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Mimic (Ancient Blood Book 3)

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“You are enamored with my son.” Elizabeth began to speak the moment I had set foot in the hallway.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” I opened the front door of the hotel and stepped out into the street. It was late, and only the drunks wondered the Avenue with their bottles of whiskey and gin.

“I saw the way he was looking at you. I could tell you wanted him to kiss you.” If my ears were not deceiving me, it sounded like she was trying to pick on me for my clumsily verbal skills.

“Far from it Ms. Bradley,” I whispered as I proceeded to make my way down the road till I stood in front of my home.

I don’t mind. Many women will fall for him. He is quite the catch. Why else do you think I chose a Hunter as my mate?” She laughed as I began to pull my sleep clothes from the drawer of my beat up dresser.

The hotel room had been a grand escape from the poorly kept confines of my room. Literally, I had a single room. My lumpy bed sat at the back while my small kitchen and only chair and table sat at the other. I had no need for materialistic items. If I needed to live in the wild, that would be perfectly fine. It wouldn’t be the first time afterall.

“With all due respect Madame. If you plan on speaking with your son in the morning, I would suggest you let me get some rest. You took a bit more than the overflowing power when you went on your visit today. I am quite tired.” I was getting angrier at her the more she talked. First, she had hijacked me and then she had forced me into a situation that could have been bad for both me and Phillip.

The spirit nodded and disappeared from sight. I knew she was still there, I had already become accustomed to her presence after spending just the evening with her.

Sleep came quickly that night. I was exhausted after being shut in the back of my own body while Elizabeth paraded around town in my shell. When I woke up, I nearly fell out of bed. My eyes fell on the beautiful face of one Phillip Bradly. I rolled over pulling the bed covers up to my chest and growled at him.

“I’m sorry if I disturbed you. I woke this morning quite early. After asking a few people in the area where the old Seer lived, they pointed me here.” He smiled at me ignoring the anger that was written all over my face.

“How long have you been here?” I asked gripping the moth-bitten blanket tightly to my chest.

“A few hours. I think we need to purchase you a new nightgown. That one is quite revealing in its old age.” He wiggled his eyebrows at me, and I blushed.

Sure there were holes in almost all my clothes due to their age. I couldn’t afford to dress in riches as he could. I could barely afford the rent on this run-down apartment. I pulled the blanket back to see what he was talking about and sighed the moment I realized that plenty of flesh was available for him to see.

“You can’t just do that Mr. Bradly,” I grumbled as I scooted towards the end of the bed, attempting to take the blanket with me for protection.

“Gretel my love. I can do just about anything that I want.” He winked. He honestly believed that he had done no wrong coming here so early. “Get dressed we are going shopping.”

“For what?” I asked wrapping the blanket around me as I ran to the bureau looking for a dress.

“Clothes of course.” He teased me.

I turned to look at him as he put his back to me. I smiled knowing that he had some chivalry after all.

“I’m fine.” I retorted.

“I insist. If we are going to be seen together, I cannot have you wearing moth bitten clothing.” He crooned.

“What makes you think that we will be seen together?” I asked.

“Because I am going to escort you to America. First class.” His voice was excited. I grabbed a dress and put it on quickly, zipping it up and walked towards him just he turned around.

“I don’t follow,” I admitted.

“My father said that you wanted passage to America. So I got it for you.” Phillip smiled at me.

“Why would you do that?” I asked.

“Well I told him what you did last night, and he agreed that you needed to be placed on payroll. You now work for us. No need for your tiny shop or this old place.” He reached out and adjusted my skirt.

“Do I get a say in this?” I asked.

His eyes wandered around the room before resting on me again.

“No.” He said simply.

“Let’s say that I do make my way to America. Where am I going to live?” I raised my eyebrows and placed my hands on my hips.

“We have quite a few fine homes across the States. There would be no need for you to transform. We could be together forever.” He reached out and grabbed my hands. I was confused by what he was trying to say.

“I’m sorry? I do not believe that I follow.” I looked down at his hand grasping mine. I was uncomfortable as realizations of what he was saying started to sink in.

“He wishes to own you.” I heard Elizabeth’s voice in my ear. I should have known she would be present.

“I mean I only assume that is.” He blushed and dropped my hands before placing them in his jacket pocket.

“Assume?” I was falling further and further into confusion. Out of all my husband’s none of them had been the enigma that was Phillip Bradly.

“Oh please, child you know what he is saying! He wants to make an honest woman of you.” To me, there was nothing more annoying than an eavesdropping spirit. In this case, it just happened to be the mother of the man wishing to court me.

“I know that we just met yesterday, but I am drawn to you. Gretel, we were meant to be. Together our powers would be immeasurable. Besides, my father only agreed your travel if we were to marry.” Phillip’s eyes lit up, and my stomach dropped.

“I do not know you, Mr. Bradly.” I objected to his proposal.

“It is the only way, Gretel.” He responded his eyes wide.

“So your father believes that the only way to give me passage is to arrange a marriage with his son?” I turned my back to him. The pain of my rejection on his face was far too much to take.

“I agreed to it. If only you would.” His voice failed him for a moment.

I turned and looked at him again. It was hard to keep my stoic expression as he ran his fingers through his brown hair. He truly was a good-looking man. I had many attractive men throughout the centuries, and I watched each and every one wither into an old man and die. He would be different though. I would have far longer with him than I did with any of the others.

“You mentioned I would be paid for my work?” I asked thinking over the proposal. The pros were significantly outweighing the cons.

“As long as you provide the name of the Necromancer.” Phillip’s expression changed to one of hope.

“Lidia Nor,” I answered without hesitation. The simplicity of my answer was quite confusing one.

I had broken my own rule by providing the name of another mutated soul. I would have to send word at once that Alexander Greene and his son would be to see her in order to discuss a profitable business arrangement. I knew that Lidia would be angry that I had not consulted her earlier, but she would get over it once she saw how much money they were willing to throw at her to bring one Elizabeth Bradly back to life.

“Is that a yes?” He asked as he grabbed my shoulders.

“If it gets me to America,” I admitted.

“This is fantastic news. My son could have not have chosen better. Go and celebrate your engagement. I will be close by observing. Once you return from your holiday, we will begin the next phase of discussions.” Elizabeth’s voice was excited. I should have known she would give me no peace with her son. I would be watched for eternity by the witch’s eye.

“We must tell father the wonderful news.” He began to drag me towards the door.

“I need to change.” I pulled my arm back towards me yanking the man with it. Phillip was no more than an inch from my face.

“No need for that anymore my love. You are a woman of many faces, there is no reason to hide this one any longer.” He reached up and cupped my cheeks. His eyes bore into mine.

“As you wish Mr. Bradly.” I breathed. He smelled like soap and magic.

“Please Gretel, just Phillip.” He whispered.

Less than a day earlier I had been Mildred the old crone that ran the psychic shop on 2nd Street and now I was on the path towards a new life. I had longed to see America for several centuries. I had even tried to make it to the ships before they sailed to the new land.

“When do we leave?” I asked.

“In two days.” He began to drag me towards the door again.

“Would this be your first marriage?” I asked as we stepped out into the bright sunlight from my dilapidated building.

“Well yes. I do understand that this isn’t the first for you. I also know that it most likely will not be the last.” He smiled fondly at me as we walked arm and arm down the street towards the upper west side.

“Why did your father make you agree with such an odd request?” I asked once we were standing outside the shops that lined the Avenue. I had only been here a few times in the past, and each time it had been to hunt.

“He feels that it is time that I get a house of my own. My family is known quite well in America.” He winked as we entered one of the shops.

After several hours of endless shopping, an armful of beautiful clothing, another armful of shoes to match, and one very happy Witch Hunter holding my hand; I felt terrific. Never in my life had I been lavished with such beautiful gifts. Even those of noble blood that I had married in the past were unable to provide the luxuries that Phillip was giving me now.

Maybe I would grow to love him with time. Perhaps I would bless him with several beautiful children that will have his style and grace as well as none of my powers.

We entered my shop in fits of giggles just to be met by the angry eyes of one Alexander. Phillip went to speak with him first. I couldn’t hear the voices due to the distance, but my spirits were swirling around me warning me yet again that my choices were not good.

“I suppose now is better than being late. I would like to see Elizabeth now.” Alexander demanded loudly from across the room.

“Today she wished to speak with Phillip. Tomorrow she was going to speak with you, Mr. Greene.” I explained walking across the wooden floor with all its creaks.

“Are we no longer using formalities with my son?” Alexander asked cautiously.

“I apologize, sir, he requested to be called that,” I interjected taking the new hat from my head and placing it on a free-standing chair.

“I figure since we were to be married when we return to the states it was best that we drop the formalities,” Phillip explained his face paling when he realized that he had displeased his father.

“Yes, married,” Alexander repeated. “You didn’t fight the proposition long Gretel.”

“I want to help you, sir. He said it was the only way that you would grant me passage to America.” I looked around the room and shivered. It was getting colder and colder by the moment as each spirit took a chance at warning me one last time.

“Did he?” The man looked at his son angrily. “Well, Madame VonHausen it’s not going to be an easy journey. Once we get there, I will place you and Phillip in your own house where you can work.”

“And what is it that you need me to do?” I asked.

“You are able to communicate with spirits. You can transform into anyone anywhere. I have been pinpointing the right job title for you. I do think that spy is the best term to use.” He gave me a fake smile as I took a seat across from him at the table.

“A spy?” I laughed and looked at his son.

“We will go through the options once we get there. For now, I would like you to bring Elizabeth to me. I need to speak with her concerning her wishes.” Alexander demanded in a nonchalant tone.

“As you wish.” I groaned closing my eyes. She was near enough I had felt her circling me since I walked through the door just waiting for the chance to take me over again.

I had just enough energy to sustain a few moments of connection between myself and her spirit. If she spent too long, I would have to hunt in order to just make it through the day.

She entered me quickly, and I released my hold on my own body. I felt it morph and shift as she took on her personal appearance. When she finally ended her change, I could feel the contempt towards Alexander running through my veins.

“What do you want?” She demanded in her own voice.

“We have a name.” Alexander began to explain as Elizabeth looked at my fingernails apparently ignoring him.

“I already know his name,” Elizabeth said monotone.

“Did she tell you?” He asked.

“Of course she did.” Elizabeth laughed, and I began to pace in the back of my shell. Her attitude was far worse than her intrusive behavior towards me.

“We will find this woman.” He promised.

“You better. You owe me that much.” She hissed at him.

“I’m trying Elizabeth.” He was becoming irritated with her.

I found myself wondering what exactly he had done in the past that had made her so mad. I understood it was one of his assassins that had done the deed, but something else seemed to be eating at her. Every time I tried to probe she would push me out.

“It’s about thirty years too late. I already missed Phillip growing up I will not miss anything else.” She bit at him.

“How many times do I have to say I’m sorry?” He pounded his fist on the table, and she looked at him amused.

“Until you are rotting six feet under.” She growled.

“You are insufferable Elizabeth.” He shouted angrily at her.

“And you are a pompous pig, but I’m not complaining.” She threw my hands up and shut her eyes tightly. I didn’t like the darkness she put me in. It made me feel like I was stuck inside a prison.

I felt her pull away from my body slowly. As I regained the use of my appendages, I noticed that I didn’t feel her around me. The other spirits that she had been keeping away began to chant requests for me to run. I couldn’t do that now. I had already agreed to the stipulations of my passage to America. Not to mention a few decades in the job that Alexander was offering me would provide me enough money that I could be on my own in the event that my husband passed sooner than expected.

“Is she gone?” Alexander asked as I blinked at him.

“Yes, sir. I don’t know where she is.” I answered him rubbing my eyes to erase the after effects of Elizabeth inhabiting my body.

“I’m sure I sent her off on some mission to find a way to get rid of me.” He groaned.

“Give her the benefit of the doubt Mr. Greene. She was just brought here to connect with you and your son. She doesn’t know how she is supposed to feel.” I tried to stick up for her, but he was having nothing of it.

“She was much like that in life as well. Always angry. I don’t know how I managed to stick it out with her for so long.” He rolled his eyes.

“How long were you married?” I asked curious about the man.

“Oh, we were never married. My wife Margaret and I have been together for many years. We have two daughters.” He gave me a worn smile.

“Interesting,” I said under my breath.

So something new had just come to light. Elizabeth was never married to Alexander, yet they had a son together. From the look on his face and the way he spoke of his wife I had a feeling they did not know who Phillip was. Was it normal for Hunters to share in the act of infidelity? Was this something that I was going to have to face the moment that I married his son? Did it really matter to me what Phillip did? This was an arranged marriage made out of pure convenience. He got the house that he was longing for and I got out of this dreadful town.

“With all due respect Madame, I do not need any judgment from you concerning my relationship with Phillips mother. Just because you have agreed to marry my son does not give you specific rights to any of the Greene secrets.” He gave me a stern look, and I tightened my lips.

“I didn’t mean any disrespect, Sir.” I looked away from the man towards the empty shelves of my shop. No need to worry about replenishing my wares. I wasn’t going to be here long enough to sell another item for mere bits of money.

He placed his face in his hands and sighed. For a short moment, I saw a vulnerability to Alexander that I had not seen in the short time that I knew him. His mentality was being taxed by the whole thought of his ex-lover.

“If you don’t mind me asking sir. Why did you seek me out? Of all the people in the world like me.” I felt awkward asking such a question.

He removed his hands and looked at me with a stone cold expression. I wasn’t sure if I had overstepped a boundary or if something else had angered him.

“Luck.” He chuckled the anger falling from his face.

“Luck?” I repeated raising my eyebrows.

“I don’t know how else to explain it.” I understood the words coming out of his mouth, but something behind his expression told me that he wasn’t telling me the whole truth.

“What are you two talking about?” Phillip asked entering the room with his hands in his pockets. He had an impish grin on his face.

“Nothing important son,” Alexander answered winking at me.

“So when do I get to talk to mom?” His eyes lit up as he looked at me.

“I would say now, but I’m quite weak. I need to hit the red light district.” I said standing up feeling my legs wobble.

Phillip’s expression was one of horror as he looked at me. His lips tightened, and his face paled. It took me a moment before I understood the reason for his change and I blushed bright red.

“No, no, no.” I choked. “Oh goodness no!”

“Why else would you need to go to the red light district?” He asked color coming back to his face.

“Son, she needs souls to live,” Alexander explained as he hid a smirk.

“Oh?” Phillip looked at his father and me.

“Just come with me. If we are going to be together, you need to see what I am.” I stood up and reached for his hand.

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