I watched Chris enter into the building before walking back towards Vincent.
“Hey!” Drake called behind me again.
“Drake,” I smiled.
“Can we talk?”
I looked over at Vincent and he waved me off before hopping behind the wheel and driving away.
“I guess Vincent thinks we should. Can I get a ride to work?”
“Of course baby,” he led me to the car and opened the door for me.
He slid into the driver’s side and sat there. “Zoe, I’m sorry about everything that’s happened between us and I wish I could take it all back. I love you and Chris and I am just hoping you’ll forgive me and come back. It’s been four months honey; how much time do you need?”
“Drake I want to be home with you. But I can’t trust that you won’t resort to your old ways and endanger CJ. We still have no idea what triggers your attacks on me and I’m not bringing him back into that.”
“If I can figure that out, will you come home?”
“Will you at least think about it before you answer? I can’t keep going without you, nothing makes sense anymore.”
“I’ll give it some thought, Drake. But you really have to show me that these random attacks are done and there can’t be anymore hidden deals with demons!”
“I can do that! I’ll win you back, Zoe,” he smiled and there was a glimmer of light in his eyes as he started the engine and backed out of the parking lot.
He pulled up to the building and stopped in front of the door.
“I’ll try and drop by later today, we can talk more then?” he asked.
“That’ll be fine baby,” I smiled at him. “I love you Drake.”
I pushed open the door and he grabbed my arm bringing me into him and kissed me.
His arm draped across my waist and I gently rubbed his leg as his tongue playfully rolled around mine.
I let off a low moan and he responded by pressing deeper into me and kissing me harder.
“Mmm, I have to get to work,” I said pushing away.
“Right, work,” he smiled. “I love you Zoe. I’ll see you later.”
I rushed inside and avoided the main room hurrying down to the painting area.
I dropped my bags in the corner and set up my supplies to begin work.
Giovanni joined me shortly after. “What? You forgot how to speak?”
“I’m sorry. I’m incredibly late I know and I just wanted to get in here and get started.”
“You ok? You seem to have quite a bit of things going on right now.”
I ignored him and continued setting up. “Zoe?”
He walked over and grabbed my arms, “Zoe? Stop. Relax. I’m not going to fire you. You’re fine.”
I looked up at him for the first time. His hazel eyes bore into my soul and his smile was just as warm and welcoming as it always is. “Do you need to take some time? Get yourself sorted out?”
“No. I don’t want to do that. I’d rather work. I have to keep busy or I’ll really go crazy.”
“Well just take a breather and relax first.” He let me slip from his arms and I slumped into a chair at a nearby table and he joined me.
I looked over at him, “Good morning, Giovanni.”
“Whoa! You DO remember by name!”
“And there’s that beautiful smile. Feeling better?”
“A little, thank you.”
“Would you have lunch with me later?”
I nodded. “Yes. But it may be really late; I was hoping to finish another of the pieces today.”
“Well just say when you get hungry. Until then, I’ll try and outlast your appetite,” he smiled as he exited the room.
Drake entered into Karver’s brothel. He was surrounded by naked and half naked concubines fanning him and performing various sex acts.
There was a couple in the hot tub, two on a nearby swing and more on the bed obeying other instructions Karver fed them.
“Drake! You have what I’m after?”
“No, I need to know something about these powers you gave me.”
Karver widened his gaze and waited for Drake to continue as one of his whores took a seat in his lap, stroking his hair and pecking his cheek.
“The fire consumes me at times and causes me to attack Zoe, why? I thought I had the ability to control that energy at all times.”
“That has nothing to do with what I gave you. Your inability to maintain the balance in your own body is because you’re not focused or just don’t have what it takes to control them. Maybe I was wrong giving you that kind of power.”
“So you have no idea why I randomly go after her? This isn’t some secret plan of yours that you can trigger when you want?”
Karver smirked. “Perhaps you have some underlying hatred for your wife that only manifests when you use the fire. What’s the report on Evelyn? Have you managed to figure out what she’s up to?”
“I’m working on it, Karver. And I don’t hate my wife!”
“If the promise of sex isn’t working for her, take her to the chamber. I don’t mind hearing her yell in pain!”
“Evelyn’s smarter than that. She gets off on torture, so I have to be one step ahead of her to learn what’s happening there. And I’m NOT sleeping with her.”
“I’ve mentioned that I’m not a very patient man, right, Drake?” he looked up at the girl in his lap.
“You wouldn’t want something to happen to your loving wife if I were to become bored, would you?” he asked snapping the neck of the woman sitting on him and tossing her dead body at Drake’s feet.
He approached him. “She’s running out of time, Drake,” he grinned
Drake grunted as he exited the room and Karver smirked at his reaction.
I called Vincent as Giovanni and I left the restaurant letting him know I’d get CJ. Gio drove me to pick up Chris before taking me home.
There was a glass vase on the stoop with a bouquet of roses and a bear holding a few balloons. I smiled as I read the tag: “With all my love, Drake.”
I caught Gio’s curious glance.
“They’re from my husband.”
He nodded and politely smiled.
“Did you want to come inside?”
“Sure, I can for a little while.”
“Make yourself at home.” I led him to the living room before taking Chris to his bedroom.
“Mommy’s going to make you something to eat, play quietly for me baby,” I left the door open as I headed for the kitchen.
“Are you thirsty, Gio?” I called for him.
“No I’m fine,” he answered, joining me in the dining room. “So how are things between you and your husband?”
“Less strained. We’re slowly repairing our relationship.”
“So you’ll be moving back in together soon?”
“I don’t know how soon ‘soon’ is. He still has to prove that our son will be safe around him. I can’t risk his well being because I miss having him in my bed…” I stopped myself realizing what I was saying. “I’m sorry, Gio.”
“It’s fine Zoe, I understand urges.”
I let a nervous laugh settle between us as I continued preparing Chris’s dinner. I turned my back as I poured the blood from the pack into a bottle for him and taking a small sip before placing it in the microwave.
“Is he the reason you were late this morning?”
I nodded. “He stopped me as I was leaving Chris’ school so we could chat about everything. I don’t mean for what’s happening with us to affect my work life, Giovanni. I’m just having a bit of trouble trying to adjust to being a single Mom.”
“Well from an outsiders’ opinion,” he said stepping closer. “I think you’re doing a great job. Chris is a very lucky little boy to have a Mom like you.” He brushed a stray lock of hair behind my ear and smiled.
Drake stepped into the room from the tree outside. “Daddy!” Chris yelled running up to him.
“Shh,” he said pressing his finger to his lip. “Where’s Mommy?”
“With the man.”
“The man?” Drake felt a twinge of anger mixed with jealousy before returning a smile at his son.
“How’s my little man doing? Are you taking care of Mommy?”
“Ah course! I’m the man of the house!”
“You are? Then what does that make me?”
Chris laughed and took Drake over to his activities table. “Look Daddy!” he said showing him a picture he’d drawn for him.
“Is this for me?”
CJ nodded. “Thank you. I’ll treasure it always.”
“Then I’ll really keep it close to my heart.”
Drake heard my footsteps in the hall, “Don’t tell Mommy I’m here,” he said as he dashed for a dark spot in the closet.
I opened the door and found Chris coloring at his table.
“Hey baby,” I said leaning in for a kiss before handing him a bottle.
“What have you for me today?” I sat on the floor and looked through the papers he’d colored on. “Ooh these are beautiful, Chris. I think you have my talent for art!”
He laughed. “I paint at cool!
“You do? Do you want Mommy to buy you some painting supplies for here? We can do it together! It’ll be fun.”
“I paint lots ah pitchers!”
I stepped towards the open window and looked outside before closing it.
“Mommy? When’s Daddy coming home?”
His words pulled at my heart but I gave him my strongest smile as I turned to answer. “Mommy and Daddy just need a little vacation from each other right now.”
“Was Daddy bad with magic?”
“Just a little, sweetheart. Mommy wanted to make sure that you wouldn’t get hurt.”
“Am I going on bacation for using magic?” he asked with a pout.
“No, Chris, never. Mommy would never send you on vacation! But I do want you to stop using it at school. Bad things could happen if people learned our secret! Do you think you and I can keep our magic a secret from others?”
“Our seekwet,” he giggled.
“Our secret,” I smiled tickling him more. “Finish up your bottle; we have to get you to bed.”
“Zoe?” I heard Giovanni yell from downstairs.
“Mommy will be right back to check on you.”
I exited the room and left the door cracked a little so I could listen out for him.
Drake stepped back into the room and played with Chris a little longer.
“What’s up, Gio?”
“I’m gonna get going. I’ll see you at work tomorrow? Bright and early?” he joked.
“I’ll be on time! I promise,” I smiled.
He bit his lip and kept his eyes on mine. I broke the stare down nervously glancing at my feet. “Good night, Zoe.”
“Good night, Giovanni.”
I picked up the card again from the bouquet and read as I went back to check on Chris.
I’ve roamed aimlessly for several hundred years unable to get close to anyone,
afraid of opening myself to loss.
I watched you grow; I watched you laugh and I fell in love with you.
I never intended for anything to start between us, but I feel truly lucky that it has.
When you look at me, your eyes say so much and I forget how to speak.
When you kiss my lips, I lose myself and I get weak.
I’m anxiously waiting the day that you return to me,
because without you, I don’t know who I am.
With all my love,
I smiled as I walked into CJ’s room and found him in his bed asleep. I sat on the edge of his bed and watched him as I caressed the card in my hand. “Daddy may be coming home sooner than I thought, baby.”
Drake stood in the closet smiling as he watched the scene unfold.
Giovanni was staring at a picture from a company picnic. He’d made it a point to hire a photographer to capture images from that day for a newsletter.
He’d also ensured he got a spot right next to Zoe during the group shot. He stood looking at her image. Her face, her bright hazel eyes always drew him in.
He rubbed his finger across the picture and smiled.
“You do know she is married right?” a man spoke behind him.
“What are you doing here?” he placed the picture back on the shelf. “How the fuck did you get in?”
“I have my ways friend.” The gray haired man stepped out of the shadows with a smile. “What are you doing here Giovanni? Is this really how you want to spend your retirement? Chasing a married woman…excuse me, Vampire, around town?”
“Don’t look at me like that and don’t presume you know anything about me or Zoe.”
“I know that black eye you’re sporting from her husband had to be rough. I also know she’s the exact thing you hunt.”
“Hunted. I’m retired, remember?”
“Right. We’ve all heard that before. Why are you even concerned about her?”
“She’s different. She’s not like others of her kind. Her husband on the other hand, he’s one to watch out for.”
“Well I hope you’re not expecting her to leave him for you. Those creatures create lifetime bonds. They have to since they are around forever; like cockroaches.”
Giovanni approached him with anger in his eyes, “What the fuck did you want?”
“I came to invite you back into the fold. We’ve been slowly regaining resources to get our operation back up and running. The mission never changed. Those monsters all need to die and you were our best.”
“Well you’ve wasted a trip, I’m not interested, GET OUT!”
The man turned to leave. “You know Gio, you’re playing with fire. If you’re not careful you WILL get burned,” he tossed over his shoulder. “Tell your little friend to watch her back.”