Over the course of the next week I’d been researching everything I could about what was affecting Drake’s behavior.
He and Sarah toiled away day and night out in the garage. She’d also been working on fixing her relationship with Vanessa and getting reacquainted with a child she’d been estranged from for months. It was sad to think about the lost moments she’ll never get back, like when Vanessa took her first steps.
I walked into the magic room and grabbed my grimoire. Before exiting the room, I lit incense.
I took a seat on the sofa in the sunroom and started reading. I was looking for any and all information on possessions, spirit attachment, hitchhikers or doubles. Something had to have jumped into Drake as he clawed his way out of the ground; he was not the man I married.
The details about spirit attachment didn’t quite fit. Though Drake was the victim of an unprovoked attack and murdered in cold blood, he was not an evil person prior to his death, so that ruled out attachment. Spirits seek out those in distress or those with dark auras around them that seek to do harm to the innocent. These malevolent apparitions often trigger violent behavior in their hosts or in most cases, enhance their aggressive nature.
I moved on to the next section about possessions and quickly ruled that out as well. Drake being a vampire leaves him soulless and incapable of spirit possessions. These often inhabit souls of people they “relate” to. For instance if a person dies a violent death, the spirit may seek to possess someone who has also died violently.
I was bummed to say the least. I was hoping to figure out the deal behind Drake’s new attitude. Maybe it is just him wanting revenge on the assholes that took him from me. That I can really understand, I want their heads too. He just seems so much darker now.
As I was closing the book, a smaller passage about animals; familiars such as: cats, crows and mice caught my eye. Curious, I began reading the section about crows. Crows are said to be the symbol of death and are commonly referred to as “The Harbingers of Death”. Crows, inquisitive by nature, will attach themselves to men in battle, following them as they wage war and feast on their fallen bodies or those of their victims. Found in groups called “Murders”, they are often associated with darkness and the number 13 and thought to be an omen of evil as a direct opposite of the dove. These highly intelligent birds can be trained to attack and can easily distinguish those identified as “bad” or “evil” by a high pitched squawk and find them as companions.
Reading that bit of information left me really confused. I cannot find anything relating to Drake being evil yet he has crows that follow his orders that are generally associated and attached to bad things.
I closed the book and looked up to find the subjects of my last interest just outside the window, watching me from the ground. Those birds really give me the creeps.
I walked back to the magic room, put out the incense and went to find Drake. He and Sarah were just exiting the garage and he hurried over to me as if trying to prevent me from nearing the door.
“Hey Sweetheart, did you need something?” He leaned over and kissed my belly before kissing me.
“I was coming to find you. I want to ask you a few questions about your resurrection.”
He put his ear to my stomach. “How’s my baby?” he smiled listening to the baby move around inside of me.
“Fine; hungry as always but just fine. Can we talk, Drake?”
He rubbed my stomach before walking me back inside the house.
“Ok, I’ll tell you what, go on upstairs and relax and I’ll join you shortly. I’m just going to grab a drink.”
I nodded and did as he asked.
I lay on the bed and waited for him to join me.
Moments later he came into the room with a self satisfying smirk on his face.
“What are you grinning about?”
“Are you kidding? I have a hot woman lying in my bed waiting for me and on top of that she’s soon to give birth to our love child! Why wouldn’t I smile?”
He dove next to me and immediately pulled me into his arms. “I love you, Zoe.”
“I love you too.”
“So what did you want to talk about?”
“You and your rebirth. What do you remember about the day you came back?”
He smiled inquisitively and pulled away slightly. “Why do you want to talk about that? It should be a closed chapter at this point.”
“Yeah but we never talked about it. Are you not at all curious as to how you were able to come back from the dead? Or who made this happen? And why?”
He shrugged. “Not really. Those kinds of questions only lead to trouble; we have enough of that on our own. Can it not just be enough that you and I are back together again?”
“You really don’t want to talk about this?”
“Zoe I’ll answer any questions you may have whether it’s a topic I want to discuss or not.”
“Ok then. What do you remember about that day?”
“I remember lying in a makeshift shroud, covered in dirt. When I woke up under the ground I immediately started digging my way out. My chest was burning. It was as though there was a ball of fire sitting inside of me radiating heat.”
“When I’d finally reached the surface, I found that the grave I was placed in was covered in old bones and overrun with dead shrubs and knew it was an overused area. I had no idea where I was but I knew the events that had placed me there.”
“I climbed out of the hole and found those crows waiting for me. Both of them were watching me from the ground and followed every step I took.”
“My first thoughts were of you, Zoe. I didn’t care about much else but just finding you and saving you. I just knew Zavier had you in his chamber again but the worst was thinking that you were also killed. I knew immediately everything that we’d argued about wasn’t real and I felt foolish for ever doubting how much you loved me. Baby if I could take back the things I said I would in a second.”
“Anyway after I’d got back here and found you weren’t home I went searching for you and the rest of the story you should know. When I finally found you again, your memories of me were gone and I worked to restore them. For me nothing was ever a blur. I knew who I was and what had happened to me. And now, all I want is revenge on the sons of bitches that put me there.”
“Drake?!” Sarah called from downstairs. “Everything is ready.”
“I’ll be right there,” he responded. “As much as I hate to do this, I have to get back to work.”
“About this work, what exactly are you doing in there anyway?”
He sighed. “I’m learning everything I can about Brad and these so called Vampire Hunters.” He kissed my hand and crawled out of the bed. “If you need anything just yell.”
Drake entered into the garage again and I knew I wouldn’t see him for the rest of the night. A few hours passed and I heard the garage door open and looked out the window.
I saw Drake and Sarah jump into his car; he was no doubt on his way to drop her at Vincent’s for the evening. She’d tried staying with him again; she ended up just getting an apartment nearby so she could be close to Ness.
I saw this as my chance and hurried downstairs being careful not to disturb the watchdog crows in the backyard. I snuck the garage door open and entered inside, the acrid smell of blood and rotting flesh instantly filled my nostrils. My God what is he doing in here?
I searched the wall for the light switch but was nowhere near prepared for what I’d see when they came on. Brad was pinned into a cage bolted to the floor in the center of the room; blood was pouring from the exposed wounds all over his body. He moaned in pain and shrunk in the bright glow of the light.
Drake and Sarah had built a mini torture chamber inside of our garage and were torturing Brad! I approached the cage. “Get the fuck away from me you filth!” he spat at me.
I moved back as he tried reaching through the cage for me. His eyes were both nearly swollen shut, his lips were bruised, chapped and split in two. He had scratches and cuts all over his face and his body showed signs of being kicked and beaten as well. He was covered in large red welts and bruises and there was an IV drip of something stabbed into his thigh.
I continued looking around and started getting flashes of my own torture in a room very similar to what I was seeing; though Zavier didn’t own an iron maiden. I was beginning to wonder where all of this stuff came from and why Drake was keeping this a secret from me.
As I was examining the tables of weapons and various chemicals he had lined against the wall, I heard the soft purr of his engine coming up the drive. Shit. I quickly moved to turn the light off but it was too late, I heard him approaching the door.
“Zoe! What are you doing in here?”
“Drake. I was…”
“I told you not to come out here, Zoe! Why didn’t you just listen? You weren’t supposed to see this!”
“What is this, Drake? What’s going on with you?”
“Get back to the house. I don’t need you stressed out over this. Go take care of our baby and I’ll be in when I’m done here.”
“Go now, Zoe. Please.” He spoke calmly but I could tell there was anger and annoyance in his message.
I hurriedly made my way to the house and upstairs to the bathroom to wash. My shoes were covered in dark, sticky blood and I smelled like death. I stopped short of climbing into the shower, feeling the baby kick me.
I grabbed my stomach and tried to settle Little Steele’s restless nature. Finally resting, I climbed into the shower and washed off the smell of the garage. I heard Drake open the bathroom door and saw him near me from the shower door.
“Zoe. I can explain what you saw out there.”
“Well I really hope so. Drake something has not been right about you lately. I don’t understand what’s going on with you. Where did all that stuff come from?”
“A lot of it I liberated from the local museum. There are a few pieces I found around antique stores here in town.”
“Why are you channeling Zavier?” I asked stepping out of the shower. He grabbed a towel and helped dry me off before walking me to the bedroom.
“Don’t say it like that. This is different than what that sick bastard did. He sought pleasure. We need information. Would it make you feel better to know I didn’t rough him up? That it was all Sarah? She was getting even for everything he’s put her through. I just stayed close in case she needed my help. The girl is strong and has a lot of pent up rage.”
“No that doesn’t make it better, I mean I’m happy she is able to get some resolution, but I’m upset at the fact that you thought you had to hide it from me. You knew what you were doing was wrong and that’s why you kept me in the dark.”
“I kept you in the dark because I want to keep you protected during your pregnancy and beyond. I can handle the house, Zoe. You need to just stay relaxed for the baby’s sake. I’m only doing what needs to be done. We need the information about the hunters and he was being uncooperative. Don’t worry about what’s happening out there; just know it’s what I have to do for us.”
I nodded. “Fine, Drake. I trust you.”
“Good. The only thing I want you to do is stay relaxed and take care of Jr.”
“‘Jr.’? Are you so sure the baby will be a boy?”
He smiled, “Of course I am.” He nuzzled and kissed my stomach.
“And what if I had my heart set on a girl?”
“Well, then you’re going to be very disappointed!” he laughed as I rubbed my tummy.
He kissed my forehead and watched me climb in bed.
“Get some rest. If you hear something strange outside just know that I’m close and you have nothing to worry about.”
He turned to leave the room.
“Wait, Drake. I had something else I wanted to ask you.”
“Can it wait until morning?”
“It could but I’ll be thinking about it until I can get some sleep.”
He came back to the bed and stood over me. “What can I help you with?”
“When you were helping me restore my memories, you kept mentioning that you were now multitalented. What did you mean by that?”
“Well since my return I’ve had an increase of all of my vampire abilities. I feel stronger, faster and more agile. And as you’ve experienced I can push thoughts at a distance.” Drake stopped and thought about the other talents he’d acquired and decided against mentioning them.
“Go to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.”
I rolled over and closed my eyes.
Sarah stood at Brad’s cage taunting him.
“You know, I had planned to maybe compel a nurse to stay here and heal you or feed you my blood so that you regenerated faster to make this last longer, but then Drake had the best idea ever: turn you into what you despise most and watch you self destruct as you hate yourself every day. Plus this way, you’ll continuously heal while the torture persists.”
“Keep the fuck away from me!” Brad yelled.
“You have no choice in the matter. But then again you know all about removing one’s will to think and act on one’s own.”
Drake entered behind her and locked the door tight.
“Have you decided, Sarah?”
“Yes. I’m going to do it. And now is as good a time as any.”
Drake opened the cage and grabbed Brad out. Brad pushed at him trying to free himself and Drake laughed at his feeble attempts to fight back.
“Please Sarah. Don’t do this!” he begged. “I love you; I would never have hurt you!”
“What do you call making me some mindless slave to your whimsical desires? I lost precious time with my child because of you! You did nothing BUT hurt me! But now you’ll get to see what’s it’s like to be me.”
Drake threw him to the floor and Sarah pounced on him, ripping open her arm and shoving her gaping wound into his mouth. Once she was satisfied he’d drank enough, she pulled him up and tore into his neck ensuring to spit out what she took in.
Drake eyes burned red and he smiled as he watched Brad’s conversion. “Now the hunter will become the hunted!”
For days I’d been thinking over Drake’s behavior. Still something was bothering me. I called Teresa as I watched Drake and Sarah heading out once again. Although Drake told me not to worry and assured me all was fine, I still had my doubts. His behavior was becoming more erratic and Zavier like.
I asked her to research spirit ownership thinking that perhaps I may have missed something or there wasn’t something noted in the grimoire that would explain his demeanor.
I walked into the kitchen as I waited on her response to fix something for my growing appetite. “Jr.” was a very hungry baby and demanded buckets of blood before finally settling and letting me rest. He also, being finicky, demanded it be warmed. Otherwise, it was coming right back up!
My phone started ringing and vibrating violently on its location on the counter and nearly hit the floor. I grabbed it just before it fell. “Hello?”
…“Zoe, I did as you asked and looked into the possible ways Drake was revived and what I found isn’t good…”
“What? What is it?”
…“Drake’s rebirth was similar to that of a Phoenix, born of fire, resurrected by flame. The only way possible that he could have been reborn and given the talents you said he is displaying is if he formed a pact, a covenant signed in blood and bonded by death…”
“No. Drake wouldn’t do that again. He regrets having done so with Zavier over 200 years ago. There must be something else.”
…“I’m afraid not, Zoe. Drake is the willing host of something brutal and primeval raised in the fire pits of the underground. And whatever it is, it’s waiting for the right moment to strike…”
“So what are you saying? That whatever crawled from the ground isn’t him? This isn’t Drake?”
…“No, it’s Drake. He just has a passenger along for the ride…”
“Wait, I thought you could only have demonic possession if you had a soul, how did this happen to him?”
…“That’s the bad part. Since the spirit would have had to attach itself to his soul to hitch a ride to our realm, there would normally not have been a way for it to pass through. But Drake is different. He had to have offered up something the spirit couldn’t resist. Something larger that we are just not seeing yet…”
“Larger? Like what? I don’t know, Teresa. This isn’t something he would do…why would you think that?”
…“Zoe he was betrayed and murdered by his best friend! He lost everything in the world, you being the most important. Desperate times? You have to get Drake to open up completely about what’s happened. You also need to ensure you are practicing the use of your source because if this is anywhere near as big as I think, we’re going to need everything you have…”
“No, this can’t be right, Teresa. We just need to keep looking. I know my husband. Drake wouldn’t do something like this.”
“Do something like what?” Drake asked appearing behind me.
“Drake!” I slowly dropped the phone and released the call. Swallowing hard, I prepared myself for a conversation that I’d hoped would not end as Teresa believes.