Callie Norwood awoke with a start. The bed covers beneath her were covered in sweat. Someone had brought her in here and dropped her down onto the bed after Joris drugged her with herbal tea. She sat up, brought her knees against her body, and hugged them. For five minutes or more, she cried like a baby. No matter how much tea was pumped into her body, it wouldn’t take away the pain. Her older brother was dead, her parents unaware that their youngest child was still alive.
After her tears dried up, she raised her head and stared at the wall opposite her. The longer she stared, the more bitter she became. Who were these strangers to tell her how to feel about Hugh’s death? Who were they to tell her she couldn’t have any contact with her parents? For a moment-a brief moment-she forgot about Clark. It didn’t matter that they were all being stalked right at this second. All she wanted to do was run back to LeVale and find her parents. It was terrible, the most awful feeling inside having conflict that could not be easily resolved. In her life, there was never such a second.
Although she knew nothing about Joris’ house, she was tempted to flee. If he had ‘hidden chambers,’ how hard would they really be to find? She could slip out of the house and run. It didn’t matter there was an entire group of people waiting outside her door to prevent that very thing from happening. If she was still like Clark, she would have the physical strength to push them away to achieve her goal. The sons of bitches didn’t know anything about loss. Not one. Not any of them.
While her selfish thoughts danced in her mind, she realized she was completely wrong about loss. She supposed all of them had their fair share, especially Lynch. She had no idea how old he was. How many people had he watched die? How many lovers had he lost? What about his other family members? She hated the situation, hated herself more for thinking that no one else but her had lost a loved one. Dear ever loving God. What was she going to do? One thing was sure. She wanted to kill Clark. It was her goal, the one thing that would keep her going until the task was done or when she was dead herself.
Slowly, Callie swung her legs over the side of the bed and pulled her body into a full standing position. The doors and walls were so thick that she couldn’t hear if anyone was outside guarding her door. Chuckling nonsensically at how ridiculous the thought was, she went to the door. Finding it unlocked, she stepped outside into the hallway. She heard little noise. Most of it was coming from the kitchen. Surely, they weren’t still sitting at the table? How damned long had she been asleep anyway? She stupidly hadn’t looked at a clock or watch. Where was her mind? It wasn’t with her. It was with Hugh and the rest of her family. She had to pee, but fought the urge with every ounce of physical strength she possessed.
She slipped down the hallway, as if she were sneaking out of the house. She was only acting like she wanted to leave the house. She did, but not like this. Callie approached the stairs, deliberately taking one at a time. If the truth were known, she wasn’t ready to see any of them. At the same time, she needed their support. It seemed to take a dry age for her to reach the bottom of the stairs. The hallway leading off stretched into the expansive living room. Another dry age passed before she was standing in an empty room. She was right. They were still gathered in the kitchen. A brief look at her watch told her she had been out for more than two hours. Two hours. They were having a two hour bull session and her brother was dead? What the fuck? When she left the room, she wasn’t angry. Now was a different story.
Callie watched as the four of them looked her way, surprised that she was awake so soon. Joris seemed particularly interested. The first words she wanted to speak were less than kind toward the folks that had now become her family. She purposely bit her tongue to keep the filth in. It hurt like hell and had begun to bleed. How could they do this to her? Keep her away at such a time as this? What if she asked Lynch or Jenna to bite her? She could take care of things on her own if someone would just follow their animal inside.
“You didn’t have to drug me,” Callie said suddenly, eyeing Joris.
“Callie, you weren’t acting rationally. That means you were in a dangerous spot,” Joris said calmly.
She wondered vaguely if Joris had a psychology degree, because he could surely spit a lot of psychobabble bullshit. “My brother was murdered. How am I supposed to act, Joris? Can you tell me? Can any of you tell me?”
All of them started to speak at once. They were silenced by Joris pulling his body away from the kitchen table. He breeched the distance between them in two swift steps. Gently, he placed his large hands onto her shoulders. The moment he touched her, she began to tremble. She wasn’t angry with them. It was more than obvious what truly ran through her. The need for revenge. The need to take on Clark by herself.
Gazing deeply into her eyes, he said, “I get it, Callie. I understand what it feels like to have someone taken from you so violently. This is not the time for you to lose sight of what we’re dealing with here. You cannot go on the hunt for Clark by yourself. What I did was give you time to think.”
Her eyes burned with tears yet to be shed. She didn’t want to cry. Although she had barely gotten a moment to grieve her brother, she was already tired of tears. “You all can’t leave me out of your plans. Hugh was my brother.”
“I know,” he said gently, as if he felt like they were the only people in the room. “If you will allow me, I’ll show you around. I will take you to the chambers so you can see for yourself. A man like Clark won’t like it down there. The souls of the good will drive him insane.”
She nodded. “Okay,” she whispered. “I will leave my loss, my emotions, and the grief in your hands. I promise to let you do what you need to. If you don’t, I won’t hesitate to take it into my own hands.”
He smiled at her. It was as gentle as his words before. “Agreed.”
Clark stood out in an open field. He wasn’t sure where he was at the moment. When his kind was hungry, they hunted whatever crossed their path. He didn’t remember what he killed, but he could taste the faint strains of blood in his throat. He ignored it. He truly didn’t give a fuck. He was on the trail of the next victims on his list.
After feeding on Hugh Norwood and burning down the Tackett house, Clark left the area immediately. Hopefully, he planted enough evidence to put the final nail in Lynch’s coffin. However, he wasn’t altogether certain he would find Callie in the company of the lycans. He hadn’t found the compounds in the lab. He was stupid to assume the formulas would be there. It would have made his life so much easier. However, it was time to finish this business. It was enough to drive him out of his mind. Of course, according to popular opinion, he was already out of his mind. Or was it her mind. It was hard to think of gender during a shift.
He worked his way carefully out of the field. Before him, no more than a few feet away, was a hard top road. Like a dog, he had special senses that could help lead him anywhere he wanted to go. This road was most likely the one Callie took with Lynch and his caretakers. If they were smart, they changed cars along the way. Otherwise, he wouldn’t find them easily. He could only detect their direction so far. His abilities irritated him more than helped him. He wasn’t like Tackett, who could find whatever he wanted. Clark was one who had to touch something they touched, and a paved road didn’t count. He was limited that way. It was enough to make him throw a fit like a three-year-old.
Shrugging it away, he began to walk along the paved road, hopefully following the same trail that his quarry had. As he walked, he allowed his mind to go blank. It was best. Allowing it to work so much would give his enemies an advantage. While he watched his feet take each and every step, he looked forward to cars passing along. Perhaps one would stop, offering him a ride. He would accept graciously, only to feed on the driver first before stealing his or her car. He hated to walk, more than he hated anyone named Tackett or allies of his. Also, there was nothing like the taste of human blood and flesh to get him going.
Joris held tightly onto Callie’s hand as he led her from the kitchen. She followed along willingly enough as he took her down a long, sloping hallway. The house was so large, it seemed as if they had walked for miles. Callie noticed the color of the carpet. She didn’t know why she focused on it. There was something about it, something old. It neither comforted nor horrified her.
After what seemed like a mile walk, they were now in another wing of the house. She couldn’t believe how massive his home was. They stood in front of a small door. Crazily, it looked like something from a fairy tale. What would they have to do? Drink a potion so they could fit? Her worries were for naught when Joris opened the door. They simply had to bend slightly to go inside.
Callie expected to see the famous chambers as soon as she stepped through the door. She was wrong. What stood before her was a flight of stairs leading down into the darkness. Again, she didn’t know what to expect. Neither of them had thought to bring a flashlight. She watched as Joris slung his arm inside the dark room, feeling for something with his hand. Within moments, he found a light switch. The stairs were then bathed in sickly, dim light.
“You’re kidding me, right?” Callie asked incredulously. “We’re going to break our legs down here.”
Joris smiled at her, squeezing her hand for good measure. “Nonsense. We’ll be fine.”
To her relief, he was right. They stepped down onto the first step. Callie followed Joris, allowing him to lead her along. For no reason at all, she gave him her complete trust. As they made their way lower down, the light became dimmer still. Just when they set foot on the last step, they were cloaked in darkness. At this point, Joris released her hand. Her heart began to pound in her chest. Now what? The light upstairs seemed like a faraway beacon. She had no reason to fear anything. When Joris’ foot hit the floor below, an automatic security light popped on. That was when Callie noticed how oddly Joris’ foot was placed.
He smiled at her again, this one wider than the first. “I set it this way. It only recognizes my foot.”
Amazed, Callie shook her head. “What are you? A superhero?”
Shaking his head, he said, “No. Just prepared. The Hoff family spares no expense.” He took her hand again. “Come on, we still have a walk ahead of us.”
They continued down a long, antiseptic appearing hallway. It reminded Callie of a hospital. It was clean down here. Too clean. There was nothing littering the hallway, no decorations or furniture. Any other person might have thought this place was creepy. Callie didn’t. If Joris was a man of science like Andy, she got it. Most science minded people she knew were orderly and clean. Perhaps she was the exception to the rule, because cleaning wasn’t something she particularly liked so much.
“Joris, how far down are we walking?” She finally asked.
“Be patient, Callie. You sound like a child asking ‘are we there yet?’”
It didn’t come out harshly. Callie actually smiled. She didn’t think she would genuinely smile for a long time. “I feel like I’m in a dream right now.”
“Wait until you see the chambers,” he said with a wicked gleam in his eye.
Eventually, they came to a sharp turn, where Callie expected to see another hallway. Instead, there was another door. This one was normal sized, not something out of a fairy tale. Beside it was an intricate keypad. Callie watched Joris type in a code, his long fingers flying over the pad. A loud click issued out before the door came open. Callie saw there was another flight of stairs, but this one was short, only about four or five steps. Again, she followed behind Joris until they stepped onto the floor. At that time, the light changed. It went from overly bright fluorescents to a pale shade of blue. She almost couldn’t see far beyond a few feet.
“Before you are the chambers,” Joris said.
What Callie saw was a domed ceiling with large columns every few feet along the hallway. The strange blue light was the only thing illuminating it. “How far does it go?”
“For miles. You notice the blue light?” Callie nodded. At this, Joris smiled. “Clark’s eyes will have difficulty adjusting to it. Ours will after a few minutes. This is where he needs to be led.”
“What about Lynch and Jenna? How will they adapt to this light?”
It was a good question, one Joris hadn’t thought much about. The eyes of the lycanthrope were quite different than that of Clark’s species. “I will show them down later. I don’t think it’s going to be an issue with them. Clark’s kind won’t see down here. At the end of this chamber is an exit. As long as he cannot penetrate the door, he will not escape.”
She heard herself sighing, felt the sting of tears dying to be released. This wasn’t just for her, Lynch, or Jenna. It was a fight for Hugh. He had never done anything wrong. He lived his life by the book, by the law. She often thought good people died too young. It was obviously the way of the world.
“I hope you’re right, Joris,” she whispered.
He brought his hand up to her cheek. “I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe it.”
“You realize you’re risking your neck, don’t you?” She couldn’t explain it, but this man made her feel safe. It was the same feeling she had around Lynch. “Clark is an evil bastard. I would hate for anyone to die at his hands.”
“I’m not afraid to die for something I believe in,” he said.
His eyes were gleaming, beautiful. “You don’t even know me.”
“It doesn’t mean I don’t want to,” he said softly.
If she didn’t feel like shit right now, she would have kissed him. She was happy to stand in front of him and gaze into his eyes. She was confused. Her heart was confused. She thought she wanted Clark when she lived in New York. She moved to LeVale and immediately thought she wanted Lynch. She was in the middle of the boonies, and now she wanted to kiss yet another man. Perhaps she needed to go far, far away. Where ever she went, Clark was sure to follow. It was best to be trapped here.
“Thank you, Joris,” she said. “I’d like to, once this nightmare is over.”
He took his hand away from her face, took her hand, and placed a gentle kiss on it. “And we will,” he said once he released her hand. “One thing you should know about me is that I don’t break a promise.”
“I’m counting on that.”
The two of them turned away from the massive hole that led to the end of the chambers. Callie wanted to go further, but Joris insisted they start back. There was much to be done, planned, and executed. Whatever happened to any of them, one thing they knew for certain was that Clark could not be allowed to live. The world was not ready for an immortal such as him. Callie should have cured him, fooled him some way, and ended his miserable life. She didn’t know why she couldn’t have done so. They would not be here right now, in this situation.
Without warning, Callie stopped walking and dropped to the floor. Crossing her legs before her, she began to rock back and forth. Shock had become her friend more than ever. Joris, of course, immediately knew it, sensed what the problem was. It had to be time to break this chain of guilt surrounding her heart. It would get them nowhere. He didn’t think, feel, or breathe for a moment. He dropped down to the cold floor that made up the creepy feel of the room.
Although his question would most likely sound like the stupidest thing on earth, he couldn’t stop the words coming out of his mouth. “Are you okay?”
Callie liked Joris. She really did. However, his question made her want to sock him. “You know what’s in my head, Joris. Why would you ask such a question?”
“Admittedly, I don’t know you very well,” he began. “I feel as if you are on the verge of confronting Clark on your own. We have beaten this conversation to death.” He looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “Don’t you think?”
“Perhaps it would be different if one of you has lost a loved one,” she said, hurt dripping from each word. She matched Joris’ raised eyebrow, mocking it for all it was worth. “Have you? Have any of you?”
Bitterly, Joris laughed and shook his head. “You are a piece of work, Callie Norwood. Lynch has lost more than you’ll never know. I know it doesn’t help your grief or make you understand. You’re a selfish brat at times, Callie. That attitude will kill you if you don’t keep check on it.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” She suddenly burst out angrily. “Excuse me for a moment, allow me to grieve, and let me say fuck you, Lynch, Jenna, and Andy. Fuck you all.” For a moment, she covered her face to allow her hands to soak in her tears. When she looked at Joris again, he was watching her carefully. “If I give myself to Clark, he will leave everyone else alone.”
“And that, my friend, will be the death of everyone in his house,” he told her soberly. “He wants to kill Lynch, possibly rape Jenna, and eliminate myself as well as Andy for the hell of it. He doesn’t want just you. I thought we had already established this. It’s like your tantrum has wiped out your memory.”
Callie couldn’t believe it. Only moments ago, Joris was gentle with her, hinting at a possible relationship if any of them survived Clark’s attack. Now he was speaking to her as if she had just met him. What was he? A temperamental immortal? Was that it? A touch of new understanding flowed through her. What was Joris’ story? What was his interest in this ‘snake people’ bullshit? Was he hiding his own secrets? How could be like Clark without the evil? Was it possible?
“Joris,” she began quietly. “You’re an immortal.”
He shook his head. “Not exactly. I’ve been touched by them, but I’m far from an immortal, and nothing like Clark Honsterott. I sense things, more so than Andy.”
“If that’s the case, do you know what’s going to happen in the end?” She asked quietly, unsure that she wanted to hear the answer.
“Nothing is foretold, Callie. It’s not as easy as that. What I know is that these chambers will bring about Clark’s demise. He could sense it and choose not to come. However, he wants a mate and will go to great lengths to find one, even if it means the blue light blinds him. His kind cannot control their urges.”
She reached out and covered his hand with hers. To her surprise, he responded by gripping it tightly. “I don’t think he wants me to bear his child,” she whispered. “He’s looking to Jenna. Lycans may be his natural enemy, but impregnating her will surely bring about what he wants. My role may be no more than nourishment for the child. Destroying Jenna guarantees that Lynch will die.”
“You are very enlightened for one so young,” he declared. “I will ensure Jenna and Lynch memorize the layout of the house as well as the chambers. You all will have the advantage. That I promise you.”
Callie moved suddenly, surprising Joris with her agility. She straddled his lap, her hands on each side of his face. “You can get to know me before the shit hits the fan. I’ll tell you everything you want to know and more. I expect the same of you. Can I have you? Can I have something that is mine?”
“You’re finding a substitute for Lynch,” he said knowingly. “What will this be, Callie?”
“A connection, Joris,” she whispered urgently. “What’s better than that? I’ve had them with Lynch. But what I think is going on is stronger than that. It’s what I want. Can we talk about our lives later? Can we?”
When he spoke to her earlier, he expected the job to be done, their way of life insured to last forever. He was nice to her, speaking his mind, and she wanted to be connected. What did it mean? What did anything mean anymore?
His voice ended in a moan as her hands settled below his belt. It was a wicked caress, one she was very skilled at. He had incredible control and could resist the most beautiful women he had ever encountered. Callie was different. She was clearly needy, lost, and grieving. Did she honestly believe having sex with him would make a difference?
Before he knew what was happening, Callie had somehow managed to unbutton her blouse, revealing the slight curve of her breasts. She led his hand inside her blouse. He felt the intense thumping of her heart, the flesh below his hands was hot, swollen, and pushing urgently against his skin. His mind screamed at him to stop, to push her away. It wasn’t working. He wanted to give in to his urges. Although he had had his fair share of young women, it had been a long time since he sank himself into strange, wondrous flesh. They were alone down here. There was no one to save him from this episode. Using her like this was not what he wanted from her, not this soon.
When she kissed him, he lost most of his coherent thought. His hand sank deeper into her blouse, enough so where it enabled him to cup one of her breasts gently, his thumb brushing against the nipple each time her tongue flicked into his mouth. Moments after her mouth seemed to devour his, he felt her going for his zipper, where his erection strained desperately against the material of his pants.
He broke the kiss and watched helplessly as Callie released the zipper, freeing him from his confines. It was obvious that he wanted her badly. She moved slightly, just enough to allow herself to hike up her skirt. Her panties were removed in a whisper quick motion. She raised her body and slid down onto him. At first, there was no movement. Each had to suddenly adjust to the feel of their bodies meshing so passionately well together. Joris didn’t care what brought this on any longer. He grasped the sides of her hips, matching each and every move, matching each and every thrust. Their mouths met as the frenzy of their lovemaking continued. She tasted and felt amazingly wonderful. Whatever connection she needed, he was happy to give it to her. Afterwards, he didn’t know what would happen.
The moment she felt him close to bursting inside her, she broke the kiss, and buried her head inside his neck. He felt nipping bites as he slammed her body against his in a frenzy of lust, insanity, and disconnected sex. Or at least that was what he told himself. Perhaps he was more connected to her than he thought. At his release, he damned near growled, wondering all along if his intention was to do this when he led her into the underground chambers. Their bodies were still connected, even after his release. He knew she had yet to meet hers. His hand slid to the point where their bodies were meld. He touched her at the sensitive small mound of flesh that was slippery, swollen, and hard. Caressing her, whispering softly to her, she took a sharp intake of breath, her body quivering as if she had stepped into a very cold room. Their bodies shuddered together.
As they both recovered, Joris couldn’t help but look down at her almost helplessly. “What did we do, Callie?” He asked. His voice full of wonder. “What did we do?”
Sweat trickled down between her breasts. It was moisture he was tempted to drink in. “We had a connection, Joris. You showed me how good it can be.”
“It was…it was unexpected, almost a mistake,” he said, hating himself for the words coming out of his mouth. “Yet, I can’t lie. I imagined this, wanted it the moment I met you. Just not like this.”
Her lips brushed against his. “If we survive this, we’ve found our connection. That I promise you.”
While Joris and Callie were exploring their bodies and the chambers down below the house, Andy busied himself in the lab. Jenna and Lynch took to the outside, exploring the grounds. Joris’ house and property reminded Lynch of his home, a home he couldn’t return to now. He wasn’t a man who cried often, but thinking about it made tears suddenly well in his eyes. Jenna sensed his grief, so he felt her hand slipping into his, squeezing it for comfort. Although he had serious guilt issues turning her, he was glad she was here. At times, he didn’t know what he would do without her.
“I think Joris and Callie have made love,” Jenna said suddenly, a high blush coming to her cheeks.
Lynch smiled. “You sensed that too?”
“Yeah,” she said. “I saw it coming for miles.”
Lynch stopped walking for a moment, also halting Jenna. They were staring at a very tall tree on Joris’ property. He wondered if it had been alive since he walked the earth. It appeared to be old, but still kept its majesty. This tree was beautiful, the spot perfect. He looked all around them, not a soul was here. He gazed down at Jenna for so long that she felt nervous.
“What is it?” She whispered. “You’re getting all weird,” she said jokingly.
“I want you to be my wife,” he said suddenly.
Shocked, she placed her hand over her heart. “Are you kidding me?”
“No. We’ll be cured soon, when Clark dies. I want a wife. I want you to be her. Your devotion is beyond what anyone else would attempt. You’re my mate,” he said. “It’s not enough for me. Marry me, Jenna. Marry me when I’m able to live a mortal life, one where we can have children, where we can make love for life.”
For a moment, everything for Jenna was moving too fast and too slow at the same time. She didn’t know how that was possible, but it was how it played in her head and heart. Vaguely, she wondered how long Lynch had thought about asking her to marry him. Surely, it hadn’t popped into his mind before they made love the first time, before he changed her? Suddenly, she felt dizzy and sick. It seemed as if she had stepped onto the page of an old-fashioned romantic drama.
“I didn’t expect such an extended slice of silence,” he said with a slight smile.
Jenna shook her head before expelling a brief spill of laughter. “When you’re hit with something left field, it happens.” She looked back at the enormous tree they both had been staring at before focusing her eyes on his face. “How long have you wanted to ask?”
He kicked at the damp grass with the toe of his boot. It was the action of a child, one who had aged hundreds of years without knowing what true adulthood meant. Making the picture complete, he stuffed his hands into his pockets and shrugged. Jenna halfway expected him to utter ‘golly gee.’ She supposed she shouldn’t be standing here, inventing caricatures of him in her mind. Perhaps she wanted to give him a hard time. After all, how long had she waited for this moment? How long had she fantasized that he would ride in on a white horse, take her pale hand in his, and ask her to marry him? It was crazy. It was even more so that she had yet to answer his proposal.
“It’s a hard question to answer, Jenna,” he finally said. “I think it’s that I know a cure is imminent.”
She reached over to him and grasped his hand in hers. “We could always get married at any point in time, Lynch. We don’t have to wait for the cure.”
He began to form words in his mind to reply to her when it hit him with the sudden force of ten fists in his face. Quizzically, he looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “Are you saying yes or simply torturing me for never asking before?”
“Maybe something along the lines of both?”
Lynch saw she was smiling at him, her eyes alive with the light that always brought an ache to his heart. It was the same feeling when he heard her sing as she finished her daily chores. She hadn’t sang in so long, he was tempted to ask her to do so today, right at this moment. It seemed cheesy, but at the same time, he had never felt happier or settled.
Helplessly, he looked at her. “Jenna,” he managed to utter.
“If you need something solid, Lynch, I’ll give it to you,” she said softly. “Yes. I will marry you.”
Oddly, he didn’t know what to do next. He never expected to ask her. He never expected her to answer. If they were a typical couple, he would take her in his arms, hold her, and possibly kiss the breath out of her. However, they weren’t a typical couple. Despite this idea, he grabbed her in the tightest bear hug he could manage, and spun her around crazily until he grew dizzy. Both of them collapsed to the damp grass, laughing like children.
By the time they went back up to the house, their clothes were damp. Neither immediately paid attention, instead making their way back to the kitchen. They sensed the others were there. As it turned out, their instincts were spot on. Joris, Callie, and Andy were at the kitchen table. Andy and Joris had cups of tea before them. Jenna noticed a steaming pot on the stove. Jenna thought of what happened between Joris and Callie. She wanted to say something, but didn’t. Instead, she focused her eyes on the teapot. Before she decided what she wanted to say to them all, she went for the tea, fumbling around, finding a cup, and nearly burning herself in the process.
Jenna joined the others after a few moments. “How did you find the chambers?” The question was innocent enough. It still seemed full of innuendo.
Callie looked at Jenna, immediately noticing something in her eyes. She obviously knew what had happened between her and Joris. She couldn’t keep a deep blush from coloring her cheeks. “They’re impressive,” she finally said.
Unaffected by whatever either Jenna or Lynch knew, Joris pushed on, “The lighting is what will bring Clark down. I’ll take the three of you down later and you will see what I mean. There may be some slight residual effect with your eyes,” he said, focusing on Jenna and Lynch. “However, it shouldn’t be enough to keep you from eliminating your enemy.”
The way Joris and Andy spoke of ‘eliminating Clark’ confused Jenna. It sounded like words she read in medieval stories she so loved in grade school. She took a sip of tea, which immediately soured in her stomach. This whole affair seemed sorted, false, and left a bad taste in her mouth. The nightmare had not only begun, but worsened with each passing minute. She pushed her cup aside.
Lynch noticed that there was more on Jenna’s mind than the secret chambers. “Are you okay?”
She looked his way, smiled weakly, and nodded. “Fine.” She slid back from the table. “I think I’m going upstairs for a bit.”
In unison, the men rose to their feet. Again, thoughts of old time chivalry entered her mind. It left as quickly as it came. She didn’t notice that Callie watched her carefully.
Jenna was tired, so the trip upstairs took a few moments. By the time she entered the bedroom, she was ready for a nap. However, she was still unsettled. She drew the curtains away from the window and peered out. There was no sign of Clark here, just woods, grass, and flowers. She sensed he was coming swiftly on their heels. She figured she knew the root of her problem. With the exception of a few woodland creatures and bugs, she had never killed another living thing in her life.
Clark wasn’t human. He was nowhere near that. She also thought he was nothing close to human before he became immortal. He was a monster, a thief in the night, one born to create chaos. If she believed he was human, her job wouldn’t get any easier. Why the hell was she so conflicted? What he had done to the people she loved was enough salt to flavor the meat. There was more on her mind, but she wasn’t ready to think about it yet.
Jenna turned her head slightly when she heard a soft rapping at the door. She hadn’t bothered closing it behind her as she sensed Lynch was with the men. She didn’t really need to look to know it was Callie. However, old human habits died hard.
“You can come in,” Jenna said. “The door is open.” When Callie entered the room, Jenna moved away from the window and sat in one of the high backed wing chairs near the bed. She sensed Callie wanted to talk. It didn’t take special powers to figure that one out, either. “Sit?”
Callie nodded briefly and sat in the vacant chair that sat almost catty cornered to Jenna’s. These chairs were far from functional. They were ugly, old uncomfortable things. “The men are still upstairs polishing the plan.” She waited to see if Jenna would respond. When she didn’t, Callie continued, “Even before I met Clark, I never had what one would call girlfriends. My mother was always there for me, of course, but not to speak about men or relationships.” A sardonic laugh escaped her. “She still thinks I’m a virgin.”
Jenna smiled, understanding the thoughts coursing through Callie’s mind. “I know what you mean. My mother was the same way. And like you, I never had close friends. There wasn’t time for them. It’s the only thing I dislike about growing up the way I did. If one is a Vos, he or she is destined for duty.”
“Do you regret anything that has happened to you since you became immortal?” Callie asked gently. There was a time when she considered Jenna her rival. It was different today, different since they had a common goal in mind.
“No,” she answered quickly, solidly. “Not one day. I simply want this evil to be harnessed and live out my life without worrying if someone is coming after Lynch to either arrest or kill him.”
“Jenna, I have greatly misjudged you.” She sighed heavily. “I know you knew I was interested in Lynch when I first came. I also knew it was probably hopeless. I tried, I did, and I’m sorry for that.”
“It’s okay,” she said, her voice somewhat weary. “Things change, people evolve. We’re educated women, we both know this. With that said, I have misjudged you as well.”
Callie drew her hand slowly through her short hair. If she survived this, she thought about growing it out again, changing up, changing her life. If it was possible. “I suppose you know what happened between me and Joris?”
Jenna smiled again, her cheeks pinking. No matter how passionate she was with Lynch, she wasn’t one who was comfortable discussing other people’s sex lives. “Yeah, I think I do.”
“Will you hear me out?” Callie asked. She sensed Jenna’s reluctance to carry out this conversation.
“Of course,” she said, waving her hand toward her in a circular motion. “Go on.”
“The moment came on so suddenly, I didn’t know what I was doing. I just know it felt right,” she explained.
Jenna could commiserate. The moment came suddenly for her and Lynch as well. There were no doubts after she made love to Lynch, not on her part. Whatever Lynch felt afterward was secondary to what was inside her heart and mind. It felt right, just as Callie had expressed.
“Maybe you were brought here to meet Joris,” Jenna said. “Even more so if you believe in fate, if you believe things happen for a reason.”
“As if all your life was building up to this moment,” Callie said, the weight of the words felt enormous coming out of her mouth.
“Whatever happens, Jenna, I hope we can stay in touch,” she said, the moment suddenly feeling awkward, surreal. What the hell? Were they acting out a movie of the week?
“I know,” Jenna said. “It seems outrageous to be having this conversation, doesn’t it?”
Goddamned immortals, reading minds, she thought mischievously. “You’re right. I’m going to head back downstairs and check out the lab. We may have some work to do.” Callie stood and made her way to the door. She turned back to glance at Jenna. At first, Callie couldn’t find the word that described the other woman. Then it hit her. Jenna was haggard. “Maybe you should take a nap.”
“I think you’re right,” Jenna said. “On both accounts.”