Ember and Beckett both keep up easily, breathlessly. I remember their conversation earlier, that they'd been training their whole life for this. It makes me have to wonder what the training had been for specifically.
I finally reach the front door, it's slightly ajar with splintering cracks around the doorknob.
Gasping I reach for the handle but Ember grabs my elbow quickly, pulling me back to her side.
“Hey-” I start but she presses a finger to her lips, her eyes wide with a serious fear. In my gut, I know to be quiet. She and Beckett slink ahead of me, pushing the door the remainder of the way open as silently as possible. Inside my home is wreckage.
Whoever had been here while I was at school had left no stone unturned. I follow them in quietly but sadness jumps into my throat and causes it to ache.
The kitchen table I had sat at just this morning was in pieces, littering the kitchen floor along with utensils and towels. All of the cabinets were open and some were even hanging by just a screw.
They had torn through everything, my apartment is a total mess. This small apartment where I grew up, is in shambles; and my aunt is nowhere to be found. I fly through the small apartment quickly, searching my room and hers, as well as the living room and shared bathroom. Nowhere.
“S-so what? Did they take her? The...vamps?” My words taste wrong, and my throat closes at the very idea of her being in their hands. I’m not sure if there are more, or how many there could be, but I know deep down if they are anything like what I had experienced then my aunt is in danger.
“If I had to guess, yes,” Ember says, her tone milked with sympathy. I turn to her, meeting her sad eyes.
“We need to help her-” Beckett once again cuts off my pleas, just as he had done earlier.
“No enough chasing our tails. Your family isn’t our concern-” I can’t help it, anger flashed through me and I turn to him quickly; shoving him hard with both hands before I can even process my actions.
Despite my hard shove he barely moves, standing still like he was made of cement. So I try to push him again, letting out an angry cry.
Tears want to flow, and for a moment I'm surprised. Emotion tends to evade me, and I cannot remember a time where I cried. But his bored face looking down at me brings another wave of emotion, one I cannot explain, and I try again to shove him.
This time he stops me, grabbing my wrists and holding them to my shoulders effortlessly, he is strong. I can see that with arm muscles expanding his black tee shirt, up this close I can see the bluish veins that web his pale arms.
This close to Beckett the electricity is unbearable, it vibrates the walls around us. Surely, Ember can see it too.
“Stop with the merciful whining, sorry and all that for your aunt-”, no. I rip my arms from his grasp harshly, my skin burns from the friction of the force.
“No! Screw you, and screw your stupid assignment! This is my life! And quite frankly my life was just fine until you two came around!” Yelling in his face does not faze him, and if anything he looks down at me as though I am a small child who's upset over candy.
“Now I don't know who you guys are, I don't know why that vamp wanted to kill me, and I don't know why they took my aunt! But I do know that if you want to complete your assignment”, I go heavy on the finger quotes, “you’re going to help me find my family.” There's a heavy silence where my words lay. I huff, my chest rising and falling heavily from my yelling. Beckett, however, is still unfazed. Ember, on the other hand, lets out a laugh.
“You are not what we expected.” She laughs out, shaking her head and leaning against a cracked counter. I look at her, trying to make my face look angry, but I cannot muster it over emotional exhaustion.
“Ember-”, Beckett says but his voice lets off, I think he knows already that Ember will do this for me. “Bullshit.” That is all he says, biting the word out and flopping down onto the last chair to not be broken.
“We help find your aunt and uncle, then you'll help us complete our assignment?” Ember asks, her eyes serious in the deal-making. I nod, my chest feeling suddenly lighter knowing I will find my family. It occurs as an afterthought that Ember knew of my uncle. I don't think I'd mentioned him at all? But I drop it, having more pressing matters to stress about.
“Ember, we were told to keep the girl safe,” Beckett says, only half-heartedly. My chest rumbles at ‘girl’, I'm not just some helpless girl. Or maybe I am since I have not been able to protect myself or my family.
“We will keep her safe, can you not see that we cannot take her against her will?” Beckett looks hopeful for a moment, knowing damn well he probably could take me against my will. I am thankful Ember is choosing not to.
“We can protect her while doing what she needs, then she will come with us. This is the best-case scenario, ” Ember continues, her voice growing fierce when she notices her brother rolling his eyes at her. “Don't look at me like that Beck! Now shut it, and call Alatar! We’re helping Astra save her family.”