say a word and she’s supposed to be my best friend.”

“Kiara...” Marshala said softly. “Come here, hun.” Marshala bent down next to a pink rose. Kiara looked at her in confusion before Marshala waved for her to crouch down. She crouched down next to her and looked at the rose. “Touch the petals.”

“Marshala, I really don’t-”

“Just touch it,” Marshala insisted.

Kiara looked at her strangely before she grabbed the petal between her finger and thumb with a sigh. “Okay... I’m touching it,” she said flatly.

“What do you feel?”

“What do you mean ‘what do I feel’?! It’s a petal.”

Marshala chuckled. “Close your eyes, Kiara.”

Kiara slowly exhaled, feeling like this was some weird meditation tactic when she was feeling anything but relaxed.

“Let go. Clear your mind. Concentrate on this flower. Feeling its silky smooth petals between your fingertips... what do you feel?” Marshala asked calmly.

Kiara sighed as she felt the petal again. She tried to clear her mind and thought this was pointless when suddenly her fingertips tingled. She felt the strange sensation of a surge of energy between her fingers as a vision of a beautiful pink rose blossoming over time consumed her mind.

“Woah!” she said, yanking her hand away. She looked at Marshala strangely. “What was... what was that?”

“That... was you feeling the life and energy of the rose over the duration of its life in a single moment,” Marshala explained.

Kiara looked at her like she was crazy. “Marshala, you’re not making any sense.”

“Kiara... have you ever... felt like you could feel things a little bit more than everyone else? Sense people’s feelings more deeply? Feel more... connected to the earth?”

“Uh... I don’t know... maybe? This sounds really hippie-ish. And I never really thought about it... But what does this have to do with anything?” Kiara asked.

“Tell me what happened last night,” Marshala said.

Kiara shuttered as she remembered the terrifying events. “Leo and Alexander were arguing in the parking lot of the hospital and then... I saw this... shadow of a woman in the distance. It sounded like she was calling me. And like an idiot I followed her. Shoot, I wouldn’t last 5 minutes in a horror movie.”

Marshala chuckled. “Focus, Kiara.”

“Right... well, the shadow disappeared, and when I turned around this... tall, scary-looking pale creature tried to attack me. All I did was lift my hands to defend myself and then I felt something warm on my palms. And the next thing I knew the creature was smoking on the ground... DEAD!”

Marshala nodded and grabbed her hands. “Did it feel like this?” Marshala asked. Kiara felt her hands get warm again and saw a flame light up in her palms.

“HOLY FRIG!” she shrieked. She jumped back and crawled on her butt. “WHAT THE HELL?! WHAT WAS THAT?!”

“Kiara,” Marshala said, grabbing her shoulders. She looked tenderly into her deep brown eyes and spoke with as much softness as possible. “...You’re a witch.”

“Wow, that’s... kind of mean... what did I do to piss you off?” Kiara said, offended.

“No, Kiara,” Marshala said, shaking her head. “I mean you’re supernatural. A sorceress or enchantress some may call it. You’re an actual... magical witch.” Kiara just stared at her blankly. “Kiara?” Marshala repeated.

“Marshala... maybe you need to see a doctor. Come on, we can go together,” Kiara said, standing to her feet.

“Kiara, you just made fire in your hands.”

“Clearly, I’m hallucinating. I need to go home. This is too much,” she said, walking in the other direction. “This is why I should have stayed in church. The devil is trying to kill me. Not today, Satan. Not. To. Day.”

“Kiara!”

A strong wind picked up around both of them as hundreds of fallen leaves swirled furiously around them. Kiara slowly turned around and looked at Marshala wide-eyed.

“I know that you’re a witch because... I’m one too. So is Rhea. We are all witches, Kiara,” Marshala said finally. The same blank look came over Kiara’s face as she stared at Marshala like she had three heads.

“Bullshit!” she blurted.

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