My mother had sent word that she was being watched and was never able to get back to Emma to relay my message. My heart dropped at the thought that she was left alone for so long with no hope. I just hoped she didn’t think I’d given up on her. I read mom’s note over and over, realizing it was now or never.
My dear Alexander,
The time has come. Be in the normal place at 7am. She will be there. This is it.
My heart raced and I checked the time. I hadn’t slept in days it seemed and I had no idea. 2am. I had five hours. Five hours to prepare for the fight of our lives. I nodded shortly and walked over to lie down in my bed, willing myself into a restless sleep.
I woke three hours later, slightly more refreshed and hopped out of bed. I picked up the phone and called for one of the employed humans to be brought to my room. I needed to feed, and I much preferred to do it from a willing participant. Ten minutes later, a young female arrived at my room. Her eyes widened as she realized who’s room she was entering and I gave her a tight smile, motioning to a chair in front of my large leather one. She walked over silently and sat, waiting for her instructions.
“You are willing to let me feed on you, yes?” I asked quietly, making my way to sit in front of her in my chair.
She nodded quickly and held out her arm for me. I took it, looking into her eyes to confirm. “I have to warn you, it may not be gentle. It’s been two days since I’ve fed and I may not be able to stop my roughness. I assure you, I will stop though.”
She nodded again and looked down to her wrist before looking to the floor, preparing herself. I took a calming breath and bit down into her flesh, feeling the warm metallic liquid fill my mouth. She inhaled sharply, but did not move away. I took several short sips, trying to fill my needs first. I felt the bloodlust creeping into my consciousness and I fought it back, taking several more drags. I felt the strength slowly returning to my tired muscles and my senses sharpening. I fought the urge to sink my fangs deeper into her and took one more long sip before removing her wrist from my mouth. She held her wrist and waited, eyes trained on me patiently. I bit into my wrist and let her take several sips until she was ready to pull away.
After her wound heeled, I stood and gave her a short nod. “Thank you.” She gave a tight smile and walked out of my room, shutting it quietly behind her. I sat back down, feeling the blood beginning to course through my veins. I was feeling more and more like myself and I needed every ounce of strength I had for what was coming.
I checked the clock again. 5:45. I sat down, trying to walk through exactly what to expect. My father would surely stack the room with guards. He had to know I’d try and interfere. I had to assume General Cole would also be there to enforce. I knew my father was planning to use her blood, to use the cure running through her veins. The prophecy stated that it could turn anyone human if they drained her. Even if my father didn’t plan to have them drain her, there’s no way I could get enough blood back into her to save her. I’d have to heal her quickly which meant I had to be able to get to her fast. One thing was clear. I needed help. I couldn’t do this alone. I made my way to the cages, expecting several armed guards, only to see that they weren’t there. Only the one stood at attention in front of the door.
What the hell? Where are they? This can only mean one thing. She’s already gone.
Panic raced through me. Why had they taken her so early? It was still thirty minutes until time to meet. I tried to shake the negative thoughts and crept forward before I flashed against the guard, hitting him hard against the head. He dropped like a rock and didn’t move. I yanked the gloves off of his wrist and searched his pockets for the keys.
Damnit! Of course they wouldn’t leave the one here with the key.
I shoved my hands into the gloves and kicked the door hard, busting it open. My nose immediately wrinkled as I gagged on the smell of unwashed human. My eyes flew around the room, scanning over each whimpering body as they knelt on the ground in their tiny silver cages. I didn’t see her anywhere. One empty cage remained on the end. I walked over to it and inhaled her scent, knowing it had to be Emma’s. I looked to the left to see Fin’s large figure kneeling.
“Fin, I need you.” I reached over and yanked the door from his cage and he jumped out, sensing my urgency.
His eyes remained trained on the floor as I shoved the gloves into my pocket. “Look at me Fin. You’re not a slave as far as I’m concerned.” I reached up and unclasped the collar form his neck, letting it fall to the floor. I handed him a pair of shorts I’d grabbed from my room and he slipped into them quietly. His eyes snapped up to mine, unsure of what to say.
He decided instead to simply ask, “Why?”
My mouth formed into a tight smile. “Because I know Emma cares about you, and if anyone can help me save her, it’s you.”
He nodded shortly and exhaled, feeling adrenaline filling him. “What is the plan sire?”
“My father is going to use her against King Philip and his sons. We have to stop that from happening. He will have the room full of guards and the council, so it won’t be easy to get to her. If she is used to drink from, she may not have enough blood. I will have to be able to heal her quickly, which is where you come in. I’ll get us in, but I’ll need you to hold them off if I have to get to her in a hurry.”
Fin gave me a short nod and we headed out towards my father’s suites. I tried to slow my breathing and focus on the task at hand. I pushed down the fear that we may not be able to make it to her in time. We had to make it. There was only one choice. One option. Save Emma at all costs.
We arrived to the suite and tucked into the alcove outside, waiting for the right time to go in. If we went too early, we wouldn’t stand a chance. It had to be during a distraction. I’d planned to wait, but I heard the sound of a leather whip cracking the air once. My heart pounded as my eyes flashed to Fin’s widened gaze, matching mine. It was now or never.
We rushed the door and took the two guards standing outside quickly. I was impressed with Fin’s strength against them as a human. I heard another loud crack and the sound of it connecting with skin this time. They were whipping her. I listened but heard no sounds of pain other than several feral snarls coming from inside. Two more quickly followed and the scent of her blood in the air sent adrenaline and fury shooting through me, like a quick shot of vengeance.
I kicked the door hard, knocking it off of its hinges. My eyes quickly scanned the room to take in the 15 guards, the council, my mother’s pained eyes watching in horror, and the whip dripping in blood from Cole’s hand. Emma was held forward on her knees by a stocky guard as my father grinned down at her. She was eyeing him furiously before her emerald green stare flashed to meet mine.
That’s my girl.
I lowered my stance, preparing for the rush and my hands connected into the chests of the first two guards. Three more rushed in as I saw my father yank Emma over to three prisoners beneath the window. I heard Fin as he fought hard against a guard on my flank while I dropped the three engaging me. I made a few steps into the room when panic began to overwhelm me. Emma’s fresh blood overwhelmed my senses and I knew it was time. I looked over to see one prisoner drinking reluctantly from her, but his hunger was overpowering his will.
I growled loudly in anger, knowing I was running out of time. I began flashing through each guard, not pausing to see if Fin was behind me. I could hear him. I knew he was. I removed the last guard from my path and saw Emma swaying on her feet. She didn’t have much time.
In an instant, I was at her side. The prisoner looked up to me and I knew instantly who he was. His eyes were pained and he was trying desperately to stop. I steeled myself and grabbed tight to Emma’s wrist, ripping it from his mouth and hands. Her body shuddered hard in response, but she did not cry out. Blood flowed slowly from her wound and I breathed a temporary moment of relief. He hadn’t drained her, but she was close to bleeding out as what remained of her blood pooled to the floor below her. I held her as she dropped, cradling her against me as I searched her eyes for any sign of life. I could hear her heart beating slowly. She was fading, but not gone yet. I bit into my wrist and moved to put it to her lips, but was jerked away by a harsh hold on my shoulder.
I snapped around to see my father glaring down at me as I jumped to my feet, prepared to fight him if I had to. “I won’t let you kill her. You know I will die trying. Just let me turn her. She doesn’t need to die!” I snarled at him as he shook his head, lowering his stance to defend against me.
“She needs to die. She will end us all as we know it if you turn her. I know you think you care for the girl Xander, but you’ll thank me for this one day. You’ll be glad I let her die.”
“No!” I growled and launched at him, but he deflected me, knocking me to the ground as he pushed me off balance. He leapt on top of me and his fist connected hard with my face.
“Stop this Xander. I don’t want to, but I’ll stop you by any means necessary if I have to. Stop!”
I bucked him off of me, jumping back to my feet as my vision cleared. I charged at him again, leaning to the left and drawing him off center. As he shifted to defend, I kicked him hard in the neck on the right. He fell to his knees, holding his neck and head but quickly recovered. I was preparing for the next charge when he froze. I smelled his blood instantly and searched for the source as he gurgled, blood filling his mouth and spilling out. My eyes widened as he dropped to his knees and fell to his side on the floor. Standing behind him was my mother. Her right hand held a long silver blade, now bloodied from puncturing my father’s chest.
Her eyes were wide in shock and she’d begun to tremble. “I can’t believe...I...finally did it. I’m free of him.”
My head snapped in Emma’s direction as I sensed her heart nearly stopping. She didn’t have much longer. Maybe a few seconds. I flashed over to kneel beside her, lifting her head against my knees and leaning her up. I quickly bit back into my wrist to draw fresh blood and pressed it hard against her open mouth. “Drink Emma. Please just take it.” I could sense her heart beat one more slow thud in her chest and then stop. Panic raced through me and knotted in my stomach and I sat her up a little more, pressing my wrist harder into her mouth. “Come on baby. You can’t die. Come on!” Maybe some would make it down her throat in time.
My mother dropped to my side and touched my shoulder softly, whispering. “I’m so sorry Alexander. I know how much you wanted to help her.” I shook my head and shut my eyes tight, fighting down the panic threatening to overtake me entirely. She couldn’t be gone. I refused to accept it.
After several moments of complete and devastating stillness, I heard it. My eyes flashed open and looked down to see she was still lying completely still beneath my hold, but I heard it again. A soft thud, almost too quiet even for my enhanced hearing. My mother gasped and squeezed my shoulder reassuringly as it beat once more, followed by another. It was getting stronger and her lungs took in a breath on their own.
“Fin! Get your ass over here now!” I growled, trying to regain my composure. The three males to my right all noticed as well, trying to remain still against their painful restraints.
“Xander, you know she is going to fight against the burn. Prepare yourself.” My mother’s voice was firm and calm.
I nodded. I’d never personally turned someone, but I’d seen it done hundreds of times. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. Her body would aggressively reject the turn as it burned down her throat, but I had to hold on to her to get enough into her to complete her transition. Fin waited, his shoulders rigid as he prepared himself for his part of the process as well. She most likely wouldn’t release him easily.
Suddenly, her eyes shot open and I looked down to see her emerald green stare meet mine as her face contorted in pain. I placed my hand beneath her head and gripped my occupied arm to hold my wrist hard against her mouth, leaving no room for her to remove it. Her hands pushed hard against my body and arm, trying hard to shove it away from her mouth as her body writhed beneath my grasp.
“Just a little bit more my inger. Please, you need to take a little bit more. I’m sorry. I know it hurts.” I spoke quietly, trying to calm her as tears poured from her eyes as she grunted and cried against my body. She slowly stopped resisting against me and began to breathe normally. Her hands reached up and clamped down onto my arm, now pulling hard against my wrist to keep me from removing it. She was greedily drinking down as much as she could, indicating it was time to switch her to Fin. I nodded to him and he braced his body to allow her to feed from his arm next. My mother bit into his wrist and he held it, waiting as I leaned down to speak to Emma.
“Ok. It’s time for you to drink from Fin now. You have to do this or you won’t complete the transition. You’ll have to let go of my arm now.” She flashed her now bright crimson eyes up to me and clamped down harder onto my arm. “Ok Fin, get over here.”
Fin brought his wrist to be just next to mine as I held her head still and wrenched my wrist painfully from her new fangs. I fought against the pain as she tore through my flesh and thrust Fin’s bloodied wrist in front of her as she took it greedily. He winced, but did not make a sound as she drank from him. After several moments, it was time for her to release him. “Emma, that’s enough. You’ve got to let Fin go, ok?”
She snarled against his skin and fought my touch as I tried to pull his wrist away. “Fin, I’m sorry but this is going to be painful. I’ll heal you as soon as we get her under control.”
“I can do it Alexander. You focus on her. I’ll take care of Fin.” My mother smiled tightly and moved to help brace Fin.
I reached up and grabbed a tight hold of the back of Emma’s neck and Fin’s wrist and yanked hard, pulling her teeth through his flesh and away from Fin. “No! I need more!” she glared at me, blood dripping from her mouth.
“It’s ok Emma. It’s just the bloodlust. You’ve just got to get it under control. You’ve had enough. It’s done. The transition’s finished. You’re ok.” I put my hands up, trying to calm her but her eyes snapped back to Fin, trying to find a way to him. “Emma, please listen. Calm down. You’re...”
I stopped short as she let out a painful cry, wrapping her arms around herself. “Oh my...what the hell is...happening to me?” She gritted out.
She dropped to the ground and curled around herself, grunting in pain and burying her face into the ground. I fell to her side, trying to find the source of the pain but she wasn’t injured. Finally, I saw something at her back. I moved behind her and my eyes widened as her birthmark began to glow brightly against her skin. “Oh my God. What...”
“What is it?” she moaned.
My mother flashed to stand behind me and gasped as we watched small white wispy lines begin to spiral out of her birthmark. Fin walked over and knelt in front of her as she groaned, stroking her arm and whispering softly to her. “It’s going to be ok Emma. You’re going to be all right. Just hold on.”
I fought the irritation rise from within me as she whimpers back at him. “It hurts Fin. It hurts so much. What is happening to me?”
The white lines radiated around each side of her body, growing down each of her sides just past her hips and running along the backs of her arms before circling around her wrists and fingers intricately. Her entire back and arms were glowing under the design and I froze as her eyes snapped up to look at me. Her eyes were glowing silver. Her hair slowly began to turn several shades lighter, becoming a nearly white blonde as it fell around her face.
“It’s true then.” I heard the older male prisoner mumble.
“My God it’s true.” Someone to my right spoke and I was reminded for the first time that the council and General were still present.
She calmed herself, taking deep breaths in and out before leaning up from the ground. I leaned down to help her to her feet and felt the air whoosh out of my lungs. She stood, stretching her arms out to inspect the new markings on her skin and gasped. I could see the full scale of the white tattoo on her back. The large white wispy wings completely enveloped her back and glowed brightly as they radiated down her arms and hands. She looked over her shoulder her shoulder at me and spoke softly. “What is it Xander? What’s happened to me?”
“You’re her.” I muttered. “You’re the angel. It’s true. It’s you.”
She opened her mouth to speak but stopped suddenly as General Cole bellowed. “We told you! He knew who she was. She’s dangerous.” He was standing, wrapping his hand around the back of his neck from where Fin had hit him to knock him out. “She has to die before she ends us all!”
In an instant, he’d flashed over to her, moving to place a hand on her shoulder, but her eyes and markings flashed brighter as her body let off a huge shockwave of energy, sending Cole flying through the air to land against the wall, dropping to the floor unconscious. I staggered back, being knocked to the ground, as did everyone else in the room.
“How...How did I do that?” she stammered as the glow faded from within her.
I stood and shook my head. “I don’t know, but try and stay calm. We don’t know what you’re capable of just yet. You’re also newly turned, and that’s hard enough to control on its own.”
Her eyes snapped to mine as the reality sunk in. In the chaos, she’d forgotten she’d turned. I spoke quickly, taking one step at a time towards her slowly. “It’s ok Emma. We’re going to get through this. I won’t let anything happen to you. You’re safe now. You’re ok. Just try and stay calm.”
Her mouth opened and shut several times as she tried to speak, but couldn’t get the words out. Finally, she managed a sentence. “Could I please get some clothes?”
“I’ll go get her something right away. She can wear something of mine for now.” My mother hurried from the room and returned within minutes with a dress. It was a white halter wrap dress that hung around her neck, leaving her back and neck exposed. “I thought this way we could inspect what was necessary without her having to disrobe. I hope that’s all right Emma.”
She nodded and slipped into the dress as her body stilled. Her silver eyes slowly looked up into mine and my heart stalled. They weren’t her deep emerald pools I’d come to love, but they were still hers just the same. I’d know those eyes anywhere. She was stunning.