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Chapter 17

The red-headed woman let go of my arms, but instead grabbed my shoulders and shook me. “Did he follow you? Tell me, did he see you?” she asked me urgently. I was too surprised to answer. She looked really worried. “Did he see you?” she asked again. She was most definitely panicking.

“Ma’am, you left my friends outside,” I said. She stepped away from me and gave me an astonished look.

“Hmm, there are two men with me, and you closed the door before they could come in,” I explained.

“Oh, I didn’t notice them.” She quickly went to the door, and opened it. Grant and McAdams were looking at her with open mouths. It almost looked comical. “I’m so sorry. Please come in,” she said to them.

Officer Grant nodded, and both of them came in, while the woman quickly closed the door behind them. She looked at us nervously. “Please have a seat.” She gestured towards the sofa.

We settled down on the plush sofa, which definitely had not been there the last time I’d visited. I groaned when my back muscles protested.

“Would you like something to drink?”

Before I could answer, Officer Grant cleared his throat and asked the woman to have a seat as we had to talk to her.

She glanced at me again. “He found you, right? That’s what you want to talk about?”

I gave her a confused look. “What are you talking about? My friends and I were lost, and we found the cottage. We thought you would allow us to spend the rest of the night, and then we could go back to the town in the morning.”

Her eyes widened, and she kept staring at me.

“Ma’am, do you know that there is a beast wandering here in the forest and in the town viciously attacking people?” Officer McAdams asked in a soft tone. I had hoped to get the woman to calm down before we asked her that question, but unfortunately, McAdams didn’t beat around the bush.

“Michael,” she whispered. She looked frightened all of a sudden. She went over to check the door to see if it was securely locked and then pulled the curtains across the windows. When she was satisfied, she came back to where I sat and settled down beside me.

“Who is Michael?” I asked her.

She stared at me for a moment before returning her gaze to the officer and answered quietly, “The beast that you are talking about. His name is Michael.”

We stared at her in shock while Officer Grant jumped off his seat. “You know that thing?” He was furious, and his tone was deadly.

She barely blinked or spared him a glance. She turned her gaze to me and waited for my response. When I didn’t move or say anything, she sighed and nodded. “I knew him very well.”

“How is that possible? I mean, he was still a baby a week ago.” I stood up, and started pacing around. “I saw him with my own eyes.” I said through gritted teeth. The woman was confusing me.

“So you saw him when he was a baby, and did you see him again?” she asked calmly.

I stopped and stared at her. Her expression was unreadable.

“Yes, I saw him again tonight, and he also talked to us.”

She nodded and then patted the seat next to her. “Come and sit down. I need to tell you guys something very important but first you’re going to tell me what happened when you first saw him.” She looked me directly in the eyes and waited for me to do as I was told. I huffed in anger, but sat down. She looked at Grant. “Please sit down.”

“No, I’d rather stand,” he said angrily and crossed his arms. She shrugged and turned her attention back to me.

“Tell me about the first time you saw Michael.” I swallowed hard and closed my eyes. I felt a hand on my knee and I opened my eyes quickly. The woman gave me a small smile and nodded. “It’s OK. You’re safe here.”

I took her statement to heart and started my story. It was hard but I did it. I told her about the forest, and how we thought we were saving him, but we noticed he was growing in my brother’s arm and how we ended up leaving him. When I was done, I leaned my head against the back of the sofa and released a shaky breath. “I hate doing this. Telling the story again and again. It’s too hard, and it gives me panic attacks every time.”

“I know. Now what I’m going to tell you is going to sound very strange, and you probably won’t believe me, but you don’t have a choice because this is going to help you.”

I gave her a curious look, and then sneaked a glance at the policemen. They looked surprised but didn’t say anything. “OK. But this is weird. We didn’t introduce ourselves.” When she nodded, I continued. “I’m Alexia Mercier and this is Officer Grant and this is Officer McAdams.” I pointed at each one in turn.

She continued to stare at me before saying, “I know exactly who you are.” I looked at her speechless. She was always talking in riddles. When I didn’t say anything, she gave me a reassuring smile and turned to the officers. “It’s nice meeting you. My name is Sarah Verday.”

Why did I feel like I knew that name? It seemed oddly familiar. “Have we met before?”

She just smiled then nodded. “Now that the introductions are over, I’m going to tell you about Michael.”

Sarah stood up, and went to the kitchen. She came back carrying a tray. “Here are some refreshments. Please serve yourselves while I’m talking.”

She sat back down and turned to face me. “You probably won’t remember anything and this is going to be more confusing to you. But I need you to listen and not to interrupt.” She gave me a stern look, and I nodded.

We sat there and waited for Sarah to start. She closed her eyes momentarily before beginning. “Everything goes back to 1414.” As soon as she said that, I erupted from the sofa. I faced her and glared down at her. “You’ve got to be kidding me? We don’t have time for fake stories or you messing with our heads. Are you serious? 1414?”

She shook her head and made a tsk sound. “Alexia, I told you not to interrupt me. Please sit down and listen. And really? After what you saw tonight and the other night, I’m sure you understand that everything is possible. Right?” She said this in a hard tone.

“We are not sitting down and listening to your bullshit. Seriously!” I glanced at Officer McAdams and saw that he wasn’t sitting down either.

“Do you guys want help or not? You want to get rid of Michael, right? Then I’m the only one who can help you.” Sarah was sitting there calmly and drinking her tea. She was waiting for us to either sit down and listen to her or walk out of the door.

I glanced at the men and they looked unsettled and confused. “Fine,” I huffed and sat back down. “Continue with your story.”

“Very good. As I said, everything started in 1414. There was a young man who fell in love with a woman. It was love at first sight. His name was Michael and her name was Jessica. Michael would follow her wherever she went, but he never had enough courage to talk to her. What he didn’t know was that Jessica noticed everything and was just waiting for him to make the first move, of course. When he finally had the courage to ask her for a dance at the annual ball, they were both ecstatic. They were young, carefree and so deeply in love. They planned to get married, and this is where I come in.” Sarah paused and looked at us for our reactions. I was speechless, and I knew the officers were probably gaping at her too.

“How is that possible?” I whispered to myself, but Sarah heard it. She touched my arm, but I recoiled from her. “Everything is possible,” she said. I moved away from her to sit at the end of the sofa. She gave me a hurt look but continued.

“They wanted to elope because they knew their parents wouldn’t want them to marry. They were rivals, and as I said, this is where I come in. I was Jessica’s cousin and best friend. She trusted me with everything and asked me to help them elope. Of course I accepted. But on that night, nothing went as planned. There was one thing of course that Jessica was hiding from Michael. She had powers. Magic. She was a ‘bruja’ and that would be a witch. She was a witch, and so am I.” She stopped and looked at us. She waited for our reaction.

Grant and McAdams had stood and were moving towards the door. They were ready to bolt. “This is stupid,” I declared.

Officer Grant took his gun out and pointed it at Sarah. She raised her hands in surrender and chuckled. “Whoa. I’m not the bad guy here. You need to calm down. I know this is creepy, strange and weird, and of course you guys feel insecure. Trust me, but I’m going to help you because you know what? I’m so tired of him reincarnating again and again. I want to get rid of him once and for all too.” She spoke the last words in a rush.

As she continued, she looked sad and ashamed. “We were close friends, and it hurts to think of him this way, but he’s not the same anymore.”

Everyone was quiet for a moment before McAdams broke the silence. “OK, well, Sarah, why don’t you continue?” The men sat back down.

Sarah nodded and took a deep breath before continuing. “As I mentioned before, Jessica and I were witches. Our whole family were and this is why her family didn’t want her to marry Michael. Michael’s great-grandparents were witch hunters. They had been hunting Jessica’s family for so long, and some decades before, both families had come to a truce. They wouldn’t fight anymore, and they would stay away from each other. Michael didn’t know about that, but Jessica knew. I warned her, but she was too stubborn. I thought about my friend’s happiness and decided to help them, but that day I found out that Jessica had never really loved Michael.” Sarah stopped and her expression was really sorrowful. She sniffed and then continued. “Jessica was someone who always got everything that she wanted. Nothing had been denied her before, and unfortunately, Michael was someone whom she couldn’t have. It was all a game to her. She wanted to prove that she could get everything that she wanted, even though it was nearly impossible. When I found out, I couldn’t let Michael fall into her trap. I never knew she could be so selfish and arrogant. She was my best friend, and it was hard for me, but I knew I had to do something.”

At this point, I moved closer to Sarah. Officer Grant still looked cautious, but he had put his gun away. McAdams was leaning against the wall, and he looked really intrigued by the story. “Please continue,” he demanded enthusiastically.

“Sometimes I feel like what happened to Jessica and Michael was my fault. I told Michael that Jessica had never really loved him. He didn’t believe me at first but when I told him about us being witches and about our past histories, he realized I was telling the truth. He was really devastated. I’ve never seen anyone so broken. He vowed to take revenge.”

Sarah choked on her words and tears were sliding down her cheeks. I could tell this was really affecting her even though it had happened many centuries before. “I tried to stop him. I didn’t want either of them hurt, but he went home and found his great-grandparents musket and came back to where he and Jessica were supposed to meet. I was too late to warn Jessica. I arrived there to find them fighting each other. There was so much hatred between them. Jessica had the upper hand. She was a trained fighter, unlike Michael. She knocked Michael unconscious, and before I could stop her, she started doing a spell on him. The spell was just to banish him, but she got the spell wrong.” Sarah stopped and looked me in the eyes before continuing.

“When I realized the spell was wrong, I tried to stop her, but it was too late and her powers were too powerful for me. I was unable to intervene. Instead of banishing him, she cursed him. Jessica used up too much of her power, and it rendered her very weak. I couldn’t save her. I was still a novice and didn’t practice my magic. She died in my arms while Michael laid dying two feet away from me.”

Sarah buried her face in her hands and wept. Her voice was muffled, but I still could hear what she was saying. “I tried so hard to save both of them, but I couldn’t, and now Michael is cursed to walk on this earth as a monster while killing hundreds of people.”

“Wait. I’m confused here. What’s the curse about? So Michael was human but now he’s turned into this beast? Was this Jessica’s doing?” Grant asked incredulously. He looked suspicious of what Sarah had just told us. I was finding it hard to believe too, but why would she lie about this?

“Yes, of course, Michael was human.” Sarah raised her head and wiped her tears away. She stood up and started pacing. “The curse was to turn him into a beast but still have a human body. Did you notice a necklace around his neck? That night while he laid dying, I quickly did another spell. That necklace around his neck is supposed to let me know each time he reincarnates.”

I thought back to the first time I’d seen him as a baby. “Yes, there was a necklace around his neck.” I looked at her, confused.

Sarah nodded at my statement.

“Yeah, confusing I know. I didn’t understand it either, but I did some research. We didn’t know what type of beast he would turn into but, well, the first time he reincarnated I found out he has vampire attributes. Vampires don’t exist, of course. It’s just a myth. But the curse turned him into one — although he isn’t completely one.”

Both of McAdams eyebrows had reached his hairline, and he gave Sarah a disbelieving look. “This is really confusing. Anyways, this is it? But why was he a baby before and what’s with the reincarnation.”

Sarah looked at McAdams impatiently. “I’m getting to that.”

Sarah continued her pacing before resuming with the story. “The curse also said that he would reincarnate every time he dies and the first person who touches him as a baby, he would use their blood and strength to grow. The person would usually die, or sometimes it’s possible they can be saved, but they become progressively weaker as Michael would continue to use their blood and strength telepathically — until he’s big enough to hunt on his own.” When she said the last sentence, she looked at me. I could see the sympathy in her eyes.

“But I held him first. Nothing has happened to me,” I said, astonished.

“I don’t really have an answer to that, but I can guess why it didn’t affect you. Did someone else hold him?” Sarah asked.

“My brother,” I whispered. It explained why my brother had suddenly fallen so ill and then he recovered as soon as the first attacked happened. I stared at Sarah and I could sense the panic starting. I felt the beads of sweat on my forehead and quickly wiped them away with my hands. Picking up the glass of water, I gulped it down fast.

Sarah nodded sadly. “Yes, he used your brother in this reincarnation.”

“How does he die every time though?” Officer Grant asked. He looked really alarmed and totally spooked out. His expression was quite funny. I would have laughed if this situation hadn’t been so serious.

“I kill him every time,” Sarah stated with a blank tone and expression. “I follow him around and kill him.”

“Then why don’t you kill him now?” Officer Grant erupted. Now he looked really angry.

“I can’t. Not this time. He’s too powerful.” Her shoulders had drooped in defeat.

“How is that possible? You have done it all these years. Why not now?”

“There’s another part of the curse,” Sarah started slowly. She avoided my gaze completely. She turned and faced the fireplace. “The curse also said that when he finds his true mate, he will be more powerful with just her presence. And he would be unstoppable if he gets to drink his mate’s blood. Also, only his true mate can break this curse. He will not be a beast anymore but he will have another chance at life. He will be able to live as a human again and die peacefully.” She laughed. The laugh sounded so dead and had no emotion in it. “Unfortunately, Jessica was his true mate and she’s already dead.”

That statement shocked me to the core. My head was reeling with too much information. I had a terrible headache, and my stomach was in knots. I looked at the men who were deathly pale.

“So there’s no way to break the curse? He’s going to keep killing people and you can’t do anything now because he’s too powerful?” McAdams spoke with disgust. “This is messed up.”

I nodded my head in agreement.

Grant took up the thread of the questioning. “Wait, but you said he’s too powerful now and you mentioned he is only powerful when he meets his true mate. Are you saying he’s met his true mate? But you also said Jessica was …” Sarah tried to interrupt Grant but he continued while glaring at her. “But she’s dead. Are you messing with us? Seriously? There’s a big plot hole here.” He finished through gritted teeth.

“I know exactly what I said. I always thought that he would never find his true mate, and that it would be my job to kill him every time he is reincarnated so I’m as surprised as you are. This time he is too powerful.” She stopped and turned towards me. She pointed her index finger at me and gave me a solemn look. “Because he has met his true mate.”

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