Can I interest you in breakfast?
I heard a deep and seductive voice in my head.
I’m outside. Look out the window.
Intrigued I walked out onto the balcony. I saw Emmanuel wave at me as he stood near a tree just outside of the gates.
I went to the bathroom brushed my teeth, washed my face and redid my hair. I dressed and checked myself one last time before heading down the stairs.
“Zo are you leaving?” Vincent asked from behind me.
“Yes. We talked about this,” I smiled.
“Right…your alone time,” he smiled weakly. “Are you sure you don’t want me to join you? We could make a day out of it.” He stroked my cheek lovingly.
“It’s something I need to do. I won’t be long.”
He pulled me into him and kissed me. “Be careful, Zo. Call me immediately if anything happens, ok baby?”
“I will, I promise.”
I walked out the door and towards Emmanuel. “Hey! You look gorgeous,” he said smiling.
“Thank you.” His beard was trimmed a bit and he looked less rugged than previous meetings. “I can see your face better!”
“Yeah, it was getting really itchy.”
I laughed. “How did you do that thing with the thoughts? I never knew it could be heard so far away.”
“I told you I am multitalented.”
He opened his car door for me and watched as I slid in. “See something you like?” I asked catching his gaze.
“As a matter of fact.” His eyes met mine every now and again as he drove. I felt myself blush every time I saw that glint in his eyes.
The way he smiled at me made me quiver. There was something about his face that made me weak and drove me to want to know more.
We came to a small park with a waterfall. He took my hand and walked me over to the edge. Cool mists of water splashed up every now and again.
“What will it be today?”
“You. I want to unravel the mystery of Emmanuel. I don’t even know your last name.”
“How about instead we talk more about Drake? I’d like to help you remember everything about him and the missing parts of your mind.”
“Why do you care so much?” I asked taking a seat on the nearby log.
“As I said we were once friends and I want to help you. I hate seeing you like this, you seem so lost. And I just want to help you find yourself.” He sat with me.
“Ok fine. So I suppose you know a lot about Drake also? You seem like my life’s’ encyclopedia!”
“I am to a degree.”
“How did Drake and I meet?”
“You can call that a clumsy mistake. He had a mother that was obsessed with status and notoriety. She caused a lot of damage to your family and others around her. Drake made a vow to protect your family from her backlash and went to that ‘friend’ of yours, Zavier Kayne,” he said in air quotes. “He made a deal for eternal life with the promise to provide him with members of his family so that he could live and watch over you and your family for all eternity. When you moved here, both of you were fairly new to the city so you bumped into each other more often than you should have.”
“I still don’t understand how you know so much.”
“When was the last time you talked to your sister?”
“Maggie? You know Maggie too? Who are you?”
He smiled at me once again that gorgeous and perfect smile. “Have you?”
“No, Emmanuel. I try to keep my distance where she is involved mostly because of this whole magic thing. She’s met a guy that she’s fallen for and I don’t want to stress her.”
“It’s really nice here.” I stood and looked around and felt his body close on mine.
“Beautiful, I’d say.” His hands rubbed my back. I leaned into him enjoying the gentle touch and light caressing of his fingertips.
His hands moved to my hips and he turned me to face him. He leaned closer to me; his lips were just inches from mine. “You drive men to the scariest of thoughts, Zoe. You have men fighting death’s grip to be with you.”
“What does that mean?” I asked softly, drifting closer to make contact with his mouth. Being so close to him made my body ache with desire. I wanted to feel his lips on mine.
They teased me as though they would connect; lock on mine and allow our tongues to dance, but he pulled away.
I sighed to try and relieve the tension between us.
“I don’t know any man becoming a zombie for me,” I said teasingly pushing him. His muscles were hard; firm under my hand. He saw me react to his toned form and held my hand close to his chest.
I leaned into him this time, inching my body closer to his until I felt his muscles tense against me. I rubbed my lips against his ear and gripped his hand. I felt his fingers grip frantically to hold mine, his palms were damp and I heard him swallow hard. “You arouse my interest.” I said breathlessly, choosing my words carefully.
I pushed him away and ran towards a patch of wildflowers; laughing as I gave him a taste of his own medicine. Emmanuel gave chase, catching me and swinging me in his arms.
He playfully tackled me to the ground and lay on top of me. “Are you in love with the guy you’re seeing?”
“Vincent? Yes I love him.”
“Then why are you here with me?”
“I don’t know. I’m curious about you. It’s like I know you and can trust you and I’m really fascinated by you. Plus I can see the attraction is mutual,” I said feeling his hard on resting on my thigh.
He pulled up and tickled me with a flower and placed it in my hair before helping me to my feet.
“I want to see you again, Zoe.”
I smiled hearing those words. “Will you meet me tonight?”
Automatically my head bobbed yes. “I’d really like that.”
“The park? Say…9?”
“I’ll see you then!” I said. He drove me home and I waited in quiet anticipation for the clock to hit 9.
As I prepared to leave, Vincent stopped me. “Sweetie, Vanessa won’t stop crying. I don’t know what’s wrong.”
I walked into her room and picked her up. “Hush honey, you’re ok.” I walked and talked with her until I was finally able to settle her. By the time she was prepared to sleep, the clock displayed a little past 1am.
The next day, Emmanuel had arrived and was waiting for me downstairs. This time his hair was cut along with that trimmed beard.
He smiled at me as I came down the stairs. I smiled in return.
“Not bad,” I said giving him the once over.
He laughed. “I hope my appearance strikes less fear in your heart.”
“Well I know a few crows that are going to be disappointed. But I love it!”
“You stood me up last night!” he said.
“I’m really sorry about that, Vanessa was ill. I stayed up the night with her.”
“I don’t need an explanation. I’m not upset or anything, I’m just glad you’re fine,” he smiled.
“Zoe, I’d really like to go some place where we can talk.”
I looked around for Vincent. “He’s upstairs with Vanessa,” he answered watching me search.
“Did he let you in?”
“No, I let myself in.”
“Well that’s breaking and entering,” I smiled.
“I know. But it was important that we speak. Have lunch with me, Zoe. We can talk about everything. I think I may know a way to get your memories back.”
“Let’s start with that. Emmanuel is my middle name. My first name is…”
“Drake?!” Vincent said in shock as he descended the staircase.
I turned to face Emmanuel again, studying his face, his eyes were the key.
“What the hell is going on?” he asked standing next to me.
Drake’s face curled in a scowl as he looked at Vincent.
“Wait you’re Drake? As in the man from my memories?” I stared at him in disbelief. “You’re Drake Steele? You’re my husband? I thought you were dead? How…”
“I can explain, Zoe.”
“Yeah a little explanation would be great,” Vincent said. “How the fuck are you standing here?” he moved closer to me and placed his hand on my back.
“I’m not talking to you Vincent. You’re the reason for this shit starting in the first place! ” He pushed him. “And keep your fucking hands off my wife!”
I watched the two stare at one another heatedly; anger and rage just behind their eyes.
“Drake and I are having lunch together,” I spoke up, disrupting the stare down.
“Lunch?” Vincent questioned. “I’ll grab Ness and we’ll join you.”
“Actually Vincent, Drake made an interesting point. He and I should try and gauge my memories of him together.”
“Did he?” Vincent’s gaze locked on the smirk growing on Drake’s face.
“Yeah. I figured it would be a great idea. You’ve been wonderful Vincent in trying to get my memories back. I just think we’ve explored as far as we can.”
“No, I get it Zo. Go on, have fun.” I kissed his cheek and ran up the stairs to get dressed.
I made my way back down and the two were still standing in the same place. No words had been exchanged, just silent threats.
“Ready to go?” Drake smiled.
“Yes.” I started towards the door.
“Wait, there’s something I’ve been dying to do since I first saw you again.”
He gripped me tight and pulled my body into his. He leaned me over and pressed his lips to mine. My hands ran through his hair as his tongue danced around mine.
He pulled away and I felt lightheaded, “Wow,” was all I could manage.
He smiled and hugged me. I clung tightly to his neck. Drake smiled at Vincent as he watched in frustration.
“Here,” Drake said handing me the keys to his car. “I’ll be out in a minute. I want to speak to Vincent.”
I nodded and walked out the door.
“‘Since you first saw her again’? How long have you been back?”
“A few days. We’ve been meeting together in the park.”
Vincent let the words settle before frowning up at him. Alone time.
Drake smirked. “She was alone alright. My wife and I had a nice secluded spot in which to become reacquainted.”
“You’re not about to let this go are you, Steele?”
“What do you think? I don’t know what you told her about me, to be honest I don’t care. You stole time away from me with my wife. You stole feelings and memories from her. I’m going to ensure she remembers everything and once she does, they’ll be no place for you to hide.”
Vincent scoffed. “Zo loves me! I know that’s eating you up. She’d never do anything to hurt me.”
“Maybe not the one you and Zavier molded without me, not the one waiting in the car; but I know my wife, the REAL Zoe Steele, the one that I married, and trust me Vincent, not even her compassionate little heart can forgive this. Besides, I never said it would be Zoe that deals your retribution!”
He leaned in closer. “In case you’re not understanding what I’m saying, let me clear up a major point for you: you’ve never had and never will have the REAL Zoe. She may love you, but she’d never be with you; and short of black magic once again, you’d have never even gone this far. You’ve fucked up, and for the last time. Once I get my wife back to normal that little girl upstairs will be one parent shy of a family reunion.”
“You don’t scare me Steele. I’m older than you! There’s nothing you can do to me that I can’t heal from or block.”
“I died Vincent. I’m not the same man you remember. I have a few tricks that trust me, you’ve never seen before.”
He turned and joined me outside.
“Where to Beautiful?”
“Take me to the place you think is my favorite.”
Drake drove me to the museum. I smiled as I stepped out of the car. “I don’t remember ever hunting here, so I guess this was something you and I did together?”
“No, we never have. This is your favorite place in the city, though we haven’t been able to get over here often. You might enjoy the quality of the clientele better.”
We walked inside and watched the few visitors looking over the numerous art pieces and examining the artists’ work as though they were all experts in the field.
“I’ve always thought that to be haughty. Do they honestly expect anyone to believe they know what they are looking at? Or what they should be looking for?”
Drake smiled as I critiqued the critics. “Sounds like you’ve chosen your meal.”
I giggled. “Perhaps.”
Drake pulled him away and down the stairs.
I began feeding from the conceited art snob. His blood was richer in taste as Drake suggested. I found myself gorging on his vein; the flavor increased as I reached the flow from his heart.
“Zoe no!” Drake yelled pulling me off. He’d sense my target was nearing the end.
“What? What’s wrong?”
Drake grabbed the man and locked eyes, “You were attacked by a wild animal on the way home, stop by the hospital for help.” He let him out the back door and turned to me.
“What was that? You were about to kill him!”
“Yes, of course I was. You don’t kill them?” I asked.
“Kill them? No. I mean, I have but…have you killed all of the people you’ve fed from, Zoe?”
I nodded. “Vincent said it was cleaner that way.”
“Vincent. How many people have you killed, Zoe?”
“I don’t know really. It’s been quite a few. He’s even made a few games out of it. They’re pretty fun. You should try it sometime!”
“Fun? Zoe killing people is not a sport nor should it be treated as some sick game!”
“I… Drake it’s all I know.”
“No…we don’t kill Zoe. At least you don’t. I…,” Drake bit his tongue. He was furious and he tried to control the anger before he actually did the exact thing he was warning Zoe against: kill his victim.
He hurriedly compelled her and released her out the back as well.
As if Vincent hadn’t given him enough reasons to die already, the list just kept growing. “We have to get you back your memories soon, Zoe. I don’t know how much longer I can stand to have certain influences in your life. They all must be eliminated. Let’s get over to the house, we’ll go through the grimoire and see if there is anything basic we can try.”
We pulled up to the house and Vincent was standing under the veranda waiting with Vanessa.
“Vincent? What’s wrong?” I asked approaching him.
I took Vanessa into my arms.
“It’s late. I was worried about you.”
“Worried about her? Vincent you’ve let her murder people! Witches! You allowed Zavier to use her and turn her into some perverse monster! You can’t be too concerned about her well being! Besides, she’s with me, her husband; she’s safer than she’s been in a long time!”
“Ex-Husband. When you died, you lost the right to that claim.”
“Murdered, Vincent, killed because of your plan, remember?”
“Let’s get home, Zo.” Vincent grabbed my arm and started towards his car. Drake pulled him off and threw him to the cars. Vincent sat up in surprise. “Didn’t I mention I’m much stronger now?”
He looked over his shoulder at me. “Go on inside, Zoe. I’ll be right there.”
I turned to enter.
“Zo wait,” Vincent called after me. “We have to get Ness home.”
I stopped in my tracks.
“Inside!” Drake barked.
I entered the living room with Vanessa in tow and waited. I could hear them arguing and brawling outside.
“And how long after I was gone did you go after my wife, Vincent?”
“She knows me Drake. She needed someone by her side to help her, protect her…”
“‘Protect’? You call allowing Zavier to treat her as a magical vending machine protection?”
Drake grabbed Vincent again. His face was bruised and bloodied. He tossed him to the ground and threw his weight into every punch he delivered, punishing his face and stomach.
He stood over him kicking and stomping his ribcage and listening to Vincent groan in pain.
He stopped suddenly and stood up. “I’m not going to kill you just yet, Vincent and you can thank Zoe for that. She trusts you and I don’t want to upset her. I need her to keep that feeling of security for now. Go inside, get your daughter and get out.”
Vincent struggled to pick himself up, blood dripped from his numerous injuries creating puddles with every step, painting the pavement as he limped into the house.
“Oh my God! Vincent! Are…”
“I’m fine Zo,” he smiled through bruised lips. “I got what I deserved.”
“Not quite,” Drake corrected.
Vincent took Vanessa from my arms and took my hand. “Let’s go baby.”
“‘Baby’ is staying here.”
“Drake you made it a point to tell me she wasn’t your wife, the woman you married and you were right. She’s my girlfriend and I’m taking her home with me.”
“I’m not in the mood for this, Vincent. Back the fuck off, now or Vanessa will have nightmares to last a lifetime.”
“Vincent just take Vanessa home, please. I’d like to learn a little more about what’s going on and Drake has been completely honest with me.”
Vincent gave me a look of astonishment. “Zo, baby? I’ve been honest. Please come with me.”
“You admit that you lied to me about some of my memories, I need to know everything Vincent. I need to do this, please, just go.”
Vincent dropped his head. “I love you, Zo.”
Drake opened the door and watched Vincent walk through before closing it behind him.
He reached for my hands, his were covered in blood. He looked down at them and apologized.
“Do you know how I can get my memories back?” I asked following him to the kitchen.
“Your Mom; I made contact with her and she suggested your sister.
“My Mom told you to bring Maggie here? She’s never done magic before and she’s leading a normal life in Riverview. I don’t know about this Drake.” I was nervous about contacting Mags. I was still unsure if she’s even told Daniel the truth about us.
“It’s the only choice at this point, Zoe. We have to be able to use your source to remove the bindings Zavier has on your memories.”
“The only way to use source magic is through this ring. How is summoning her going to get around that?”
“Your Mom knows what she’s talking about; it’s at least worth a try. Don’t you want to be back to who you were?”
“Of course I do.” I sighed. “Let me call her first. She hates surprises.”
After speaking with Maggie, we headed to Riverview to pick her up and Drake and I talked more on the way about everything that’s been happening and the missing details about our lives together.
By the time we arrived, it was dark out. Maggie was waiting out front for us; afraid of Daniel finding out and confirming my suspicions that he was still not in the know. “When are you going to tell him?” I asked as we got back into the car.
“If I can help it? Never. This side of us is dangerous, the less he knows, the better off he’ll be.”
Drake drove with fury back to the city; desperate to beat Zavier’s clock.
We pulled up to the house and Vincent again was waiting for us. His wounds had still not healed from his earlier confrontation with Drake.
Maggie went in to the magic room while Drake and I spoke with him.
“Are you coming home tonight, Zo? I’ve been worried sick! Where did you go this time? Riverview? That was your sister right? Did she fly in or did you drive and pick her up?”
“We drove Vincent.”
“Why didn’t you call me? Let me know what was going on?”
“Because it’s none of your concern!” Drake yelled stepping in front of me.
“Fuck off Drake, Zo can speak for herself.”
The two were about to get into another scuffle but I quickly stepped in.
“We’re about to get answers on my situation. Let’s not start this now, please. We’re so close.”
I walked in after Maggie and Vincent, Vanessa and Drake followed closely.
“Whoa,” Maggie exclaimed looking over everything. “This is incredible. I’m scared, Zoe. I don’t know how to do this.”
“I’ll show you. It’s really easy and once Mom is here, you’ll be done.”
For close to an hour I went over everything with Maggie so she understood candle magics and how to make a summons without the use of our source magics.
“I can’t believe you do this all the time! I can’t believe Mom did it and we never knew!”
“I went through that same disbelief when I first found out. It’s a lot to take in, I know. You’ll do great though, it’s in our blood.”
I lit the candles and watched her sit. “Are you ready?”
She nodded and began calling for Mom.
Drake and I stood watching and waiting; hoping Maggie would be able to pull it off.
Vincent walked Vanessa up the stairs to find a place to lay her down.
By the time he returned, Mom was standing in ghost form in the center of the magic room.
Vincent walked over to greet her. “It’s nice to meet you Mrs. Vale,” he said respectfully offering his hand. She ignored the gesture and nodded.
“New problem Mom…”
“The ring,” she said answering my unasked question of her form.
I removed the ring and handed it to her. “Mom wait before you put it on…”
“I know what Vincent did. I felt Zavier’s first push into the coven,” she said glaring at him. He dipped his head and looked at his feet.
“I’m sorry,” he said sincerely. “I was…”
“I don’t need an explanation from you. You put my children, my family at risk! Your actions caused the death of my son-in-law and threatened not only our magics, but the lives and sanctity of every other coven that has ties to us! You won’t walk away from this, Vincent. I’ll deal with you personally. It’s time you learned the consequences of your actions!”
She placed the ring on her finger and became corporeal. Maggie ran over and hugged her. “You look great, Mom.”
“I love your new hairstyle, Sweetheart,” she said squeezing Maggie back.
“Now then, let’s restore my baby to her old self.”
Her eyes went blank and she summoned Teresa into the magic room.
“Laurie,” she nodded. Mom quickly explained her ideas and the current situation.
“I know, I felt it too,” Teresa said, also gave Vincent a disapproving grimace. “We can grab Joyce and Ruth to help. It’s been a while, I’m sure they’d love a little action.”
Together they brought in two more witches. Once everyone was up to speed, Mom had the one named Ruth cast a protection on Drake, Maggie and myself from her family’s source.
“Now we have to do a bit of brainstorming on Zavier. With him monitoring the use of our source, it’ll be tricky trying to pull off any large magics.”
“Zoe. Is there any way possible for you to distract Zavier? We need time to figure out how to get the necklace from him or deactivate it so it doesn’t affect our source.”
“Laurie, I’m not comfortable with you asking her to do that. I don’t want her going anywhere near him after everything that’s happened no matter if there is protection in place.”
“Drake, I appreciate your concern for my Little Girl, but we need to somehow get that charm from him. If you want to try, you’re free to do so, but I need a distraction.”
He nodded. “I’d prefer doing it myself. They have no idea I’ve returned, I’ll have the element of surprise, but Zoe is not walking into the Lion’s Den.”
“Drake,” Mom said pulling him off to the sun room. “I noticed you do this often. My daughter is a very strong girl. She has unbelievable willpower, trust me, we fought often. She can handle herself. You should try worrying a little less and let her explore her full powers, once of course we get them back to being safe to use. You are holding her back from being the Vale witch she truly is. Had she the practice within that source, she’d been able to avoid her current situation.”
“I can’t worry any less. I love her too much for that and I don’t want to lose her. I’ll try to let her explore more, but I can’t guarantee I won’t be in a constant state of panic.”
Mom smiled. “I adore your thoughtfulness and love for her. She’s a very lucky girl to have you in her life and I feel just as blessed for you being around.”
“I’ll go and distract Zavier, have Zoe call me when you’re ready.”
Drake prepared to be sent to Zavier’s place by the four witches. “Drake wait!” I yelled for him.
I threw my arms around him and fueled by my emotions, kissed him passionately.
“Zoe?” he asked.
“Drake are you mad at me?”
“No, of course not. What happened was not your fault. You were tricked and lied to.”
“I…I can’t wait to remember how much I love you. I see how much you care for me and I hope my adoration is the same. Please be safe.”
“I’m coming back for you and I won’t leave you again, I promise. I love you Zoe.”
Mom and the other three sent him to the location they scryed as Zavier’s and then convened to try and figure out a way to get Jasmine’s necklace from him. Maggie watched excitedly. I loved seeing her finally interested in our other side.
“Zo? Can I talk to you?” Vincent asked taking my hand. Mom eyed him as he led me to the sun room.
“I’m sorry about everything. I’m not known for my forward thinking; all I saw was you and my life with you. I know I’ve caused you so much heartache and pain and I’m deeply troubled by that. I really never meant for any of this to happen.”
“I know Vincent.”
“I hope once you recover you’ll be able to forgive me, provided I live that long,” he said nodding at my Mom. “Your Mom hates me,” he smiled feebly. “I can’t blame her though. I’m real good at making enemies. Soon all I’ll have in this world will be my little girl.”
“Zoe, Sweetheart?” Mom called for me. “We’ve figured out what we can do…possibly, though the exact results are unknown.”
I joined them near their summoning circle. “Go ahead and call Drake, let him know we’re ready to begin.”
I pulled out my cell phone and thumbed through the numbers, unsure which one was his. Vincent came over and dialed for me, I smiled in his direction.
He didn’t answer. I tried once more and placed the phone on speaker. “Come on Drake, where are you?”