I sighed as I shoved another handful of popcorn into my mouth and chewed. Alyssa leaned back in her chair, so far that she let out a gasp, almost toppling over. Jane, sitting on the floor across from me, giggled. The little girl was what, ten, eleven years old? To my knowledge, she was the only human no one minded being around. She had a way of… lightening the mood without even trying. “Not funny,” Alyssa muttered, rubbing her stomach while getting her heart rate back to normal.
“Yes, it was,” Jane said, pulling the popcorn bowl toward her. Behind her on the couch, Brianna snorted, dropping her feet to the floor and getting up. My hand shot out, catching her before she could fall on her little sister and the table.
“Thanks,” Brianna said, steadying herself. She muttered something about Jenkins and Alyssa smirked.
“You still on him about that?” Alyssa asked.
Brianna shrugged, walking into the kitchen. “If I remember correctly, he said that I’d be walking in no time.”
“And you are.”
She nodded. “I sometimes forget I fall on my face if I tried getting up on my own.”
“Or if you put too much strain or pressure on your legs.”
She grimaced. “Don’t remind me.” She opened the refrigerator and pulled out a can of root beer. Popping the tab, she guzzled it. Alyssa got up and went to the wheelchair in the corner. Wheeling it to the kitchen and stopping just in the archway, she nodded to it. Brianna dropped the empty can into the trash and came over. Grumbling, she sat in her chair and buckled herself in. Nodding approvingly, Alyssa pushed her close to the couch. Leaning against the wall, she glanced at the window.
“Are you expecting someone to climb through your window?” I asked as Jane yawned.
Alyssa shrugged. “Demons.”
“Did you read the book your sire gave you?”
“It’s not that long.”
She snorted. “I fucking hate reading.”
“I do, too,” I said, finishing off the popcorn bowl. “That is why I’ve been bombarding Ari with questions.” I chewed my lower lip. “Ask Trent.”
“I just did.” She frowned, and then nodded. “Good, they can’t come in unless invited.”
“Don’t invite glowing red or green eyes,” Jane said under her breath.
“Don’t invite anyone you don’t know in,” Alyssa corrected.
“Right,” she muttered. Brianna snorted, and then coughed.
“Our mother was compelled,” Alyssa said defensively. Brianna harrumphed and rested her head on the headrest of her chair.
“She still doesn’t know?” I asked.
“I…” She hesitated. “If she doesn’t accept what I am, I can’t just wipe her mind. She’s my mother for god sake.”
I winced. “Yeah,” I said with a sigh. “I’m just lucky my parents were cool with it.”
“Yes, after they had a full-blown panic attack for weeks.” I again winced. “Did you tell Ari about that?”
“No,” I grumbled. “I don’t have to.”
“Hmm,” Brianna said thoughtfully. “This sire thing, isn’t it intrusive?”
“Yes!” Alyssa and I exclaimed in unison.
Brianna laughed. “Can’t you guys uh… like uh… sense your sires too? Like they can with you?”
“We can,” I said. “But the thing is, I’m like a year and a half old in vampire life, and Ari is like over a thousand.”
“Oh,” she breathed. “The older, the more powerful.” I nodded.
“Mine is over two thousand,” said Alyssa. “If he doesn’t want me to sense him, he just blocks me.”
“You make us sound so old,” Jailyn said, and we all… sadly, let out a scream.
“Damn it!” I said, picking up the empty bowl and throwing it at her. “I really, really hate you old fuckers.”
“I am truly, truly insulted,” the necromancer said in amusement, easily catching the bowl and setting it back on the table. “Might I remind you that you, too, can move just as silently?”
“Not the point!” I yelled. Alyssa flashed to Jane and pulled her into her arms as the little girl hyperventilated.
“I think I’m dying,” Jane gasped. She looked like she wanted to throw something at Jailyn, too, or laugh.
“Forgive me, sweetheart,” Jailyn said, chuckling.
“Can I hit you?” Jane asked hopefully.
“If that will make you feel better.” She squirmed, but Alyssa held her sister tighter, shaking her head. “I won’t harm her.” Jailyn said, scowling. “Has one of us laid a finger on her before?”
“Tristan?” I offered.
“I like him,” Jane said, grunting.
“You are strange, young one,” Jailyn said, laughing softly and resting a hand on top of her head. Jane stilled in Alyssa’s arms, a shudder going through her. Then she reached up and slapped Jailyn’s arm. Alyssa took in a deep breath and held it. Jailyn ruffled Jane’s hair before pulling away and straightening. “Better?” Jane nodded and started up on her wriggling, trying to break Alyssa’s hold on her. With a reluctant sigh, Alyssa released her, and she jumped to her feet, moving to the window. “Hmm,” Jailyn said thoughtfully. “Forget I asked that question.”
“Done,” Jane said and turned to face us.
“So,” Alyssa said slowly. “Can I help you with… something?” she asked hesitantly, as if the necromancer would strike her down if she said or did the wrong thing.
Jailyn smiled creepily, and Alyssa stiffened, putting up a hand. “I cannot drop by to say hi to my favorite fledgling?” she asked, and we all shuddered as the strange calmness of her voice washed over us.
“Yeah,” Alyssa said slowly. “The problem is… you never drop by just for popcorn.”
Jailyn chuckled. “Fair enough.” Walking into the kitchen, I went over to the sink, turning on the water and washing my hands. “I’m here to steal Skyler.”
“What?” I asked, shutting off the water. Grabbing the towel next to the sink, I dried off my hands. Tossing it back onto the counter, I walked back into the living room. “What did I do?”
The necromancer sighed. “Why is it you youngling expect something wrong when we request you?”
“Request?” I asked.
She shrugged. “Call on, borrow, steal, however you wish to decipher the meaning of the word.”
I frowned. “Okay, where are we going?”
“Does it matter?” she asked, smirking.
“You’re not helping.”
She flashed over to me and put her pale hands on my shoulders. “One day, sweetling. You’re going to have to trust your vampire family.”
I raised an eyebrow. “I already do. But, unlike my human family, my vampire side of the family is more likely to kill me. Accidental or not.”
“Charming,” she said, and I stiffened as she wrapped me in her arms. Laughing in my ear, she teleported.
The acrid smell of smoke, metal, and burning wood hit me the moment we appeared in midair over the ruin building of Tronis Inc. I coughed and couldn’t stop coughing as Jailyn flew to the other side. Descending to the ground, she held me at arm’s length and just stared at me. When she didn’t say anything, I stepped away, scowling. “What?” I wheezed, doubling over. She shook her head, a plastic water bottle appearing in her hand. She handed it to me, and I took it gratefully. Twisting off the cap, I chugged the cold liquid. Letting out a heavy sigh, I crushed the empty bottle and looked around. “What are we doing here?” I asked, glancing up at the lightening sky. Jailyn pointed to the piles of rubble. “You want me to clear that out of the way?”
“Yes,” she said. I mentally reached out but stopped when she tapped a cold finger on my hand. “With magic.”
“Oh,” I said and shifted nervously.
“This state has turned into my worst nightmare,” a female voice said from behind me. Blinking, I turned and stared up, and up, and up, until I looked into the bright blue eyes of Officer Bridget Vendostrum. One hand in her pocket and the other on her gun, she scowled. “I was planning to have breakfast with my sister this morning, but no. I get woken up at three A.M by my cell phone going off and the chief of police screaming into my ear.” She growled something unintelligible and sighed. Jailyn stepped up beside me and held out a blade to Bridget, who blinked in surprise. I did, too, because the twelve-inch blade she was holding out looked like opaque glass, sharp on both sides and connected to a silver hilt with rune markings. Bridget hesitated, before taking her hand from the butt of her gun and reaching out to take the blade. The necromancer smirked, handing her the sheath for it. “Thank you?”
“You are welcome,” Jailyn said, handing her another sheathed blade. “Keep these on you at all times. If you happened to run into demons, please, do not hesitate to stab them through the heart before screaming and calling for help.” Bridget nodded, looking nervously around her. “They can’t enter your home unless you invite them in.” She winced. “For all of our sakes, please don’t invite a demon into your home. I rather like being on Tristan’s good side.” Bridget nodded. “Has he paid you a visit?”
She shook her head, frowning. “Did I do something wrong?”
Jailyn shook her head. “Of course not, if you had, you would know.” She put a hand on my shoulder. “He wishes to establish a bond with you and your sister.”
“Why do I get the feeling we’re not thinking about the same definition of the word ‘bond’?”
Jailyn chuckled. “That is because we’re not. He’s going to create a blood bond with you, which means he’ll be able to know when you or your sister is in trouble.”
Bridget nodded. “How does this blood bond work?”
“I’ll let him explain it to you.”
“Okay,” Bridget said slowly, stepping away from us as one of the officers called to her. She hesitated, looking back and forth between us. Jailyn nodded, waving her off.
“Does she know?” I asked, staring after Bridget.
“That she’s Tristan’s great times a billion great grand daughter?”
“No,” she said slowly.
“They do look alike.” Jailyn stared at me. “Sort of,” I muttered.
“Right,” the necromancer said, drawing out the word. She turned me back around and nodded to the destruction in front of us. “The most basic spell all witch can master in no time,” she continued. “Now, if you please, mutter away.” Taking in a deep breath, I started concentrating and muttering a spell. A second later, the pile of rubble began to move, lifting from the ground. Jailyn pointed, and I nodded, directing the debris to set down just outside the line of trees off to my right. I had no idea how long I stood there muttering under my breath, but the next thing I knew, there were no more rubble to be cleared out, and my eyes burned from the bright daylight. I squinted, covering my eyes and pressing the heels of my hands into them as tears slowly ran down my cheeks.
“Ow,” I groaned. “This burns,” I said, cursing.
“Well done,” said Jailyn. “I did not want to distract you,” she said, tapping my hand with what felt like a pair of sunglasses. Lowering my hands, I rubbed my eyes, keeping them closed until I had the ultra dark sunglasses on. Blinking furiously, I looked up at the sky, my stomach clenching painfully. Jailyn rested a hand on the small of my back and pushed lightly, forcing me to start walking. We didn’t even make it ten feet before a flying screeching thing came out of nowhere and dive-bombed us. I screamed as claws came at me. Jailyn let out a low growl, and I wondered who I was afraid of more, the flying demon, or Jailyn. I pulled out my blade, stabbing upward and dodging at the same time. Pain sliced through me as a claw made a long gash in my arm. Shrieking, I launched myself into the air and propelled myself at the demon. We plummeted to ground, and I buried my blade into his chest. He screamed as Jailyn sent me flying before his blood could hit me. Flipping in midair, I landed in a crouch, scanning my surroundings. The humans were on the other side, far enough that they couldn’t see what was going on. The air around the fighting grew thick as more demons joined their fallen comrade. It had formed into a translucent shield, and in the distance, I could see a witch standing out of sight of everyone around her. They were working overtime with the vampires, trying to keep humans from finding out that stuff of nightmares was all around them. Jailyn’s eyes flashed white, and I let out a squeak, falling back on my ass as Ari appeared in front of me.
“Are you okay?” she asked. “Did you get any demon blood on you?”
“I’m okay,” I said, letting her examine my arm. “And no, I didn’t get any ichor on me.” Wiping the blood from my arm, she stared at the pink, almost completely healed wound. “I’m okay,” I repeated as she scowled and straightened, pulling me up with her. More demons appeared, blocking the way to the demolished foundation. Jailyn looked like she was about to lose it as she sliced, diced, and stabbed.
“Is she okay?” Bridget asked, walking over to us. “I saw what happened before you like… disappeared,” she said to me. I nodded while Ari grumbled about something. “Did you know there’s a gigantic hole?” she asked, gesturing to where the building once stood. I nodded. “We didn’t go down there. We tried to but…”
“There is a spell cast at the opening,” Davina said from behind me. Jade, Trent, Trynnadon, Raina, Sven, Liana, Casiar, and Jesric joined Jailyn in battling the demons back. Unlike rogue vampires, demons knew how to fight, and they used those claws, horns, wings, fangs and tail to good use. Oh, let’s not forget the speed and strength, and of course, their blood was poisonous to vampires such as myself. Rogue vampires know how to fight, Ari silently admonished me, and I grimaced. Well, I silently huffed. Not any I’ve seen. She glared at me, and I sighed.
“Can they break through it?” Ari asked.
Davina nodded. “If they are powerful enough.”
“And if they are not?”
“They’ll fry to a crisp.”
“How pleasant,” she said dryly. “So Skyler cannot pass then?”
“She can, if you wrap her up in your arms,” Davina said, smirking.
“What about teleporting?”
She shook her head. “I have a no teleporting spell in place. Most of the demons can teleport, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want them down there.”
“Well,” I said. “We’ll have to get in there the old fashion way. My favorite.”
“So,” Bridget said slowly.
Ari put a reassuring hand on her arm, stopping her from continuing. “There are a few vampires in the human police force. They’ll take care of the humans who don’t need to know what is going on around them.” Bridget grunted, sighing, as another officer called her over. Ari smiled, nodding to her. “Go on.” She put an arm around my shoulders as Bridget walked off. “And you, Skyler, need a drink.”
“Whiskey with blood?”
“You can’t get drunk. The closest you can get is buzzed, and that takes like five gallons.”
I snorted. “The burn down my throat will be good enough.”
“Very well. Davina, care to join us?”
The witch shrugged. “Sure, why the hell not.” Ari reached out, and the moment her finger made contact, everything went dark.