“Sarah? Sarah calm down and explain. What’s going on? Where are you?”
“It’s Brad! Something’s not right!”
“Where are you Sarah? I’ll come get you.”
“Downtown. It’s a studio near…”
The line disconnected and Drake grabbed his keys. “I’m going to try and find her. Are you going to be ok?”
“I can’t come with you?”
“You’re kidding right? Zoe you’re pregnant and this sounds like trouble. I can handle it. Trust me,” he gave me a twisted grin before kissing me and running out the door.
I watched him make his way to the car, those same crows right behind him. It was strange but I was sure I saw him speaking to them as he jumped into the car and drove off.
Drake drove downtown looking for studio apartments. He cussed at himself for not looking for her sooner. But then his self pity quickly turned to anger towards Vincent. It’s because of him she’s missing and in trouble. Everything was his fault. Maybe he won’t wait to kill him. Maybe he’d torture him until he finds Zavier and Lily and then kill him.
He liked the sound of that, more and more. But first he had to get Sarah; Vanessa needed her now more than ever. She’ll be her only parent soon.
He pulled up to another studio. He couldn’t smell Sarah, though it had been a while since he’d seen her, he lost her scent.
As he was turning to leave, he noticed one of his crows heading towards a nearby building and he immediately ran after. The bird rested just above the frame on the entryway.
He smiled and thanked him before heading inside.
There was a spot of blood in front of the elevator. He stooped to smell it.
He stood and pressed the call button looking for Sarah.
No one answered any of the dials.
The crows began to caw and he turned his attention to them. His eyes burned a fire red and time seemed to slow down.
He saw a big black truck taking off down the road and rushed out to his car. The crows moved to action as well, following Drake as he pursued Brad.
The son of a bitch was running; they all run. But this one wasn’t getting away, not today; he’ll see to that. He looked up at the crows and they flew quickly over him and in front of Brad’s windshield.
Brad swerved violently between both lanes on the road and into oncoming traffic. He struggled to maintain control of the truck as the birds fluttered fiercely in front of him, obstructing his view of the road.
The sudden flapping and flurry of wings distracted him and he rolled the truck, careening through the guardrails and flipping four times before it came to rest on its tires at the bottom of the hill.
Drake came to a stop and peered down the cliff.
Smoke and fire began billowing from the engine. The passenger door sprang open and Sarah jumped out. “Brad! Baby are you ok?” she yelled rushing to the driver’s door.
She ripped it off the hinge and pulled him out. He was bleeding and coughing as he limped to the edge of the hill.
Drake jumped down to them. “Sarah are you ok?” he glared at Brad.
“Yes, of course I am! Why were you chasing us?”
“You called me. You said you needed help. Don’t you remember? It wasn’t more than…,” he suddenly remembered what Zoe had told him about Vanessa being drugged.
He grabbed Brad and jacked him up, “What did you do to her?”
Brad smiled. “Fuck you, vermin!”
Drake threw a hard right bruising Brad’s left eye instantly. Brad squealed in pain. “Drake don’t!” Sarah yelled.
He turned to her, “Go wait by my car.”
Wordlessly she did as told.
“You like that? She’s real obedient!” he spit a mouthful of blood before grinning again.
Drake shoved his fist into his gut, Brad keeled over in pain.
“Today has officially become the worst day in your life. I needed an outlet, and guess what?” Drake’s eyes glared red again striking fear in Brad and quickly erasing the smug grin on his face.
Drake punched him square on the nose knocking him out. He carried his body to the car and threw him in the trunk. He slid in beside Sarah and started the car.
“I’m sorry about what’s happened to you, Sarah. I’ll do everything I can to make you well again.”
They pulled up to the house and I ran outside to greet them. Drake was carrying Brad’s limp body.
“Sarah!” I ran over and hugged her. “I’m sorry, please forgive me! I’ll get Otoah here immediately!”
I walked her into the house and called him. He said he would be able to see her later tonight after hearing how desperate I was. Sarah took a seat in the living room and waited.
Drake dropped Brad’s body on the living room floor. I looked over at him, his face had a soured expression and his eyes glowered at him.
“Honey?” I called for him, instantly his expression softened and he looked at me with a smile.
“Why don’t you take Sarah upstairs so she can rest? I’ll find better accommodations for our little friend here.”
I walked Sarah up to the bedroom glancing back at Drake as we moved.
Sarah lay on the bed and I came back down to find Drake beating Brad’s unconscious body.
“Drake what are you doing?”
“Just softening him for when he wakes up.”
“What’s the matter with you?”
“Nothing sweetheart.” He stopped kicking him and came over to hold me and placed a gentle kiss on my cheek. “Are you hungry? Would you like me to run out and get you something?”
“No. I’m fine. Are you sure you’re ok?”
“How’s our baby?” he asked rubbing my belly gently.
“We’re fine, Drake.”
He kissed my forehead. “Go relax. I have a few things to take care of.”
I walked into the den and lay down on the couch. I drifted to sleep soon after.
Hours later I awoke to the sound of Sarah screaming. I rushed into the living room; Otoah was draining her using the same incense method he’d used on Vanessa only this went more in-depth.
Her face showed an intense look of fear.
“It burns!” she screamed. “Please stop!”
Drake was holding her in place while Otoah continued the process. For 30 minutes she continued screaming while the cleansing persisted.
“It’s done,” Otoah finally spoke. “Make sure she feeds normally and keep her away from that toxin.”
Drake nodded. “Thank you for helping. I really appreciate you taking care of her for me.”
“Anytime. I see Zoe there is more pregnant than last I saw her.”
Drake looked over at me. “Yeah, we just found out today actually, she just started showing. Any advice?” he smiled.
“No, I’m not an expert on babies. Just read what you can and make sure you take care of her,” he said leaving.
Drake approached Sarah and me. “I’m gonna go get you girls something to eat. Stay inside and away from the garage.”
I sat with Sarah in the living room and waited for Drake to come home. We engaged in conversation about everything we’d both been through over the last months.
“So Vincent and Zavier had you brainwashed and Brad had me under mind control. Wow. So…is that his baby?” she asked noticing my belly.
“No Sarah. Well to be honest I don’t know. Drake’s pretty much convinced it’s not or he’s in denial. I’m so scared. I don’t want this to be Vincent’s child. If it is I just know it would crush Drake. We’d been trying so hard before everything happened.”
“Yeah but I’m sure he’d stick through it with you. Drake’s a good guy. You don’t have to worry about that. It’ll be nothing like what I went through…am going through.”
We sat in silence for close to twenty minutes. I heard the engine of Drake’s convertible purr to a stop in the driveway and Sarah and I met him at the door.
“Here we go, Ladies, fresh packs for the house,” he said smiling and placing them on the table.
“Where did these come from?”
“I raided the hospital.”
Sarah grabbed one of the packs and walked into the dining room as I continued to talk to Drake.
“How’s everything going with Brad?”
“Oh you know. A lot of screaming, a lot of blood I haven’t seen anything useful yet. Go enjoy your dinner, Baby. I’ll be in here when you’re done.”
I joined Sarah and finished my pack. I noticed Drake looking through the bookshelf. I cleaned up and headed back to the living room.
“What are you…?”
“Why don’t you head on up to the bedroom and I’ll come and make sure you’re alright in a bit?” he suggested as I was about to inquire more.
Lately he’s been really avoiding in-depth conversations. Though I was curious, I once again did as he asked.
The next morning Drake had already gone into the garage, leaving me alone in bed.
I stood and stretched and peered out the window. Those crows were hovering just above the door as if they were guards.
I noticed several missed calls on my cell, all from Vincent. Just as I was about to clear the messages he’d also left, the phone rang once more and was now on speaker.
“Zo? Zo don’t hang up please. We need to talk.”
More than you know. I kicked myself for thinking it, but if I was indeed carrying his child, I felt he had a right to know. I hung up the phone and got dressed and headed over to his house.
I walked up to Vincent’s door, knocked and waited for him to answer. I could hear him inside with Vanessa.
The door swung open and he smiled at me. My expression never changed, it couldn’t…not with what I was feeling.
“Baby! Uh…Zo, sorry. Please,” he said stepping back from the threshold.
He closed the door behind me and led me to Vanessa’s room.
She ran up and hugged my legs.
“Aww hey sweetie, you’re really moving now huh?” I said tossing her up.
I placed her back down and turned to Vincent, she went back to banging away on her xylophone.
“Can I get you anything?”
“No, Vincent. I’m not staying long.”
“So you decided to stay here?”
“Of course. Thanks to you, I have great memories here.”
“I called you because Ness and I are planning a trip to the aquarium. I found she has a fascination with animals. I wanted to know if you’d like to tag along. She really misses you.”
“Are you crazy? Everyone is clamoring for your blood and you’re still trying Vincent?”
He motioned for me to take a seat. “I’ll stand, again, I don’t have long.”
“Zo I’m in love with you. I need help I know that. But you’re my weakness. I know Drake wants me dead and to be honest if I were in his shoes, I’d kill me too. I’ve accepted my fate. Anyway, what’s going on?” he asked in hopeful anticipation. “I didn’t think I’d see you again anytime soon especially seeing how you were ignoring my calls.”
“Yeah I didn’t expect to be over here either but we need to talk; about us, about everything that’s happened these past months.”
He nodded. “I know.” I started pacing and he followed my steps.
His eyes searched my body and stopped at my midsection. “Zo?”
“Yeah that’s one thing I needed to mention.”
He pointed to my stomach, “Zo is that…?”
“According to my math, right around Drake’s death.”
Vincent thought for a moment. “Zo, we’re having a baby?” His mouth stretched in a wide grin and he jerked me into his arms and hugged me. “You’re having my child!”
“No, Vincent. Not ‘we’.” I said pulling away. “This isn’t your baby.”
“Zo how can you be sure about that? You and I had sex the night Drake was killed and several times after that.”
“Yeah Vincent, I’m aware of that. I also had sex with Drake earlier that same day and nearly every day that week.”
“And you and he have also been together for a very long time and not once has this happened. Let’s not over-analyze this, Beautiful. We’ve seen the results of my swimmers already!”
“Stop being an asshole! There is nothing wrong with Drake!”
“I’m sorry, Zo. I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m just excited about having a baby with you, that’s all.”
The weight of all my emotions was heavy on my neck; I rubbed at the tension in my muscles.
“Here, let me,” Vincent said his hands found the tightness and began massaging the pain away.
“Don’t, please.” I pushed him away, though for the moment I was feeling better.
“Zo if this is my kid, what does that mean about us? Are you going to stay with Drake and try and raise my child without me? Because I’d fight that to my death! I’d never allow another man to raise my kid!”
“Will you stop saying that? This isn’t your baby. I don’t need this stress right now. I don’t know, to be honest, why I came here. I just wanted to talk but this is too much.”
“I’m sorry, you’re right. Stress isn’t good for you right now. Do you know the sex?”
“No. I didn’t want to know. Look Vincent…”
“No, me first, please,” I begged.
“Vincent, the last four months were filled with moments that were beautiful and fun. I can’t take that back and to be honest, I don’t want to. I was happy with you, but I was also under a trance where of course I was with you because I had no knowledge of the man I actually married! As far as I knew you were the only one that I loved; the one I wanted to be with. But I began to feel empty and torn when my memories started to return. And now I am housed with guilt over what’s happened between us. Finding out that you lied to me and tricked me and once again betrayed our friendship has left me feeling complete hatred for the man you are.”
“I need Drake to know everything that’s happened between you and me but I am so afraid of hurting him. I can’t look in his eyes like I used to. He trusts me Vincent and I want him to be able to do that. I came to tell you that no more will I smile as I once did, greet you as I used to or be able to hold myself in confidence when you’re around. I know you’re hurting; and I’m sorry about that, but you brought this upon yourself. Drake is my husband and I will be faithful to him and true to our relationship. In order to do that, you and I can’t remain as friends, we will never be able to handle being close again. I’m sorry Vincent; I can’t forgive you for what you’ve done and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see you the same again.”
“You’re not worthy of my trust or my friendship. Every time I try with you, it’s the same result. I get slapped in the face.” He didn’t speak. He stood with a glossed over expression on his face and his hands balled in tight fists. My stomach was in knots. I knew he was dying from my words; just as much as it hurt to speak them, I knew it hurt to hear. I turned to leave.
“I thought you were mine Zo. And although I didn’t intend for it to happen, Drake was dead and I never in a million years expected him to come back. I thought finally after so long you were mine and I was completely in your heart. I died when I saw him standing beside you that day. And the fact that you were lying to me about spending time alone when you were off with him…it was my own personal hell. The idea that I was about to lose you…I fought to get you back to your old self. Never once did I think you were going to have some way of getting back to Drake and leave me with this empty feeling…” his words trailed off.
“I have to let you go, I know that. It’s just so hard and I can’t; I tell myself every morning. I make promises that I can’t keep about not hounding you, letting you live your life with Drake and be happy with someone other than me.”
“But we were together, Vincent.”
“And do you think that makes the pain better or worse, Zo? That whole ‘better to have loved and lost’ thing is complete bullshit and you know it. Whoever said that was dumbass. It’s not better, neither way is!”
He turned his back to me.
“We are in love…were. I was sharing my life with you and for once I was completely happy; I felt whole again. You cannot begin to imagine how much pain I’m in now knowing that and having to be here again without you.”
He turned to face me; a small tear had crept up into the corner of his eye and as he approached me I shuddered.
“I’ll always love you Zo and I’ll never forget those amazing few months where your heart, body and soul belonged to me.” He gripped me in his arms and held me tight.
Vanessa hit her thumb and started crying behind him and he released me to check on his baby girl.
“I should get going,” I said watching him comfort her. “Vincent you should try and spend as much time with her as you can. We found Sarah and she’s better now. You said you’ve accepted your fate, so you know any day now…” He didn’t turn around, he didn’t look up and he didn’t say goodbye. He just stood there silently holding his daughter.
I got back home and Drake was still in the garage with Brad. I thought to enter and check on him but as I neared the door, both of the crows swooped down in front of me.
I backed off, and went inside the house.
Drake wasn’t far behind me.
“Baby what are you doing out there?”
“Nothing really sweetie, where’s Sarah?”
“I don’t know I just got back. Your crows, uh, they wouldn’t hurt me would they?”
“Why? Did you go near the garage?”
“Well I was coming to say hi to you and they kind of blocked me. I mean unless I am imagining things those birds seem very…protective?”
“They did huh? Don’t worry, they wouldn’t hurt you baby. They’re just jealous I guess.”
He walked further into the living room and called for Sarah. “What’s up, Drake?” she asked coming in from the den.
“Brad is asking for you.”
“I don’t want to…”
“I have a proposal for you, come with me, please.”
The duo walked out into the garage leaving me very curious as to what was going on out there. Something wasn’t right with Drake. Part of him was the same man I remembered, but the other part was a much different person and I needed to find out what came back from that grave.