I don’t know what happened when General Cole rushed me, but I knew I had power coursing strongly through my veins. As he rushed me, I felt it surging inside of me and I could see my skin glowing around my arms and toward my back. When he touched me, it was like my body exploded, and I was at the center of the blast. Hell, I was the blast. Everyone was knocked from their feet but me as the energy burst out of me. I couldn’t explain it.
My eyes finally looked up to meet Xander’s and he was looking at me with a look of complete awe.
My words caught tightly in my throat as I tried to speak, but I finally managed to pull together a sentence. “How...How did I do that?”
He shook his head at me, clearly trying to pull himself back together as well. “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.”
My heart lurched and it all rushed back to me in an instant.
Oh my God. I’m a vampire. He turned me. I died, and he turned me.
My eyes snapped to meet his as the reality sunk in. I tried to keep my breathing calm, but he spoke quickly, taking one step at a time towards me slowly like I could explode again at any moment. The glowing had faded and the silver hue had left my vision, but I didn’t know what the source was the first time. “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.”
I struggled to speak as the weight of the situation began to crash down on me, but I pushed a sentence out of my mouth, forcing myself to speak. “Could I please get some clothes?”
The queen rushed out and returned just as quickly with a white draped dress that hung from my neck and draped around my lower back, showing my back and arms openly. As I slipped it on, I shrugged against the fabric. Having the fabric against my skin felt foreign now.
I felt Xander’s eyes on me, and I forced myself to look up at him as he slowly closed the distance to me. His eyes were glazed from tears filling his eyes and his face was strained. I knew I wasn’t the same Emma he’d brought here. I’d never be able to go back to her. I could feel it deep inside of me. I was permanently changed.
“Xander, I...” My voice broke and tears crested my eyes, threatening to fall. I pushed them back as he finally made it to stand in front of me. His hands twitched and I could tell he wanted to touch me. He stopped short, afraid of what would happen if he did.
“It’s going to be ok my inger. Please don’t cry.” He whispered lowly, speaking just to me in my ear.
I let out a tight laugh that held no humor as I absorbed the irony. “Your inger. That’s more appropriate than ever I guess.”
“We are going to figure this out ok?” He finally placed his fingers gently below my chin and tugged my face up to look at him. I nodded tightly and reached up to hold my hand against his, trying to process everything that had happened up to this moment. I froze suddenly remembering the insanity as I turned. My eyes widened and I grabbed his wrist to look at it, but he’d already begun to heal. A faded mark remained, but would be gone within a few minutes. “I’m fine.” He said lowly, smiling tightly.
“Oh my God, Fin!” I turned quickly, causing everyone around me to jump. Irritation bubbled inside of me, but I pushed it down as I walked over and dropped to Fin’s side. “Fin, I hurt you. I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to. I...”
He threw his hand up, twisting the newly healed wrist. “I’m ok Emma. I’m ok. You didn’t hurt me. Queen Reina healed me right after you were pulled away from me. I’m fine.”
I grabbed his wrist to inspect it again and saw that he would have a faded pink scar as I had, but he would be fine. I instinctively looked down to my own wrists to see that the texture of the scar remained, but was now nearly covered with the white markings as they spiraled intricately around my wrists and down my fingers. I snapped around to face Xander and he knew instantly what I wanted.
He spoke over his shoulder to one of the guards now standing at attention, unsure of whom to answer to. “She needs a mirror. She needs to see it.” When the guard hesitated, he turned and growled, “Do I need to fucking spell it out for you? I said go and get a mirror.” The guard jumped and quickly ran from the room to retrieve the mirror. Xander waited, crossing his arms across his chest as Reina approached him, speaking lowly. I was shocked to hear their conversation plainly, even though I was several feet away from them. I looked around, but no one else seemed to be able to hear her as she whispered. “Xander, we need to discuss what to do. There’s a natural progression of events we will need to follow. We need to solidify your position and that can’t happen as long as...”
He snapped around to look at her and hissed, “I am not discussing that with her right now. She’s been through enough as it is.”
Reina placed a comforting hand on Xander’s arm and continued, “Alexander honey, I know you two are new, but you’ll need to mate before you can transfer your father’s position to yourself. You won’t be able to sustain it alone.”
He pinched his nose in between his brows and sighed. “Later. I can’t deal with that right now. We need to figure out what exactly she is first, and how she feels about this. She needs a minute.”
My heart dropped as I heard him speak. He’d snapped so harshly at the suggestion of my becoming his mate. I didn’t even know if I was ready for something like that yet, but I knew he was not happy about it being pushed on him. Did he not want me? Was he afraid of what I’d become? I couldn’t blame him. I didn’t even know what was going on in my own body.
The guard finally returned and placed the mirror against the wall in front of me. I walked to stand in front of it and gasped as I turned to see the sprawling wings across my back and arms. I lifted the hem of the skirt to inspect where they disappeared beneath it. My jaw dropped as my eyes stared back at me, but they weren’t my own. They were silver.
What the hell?
That explained the silver hue in my vision when Cole touched me. My hair fell forward as I turned back to face the mirror head on and I noticed that it was nearly white. I ran my fingers gently through it, trying to take my new appearance in. Xander was right. I looked just like that image I’d burned into my memory. I was her. I was the angel from the prophecy.
I turned around slowly, trying to not frighten anyone else with my abrupt movements. My eyes met Xander’s and I fought to maintain a smooth level in my voice. “So, what do we do now?”
“First, we need to get out of this room. We need to get this cleaned up and get our heads back on straight. There will be a quick change soon but right now, we can focus on what’s in front of us.” He spoke firmly, with authority.
The council quietly made their way to the door and mumbled as they left. More guards entered to try and remove the bodies from the room, but were stopped as Xander pointed to an unmoving Cole. “He needs to be restrained immediately. Put him in the cells until we decide what to do with him.” The general was still unconscious on the floor. He looked past me and nodded toward the three males behind me. “Remove their restraints and get them fed and rested. We will call you soon as we’re ready for you. I don’t think I need to remind you to stay away from the sunlight for now Your Highness.”
My eyes widened as a few of the guards scurried to submit to their commands while the rest began to work on the room. I turned to face them and eyed each one of them before landing on the older male. This man was my father. The father I’d always wondered about. I had a million questions, but right now I stood silent as he was removed from his torturing chair and escorted from the room along with his two sons. My brothers. I had a father and two brothers. My heart ached at the absence of the final member missing from them. My mother.
I jumped as I heard Xander’s voice speak lowly behind us. “It’s ok. You’ll be able to speak to them as much as you want once they are up to it. Once you’re up to it. But right now we need to get out of here.” His voice was tense as he said the last sentence.
My eyes fell to Asher’s body as it lay in front of me. I turned and looked up into his strained blue eyes, placing my hand on his cheek hesitantly. “I’m sorry you had to go through this Xander. I’m sorry about your father.”
He scoffed and leaned against my hand. “How can you apologize for him after what he did to you?”
I shook my head, sniffing back the tears that had been threatening to fall. “Because, no matter what he’s done, or who he truly was to others, he was still your father. I can’t imagine that kind of loss right in front of you. I’ve never known that kind of relationship, but I know the pain you’re feeling is terrible regardless of your brave face.”
A tear dropped from his cheek before he quickly wiped it away and reached up to pull my hand from his face, lacing his fingers in mine. “Come on. Let’s go.”
I walked out of the room with him, feeling as if I was taking the weight of all those that died in the room tonight with me. It nearly suffocated me, but Xander’s hand on mine kept me steady. I let Xander lead me blindly, too absorbed in my thoughts. I nearly ran into him when he stopped to open the door in front of us.
“What the...where are we? I thought we had to meet with the council and your mother. ” I muttered as I tried to regain my composure.
“We’re at my room. I needed a moment alone. I needed a minute just with you.” His voice sounded strained and I could sense the tension rolling through him as we walked into the room. He shut the door behind him and walked quietly over to the desk, pouring two drinks before holding one out for me. I followed, walking over slowly and leaning against the side of the desk. I took the glass from him and gladly let the amber warmth slide down my throat and fill my stomach. We drank in silence until our glasses were empty and he placed them both back onto the desk. His hands gripped down against the wood beneath them and he leaned forward with his eyes shut, inhaling deeply.
I finally mustered the courage to interrupt his thoughts. “Xander, talk to me.”
He sighed and a muscle in his jaw twitched as he spoke. “I thought I’d lost you. I nearly didn’t make it to you in time.”
I took my own calming breath as the shock had began to wear off, leaving an aching devastation in its wake. I reached across the desk and placed my hand gently on top of his, stroking the top of his palm. “But you did. You made it to me. One way or the other, I’m alive because of you Xander.”
He pushed away from the desk, standing straight and rigid. “No Emma. You don’t understand what it’s like to hear the heart stop beating of the one you...” My heart leapt and I felt my breath catch in my throat as he stopped, raking a hand through his hair before he continued. “You died. I heard your heart stop beating. I didn’t know if I’d be able to bring you back. I almost didn’t.”
“But you did Xander. I’m just sorry for what you had to go through to get to me. I’m sorry your father had to die right in front of you.”
“I would have done it myself if she hadn’t.” He growled, his face changing to an expression of anger. “He deserved to after everything he did to you.”
My hands reached for his arm, pulling him to stand in front of me as I wrapped my arms around his lean waist. He pulled me closer into his body, holding me tightly against his chest as he spoke. His voice was low and seething with hatred. “If I could have gotten loose from those chains I would have done it that night. You should never have had to go through that again. I promised I’d protect you and I failed Emma. And nothing I can do will ever make up for that. But I can assure you I will never let anyone touch you ever again.”
I lifted my head to see his eyes burning crimson in anger. “Xander, there was nothing you could have done, and if you had, who knows if this would have ever happened.” I nodded over my shoulder to my back. “There’s obviously more to me than just being human, and I need to know what. I need to know why I’m like this and what it means. I need to know who I am.”
He placed a finger underneath my chin and leaned down to kiss me tenderly. He broke the connection and pressed his forehead against mine, breathing deeply as he tried to calm himself. I could still feel the effects of this night rolling off of him, and through me as well.
I felt a twinge of courage and used it to propel my words before it was gone. “Xander...what did you mean by needing to find out what I was before you secured your position?”
Once the words left my mouth, I felt the air still around us and his body stiffened. I knew what he was going to say, but I needed to hear it for myself. If he didn’t want me, I needed to know now instead of in front of a room full of people who wanted to poke and prod me. I wouldn’t go in and be blindsided again.