The Witch of Willow Lake - 1

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Chapter 23

“I’m home,” I called as I wandered through the door after concluding another hellish day of high school.

“We’re in here.” Alicia’s voice verbalized from the living room, although something in her tone appeared unusual. It wasn’t her usual, bright, typical mom tone that she always had. There was something distant and detached that sent my abdomen stirring.

I stepped in and found Emmett, Masato, and Alicia stood in a huddle, all with concerned looks on their faces.

“What’s going on?” I asked tentatively.

The air was tight and tense as their eyes turned to me, not a single trace of a smile on any of their faces. The churning in my stomach deepened as I looked at them all with a troubled expression.

Emmett sighed gloomily, “Sit down, Hallie, please.”

Masato stepped over to me and took my hand, leading me to the large black leather couch.

“Is everything okay?” I looked over to Masato as he pulled me down onto the couch next to him.

“A couple of nights ago, when we were out checking for clans and packs further afield, Emmett stumbled across a cave.” Alicia began, everything about her tone and expression held a significant weight to it.

“I didn’t think much of it really, I took a quick peek but just seemed like an ordinary small cave. However, since, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling I’d missed something.”

“So, today, we went back to check it out. You know Emmett and his instincts, they’re not often wrong. Plus, you also know he’d drive me insane if we didn’t check it out.”

“All right, so, was there anything?” I urged, wishing they’d get to the point as I sat here anxiously.

My heart picked up a little speed as my hands grew slightly clammy as Masato’s grip around me tightened. I turned my eyes to him, and despite his attempts to keep his face void of emotions, I saw the trepidation.

“There was a small slit that ran right down at the back of the cave.” Alicia continued, “When I went to check it, I almost got crushed by a bunch of boulders. Someone had covered an entrance that led deeper into the cave.”

“It went quite a long way underground, and that’s when I realized this wasn’t any cave. We saw a symbol and a symbol, Alicia, and I recognized all too well. It was our clan’s mark.”

My eyes went wide at Emmett’s words. We’d not found any trace of their clan over the years. Not beyond their old spots, Emmett checked out way back when we first met. “Wait, they weren’t there, were they?”

“No, they’d long left there. No scent, no smell, everything cleared out and gone except one thing. Recognize this?” Alicia pulled something from the back pocket of her slim fit denim jeans.

My eyebrows furrowed for a moment as she held out the small object to me.

I took it gingerly as I studied it. It was half a heart with jagged edges down the inside, carved out of wood from an oak tree, and my heart stopped. An H was engraved in calligraphy on one side.

I darted up to my room, digging through a small black jewelry box before I dashed back downstairs. I placed the two pieces side by side, joining the jagged edges to form a whole heart, a Z on the other half.

Tears welled in my eyes as the halves met, and my heart dropped. Once again, my heart shattered into a million pieces, scattering yet more pieces that would be gone forever. I felt that crushing weight on my chest that created a physical pain as my throat burned from the developed lump inside it.

“Zach.” I choked, “He made it, and he gave me my half, on our tenth birthday. He told me, no matter how far apart we were, as long as we both held on to our halves, we’d always be connected.”

“Oh, baby.” Masato sighed as he pulled me close to him and pressed his lips to my temple. It’s something that usually would have given me some solace, but not this time.

“They took him, and they killed him. He wouldn’t have left it behind if he were still alive.”

“We’re so sorry, Hallie.” Emmett leaned down in front of me, placing his hand on my knee.

I pulled away from Masato as my world ground to a standstill. I knew there was little chance my brother was still alive. However, I held the smallest hope he was, but now I knew there was no way.

He always carried his half with him. He would never be so careless to lose it or drop it. If it was lost in that cave with no sign of Zach to be found, it only confirmed he never survived.

“We never should have come here.” I sobbed before I raced to my room, slamming the door shut.

Masato’s POV

I watched as Hallie ran to our room, quicker than the Flash, and my heart broke for her. Ever since we met, she always spoke of Zach, her twin brother. I’d desperately hoped that we’d be able to find him, the way we’d found each other.

From the moment I laid eyes on her, I fell in love with her. It killed me, keeping my secret for her, and I was elevated when it came to be that, she was just like I was.

Despite her Vampire half, she was still a Witch, and she held the same powers as I did, only she was much stronger.

Ever since I found out, there had been a part of me that wished that Zachariah had survived too. Thomas always told me how he was the strongest of the younglings in their time.

He mastered his powers far quicker and didn’t suffer the draining effects that using them could leave us with as severely.

Hallie had shown me her half of the heart before. She kept it locked in a jewelry box to keep it safe, worried about losing it in the modern-day hustle and bustle.

She told me how he always carried the other half with him and never let it leave him. However, it had been discovered without Zach insight, and her worst fears came to light.

“What are we going to do?” I sighed, my hands running through my messy hair. I couldn’t recall a time in my life I felt so helpless. Right now, I wanted nothing more than to take away the pain I knew she was feeling, but I couldn’t. There was no spell, no magic that could wash away the grief of realizing her brother was gone for sure.

“I think, for now, she needs some time.” Emmett took a seat beside me, patting my shoulder gently, “I got a couple of things I’d like to check, so if we can get her to hang in here for another week, it gives me enough time. Then, if she wants, we’ll leave, find somewhere else to live. We won’t make her stay here if it’s not what she wants.”

“Poor girl, she’s been through so much. We’ve done what we can to make her life the best we can. After all, it’s our fault.”

I shook my head at Alicia’s statement, “It’s not. It’s not your fault the Wolves attacked, and it’s not Emmett’s fault for wanting to save her. The attack on the coven wasn’t your fault, either. I don’t think she would have survived any of this if she didn’t have you both. She doesn’t call you mom and dad because she’s used to it. She does it because, well, you are, just not biologically.”

“We love her as if she was our own too.” Emmett held such a bittersweet smile as he spoke. “We always have and always will. Why don’t you go up and cuddle her? I think she needs you right now.”

“Yeah.” I nodded, “Let me know if you find anything else.”

“We will.” Alicia kissed my cheek as I stood up and made my way upstairs.

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