Chapter 24: The Hidden
Kate and Logan held their guns firmly in their hands as they took aim at the Elderidge Clan. While they weren’t planning on killing the Clan themselves, they weren’t sure how they would react towards Hunters on their grounds. Kate only hoped that they had made it in time before Kalfou was able to gain his abilities and live among the living.
“We’re not here to hurt you,” Kate began. “We’re just here to talk.”
“If you’re so inclined to talk then why are you pointing your weapons at us? Silver bullets, no doubt,” James taunted as he took a step closer.
Logan fired a warning shot at the ground causing the crowd to take a step back. Kate flinched at the sound of the gun but understood that a line needed to be drawn in the sand between them and the vampires.
Henry jumped in front of the Elderidge Clan holding his hands in the air while his sister followed his lead putting distance between them.
“We’re human. Don’t shoot!” Henry shouted.
“Humans?” Logan whispered to Kate as they both lowered their weapons slightly. Kate and Logan shared a look with each other. It had appeared that the Ashfords had found a way back into their physical forms.
“Did Kalfou survive?” Kate inquired as she lowered her weapon even further.
“We don’t know,” Ebele answered as she took a step forward clutching her chest with her hand, fresh blood dripping from the corner of her mouth.
Kate was the first to rush forward as Ebele collapsed on the ground, her skin clammy as she convulsed in her arms.
“She’s going into shock!” Kate announced as William scooped Ebele up and rushed towards the back entrance of the estate down the path through the cemetery.
“Shoot us later,” Matthew said as he passed Logan. “Right now, she needs our help.”
Logan lowered his gun, confused by the regard for human life by a vampire. Kate and Logan ran after the crowd, placing their guns back in their holsters. Bursting through the back doors of the estate, William set Ebele’s body down on the kitchen island. Victoria took a rag and soaked it in cold water from the kitchen sink before placing it over Ebele’s forehead to try and relax her.
Kate stood beside Ebele as her body shook, sweat dripping from her forehead even though her body temperature was plummeting. Her skin was ashen and there was a slight bluish tint to her lips as she panted shallow breaths.
“You have to breathe,” Kate pleaded as she held her hand tightly. Ebele looked at her as more blood spilled from her mouth.
“This…this is black magic…” Ebele panted as she tried to breathe.
Logan pushed his way between William and James. “I think I can save her.”
“Then do it!” Mary commanded as she grabbed her brother’s arm, holding on for dear life. Victoria felt pity for her. She had just lost several family members in one night and now she was about to lose another.
“Everyone stand back!” Logan shouted as he stood across the table from Kate. Logan held out his hands over Ebele as if scanning her body with them. He breathed deeply as he gently ran his hands over Ebele as she moaned in pain.
Kate watched mesmerized by his actions. She knew that Logan was adept at knowledge when it came to the magical arts but she had no idea he had practiced them.
“I need a pen, vodka, and a lot of prayer,” he said finally as he ripped Ebele’s bouse open revealing her corset. Kate helped him undo it until they were finally able to see her bare skin. Covering her breasts with a dish towel to allow Ebele a semblance privacy, Victoria came back with the required items.
Feeling along Ebele’s rib cage, he placed his finger on a spot in between two ribs. Splashing the place with the vodka, he picked up a knife from the counter and made an incision. Ebele squeezed Kate’s hand at the stinging pain as Logan broke apart the pen and inserted the tube where the ink once was into the incision.
Victoria grabbed a bowl as black liquid began to pour from her chest incision allowing her to finally breathe.
“Kate, I need you to feel along her chest and push the rest of the liquid out from her chest cavity,” Logan instructed.
“I…I’m not sure how to do that—”
“Kate! Use your ability. Locate the liquid and create a barrier within her chest to push the liquid out through the incision. We don’t have much time,” Logan insisted as Victoria watched the two of them work while holding the bowl just below the counter.
Kate nodded as she placed her hands over Ebele’s chest. She had never tried this with her ability before but her job was to protect humans and that’s what Ebele now was. Closing her eyes, she could sense her collapsed lung and the liquid beside it.
Being as gentle as possible, she felt the ball of energy forming within her chest and pushed the ball outward within the space beside her thoracic cavity and the liquid trying to infect her heart. More of it gushed through the incision site into the bowl, the smell putrid. Ebele groaned at the pressure within her chest as Kate pushed the barrier out further trying to get every last bit of the vile substance out of her body.
“That’s enough,” Logan said breathlessly.
Kate pulled back and inhaled deeply as Ebele settled down, color returning to her body as he breathing returned to a somewhat normal pace.
Victoria pulled the bowl away as she headed for the sink. The liquid looked just like the potion they had removed from the others. She poured it down the sink and washed it all away, never wanting to lay eyes on the foul stuff again.
“I’ll need to stitch the wound closed but other than that, the worst of it is over,” Logan announced.
“What was that? What happened to her?” Henry asked.
“Kalfou is known for many tricks. This type of curse is known as being pressed. It usually occurs slowly over time as to inflict the most pain on the victim but Kalfou sped up the process. Essentially, the liquid builds within the body cavity around the lungs and heart and presses the organs until death occurs. If we hadn’t had drained it when we did, she would surely have died. Thank God for modern medicinal techniques,” Logan explained.
“Will she have any permanent damage to her organs?” William inquired.
Logan sighed. “It’s too soon to tell but my best guess is that it’ll be a little harder for her to breathe than it once was. The pressing curse was a little more advanced than what I thought. Possibly asthma, she may need oxygen from now on but at least she’s alive,” Logan replied.
“Thank you, sir,” Henry said, shaking Logan’s hand. “And to you as well, miss.”
While Henry and Mary thanked the couple, Victoria and her family backed away, unsure of how to interact with the Hunters. Logan had started working on stitching the incision site with a needle and dental floss.
“We’re not going to harm you,” Kate said, looking up from Ebele towards the Clan.
“You’re the ones who threw the grenade,” James said.
“You’re correct about that,” Logan answered. “We weren’t aiming for you though.”
“We were trying to kill Kalfou before he entered this world,” Kate explained. “While it’s true you may have been our original target, Kalfou is more of a threat to this world than your Clan.”
“Forgive us if we’re not inclined to trust Hunters,” William commented.
“Look, if we wanted to harm you we would’ve already called for backup to raid your home,” Kate admitted. “Let’s just say that you and I have a common enemy here and it might be best to work together for the time being.”
“You’re talking about Alastor,” Victoria remarked. “While we’d love to help you take down our maker, we don’t want to get mixed up in Hunter affairs.”
“Our affairs are your affairs,” Logan replied. “Alastor may not seem like much of a threat to you and your kind but trust me, he has plans for vampires around here and I’m not sure they’re going to benefit either of us.”
“You know these plans?” William asked.
“Not yet, but we intend to find out,” Kate answered. “Alastor has been working with Adrian. We’re not sure in what capacity or what business it deals with but those two are up to something in this town.”
“Lust…” Eleanor whispered under her breath. The others turned to face her waiting for her to explain.
Eleanor shook her head. “I’m not certain but I have a feeling it has to do with the new beverages Adrian is concocting for the vampire community. He used human blood in the drink to curb our hunger and that would be something intriguing to Alastor.”
“Great, now we just have to figure out why,” Kate declared.
“We?” James asked, an eyebrow raised. “We don’t work for Hunters.”
Kate rolled her eyes as she stepped forward, squaring the vampire up for size. “This isn’t about you and me anymore, this is about us and them.”
William smirked at the gall this petite woman had standing up to James, one of the biggest vampires around. He stood between James and Kate as James stepped down.
“If we’re going to be working together then we should at least know your name,” William stated, his eyes gentle even though his stance was as solid as a fortress.
Kate gazed into his eyes, unafraid. “My name is Caitríona Hayes, but you can call me Kate. That, over there, is my partner, Logan Danforth. It’s a pleasure to meet all of you.”
“A Hunter that sympathizes with vampires?” Eleanor asked. “I thought I’d never see the day.”
“Make no mistake,” Kate said. “As soon as we get Alastor out of the way, all of you are fair game.”
“So what’s to say we shouldn’t kill the both of you right now?” James hissed. “That sounded like a threat to me.”
“You have nothing to fear from myself or Logan,” Kate assured. “But if other Hunters come looking for your Clan, we won’t stop them for you.”
“That seems fair,” William declared.
“Your barrier around your estate is finally down. There’ll be other Hunters in New Orleans. It’s a Mecca for vampires and everyone us knows that,” she said.
“Then how come there’s a vampire running this town? You Hunters haven’t found a way to put him down yet,” Matthew pointed out.
“We do as we’re told,” Logan cut in. “For the most part.”
“You may stay here for the time being,” William stated.
“We don’t need your charity—”
“Actually, I think you do,” William began. “As two rogue Hunters who defied their master’s orders and are plotting treason, I think you two need all the help you can get if you want to survive the wrath of Alastor Boucher.”
Kate held her tongue, unsure of how to react to William’s directness. Everything he said was true. They couldn’t go back to the hotel or show their faces around town without Arlo or another Hunter reporting back to Alastor. After all, Arlo had already tried to kill them once, so it was safe to say that he would attempt to do it again.
Kate felt Logan step up beside her. Glancing over, she knew that Logan was having the same thoughts race through his mind as she did.
“We’ll stay for a while, but we have to go back to the cemetery and make sure Kalfou is gone,” Kate stated.
“I’ll go with you. I need to know that information as well,” William declared.
“I’ll assist removing the rubble. You’re going to need another pair of strong hands for all the damage that grenade caused,” James said, smirking at Logan.
“We’ll get Ebele to bed and watch after her,” Eleanor stated while her and Victoria plucked Ebele from the counter to move her to a bedroom upstairs.
“She’ll need to rest for several days. I’ll make her a tonic that will help ease her pain and speed up the healing process. I suggest you guys look into an oxygen machine to help her sleep through the night,” Logan said.
“I have connections with the hospital through one of my escorts. She’s a nurse,” Matthew said as he left the room to make a phone call.
The group separated to carry out their respective duties. Mary and Henry followed Eleanor and Victoria upstairs to care for Ebele. Once she was tucked into bed, Victoria and Eleanor left the family alone to look after each other.
Victoria followed Eleanor into her room and sat down on her sister’s bed.
“I’m not sure I should be sleeping in my room tonight,” Victoria admitted. “Mary is human again and that was her room first.”
“I don’t know, Vic,” Eleanor sighed. “I know they hung around us before, but this place doesn’t necessarily feel like ours anymore now that they’re back.”
“I agree,” Victoria said. “You think we should move away?”
Eleanor flopped down on the bed beside her. “I mean, technically the house belongs to us so…”
Victoria chuckled. “You are truly devious. Now that they’re human again, let’s just kick them out and tell them to get a job and find their own place. They haven’t been outside this estate for almost two hundred years!”
“So? There’s a first time for everything,” Eleanor teased.
“No…that wouldn’t be right,” Victoria said in a more serious tone. “I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s different now that Henry’s human.”
“Oh? Am I sensing trouble in paradise?” Eleanor asked.
“It’s just that his internal clock is ticking again. At least when he was a spirit, he wasn’t…”
“Aging,” Eleanor finished for her.
“Eventually, Henry will die and there won’t be anything holding him back. He’ll cross over and I’ll never see him again,” Victoria explained.
“Not all dead people cross over. We’ve seen that before,” Eleanor said trying to get her sister to look at the bright side.
“But that’s because they won’t accept that they’re dead or they have unfinished business—”
“Or they’re cursed,” Eleanor said with a sweet smile. “Henry has a while before that happens and besides, how do you know he wouldn’t turn for you.”
“I can’t ask him to do that,” Victoria replied.
“Why the hell not?” Eleanor said. “It’s his choice. You’re not forcing him to do anything.”
“It’s not that,” Victoria admitted sadly. “What if he makes the choice not to turn? I don’t know if I could…”
Victoria remained silent, not knowing how that option would make her feel. Eleanor took Victoria’s face in hers.
“Henry loves you,” Eleanor said.
Victoria’s eyes grew wide. “Did you…?”
“Look, I can’t always keep my hands to myself around here,” she teased. “But I know you love him too. If anyone knows feelings around here, it’s me.”
“Speaking of feelings,” Victoria began. “What happened between you and Adrian?”
Eleanor released Victoria’s face, a somber expression in her eyes. “It didn’t work out.”
Victoria stroked her sister’s hair, not knowing if the gesture consoled her or made her feel worse about whatever situation she had placed herself in.
“I really screwed up, Vic,” Eleanor cried, placing her face in her hands.
“Shh…whatever happened, I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” Victoria cooed. While Adrian was still their enemy, Eleanor had felt a closeness to him that Victoria didn’t quite understand. Maybe she wasn’t supposed to.
Eleanor hugged her sister and they talked until the first light of dawn touched upon the grounds.
“Can I sleep in here with you?” Victoria asked. “If that’s okay?”
“Of course,” Eleanor assured. “But if you kick me in your sleep like you used to when we were younger, I’m throwing you out.”
“Fair enough,” Victoria laughed.
Settling in the bed beside her sister, the first sleepover they had had in forever, Victoria drifted off into a dreamless sleep.