The Return to Willow Lake - 2

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Chapter 23


“Hallie, are you okay?” Zach eyed me warily as I stepped into the kitchen.

“Yeah, fine.” I gave him the best smile I could pull off, although the truth was, I wasn’t okay.

In all honesty, I hadn’t been feeling much like myself for the past couple of days. I was exhausted, aching, and felt weak. The last time I’d felt this way was when we’d had to go a period without blood a couple of decades back after almost getting caught feeding in the wood.

However, I hadn’t been without blood, so I didn’t understand why I felt so horrible.

The past couple of weeks had been stressful. We’d attempted the detection spell three times since the first occasion, and still, it failed.

Every time, like before, the paper caught fire no matter how big, or small, we made the boundaries. Even when Zach had done it, instead of me, it lit up almost instantly. We couldn’t work out why. We did everything right, Masato had even gone back to Flagstaff to collect the book so that we could read over it again.

That was on top of keeping up with surveillance in the woods, hunts, knowing each day Thomas was slipping and of course, finals and studying. Then there was also the wedding planning too, which was proving harder than we thought it would.

“Hallie, you remember I’m your twin, right? You can plaster on that fake smile for Masato, but I’m not buying it. Nor are Alicia or Emmett, they just decided not to pry right now. However, I don’t much care, spill it.”

“Honestly, Zachariah, I’m fine, I just feel like I could sleep for a week. I’m hungry too.”

That was the other thing, despite the fact we’d been hunting yesterday evening and caught a Jaguar; it wasn’t enough.

“As in, food hungry, or blood hungry?” He asked, with his tone laced in skepticism as he eyed me with narrowed eyes.

“Blood.”

It felt like I hadn’t fed in days. Whenever I was pushing my limits between feeds, I’d feel drained with this overwhelming thirst, and hunger would consume me.

I’d look at my friends, my fellow students all as if they were nothing but a big, juicy steak. If I didn’t feed as soon as those feelings crept over me, I’d begin to play out how easy it would be to lead one of them somewhere quite.

Much like how I right now, all I could hear was Zach’s heartbeat. The sound that told my senses fresh blood was being pumped around his body. This morning, when I’d woken, I’d caught myself staring at Masato’s neck too. It was only when he turned to smile at me; I was snapped from my trance.

“Didn’t you feed last night?” Zach’s face turned from one of questioning to one of concern. “Hallie?”

“Yeah.” I nodded, “Maybe I just need more with all the stress, and using a lot of power on those spells.”

“I was thinking; maybe we should let Masato give it a shot next time.”

I shook my head sharply at Zach’s proposal, “Not an option. It will zap a fair chunk out of him. If we can’t do it, then I don’t see how him doing it will make any difference. He’s strong for a Pope, but I’m not willing to let him do this and zap the life out of him for nothing.”

Zach sighed as he moved to take a seat at the small island in the middle of the kitchen, “Yeah, I guess, I don’t understand it.”

“Nor do I, Thomas couldn’t provide much help either; he wasn’t sure why we of all the bloodlines couldn’t seem to do it. Maybe we should give up? I mean, four times and we got nothing. She’s not a Witch, Wolf, Lycan, or Vampire; that’s for sure. If she is a Banshee as we’ve said before, they’re harmless besides their wail if they cry out in front of you.”

“It would be nice to know, but honestly, besides being a little eccentric and stiff, I can’t see her being the type to hurt anyone. Let’s hope she doesn’t cry out in person though, from what I’ve read; it would be similar to what happened to you with the alarm.”

I grimaced at the mention of that moment in time; it was a feeling that if I never felt again, it would be too soon.

“I agree. Are you going to the prom next Friday?”

“Yeah, Hannah couldn’t find a date, so I said I’d take her as Mahala is taking Bryan. Are you still going?”

“Yeah, it’s a high school prom, and I don’t intend to relive high school ever again, so why not? Plus, I’m almost certain Lala and Hannah will drag me out this house kicking and screaming if I don’t go.” I chuckled as I took a seat at the island opposite Zach.

“Oh, I have no doubt they will, but that’s enough avoiding, Hale. Seriously, what’s wrong?”

I looked at my brother and let out a heavy sigh; I knew he wasn’t going to let it go.

“I think I might need to send Emmett out to hunt down a blood bag. With finals, wedding planning, studying, the spell, and everything, I don’t think animal blood is cutting it.”

Zach paused for a moment, his lips screwing up in thought. “We have an exam in an hour, and you can’t go like this.”

He pulled up the sleeve of his black hoodie and held his wrist out to me, “Drink. You need your strength, and I’d like my perky, witty sister back, rather than the zombie, you’ve been the past two days.”

I looked at my brother in aversion to his idea, “No, Zach, I won’t drink from Masato, and I won’t from you either.”

“Hallie, please? If it makes you feel better, I’ll cut myself and put it in a cup. We still got six exams, prom, and wedding planning. You need to be at your best. Not like I haven’t been bitten umpteen times before, it doesn’t bother me.”

I sat there staring at my brother, hesitating. He was right, and right now, my body was craving the fresh blood that pulsed through his veins. It took every ounce of strength I had to fight back the instincts and desire to feed on one of my classmates, or even my family right now.

Just looking at his wrist held out so willingly, hearing the healthy heartbeat in his chest sent my senses into a frenzy. I was weaker than usual, my craving for human blood was stronger than usual, but he was my brother. He’d already been used as a human blood bag and watched our parents being used that way too.

“Hallie, please just drink.” Zach pleaded, shaking his wrist at me.

“I don’t want to bite you, Zach, I won’t hurt you.”

“All right, cup it is. I’m not arguing about this, Hale.” Zach stood himself up, walking over to me to press a kiss to my forehead. “I love you.”

“I love you, too. Thank you.” I gave him a weak smile before he turned to retrieve a glass tumbler from the cupboard.

I hated the thought, but it was better than the other options if I didn’t feed properly. I just wish I understood why, after so many years of having so much control over my desire for human blood, my power was wavering now.


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