“What? Who?” Leila asked rapid fire, looking back and forth from Nikoli to Sharon with wide eyes.
“The Elders are here. They are watching us,” Sharon replied quietly, a resigned look on her face.
“My suspicion, though, was that since Leila is a witch, a supernatural being as well, we would be safe from being torn apart. I guess my assumption was incorrect, however…”
Sharon pursed her lips and hesitated before deciding to pat his hand in comfort. Nikoli fought the urge to pull away, still freaked out by her from a certain degree. Sensing his discomfort Sharon lifted her hand from his.
“Why does this matter to these people? These...Elders, I mean. Why are they so involved? Shouldn’t our relationship be our own concern?” Nikoli sighed, not really knowing how to answer her questions, but not really seeing any way around it, either. Squeezing one of her warm hands between his two clammy ones, he tried to find the right words.
“They used to not be so involved in this sort of thing. It wasn’t until some vampires started abusing the right to date whom they chose, that they really became interested in other people’s relationships. Some of the women that a group of vampires fed on and used for their pleasure became pregnant long ago. It had never occurred to anyone really that it was possible to breed hybrids. Enoch was excited at the prospect of having heirs, but the Elders would not allow it. They got rid of the women and their unborn children out of fear and abolished dating outside of our own kind.”
“By got rid of...you mean...they were killed?”
Nikoli nodded solemnly, hating them for what they had done, killing innocents like that. “Completely unnecessary in my opinion.”
He looked up to see the reaction on Leila’s face only to discover that Sharon was staring at him instead, nodding at his unspoken thoughts.
“Are you a mind reader?”
She smiled smugly, “Sometimes. It’s not a perfect thing though.”
Nikoli smirked at her, respecting her answer. Leila’s face still displayed disgust and shock, although not seeming to be directed at them. She seemed lost in her own thoughts.
“Well...that’s just….that’s just terrible…” Biting her lips once more, she inhaled a deep breath, collecting herself before continuing, “So they’re coming for us? Should we be frightened? What if I make the wrong decision?”
Nikoli could tell that she was trying not to get herself all worked up, but he practically saw the wheels turning in her head as she connected the dots. Kissing her hands and forehead, he hugged her to him tightly, meaning to reassure her. This time she didn’t pull away.
“We’ll be okay, my love. We have each other. I’m still here, I won’t leave you. I’m sure that they are reasonable enough beings,” he countered, trying to squelch her fears, but barely believing the words he spoke.
Leila started to sob just then as Nikoli stroked and kissed her hair, “There, there. Nothing to fear. You’ll see.”
All three were startled by the strange and unexpected voice that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once.
“We aren’t here to harm you as a first priority, that is true. However, you have some serious decisions to make. Ones that should not be taken lightly. We are reasonable, yes, but we mean business, nonetheless.”
Leila gasped, frightened by the intrusion of the strange man’s voice. She looked around frantically, trying to locate where the voice had come from. Nikoli couldn’t see anyone either. Nor had they heard anyone enter the premises. His curiosity getting the better of him, Nikoli got up and opened the blinds. The strange man was indeed outside, but was standing right in front of the door staring at them through the small window. He had medium length, flowing sandy brown hair and seemed to glow. Nikoli was shaken so much by this for some reason, he literally stepped back.
“Aren’t you going to invite me inside? It’s rude to leave your guests waiting,” The man was staring directly at Sharon, who stood up, shaking like a leaf and opened the door silently.
No one dared to look him in the eye directly. No one, that is, with one exception. Nikoli squinted at him as if he were made of light, trying in vain to make eye contact, but it caused him much pain to do so, that he too looked down after a few minutes. He’s just too powerful. It unnerved him to no end, because he had never encountered such a commanding presence before now. He didn’t really know what to do with himself, so he sat back down next to Leila and took comfort in her warmth. The man put sunglasses on and smirked knowingly at all three of them. “My name is Gabriel. Please, have a seat. There is much to talk about.” The glasses made it easier for them to look at him while he was talking.
“Leila. Nikoli. We’ve been watching you two. We saw what happened with Jessa and we can assure you that she will no longer be a problem.”
Nikoli looked up sharply, narrowing his eyes in suspicion, “What does that mean? Is she...is she dead?”
The strange man just smiled at him, nodding once and then turning his attention back to Leila who was gaping at him open mouthed, eyes wide.
“There’s no need to be that afraid, my dear. I know that this is all new to you, but you need to choose wisely after we have discussed the options. Defiance is not tolerated, and punishment can be avoided if only you both cooperate. Do you understand?”
Leila sputtered as she tried to speak, then finally swallowed and nodded quickly. “Good. That is good. I will cut to the chase. Please listen carefully.”
They all trained their gaze on him as he spoke, his lilting, musical voice mesmerizing them. Nikoli shook his head to try to break the spell Gabriel seemed to have over them all, but found himself drawn back in against his will.
“You cannot remain together and also remain in your current forms. There are really four options available to you, but I do not recommend the last option, because it’s basically a death sentence.” He chuckled softly to himself with amusement.
Seeing that no one shared his mirth, he forged on, “One: Nikoli and you can choose to be human together, without your magic, Leila. Two: Leila can become a vampire. Three: You can go your separate ways and never be together. Four: You can try to remain the way you are and invariably choose to defy us, which as I said before is suicide. This is not a decision that should be taken lightly and it is not one we would give just anyone. However, due to the circumstances and who your ancestor was, Leila, as well as who your creator was, Nikoli, we are granting you a once in a lifetime offer.”
This caused Nikoli to frown, “My creator?”
“You did not tell him?” Gabriel trained his hypnotic eyes on Sharon, causing her to widen her eyes to bug out at the sheer presence of this powerful being.
“I-I did not get the chance, sir,” she stuttered and then coughed nervously.
“Tsk tsk,” he shook his head at her and turned towards Nikoli, “Enoch, was your maker.”
“What?” Nikoli sputtered, his hands grasping his knees to keep from freaking out.
Once again chuckling for no reason, Gabriel seemed unruffled that no one else shared his amusement, “I came in alone, but depending on your choice, I will have to get the rest of the council involved. They, as well as I, will await your decision outside.Take as much time as you need.”
With that he abruptly got up and walked out the door without so much as a backwards glance, leaving them all stunned in the wake of his presence. Both Nikoli and Sharon turned to look at Leila, who was still silently sitting there, just blinking at the place where the mysterious Elder had just sat. Nikoli waved his hand in front of her face, to get her attention, and held her hands firmly between his own. When she turned to look at him, he smiled softly at her, lovingly caressing her hands, secretly delighted that she didn’t pull away.
“I will do whatever you wish, Leila. As long as you choose to stay with me, I will be yours. In whatever form you choose.”
Nikoli waited, with baited breath, for her to say something. Anything. But instead she turned her attention back to the door, pressing her trembling lips together as she stared after Gabriel as both Sharon and Nikoli looked on, awaiting her decision.