“Now, can you two behave while we’re out hunting?” Alicia looked at Zach and Masato with an accusing eye.
“I think we can manage.” Masato chuckled, “I promise, no who’s stronger than who challenges.”
Zach scoffed, “You’re a Pope, I’m a Davenport, you don’t need the challenge to know who’s stronger.”
“Strength isn’t based solely on power, you know?” Masato retorted as his arms folded across his chest.
All I could do was stand there and softly slap my palm over my face as I listened to them, “You might hit harder, Zach doesn’t mean you’re stronger.”
“I would say let’s find out, but-Ow!” My hand came around the back of Zach’s head before he could finish, while Alica just looked on with an amused smirk.
Zach scowled at me as he rubbed the area. “I was about to say, but you’d do that, and I didn’t want to get hit!”
I shrugged, “Eh, the urge to hit you came, so I went with it. Now, behave, both of you.”
I kissed Zach’s cheek before I moved over to Masato and touched my lips with his. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, baby. Be safe.” He smiled before pressing a soft kiss on my nose, making me giggle.
“Always.” I grinned, “Love you, Zach.”
“Love you, too, Hale. Feel free to stake a Vampire or two out there, just not the parents. We need them; they buy food, and I have very strong feelings about my food.”
“Oi you cheeky shit.” Emmett chuckled, clipping Zach around the back of the head.
“Hey! Why is everyone hitting me?!”
I just rolled my eyes and chuckled, “Because we love you. We won’t be long.”
We stalked through the woods quietly, all our senses on alert as we scouted for nearby animals.
“Got a small pack of foxes, eleven o’clock, about two kilometers away,” Alicia whispered, pointing her fingers towards the area she was referring too.
“I can do better. Two Jaguars, three o’clock, half a mile. I don’t like killing foxes; they’re too cute.” I looked over at Alicia with a pout and puppy dog eyes.
“All right, Jags taste better anyway. We going to let them run or go straight in?” Alicia asked as she looked between Emmett and me.
“Let’s get a little closer and assess the situation.” Emmett gave a sharp single nod.
Alicia and I hummed our agreement, and we slowly headed towards tonight’s spotted victims.
As we got closer, my feet ground to a halt, the dull sound of whispers filled my ears. I held out my hand to signal Alicia and Emmett to stop before I turned to look at them with my finger over my lips.
I took a deep breath and focused my hearing, shutting out the dull breeze and sounds of the night animals scurrying around in the woods.
“You idiots!” A woman’s voice snarled menacingly. Her icy tone caused shivers to run through me as I listened, it was only two words, but they were sinister and unforgiving.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. We did not realize they were townsfolk!” A male’s voice wailed, pleading with the woman.
“I told you, you get your meals elsewhere!” The woman’s voice was threatening as her words spat out as if they were laced with venom.
“We’re sorry ma’am.” The man sobbed again.
The sound of a loud pop came before the sobbing stopped abruptly with it, and my lips parted in a silent gasp.
“You killed him!” A deeper voice sounded angry. “You cannot just-”
“I’ll kill you too if your clan put another foot wrong. Get your clan under control before they ruin everything, Nicholas!”
“It is taking too long! We’re getting restless, how long do you expect-” The deep voice was cut off and replaced with a cry of pain.
“Do you dare question me? Must I remind you who I am? Do not think I won’t hurt you, Nicholas.”
“N-No ma’am, p-please.” The deeper voice was now higher in pitch, crying in distress, and my hand covered my mouth in shock as I listened.
“Our time will come, I assure you. Now, go back and make sure you share the warning with your lot. I take no issue in killing the lot of you. I do not need you for my plan. Remember that.”
The cries stopped, and the sound of rustling leaves came before the man spoke again. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Now, get out of my sight.”
Emmett turned to me, a look of worry and shock on his face, “We should go, we can hunt tomorrow. It’s not safe out here.”
Alicia and I nodded our agreement.
Whatever we’d just heard had shocked all three of us as we all stood there wide-eyed. The Vampires were not here alone.
Someone ruthless and unforgiving was working with them towards a plan. However, we had no idea who or what they were plotting, which left me feeling unsettled and allowed the beast called anxiety to rear its unpleasant head.
“That was quick.” Masato looked at us astounded as we burst through the door.
“We got a problem, a big problem.” I sighed, “Where’s Zach?”
“I’m here, what happened?” Zach came running down the stairs looking anxious; he sensed something was up.
Alicia relayed what we had heard while we were approaching the Jaguar’s in the woods while Masato and Zach stood there looking horrified.
“So, they’re not here by chance?”
“It would seem not, Zach.” Emmett shook his head. “Whoever that woman was, she’s planning something and simply using them.”
“Any idea who she might be? Another Vampire clan leader?” Masato asked as he chewed the inside of his cheeks out of anxiousness.
“It’s the only reasonable explanation.” Alicia sighed. “I know there’s a couple of other clans further out - one about twenty-two miles east, another about thirty miles south-west. Although because they’re so far out, we didn’t bother checking them out fully.”
“What are they planning, though? That’s what I want to know.” Masato’s lips pursed in a thin pout as his hand came to his chin, rubbing at the tiny sprinkling of stubble he had.
“We don’t know, babe.” I sighed, “They said nothing to give it away, and I don’t think she’d be silly enough to say anything out loud where it might be heard.”
“We’ll have to hunt during the day from now on; it’s not safe out there right now at night. Alicia and I will do what we can to try and find out what’s going on.”
“Dad, you could get yourselves hurt!” I protested.
“We’ll be fine, Hallie, we’ll be careful. But so long as something is brewing and we’re clueless as to what, we need to stay safe and keep our ears to the ground.”
Zach let out a heavy sigh as he ran his hands through his hair. “Jesus Christ, what the hell is going on?”
Alicia shook her head, “I don’t know, but it would seem we all ended up getting a little more than we bargained for moving here.”
“Maybe we should just, you know, stay out of it?”
“Really, Zach?” I shot a look of disbelief at his suggestion. “What if it’s this town they’re planning on attacking? Could you sit back and let more of our friends die?”
“No, of course not Hale, but why the hell is this our responsibility? Why should I have to watch my sister, parents, and friend put their lives on the line to fix a mess that isn’t ours to handle?!”
“Zach, I understand how you feel. I don’t want to get involved with this any more than you do, or they do for that fact.” Masato placed a hand on Zach’s shoulder and looked at him sympathetically.
“But Hallie is right, if it’s an attack on our friends, on our home they’re planning we can’t just sit back. This is our home. Willow Lake belongs to us three, and now to Emmett and Alicia, we cannot let some assholes ruin it. They already took Mr. Walton and Eric, let’s not allow them to hurt any more of our friends.”
“Look, we’ll find out what we can.” Emmett intervened, “If it’s nothing to do with the town or anything, we’ll leave it be. But we need to try and find out if whatever is going is intended for this town and its people.”
“Emmett’s right.” Alicia agreed, standing firm and fierce, “If this is just a silly fight between other Vampires, or geared towards the Wolves, then we’ll leave it. It usually is, but you’ve already lost so much we’d rather be sure you’re not going to lose anymore.”
Zach looked at Alicia and nodded, “Please be careful; I couldn’t bear it if I had to watch yet another set of parents die. I already lost my real parents; I can’t lose you both too.”
“You won’t; we love you just as much as we love Hallie. Now, you three go get some sleep.” Alicia stepped in front of Zach and kissed his cheek.
“Come on, baby; you look exhausted.” Masato held out his hand, and I took it gladly.
“Night, everyone.” I looked around my family and gave them all small smiles. “Love you all.”
“We love you, too. Night.” Emmett nodded, and we headed upstairs.
I felt a heavyweight as I crawled into bed next to Masato, cuddling up close to him. Words Alicia said rang true in my mind; I was getting far more than I bargained for by coming home to Willow Lake.