“Next.” the old security guard behind the counter called in a bored tone. I didn’t even have to be next to him to know that he hadn’t showered in days and smoked one too many cigarettes before his shift. I straightened and walked forward trying my best to remain calm.
“Name?” The man asked without looking up from his computer screen.
“Lila. Lila Dean” I said with a shaky voice, feeling my nerves building. “I’m here to see my mother, Victoria Dean?” The guard peered up at me from his computer and gave me a slight nod before looking back down and typing away on his keyboard.
I couldn’t believe I was here: The New Mexico State Penitentiary. I rolled my eyes. It’s not like I owed it to her to visit. She had made my life a living hell. Always screaming at me to be stronger, fight better and kill faster. I used to dream of the day that she’d notice me and realize that she was wrong to put her string of boyfriends, drugs and obsession with the supernatural before me. I had rehearsed to myself what I’d do and say the moment she asked me for forgiveness for everything she put me through. At that time, all I wanted was my mother. But today was different. Today was the day I had to say my final good-bye. Today was the last day I’d be able to see her again. I guess that’s what happens when you land on death row.
“Sign here and here.” The security guard’s bony finger pointed to the signature lines. I quickly scribbled down my signatures and handed the paperwork back, not bothering to read the words on the page. I knew what this was all about. The Prison Chief had already gone over everything on the phone.
“Here’s her belongings” he said as he handed me a ziplock bag with only three letters inside.
“Is this all?” I asked a little shocked.
“Hmmhmm.” My man hummed, unamused.
“Head over to the security line and place all your personal belongings in the bin.” The guard pointed to a security post mere feet away and handed me a copy of the signed paperwork. I shuffled over to the security check point, placing the bag of letters in my purse. Once I was through security, a guard ushered me to a visitation room down a long hallway.
“You got 10 minutes.” The gruff security guard boomed, making me jump, and shutting the door behind him.
The room was small and had a plexiglass partition with a phone to be able to communicate to the person on the other side.
Two big guards stood on the other side of the plexiglass and standing between them, in cuffs was my mother. Her piercing green eyes on her slim porcelain face stared straight into my soul. Fear crept its way into me, and I knew she could sense it. The corner of her lips twitched into an evil smirk as she made her way to the phone. She knew the effect she had on me and I hated it. I knew what I needed to say to her. I needed her to know that even though she made my life hell, that I forgive her. I needed to be free of her. Lifting my head and taking a deep breath, I made my way to the phone and put it to my ear.
“Mother.” I spoke calmly “I...I want you to know that...”
“Listen to me, you sorry excuse of a daughter.” My mother hissed through gritted teeth “I don’t want to fucking hear about your pathetic feelings.” She spat. Changing the topic to her agenda she asked, “Is it safe?” Her eyes flashing with anger as she pierced into me.
It. Yes, the very thing that made my mom a murderer on death row.
“It’s safe.” I whispered as my mother’s face graced me with a proud evil smirk.
“Now, don’t let mommy down and finish what we started.” She commanded in her twisted sweet voice, reminding me that she never loved me - I was merely a pawn.
“Mom...” I started but she cut me off.
“Don’t you for a second think you aren’t being watched.” She mused twisting a strand of her raven black hair. “I may be dead in a few days, but I’ve made sure that any slip up won’t go unnoticed or unpunished.” She flashed me her signature sinister smile and I knew the way her eyes darkened how serious she really was.
“Oh, and Lila?” She added, lowering her voice, her smile gone, “Do. Not. Disappoint. Me.” She emphasized each word, piercing them straight into my soul. She locked eyes with me and then carefully hung up the receiver, turned and shuffled back to the guards. They grabbed her arms and began to usher her to the door. She turned and glared at me one final time, daring me to defy her and then vanished.
That was it. I stood there, phone still pressed to my ear, replaying what this meant. I had promised myself before I came here that she wouldn’t control me anymore - that I would leave the life she forced me into and begin living my life MY way.
“Times up.” The guard ripped me from my thoughts. He escorted me out of the visitation room and to the main exit.
Once outside, the gravity of my situation came at me full force. My breaths became short and quick as my panic swelled in my chest. I stumbled to the side of the building, clutching my chest, as my mind kept replaying her last words to me. You are being watched. Finish what we started. Do not disappoint me.
“Are you ok, Miss?”
I snapped my head toward the voice. A small, stalky woman approached, concern written all over her face. Composing myself, I straightened and took a shaky breath.
“Um, yes. Yes, I’m ok. Just...a little shaken is all, but I’m ok now.” I gave her a warm smile as I straightened my blouse. “Thank you for your concern.”
She smiled back at me, “Well, ok then. You have a wonderful day!” She said as she made her way toward the main entrance of the building.
After taking a deep breath, I made my way to the car. I couldn’t do that again. If my mother taught me anything, it was to push down the emotions and focus on the task at hand. To always be aware. To never show fear. I hadn’t even heard that woman approach. What would happen if it was one of my moms henchmen or worse, one of them.
I need to get out of here, I thought as I sped down the highway. I needed to get as many miles away from this city as possible. As I reached my apartment building, I quickly made my way to my door. I scrambled inside and frantically began packing. Her men must know she’s going to be put to death any day now, and once she’s dead, they’ll come looking for me as ordered. What if they find out too? Heaven knows, they’ve probably seen me on missions with my mother - her killing innocents to make a point.
I needed to leave. Where? I didn’t have a father that I knew of and my mother had mentioned a sister but she said I had never met her - that she abandoned us.
I began pacing, racking my brain trying to recall any information about my moms sister. Hannah, the name popped in my mind. Her name was Hannah. My mom hated her and told me to never contact her. I needed out of the city, and maybe, just maybe Hannah could help me lay low until I found a new life of my own. What else do I know? I thought pressing my palm to my forehead. I quickly recalled a memory of my mom hissing through the phone asking why the hell Hannah would live in Oregon.
So, Oregon. I thought. I’m going to Oregon.
It took me a couple hours but I was packed, my car was gassed up and my bank account drained so I couldn’t be followed. I drove across town to grab a bite to eat before heading out.
When I reached the small diner, I killed the ignition and grabbed my purse. As I fumbled for my wallet, I noticed the bag with my moms letters were still in my purse. Why only three letters? I wondered. I hesitantly grabbed the ziplock bag out of my purse and contemplated whether or not I should read the contents. Why keep these? And most importantly, who were they from? Curiosity got the better of me, and I carefully opened the bag. I pulled out all three letters and placed them on my lap. I peered at the addresses on each envelope. They were all from the same address...in Ashland, Oregon. I felt my heart start to race and I grabbed the first letter.
I heard you finally ended up in prison. Can’t say I’m not surprised. You always were the sloppy one.
I know why you did the things you did but I just wish you hadn’t. I wish you found happiness in the simple life. We were robbed as children, trying to continue what father worked so hard for. I’m glad I got out of it when I did cause I just know I’d be there, sitting in the cell next to yours.
I know you want to know if Henry and I stayed together and the answer is yes. He’s my family now and I’m devoted to this pack. I won’t hesitate to use my training to defend the people I love. I hope you understand.
May God have mercy on us all.
Your baby sis,
I frantically grabbed the next letter, my breathing becoming more anxious. Was I scared or was I excited? I shook my head, releasing the questions and focused on the words in front of me.
How did you do it? How did you find the one thing generations of our family swore to find but couldn’t? I’m both amazed and disgusted in you. If you could have just listened to me and been around them, you’d know that they are no different from humans.
Please write me back and tell me where you have hidden it. It must be destroyed. If it lands in the hands of someone more evil than our father, there’s no telling what they would do.
Awaiting your reply,
So, she knew about it. She knew what it was capable of. I knew my mother reported her dealings to someone higher up, but could it be my grandfather? Did he know I was in possession of it? I quickly opened the last letter.
You are going to die soon and I don’t know how I feel about it all. All that murdering has finally caught up to you so, a part of me understands that you are getting what you deserve. But you are my big sister and there was a time when you would defend me from the wrath of our father. You pushed me to fight harder and to become one of the best hunters our clan knew. But how can I justify a bond that was created by survival and fear? A bond that was created to make us killers?
My only hope is that Lila doesn’t become a pawn in all of this like we were.
This is my last letter to you considering you haven’t written me back once. I have transitioned and am now a full member of the pack I joined 18 years ago. I know you don’t understand but this is what I have wanted since the day Henry and I became mates.
Since war may be upon my kind, I say my final goodbye.
Goodbye, Victoria. Rest In Peace.
I stared at the letter in complete shock. Hunter? War? Transitioned? Mates? What did this mean? My mom often spoke with hatred of supernatural creatures and how they needed to be eliminated, did that mean Hannah was now one of them?
Glancing back up at the diner, I noticed a man seated in a corner booth trying his best to conceal the fact that he was watching me. He was wearing all black. His v-neck shirt showing off his bulging biceps that periodically flexed as he tried to calm his adrenaline that coursed through his body. He was ready for me. My training kicked in and I knew that he needed to be eliminated, and fast. No one needed to know my position and the direction I was going. I calmly exited my vehicle and as I approached the diner, I discretely scanned my surroundings. I spotted his vehicle. How typical. Black Escalade with tinted windows - probably bullet proof - sleek rims and fake plates. I rolled my eyes.
I peered in the diner and noticed he was alone. Good, I thought, no partner - a fair fight. I took one final deep breath and entered the diner.
“It’s open seating!” The server called out as she placed food on a nearby table.
I smiled “ok, thank you!” I said sitting at the table closest to me.
“What can I get started for ya, hun?” The server asked as she approached me.
“Coffee. Black, please.” I said as she handed me a menu. “Also, do you have a restroom by chance?”
“Sure do.” The server responded as she pointed to the back of the diner. “Past the kitchen, down the hall. Women’s is on the right.”
“Thank you” I said with a smile. I stood and made my way towards the bathroom, noticing that the man began to scoot out of his seat to follow me.
Perfect, I thought. He’s just as sloppy as I’d thought he’d be. This was gonna be easy.
I entered the restroom and surveyed my surroundings. Two stalls, one sink and a mop propped in the corner. “I can work with this.” I whispered to myself. I quickly turned on the water to help drown out the sound, used my knee to snap the mop handle in two and waited by the side of the door. As if right on cue, muscle man quietly opened the door, his back turned toward me. He spun around with the intention to quietly close and lock the door but I beat him to it. Slamming the door with my arm, I propelled the bottom of my foot to the center of his chest, catching him completely by surprise. Air left his lungs and he fell back, slamming his head on the edge of the sink. Blood smeared across the sink as he sunk to the ground. I gave him a final smirk before I sprang into action. I thrusted the broken, jagged side of the mop handle into his abdomen. A cry of pain escaped his lips as I twisted the handle. His breath became shaky and his eyes began to flutter as he fought to keep consciousness.
“Who sent you?” I hissed as I twisted the mop handle to get his attention.
“You won’t get far.” The man gasped, realizing this was the end for him. He was trained to keep any and all secrets even if it meant death.
“We’ll see about that” I replied and used the bottom of my foot to stomp on his face causing him to lose consciousness. I felt a crunch and knew his nose was done for.
I looked around. Blood was pooling beneath his head. “Shit.” I cursed under my breath. The place was a mess. I quickly grabbed the man by his under arms, dragged him into one of the stalls and propped him on the toilet. I pulled the stick out of his gut and watched as his blood began to pool out. I turned and locked the stall door with him in it. I then crawled my way out from the bottom of the stall to clean up my mess. I used the broken mop and sopped up the blood puddle then wiped down the sink with a paper towel.
Mother would have wanted me to just kill him leaving no witness, but if he could survive the blood loss, he was allowed to live, I thought. I hated being a killer.
I peered into the mirror seeing my emerald green eyes look back at me - a spitting image of my stunning mother, everyone would say. My thick raven hair fell down to my waist in natural beachy waves and was such a contrast to my porcelain fair skin. I straightened my clothes and ran my fingers through my hair, smoothing the tangles caused from the tussle and exited the restroom.
“Can I get my coffee in a to-go cup, please?” I asked the server politely when I reached my table.
“Sure thing, doll. Comin’ right up.”
After I paid for my coffee, I left and made sure the parking lot was clear. I started my engine and glanced down at the letters again.
“Well Hannah,” I said to myself, “time to meet your niece.”