I awake in the hospital, when my eyes open for the first time I choke on something, and immediately I am surrounded by doctors and nurses all talking too fast for me to understand. I don’t stay conscious for too long.
When I wake up the second time there are no doctors rushing around, the only person by my side is a young woman.
“What happened?” I ask, my throat feels dry and my eyes feel like sand.
“A vampire attack,” the woman answers, she stands and smooths out her skirt, “You were in a coma for the past four days.”
“Where’s Rowy?” I ask, my heart races as I remember the remanets of the crash.
“The girl is fine,” the woman answers, “She visited a few times, John has been looking after her.”
“Who are you?” I ask, groaning as I sit myself up.
“My name is Tilly Cahoul,” the woman says and suddenly her eyes are familiar to me.
“Cahoul,” I gape, “Like-”
“Stella is my aunt,” she says before I can finish my question.
The woman looks like Stella in the way she stands, her back is straight and she has the same stern expression on her face that Stella often has.
“I’m the new head here in the American Institute. My aunt thought I’d be best for the position,” she explains.
“Stella knows best,” I agree.
Tilly purses her lips and then looks to the folder in her hand.
“They need you back in Romania,” she informs me after flipping through a few pages, “Thana has emerged, we don’t know how she managed to get there without detection. We assume a private jet. Once you are well enough you will return to Romania.”
Part of me is excited about returning home, and yet another part of me worries about Rowaelin.
“What about Rowy?” I ask, “What happens to her?”
“She is not our concern anymore,” Tilly responds with a shrug of her shoulders as if Rowy isn’t worth her time.
“But the vampires could still be after her,” I argue, my heart filling with fear at the thought of Rowaelin being hurt.
“Then it’s up to the American hunters to protect her,” Tilly sighs, “However, if she wishes it she could go to Romania with you, so long as she pays for her flights and accommodations.”
Tilly’s phone starts to ring and she excuses herself by holding up a delicate finger to excuse herself from the room.
As she leaves Rowaelin and John arrive.
“Hey mate,” John smiles, Rowaelin stays next to John awkwardly, “Glad you’re feeling better.”
“Better is a strong word,” I laugh as I rub the back of my neck, “My head feels like it was hit with a damn hammer… Are you ok, Rowaelin?”
“I’m fine,” she stammers, “Not a scratch on me.”
“We heard that you’re going back to Romania,” John says, I nod my head in confirmation.
“As soon as I’m well enough,” I elaborate, I notice Rowaelin’s face fall and I sit up straighter, “John, can we have a moment?”
John looks to Rowaelin and then to me, before nodding once and then backing out awkwardly.
“Are you okay?” I ask Rowaelin as she fidgets, she nods her head and I take a deep breath, “You know, if you want to, you can come back to Romania with me. Rowy, over these past few months I’ve come to have feelings for you, I’ve never felt anything like this before. Rowaelin, I want you to come to Romania with me.”
Rowaelin goes still and her eyes widen.
“You have the money for it,” I continue before she could speak, “I need to be close to you, and if I have to return then you should come with me. It’s not like there is anything here you need to stay for.”
“Thana’s there,” Rowaelin says before I can say anything more, “That’s why you’re leaving, Thana’s in Romania and you’re hunting her. I can’t go, she’ll get me again.”
“I won’t let that happen,” I promise, “I’d keep you safe.”
“You didn’t keep me safe before,” she snaps, my eyes widen as she bites her lip hesitantly, “Thana want’s me, and she’ll take me. What’s the point of going to right to her? She’s hiding now, too many eyes are on her, that’s why she tried to grab me that night. She wanted to take me with her.”
“You’re not safe here,” I argue.
“I wouldn’t be safe there either,” she says, tears leak from her eyes as she looks away from me, “If I go there I’ll be closer to her and she’ll catch me, I’m can’t go back to her, I won’t go back to the darkness.”
Rowaelin looks to me and then whimpers, “I’m sorry Adrian.”
She leaves quickly, she runs out of the room, away from me and she doesn’t come back.
I couldn’t go with Adrian, I wouldn’t let myself be willingly brought closer to Thana so that she could sink her fangs into my neck one last time.
Adrian comes home to pack his things two days later, he comes escorted by the woman from Manhattan, Rose. Adrian's face is painted with such sadness that it has guilt flooding int my chest.
“I talked to Stella, my boss,” he explains as I watch him pack, “Max can stay here, with you if you’d like.”
“Thank you,” I say, trying to hide the awkwardness.
“You still have my number?” he asks, turning to look at me, I nod my head and he smiles, “I’ll message you when I’m in Romania, feel free to call me at any time. And if you change your mind about moving, let me know.”
“I will,” I say, Adrian smiles and then steps towards me, I don’t flinch as he kisses my cheek tenderly.
“We’ll see each other again,” he assures me.
I walk him to the door and Max follows, but when he tries to follow Adrian though the door, Adrian pins him with a hard glare.
“Stay,” Adrian commands.
Max tilts his head, but then he huffs and goes back to lay on the carpet as if he doesn't care that Adrian is leaving.
I watch Adrian get in his car with Rose and then drive away, he waves as he pulls out of the drive and I feel nothing, the feelings he spoke of in the hospital, I don’t feel them as strongly as he does.
Yet that night as I lay on my bed waiting for Adrian’s call, I find myself missing him, I miss his presence in the house and the safety it brought. Now it’s just me and Max.
I don’t hear from Adrian until the early hours of the morning, I miss his call but he leaves me a voicemail.
“I figured you’d be asleep,” he laughed, “My flight was delayed, I’ve just landed safe and sound, I’ll call you later.”
I move on with my day, I make myself breakfast and keep my phone close at all times, when it does finally ring I answer it immediately.
“Hello?” I say, a bit too excitedly, “Adrian?”
“Hey,” he replies, I can tell that he is smiling, “Did you get my message?”
“Yes,” I say as an easy smile settles on my face, “How was your flight?”
“A bit bumpy, we had to fly through a storm.”
“Rose and I,” Adrian says, “For me to leave Max behind Stella told me I had to bring a new partner from the states with me. My first choice was John but he said no, so I asked Rose.”
“Oh,” I say, I look to Max and then sigh, “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I knew Max would be better off with you,” Adrian says, I hear a voice in the background and he groans, “I’ve got to go, I’ll talk later.”
He hangs up without even saying goodbye, the abruptness is a shock, but I push it from my mind as I grab Max’s leash. When he hears his leash jingle, Max instantly perks up and begins to wag his tail excitedly.
I take Max for a walk keeping well away from shadowy places and strangers. It’s easy to avoid strangers with Max by my side, one look at the black and fawn-coloured dog at my side and most people cross the street in fear.
I meet up with Thomas in the park and we sit and talk for a while.
“So I hear that Adrian left, what happened?” Thomas asks.
“His work called him back home,” I explain, as Thomas hands me a sandwich.
“So you’re all alone now?”
“I have Max,” I smile, giving the dog half of my sandwich, which he takes from me very gently.
“Wouldn’t you prefer to have someone living with you?” Thomas asks.
“I mean sure, but who?” I ask as I take a bite of my sandwich.
Before he can answer I recognise someone walking across the park.
“Hold him,” I say, handing Max’s leash to Thomas.
“Where are you going?” he asks as I walk away.
“Cynthia?” I call as I near the brown-haired woman.
The woman turns and her eyes light up.
“Rowaelin?!” she exclaims as we embrace each other.
Cynthia was a captive with me in the brothel, she used to go by the name Angel.
“What are you doing here?” she asks, letting me go and taking a step back.
“I live here, what are you doing here?”
“This is where I was born,” she explains, “I was looking for my parents, and I found them.”
“And?” I ask, looking around the park, “Where are they?”
“It’s a long story,” she says slowly, “Well, it’s not that long actually, they don’t… want me.”
“Are you living on the streets?” I ask, I notice her clothes are dirty and her hair hasn’t been washed for weeks.
“Just until I get a job or a vampire snatches me up,” she whispers with a laugh, behind her laughter I can see her fear.
“Come live with me,” I say, immediately feeling a sense of sistership between us, “No arguing.”
I take her hand and lead her to where I was sitting with Thomas.
“This is Cynthia,” I introduce, “Cynthia, this is Thomas, my friend from when I was younger.”
“Hello,” Thomas says, standing and holding his hand out to Cynthia to shake. Cynthia stays behind me, silent as a mouse.
“She’s shy,” I explain, taking Max’s leash, “She’s going to live with me.”
“How do you know each other?” Thomas asks, grabbing our things and walking with us as we head home.
“Old friends," I say, shrugging off his questions.
Thomas doesn't follow up with any more questions, no doubt already figuring out how I know Cynthia.
Thomas walks us home, I take Cynthia inside and Thomas sticks around too. While Cynthia showers I make her some more lunch and then look to Thomas as he awkwardly stands across the counter from me.
“Would you like it if I moved in here too?” he asks, “To keep you both safe in case they try to take you again, from what I’ve heard they haven’t found your kidnapper.”
With Adrian gone there is no one to stop the vampires from taking me in my own home, I know that Thomas could never kill a vampire, but with his training and gun we’d stand a better chance at driving them off.
So both Thomas and Cynthia move in with me and the house becomes less empty.