I glanced at the small clock that sat on the oak table in our lounge, and my lips twisted into a stern pout as I saw the time. The girls had been gone too long, and I was becoming unsettled. My leg jittered up and down with my heel tapping against the hardwood flooring under me.
It never took more than an hour to get to the patch, pick, and get back. I figured they might take a little longer to talk, but it had been almost an hour and a half with no word.
I couldn’t deny the awful feeling that began looming in the pit of my stomach as I glanced outside to see the sky becoming dark as evening approached rapidly.
I tried to persuade myself it was nothing, and I was just worried because I loved them deeply. Alicia had been my wife for half a century, and I’d grown to love Hallie as if she was my daughter.
Alicia always said I was overprotective sometimes, and I’d been much more so since the little silver-haired Witch settled herself into our lives.
The Witch of Willow Lake. The Witch that shouldn’t have been, but was. Never in a million years did I think I’d ever cross paths with one of her kind, let alone stroll through life with one by my side.
She was incredible, though. She was smart, reliable, and different. I hadn’t encountered a member before, but I’d heard stories, and I’d witnessed things from a distance when our old clan had moved close to their settlement. I knew that while she was one of them, she wasn’t like the other members either.
She harbored far more power than I thought possible. But, to her, they were still new even after five years since they developed.
We worked half-blind, given Alicia and I were merely Vampires as we tried to help her hone them. We could only do so much to help train her in using them, given we weren’t Warlocks or knew much about them.
Her brother had time to learn, train, and strengthen himself before the powers drained him. Hallie never got that time, so everything she knew now was like trying to complete a giant jigsaw puzzle with a third of the pieces missing.
I peeked at the clock again before I got up off the small couch and headed out with the plan to get just close enough for me to hear them and make sure my girls were okay. If I didn’t, I’d end up driving myself insane until they got home. I just needed to hear them for a split second, and I’d come back.
As I approached the outskirts of town, near the edge of trees that led to the forest, a loud whimper of a dog caused me to grind to a halt.
I searched around to see if there were any dogs, praying I see or hear one, but I came up short. No sign, sound, or scent of a mere pet dog could be found, which I knew could only mean one thing.
I listened carefully, blocking out the wind’s sound, the sounds of people’s radio playing different music styles, or talking from the nearby houses.
I focused my mind in the rough direction I knew the girls would be in, all the while praying my worst fears wouldn’t be realized. I wasn’t much for praying, but it’s all I could think to do right now.
When I found Hallie’s voice, a cry of pain sliced through my entire body, striking my heart as if someone had rammed a stake through it, and my worse fear had become.
“No.” I breathed, feeling the panic sank in as I caught the smell of them; I could smell Hallie’s blood from a mile away.
I couldn’t believe what my eyes saw as I ran close enough to see, but not enough to alert the animals grouped and attack my two loves.
I counted twelve, six with their backs to me, the other six too busy attacking them to notice my arrival.
My eyes scanned for Alicia and Hallie, only to see them both pinned by the wolves as they struggled to break free.
I took a deep breath, and I ran. With a mighty roar, I knocked the still Wolves standing watch in one swift movement — the same way a perfectly rolled bowling ball hit the tall pins down in a strike.
I watched as a burst of sheer energy came from Hallie, and it sent two wolves flying backward. One flew straight into a tree, the other landing hard on the ground a few feet away, which gave me a clear path to run to Hallie.
As I pulled her to her feet, my heart shattered to see that they covered her in bite marks and blood; she was drained and weak. She wouldn’t be able to get out of here alone, and not only that, I knew Wolf bites were fatal to her kind.
The sight and smell of her blood left me feeling hungry and caused my bloodlust to advance, but I had to focus. I knew what I needed to do, and I knew Alicia would hate me for it, but I had to get Hallie away from the Wolves first.
I spun around to Alicia and lept at the wolves pinning my wife, and helped her up. She wasn’t in a much better state than Hallie, but Vampire perks meant we healed quickly, and their bite didn’t spell certain death for us.
“Run, now. I’ll take Hallie.” Alicia nodded and turned to run.
I darted myself over to Hallie, scooping her in my arms before more wolves could pounce on her, and I ran as fast as I could.
“What the hell were the wolves doing that far out from their grounds?! And why both packs?!” I growled as I laid Hallie down on the couch.
“I-I don’t know. We were about to head back when I caught their sound and scent. We stayed still, and we didn’t make a noise. We waited for ages, and I was confident they’d turned away. We stepped slowly, but they trapped us.”
I darted to the fridge, grabbed a blood pack, and hurled it at Alicia, “You need to drink human blood, or you won’t heal quickly enough.”
Alicia nodded with a look of distaste on her face, I knew she hated drinking human blood, but she knew Hallie needed us both at full strength.
She tore the bag open and chugged it down. It took every ounce of strength in me not to take some, as bloodlust loomed its ugly head, but we only had one left, and Alicia needed all of it.
Alicia’s eyes cast to the floor, and a grief-stricken expression crossed her small face, “Her bites are too severe, aren’t they?”
I moved to Hallie, checking her wounds, carefully removing her torn white blouse, which was now stained in blood.
The bloodlust loomed over me like the grim reaper readying to take his next victim, but I refused to give in. I loved her too much; although I felt like my insides were being ripped apart as I studied the bleeding wounds, I couldn’t harm her.
“She won’t make it,” Alicia spoke softly, “Their bite...”
“To hell with that! She will live,” I growled, bringing my wrist to my mouth and sinking my teeth into the skin.
“EMMETT! What are you doing?!” Alicia’s voice screeched, causing me to flinch from the pitch.
“I won’t lose her, Alicia.”
“No, we can’t do that to her! She doesn’t deserve that!” Alicia’s eyes were wide and fearful as she tried to plead with me not to do what I knew I needed to.
“It won’t! It will just heal her.”
“Emmett, you know that’s not true; she’s already on the brink! If the blood doesn’t heal her quickly enough and she dies with even a drop in her system, she’ll go into transition.”
“So you want me just to let her die, Alicia?!” My words came out harsh and through gritted teeth, causing Alicia to recoil at the tone, “Is that what you want?”
“No! No, of course not! I-I just...oh god.” Alicia began pacing, her hands running through her long matted hair as she panted.
She felt emotions far more potent than any Vampire I knew, and I realized her feelings were a riot inside her with the situation.
“Yeah, well, God isn’t exactly going to help folks like us.” I calmed my tone; she didn’t need me to be angry to add to the disorder. I was mad, but my getting angry would not help her, nor Hallie. “It might not turn her Alicia. We do not understand what will happen to a Warlock. We know what happens to humans, but it might be different.”
“And what if it doesn’t? What if it kills her?”
“She will die anyway, Alicia! If I don’t do this now-”
“Fine, do it. I don’t want to lose Hallie, either.”
I bit down on my wrist again, drawing fresh blood, and held it over Hallie’s pale lips. I watched as the blood dripped onto them, and I moved her lips to make sure it went in.
“Pack our things. We need to get out of here.” I instructed as I kept my gaze on Hallie.
I could only hope it would work without turning her.