“Drake?” I called for him as I exited the bedroom door. “I thought you said we moved to get rid of this thing?”
He joined me in the upstairs hall. “How did it follow us? I don’t understand that.”
“I don’t want it here, Drake.”
“Zoe don’t, let’s figure this out. There has to be a reason it’s here now.”
“Yeah, Zavier’s been here and left a little housewarming gift. Why does he need these? I’ve done everything he’s asked.” I was becoming upset.
Drake grabbed me and walked me into the bedroom. “You can’t. First of all, we don’t know how the Walk worked; you still may not be able to handle it. And secondly, he’d know and I’m not losing you because of that.”
“Give me today to figure it out. If I can’t find anything, we’ll do what needs to be done.”
“I just want this over. I’m ready to cut the strings on this puppetry act sweetheart.”
Drake grabbed his cell phone and dialed Teresa’s number. We never found out why the skull was in Mom’s things, maybe she’d have a clue or offer insight.
…“I can’t really talk now, Drake. I am about to see a client. I will call you once we’re done.”
“Zoe, you know that thing didn’t manifest here. It sure as hell doesn’t have legs and didn’t walk in there. And if it were Zavier that brought it, I’m sure he’d have let you know, he wouldn’t be able to resist.”
“Ok. So what are you suggesting?”
“Vincent? Drake are you serious? Why would he do that? You think he’s working with Zavier?”
He shrugged. “Anything is possible, Zoe. I mean think about it, Lily said there was someone coming for me, who has always been the thorn in my side especially when it comes to you?”
“Yeah but why, Drake? It doesn’t make sense. If you’d have seen his face the day he told me about Zavier…he helped him build the room that tortured me and I could feel his sorrow. Why would he now then help that monster?”
“To get you! Zoe, what is this thing you have with Vincent? Do you just not want to believe everything I’ve told you about him? I know this guy much better and longer than you. When I’m telling you he is an evil and conniving maniac, you should take my word.”
I nodded. “I’m sorry Drake, you’re right.”
“I know you value him as a friend, which I still can’t understand, he will do nothing but hurt you at every turn. Sure he’s great in some situations, but too much of him has the same effect as sugar on teeth.”
I smiled. “Here, I’m going to grab a shower, if Teresa calls, come and get me ok?” he said handing me his phone.
“Of course.” He kissed my cheek and walked into the bathroom.
“That Seer is going to be a problem!” Zavier hissed watching the exchange between Drake and me.
He walked into his basement and turned on the light. There was a thin and frail woman sitting in the center of the room. Her eyes were black pits and her purple and black hair ran the entire length of her body. She stood when she saw him.
“Master,” she bowed.
“Get the others. I need you to send a very important message for me.”
She walked to the other side of the room and dipped her hand into a cauldron. The water was bubbling and hot and scalded her fingers. She left her hand in the liquid though the pain was too much, Zavier made sure she did as he needed; he cared nothing for what the effects were on her body.
Four more women appeared in the room, all with multiple colored hair and the same dark eyes. “Good! I need you to shut the Seer down…for good! Let her know I’m not the one she wants to mess with. I need to be sure she cannot assist Drake or Zoe with any information. Get started. There’s no telling how much she already knows.”
He walked over to Purple, “Ensure everything runs smoothly, Kat, or you’ll get another tour in the chamber Doll face,” he said stroking her cheek. Her expression never changed; she knew what would happen if she didn’t do as told.
He turned and exited the room, leaving his captured brood to work.
As he neared the top of the dungeon he found Vincent waiting for him. “I don’t see the witch.”
“There was a complication.”
“Complication? Vincent I know you better than you know yourself. Any ‘complication’ would be dead right now. What are you trying to pull? Your end of the deal is vital Vincent!”
“You don’t need the child to accomplish what must be done. Here,” he said handing him a necklace. “This is the source of her magic. Take what you need.”
“Excellent. Short a Vale witch, but this will do wonders!”
“KATALINA!” he yelled. The purple haired witch appeared before him.
“Master,” she bowed.
“Take this! Use it in your magic for the Seer. It’ll work on all Vale witches.”
She bowed again before returning to the basement.
“All Vale witches?” Vincent questioned.
“Yes. It’s what we needed the little girl for. Zoe has to be spellbound in order for the next parts to run as planned. Otherwise, she’ll know everything and you and I will be no more.”
“No, Zavier. That’s not part of the deal. I don’t want her dazed or delusional! I want her as she is!”
“You have to learn to trust me, Brother. Zoe will be the girl you’ve always wanted; I’m not changing much about her. But I have to ensure she has no knowledge of what we’re doing here, or else, neither of us will get what we want.”
“I said no! You better not hurt her!”
“I give you my word.”
Vincent turned to leave.
“Drake is starting to suspect you.”
“Suspect? What do you mean?”
“That last sentry you placed. It was in sight or whatever you hid it under was moved. Zoe discovered it. Drake told her you had to have been the one to put it there.”
“And she believed him?”
“She had her doubts at first, but in the end she agreed.”
“So now what?”
“So now, I think you should be a little more receptive to the blinders. That way she doesn’t hate you after Drake is gone. Those little seeds of doubt he is planting may blossom into something you won’t want to see cultivated.”
Vincent grunted. “I don’t want a watered down version of Zo! I can take the heat; I can make her understand.”
“Fine, take your own risks. But I’m not chancing her coming at me. I’ll leave her the way you want. Just remember what I said.”
Vincent grabbed his cell phone and dialed Zo’s number and waited patiently to hear her voice.
“Hey Beautiful, what took you so long? It’s not nice making someone wait for you to answer the phone,” he smiled.
…“It only rang twice, Vincent. Your wait couldn’t have been that long! Next time I’ll play some hold music. Would that make you feel better…?” I joked.
“Cute. Has Sarah come by?”
“Good. I’m on my way to get Ness now. Remember, if she gets there first…”
…“I know, I know, stall. Vincent? You should forgive her. There was no way of knowing what was going to happen!…”
“I’m not the forgiving type. I’ll kill her first Zo. And I mean what I say.”
…“She’s the mother of your child!…”
“I mean what I say,” he repeated. “Keep her safe for me; I know you’ll do that. I’m glad there was the protection spell on her at least. Thank you Zo, I love that I can count on you. I’ll see you soon.”
“You’re planning something devious aren’t you?” Zavier asked as Vincent hung up. “You want to get rid of the mother of your child the same time Drake goes? Have Zoe raise Vanessa as her own?”
“The thought crossed my mind,” Vincent replied with a smile.
“I could arrange that,” Zavier grinned.
Drake finished his shower and walked back into the bedroom, a towel hung precariously around his waist barely hiding his nether regions. His moist skin was glistening under the lights and his muscles flexed as he searched his dresser for something to wear.
“Don’t,” he said reading my thoughts.
“What? Vanessa is sleeping. Besides, you’ve been after me every day of the week! Why can’t I return the favor?”
He smiled and walked over to kiss me. “I want to, trust me. We just have to figure out what’s happening with that skull first.”
“Alright,” I said nodding in agreement. He returned to the dresser. “Wear that one,” I said pointing to his white button down shirt. “And leave it open. I’d like to at least see what I’m missing.”
“Fine,” he agreed. “But not until later, ok?”
“He grabbed his phone from my hand. “Teresa didn’t call?”
“No. She must still be with her client.”
There was a knock on the door. “That must be Vincent.” Drake said.
“Or Sarah,” I added.
He walked downstairs and found Vincent standing in the doorway.
“Wow, I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” he grinned. “You’ve been leaving Zo home alone nearly every day.”
Drake stepped out the door and pushed Vincent from the entry. “You planted that skull upstairs didn’t you?”
“Skull? Do you want to let me in on what you’re talking about?”
Drake sent a punch, connecting to Vincent’s left jaw. He threw him to the ground and charged at him.
Vincent sprinted out of the way, throwing a kick to Drake’s face.
I heard the scuffle from upstairs and watched them from the window. I didn’t want to wake Vanessa and I couldn’t leave her upstairs alone. “They are going to kill each other!”
I grudgingly grabbed Nessa from her crib and ran downstairs.
“Drake stop!” I yelled. He didn’t listen. He continued after Vincent landing a kick to his midsection.
Vincent retaliated with a series of jabs to Drake’s face and chest.
“Vincent please!” He turned his gaze to me. Drake sent another shot to his jaw and he stood there and took it.
I ran closer with Vanessa in hand and grabbed Drake’s arm before he could hit him again. “Enough. What’s going on?”
“He deserved it; take your kid and get off my property,” he roared.
I handed Vanessa over and he placed her in the car and drove off.
“He did it Zoe; he put that fucking skull up there.”
Drake jumped into his car.
“Where are you going?”
“To find Zavier; one of these assholes is dying tonight!”
“What? Wait, Drake!” I yelled as he sped off.
I grabbed my cell phone and dialed his number. Come on answer!” I got his voicemail; he’d turned his phone off.
I tried Teresa and got her voicemail also. “Where is everybody?” I stared at the phonebook before finally selecting Vincent’s name.
“I need you, Vincent, please! Drake is going crazy!”
…“I’ll be back in a second…”
He wasn’t kidding; he pulled back into the yard in less than a minute after driving off.
He came over and grabbed me, “Why are you shaking? What happened?”
“Did you put the skull upstairs?”
“No, Zo. I didn’t. Where’s Drake?” he asked noticing his car was gone.
“He’s going after Zavier. He said one of you was dying tonight. He rushed off before I could stop him. Please you’ve had a relationship with him, don’t let him hurt Drake!”
“PLEASE! I’ve never asked you for anything as important as this!”
“Watch Vanessa, I’ll try and find them.”
I took her from the backseat and he drove off.
Vincent grabbed his cell phone and dialed Zavier.
…“I warned you!…” Zavier answered.
“Fine, you were right! Did you want a fucking cookie? Do what you need to, but don’t make her mind mush! I mean it Zavier, don’t change ANYTHING about her!”
…“Drake’s on his way to find me. I feel honored. He’ll never be able to locate me though, which means he’ll come after you!…”
“I can handle Drake. The only reason I don’t is because of Zo.”
…“If you want I could…”
“No! I’ll deal with him. He’ll feel better if I let him hit me around a little.”
…“The things you do for that witch…”
“Are the same you’d do for Lily.”
Vincent found Drake nearing his neighborhood. He hopped out with his hands up, his version of a white flag. “Drake I don’t want to fight.”
Drake’s fist found its mark firmly against the side of Vincent’s face again.
“Fuck! Ok I guess that’s not an option!” he said rubbing his jaw.
“I want you to stay the fuck away from my house. I moved to get away from this bullshit, not to have you come and throw it right back into our lives and place Zoe back in danger!”
“If you want to get rid of the skull, just have Zo focus her energy on darkening his vision.”
Drake pushed passed him to the car. “Drake, if you do it, he’ll have no reason not to hurt her. Placing the skulls in your house and magic room meant he’d no longer hit or torture Zo.”
“You made a deal with him? And what exactly are you getting out of this?”
“Zo’s safety and yours; it happened after her trip to the chamber. I hated what he did to her so I went to him.”
“And you did this out of the kindness of your heart? Give me a fucking break! I talked to Lily. I know Zavier made plans to kill me. You have a hand in that too, Vincent? I know you’d like nothing better than to be rid of me so you can have Zoe.”
“I’d never kill you Drake, but trust me when I say if I wanted your head on a spike in my front yard, I’d do it myself! I’ve never needed anyone to kill for me!”
“Stay the fuck away from Zoe. I’ve had it. With everything else that’s going on I don’t need your added frustrations! Stop butting into my relationship with her and deal with your own family!”
Drake pulled up moments later. I ran out and threw my arms around his neck. “I was so scared!”
“I’m fine Zoe. Where ever Zavier is, he is well hidden.”
Drake walked into the house with me and saw Vanessa playing near the couch.
“What is she doing here?”
“You stormed out and it scared me. I asked Vincent to find you since he knows Zavier. I just wanted to make sure you were fine.”
He sighed knowing he had to see his old friend again. Vincent came to get Vanessa and quickly left.
Drake went upstairs pissed at the events of the day. He walked over to the skull and kicked it, immediately regretting that decision when a surge of electricity struck him to the core.
“Drake!” He fell limp to the floor, smoke billowing off of his body. I hovered over him trying to shake him to reality.
“Just let me lay here,” he sulked.
“Fine, but take me to bed and hold me at least,” I offered.
He stood and carried me to the bedroom.
I snuggled in his arms. “We’ve been through so much, Zoe.”
“And we’ll continue to get through it together.” I smiled at him.
I need you to listen carefully; we can get rid of the skulls. It may take source magic, but we have to be able to do what we need to in order to get Zavier out of your life.
I’m all for it! Should we go to the magic room?
No. It’ll be the same as casting here. Go and grab your grimoire and find a spell to erase tracers.
I leafed through the pages of the book until I found a spell similar to Drake’s request.
I got it!
Drake walked over to see what ingredients were needed. I’ll go and get those things. He turned to leave.
DRAKE! Dead man’s bones?
I’ll take care of it.
He returned shortly with the items. I arranged the bones in a circle, lit the candles and spread the grass around.
I hope this works, he thought.
I started casting the spell and the lights started flickering. I don’t like this, I said looking at him.
Just keep going, it’ll be fine.
I felt my nose begin to bleed I dabbed at it just a little and continued casting. Drake this isn’t right. It doesn’t feel good.
Just a little more, Zoe, you can do this.
I watched the room become pitch black; the windows burst open and the wind blew out the candles. The air swirled around us and the items began to float and spin.
My eyes became completely white and I felt a surge of energy jolt through me.
There was a loud explosion in the hallway. Drake ran out to check on it. There were scorch marks on the ground where the skull once sat.
“You did it Zoe! It’s gone!” he exclaimed running back into the room. I heard him and tried releasing the flow of power from the open source. It seemed to swallow me up; take over my actions, my thoughts, my body and I couldn’t break the hold.
“Zoe? Let go!”
My face felt as though a faucet had opened; both nostrils began to drip and my body tightened. It seemed as though I was being ripped apart.
“Drake!” He stood in fear watching the electrical surge and wind surround me. The candles shot up large flames and he jumped back.
His arm had caught fire and he pat it out and tried rushing towards me.
The candles created a wall of fire around me, blocking him from getting through.
“Christ! Zoe! I can’t get in! Try concentrating on smaller magic, you have to get a grip on your source!”
“I can’t Drake! I’m not doing this! It’s controlling me!”
“Take the reins, Zoe! You can do this!”
I started burning as the heat from the flames rose higher, scorching my flesh. It became too much to handle and my world was spinning. I screamed in pain as the fire licked at my arms and legs blistering them; cooking, singeing, and roasting the flesh from my body.
Abandoning his own safety, Drake jumped into the blaze.
The fire completely engulfed me and finally, I passed out.
The candles burned out and Drake grabbed me. “Zoe? Zoe wake up!” He ripped open his wrist with his fangs and dripped his blood into my mouth.
My body was charred from head to toe; every movement only seemed to scream at me the intense pain inflicted by the inferno. Drake placed a pillow behind my head.
He quickly ran into the bathroom and ran a cold bath, picked me up and gently placed me in the tub.
He fed me more of his blood. The color started returning to my skin as I began to heal.
“I’m sorry Zoe. I should never have asked you to do that! Promise me you’ll never try it again. I swear I’ll never ask that of you!”
“I promise Drake,” I smiled. He kissed the top of my head. “Fire kills vampires quickly I thought. Why would you do that?”
The worry in his eyes darkened as he continued beating himself up. “I think the magic was protecting you for the most part and I wasn’t concerned about myself. If Zavier ever knew…”
“Let’s ensure he never does, Drake. But now he can no longer see me. I feel better knowing that at least. Now we can work on getting rid of him.”