Blood & Curses

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Chapter 18: Confrontation

Henry slept peacefully beside Victoria until he felt her move from the bed. Opening his eyes to the dark room, he watched as she put on a sheer robe and moved one of the blackout curtains to the side of the window latching it to a hook. The light of the moon illuminated the room as she stood there for a few moments soaking in its rays.

Turning to rest her gaze upon his face as he laid there, Victoria walked over to the side of the bed and sat down, leaning over him to plant a passionate kiss upon his lips. As she did so, Henry wrapped his arms around her waist and flipped her over him, tucking her into the crook of his arm and holding her body close to his chest.

“I have to go soon,” she said, as she pulled her mouth away from his and ran her finger tips down the side of his face.

“Why?” he groaned as he buried his face into her neck, breathing in the scent of her.

She sighed. “I have to feed tonight. I’ve been neglecting my needs.”

“I have needs too,” he mumbled into her neck, the sound muffled by her hair.

She laughed. “Oh, don’t worry. Those needs will be fully met when I get back. Feeding heightens the mood.”

“Oh, really?” he said, lifting his head up from her. “Well, in that case, hurry back.”

Smiling, she pulled herself away from his arms and crossed the room to the bathroom to change. Henry sat up and reached over towards the nightstand where the conjuring book lay. Picking it up, he hid it underneath the pillow beside him as Victoria came back into the room. He had forgotten how fast vampires could be as she came back to the bed dressed in a little black dress bound for Adrian’s club, no doubt.

“Does it have to be at Blush?” Henry asked. “You can hunt anywhere. It doesn’t have to be at my enemy’s club.”

Victoria pursed her lips. “That’s true, but right now, it’s the safest place for us to be. I would rather not get murdered by a Hunter in an unknown location.”

Henry sighed. Her point was valid and being tied to the estate was starting to feel more like a handicap than it used to. He wanted desperately to protect her but he knew he couldn’t leave.

“Please be careful,” he said as he held her cheek in his hand. She put her hand over his and kissed his palm.

“I’ll be back before the night is over and I expect you to be in this bed before I get back,” she replied with a wicked grin.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said with a smirk.

Giving him one last kiss, she headed for the bedroom door and he listened to the sounds of the mansion as the large, heavy front door closed downstairs. Bolting from the bed, he quickly picked up his clothes from the floor and pulled them on before taking the hidden book. Racing out of the room and down the stairs towards the gentlemen’s parlor, he stood in the quiet space.

Closing his eyes, he focused on where the others were within the estate. Thomas was by the stables while the others were scattered throughout the house. Sending out a signal to the rest telepathically, he waited for them each to appear within the parlor.

“Why did you summon us?” Thomas asked as he flopped onto one of the leather sofas. Mary sat in a chair in the corner while Ebele and Martha sat together on the couch opposite Thomas. Henry took a seat in a chair facing the couches.

Henry lifted the book into the air before letting it drop upon the coffee table between them all. Mary stood from her chair and came closer to see what was going on before settling down beside Thomas.

“What is it?” Mary asked as they all peered at the book before them.

“It’s a conjuring book. It has the exact same ritual we all participated in within its pages. Now why is that, Ebele?” Henry asked as he turned his attention to her.

Ebele picked up the book and held it in her hands. “I thought I lost this book forever…”

“What’s going on here?” Thomas inquired sitting straighter on the couch. “I’ve never seen that book before. What is Henry talking about?”

Ebele stiffened as she laid the book in her lap. “This book belonged to my mother and it disappeared after the ritual that night. It was my most prized possession, handed down to me by my ancestors. How did you find it?”

“Victoria located it from that store she found online. She actually did it,” Thomas whispered to himself.

“You knew about this?” Henry asked him.

“I knew that Victoria was checking on a few things for us. She found a store called Kalfou. That must be where she discovered this book,” Thomas replied.

“That’s great but what’s so special about this thing?” Mary asked impatiently.

“There’s a ritual in there to summon Kalfou which by my interpretation is basically a demon that deals in the crossing over of souls, particularly those who are evil. Correct me if I’m wrong Ebele, but we didn’t get to this state we’re in because of a protection spell gone awry,” Henry said. “You summoned a demon.”

“Is this true?” Martha asked, a gasp escaping her lips. “Tell me that isn’t true, Ebele.”

Ebele remained quiet for some time before answering. “It’s true, Mrs. Martha. But that’s not the whole story.”

“Please, enlighten us,” Thomas spat, anger rising in his voice.

Ebele sighed deeply as she ran her fingers over the old, worn leather of the book before her. It was a loving gesture, as if she was back together with an old friend or lover.

“This book belonged to my mother. It was passed down through our matriarchal line until it finally made its way to me,” Ebele began. “When the tragedies struck our estate, I combed through all the ancient words my mother had spoken to me over the years before she passed. I thought I would never see this book again, a treasure I had forgone when I conducted the ritual to save this family.”

“You condemned this family,” Henry blurted out.

“I did what I thought I had to do!” Ebele shouted as she stood up from the couch. “I gave up my life too. I did it for you. For all of you! This was my home as well!”

“Stop with this,” Martha stated. “What happened?”

Ebele quieted at the curt words spoken by Martha. “I pleaded to Papa Legba. A deity within the Voodoo culture. One of the most powerful of the Loa. He never answered my calls so I turned to his other self, the one who I knew couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be set free.”

“Kalfou,” Henry finished. “What did you promise him?”

“I didn’t know,” Ebele replied, her voice trembling as tears filled her eyes. “He was only supposed to take my life, not yours. I pray every day for your souls to return. This was never what I wanted and my mother warned me of the tricks Kalfou would play. She told me to never call upon him no matter how desperate I was but I didn’t heed her warning. Now we’re all paying the price.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Mary asked. “Why our souls? What does he have to gain from doing this to us?”

“I was anticipating Kalfou to find a loophole in our agreement so I covered my tracks. The items you all used for the spell, I had placed a binding spell on them to each of you that meant your spirits couldn’t cross over leaving your bodies behind. Kalfou has only ever wanted two things from those who have called upon him. Their souls and a body of his own that can separate him from Papa Legba once and for all,” she concluded.

“Why can’t we return to our bodies?” Mary inquired.

“That was my shortcoming,” Ebele revealed. “The ritual was never completed to its entirety and I didn’t know how to do that without this.”

Ebele held up the book in her hand.

“So you can complete the ritual now and bring us back?” Thomas asked.

Ebele shook her head. “If I were alive, yes. Since I’m separated from my physical form, I don’t have the power that I once had, only being half of the person I once was. I can’t draw upon my full power in this realm.”

“So we’ll get someone else to do it then,” Mary said.

“It’s not that simple,” Ebele admitted. “The ritual would have to be restarted and a new contract drawn between Kalfou and the poor soul who conducts the ritual. Kalfou made a mistake once but he won’t be so easily fooled again. The ritual can never be completed if we want Kalfou to stay in the spiritual realm.”

“How bad can this Kalfou be?” Thomas inquired. “Would it really be terrible if he was granted freedom?”

“Yes!” Ebele stated. “He’s an evil entity who harvests malevolent souls! There’s no telling what havoc would be wrought upon the physical world.”

“And if a vampire conducted the ritual…” Martha began. “Would there be a way to get around his agreements?”

“Grandma, what do you mean?” Henry asked. “Wouldn’t that be worse? Taking possession of a vampire’s body? They’re immortal, fast, and strong. That would be a recipe for disaster!”

“You just don’t want anything to happen to your precious Victoria,” Mary pointed out.

“Not this again,” Thomas muttered.

“Wait,” Ebele started. “You have a point…”

“No!” Henry shouted, taking a stand. “Absolutely not. Victoria and her family are off limits.”

“Shouldn’t we let Victoria make that call?” Mary asked, sarcastically. “She wants to help us. It’s her body so it should be her choice.”

“Henry,” Ebele stated. “Vampires are bridges between the living and the dead. She may be the only person who can complete the ritual without falling victim to Kalfou or the ritual itself.”

“Or she may be the reason behind why Kalfou allows her and her family to pass through the barrier because he knows that he needs her to complete the ritual so he can come to this world,” Henry pointed out. “We’re not using my girlfriend.”

“You’re girlfriend?” Mary asked, shocked.

Henry sighed and walked over to the decanter to pour himself a drink. Mary stood up from her seat and walked around to stand behind the couch, her hands clutching the cushions.

“I think we should give Victoria the option,” Thomas said with a sigh. “I’m calling a vote.”

“I want no part in this,” Henry said as he downed his drink, heading towards the archway to leave.

“You’re a part of this family too whether you want to be or not,” Thomas yelled after him as Henry stopped in his tracks. Henry turned to face him.

“I don’t see us putting someone you love at risk here,” Henry said angrily.

“Love? She’s a monster, Henry. How could you possibly love one of those…things,” Mary roared.

“I’ve put up with you long enough, Mary!” bellowed Henry. “You want to know what Victoria knows? She told me that there’s a chance that your stable boy is still alive. Now tell me how much you hate her!”

“What?” Mary blinked. “He’s dead…”

“There’s a possibility he was turned,” Henry shared.

Mary sighed a shaky breath. “He’s still dead.”

Henry walked back into the room, frustrated. “How stubborn are you, Mary? I’m telling you that there’s a good chance the love of your life is still alive and your hatred for vampires is so deeply engrained that you don’t even care?”

“Even if he’s alive, it’s not him. Not anymore,” she replied softly.

Henry shook his head. “I can’t believe you…Go ahead. Make your vote, but I don’t want anything to do with this family. Not anymore.”

The others remained silent as Henry stormed out of the room. Everyone turned their attention towards Thomas. He rubbed his head as he leaned back on the couch, sighing.

“We’ll follow you, Thomas,” Martha said.

“I assume all of you believe we should talk to Victoria,” Thomas replied.

The rest of his family nodded in agreement.

Thomas leaned forward on the couch. “I’ll talk to her. Mary I need to talk to you alone.”

Ebele and Martha disappeared from the parlor leaving just the two of them behind. Lifting himself from the couch, he approached her from across the room.

“I understand your hatred, Mary. No one understands the grief of a loss more than we do. When I lost my wife, I thought my life was over. All the plans we had made were gone. I even considered ending it all, but the rest of my family needed me. Just like Henry needs you,” Thomas explained. “I’ve never seen him so happy when he’s around that woman—”

Vampire,” Mary emphasized.

“Still,” Thomas circled back. “She makes him happy and unless your purpose is to make sure Henry is just as miserable as you are, I suggest you take a real hard look at yourself. Henry just offered you a light at the end of this tunnel, to get the love of your life back. I would give anything to have Eliza back in my life. You’ve been given a second chance. That’s more than the rest of us.”

Thomas walked away from his sister, leaving her with the echo of his words. Mary blinked back the tears threatening to spill from her eyes, her fists unclenching as the weight of his words pierced her heart. As much as she hated their kind, her brother was right. Although she knew she had a lot to learn, she was willing to give Victoria a chance if it meant Henry being able to share in at least an ounce of what she had with her lost love.

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