Drake and Vincent had tortured the remaining hunters endlessly for nearly a week before finally ending them. Once they were gone, we were still left with the unanswered questions of how to destroy the toxin. I’d thought of sending some to Professor Riddell in Riverview, but Drake had destroyed all pure concentrates of the elixir and the diluted mixture streaming through its victims would not produce great results.
It was a nice day out. The chaos raging in the streets seemed to be miles away as I stood in the sunlight in our backyard watching the water jets in the pool as I had on many occasions before.
“You shouldn’t be out here,” Drake called behind me as he and Vincent exited the garage together.
“I knew that would be your reaction. I just needed to see that there was still a bit of life out here. I really hate being stuck indoors day and night because you think everything I do is threatening to the baby.” I looked over at Vincent; he had blood on his hands.
He noticed my gaze and moved towards the hose to clean himself up. “I thought you killed the last hunter three days ago.”
“Ok, then where did the blood come from?”
Drake turned and looked at Vincent before redirecting his gaze on me again. “Get back in the house baby; it’s not safe out here.”
“No. I’ll go back inside when I start getting straight answers about what’s going on.” I said folding my arms on my chest.
“I’m not going to argue with you Zoe. I’ll carry you inside if I have to, now go!”
I looked at his face; he had a serious stare going and his tone said he meant business. I pushed my body into his shoulder to show my disapproval as I passed him. “Hi Vincent,” I mumbled before entering inside.
“Why are you treating her like that?” Vincent asked. “You shouldn’t keep her in the dark about what’s happening it’ll only make her more curious.”
“She’s not your concern, Vincent. Let’s get back to work.”
I waited for them to walk back into the garage before entering the magic room. The moment the lights came on, a crow came at me. I jumped back and my head bumped the wall a little.
He was shooing me out of the room. I tried reaching for my grimoire and he pecked at my hand. I quickly snatched back and exited the room. He perched himself on top of the door frame and watched me to make sure I was not planning to return.
Annoyed, I walked into the garage. Drake and Vincent were in the middle of draining a few vampires sprawled on the tables and racks inside.
“What the hell are you doing in here, Zoe?” Drake said grabbing my arm and pulling me towards the door.
“Let go of me!” I said jerking my arm away. “And call off the bird, Drake! That damn thing almost bit me!”
“Then you were doing something you weren’t supposed to, Zoe,” his eyes flashed red at me and I backed away slightly.
“What is wrong with you, Drake? Why are you acting this way?”
I looked over at Vincent. He was standing near one of the prone vampires keeping his nose out of the situation but nevertheless watching to make sure nothing more serious took place.
“Zoe, I am trying to keep you safe, all I am asking for is a little cooperation which you seem very unwilling to do.”
“I’d cooperate IF you’d be a little more forthcoming about what’s happening!”
“Listen to me, Zoe. You cannot be stressed out right now and anything involving this war is nothing BUT stress. Stop fighting with me every step of the way on this, get your ass back to the house and back to bed. I swear if I have to I’ll tie you to the frame,” his eyes kept that fury as he spoke and nowhere in those crimson pools could I see my Drake.
I bit my lip to fight back the tears. I couldn’t begin to understand what is changing in him. He keeps me out of his head and refuses me information. His promise of no more secrets was tearing me apart.
Drake saw the formation of tears in my eyes, his expression softened and his eyes returned to their normal hue. “Zoe, I’m sorry,” he grabbed me and held me tight. “I don’t mean to sound harsh, but this is important.”
I pulled away slightly and he rubbed the tear from my cheek. “I’ll call off the bird but you have to promise me you won’t cast anything.”
I agreed, but I was lying. I needed information and since he refuses to tell me, I’ll have to try another route.
He kissed me tenderly and led me back to the house. He spoke to the bird above the door and he flew onto his shoulder to leave with him. “How’s the other crow doing?” he asked before he walked out the front door.
“Hanging in; I was able to mend his left wing but his beak is chipped slightly and I can’t help him with that.”
He looked me deep in the eyes, “Zoe, you made me a promise, please hold true to that. Casting anything, even the smallest of spells, can cause a lot of damage right now.”
His words were ominous and threatening. They lingered in the back of my mind as I once again falsely agreed.
He kissed my forehead and rejoined Vincent out in the garage.
They were draining the vampires they found, I could only assume they were trying to cure them or get an extract to send to Professor Riddell.
I walked into the bedroom and sat on the bed and began flipping through the pages of the book. I came across a truth spell, one I’d used on Drake before and grabbed a few candles and placed them around me before I began the cast.
“Purification I do conjure
So that thoughts be spoke
not be pondered”
“Passion so red
Set to the fire
Let the truth be said
as is my desire”
“Mists of thyme
Fire of red
send the truth to my head.”
I could hear his thoughts again, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. His words sounded garbled and drowned out by another voice. There was someone or something else in his head and it was instructing him on what the next moves were for the deal he made.
I couldn’t understand what the voice was saying but now I at least knew that what Teresa said was real; he does have someone else inside of him and they are in control of his actions.
Knowing this didn’t make me feel better, and the “get what you ask for” warning my Mom always talked about played repeatedly in my head.
I heard the door close downstairs and quickly closed the book, blew out the candles and placed them in the night stand.
Drake entered the room shortly.
I’ll never forget those words for as long as I live. Those words would reshape the next few days and the future of this city.
He grabbed me from the bed, kissed me hard and explained that he and Vincent were going to war. After a round of panicked refusal on my behalf, he swiftly exited the house and he and Vincent disappeared.
Despite Drake’s last words, I went hunting for them. I needed to know he would be safe. I walked to the front door and the crows both flew to my side. I jumped; startled thinking they were going to stop me, but instead realized they wanted to tag along.
I drove the city all night until finally I came upon a large field; on either side were a number of vampires. They were growling and hissing at one another. Drake and Vincent stood in the front of the group on the right.
And as if some starting gun was fired, the two groups went running for one another and I watched as they began to clash. It wasn’t long before the blood began to spill everywhere.
I saw Kevin near the back of the group. He was facing off against a vampire that had twice his speed and strength. The vampire grabbed him by the throat and slammed him hard. I watched as he began throwing hard lefts and rights to Kevin’s face leaving him bloodied and dazed.
Kevin struggled to his feet and as he did was met with a kick to the face knocking him back down again. The vampire moved in for the kill. As he was coming down on Kevin, he was engulfed in a huge ball of fire. Drake noticed the fight out of everything else happening in front of him and managed to prevent Kevin’s death at the hands of the poisoned one. Kevin turned his back to cover himself from the explosion.
He quickly recovered and joined Gina and Jeremy back in the battle near the edge of the field. The siblings were each in combat with their own feared fang. It seemed whatever this improved toxin was, it also increased a few of the vampires’ abilities as well. Jeremy kept himself guarded; he’d learned much watching Drake and Vincent fight and swore not to allow another vampire to get the upper hand on him.
Gina kicked and punched at the girl coming for her throat, knocking her senseless at each attempt the vampire made to attack. She grinned watching her blood spill at her feet and enjoyed the pain she was inflicting on her. This was for Tomas and every other vampire this one was made to kill.
For hours the battle raged on. There were hundreds of deranged undead entering into the zone one group after the other and I watched as the number of vampires Drake brought with him slowly diminished. Vincent and another vampire were going toe to toe. He had a wicked smile on his face as he danced around his opponent sending vicious jabs to his face between his fancy footwork.
He stopped toying with him long enough to take him to the ground and pummel his face mercilessly. He reached his hand under his chin and placed his other on the top of the vampires’ head and wrenched his neck until he heard the snap of his spine.
Drake busied himself with three vampires and a sense of déjà vu washed over me as I remembered the scene from our backyard. I knew he would be safe and knew that if he caught me here, there would be hell to pay.
I was about to exit the area and as I did someone grabbed me. Before I had a chance to react I felt the baby move inside me and the person that was standing there burst into tiny particles of dust. I looked behind me and everyone was still busy with their current tasks; not one of them had helped me. Thoughts of my child having done in the baddie crossed my mind. But that’s silly; the baby isn’t capable of that! There was a spine chilling scream from the opposite side of the field.
I quickly turned my attention to the sound but all that could be seen out of the mass of bodies were arms and legs flying everywhere. Everyone was moving so quickly; gusts of wind threw debris all around and added an extra sense of haze. Vincent popped up from the center and I saw him stake a vampire running from behind. A look of shock crossed the blood drinkers’ face before his body became a crumbling mass of dirt as well.
Once Drake had finished with the three in front of him, he quickly found another challenger. He kicked him from behind, grabbing his attention. As the vampire turned to face him, he was met with a sharp blow to his right cheek. Drake’s hand sparked and he quickly put out the fire. He sent another series of punches to the vampires’ face and body.
He was grabbed from behind and tossed the other one over his shoulder. He landed hard in the group he came with. He sprang to his feet and quickly came back at Drake. He and the other vampire tried to take Drake to the ground, but he maintained his balance and took them both down with a few strong kicks.
Drake was on them before they reached the ground and wasted no time tearing their heads from their necks and bathing in their blood.
I was amazed at the number of vampires helping Drake in this thing. I had no idea where they came from but by the time the other side was cleared of vampires, there were fewer standing with him.
Everyone began to disperse and one of the bloodiest battles in Bridgeport came to a close…or so I thought. Once the vampires had exited the area, Drake saw me near the street, a look of anger, fear and disappointment furrowed in his brow as he walked over.
His face and body was covered in blood. “Why Zoe?”
“I was scared, Drake. I needed to see you; to make sure you were ok. I brought the crows,” I said pointing to his pets.
He smiled and his eye color changed to blue. “Come on let’s…”
Before he completed his thought he noticed just over the hill was another group of vampires approaching the area.
Drake pushed me behind him as they came nearer.
Their speed increased. They began running to the bit of earth that was now covered in blood from the numerous dead bodies noticing it was just Drake and I. Evil smirks on their faces realizing they had the upper hand. 2 versus 7, Drake and I were outnumbered.
The crows quickly reacted; both flew in the direction of the oncoming vampires attacking one each. It wasn’t long before they were screaming in pain as the frenzied feathered duo clawed and scratched at their faces tearing the skin from their bones and ripping their eyes to shreds.
I watched as they tore into their necks; poking and pecking holes as deep as their little beaks could break.
“Wait here.” Drake moved to the center of the field and began levitating. His entire body was ablaze and he was tossing large balls of flames in the direction of the incoming hordes of vampires.
Suddenly the wind picked up and began churning the air around him. Vampire after vampire began burning in the large infernos Drake created. A wall of fire separated us and he continued throwing the fireballs at all of the threats looming in the area. He hovered above them as the fire took them all out in one fell swoop.
He prepared himself to land and as he did, his powers sparked a bigger inferno. He looked at me with shock on his face as though he’d not expected this much to happen.
“Drake?” I questioned.
“STAY BACK!” he warned me as he tried to take back the fire engulfing his body and the empty lot.
“NO!” he yelled. There was a large burst of light surrounding him.
The fires began to die and the light encircled his feet. “I love you, Zoe!” he smiled at me. I stood in horror watching him combust and explode.
Silence drowned the area and total darkness enveloped the field.
I rushed over to where he stood only seconds earlier. The grass was charred and smoking. “Oh God no, not again! DRAKE!” I screeched at the top of my lungs. I felt a pang of terror mixed with grief. He can’t be gone again. I dropped my head in my hands and began weeping. “God please not again.”
The ground beneath me held his ashes I fell to my knees and sat in mourning. Brushing my hand through the blades of grass and feeling the heat from the scorch marks.
“Why are you so sad?” I heard the sexy voice of the man I married behind me.
I turned and rushed to his arms. “Drake! I thought…”
“I know, I’m sorry. I hadn’t realized the fire would consume me like that.”
“What was that? You exploded!”
“And then I was reborn. When my energy becomes too great to contain within my body, I’ll always burn up like that. But just as a…”
“Phoenix, ‘born of fire, resurrected by flame’,” I said quoting Teresa’s words to Drake. “So you’ll always come back to me?”
He smiled. “Not even death will keep me from you. Come on, let’s get out of here.”
A few days passed and there was no word about the contaminated waters in Bridgeport. Drake took the rare opportunity of silence to spend a little time with me. Something I’d been in favor of for a while.
He and I were laying poolside in the hammock together. He was rubbing my belly and kissing me gently on the top of my head as we swayed in the soft, warm breeze rolling off from the trees.
“We need to decorate a room for the baby,” I said.
“Hmm…all blue would you say?”
I laughed. He seems convinced I’m birthing a boy for him.
“Sure, but when we have a girl, you’re changing it for her.”
“Well I wouldn’t worry about that then. Want to go shopping soon?”
“Not too soon. I’m enjoying this.”
He continued rubbing me.
“Do you still think this bikini is sexy?” I asked smiling.
“Even more so,” he answered.
I had ballooned to the size of a beach ball. If I didn’t know any better I’d think I was birthing twins. The size of my belly grew tremendously within these five months. Five months and I was as big as a house. Five months and my belly was full grown. Our baby consumes so much blood though I shouldn’t be amazed. His thirst is unquenchable sometimes, but it scares me to think that I still have another four months of this to go.
“I was thinking, it would be nice to have a baby shower but I don’t really have friends to do that with and it’s been ages since I spoke with Sam. Sometimes I hate life as a vampire because it keeps me from making friends, I’m afraid of growing attached to anyone. I’m still thinking about Maggie getting old and wrinkly while I’ll be 23 forever.”
“I’m sorry baby. I don’t like that you feel lonely like that. I wish there was something I could to make it better, but the only solution would be to make monsters of everyone you love.”
“And that’s not happening!”
“If it makes you feel better, I’ve been 25 since 1826.”
“When Christopher is born…”
“Christopher?” I asked.
“Or Jacob. To be honest, I haven’t decided yet. But when our baby is born, he will hopefully fill that void for you.”
“Drake I really hope for your sake I’m carrying a male child because you’ll be the one that’s heartbroken.”
“No Sweetie, I’ll love our child whether she’s a gorgeous little you or a brawny little me,” he said kissing me.
“And if it’s a devilishly handsome me?” Vincent asked walking into the yard.
Drake sighed and grunted before pulling himself up. He charged Vincent, his fist finding the softest spot of his midsection.
“You know I promised to kill you last Vincent, but that can quickly change. What the fuck do you want?”
“You have one second to change that answer,” Drake said balling his fists. I approached them just a bit. I stayed far enough away so as not to be clipped by a wild fist.
“Hey Zo,” his determination was met with another sharp right. The blow looked brutal and I turned my head in a grimace. They had been working so well together lately I almost forgot about his role in Drake’s death. It was as if they were friends again and renewed that old relationship they once had.
“Are you done, Drake? I didn’t come here to get pummeled. I came to say my goodbyes, in a way; if you’d allow me five minutes.” He turned to me and walked me over to a bench just in the back yard.
“Zo I wanted to thank you for everything. The love you have for me made me want to be a better man and I’ll always treasure that. I’ve decided that it’s time to move on. I cannot go a day without thinking about you and I know I’ll never have you the way that I want.”
“Are you moving back to France, again?”
“No, I’m staying here so that I can be close to my daughter. Sarah practically told me that she was taking Vanessa and moving to Sunset Valley to raise her. I’ve agreed to her terms because I know I’ve caused everyone a lot of hurt. I want to repair the damage I’ve done.”
“So what is this new leaf?”
“I just came back from Riverview. I met with Jasmine. She turned back my emotions for me.”
“What does that mean?”
“I asked her to block any heavy romantic feelings I had towards you so that we could start over as friends like we once were. No more sad puppy dog humping your leg, just friendly chats and a shoulder to lean on. It’ll take effect little by little until I am back to the man you first met.” He smiled at me. “I want you in my life and if I can’t have you as a lover, I’d really like to remain a friend.”
Drake stood behind him listening to his incredulous story. “This sounds like another one of your games, Vincent,” he said.
“No games, Drake,” he said walking over to him. “Give Jasmine a call if you don’t believe me. I’m done chasing your wife. I’d like us to be friends again also. You and I had great times together, kind of.”
He smiled. “I should get going. I promised Sarah I’d help her pack up a few things for Vanessa.” He looked at me; he studied my face as if it were the last time he’d see me again before walking towards his car and driving off.
“Do you believe him?” I asked walking over to Drake.
“I read him while he was talking to you, he wasn’t lying. But games are his thing Zoe. I guess in time, we’ll see.”
Baby Steele started kicking. And Drake smiled at me. “Do you want to go shopping for the room now?”
I nodded and we drove to the mall. After browsing a few baby stores, we had a car full of new items for the room, all blue.
We got home and spent hours decorating a gorgeous baby room.
After we’d finished, I stood back to admire the handiwork. “Not bad. The perfect room for your Son,” I smiled. “Don’t forget though, YOU’RE redecorating this room yourself!”
“Yeah and again, there won’t be any need for that.”
Drake’s phone rang. He listened for a minute before agreeing to what the caller said and hanging up.
“Baby, I have to go pick Sarah up from Vincent’s and drive her to the airport. Her flight is leaving in a few hours.”
“I still can’t believe Vincent agreed to this. Maybe Jasmine’s magic will make him the man he once was after all.” I walked towards him. “Can I come with you this time?” I asked. “I really don’t want to be alone right now.”
Macbeth and Midnight, which I have come to name the crows, squawked their disapproval at my use of the word “alone”.
“Sorry,” I said turning to them. I laughed to myself realizing I was speaking to these birds but being a part of Drake, they have become a part of the family. They fought to defend me and Sarah from the hunters and took damage protecting us. Midnight luckily was able to heal from the injuries he sustained in combat and made a full recovery. He flew onto my shoulder to say he forgives me before perching himself back on the sofa.
We drove to Vincent’s and I waited by the car as Drake helped Sarah bring her bags from inside. I walked a little around the tiny garden in front and took in the scent of the Jasmine that grew prominently in the middle of the rows of flowers.
Suddenly I felt a chill blow my legs. I looked down and noticed my pants were soaked. Spasms began ripping through my lower abdomen and I keeled over in pain. “DRAKE!?” I yelled. He had already gone back inside and he didn’t hear me. I stood clutching my stomach until the pain went away.
I looked down at the stain in the grass. This isn’t right, I thought. Instantly I was hit with another sharp pain in my lower abdomen. “Drake!” I cried out in pain. I waited until the pain had subsided before trying to reach the front door.
It opened to Vincent’s concerned face; he was helping Drake move Sarah’s things to the car. “What…?” he looked down at my soaked pants and yelled for Drake before reaching for me, “Stay calm, um…relax, DRAKE!” he yelled again nervously.
Sweat was pouring from my face and I tried to remain calm as Vincent said but thoughts of a miscarriage filled my head.
Drake came running down the stairs and joined in Vincent’s panic. “It’s time?” he asked noticing the same thing as Vincent.
“This isn’t right,” I tried to explain once they’d calmed down. “It’s only been 5 months! There is something wrong with the baby!” Tears began streaming down my face.
“No, nothing’s wrong, everything is fine Zoe. Don’t worry, we’re ok. Vincent can you finish helping Sarah?” Drake asked as he carried me to the car.
Vincent dropped Sarah off at the airport and joined us at the hospital. We sat for what seemed like eternity in the waiting room before the nurse came to wheel me to a room. “There is something wrong, Drake! Sarah carried for 9 full months; it’s only been 5 months for me! I shouldn’t be here right now!” He refused to hear me.
He had found a spot near the back wall of the room where he was pacing. I tried to hear his thoughts but he was blocking me out. He wouldn’t admit that he was worried but the way he reacted to my early labor said otherwise. He looked at me but never said a word as he continued to wear a hole in the floor.
“I think you’re fine, Zo. I mean, and I don’t want this to sound insulting because I think you’re beautiful no matter what, but you did sort of…kind of um…grow quickly.”
I smiled at Vincent’s attempts to tell me that I was heavier in the kindest way possible. “Are you trying to say that I’m…?”
“Beautiful? Yes.” He smirked.
I felt another spasm and Drake rushed to my side. “Are we almost ready?”
A nurse came in to answer that question as she wheeled me to the delivery room. Drake and Vincent were scrubbed up and stood by my bed as Dr. Raymond began.
Mom appeared in the room behind her and ran over to my side.
I looked at her with shock. “What? You didn’t really think I’d miss seeing my FIRST Grandchild being born did you?” she smiled as she took my hand.
“Just relax and breathe, Mrs. Steele. This won’t take long,” Dr. Raymond instructed. “Breathing is the most important.”
“Right,” I said. I propped my legs up on the stirrups and pushed every time I was instructed.
After one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had, I was looking at the face of my beautiful baby boy. Drake was right after all, we had his male heir.
We were taken to a private room and after being cleaned and examined, baby Christopher Jacob Steele was in my arms. “Happy birthday,” I said kissing his forehead.
“Thank you,” Vincent replied.
I looked back at the calendar and noticed that today, March 19, was indeed Vincent’s 328th birthday.
“Not to be a downer, but I am curious,” he started.
“He’s Drake’s,” I said showing him the same ocean blue eye color he’d inherited from his Daddy. “I must have been pregnant before the events with Lily and Zavier took place.”
Vincent thought back and finally came to the same conclusion. I had been sick for a while, lethargic and moody. He hung his head and took a seat near the window. Drake came over to hold his child for the first time, beaming brighter than I’ve ever seen him smile before and Vincent’s expression changed as he watched Drake with Christopher and thoughts of what could have been began fading from his mind. I smiled because I knew Jasmine’s spell was going into effect. I liked the idea of Vincent having peace of mind and us restoring the friendship I cherished so much.
Mom and Dad stood near me smiling proudly.
“This is the first male heir in our lineage of witches, Zoe,” Mom said as she took a seat by my bed. “I hope he is able to remain in control of his emotions to handle the magics in our family.”
“He will. He’ll be more than capable of maintaining your family’s powers. He has great guidance and he’s going to have more love than he could ever hope for,” Drake said as he rocked and walked with his firstborn Son.
“And yet I fear for what the future holds,” I said as I continued to watch him. “The war isn’t yet over and there are still tons of angry vampires crawling the streets.”
“Not to worry, Christopher will be ready for them, and anything else coming,” Drake responded.