Willow Lake, 1921
“Yes, Papa?” I smiled at my father, as he stepped into the small house within the village complex.
Today the coven had held a meeting to conclude whether we had to be banished once more or whether this time, we’d be allowed to stay. It’s a day we’d been anxiously waiting for since mere days after my birth.
My parents assured me, no matter the outcome today, we were family. They forever comforted me, telling me never to blame myself for the decision of the elders. As much as they loved our coven, I was worth more to them than anything in the world. Zach and I were their real family, their children, and if we had to live out the rest of our lives in the cabin, they were happy with that.
However, their words didn’t prevent the anxiety I felt as I’d sat and waited for my father to return. I knew that being allowed back into the coven was what they wanted and longed for.
“I have good news. We can stay, and I will be taking the lead next month alongside your mother.”
“That’s amazing, Papa!” I ran and embraced my father, who knelt with his arms wide open. He caught me as I jumped and held me close to him.
I felt a tremendous weight lift off my tiny shoulders. A weight that I’d been carrying around since I was a toddler when I’d found out why we lived away from the village.
“We’re home, Hallie. We’re finally home.”
We’d been in exile for the first ten years of my life. The coven had been afraid of me because of our history, because of The Rogue One. She was the only other known female to be born to our coven. She’d grown up powerful and did horrible, evil things which struck fear in the hearts for many years to follow.
However, when Zachariah’s powers came to be, and mine didn’t, they allowed us back until our fate could be resolved for good.
For ten years I’d carried the harsh weight that I was the reason my family had been expelled. Despite my father’s insistence, it was not my fault; I couldn’t deny the guilt that had emerged throughout my young years. Guilt that no child should have to carry, the thought of my family being torn from theirs, simply because I existed.
“We can be back where we belong now, little Hallie.” My father’s smile withered as he looked at me sternly, yet adoringly, “Now, just because you’re not like other children, don’t allow anyone to think you’re anything less than extraordinary, you understand? You may not have powers like Zach or Thomas, but you are so very exceptional, my little flower.”
“Yes, Papa.” I nodded.
He pressed a tender kiss to my forehead before he stood himself up, smiling broadly. His eyes were full of love and pride, which caused my body to warm and a smile of my own to grow.
“We’re back.” My mother’s voice called as she and my twin brother stepped into our small cabin.
“Zachariah! We can stay!” I radiated at my brother as I leaped into his arms, happily.
“Established just now.” My father nodded in confirmation.
“Well, now that’s wonderful. We can be one, happy family, with all our friends with us.” My mother smiled. “Now, you two go wash up, I’ll get dinner ready.”
“Come on, Zach. I want to show you something Thomas showed me earlier. It’s next to the lake.” I tugged at my brother’s hand as he smiled at me. I could see the happiness and excitement in his eyes at the news, and it made me happy.
The smile warmed my heart, as I led him down the path towards the lake as he followed, just like he always did.
“Who are you?” I demanded as I stared into the intense teal blue eyes while the fear tried to pull me under its waves.
The haze began to clear a little as shadows moved slightly, revealing the smile on the man’s lips. The smile caused my racing heart to calm, and the waves of fear to be replaced with rolls of warmth.
I shook my head viciously as I stepped back. It was absurd. It couldn’t be anything more than a trick to lure me into a trap. There was no way it could be him, but I couldn’t deny that smile and those eyes.
“No, no, it can’t be. It’s not possible. You’re not real.”
“I’m real, Hallie.” The voice pleaded, deep and husky, with a modulated tone that gave it sweetness. His eyes softened, and they looked at me in ways those teal eyes once did, with love.
“No, you can’t be. Whoever is playing this trick on me, show yourself!”
“Hallie, stop!” The man grabbed my hand and pressed it against his chest. “I’m real, Hallie. Listen to me; I’m real.”
His heartbeat hammered under my palm as he raised his hand, and I watched as red lightning danced between his digits.
“No, but you died...we found your half of the heart.”
I was too scared to let myself believe it was true. Although I couldn’t deny it, I was terrified I’d find this was a dream or an illusion, I couldn’t handle it if it weren’t real. “You were taken by the Vampires...”
“They took it from me and left it in that cave. They were concerned we’d cast a spell which would lead you to us. Oh, Hallie, they did terrible things. But I got out, I escaped, and I’ve spent eighty years trying to find you.”
“Zach, it’s really you?” Tears overflowed my eyes as I looked into my brother’s darkened face.
“Oh, Hallie.” He choked, his voice cracking a little before he pulled me tight to him, and the tears poured from both of us.
We stood there for what seemed like hours before we stepped away just enough to look at each other. “I can’t believe it. We’ve been trying to find you.”
He raised his hand to touch my face, but before our skin could connect, something knocked him flying, causing me to shriek.
My eyes glanced to the distance; a few feet away, Emmett had Zach pinned beneath him.
“No, Emmett don’t!” I implored.
I went to move toward to get Emmett and Zach, but Alica’s grasp held me back. “Alicia, don’t! You don’t understand.”
“What are you doing in the woods with my daughter!” Emmett growled in ferocity.
“Daughter?! Daughter?!” A burst of energy came out of Zach beating Emmett backward against one of the trees. The sound of a harsh thud filled the tense air as a growl ripped from Emmett’s throat.
“NO! Please, stop!” I cried as Zach lept on top of him, grabbing him by his suit jacket.Emmett grabbed Zach’s wrists, trying to pull Zach’s hands loose.
Emmett gained the upper hand, and in a flash, Zach was pinned under him once more. His eyes glowing red as his teeth bared. I watch in horror as Alicia’s gripped tightened around my wrists.
“Who are you?!” Emmett snarled thickly.
“She’s my fucking sister! I’m her brother!” Zach’s voice sounded angry and blaring as the red lightning flickers furiously.
Suddenly the air turned still as Emmett stopped, releasing his grip from Zach, and Masato appeared beside me.
“Emmett, please, he’s Zack. That’s Zachariah, it’s him, Emmett. Please don’t hurt him.” I pleaded through a stained voice, fresh tears pooling in my eyes.
Emmett instantly stood up, allowing Zach to get back to his feet. Alicia’s hands fell away from my wrists as she relaxed.
Zach’s eyes instantly turned to me, “Vampires, Hallie?! Really? After their kind killed almost our whole village?! We’re all that’s left! And you’re running with Vampires?”
“No, you’re not the only ones left,” Masato spoke up, raising his hand, showing the red electric around his fingertips. “My father is Thomas Pope.”
“Zach, please, they’re not like the rest of them. They’ve looked after me, they’ve taken care of me. They’re the ones who’ve been helping me try to find you. They’re the ones who brought me here and found your half.”
“Let her explain, Zach.” Masato sighed, “Thomas, my dad, he had the same reaction, but then he let her explain. Just hear her out, she loves you, and she’s missed you every day. You both owe each other some serious answers.”
“He’s right. You two need to talk. I think all three of you should, given I’m sure Zach would like to know how Thomas survived too.” Alicia agreed. “But not here please, there’s a wolf pack a few miles out, it’s not safe.”
“I’ll drive them back to the house. It might be best if you two stay here while they talk.” Masato stepped forward and placed a hand on Emmett’s shoulder. “I’ll make sure she’s safe.”
Emmett nodded with a heavy sigh, “You’re right. Go on, call us when we’re safe from the risk of being staked or zapped.”
“Thank you.” I stepped forward, pressing a kiss to Emmett’s cheek before doing the same to Alicia. “Love you both.”
“We love you too, kid.”
“This way.” Masato nodded his head towards the opening of the trees.
Zach looked at me with narrowed eyes before he relented, and we began walking.