Chapter 21: Sly Witch
Hey, novitiates! Hope you guys are ready for today’s update *wink* *wink*
Sooo, I don’t know if you guys remember, but does me saying that “the only person I had ‘cast’ for this series was Idris Elba as Abraham” ring a bell? Welp, I lied. I found some Hezekiah inspiration last week and I could not be any happier. It’s like someone literally carved the idea I had of him out of my mind.
Can I get an amen from the choir!?!?!?!
If anybody has any character inspirations for this series, PLEASE send them to me so I can post them on the Instagram page (which you should ALL be following - @voodooqueensnola). So far, I only have Abraham and Hezekiah. I love leaving it up to everyone’s interpretation, which is why I prefer that readers send me their ideas for character inspo as opposed to me making a definite cast - I love seeing how you guys think.
Alright, I hope you guys enjoy. Please leave a review if you did!
Erzulie’s point was made abundantly clear. Well, I was a little confused when she began crying, rambling about the fate of humanity, but besides that, she had made her point very clear.
Once she left us, Rocio was in denial about what had just happened.
“No.” she shook her head, expelling the ideas from her mind. “There’s no way. Erzulie isn’t going to make Lisa do that, Aza. Right?”
“Her terms were clear,” I said, trying to keep a level head. “She said -”
“I know what she said, Lisa,” Rocio snapped at me as if she was the one tasked with seducing a vampire. I didn’t have the energy to deal with Rocio’s rudeness but instead wondered just how this was going to work. Aza paced the room in deep thought. I stared at her, waiting for any type of judgment on her end.
“Lisa,” she then said, “if you don’t want to do this, you don’t have to. We’ll find another way like we always do.”
There was pity seeped deep in Aza’s voice, almost like she felt bad for everything I’ve gotten myself into and everything I couldn’t get myself out of. I didn’t want her to think of me as hopeless - I didn’t want anyone to think of me as hopeless anymore. Yes, manipulating an elder vampire would undoubtedly end in death. But I wondered if Hezekiah was capable of killing me so quickly; he had opportunities to hand me over to Abraham or even end my life, but he never took them. I didn’t know why then, and frankly, I didn’t want to know. All I cared about was that it gave me some kind of advantage.
At least I thought I did.
“There isn’t another way, Aza,” Kizzy said. “This is our best shot.”
“But what if Lisa goes through with this and Erzulie goes bad on her word?” Esther asked. Aza was quickly offended.
“Ezili never goes bad on her word,” she replied, solidifying her answer with a deep-rooted glare. Esther apologized but was still uncertain. I still hadn’t said anything more; I was thinking. Worrying.
“If the Coterie finds out -”
“The Coterie won’t find out,” Aza interrupted Rocio, nearing her amidst the ceremonial flour scattered on the floor, “because we ain’t gonna say nothing. Everything we’ve said, everything we’ve done, stays in this house, you heard me?”
Aza’s message was loud and clear to all of us. Regardless of her rogue nature, even Aza was fearful of Mama’s wrath. But I doubt anybody was as fearful as I was. I couldn’t imagine the shitstorm I would face if she even knew about me entertaining the thought of agreeing with Erzulie’s dark and morbid request. But I did agree. And I didn’t want to turn back on my own word.
“I already told Erzulie I would do it,” I announced, my glasses fogging from stress-sweat. “I can’t just change my mind now, I mean I made a deal with a goddess.”
“And the Silver Syndicate is expecting us to deliver,” Kizzy added.
“We don’t owe them shit!” Rocio snapped, and suddenly, they all began arguing. The pressure was getting to them, that was for certain. But what made the situation harder to deal with was the fact that this was our best option. If this worked, we would have an Elder vampire in our possession. The leverage and information we could garner from Hezekiah would be invaluable - if he decided to talk. But if he kept his mouth shut, and if Abraham knew we had hurt Hezekiah in any way, there’s no doubt Abraham would come after us; territorial agreements would go to complete shit. If I was going to do this, I had to do it right. It wasn’t like I was new to the concept of sex; college awarded me with countless conquests. But Hezekiah was different -uncomparable to the one-night stands I’ve had and boyfriends I’ve had along with those, too. I had to be able to stab this bloodsucker without giving him a chance to react. Vampires are quick. Very quick. Clever, too. The moment Hezekiah figured I was up to something, it would be game over.
If I was doing to seduce him, it had to be perfect.
“Everyone, just be quiet!” I shouted once my thoughts came together. Surprisingly, they all shut up. They were eager on what I was going to say. I wasn’t too great with words, but once my mind was on something, you’d have to pry it off with a great deal of strength before I’d give it up.
“I’m doing this,” I said again, smiling awkwardly as if that was supposed to reassure them. Esther was almost crying as if she was being forced to seduce a vampire.
“Aza, Erzulie is willing to help us if I do this. We’ve come too far to blow this opportunity; we didn’t waltz into a bayou witch’s lair and outrun a group of Leeches just to give up now, right?”
Aza then kept her mouth shut. Even Rocio just looked at me without saying a smart remark. Kizzy almost appeared proud of me. Or maybe she was proud of the fact that I was basically sacrificing myself?
“I don’t want us to be the ones who stood by and did nothing if this goes wrong,” Aza said quietly, concerned laced on her beautiful face.
“Why don’t you stand by, then?”
The disgusted look on Kizzy’s face was almost comical.
“Not stand by and watch,” I clarified, “but just hide close by. If I think shit’s going south, I’ll say a code word or something.”
“Yeah, like ‘help,’” Esther suggested proudly. We just glared at her until Rocio thought of something more practical.
“How about ‘it’s getting late’?” She said. She looked irritated that she was entertaining this idea, but even she knew that there was no going back to square one, especially in the state the Coterie was in.
“It’s getting late,” I repeated, looking at everyone to make sure we were on the same page. And to an extent, we were. We agreed to Thursday; Aza knew how to summon a vampire. We would do it at midnight once everyone in the safe house was sleep. On the outside, I displayed an embarrassing excuse for confidence. But on the inside?
I was completely terrified.
I didn’t eat anything for most of Thursday, save for some potato chips that Mama made me scarf down because I looked like I was losing weight.
Mama was losing weight, too. Most likely from stress. By Thursday, Mama Hepzibah and Missus Taima’s Houses went back to their shops in the city. They claimed they left to start death rites for Tia Valeria, upset that we hadn’t started them sooner. That paired with the cabin fever plaguing us all was a recipe for disaster in the first place. Mama watched them pack and watched them leave, and once they left, Mama silently began to sage the entire house. She wrapped up the leaves, set them aflame and became mumbling in a language I didn’t know as she walked around the house, smoke clouding around her before rising to the ceiling.
“I’m ridding the house of negative energy,” she explained to me when I asked. “It’s the last thing we need for the days to come.”
Her voice was calm; she was concealing her anger about two Coterie members leaving. I didn’t respond immediately. I knew if I opened my mouth I would probably confess to many things - meeting Sajida the Shunned, our run in with Leeches, summoning Erzulie and now, our plan to lure an actual Elder vampire into the goddamn house.
No. I kept my mouth shut tight.
Mama turned to look at me when I didn’t say anything in response. Her eyes, almost a brighter shade of blue than I previously remembered, bore into me. The irritation faded away to concern for me. She placed the burning sage in a bowl and touched my face.
“How are you feeling?” She asked me.
“Fine,” I lied. “I mean, better than I should be.”
Mama sighed. “We’re trying to get this all under control. Nene and Aza talked me out of starting a war and talked me into confiding with the council instead.”
“It’s kind of like the Board for all of the bloodsuckers and their clans. Making sure they stay in check, don’t break none of the rules, things like that. They’re the last ones I wanted to go to for help, but they were always on Terah’s side. And now that Terah’s gone I don’t have a choice. And Hepzibah’s upset because her idea of war and my idea of war are completely -”
Mama stopped herself, almost shocked she was telling me so much. She thought keeping me in the dark was the best way to keep me safe. It wasn’t; it’s actually how I fell into the rabbit hole. But the way Mama stopped herself made me not want to pressure her into continuing her sentences.
“Just don’t worry,” she assured me. “We’ll get this bloodsucker mess dealt with soon, I promise.”
“I’m not worried,” I assured her in return. I wanted her to stop giving so much of her energy into worrying about me; I didn’t deserve it. Any of it. Not only that, but I was going to help protect the Coterie. Mama didn’t know it yet, but I was going to alleviate her stress. If the plan worked, and if we successfully had Hezekiah as a bargaining chip and as a source for information, it would take away half of our worries. I just had to do it right; I had a lot of people depending on me to hit him where it hurt. Literally.
The Silver Syndicate were politely asked to leave the safe house once Evander was well enough. They stayed closer in the metropolitan area, anxiously waiting for the outcome of Aza’s plan. And one of them decided to come back close to midnight to see it through - Jonathan. Once the entire house was quiet, we went up into the attic - me, Aza, Esther, Kizzy, Rocio and Jonathan. Aza made sure to leave my part out of it while explaining it to Jonathan, but he figured I was involved once he saw me in the attic.
“Everyone rub this on your necks,” Aza said, holding out a small dark bottle with even darker liquid. I was the only one who didn’t have to put it on my skin, but I was glad; by the look on everyone’s faces, the smell was far from enjoyable to their senses.
“What is this?” Jonathan asked before he poured some on his hands.
“It’s an oil I conjured. Hezekiah won’t be able to smell us with it on.”
“But he can still hear us?” Rocio asked.
“We’ll be quiet. As long as we’re where we’re supposed to be, he won’t suspect anything,” Aza looked at me. “You just...got to be convincing.”
Jonathan eyed me first after Aza said this. He didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to do it, but it was the ultimate test of my effectiveness. Weights were on my shoulders, holding me down until I did shit right.
Aza came up to me, placing her hands on my shoulders.
“You sure you still want to do this?”
I nodded, “I’m not changing my mind. I’ve got this. Don’t worry.”
“You remember the safe words?”
“‘It’s getting late,’” I recited. Aza nodded before handing me a piece of paper. It looked old and worn, like it was written very long ago. The ink was even bleeding through the parchment.
“Read this exactly how it’s written and remember to say his name at the very end. If it still works, he should come to you. You remember where Aubade is?”
I looked towards the couch by the wall in the attic - hidden underneath the cushions. That’s where the difficult part would settle in, getting Hezekiah over there willingly.
After we had gone over everything, Aza finally rubbed the oil on her chest and neck. Then everyone just stood around, in shock that we were actually doing this.
“Go,” I told them, smiling as if everything was going to be fine. I didn’t care whether they believed me or not, I just needed to convince myself. And once I was alone, I knew that I had to swallow my fear and remember who I was doing this for - the Coterie, the Silver Syndicate, myself, Mama. I had to tuck all doubt away and remember that Erzulie was watching.
I turned off the light in the attic. It was completely dark except for the moonlight pouring through the window. I looked back at the closet they were all in, knowing I was seconds away from pretending they weren’t even there. And once my mouth opened, I knew there was no turning back. I read over the summoning rites as best as I could; they were in Latin:
O dea tenebris mater immortalibus puer tuus fac me sicut renascentur,” I said, “mea lux vestra absorbere liceat mihi locus ad tenebras sicut ex utero immortales filios tuos in ulnis quibus invocaverit te frater O lunae lumen puer tuus fac me sicut renascentur me duce tenebris sunt i ita erit renatus per -
I knew to seal this chant in blood, I had to say his name. My hands were stained with the ink from the parchment, damp with sweat. I had to say his name, but the words wouldn’t come out. But I knew I had to, so I forced them; coaxed them. And Hezekiah’s name then left my lips, escaping admits a shuddered mumble. I closed my eyes, waiting for something to happen - a chill, a gust of wind, some bats to come bursting through the window or something. I read the parchment again in my head when three uneventful minutes passed by. I couldn’t understand a word; useless.
Five minutes. I turned on the light, turned it off, then turned it back on. I figured he was hiding somewhere in the attic, but he wasn’t. He just wasn’t coming.
“Maybe I said this wrong?” I mumbled, but by that point, the ink had bled so bad the writing was now beyond decipherable. Frustrated, I crumpled up the piece of parchment and threw it on the other side of the room. And at the moment, I figured it was my paranoia putting thoughts into my head, but I wondered why I didn’t hear the sound of the paper hitting the ground.
I slowly pivoted towards the darkest corner of the attic and waited. And when I heard the paper unraveling in the darkness, I held my breath, digging my nails into my palm. I dared not even walk towards the sound. I instead took steps back. Three, to be exact. I stood still, counting every time I blinked so I wouldn’t hyperventilate to death. I did this until the wood creaked faintly, like a small animal had walked across. I shouldn’t have been so shocked to see Hezekiah in person, walking towards me with the parchment in his hand. But I was undoubtedly in shock. That tall, dark and mystifying man - creature - had come into the light, answering my summons. His outfit was different and clean - loose white shirt, brown trousers and loafers. Similar to everything else he usually wore, but just not stained with blood. And that face hadn’t changed a bit - still carved by the gods themselves, every curve accentuated by the shadows the light created. His eyes were brighter than the fucking lamp, for Christ’s sake. Brighter than the actual lamp; burning the deep amber I was too familiar with. He had feed well before coming here.
“The only time anyone would summon a vampire with a rite like this is if they’s looking to get turned,” Hezekiah said to me, smirking a little.
“You and I both know that I’m a hopeless case when it comes to turning.”
He laughed; I felt his sharp teeth piercing my skin just my looking at him laugh. “Then why did you call me here?”
I smiled, gathering the courage to take a step towards him. Play it cool, Lisa. He can smell fear. “I never got the chance to thank you. For the night in the forest.”
He pretended like he didn’t remember for a moment, but we both knew that he remembered every detail of that night with the Leeches and the Silver Syndicate. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, Hezekiah did save my life. He didn’t have to, but he did.
Hezekiah slipped his hands into his pockets, walking around the room and staring at the bareness of it all. His footsteps were almost completely mute. “Thank me? What you thanking me for?”
“For saving my life. You didn’t have to do that.”
Hezekiah shrugged, dragging his index finger through the dust on a small table. “I didn’t save your life.”
“You think I saved myself?”
“No,” he said, chuckling. “I just think you were at the right place at the right moment. But me saving your life? Don’t think too highly of yourself, baby girl. It was just luck.”
“So was The Jubilee luck, too? Or what about me seeing Sajida the Shunned? You weren’t too happy about that one. Why?”
Hezekiah licked his lips slowly before biting his bottom lip hard, thinking deeply but losing the ability to reply quickly. I’ve caught him good, reeling him in slowly. And I could have easily mentioned how I saved his life by killing Eric, but that would ruin the entire play. I was trying to inflate his ego a bit. Men, alive or undead, loved getting their ego stroked...amongst other things. But I wasn’t there yet, though.
“I know,” I began, walking closer towards him, “that you’re testing a lot of loyalties by being here right now.”
“So are you,” he replied. I nodded because he actually was telling the truth. The Coterie would have desecrated my voodoo doll if they knew about the conversation I was having and who it was with.
“The point is, I wouldn’t have called you here if it weren’t important, Hezekiah.”
Suddenly, Hezekiah decided to take a seat on the couch, leaning his arms over the back of it while staring directly at me. It was as if Erzulie was blessing every inch of that attic herself; Hezekiah walked right into my trap and didn’t even fucking know it.
Hezekiah sighed, openly staring at my naked legs and clenching his jaw at the sheerness of the romper I was wearing.
“And what’s so important, Lisa?” He replied, his voice low and smooth like the most seductive song; rich with southern influence on his tongue. His voice rang in my ear as I went for it. I didn’t know how he was going to react; that was the golden question. But regardless, I walked towards him and hovered myself over his body until my body was straddling his. He didn’t move. In fact, he just stared at me, eyebrows raised, surprised I had the balls. My heart was beating rapidly in my chest, knowing that I was so close yet so fucking far.
My hands rested on his thighs, my arms purposefully pushing my breasts together. His jaw ticked again, his pupils dilating. My body heat radiating against him was driving him completely mad. The frustration on his face was almost funny; he knew, deep down, what I was doing. But he wanted it, which is why he was so angry at himself.
“You’re a sly witch, you know that,” he muttered .
“How?” I asked him, removing the thoughts from my head while I slid the straps from my romper off my shoulders, pulling them down until they hit my waist. Hezekiah’s Adam’s apple bobbed up and down when he saw my lace bra. Laughing softly, he refused to look at me.
“If you can’t handle this...” I hinted, gesturing to my entire body on top of him.
“I’ve handled you before,” he replied confidently. My skin was riddled with goosebumps at the memory of him putting my vibrator inside me that night. But I sucked in a sharp breath and said:
“Because I let you.”
That was it. The next steps had to be flawless in order for him to be completely surrendered to me. But so far, I knew I had him. I saw it in those eyes - the color of an inferno - that he couldn’t resist. And I had to remember that there were five people in the attic closet who could most likely hear everything Hezekiah and I were saying. But I also had to keep in mind that the only way I could catch Hezekiah off guard is if he gave up all of his control.
And it wouldn’t be easy.
“Let me thank you,” I said to him, our faces just mere inches apart. ”Properly.”