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

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19 - Bloodlines

They took her from me.

My love.

My heart.

My life.

...my Evangeline...

She’s gone.

Pain.

All I feel is pain.

I endured being raped, abused, and tortured.

Yet still... this feels so much worse...

How can I go on without her...?

“Please! Please, I didn’t touch her! I swear!” Mellie looked at the pale, green-eyed vampire, trembling on his knees as he looked up at her completely terrified. “I promise you! I didn’t even know her!” he pleaded.

“YOU LIE!” Mellie said darkly. She raised her hand and the vampire immediately lit on fire. He screamed out in agony. The flames consuming his body reflected in her jade-green irises. “She was the only person I’ve ever loved...” Mellie choked out. “The love of my life... my only reason for living in this wretched world! We bothered no one! You couldn’t allow us just one chance of happiness! You took her from me! YOU WILL ALL DIE!”

The vampire’s screaming finally ceased as his body morphed into pure ash and disintegrated into dust on the ground.

~

“Angel? Baby, are you okay?”

Kiara popped her eyes open to see Leo staring down at her with blue eyes full of concern. She was laid up, on Marshala’s couch, staring at the ceiling. She was trying to process everything that had happened and completely zoned out. Levi sat in the recliner with Rhea on his lap. He stroked her hand with his thumb as they both looked at Kiara with worry.

Kiara sat up and looked among the three of them before taking a deep breath. “How many more things are you guys keeping from me?” she asked.

“We’re not keeping things from you, Kiara, we just... we were trying to give you time to let everything... digest,” Rhea said.

“I’m sure you only had good intentions. But I’d rather you rip the band-aid off. Not slowly peel it away,” Kiara said.

Leo and Rhea exchanged glances before Leo scooted on the couch next to Kiara. He took her into his arms and softly kissed her temple. “We’re sorry, Angel... We were just trying to protect you.”

“I can protect myself if you’re all just honest with me,” she said, looking at him.

He twisted his jaw in frustration before nodding. “Yea... you’re right,” he said.

~

“I think it’s time you told her everything, Shal,” Nick said, hugging Marshala. He leaned back against the kitchen counter with Marshala in his arms.

Marshala sighed with exasperation against his chest. “I’m terrified to tell her. I don’t know how she’ll take it...”

“You’ve been so protective of her,” Nick said. “And I understand why. But you’re too protective, Shal. You can’t protect her by keeping her in the dark. She needs to know.”

Marshala wiped the tears from her eyes as she nodded. She was still shaken by the fact that they could have lost Kiara if the Blackbournes hadn’t intervened. “You’re right. Of course, you’re right.”

Nick turned Marshala around to face him. He wrapped an arm around her waist as he flushed her body against his. Rubbing his thumb against her bottom lip, he looked into her eyes. “You’re a strong woman, Shal. All of you are. It’s one of the many reasons I fell in love with you. We would not be here, alive, if it weren’t for you and your coven and the sacrifices you made. Have faith that Kiara has the strength to endure this as well.”

He cradled her face in his hands as his lips enveloped hers with a soft, yet domineering kiss. Marshala wrapped her hands around his neck, melting into his kiss. She felt her temperature sky-rocket as he wrapped his hands underneath her thighs and quickly lifted her onto the counter. His kiss turned ravenous as he hungrily started kissing down her neck. His hands roamed underneath her skirt and up her thighs and hips, already tugging at her panties.

“Nicholas, no. No!” she said, quickly pushing him off. She kept him at arms’ length as she tried to catch her breath.

Nick grumbled to himself as he restlessly ran his fingers through his hair. He readjusted his pants that had tightened due to his erection. “Sorry, Shal. It’s been a minute since we-... you know how I get.”

“Yea, I know,” she smirked as she jumped down from the counter.

“I miss that ass, Shal,” he said, reaching for her. “Shit, I fucking need it...”

“Keep it in your pants, Volkov!” she snapped at him. She dodged his reach and headed for the living room.

~

Marshala walked into the living room with Nick trailing behind her. “How are you feeling, Kiara?” she asked.

Kiara frowned, trying to make sure she didn’t come off as angry as she felt. “I’m feeling like there’s a lot of explaining that needs to be done. Who is Gwendolyn? Why was she after me? She called me ‘Melissa’s spawn’? ‘The one who got away’? What did she mean by that? Also, it would have been nice to know that vampires exist and that I was living with them!”

“They wouldn’t have hurt you, Kiara,” Marshala said.

“That’s not the point!” Kiara said angrily and one of the light bulbs popped, shattering to pieces. “Oh, crap,” Kiara said wide-eyed. “Sorry, I... that’s never happened before. I didn’t mean-”

“It’s alright,” Marshala said. “You’re upset. You have every right to be...” Marshala hesitated, not knowing how to continue. She felt her stomach tighten from apprehension.

Nick, sensing her anxiety, pressed up against her back and rubbed her arms comfortingly. “I think the three of you need to talk,” Nick said out loud. “Levi, Leo, and I will head back to the cabin to give you ladies some privacy.” Nick gave Marshala a quick kiss on the lips before nodding at Leo and Levi to follow him.

Levi tapped Rhea’s hip, signaling for her to get up. As he stood to his feet, he wrapped his hand around the base of her neck and pulled her in for an intense kiss. “I’ll see you later, princess,” he said, gently squeezing her ass.

“Bye, Levi,” Rhea said softly.

Leo struggled to remove himself from Kiara. He was lost in her gaze. He didn’t want to let her go. Kiara could see anxiety blatantly dancing in his bright blue eyes as his grip on her waist only tightened. “I’ll be okay, Leo...” she said, smiling. “Thank you for looking after me.”

Leo twisted his mouth in frustration. “Are you sure? You’ll call me if you need anything, right Angel?”

“Yes, Leo. I promise,” Kiara said. He let out a deep sigh and pulled her close again, hugging her tightly to his chest. He entangled his fingers in her hair and kissed up her neck, over her cheek until he finally reached her lips. He intensified his kiss, snaking his tongue into her mouth to claim her own.

“Leo! Let her breathe dammit!” Nick snapped.

Leo cursed his brother under his breath as he pulled back from Kiara who was chuckling at Nick’s scolding. Leo smiled with relief. He was happy to hear her laughter again. To see her smile, even if it was only for a brief moment. “I love you, Angel,” he said, getting up from the couch. She smiled up at him as he kissed her hand before letting go. He looked at Marshala who gave him a reassuring nod before he followed Levi and Nick out of the house.

~*~

“So... Elijah, Peter, Alexander, Cole and I’m assuming... Evangeline are all vampires,” Kiara said.

“Yes,” Marshala responded. “And Evangeline is not their sister. She’s their mother...”

Kiara’s eyes bulged. “What? Oh, wait... cause she’s a vampire too and I guess they didn’t want me to be suspicious of how young she looked, so they told me she was their sister instead?”

“Right,” Marshala said.

“Okay...” Kiara said, playing with the ends of her hair. “Vampire family. Family of vampires... meaning they drink blood...”

“Not human blood,” Marshala said quickly. “They’re among the few vampires on an animal-only diet.”

“Well, I guess that explains why they never eat my food. I guess I can stop taking that personally...” Kiara pondered. “Will it hurt them or something?”

“Not at all,” Marshala said. “It just isn’t edible or sustaining for them. Blood is their life source.”

Kiara nodded. “Okay… I thought vampires couldn’t go out in the sun?”

“If you haven’t noticed, they each have antique rings on their fingers that were gifted to them a long time ago,” Marshala explained. “They’re amulets that allow them to stay out in the sun.”

“I did notice, but I figured it was just a family heirloom or something,” Kiara said. “Only, Elijah’s ring looks a bit different than the others and he wears it on his ring finger. Kinda weird...”

Marshala swallowed hard. “Well… his is an engagement ring...”

“Engagement ring?” Kiara asked, tilting her head to the side. “Who was he engaged to?” Marshala’s jaw tensed as Rhea coughed. “Please, just be honest with me. I don’t want any more secrets,” Kiara persisted.

Marshala sighed as she lowered her head. “Me... He was engaged to me...”

Kiara’s mouth dropped open. “Wait! You?! And Elijah?! You’re the woman he’s been…! Oh em gee!” Kiara said, freaking out. “But Nick! Isn’t he your mate? And then-”

“Kiara, that’s honestly a conversation for another time. There are more important things you need to know first,” Marshala said sharply.

“Okay, but just tell me one thing,” Kiara persisted. “Are you still in love with Elijah? Cause he’s very much in love with you according to the last conversation I had with him about it.”

Marshala faltered, not knowing what to say. She was surprised that he had talked to Kiara about his love life at all. She chewed her bottom lip before answering. “...Yes, I... I am still very much in love with Elijah...” Marshala admitted. Rhea frowned as Kiara’s eyes lit up.

“Then why aren’t you two together?!” Kiara blurted.

“Kiara!” Rhea said annoyed.

“Let’s get back to the matter at hand,” Marshala said, trying to redirect the conversation. Kiara sighed and nodded. “Let’s start with why you were attacked,” Marshala said.

“Yes, please do,” Kiara said apprehensively.

“It’s because you are Melissa’s descendant,” Marshala advised.

“Gwendolyn called me her... spawn. She sounded like she hated me. Why? All I did was decline a ride she offered the first time I met her when I was buying my phone. Cause you know... stranger danger,” Kiara said.

Marshala’s eyes widened. “Was that the night Leo saved you from those creatures?”

“Yes...” Kiara said cautiously. “Why…?”

“Crap,” Marshala muttered, looking at Rhea. “I think Gwendolyn sent them after you.”

“What?!” Kiara said, freaking out. “But why?! Why me?! What did I do?!”

“Nothing, Kiara,” Marshala reassured her. “You did nothing wrong. It’s not your fault. It’s just... well, you’re the descendant of one of the most powerful, infamous witches in history. She had many supporters... and many enemies. Unfortunately, so do you.”

Kiara frowned. “I don’t understand. What did Melissa do that I’m being targeted?”

Marshala took a deep breath. “Melissa and Evangeline... were lovers,” she said.

Kiara nodded. “Now my dreams make sense...”

“They’re not dreams, Kiara. They’re memories. They are real events that have actually happened. You are seeing them because of the link between you and Melissa,” Marshala explained.

“Okay...” Kiara said, a bit confused. “So, my great great great whatever grandmother and Alexander’s mother were... lovers... That’s kinda weird. How did Melissa have kids if she-?”

“Kiara,” Marshala said softly. “Melissa came from a time not too long after slavery. She endured...a lot.”

Kiara’s eyes got big. “Are you implying that she was raped? But by who?!”

“Let’s just say... witches weren’t always on the same side,” Marshala frowned.

Kiara’s face dropped. “A- a witch raped her?”

“We call male witches ‘warlocks’, but yes,” Marshala said.

“But why?” Kiara asked.

“Because men are trash,” Rhea said tensely.

“What Rhea said,” Marshala agreed.

Kiara felt tears brimming in her eyes as she quickly wiped her face. She felt a sharp pang in her chest that she tried to swallow down. “What happened between Melissa and Evangeline?” she asked.

“Well, they were victims of the time,” Marshala explained. “They had three things going against them. They were a vampire and witch in love, which angered both communities. They were two women in love, which angered the humans who would lynch same-sex couples. And they were a white woman and a black woman in love, which made it 10x worse. So... they were hunted... by vampires and humans alike. They fought hard for each other... to save what they had...”

Kiara’s eyes grew big as they started to water. “I wish I could say that was romantic... if it wasn’t so terrifying and heartbreaking...”

Marshala nodded. “Evangeline got tired of running. She decided to fight back. Melissa pleaded for her not to but... there were so many innocent people being slaughtered in the hunt for them. She just wanted to put a stop to the bloodshed. So, she tried. She confronted the vampires and she was brutalized for it.”

“No!” Kiara squeaked in terror.

“Melissa thought that they killed her. And she just... snapped,” Marshala said.

“Because they broke her heart!” Kiara said.

“Yes, well... she broke them,” Marshala sighed. “Evangeline didn’t die. She was just badly wounded and starved. But Melissa didn’t know that. She couldn’t even find her. So, she went after the vampires, killing everyone in her path.”

“So, she went Dark Willow,” Kiara mused.

Marshala looked at her confused. “It’s a character from this show called ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’,” Rhea sighed. “Yes, Kiara, but this is kind of serious.”

“I know it is! I just... this is how I cope. I’m just trying to figure it out,” Kiara said. “So, she turned into an evil witch is what you’re telling me?”

“I wouldn’t say evil,” Marshala said. “But she did submit to the dark side.”

Kiara’s head perked up, a Star Wars reference itching to escape her lips. “Don’t!” Rhea snapped, and Kiara dropped her head.

“So then, what happened?” Kiara asked.

Marshala swallowed thickly. “Well, Melissa was eventually captured by the townspeople. They tied her up, held a ‘trial’, and... burned her at the stake...”

Kiara’s eyes widened in shock. “Wait, what?! They killed her!” Marshala nodded sadly. “And she never got to see Evangeline again?!” Kiara said, panicking.

“No...” Marshala said.

Kiara fought hard to keep back her tears as she swallowed down the angst. “So... so that’s why vampires like Gwendolyn are after me? Because Melissa killed her friends or something?”

Marshala sighed. “That’s part of it... You see, before Melissa was killed, she put a curse on the vampires of that city. Those creatures that keep attacking you? They were originally vampires. Melissa’s curse made it at random. Any vampire risks turning into a feral when they feed from a human to kill.”

“Serves them right!” Kiara said.

“No... Kiara...” Marshala said sadly. Rhea looked at Marshala and grabbed her hand to comfort her.

“What?” Kiara asked.

“When Melissa... put that curse on the vampires... they... they retaliated... against the witches...” Marshala struggled to speak.

“It was a massacre, Kiara,” Rhea added with hurt and pain in her voice. “They killed so many of our people. Brutally... mercilessly. My family... Marshala’s family... it was... it was genocide… Few of them escaped or neither Marshala, nor you, nor I would be here...”

Kiara looked at them in shock as tears started to fall from her eyes. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “You...you can’t be serious!”

Rhea nodded. “The New Orleans Witch Massacre... you won’t find that in history books...”

“You won’t find most transgressions against black people in history books...” Marshala muttered.

Kiara wiped the tears from her face as she looked down. It was all so much to take in. “That’s when our people made the great migration from New Orleans to New England,” Marshala continued. “Many of them didn’t make it. But the wolves, they protected us. They fought off the vampires and escorted several of the witches in the migration. They have truly always been our allies. Many more of our people would have died if we didn’t have their help.”

“I see,” Kiara said quietly. “Is that why you and Nick are so close?”

“Actually, Nicholas and I are close because we fought together. You see, even though we migrated up here, the vampires still hunted us. It became a war. Wolves and witches fought against vampires for decades up until my time. My grandmother was the leader of the coven when the fighting was most intense. The war got so bad. We were losing people left and right. Wolves were attacking vampires were attacking witches. The Volkov family was already close to my coven so they fought alongside us. Nicholas and Leo’s parents knew my grandmother. Nicholas and I fell in love during the war. In the midst of battle.”

Kiara smiled. “That’s sweet... sad, but... tragically sweet. And Elijah?”

Marshala smiled fondly. “I knew Elijah before the war got intense... before I met Nicholas... before we had to question each day if we’d survive the night.” Marshala looked up at Kiara. “We met while I was still in university, believe it or not.”

“So, you’ve known each other for a while. Long enough for him to propose to you at least. Then... what happened between you two? Why did you break up?” Kiara asked.

“I can’t really talk about that right now, Kiara. The memory is still too painful. Another time, okay?” Marshala said.

Kiara frowned and nodded. “So, about this war... Is it over?”

“In Nicholas’s own words... it’s dormant. We lost so many people. So many lives,” Marshala said.

“But Marshala changed all of that,” Rhea said quickly. “She’s a genius.”

Marshala looked at Rhea gratefully. “I wouldn’t say genius,” Marshala chuckled.

“It was when she became the leader of the coven that she came up with an idea that would change the tide of the war,” Rhea interrupted again.

Marshala shook her head. “I bargained with the vampires. Asked them for a cease and desist if we could put an end to this curse.”

“How did you manage to convince them of that when they were trying to kill all of you?” Kiara asked.

“Elijah,” Marshala said. “He has... quite the reputation. He’s held in high-esteem among most vampires. Even if they don’t like him, they trust him because he is a man of his word, and he’s extremely intelligent. He’s the one who keeps all other vampires in check. The Blackbournes were among the few vampires that fought for us. So, I asked him to meet with them and find a compromise.”

“Wow! And that worked?” Kiara asked.

Marshala nodded. “We agreed to a peace treaty, signed in our blood. In New England, Elijah was made head of the vampires, responsible for making sure the vampires abide by the rules of staying away from the witches. Nicholas, as Alpha of his pack and of this territory, sent a message to other outside wolves to keep their distance and agreed to keep the wolves from attacking the vampires. It’s what neutralized our war... for the moment.”

Kiara furrowed her brow. “But this... ‘peace treaty’ is contingent upon you breaking the curse.”

Marshala took a deep breath before continuing. “Yes... that’s where you come in.”

Kiara looked at her startled. “ME?! Why me?!”

Marshala ran her hand over her head as she tried to think of how to convey this best. “I tried so many different spells and potions to break Melissa’s curse... But it’s a blood curse... Only someone from her bloodline can break it,” Marshala said.

Kiara’s mouth dropped. “Wow! Great! That’s freaking fantastic! No pressure at all!”

“Kiara,” Marshala said, grabbing her hand. “You will not go through this alone. We will be with you every step of the way. I promise.”

Kiara frowned as she stared at the table. “I barely know how to use my magic. I nearly killed Alexander that one time. And then I felt so useless and ineffective each time I was attacked by those damn creatures.”

“We will help you. You’ll get better at controlling it. We’ll practice more. We’ll introduce you to some other powerful witches,” Marshala said.

“And the ceremony,” Rhea chimed in.

“Ceremony? What ceremony?” Kiara asked.

“We have a ceremony for every witch that is inducted into our coven. It also paves the way to help you connect with our ancestors,” Marshala said.

“Meaning, I can finally speak with Melissa?” Kiara asked.

“Yes. You’ll need Melissa to figure out how to break the curse,” Marshala advised her.

Kiara took a deep breath. “This is... a lot. I wasn’t expecting all of this. And I have so many emotions right now but... thank you for talking me through this.”

“Of course,” Marshala said.

Kiara looked between the two of them. “I want to speak to the Blackbournes. I need to see... Alexander.”

Rhea gawked in shock as Marshala smiled. “Are you kidding me?!” Rhea blurted as she stood from her seat.

“Rhea, don’t-” Marshala started.

“I should have expected this,” Rhea said irritably.

“Rhea, why do you hate the Blackbournes so much?” Kiara asked, looking up at her.

“It’s not just them, Kiara. I don’t trust any vampire! They’re evil, don’t you get it? Did you not just hear what they did? To us? To our people? They’re murderers! They can’t be trusted, Kiara! Not even the Blackbournes!” Rhea pleaded.

“Rhea!” Marshala said sharply.

Rhea looked at Marshala with tears in her eyes. “I’ve put up with them for so long because you asked me to, Marshala. Even after everything they’ve done. All the people they’ve killed! We have been the victims of their war! How can you still love Elijah after what he put you through?”

“Rhea, that’s enough!” Marshala snapped. A fierce wind blew around them, pushing Rhea backward and she nearly fell. Marshala immediately felt guilty. She got up from her seat and went to help Rhea who quickly backed away from her. Rhea’s eyes were reddened from the tears that fell from her saddened eyes as she looked at Marshala furiously.

“You’ve sacrificed so much for him. Too much! And for what? Nick has given you everything! He loves you. He protects you. He wants to have a family with you. And yet his enemy, our enemy, still has a place in your heart? Nick has never hurt you the way Elijah did,” Rhea seethed.

“Rhea, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Elijah has always been on our side,” Marshala said. “He has always helped us. Protected us. He and his brothers.”

“Then why is it every time they’re around our people die?!” Rhea shouted as all the mugs on the table exploded. Kiara jumped startled.

“Rhea...” Marshala said softly.

Rhea fought to control her sobs as she wiped her face. “I’m sorry,” Rhea said. “I have to go.” She walked past Marshala and headed straight for the door. She turned to look back at Kiara as tears cascaded down her face. “If you try to have a life with Alexander, you’ll just end up hurt, Kiara. Everyone you know and love will die. Just like Elijah did to Marshala.” Rhea quickly walked out, closing the door shut behind her.

Kiara looked at the closed door stunned by everything that just took place. She turned to look at Marshala who had a tense jaw. She looked like she was fighting hard to keep the tears from escaping. “... Marshala...?” Kiara said softly.

Marshala looked at Kiara and tried to muster a smile. “Let’s... let’s get you home, shall we?” Marshala said with fake cheer, wiping the tears from her eyes.

~*~

As Nick, Levi, and Leo got to their cabin, they saw Akamu standing on the outskirts of the woods with his hands in his pockets. “Go inside,” Nick ordered Levi and Leo. They quickly obeyed, leaving Nick and Akamu alone.

“Hey...” Nick said, approaching him cautiously.

Akamu scoffed. “I’m not here to start trouble, Nick. You can relax.”

Nick nodded as he stared at Akamu, trying to piece together his feelings. “I’m sorry for the way things turned out,” Nick said.

Akamu shrugged. “It’s fine, Nick. Lukas knew what he signed up for. Thanks for returning his body. I heard he tried to pull one over on you.”

“Keyword ‘try’,” Nick smirked.

Akamu smirked back. “Cocky bastard.” They shared a mutual chuckle before Akamu’s face turned serious. “Listen. I’m here cause I wanted to tell you that word’s getting around about a witch... Melissa’s great great great great granddaughter or some shit. That she’s here in your territory.”

Nick’s jaw twitched as he folded his arms across his chest. “And just who are you hearing this shit from?” Nick demanded.

“So, it’s true?”

“I didn’t say it was.”

“Goddammit, Nick. I’m not gonna go after the girl. I’m actually relieved she’s here so she can set shit straight again.” Nick remained silent so as not to give any information away. “So that’s how it is?” Akamu asked, offended. “I thought we were brothers?”

“You didn’t seem to think we were brothers when you threatened me a while back.”

Akamu sucked his teeth and sighed. “I was pissed the fuck off, Nick. I wanted revenge. Those fucking demons have made our lives a living hell. Can you blame me for wanting them dead?”

“No. But killing them won’t solve anything,” Nick said.

Akamu sighed as he ran his fingers through his hair. “Fine... whatever. I only wanted to warn you because if I know about her, then so do others less friendly than me.”

Nick sucked his teeth as he thought back to the vampire that attacked Kiara and Alexander. “Thanks for the heads up,” Nick said flatly.

Akamu looked Nick over regretfully. “Don’t shut me out, Nick. I still consider you my brother. Shit, you’re the only one I have left now.”

Nick sighed as his heart grew heavy. “...You’ll always be my brother, Akamu,” Nick said, extending his hand.

Akamu took his hand and pulled him in for a rough hug. “Take it easy, Volkov.”

~*~

Kiara and Marshala sat in the car in silence. Kiara had a million questions swirling around in her head but she didn’t know if it was appropriate to ask. “Just go ahead and ask, Kiara,” Marshala said abruptly.

Kiara looked at her startled. “I... was just wondering... what did Rhea mean about Elijah hurting you?”

Marshala took a deep breath as she turned onto the freeway. “When dealing with vampires... people tend to die...”

Kiara’s eyes widened. “Please give me more than that, Marshala.”

“Vampires need to feed, Kiara. We are their food supply. Most vampires only see us as prey. This is the natural order for them.” Marshala bit her lip before continuing. “By not feeding on humans, and instead, protecting them... falling in love with them...making ‘peace treaties’ with witches and wolves, the Blackbournes invite conflict... challenge... and more enemies than one needs. Trouble follows them like a magnet. That’s why they keep to themselves and rarely go out. Not for their protection, but for ours.”

Kiara frowned as she digested Marshala’s words. “They’ve had a rough life, Kiara,” Marshala continued. “All of them. You know how one turns into a vampire. It wasn’t pretty for them. Each of them has faced constant tragedy. Alexander having some of the worst. So, I admire your love for him because frankly... he needs it. He needs someone other than his brothers to love him.”

“I never said I loved him,” Kiara said quickly.

Marshala smirked. “I know you do, Kiara. You’re drawn to him. Just like he’s drawn to you. Same as with Leo,” Marshala sighed. “Deja freaking vu...” she muttered.

Kiara blushed, feeling caught. She still wasn’t ready to face the reality of her feelings for both men. “What happened to him... to Alexander?” she asked.

“He’ll need to tell you that himself.”

“So Rhea... hates them because being around them is dangerous?” Kiara asked. “I mean I understand. After hearing what happened to our people...”

“Rhea hates vampires because both of her parents were brutally murdered by vampires during the war in New England. She was just a young girl at the time. But she saw them die. It scarred her for life and she regularly suffers from PTSD which I’ve been providing her potions to treat. She and her sister have been staying with her aunt and uncle in the meantime...”

“Oh my god...” Kiara breathed out in shock. “I... I had no idea...” She felt her tears well up again as her heart broke for her best friend. She had no idea that she was an orphan too.

“Her parents were incredible,” Marshala smiled fondly. “So powerful... so selfless. They did not go down without a fight. They saved so many lives in their sacrifice, including their own daughters. They were huge supporters of Melissa. They would have loved to have met you.”

“I would have liked that too...” Kiara said sadly. She looked at Marshala with a question in her eyes. “You still haven’t really answered my question about Elijah hurting you...”

Marshala sighed and cursed under her breath, wishing that she had forgotten. “Elijah has always been good to me,” she said. “We were lovers. And lovers would do anything for each other. Elijah single-handedly wiped out whole vampire clans just to protect me. And me? I used my magic to help him and his family. To protect them. But when you get involved with vampires, Kiara... you tend to lose people. Vampires came after me and my family and friends in their pursuit of the Blackbournes. They often tried to use me against Elijah. And I lost... I lost so many loved ones to such violence. I-”

Kiara saw Marshala’s fingers clutch the wheel as a tear slipped down her face. “I’m sorry, Marshala. We don’t have to talk about it anymore,” Kiara said, feeling bad for trying to continue the conversation. Marshala gave her a small smile as they turned onto the street of the Blackbourne Manor.

~*~

“SHE’S HERE!”

Peter squealed as he ran frantically down the stairs, zipping past Elijah and Cole. He swung the door open and ran outside in the snow. Kiara couldn’t help but smile as she saw the adorable little boy run through the snow and head straight towards her. She crouched down and braced for his impact as he nearly knocked her over. “KIARA! YOU CAME BACK! YOU CAME BACK TO US!” he said, hugging her tightly.

“Of course I did, silly,” she chuckled as she held him close.

He pulled back from her and she could see his face was stained with red blood. It caught her off guard. “Vampires cry blood,” Marshala said quickly. “They don’t have saline.”

Kiara looked at Peter and frowned. “Were you crying over me, Peter?”

“...No...” he muttered with a sniffle. She licked her thumb and wiped the bloodstains from his face. “I missed you,” he said softly.

She smiled at him and pulled him in for another hug. “I missed you too, Peter.”

Marshala looked up to see Elijah standing at the door. Kiara ran down the pathway and jumped on him as he caught her in his arms. “It’s okay, Elijah. I know you’re not going to eat me,” she muffled into his shoulder.

Elijah couldn’t help but laugh as he rubbed circles on her back. “Well, I’m glad we got that part out of the way,” he chuckled.

She ran out of his arms and headed straight for Cole who groaned in frustration as she squeezed him tight. “You really are a crazy ass chick if you actually came back knowing what we are,” he said.

“Wow! You sound so happy and excited to see me!” she said sarcastically.

Cole smirked at her. “It’s fine. I like my gals a little crazy,” he said, pulling her in for another hug. “But let’s not make these ‘hugs’ a habit, okay little thing? It’s fucking gross.”

“Loser,” she snorted as she shoved him. She quickly looked around as Marshala, Elijah, and Peter walked into the house. “Where’s Alexander?” she asked.

Elijah and Cole exchanged uneasy glances. “He’s in his room. He was pretty adamant about wanting us to leave him alone,” Cole said.

“But... I’m sure he’d make an exception for you,” Elijah smiled.

Kiara looked at Marshala almost as if she was asking for permission. “Go to him,” Marshala encouraged. Kiara smiled and immediately ran up the stairs.

~*~

“Alexander?!” Kiara said, impatiently knocking on his door. “Alexan-” she said again before the door immediately swung open. She fell over but Alexander quickly caught her in his arms. She looked up at him to see his face was wet with blood tears. His eyes widened in surprise.

“You’re... you’re here...” he said with disbelief.

She straightened up and closed the door behind her. “Of course, I’m here,” she said, looking at him. She approached him and went to touch his face when he quickly backed away from her and turned his head away.

“Don’t,” he said.

Kiara frowned. “Alexander... I’m not afraid, okay?” He slowly turned his head to look at her. She pulled a tissue from her pocket and reached for his face. He flinched slightly but allowed her to gently wipe the blood tears from his cheek. Alexander watched her tenderly as she made sure to get every last speck of blood. She pulled back to look at him and smiled.

“I... I didn’t think you’d... come back,” he said.

“Well... you thought wrong,” she smiled. She brought her hand to his face and looked into his eyes. “Can I... can I see you?” she asked.

He looked at her confused. “What do you mean?”

“You... when you turn...”

Alexander immediately winced as he pulled her hand away. “No, Kiara,” he said sharply. “I’ll only scare you.”

“You won’t,” she said softly. “Let me see you…”

He searched her eyes, trying to figure out what she was trying to prove. He sighed in resignation and gave in as his eyes slowly transitioned to its blood red. His cheeks hollowed slightly and his fangs slowly descended. Kiara looked him over. A tinge of fear struck her as she brought her hand to his face again. She gently ran her fingers over his eyelids, to his hollowed cheeks, and over his lips. She gently touched the sharp tip of his fangs when he quickly pulled her hand away.

“Kiara, don’t,” he said sharply.

She looked at him fondly as he held her wrist in his hand. “... It... it doesn’t change how I feel about you, Alexander...” she said to him. His eyes immediately faded back to blue as the color returned to his cheeks and his fangs retracted.

Alexander felt a wave of love overwhelm him as his fingers started to tingle. All of his senses seemed to be on overdrive. He felt like laughing and crying at the same time. He couldn’t comprehend what he was feeling, but he knew, taking one look at Kiara, that all he wanted was her.

Kiara was taken back by the ravenous look in Alexander’s eyes. But it seemed to be a different type of hunger. She barely had time to think before in a flash he had her pinned up against the wall, kissing her passionately. He hiked her thigh to his waist as he wrapped his hands possessively around her waist. His fingers sneaking underneath her shirt, desperate to feel more of her soft warm skin.

Kiara felt her head spin as one minute she was pressed up against the wall and the next she was on the bed with Alexander hovering above her. She could see he was no longer shy about showing his super speed. He kissed down her neck and over her chest as he grabbed her hips and rubbed his engorged erection between her legs and against her core. Lifting her shirt up to her neck, he ran his tongue over her abdomen all the way up to the swell of her breast. He pulled the cup of her bra down slightly with his teeth before sucking her nipple between his lips.

Kiara moaned out loud as she felt Alexander’s hands... everywhere. She didn’t even know how that was possible. She swore he only had two. She couldn’t believe how fast he was moving as she felt his hands start tugging at her pants. “Wait, wait, Alexander!” she panted as she tried to push him back. “Everyone is downstairs.”

He looked at her confused. “So...?”

“They’re kinda waiting for us,” she said. “I was only supposed to come up here to say ‘hi’.”

He raised a questioning brow. “Um... okay...’hi’...” He quickly went back to kissing her as he unbuttoned her jeans and started pulling them down again.

“Wait! Alexander!” she laughed, pinching him. He reluctantly peeled himself off of her and allowed her to sit up on his bed. “I missed you too,” she chuckled, trying to fix her hair. “But damn, Alexander.”

He smiled sheepishly as he ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m sorry... I’ve been wanting to make love to you for so long… And now that I have you...”

She blushed at these words as she quickly stood from the bed. She fixed her clothes and looked at him. “Come downstairs with me?” she said, holding out her hand. He smiled before he took her hand and followed her out the door.

~*~

“It seems she’s taken everything rather well so far,” Elijah said, walking into the kitchen and startling Marshala. She jumped slightly and dropped her cup before he quickly came to her side to catch it before it hit the ground. “Apologies, mon coeur... I didn’t mean to frighten you...” He placed the mug on the counter as she stared at it.

“It’s fine,” she said with her hand to her chest. She turned around to look at him. “Kiara cares about you. All of you. Of course, your being a vampire won’t change that for her.”

Elijah smiled and took a step towards her as she backed up against the counter. “I guess you both have that in common,” Elijah said. Marshala gave him a weak smile and turned around to face the counter.

“When was the last time you guys washed these dishes? Kiara is the only one who eats here,” she chuckled nervously as she went to turn on the water.

“Marshala...” She saw his hand reach from behind her and turn off the water. “You tremble...” she heard him say.

She scoffed. “I’m not.”

She jumped when she felt the coolness of his hands wrap around her waist. His hands snuck underneath her shirt as he pulled her back against his chest. “You do...” he said, craning his head into her neck and leaving soft kisses along her shoulder. “I can feel your want, Marshala. It’s palpable.”

She gasped as his cold hands roamed up her shirt and grabbed possession of both breasts within his palms. Her head fell back against his shoulder as she moaned out, feeling him tenderly massage her. She could feel him growing against her backside. “...Elijah... don’t...” she moaned out as her eyes fluttered. His thumbs ran over her pert nipples, squeezing and teasing them as goosebumps formed on her skin.

“Your lovely mouth tells me one thing. Your body tells me another...” Elijah whispered in her ear. He took her lobe between his lips and sucked softly. “Which one should I listen to, mon coeur?”

Marshala quickly stepped out of his grasp as his hands fell from underneath her shirt. She stared at him heatedly, trying to catch her breath as he casually placed his hands in his pockets and gave her an innocent smile. “You can’t keep doing this,” she said to him. “I’m... I’m not yours anymore, Elijah. You can’t just... touch me like that anymore.”

He chuckled lightly and leaned over, placing his hands on the counter on either side of her and entrapping her. “Who are you trying to convince?” he asked with a quirked brow. “Me? Or yourself?”

“You, Elijah!” she said with frustration. “Stop playing with me.”

He lowered his eyes, and she couldn’t tell what he was looking at until he brought a hand to her waist. She hitched her breath as his hand disappeared underneath her skirt, his finger toying with the waistband of her panties. He looked down into her eyes, locking her into an intense gaze. “Do you remember... when I took you to Paris,” he said, rubbing his finger against her waistband.

She swallowed hard as his eyes penetrated her, waiting for an answer. “Yes,” she finally answered.

“We had so much fun,” he smiled. “Or at least... you taught me how to have fun. A stiff lackluster Englishman such as myself didn’t truly know what happiness was... until you came into my life.”

A small smile came to Marshala’s face as she looked at him fondly. “Elijah- ohhh!” His finger slipped into her panties, touching her softly and catching her off guard.

“Remember how much love we made on our trip?” he said fondly as his finger started to probe her. “I meant to give you a proper tour of every famous monument... and I ended up tasting every part of your body instead...”

Elijah watched as Marshala’s eyes closed and her lips parted. Soft moans escaped her lips as he curved his finger and teased the small sensitive bundle of nerves that made her weak at the knees. “Do you remember, mon coeur?”

“Yes...” she breathed out as she bit her lip. His lip curved into a smirk as he inserted another finger and felt her body tremble.

“Do you remember what I had you say repetitively while I claimed your body over and over again...”

She opened her eyes to see a knowing look in his blue gaze. “Elijah, no, don’t-” But her words were cut off when his thumb pressed firmly against her clit and rotated in agonizingly slow circles.

“...Do you remember, mon coeur?” he repeated.

Marshala groaned in frustration as her breathing grew short. “I said... I’m yours...”

He hummed with satisfaction. “I’m sorry, I missed that... what was it I had you say?”

Marshala tensed up as she felt her climax reaching its peak as Elijah’s fingers mercilessly penetrated her. “I’m yours!” she breathed out.

He smiled and leaned against her, closing the space between them. “Precisely...” he said in her ear. “You’re mine...” He pressed his lips against hers as he quickened his movements. Her body shivered as she released her orgasm. He swallowed her moans with a possessive and dominating kiss. Gripping her hips, he pulled her tightly against him.

A wind picked up between the two of them that sent Elijah stumbling backward away from her. Marshala tried to catch her breath. She smoothed out her skirt and she looked up at Elijah who was smirking at her amused. “Not even your magic could keep me away from you, mon coeur...”

He slowly licked her juices from each of his fingers without breaking eye contact with her and she thought she was going to faint. “I never tire of your taste...” he said with the same disarming friendly smile. Marshala’s jaw tensed before she shook her head and tried to walk past him. He quickly grabbed her arm, pulling her back. “Are you angry with me?” he asked.

“Yes, Elijah! You need to stop-”

“Loving you?” he asked. “Wanting you? You might as well ask me to stop living, Marshala.”

Marshala felt that at some point Elijah would break down her walls again. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep her feelings for him suppressed. She pulled her arm out of his grasp and walked out of the kitchen.

~*~

“Well, look at that. He’s back from the dead, pun intended,” Cole smirked as Kiara and Alexander descended the stairs. “I bet you didn’t even have to use your magic to get his ass up, did you little thing?” Kiara rolled her eyes as she sat down on the couch. She stared up at Alexander who smiled at her lovingly as he leaned back against the wall. “Oh... now I know how she got you up,” Cole teased. “She must’ve given up that a-”

“Shut the fuck up, Cole!” Alexander snapped at him.

“Oh well, now it feels like family again,” Elijah said sarcastically as he walked back into the living room. “Welcome back, Kiara. I’m sure you missed this.”

Kiara chuckled. “I missed all of you. I never got to say thank you for saving me.”

“It was a given, Kiara,” Elijah smiled.

“Although I wish you guys had told me sooner, I understand. Things make a little more sense now,” she said.

“We didn’t think telling you we were vampires was the best topic of conversation when we first met you,” Alexander smirked.

Kiara chuckled. “Well, it at least explains why you guys struggled to eat my food during Thanksgiving. Is that why you guys are always cold, too?”

Elijah nodded. “Vampire’s run on a thin amount of blood within our bodies. Significantly less than the average mortal, making us a bit colder to the touch.”

Kiara nodded. “To say I’m fascinated would be an understatement. I have so many questions.”

“And there will be time for those questions, but first,” Marshala said, turning to the Blackbournes. “I told Kiara about Melissa and Evangeline. I believe you guys should tell her about Gwendolyn... and your father.”

The mood in the room immediately changed as it got very cold. “Your father?” Kiara asked.

“Yes,” Elijah sighed. “William Blackbourne. It seems he’s the one who sent Gwendolyn after you.”

“That punk ass bitch,” Cole muttered. “Will we never be free of him? Why the fuck can’t he leave us the hell alone?!”

“Cole,” Elijah said sharply. “Mind your language.” Cole struggled to rein in his emotions as he folded his arms across his chest. “You see, Kiara,” Elijah said, turning to her. “William is our father not by birth. He is our maker.”

“He turned you into vampires?” Kiara asked.

Elijah nodded. “Evangeline was one of his first turns. William turned many. And he is...well...”

“Dictatorial,” Alexander said.

“Abusive,” Marshala added.

“Terrifying...” Peter said sadly.

“A fucking psychopath,” Cole grunted.

“Yes, all of those things,” Elijah said. “He’s among one of the oldest living vampires though not the oldest. Still... he is extremely dangerous. Evangeline was one of the few that escaped him. She went searching for other victims that he had turned and tormented. In her quest, she discovered Peter, Cole, Alexander, and me. She adopted us as her own. Protected us from him. Made us... a family.”

“She was our mother...” Alexander said softly.

“She still is!” Peter snapped. “Don’t speak like that, Alexander! She’ll get better.”

Alexander looked at Peter apologetically. “You’re right. I’m sorry, Peter.”

“So, what happened?” Kiara asked.

“William was, well... is obsessed with Evangeline,” Elijah said.

“He’s obsessed with all of you,” Marshala corrected him. “That’s why the asshole won’t leave you alone! Dirty bastard.” Elijah smirked at Marshala.

“We’ve been on the run from him for decades,” Cole said irritably. “I feel like my entire immortal life has revolved around trying to escape that asshole.”

“William sounds like an awful person. But, I don’t understand what this has to do with me,” Kiara said, butting in. “Why would he send someone after me?”

“Well... because Evangeline was in love with Melissa... and not him. And thus, he hated Melissa,” Elijah said.

“Thus thus thus... he hates me,” Kiara groaned. “Seriously what the hell, Melissa? I barely know her and she outchea already getting me killed.”

“We won’t let him anywhere near you!” Alexander said sharply. Kiara looked at Alexander startled before she smiled gratefully.

“But why would he want me dead if I have the potential to ‘break the curse’?” she asked. “Wouldn’t I be helping him? Does he not obey the treaty?”

“He doesn’t obey anything or anyone but himself,” Elijah said irritably. “It’s possible he’s found witches to threaten to do his bidding. Manipulating ferals to attack at his command.”

“This is some serious Lord Voldemort crap right here,” Kiara said, throwing her head back. “Like, I should be watching this on Netflix. Not living it.” She glanced over at Marshala. “I appreciate all that you’ve done for me, but this is too much, Marshala. I can’t do this. This is not the life I want. Can’t you find someone else in my family to break this blood curse or whatever? I know I have like tons of cousins I haven’t found yet. With my magic, I can help find someone more powerful than me.”

Marshala felt her throat tighten as she glanced at Elijah. In his eyes reflected the same anxiety she felt. “K-Kiara... sweetie...” Marshala said, sitting down next to her. She took her hand between hers. “Remember... when Gwendolyn called you... ‘the one who got away’?”

Kiara looked at her confused. “Um... yea...?”

Marshala took a deep breath, trying to find the right words. “William, he... he hated Melissa. I mean... really hated her,” Marshala said.

“Marshala, what are you trying to say?” Kiara asked.

“Out of hatred... and revenge. William hunted down every single person... in your family... every one of Melissa’s descendants... in your bloodline... and he... he killed them, Kiara...” Marshala said weakly.

Kiara felt her heart drop into her stomach and for a moment she forgot how to breathe. “...w-...what?”

“Kiara...” Marshala started.

“My parents?! I was told they died from a sickness! I saw it in the papers! It was the mort de l’âme disease. Soul Death!”

Marshala swallowed hard as tears brimmed in her eyes. “...They did not, Kiara… That disease does not exist… That story was manufactured to cover up what William did…”

Kiara quickly stood to her feet as her hands went to her hair. “WHAT?!” she shrieked.

“They died trying to protect you, Kiara!” Marshala said quickly. “They hid you in a-”

“NO! NO! NO! STOP! JUST FUCKING STOP!” Kiara screamed. The lights violently flickered and the doors upstairs slammed loudly. They could hear the windows rattling around the house.

Cole and Elijah looked at each other anxiously as Peter crawled over to Elijah. Alexander felt his heart break watching Kiara freak out. He wanted so desperately to hold her and comfort her but she looked like she was about to lose it.

“Everyone?! He killed everyone?! I’m the only one?! Is that why I never could find my- But then how did-?! My mom and dad were- HOW?! WHY?! I don’t- I can’t-!” Kiara stumbled frantically over her words as she pulled at her hair in pure distress. Her mind moving faster than her heart could process and her mouth could speak. She fell to her knees sobbing. She felt like she was going to throw up.

Marshala quickly scrambled to Kiara and held her in her arms, trying to comfort her. “I’m so sorry, Kiara,” Marshala cried as she held her close. “I am so so sorry.” Marshala looked up at the brothers who looked anxious to do something but didn’t know what. She signaled for them to leave and give them some privacy. Peter walked towards Kiara, wanting to comfort her. But Cole picked him up and carried him away.

Alexander struggled to leave. His emotions heightened once again as he felt a mix of anger and sadness building in him. He felt his heart tear with every sob she made. His instincts kicked in to fight for her. But what could he do? “Alexander...” Elijah said.

“I can’t... I can’t leave her, Elijah. Not like this...” Alexander said. “She needs me.”

“Alexander... our father is the reason she’s going through this... I don’t think she needs any of us right now...” Elijah said remorsefully.

“WAIT!” Kiara blurted suddenly as her head shot up. “My Aunt! Auntie Camille! I stayed with her back in high school! She’s alive! We have to go see her!”

Elijah and Marshala looked at each other with concern. Alexander quickly walked over to Kiara and helped her up. “What are we waiting for?” Alexander snapped at Elijah and Marshala. “Let’s go!”

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