“It’s been a while since I’ve been here,” Vincent said tracing the rack with his finger as he walked through the torture chamber. He could smell Zoe’s blood and it made him sick knowing what he’d done to her in this room. “So what’s the special occasion? Why did you summon me here?”
“For a talk, an endgame kind of discussion. It’s been ages since I’ve seen you and I have to say, you’ve changed dramatically; though I’m not so sure it was for the best.”
“What are you talking about? Wait, before you get into anything, explain to me this thing with Zo. Why should I listen to anything you have to say after what you did to her?”
“I don’t have to explain my actions to you, Vincent. I told you to stay out of it. But, Zoe is actually what I wanted to talk to you about. I know you love her, you’ve never spoken to me the way you did, in such angry tones, about anyone; not even that Romanian harlot you ran off with.”
“What’s your point, Zavier?”
“You’re not the vicious predator I remember. Your love for that witch has changed you. She’s got you by the short hairs Vincent and to be honest, it’s pretty pathetic. The Vincent I knew would never allow anyone, man or vampire, to play him like such an idiot. Yet Drake has what you want and you’re letting him, a younger vampire, make you look weak! Stupid! Foolish!”
Vincent stood listening to Zavier. He was right; never has he been dogged by anyone. He once killed a man for spilling his drink and now this? Now someone he once called friend, that he once defended and protected is stopping him from having total happiness for once in his life? How could he allow anyone to cross him? Even a friend?
“You’re right,” Vincent said. “I did let her change me, slowly. So much so it was unnoticeable. I stopped killing for her, I stopped feeding on humans for a while because of her and she still refused me because of him!”
Zavier smiled listening to Vincent’s epiphany.
“You want her Vincent. What’s stopping you from taking her? Bedding her? Who has been the undeniable factor preventing you from loving her? Allowing her to love you? Because you and I both know who she really loves. You’ve read her thoughts! Heard her say it! Your daughter is beautiful and I’m sure Sarah was a great distraction to have in your bed, but was she really the one you wanted as the mother of your children? And how many times did you call Zoe’s name while with her?”
Vincent shook Zavier off. “No. It’ll never happen. Drake has been in her life since before she was born. They have a bond that I could never break. As much as I’d like to be with her, it’ll never happen.”
“We can make it happen Vincent, you and I. If it’s what you truly want.”
“Are you saying what I think you are? Because if so, I’ll have no part of it. What you are proposing would hurt Zo twice as much as anything else. I’d never do that to her. Forget it Zavier!”
“Think about it Vincent. You could have your way with her every night. She’d be in your bed when you wanted her, desired her. Can you imagine what her body would feel like on yours? Sleep on it, Vincent,” he said before sending him away.
Zavier took a sip of his bottle and disappeared.
…“Zoe?” Sarah’s frantic voice cracked on the phone. “I have a problem!”…
“Is Vanessa ok?”
“Oh, yes, she’s a doll. It’s my parents! I told them about her last night and now they want to come and see her!”…
“Sarah that’s great! Why are you so scared?”
“Vanessa’s never been around humans other than Jasmine and Brad, and she bit him! I don’t know how she’ll behave! I didn’t tell them about our new lifestyle.”
“I think she’ll do fine, just be sure to feed her before they arrive and maybe place small drops on her tongue when you can to keep her happy. When are they coming?”
“In 2 days for my birthday!”
“If you want, we can have a party here and Drake and I can try and distract them from the vampire aspects of her personality.”
“That would be great Zoe! Thank you!” she said hanging up.
“Knock, knock,” Vincent said entering into the room. “How’s Vanessa?” he stood over her crib and watched her sleep.
“Tired. She was really fussy today. I couldn’t keep her well feed. Vincent we have to figure something out with her. I can’t keep plying her with my blood as I have.”
“Sarah if you let me, I could feed her as well. She is half mine; my blood wouldn’t have too different an affect as yours.”
“No thank you. I don’t want the toxins in your body in hers.”
Vincent sighed. “Then what are we going to do? You’d trust a strangers’ blood over mine? Because I’m not allowing that! I won’t drink when she needs to be fed. My blood would be fine for her, Sarah.”
“No, it’s not just the booze, Vincent. You sleep around CONSTANTLY there’s no telling what you are picking up from these women. Just forget I said anything. I’ll just try and manage.”
“Diseases don’t affect us, Sarah, and I have none; never have,” he looked at her. “You don’t have to do it alone.” He picked Vanessa up, jostling her awake. “She’s my angel and I’d kill for her.” He threw her in the air and she giggled with delight; he nuzzled his nose to hers.
Sarah walked over and watched him play with her. “She loves that,” she said as he tossed her up again.
“She has my eyes, I love looking at them.” Vanessa grabbed his finger and bit. “Ow!” he yelled. “She bit me!” She suckled the blood from the tip of his finger.
“Aww look, she likes Daddy’s blood,” he cooed.
Sarah rushed over and grabbed her away. “Have you been drinking today?” she glared at him.
“Just a shot or two.”
Sarah broke the skin on her wrist and fed Vanessa. “Be more careful next time. I don’t want a drunken baby!”
Vincent handed her a bottle and she dripped her blood in and fed Vanessa.
Lily was preparing herself for an early morning hunt. She pulled on a jacket and changed into some dark pants before exiting her apartment.
It wasn’t long before she stumbled upon a group of men smoking and drinking under a streetlamp.
She approached them, they straightened up. One of them tossed his cigarette away and stepped closer to her. “Hey, you looking for some fun?” he asked, smacking his hand on her ass.
“As a matter of fact,” she said seductively caressing his face.
She threw him against the wall and bit his neck. The man struggled as she drained him completely dry. “Didn’t your Mother ever teach you it wasn’t nice to hit a girl?”
The other three men stared in fear as they watched their friend’s cold, dead body slump to the ground. One of them ran at her and was thrown backwards before he could connect with his fist.
Lily turned to see him landing near the curb. Before she could move the other two men fell to the ground as well, one of them with a broken neck, the other had his head smashed into a pole.
She turned to leave, a little uncomfortable at the events taking place, and was grabbed from behind. She felt a hand rubbing her thigh as the other held her tightly in place.
She felt lips on her neck and then teeth pierce her vein and drink from her.
She sent her elbow into the invisible form behind her before dashing off to her home.
She ran into the bathroom, pinned her hair back and checked the marks on her neck. Instantly she knew her attacker, “Zavier,” she said under her breath.
“Where are you?” she shouted standing in her living room.“Come out you son of a bitch!”
“So you do want to play?” he growled grabbing her again. “I miss the way you feel against me.”
She pushed him off and turned towards his direction. “How are you doing this?”
“That’s my little secret, beautiful.”
“How long have you been…the bath the other day! That was you touching my back!”
“You hide that beautiful body in long and garish dresses too often Lilith. You should show those supple assets of yours.”
“You have your hussies on beck and call, Zavier, you don’t need me. You exploit so much magic; it’s a wonder how the mystical world hasn’t caught up to you yet.”
“Lilith sweetheart, did I hurt you? I did ask you nicely to have Zoe remove my binds. Never would I raise a hand in anger towards you.”
“Hand or not, there are other ways to hurt someone, Zavier, and I don’t appreciate mind control!”
“I didn’t control your mind Lilith; I simply searched it for the release spell word.” He circled her as he spoke, eyeing her up and down, teasingly licking his lips, watching her reaction. She had no idea where he was in this room and he loved that control.
“What do you want?”
“The same thing I’ve always wanted.” He stole a kiss before leaving.
Sarah brought Vanessa over and Jazz and I went out shopping for party supplies. Jasmine carried Vanessa, playing with her toes and admiring the fangs in her gums; the only teeth in her mouth and she was born with them ready for use.
“I hope they love her.”
“Of course they will, Sarah. She’s their first grandchild! You worry too much.”
“She’s a biter,” Jasmine said as Vanessa grabbed at her with her fangs nearing her flesh.
“See that’s what I’m afraid of! What if she bites Mom or Dad?”
“Tell them she’s teething, she just started early.” I smiled. “It’ll be fine, Sarah, you’ll have all of us there for support.”
“They want to meet Vincent. I haven’t even told him they’re coming to town. I doubt he even knows when my birthday is.”
“We’ll make sure he is on his best behavior as well!”
We gathered up cake mix, candles, napkins, plates, balloons, banners and other supplies before heading to the house.
Jasmine was great with Vanessa, she watched her as Sarah and I set up party decorations. Sarah decided on having everything out by the pool.
“I’ve always wanted a sibling,” she said tickling Vanessa and watching the sparkle in her eyes as she laughed.
We finished setting up and Sarah dropped a little blood into a bottle for Vanessa.
“Can I feed her?” Jasmine asked grabbing the bottle. Sarah smiled and took a seat with me, her phone rang. She glanced at the caller ID and frowned. “Vincent.”
“How’s he adjusting to life as a dad?”
“He’s great with her but he tries to feed her. So far she’s only consumed my blood. He drinks like a fish and I’ve been so scared of her drinking those contaminants, he doesn’t get it. He probably just wants to know where she is. He hates not being able to see her whenever he walks into her room. Like the other day we went shopping for diapers, he nearly flipped out because she wasn’t in her bed.”
I smiled. “He worries about her. It’s pretty endearing.” My phone rang. “Guess who? Hello Vincent,” I said answering the call.
…“Is Sarah with you? She’s not answering her phone.”
“Yes. We went shopping for party supplies.”
…“Is Vanessa ok…?”
“She’s fine Vincent. Jasmine is feeding her. She tried biting her earlier, but she’s just fine. She’s enjoying her outing.”
…“Good. So what’s the party for and am I invited…?”
“Sarah’s birthday. Her parents are coming to see Vanessa. They want to meet you too.”
…“I don’t think so, Zo. I’m not…I have no desire to meet her folks, or anyone’s for that matter. I’m not parent material…”
“Yeah? Well I’m sure you’ll do it anyway.”
…“Are you begging me to hang out with you…?”
“It’s tomorrow. They’ll be arriving in the morning. I don’t know if they are staying the night, but I know your house is accommodating.”
He laughed. …“Fine Zo, I’ll kowtow, but I’m warning you, me and parents aren’t great together…”
…“Anytime. So…what are you wearing…?”
I hung up. “No worries Sarah.” I smiled.
“They’ll be here tomorrow morning,” Sarah said trying to prepare herself.
Drake looked out the window. “They’re here, Zoe,” he yelled to me.
I finished the last of the decorations and met Sarah, Vincent and her parents at the door. “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Brooks.”
“You can call me Pete, this is my wife Georgia,” I shook his hand and escorted them to the living room.
“Her Mom is a total hippy and Pete is exactly what I hate about parents,” Vincent whispered in my ear. “You owe me for this Zo, Big!”
He turned to enter behind them, I grabbed his arm, “I don’t owe you anything. You should want to meet your daughter’s grandparents!”
“Zo I don’t have to be involved in Sarah’s life to take care of my daughter!”
I pushed passed him to show my disgust. “Pete, Georgia, do you swim? Drake and I were hoping you’d join us at the pool?”
“We’re wearing our suits,” Georgia said. “But I won’t get in. I’d much rather enjoy my granddaughter. Have you ever seen such green eyes?” she snuggled Vanessa closer.
“Mom, don’t squeeze her too tight,” Sarah said afraid of the proximity of her Mom’s neck to Vanessa.
“Sarah dear, I’ve raised a few of these, I know what I’m doing sweetie,” she replied.
“Have you heard from Adam, Peaches?” Pete asked Sarah. “He hasn’t written in a while. We assumed he was busy with his Doctors without Borders trip. Still it would be nice to hear from him.”
“No, Dad, I haven’t.”
Sarah! You never told them? I looked at her.
No, how could I? It would kill them. I’ve been writing them letters addressed from him instead.
You can’t keep that up for long, Sarah, Drake joined in. The longer you prolong it, the worse it will get.
“So who wants to get wet?” she asked standing trying to avoid the subject.
Drake, Jasmine, Sarah and Pete dove into the pool. Drake periodically hopped out to check on the burgers and hotdogs.
Vincent sat near the pool but closer to the bar and I ensured Georgia was fine in her seat by the wall.
The food finished and everyone ate.
“Sweetie, you want to grab the ice cream?” Drake asked as he and Sarah cleaned the area.
I walked to the fridge to grab the frozen treat.
Vincent stood in the doorway to the kitchen watching as I grabbed ice cream pints for everyone.
“That bikini looks incredible, Zo. You are simply gorgeous.”
“Thank you Vincent,” I said without turning around. “Do you want vanilla or chocolate?”
“I want you,” he whispered in my ear. His hands were on my hips and he was rubbing his erection against me. “This is what you do to me, and lately it’s been more and more. I can’t stop thinking about you Zo.”
“Back off, Vincent. Why do you keep doing this to yourself? I’m engaged to Drake and there is nothing you can do that will change that.” I pushed at him as I tried to escape his grasp. “Please Vincent; does this ring mean nothing to you?”
“No Zo, it doesn’t. The only thing I see is a beautiful, unmarried woman who has captured my heart, my attention and my desire in every way, shape and form. I see a woman I want in my life, a woman I wish was the mother of my children and a woman I want underneath me in my bed.”
I felt his arousal throbbing through his shorts as he spoke. I slipped away as he tried pulling me into a kiss. “You want me Zo. I can feel it. Stop denying me and I promise you won’t be disappointed.”
“What I want Vincent, is for you to realize this is never going to happen. I’m going to marry Drake and spend my eternal life with him.”
“Answer me this at least, Zo: if Drake were not around, if you were not engaged to him, would you marry me? Would you be with me, happy and in love as I know you are?”
“No and I am not entertaining anymore of your fantasies. Drake is around and I am in love with him.” I turned to deliver the ice cream and felt him enter my head. “Stop, Vincent, please.”
“No. I want my answer and if you refuse to verbalize them, I’ll find it myself,” he said smiling as he read me.
“Since you find it ok to violate my privacy like that, don’t forget to read the last thought I left for you.”
You are a despicable asshole, stay away from me.
I took the ice cream to the table and called everyone to eat.
I’m sorry, please forgive me. That’s not me. Vincent pushed into my head.
I shook it off and walked back to the kitchen to grab Sarah’s cake.
Everyone sang happy birthday to her and she made her wish and blew out the candles.
“How old are you anyway, Sarah?” Drake asked.
“Drake! You and Vincent…it’s rude to ask a lady her age!” I scolded him with a smile. “Though I am curious myself, Sarah.”
“Today makes my 24th, or you know, 2nd,” she grinned.
“Oh Pumpkin, you are much too young to start lying about your age, and even still, 2nd? By your math that makes me 4!” Georgia laughed.
Sarah sliced the cake and handed out the portions. Everyone celebrated and partied until a little before 8.
Vanessa started crying and Sarah’s mom rushed over to see about her. She hadn’t let her grandchild out of her sights or far from reach since getting in.
“Oh I think she’s hungry. Does she have a bottle prepared or do you breast feed?”
“I’ll grab a bottle, Mom. I don’t breast feed.” Sarah walked into the kitchen and cut her wrist to feed Vanessa and brought it to Georgia.
“Yuck, Sarah sweetie, this bottle is filthy!”
“It’s not Mom. It…”
“She has a supplement in there for Nessa’s teething pain. It changes the color of the milk,” I quickly cut in.
Sarah mouthed the words “thank you”, and I nodded. Vanessa quickly drank the bottle down, “She has a very healthy appetite at least,” Georgia remarked.
After she’d finished her bottle, Vincent, Sarah and her folks left and I cleaned up the party remnants.
“Zoe, are we going to learn anything new today?” Jasmine asked.
“Sure, we can practice more spells. Is there anything in particular?”
“I’ll grab my book,” she said sprinting upstairs. She and I changed into our pajamas and rejoined company in the living room.
She drew a pentagram on the floor and lit candles. “Ok, I want you to teach me more about the emotion thing. I think I make people mad and happy, but I don’t know how it works.”
“When it happens, are you thinking about a particular event or emotion?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never really paid attention.”
“Ok let’s try it. Think of an emotion and concentrate on me.” I closed my eyes and waited for her. I began to feel giddy and started fits of uncontrollable laughter. “Did you want me to laugh?”
“So that’s how it works! Neat! I should have figured that out after the first few times I…” she stopped short and had a guilty look on her face. She stood and placed the book on the podium.
“Jasmine? What did you do?”
“Nothing, I…” Drake was going to say no! I heard her think.
I gasped. “You manipulated Drake into getting your Dad to let you come here? Jasmine how could you?”
“They would have said no! He texted me that it was too crazy to come here, I wanted to see you! I had to think of something!”
“Jazz, I texted that to you. There are really dangerous things happening right now and I didn’t want you around it. I was trying to protect you!”
“You didn’t want me here? I thought you were my friend, Zoe!” She hung her head and I could see the formation of tears in her eyes.
“Jazz sweetie, I am your friend, which is why I didn’t want you here. Haven’t you been noticing how I’ve been popping in and out? There is a really bad man in town and I don’t want him near you!”
She started crying; I grabbed her and held her. “Jazz I’m sorry. You have to understand though; our magic attracts really bad people. That’s why I told you to keep our secret. I only want what’s best for you and to ensure you’re safe!”
She sniffled and nodded. She wiped the tears from her eyes and looked at me. “Are you mad at me? Do you hate me for what I’ve done?”
“No of course not, unless you’re manipulating me right now,” I laughed. “I’m scared more than anything that you’ll be found out. I don’t want anyone coming after you again. Promise me you won’t mess with anyone’s emotions like that again.”
“I promise, Zoe.”
Vincent walked down the desolate streets of Zavier’s realm. “Zavier!”
“No need to shout, Vincent, I saw you as you entered. How can I help you?” Zavier asked with a sinister scowl. “Have you reconsidered my offer?”
“I need to know something. The thoughts, the overwhelming and increased desire I’ve had for Zo…”
“I wanted to show you how your eternity would feel if you continued as you have. Trust me, it only gets worse. I amplified your feelings, but they are there, just as real as you’ve experienced them the last few days. It’ll eat at you until you do something; taunt you and take over your every waking moment until you have her.”
“Stay out of my head, Zavier! We’ve been down that road before. I don’t intend on doing it again. I’ve let Zo know how I feel. She’ll be with me if she wants, I don’t want to harass her to the point she wants me to keep away from her.”
“Fine! Have it your way. And what then of my offer? Have you given it any more thought?”
“No. I told you, I won’t hurt Zo the way you want me to.”
“Vincent, we have a common enemy. See I need Zoe, but she can’t be the witch I need her to be until I get rid of Drake. And you can’t be with the woman of your dreams until that same Vampire is no longer in the picture. I could kill him myself, but then Zoe would have no reason not to tap into her full power and come after me. Work with me Vincent so that she won’t know whose hands were in it. I’ll get what I want and you’ll have what you crave!”
Vincent stood cold. “Can you promise me nothing will happen to her?”
“Of course, Brother.”
“And you’ll keep your hands off of her?”
“Anything you want, Vincent.”
“Then I’ll do what needs to be done.”
“Good,” Zavier sneered. “We’ll get started right away.”