Vincent awoke in a cold sweat. Sleep, he thought. I never sleep.
“No, what’s odd is you were snoring. How do you snore when you don’t breathe?” Sarah asked as she passed by with Vanessa. “You woke her up. It was so loud it shook the house!”
“I’m sorry,” he said stretching. I don’t know why that happened. What time is it?”
“Close to 10.”
Sarah walked over towards the crib and took a seat and started singing to Vanessa.
“I’m going out for a little. Can I get you anything?”
She shook her head no and continued to sing.
Vincent pulled up to Drake’s and walked through the front door. “Zo?”
What do you want, Vincent?” Drake asked appearing at the foot of the stairs.
“Where’s Zo? I need to talk to her.”
“Zo?!” Vincent yelled ignoring Drake’s inquisition.
“Jasmine is sleeping, stop yelling,” Drake scowled.
I came down just as they were about to get into it again. “What do you want Vincent?”
“We need to talk, please?”
“So talk.” I said approaching them.
“Alone? Please, Zo?”
I looked at Drake and he nodded. Vincent led me out to the front yard and opened his car door for me.
“Where are we going?”
“Just a little ways up the street.”
I sighed and hopped into the car. He drove me to the park a few blocks over. I got out and walked towards the pond, Vincent followed closely behind me.
“What do you want, Vincent?” I asked watching the frogs hopping on lily pads.
“Zo, I’m sorry about what happened at the party it wasn’t me.”
“What wasn’t you? The horny vampire pressing himself against me or the persistent asshole messing with my thoughts?” I turned to look at him.
“Both. Zavier was controlling me, Zo. If my behavior changes or I do anything like that again, it’s not me. I value my friendship with you and even though I wish we were more than that, I’d never do anything to jeopardize at least being able to call you my friend Zo. I’m sorry, ok?”
“What do you mean Zavier was controlling you? He can do that?”
“Just tonight he put me to sleep somehow and pulled me into some alternate reality. Yes, he can do that and more. Just a perk of being the first vampire and stealing as much magic as he can I guess. I could tell you stories of his messing with my thoughts.”
“What else can he do?”
He looked at me through curious eyes. “Are you planning something?”
I put my finger to my lips gesturing for him to be quiet. “Follow me.” I led him down into the magic room.
“We can talk in private here.”
“Private? There was no one in the park, Zo.”
“Zavier watches me. He shouldn’t be able to see me here. Tell me more about Zavier and your relationship with him.”
He took a seat and started explaining Zavier’s behavior as best he could.
“Zavier and I were close. He and I did a lot of terrible things together.” He paused before continuing, “Are you sure you want to hear this, Zo?”
“I’m sure Vincent. I want to understand Zavier better; know what I’m up against.”
“You’re not going to like some of the things I tell you. Don’t hate me for what you hear.”
“Vincent, I’d never hate you. I know that what you are about to tell me happened centuries ago and I’d never hold it against you.”
He smiled and started again. “After I met Zavier, I soon realized he was as cold blooded a killer as I was. The only difference, he was out for power and gathering as much magic and magical beings under him as possible.”
“I was turned in 1683 by a woman I’d met in a tavern. I was young and stupid and I thought she was really into me. She took me back to her place and I was excited, couldn’t believe the luck. Something you gotta know about the women around this time, Zo, they weren’t really very outwardly.”
“So when this one starts getting frisky with me, it was new and interesting and that really should have been my first clue, but I let my body speak to me and ignored everything else. Anyway, back at her place, things quickly changed when the nibbling on my ear turned to biting on my neck.”
“She didn’t turn me right away. For months she compelled me to return to her and she fed on me. I was her personal blood bank. To be honest, I would have kept coming back sans compulsion; but again, that was my body speaking. Not long after that, I learned there was someone after her. She was terrified with the prospect of being hunted and she turned me to protect her.”
“We ran for years before she was captured and killed. I returned home to France. But I had no idea how much my life had changed, but I was getting used to the killings. I met a girl there named Agnes Vale.” He looked at me. “She was the first known witch in your blood line.”
“She taught me and I watched her grow in power. She was really good and she helped me understand the changes I was going through. I never asked how she knew so much about Vampires, or as we were called then “The Afflicted”. But she helped me fully transition and made the pain of feeding less miserable. Soon after that, I met Zavier. When he learned that I knew a witch, he had me deliver her to him.”
“He tortured her relentlessly, broke her will until she agreed to use her magics for him. I watched as she toiled daily creating horrible things for him, killing people and allowing him to feed on her. The things he did to her…”
“He told me witches were our natural enemies and he was protecting me from having to kill her later because surely she’d come after me once she’d reached her full potential. I was a test subject he said, a Guinea pig. I listened and followed his lead more often than I should. I killed, tortured and maimed so many people during my time but Agnes is the only one that I truly regret. I don’t know if you’d call it irony or a cruel twist of fate that now I’ve fallen for a Vale and am in my own state of constant torture because of that. Perhaps it’s Agnes’ revenge on the demon that ended her?”
“He never turned her though. He thought it was more fun to drain her: body, soul, blood, magic. She died at the age of 36. Four years after meeting him, he used her up. I never told him about her daughter. I was too afraid that she’d meet the same fate as Agnes. Later on I learned that he had several other witches working for him. The ones he let live their own lives, in a way. He actually controls them; keeps them trapped in their heads to bend to his will.”
“He plans the same for you Zo. I’d never let him do that, not to you; ever. I curse the day I helped build the room he took you to. Had I known…”
“It’s not your fault Vincent. You were a different person then. What types of magics does he possess? And you said he has witches working for him?”
He stood up and I followed him. “All of his magic is dark, he doesn’t actually possess it in the way that you do. He just owns the minds of those in control of the magic. He has them in mental prisons. They know only what he allows them to and they are controlled by his thoughts.”
“Thank you, Vincent. You’ve given me a lot to think about.”
“Zo, don’t try and go after him, please. Let me see what I can do for you. I can get close to him again and help as much as I can.”
“And if he finds out? You’re as good as dead Vincent. No thank you, you have Vanessa to worry about now. I’ll be fine. Can you take me home now?”
Vincent dropped me off and I found Drake near the pool working out. “Blowing off steam?” I asked watching his muscles flex as he forced the metal prongs on the machine together.
“What did he want?”
“To apologize for his behavior at the party.” I wanted to tell him more, everything, but I was afraid Zavier was watching.
He continued pumping iron and his skin glistened under the sweat rolling off of him. My tongue danced behind my lips as I watched him grunting and flexing. He looked amazing; his body was calling to me. “If you want a real workout Drake, feel free to join me upstairs,” I said heading for the bedroom.
I heard the machine stop and his feet darting up behind me.
Vincent got back home and found Sarah getting dressed. “Are you going somewhere?”
“Yes I am. I have to get out for a while. There are bottles in the fridge, warm them to 98.6 degrees exactly. Do not under any circumstances feed her your blood. She’s sleeping right now, I fed her close to two hours ago and she’ll want something when she wakes up.”
“Where are you going, Sarah?”
“Why do you want to know that?”
He sighed. “Nevermind. I’ll call you if I need anything. You look beautiful, have fun.”
Sarah grabbed her purse and headed for the door. She got to Club Afterlife and slipped into the back and headed towards the VIP section. She searched the faces of the clubbers looking for him.
There in the sea of dancers, she saw his smiling face welcoming her over. “You look amazing!” he said kissing her cheek. They took seats. “I’m sorry was the kiss too forward?” Brad asked noticing her blush.
“No, it was fine,” Sarah shouted over the music.
“How’s Vanessa? Has she gotten over that teething pain? Or is she still gnawing on random people?”
“I’m sorry about that, Brad. How’s your hand?” she asked glancing at his scar.
“Nothing I can’t live with. It’s a nice little reminder of my first meeting a beautiful woman,” he said smiling at the two small puncture wounds.
Again Sarah blushed.
Brad called over a waiter to order her a drink. “What would you like?”
“Just water please, I feed Vanessa. I don’t want to…”
“I understand,” Brad smiled. “So tell me everything about Miss Sarah Brooks.”
Sarah went into her life without much detail. Brad seemed enthralled with her story and he hung on her every word; watching her mouth as she spoke and laughing politely at her jokes.
“And what about you? What brings you to Bridgeport?”
“The same as everyone else; I’m a fame seeker. I play music; I was really hoping to make it big. I am looking for my 15 minutes of fame, though I want to find the moment where I can hold that time indefinitely.”
“What instrument do you play?”
“Everything except the accordion!” he smiled. “I could show you sometime if you would like.”
“I’d love that!”
He smiled again; something about Sarah intrigued him though he couldn’t put his finger on it. He wanted to learn more about her, everything, if she’d let him. “So is Vanessa’s Dad still in the picture?”
“Who Vincent? No. He was just a mistake; a horrible, horrible mistake that produced the sweetest miracle of my life.” His hand brushed hers and she could feel his warmth.
“You’re cold!” he remarked, moving closer and placing his arm around her. “If I had a jacket…is this ok?” he smiled down at her as she cozied into the cup of his underarm.
“This is fine.”
They continued their conversation, determined to wait out the staff until closing time.
Vincent waited on Vanessa to wake up; normally he’d just wake her so he could play with her, but he was sure she needed her rest. So angelic, he thought watching her snooze.
His conversation with Zavier weighed heavy on his mind. What was he thinking? If Zoe found out what he’d done she’d hate him for sure. Zavier played him and he walked right into his hands.
But he loved Zoe, God help him, he couldn’t escape her. What would she have him do? Suffer forever, for eternity? Watch as she married someone else? There’s no way he could survive that.
But how would Zavier have him do it? Kill Drake? Break Zoe’s heart to the point of destruction. Vanessa started giggling. It was as if she could sense Daddy’s torment and found joy in it.
“Are you laughing at me?” Vincent smiled as he picked her up. “Do you think Daddy’s pain is funny? You may have more of me than just my eyes.”
“She smiled. “Oh you understand me? You’ll make a great vampire yet, Sweet pea. Let’s get my beauty something to eat.” He walked her to the kitchen and warmed up a bottle.
The next morning Drake surprised me with a trip to a local car dealer. “Anything you want, beautiful,” he smiled. We spent half the morning with Jazz trying to find the perfect vehicle.
Jazz and I both had the same idea for dream cars. We test drove it and completed the paperwork after I’d 100% fallen in love with it, though I didn’t like the color. Drake said we could have it repainted later.
We had lunch and I drove my car home and joined Drake outside. I’d planned to take him to the magic room to explain what Vincent had told me.
“This is so cool, Zoe! You think I could have a place like this for my own?” Jasmine asked examining and exploring everything.
“Of course you could. Why don’t you go work on evocation while I talk to Drake?”
“Ok. Can I use your grimoire? I saw a really cool spell in there I wanted to try!”
I handed her my grimoire forgetting the enchantment I’d placed on it and it shocked her.
“Yeow! What was that?”
“Sorry Jazz, it’s to prevent others from tampering with it.” I quickly added access to the coven so she could read from the book on her own.
She sat at the table and started reading; gathering supplies as needed.
I took Drake over to the corner. “I brought Vincent in here last night.”
“Yeah I can smell him.”
“We talked about Zavier and some of his abilities. I wanted to tell you last night, I think we’re cloaked here from him. Remember the extra protection I cast because of Andreea?” I explained everything to Drake.
“He told you he killed Agnes? The matron of your family’s magic?”
I nodded. “In essence; he delivered her to Zavier.”
I heard a loud boom behind us. “Jazz?” There was a large puff of smoke billowing from the cauldron in front of her.
“I didn’t mean to! I’m sorry!” she exclaimed.
“Are you ok?” she nodded.
“What spell did you cast?”
She pointed to the book and I read: Charmed are these candy treats, good fortune to all I merry meet! It was a Candy spell.
“You know this spell is for good luck. It blesses candy for you to give to friends and family. It’s not going to conjure a giant candy stand. What did you use?”
She showed me the ingredients and I smiled. “You used vanilla instead of ginger.”
“Here,” I said handing her the right herbs. “Try again.”
My head started spinning and the room got blurry.
“Zoe? Your nose is bleeding.”
I collapsed. I awoke outside under a tree near the pond. “What happened?”
“You passed out; I thought it was the smoke so I brought you out here. Zoe, your nose was bleeding…”
Before he finished explaining, I was looking at Zavier’s angry grimace. “Were you hiding from me?”
“Hiding? No! I took Jasmine to my supply room to show her around.” I instantly regretted those words. I don’t want to give any indication to him that Jazz is a witch; especially after hearing his history from Vincent.
“I’m sorry Zavier, I’m ready to work.” I said hoping to distract him from my previous words and focus him on my willingness to help.
I felt a sharp pain in my right temple and grabbed my head. “You feel that Zoe? That’s what you can expect any time I cannot find you. If you try and run again I’ll make that pain so intolerable your only solution would be to tear your head from your shoulders.”
He stopped whatever he was doing and I dropped to my knees. “You don’t have to keep doing that,” I said standing. “I’m here now.”
“I’m afraid that’s all I can do. I made a promise to keep my hands off of you and I’m a man of my word.”
His words echoed in my head “made a promise”, I became very curious as to who he would deal with that he’d oblige so. “So what do you want, Zavier?”
“Right now, I don’t want anything…from you. I’m biding my time for results of another deal. In the meantime, I have other business to attend,” he said walking over to the bottle I’d prepared for him. You can leave.”
I was back outside in the park. Jasmine was standing behind Drake, a worried look on her face. “Was that the bad man?” she asked.
“Yes. But don’t worry, you’re fine.”
“What did he want?”
“To warn me that hiding from him will result in my head exploding.”
So it does work? The magic room?
I nodded. There has to be something in the house that allows him to follow me.
Drake’s eyes doubled in size, the skull Maggie brought you! It’s still sitting in the living room, the place he manifests the most.
You’re right! The first time it happened where I was pulled down it was after holding that thing!
We rushed home and there on the living room floor was indeed still the skull Maggie brought from Riverview. Drake she said it was in Mom’s things, you don’t think that means…
That he tried controlling your mother? He admits to killing her. Anything is possible Zoe.
There has to be a way to get rid of this thing. At least get it out of the house so he can’t see or hear my every move!
“So how do we do this?” Drake asked staring at the skull as if it were the first time he’d seen it.
“Your guess is as good as mine.” I’m going to speak to Mom, watch Jasmine closely. I don’t want anything to happen to her.”
I desperately wanted to find out Mom’s connection to Zavier. Why would she have a skull in her belongings linking her to him? Dad acted as though Drake was the first vampire he’d ever encountered. Why would he pretend if he knew about Zavier? Mom’s possible connection to the evil first scared me.
I entered into the trance and could not find Mom. Teresa was there. “What’s going on?” I asked approaching her.
“Spirit world congestion,” she responded. “Were you coming to speak to Laurie?”
I nodded. “This thing with Zavier…I need answers and I was really hoping she’d be able to confirm my suspicions.”
“Zoe, you have what you need to defeat him.”
“Yes. With that you can be an unstoppable force.”
“It’s too dangerous, Teresa. The first time I touched it, I felt dizzied and my nose bled.”
“You just have to learn to control it. You can though, Laurie did it for years. Here,” she said handing me a paper with an address on it. “Have Drake take you there. It’ll be a great experience for you.”
“Okalani, it’s a Native American Reservation. Seek out Winema Redfoot, Chief Redfoot. He can help with getting you into a realm for a Walk with the Ancients. They may be able to provide you the guidance you need.”
“Thanks Teresa,” I said as I exited the trance. Maybe this is what I need. Maybe Zavier could be defeated after all.