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

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28a. - Tear Down These Walls Pt. 1

“Atta boy, Leo! That’s that shit I’m talking about! Keep running at that speed with that kinda stamina, and you’ll put even your old man to shame,” Vadim said proudly, clapping his hands as Leo ran past the finish line.

Leo stopped to catch his breath and grinned at his father. “Thanks, Pop.”

“You clocked 68 miles per hour,” Nick whistled, looking at his watch. “My lil bro is fast!”

“Faster than you?” Leo smirked.

“Don’t get cocky, I can still lap your ass,” Nick grinned. Leo rolled his eyes as his father dropped a heavy hand on his shoulder.

“Give him time,” Vadim grinned. “I trust my sons are going to be the strongest and fastest warriors the Volkov pack has ever seen.”

Kiara opened her eyes just as Leo opened his. They were shimmering with emotion. “Leo?” she asked. “Are you okay?”

“Yea,” Leo said, wiping his eyes. “It’s just... been a while... since I’ve seen him...”

Kiara gave him a sad smile. “He seemed like a really great guy. I wish I could have met him.”

“Yea, I wish you could have too, Angel...” Leo said.

Kiara bit her lip as she looked between him and Alexander. “Well, it’s kinda cool seeing how my powers are... evolving ever since we made this soul bond thingy majigger... whatever you call it. And I appreciate you guys letting me practice on you, but... I don’t think using Leo as a channel is helping me find out what vampire I saw in my premonition. This thing is so random and weird. I feel like I have no control whatsoever,” she sighed as she fell backward on the floor.

Alexander stared at a spot on the floor, his mind still stuck on the vision he had seen through Kiara. “You look like him...” Alexander said softly. Leo turned his head and gave Alexander a curious look. Alexander noticed Leo staring and quickly shook his head. “Nevermind...”

Kiara sat up and tilted her head to the side, looking at Alexander with care. “Maybe I should try with you,” she said. “I mean it makes sense, right? If I’m trying to find a vampire, I should probably use a vampire.”

“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” Alexander said quickly. “I don’t want you to see something that will frighten you.”

“You forget I was nearly killed like... 6 times. I think I can handle it,” she teased, grabbing his hand.

“Kiara,” Alexander hesitated as he pulled his hand away. “It’s not a good idea.”

“Alexander,” she sighed. “I have an hour until midnight when I have to connect with Melissa and there’s some crazy vampire after us... or me... we need to try something.” Alexander felt his chest hollow. “You can trust us. Right, Leo?” Kiara said.

Leo quirked up a brow and shook his head. “Angel, I’m really not into this kumbaya shit.”

“I need you both, Leo. What’s the point of a soul bond if you won’t let me draw the energy I need to do this?” she asked impatiently.

Leo sighed with resignation as he grabbed her hand. “The things you make me do, Angel...”

Kiara grinned as she reached for Alexander’s hand. “Okay?” she said, looking at him. Alexander hesitated before he finally grabbed her hand as well. “Just try to focus on something positive,” she said as she closed her eyes.

~

19th Century - Bucharest, Romania

“Malina? Malina!”

Alexander ran outside after his fraternal twin sister as she stumbled out of the saloon. Malina leered over the railing as she vomited all the contents of her stomach that she had ingested that night. That included the cake that Alexander and her younger sister Anastasia had surprised her with and at least 10 shots of whiskey to drown the depression of having been cheated on by her lover of 4 years.

Alexander held her long dark brown hair away from her face as she continued to throw up on the sidewalk. “Are you trying to kill yourself?” Alexander chuckled.

“Oh please, Alexander. We’re Romanian. It takes more than 6 shots of liquor to kill us,” Malina said in her husky Romanian accent.

“You had 10,” Alexander smirked.

“Oh shit!” Malina blurted as Alexander chuckled. “You’re supposed to be watching me! What kind of brother are you?!”

“Do you know how difficult it is to watch both you and Anastasia? It is no easy task, dear sister. You’re too wild,” Alexander teased.

“No such thing as ‘too wild’ for a Vancea,” Malina smirked as she wiped her face. Alexander gave her a sarcastic smirk as he handed her a flask of water.

Malina drank and looked up at Alexander to see a warm, comforting smile on his face. She returned the smile before her tears started to brim in her eyes. “Ai... soră,” Alexander frowned as he pulled her into his arms. “Don’t. He is not worth your tears.”

“I thought he was going to propose,” she cried into his shoulder as she clutched him tightly.

“He doesn’t deserve you,” Alexander said. He rubbed soothing circles on her back and kissed her forehead. “There is someone perfect for you, Malina. I know it.”

Malina pulled back from him and looked into his friendly blue eyes. “You’re so good to me, Alexander,” she smiled.

“I know. I’m the greatest. What would you ever do without me?” he smirked as he wiped a tear from her eye.

She rolled her eyes and shoved him in the chest. “Măgar.” She fixed her hair as she looked around. “Let’s leave. I’d rather be home with you guys than out here.”

“I’ll go get Ana,” Alexander said, walking back into the saloon. He spotted his younger teenage sister surrounded by a group of drunken men. She had that nervous look on her face she gets when she’s pretending to be fine when really she is scared for her life. Alexander noticed a few of them grabbing her arm, trying to lead her away as she struggled to push them off of her. He immediately turned red from anger.

“HEY!” he shouted angrily as he barged past a group of people. He shoved two of them backward as one fell to the floor. “DON’T TOUCH HER!”

“Alexander!” Anastasia said relieved. She ran into his arms.

“Are you alright, Ana?” he asked, holding her close. She nodded as she hid her face in his chest.

“Can we go?” she asked anxiously.

“Go? I thought we were having fun?” one of the guys said with a smirk as he stumbled up to Alexander.

Alexander snarled as he shoved him backward again. “You stay the fuck away from my sister!” He nudged Anastasia forward as they both headed for the door.

Malina turned around just as Anastasia ran into her arms. “What’s going on?” Malina asked, confused as she held her trembling sister in her embrace. “Ana?”

“Just some perverted drunk bastards. Let’s get out of here,” Alexander said, motioning them down the sidewalk.

Anastasia slipped her hand in Alexander’s as the trio headed home. “Do you think Tată is still at work?” Anastasia asked her older brother.

“Probably... Ever since Mamă passed away from smallpox he’s been working longer hours,” Alexander sighed.

“He misses her...” Anastasia said sadly.

“We all do. If anything, he should be spending more time with us not less,” Malina said irritably.

Alexander looked at Malina wearily as he squeezed Anastasia’s hand. “Give him time...” he said.

Suddenly, the door flew open and the same 5 drunk guys stepped outside. “A-Alexander,” Anastasia said, pointing behind them. Alexander looked to see the men were following them. They quickened their pace as the men continued to follow them until they were full-on running.

“Hey, sweetheart! Where you going? We weren’t done with you!” one of the men whistled.

“That’s it!” Alexander said angrily. “Both of you, go! I’ll hold them off,” he said, pushing his sisters forward.

“What? No! Alexander!” Malina said, turning around looking at him shocked.

“I said go, Malina! I’m right behind you,” Alexander argued.

“Alexander, please! We stick together! You can’t take them all on your own!” Anastasia cried. She clutched onto Alexander’s jacket, refusing to let go.

“I promise I’ll be okay, Ana! Just go!” Alexander shouted as he ripped her hands off of his jacket.

“No!!” Anastasia cried. “Malina, don’t let him go alone!” Malina was speechless as she seemed conflicted. She saw the men were gaining on them.

“MALINA! TAKE HER AND FUCKING GO!” Alexander snapped at her.

Malina looked at Alexander startled, with fear in her eyes. She quickly nodded and grabbed her sister’s hand. “Come on, Ana,” she said as they started running.

“No! Alexander!” Anastasia cried as Malina dragged her along.

Alexander watched them run off and turned around just in time for one of the guys to clock him in the face, cracking his jaw. He stumbled backward, clutching his face before he took a swing hitting one of them in the gut. Then he felt a knee to his chest and then a hard piece of wood land on his back. Alexander tried to fight back, but he was greatly outnumbered. Two guys painfully twisted his arms behind his back while another guy held a knife to his face. Alexander stared wide-eyed before he felt the sharp jab of the knife ram into his gut. Blood spurted from his mouth as he felt the blade slice his stomach open.

The pain was excruciating. He struggled to breathe as he found himself on the ground. Multiple feet kicked and stomped at him and he swore he was going to die. His only hope: that his sisters had gotten away.

He suddenly heard the sound of a fierce wind whipping above him followed by screaming before he saw all 5 bodies fall to the ground... headless. Alexander panicked. Then a man with sharp blue eyes and a bright toothy grin come into view. “... I’ve been watching you, Alexander... you’re wasted on this mortal life...” The man’s voice had a deep gutter. Alexander could tell he wasn’t a local because of his English accent.

Alexander tried to see more clearly but his vision was nearly gone. The strange man grabbed Alexander’s hair and aggressively yanked his head back before sinking his fangs deep into his neck. Alexander shouted in pain and thrashed wildly. He tried to fight the man off to no avail and completely blacked out.

When Alexander woke up, he was still lying on the cold ground in a pool of his own blood. He slowly sat up as he tried to remember what happened. He immediately touched his neck but there was nothing there. Did he imagine it?

He looked down at his stomach to see his shirt was torn from being stabbed, but there was no wound. Looking around confused, his eyes immediately grew big at all the headless bodies on the ground. Scrambling to his feet, he ran as fast he could until he came to a canal. He jumped startled when he couldn’t see his reflection. He frantically touched his face just to make sure he was actually there and felt a wet substance all around his mouth. He looked at his fingers and saw dark blood. Was he beaten that badly? He couldn’t remember a thing. He felt his stomach start to churn and on reflex vomited chunks of blood.

Alexander couldn’t figure out what had happened to him. All of his senses seemed to be exponentially magnified. The crickets were too loud. The moon was too bright. The stench of the canal was putrid to his nose. But his foremost thought was his sisters.

It was nearly 4am by the time he got home, dazed and confused. He pushed open the door and bumped into an invisible barrier. Alexander looked up confused by what the heck was blocking him. He saw Anastasia sleeping on a cot in the same clothes she left in. Meanwhile, Malina sat in a chair in the kitchen with her head on the table. “Malina!” he shouted.

Malina’s head shot up when she heard his voice. “Alexander?!” she squealed as she nearly fell out of her chair to get to him. “What are you doing out there?! Get in here!” she said. As soon as she said those words, Alexander fell over on the floor as if whatever was holding him back immediately disappeared. Malina met him on the ground to help him up. He wrapped her in his embrace as she cried hysterically into his chest. “I was so worried, Alexander!” she cried. “I thought-”

“I’m okay, Malina...” he said softly as he tried to comfort her. He nudged his nose into her hair and felt a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach.

She smelled... so good.

He buried his face further into her hair as she continued to cry into his chest. “Malina...” he sighed. He started to sweat as the feeling intensified.

It was then that he realized: he was famished.

He pushed his sister away and rabidly stalked towards the fridge. “Alexander?” Malina said, looking at him as he ransacked the fridge. He stuffed bread and cheese into his mouth before he coughed, spitting it out.

“What the fuck?!” he said angrily. “Is this food spoiled?!”

“Alexander-”

“Not now, Malina!” he said, running to the cabinets. “I’m just. I’m so hungry, I-” He grabbed an apple and bit into it before he nearly choked and threw the apple behind him. “What the hell!” he said, putting his fingers in his hair. “Why is-”

“What’s going on?” Anastasia said, walking into the kitchen rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. Her eyes grew big when she saw her brother and ran to him squealing. “Alexander! You’re okay!” she screamed, hugging him tightly. Alexander stumbled backward as he caught her in his arms. He sighed as he hugged her, still frustrated that he couldn’t satisfy his craving. “We were so worried, Alexander. We tried to find tată at work, but no one has seen him. We don’t know where he is... we didn’t know what to do...” Anastasia sniffled.

“I’m okay, Ana... don’t worry...” Alexander said, tightening his embrace.

Malina looked on confused as she watched her brother move Ana’s hair away from her neck. “A... Alexander?” Malina asked.

Alexander stretched his jaw, running the tip of his tongue over his sharp fangs. Before he knew it, he was blasted into euphoria as he had his first taste of human blood. All of his neurons overloaded as he moaned with deep satisfaction. He drank and drank, not even aware of the screams of terror surrounding him or the thrashing girl in his arms.

He felt his body get yanked off of that which had brought him so much pleasure. His eyes never opened as his heightened sense of smell and sound lured him to another source to drink from. His sharp nails elongated and his mind phased out the cries as he gripped onto the soft flesh and drank again. Alexander had never felt a thirst like this. He felt thrown into a world of wonderment. He had never felt such an amazing feeling in his life.

He fell backward on the kitchen floor as he stared up at the ceiling with a content smile on his blood-stained face.

What was this?

He licked the remaining blood from his fingers as he reveled in satisfaction. And then he realized... it was eerily silent.

Alexander sat up and looked around until the heaps on the floor caught his eye. He blinked a few times, his mind not really comprehending what he was looking at. His eyes enlarged when he realized the two heaps were the bodies of his sisters, completely drained of blood. His twin sister’s head dangled from her body showing signs of severe struggle before she died.

“No... no, no, no, no wait!” Alexander said, scrambling to their bodies. “No! Ana! Malina!” Alexander screamed as he picked up his twin sister’s body in his arms. “No, please! Please! I’m- I’m so sorry, Malina! Ana! I- No! No, god, no!”

Alexander pulled both of his sisters into his arms and cried hysterically over their bodies. He had never felt such harrowing pain in his entire life. He buried his face into Ana’s chest before he realized it was completely covered in blood. He wiped his face to see that blood was coming out of his eyes.

“WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?!” he screamed as his voice cracked with agony and terror. He scrambled to his feet as he looked down at his two sisters. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” Alexander cried as he pulled frantically at his hair. He ran for a knife on the kitchen sink and went to stab himself when a hand grabbed his neck and slammed him up against the wall.

Alexander looked into the blood-red eyes of the same man from before. A wide sinister smile played on his face as his fangs descended. He heard the thump of something fall from the man’s other hand and looked down to see his father’s bloody head roll across the kitchen floor next to his sisters’ corpses. Alexander gawked in shock and terror as he clawed at the man’s grip around his neck.

“No, no, Alexander...” the man said, waving a bloody finger. “You belong to me now...”

~

Kiara yanked her hand back as a flood of tears fell from her eyes, dampening her face. She trembled from her sobs as she looked to see blood tears streaming down Alexander’s cheeks.

“Shit! SHIT! FUCK!” Leo shouted as he jumped up and started pacing the living room. He wiped furiously at his face and had no idea why he couldn’t stop the tears from spilling.

“I’m sorry,” Alexander said regretfully. “Vampires... our emotions are significantly more magnified than humans and wolves. With the soul bond, I forgot you guys would feel what I feel...”

“I feel like I wanna rip my damn heart out of my chest! Goddammit!” Leo groaned as he furiously hit his chest, trying to control his raging emotions.

“Alexander...” Kiara said tearfully as she touched his hand. “I’m... I’m so sorry...”

“Don’t be,” Alexander said quickly.

“But-” she started.

“I don’t have many fond memories, Kiara,” Alexander said. “I can’t remember much past... my sisters...”

Kiara swallowed down her sob as she nodded. “I shouldn’t have asked you to do this. I didn’t mean to-”

“It’s okay, Kiara,” Alexander said. He patted her hand and gave her a reassuring smile.

“It’s... it’s not your fault,” she said to him. “You know that... right...?”

Alexander could only look at her as he swallowed down his pain. “Did you see anything? About the vampire coming here?” he asked, trying to redirect the conversation.

Kiara frowned. “...no... I didn’t...”

“It’s fine,” Leo said, walking in front of them. “We’ll be ready for the damn bloodsucker no matter who the hell it is.”

“You should go prepare for your connection with Melissa,” Alexander said to her. “We’ll keep watch and protect you.”

Kiara looked between the two of them, feeling completely horrible and emotionally distraught. She wanted so badly to comfort Alexander as his memories still lingered in her mind. She rushed into Alexander’s arms and hugged him tightly. Alexander bit his lip as he warmly returned the embrace. He looked down at her and gave a reassuring smile. She took a deep breath and finally walked up the stairs.

~

“Your ‘father’ is a piece of shit,” Leo muttered as he sat on the porch steps. His keen eye kept watch of their surroundings.

Alexander leaned back against the door of the house and looked down at the ground. “That’s being too modest.”

Leo ran his fingers through his hair as he closed his eyes, trying to think. “I’m sorry... about your sisters...and your pops...” Leo said quietly. Alexander averted his gaze as he stared into the distance. A blood tear trickled down his cheek before he quickly wiped it. “Fuck! How the hell do you vampires get anything done with emotions this damn strong? You’re fucking killing me here, Blackbourne,” Leo grumbled as he broke a stick in half.

“Sorry...” Alexander sighed. “I’ll... try to think about something else...”

“I don’t remember it being this intense with Nick, Marshala, and... your brother,” Leo said.

“It must be Kiara,” Alexander said. “Not sure what, but... something about her is making this soul bond a little too...”

“Binding?” Leo smirked. “Shit...” he said, throwing a rock. Leo’s ears suddenly perked up as he quickly stood to his feet. “Someone’s coming,” he said.

Alexander’s nails instinctively elongated as his eyes bled red. “They’re already here...”

~*~

The top-floor room was lit with several candles as Kiara sat at the center with her eyes closed. Her hair fluttered around her face as she tried to focus, quietly chanting the ancestral incantation she learned from Gina and Marshala. She thought about her parents and felt a warmness invade her as her body got lighter.

“I call on my ancestors. I call on the LaFleurs. I call on Melissa as your last living descendant. Please... please let me in...”

The temperature around her immediately got hotter. Kiara slowly opened her eyes to see she was surrounded by fire. She lifted her hands and the fire immediately went out.

“Well... I guess you are my descendant...” she heard a feminine voice.

Kiara searched the darkness to find the source of the voice but saw nothing. “Melissa?” she called out into the darkness. She started walking, not knowing where she was going until she ran into a large bird that was on fire. She quickly leaped back. She stared in awe as the bird transformed into a strikingly beautiful dark-skinned woman with long, flowing black hair. She wore an elegant white dress that bared her shoulder and fell to her feet. “M...Melissa?”

Melissa looked down at Kiara with deep brown eyes filled with emotion. “Kiara...”

~

“You feel him?” Alexander asked as his red eyes darted.

Leo’s eyes flickered amber as he clenched his fists. “Yea... and he’s got company.” The screeching of ferals could be heard in the distance. “These damn bloodsuckers are so fucking insecure they need a mob of mindless creatures for back up?”

Alexander used his heightened vision to count how many ferals were headed in their direction. “I count 83,” he said.

“94... there’s 11 from the northwest,” Leo muttered.

“...Shit...” Alexander said, sucking his teeth. “Well... you take the ones on the left. I’ll take the ones on the right?”

“That gives me 12 more than you, you asshole,” Leo smirked.

“That’s cake for the great Volkov warrior,” Alexander mocked with a grin.

Leo rolled his eyes before he crouched down and leaped high in the air, landing in a high tree branch. He looked out over the horizon to see the ferals coming closer. “Just remember to stay alive, Blackbourne. She can still feel us.”

“Take your own advice,” Alexander chided as he took off in a flash towards the ferals.

~

Kiara sat next to Melissa, watching her toss small pieces of bread into the crystal clear blue water. Bright blue fish eagerly swam up to eat the bread. Melissa passed Kiara a piece of bread that she tossed to the fish as well. “What is this place?” Kiara asked.

Melissa looked out over the water and waited a long time before speaking. “It’s where she promised she would take me when we escaped New Orleans...” Kiara’s mind immediately went to Evangeline and she felt her heart grow heavy. “Is she...” Melissa didn’t know how to ask the question.

“Alive?” Kiara asked. “Yes... just barely, but... she’s getting better I think...” Kiara said, feeling unsure. “When she speaks, she only speaks your name.”

Melissa smiled at that as she stared up at the starry sky. A tear slipped down her cheek. “And how are the rest of the Blackbournes? Cole? Peter?” Melissa asked.

“Cole is a pain in the butt. Peter is sweet as always,” Kiara chuckled.

“So, nothing’s changed there,” Melissa smirked. “What about Elijah? Is he still visiting that old family of his? Or is he still sending Alexander in his stead? I always told him it was risky, but well... it’s hard to sever ties from mortal family.”

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

“Every vampire had a mortal family before they were reborn, Kiara,” Melissa said. “Elijah was very fond of his. He stayed close to them for generations. But he could not stay for too long lest they get suspicious that he never aged. Last I remember, he was sending Cole and Alexander to check up on them instead.”

“I didn’t know that,” Kiara said thoughtfully. “I’ll have to ask Alexander.”

“Ah yes... Alexander...” Melissa said, setting her eyes on Kiara. “The sensitive, deep-thinker. I always liked him. And apparently... so do you.”

Kiara gave a small embarrassed smile. “Melissa, I... I need your help,” Kiara said. “The curse-”

“Will never be broken,” Melissa said. She stood to her feet and started walking away. Kiara looked at her incredulously before she got up to follow her.

“What do you mean ‘will never be broken’?!” Kiara asked. “I have to break that curse! So many witches have tried to find you, and I’m the only one to-”

“That was for a reason, Kiara. If they couldn’t find me, it’s because I didn’t want to be found,” Melissa said coldly.

“Melissa!” Kiara said, running in front of her. “Please!”

Melissa’s jaw tensed up. “You think just because I allowed you in my presence that I would give you the key to breaking the very curse I created? Why would I do such an absurd thing?! After what they put me through?! After what they did to Evangeline?!”

“But Melissa!”

“Let the motherfuckers burn!” Melissa growled as she stormed past Kiara.

~

“How you holdin’ up, Blackbourne!” Leo shouted mockingly as he ripped the heads off of two ferals in one swoop.

“Worry about your damn self, Volkov,” Alexander muttered as he shoved his hand through a feral’s chest.

“Hey, I’m just making sure you don’t compromise my girl,” Leo said, throwing a large tree branch through 3 ferals and skewering them.

Alexander rolled his eyes. “Just don’t get yourself killed, and compromise my girl. Or I’ll turn you into a vampire and kill your ass all over again.”

“Aren’t you two lads just fookin’ adorable.” Alexander and Leo looked up to see Flynn appear in front of them with a blood-stained mouth. He slowly licked the blood off of his fingers. “Can’t even enjoy myself a good cheerleader snack without listenin’ to you two twats talk about how much you want to fook each other,” Flynn smirked.

Alexander snarled. “Flynn...”

“What’s happenin’, bruv?” Flynn smiled. “Didya miss me?”

~

“Melissa,” Kiara said, running after her. “I know you’re upset. I know you’re hurt. You have every right to be. But it’s not just vampires that are suffering from this curse. It’s witches too. Our people are dying. There’s been a war going on and we’ve been losing. The only way to stop the bloodshed is to break the curse.”

“There is no breaking the curse, Kiara!” Melissa shouted as she spun around on her. “Because HE WILL ALWAYS WIN!” Kiara looked at her startled as Melissa plopped down on the ground in frustration. Kiara cautiously knelt down next to her and waited for her to explain. “William...” Melissa said coldly. “That... fucking asshole...”

Melissa took a deep breath. “Evangeline and I... we had been on the run for so long. From vampires. From humans. Those who hated us. Saw us as... an abomination. All we wanted was to be together. Free to love each other without fear of persecution. But he just couldn’t let me have her. He couldn’t let her be free...”

“Evangeline and I were both victims of abusive relationships,” Melissa continued. “Finding each other was... fate. We were happy together. No one knew about us except for Elijah, Peter, Cole, Alexander, and Tobey. We were well hidden from William who was in London as far as we knew. So, when the vampires came for us, I didn’t understand how they found out. We were so careful. But when the humans came for us next... I knew it wasn’t a coincidence.”

Melissa looked at Kiara. “The night they captured me... and burned me at the stake... I saw him... I saw him in the crowd... He had that stupid evil smirk on his face that said... ’I win’. Because he did. He kept us apart and he had me killed. He’s the one who rallied the vampires against us. He whispered into the ears of the humans to hunt us down. It was all him.”

Kiara looked at Melissa sadly, not knowing what to say. “That curse is all I have,” Melissa said. “He hunted down my entire bloodline... and killed them all.”

“But that’s not all you have,” Kiara said. “... you have Evangeline, and you have...me...”

Melissa looked at Kiara curiously. “I suppose I do...”

~

Leo spun mid-air through a mob of ferals, tearing them apart and sending their body parts flying. He landed a hard punch on Flynn, sending the vampire careening to the ground. Alexander leaped into the air, attacking Flynn before he hit the ground as they hit each other at impact.

Alexander jumped backward as Flynn stumbled to the ground with a large gash in his stomach. Alexander quickly grabbed his bleeding side. “Shit!” Leo said rushing to Alexander’s side. “I can feel that! I need to check on Kiara!”

“You can’t do anything for her until we take these fuckers out,” Alexander growled.

“See, mate?” Flynn smirked. “If you just fed from fookin’ mortals like you were created to do, you would have ended me by now. You’re doin’ yourself in here, bruv.”

“I’m done listening to this asshole!” Leo growled as he charged at Flynn.

~

Kiara stumbled backward and looked down to see she was bleeding through her shirt. “Crap!” she said. “The guys... they’re hurt. Melissa, I need to go back to them. But I can’t go back until you help me!”

Melissa scoffed. “I will not help those-”

“LISTEN, LADY!” Kiara growled as she got in Melissa’s face. “I have had a league of vampires on my ass the minute I ended up in this crazy town! I just recently found out my parents were murdered! My aunt was practically beheaded! I’ve been hunted down, attacked, and freaking thrown through a damn window! And now I’ve got a bunch of people expecting me to break a damn curse like this is some Hocus Pocus shit. And I’m not leaving here until you tell me how to do it!”

Melissa looked at her startled. “I’m sorry,” Kiara said quickly, regretting her outburst. “I’m a little on edge. Know what? No. I’m not sorry. Do you know how many times I’ve nearly been killed, Melissa? Do you know how hard it is to be your last living descendant? Let me tell you, it ain’t easy, ma’am, and- crap, I’m still bleeding...”

Melissa sighed as she grabbed Kiara’s hand. “You’re more powerful than you realize, Kiara. In time, you’ll come to see that. But a soul bond doesn’t just mean you are their mates, it means you can draw from them. That includes...”

Kiara looked down to see that her wound was quickly healing. “What the heck?! I couldn’t do that before!” she blurted.

“Yes, you could,” Melissa said. “You just didn’t know how. Your powers work off of your emotions, Kiara... like mine. Once you learn to tap into it, you’ll be... unstoppable.”

Melissa let Kiara’s hand go and walked away. Kiara groaned and ran up to her again. “Melissa, I respect you as my elder and as my ancestor. But, I’m desperate and I’m not ashamed to lose my dignity to save the ones I love. I will literally do every annoying thing I can imagine until you help me,” she said. “I’ll tickle you. Lick your face. I can talk non-stop about literally nothing. Make you watch reruns of Keeping up with the Kardashians. I’ll introduce you to 21st-century purgatory. I mean the world totally sucks right now. Do you wanna see?”

Melissa smirked at her. “You know, you remind me a lot of myself...”

Kiara raised a brow. “What? Determined? Fierce?”

“Hard-headed,” Melissa grinned. “... and driven...”

Kiara sighed. “There are too many lives counting on me. Two in particular who I love with all my heart, and I refuse to let anything happen to them. But I can’t protect them if I can’t break this curse. Please, Melissa. I can’t do this without you.”

Melissa looked at Kiara for a long moment before she sighed in resignation. “The key to breaking the curse... is in the heart of New Orleans where the ashes of your ancestors lay...” Melissa walked up to her and whispered something in her ear. “Spill your blood and say this spell over those ashes... and the curse will be broken...”

Kiara’s eyes immediately lit up. “Thank you!”

“There’s one other thing, Kiara...” Melissa grabbed Kiara’s hand and stared into her eyes. Kiara was startled by the way Melissa’s beautiful dark brown eyes shifted to striking bright neon green. “You are my direct descendant... my blood runs through your veins. You are the only LaFleur powerful enough to take this on...”

“This what-” Kiara started before she screamed out in pain. She felt an intense fire fester in her stomach before it shot down to her toes and up through her head. She collapsed to the ground holding her head. “What did... what did you just put in me?” Kiara said, panting.

“Nothing that wasn’t already there...” Melissa said. “I just helped you tap within. What good is a witch as powerful as you if you’re only using 3% of your power....”

Fire exploded around Kiara before everything went dark.

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