The car ride back to the house was soundless. Zach sat in the back while I sat beside Masato, who kept shooting me reassuring glances. I wish I could say it was helping, but the nerves scoured over me like a tsunami.
I glanced in the rearview mirror, Zach was in a way I’d not expected to find him. If I’d ever found him, I anticipated he’d be in a state much like Thomas, however, his reflection in the mirror showed otherwise.
“Here we are.” Masato sighed as he pulled up outside the house.
Zachariah looked as if he was in his early twenties at best.
He was tall, just shy of six-foot, dark stubble across his face and his dirty blonde hair sleek and modern — the front falling over one side of his face stopping just past his eye. His teal blue eyes shone against his sun-kissed skin complexion and darker brows. He had more muscles than I recalled, too, but he was still Zach. He was the spitting image of our father; only his eyes had been a deeper blue.
“How have you not aged more than a few years?” I asked as we stepped into the house, and Masato closed the door after us.
“I could ask you the same thing, Hallie.” Zach looked at me with a raised brow. “I didn’t believe it was you at first, that’s why I’ve been following you.”
I looked at Zach wide-eyed. He’d been the one following me the whole time. A part of me had begun to wonder if it was Eric after Thursday, and how he’d been acting yesterday. “So, that was you? I knew someone was following me!”
“I had to be sure it was you, Hallie. You’ve barely aged more than a few years. At first, I thought you were just someone who looked like, well, you, and my mind was playing tricks. It was when I caught that guy who snuck up on you Thursday-”
"You were the reason Eric was so freaked out yesterday?” My voice came out in shrill and accusing as I cut him off.
“I might have told him to leave you alone, or I’d smack him into the ground. After asking him about you.” Zach’s shoulders shrugged as he scratched the back of his head.
"Zach! What the hell did you do that for?!”
“He was an asshole to you, and I could tell you were thoroughly freaked out. I got mad.”
“I was freaked out because someone was following me; it was you who had me spooked. Eric was just the cherry on top of the ever-loving icing!” I taunted, narrowing my eyes at the man who stood before me.
Zach had always been protective of me, but I couldn’t believe he’d done that. That he’d been following me, being the one to spook me out yet scaring the life out of Eric.
“Okay, okay, before this turns into an argument!” Masato interrupted just as Zach was about to say something, “This isn’t productive, nor what needs to be discussed.”
Masato’s words caused Zach to turn to him, “Well, someone needed to put him in his place because clearly, her boyfriend wouldn’t!”
"Zach! Fucking seriously! Oh my god, right no, Masato’s right, we need to calm. You have a lot of questions, and so do I. So, let’s go sit down. You can explain first.”
Zach looked back at me and sighed, “Yeah, okay, let’s go.”
“So, after you ran, we got overwhelmed. Another group of them, plus the pack of wolves that settled just off the cabin, came. We couldn’t fight off a whole army, with only three matured Warlocks and two younglings, myself and Sam. It was too much. I watched as a Wolf tore poor Sam into pieces, we tried to help him.”
Zach’s hand rubbed over his face as it fell solemn. “Then a Vampire took Mom when she was trying to escape with Thomas. Naturally, Dad and I ran after them.”
“What happened then?”
“We’d chased them quite far out, but it had been a trap. Wolves and Vampires came at us at all angles. Dad and I were already weakened, and obviously, I wasn’t at full power yet. Next thing I know, we’re waking up in some dark cave. Oh god, the things they did to Mom and Dad, Hale. So many horrible things, and they made me watch as they tortured them.”
Tears welled in my eyes as Zach spoke. Hearing what had happened after I fled was far worse than I could’ve imagined. The pain was etched on his face so clearly; it was almost as if I could see what he had witnessed in his eyes. “Why didn’t you-”
“We couldn’t. They had this device; it was like a bracelet. I have no idea where they got it, but it suppressed our powers. I was powerless to help, and they drained me of enough blood to keep me weak physically.”
“So, how did you get out?” Masato asked quietly.
“It was weird. It was not long after our twenty-first birthday. I felt weak before, but at that time, I felt close to death. I thought maybe they’d drained me of too much blood, or they’d put something in the minimal food they gave me. I passed out one night, and I’m pretty sure I died. A couple of days later, I woke up in a ditch over in Germany, with no clue how I got there. Since then, I’ve not aged either.”
My mouth dropped in shock. Zach couldn’t have turned, too; he had a strong heartbeat for one, and his body was warm when he held me.
“Was anything else different?” I asked cautiously.
“No, just the lack of aging. At first, I felt strange; I can’t describe it, though. I just felt odd, and not quite like I had before.” Zach’s shoulders shrugged, “However, I traveled so many places to try and find a trace of you. I went back to the village and cabin at least once a year. Then when they built this place, every year I’ve come for one month. The month leading up to today, just in the vain hope that maybe you might come back too. I almost gave up hope, and I almost didn’t come this year. But, something inside me told me that I had too. And well, I found you.”
“Hang on.” Masato spoke up after he’d been sat there listening intently, “You said you think you died just after your twenty-first. Hallie wasn’t that when-”
I nodded slowly, knowing full well what Masato was implying, “I guess it’s my turn to explain.”