CJ and I were practicing magics. I decided to take the day off and really make sure he understood the value of keeping our secret and the dangers involved with using it out in the open.
The doorbell rang and I sat CJ down on the floor before rushing to answer. “Giovanni?”
I smiled. “What are you doing here?”
“A better question is what are you doing here? You don’t look sick. The house doesn’t seem to have been set on fire. Why are you not at work?”
“I…would you like to come in?” I said stepping back from the door. “Can I get you anything?”
“Uh yeah, ice water and the reason for your absence.”
I laughed. “Gio come on. I just needed to take a day, my son needed me.” I walked into the kitchen and poured him a drink.
“After what happened with his school I wanted to show him his responsibilities and make sure his disruptive attitude stopped before it got worse.” He took a sip of water and smiled at me.
“You know you don’t have to explain that to me. I really was just concerned about you. I got the message you left Linda in the front office. Why didn’t you just call me directly?”
“I guess I was kind of…”
“Avoiding me?” he smirked. “Did you think I’d say no? I’m not a slave driver, Zoe. I’d have given you the day off, paid.”
He laughed. “You know your son seems well mannered. He’s probably just acting out because he misses his dad.” He walked over and picked him up. “He just needs a strong male role model in his life.”
“And he already has that!” Drake said walking over and grabbing his son from Giovanni.
“What exactly did you misread from my fist in your face from the other night? Stay the hell away from my wife!”
Gio sighed and glanced at me. “Your wife and I are co-workers; more than that we’re friends. I was concerned when she didn’t show up to work and came to check on her. Now if you’re looking to fight me because of that, go ahead. But it won’t change anything.”
Drake inched closer prepared to rest CJ on the ground and pummel him. His hand clenched into a tight fist and I saw a small spark from his thumb.
“Drake, that’s enough! What are you doing here? You can’t keep breaking in whenever you want!”
He turned and glared at me. His eyes flashed red and he shook it off.
“I think you should leave now.”
“Get out, Drake.”
He walked over and handed me CJ before exiting out the backdoor.
I glanced over at Gio. “I’m sorry about that.”
“No worries, Zoe. He’s just overly macho.” He smiled and walked closer. “Have you had lunch?”
“No, not yet.”
“I don’t suppose you’d like to share a meal with me?”
“Only if you allow me to cook it.”
“Now how can I say no to that?” his eyes smiled at me and he walked with me to the kitchen as I scrounged around for something to feed him.
“Now it’s not going to be anything fancy. I have no white sauce here. But I don’t think anything I make would kill you.”
I shut the fridge and found Giovanni right behind me.
He pressed me up against the door and smiled. “I don’t really care what you cook, we can have jelly on toast if you’d like.”
“What are you doing?”
He smiled and his lips inched closer to mine and threatened to touch.
I pushed away and stood on the other side of the room. “Don’t please. I’m sorry if you got the wrong impression, Gio. I like you and all but not like that. I’m not interested in starting anything with you. I love my husband and I have every intention of being with him.”
“I’m sorry, Zoe. I misunderstood.” He looked down at his hands. “I think I should probably get out of here.”
I nodded and waited to hear the door close before rejoining Chris in the living room.
Drake bolted into Karver’s room disgusted. “What is going on with this fire thing?”
Karver charged him, pinning him to the floor. “I don’t work for you Drake. You may want to keep that in mind the next time you come barging in here like that. I won’t hesitate to dispose of you!”
He backed off and let Drake stand.
“And about Evelyn?” he asked to Drake’s back.
“It involves Mordonna.”
“Mordonna? Are you sure?”
Drake nodded. “Whatever it is they are in it together.”
“Has she touched you?”
“How do I know?”
Karver smiled. “You don’t know if you’ve been touched by her or not?”
“Why does it matter?”
“Let me look into something, Drake. I’ll summon you when I want to see you again. Until then, stay the fuck out of here.”
He returned to the girl lying on the bed.
“Was that Giovanni leaving?” Vincent asked plopping down into the seat across from me.
“What did he want?”
“He came to see why I didn’t come in to work today but…”
“He tried something with you?” Vincent’s tone immediately took on an irritated tone.
“He kissed you?!” he exclaimed hopping up from his seat.
“No. I stopped him before he could. I told him I wasn’t interested in him. He got the picture and left.” I watched as Vincent paced, his hands steadily forming tighter fists.
“No, you’re not.” I said in response to his thoughts.
“Zo! This shit is going to stop or I’ll stop him!”
“I’ve taken care of it.”
“And you really think that’s going to work?”
“Vincent what are you here for? Why does everyone keep inviting themselves over?”
“I came to see how you were also. When you called me last night to say you weren’t going to work, I got a little worried.” He took a seat next to me.
“Oh I’m fine. Chris and I have been playing with magic. I told him he could use all the magic he wanted in the house but outside he had to keep our secret.”
“It’s seekwet, Mommy!” Chris corrected me as he played around with his toys.
“Yeah, that.” I laughed. “Where’s Ness? You took her to school alone?”
“No. Sarah has her. She and Brad took her to some theme park or something. I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? That doesn’t sound like you.”
He shrugged. “She’s Vanessa’s Mom. I trust she’ll keep her safe. Otherwise I’ll kill her,” he smiled.
There was a knock on the front door and I hopped up from the couch to answer.
“Drake?” I looked around outside behind him. “You knock now?”
“You made it clear that you didn’t like when I came in unannounced so…can I come in?”
I led him to the living room and dove back onto the couch. “You get the fire thing under control? You were going to really hurt him today, Drake.”
“Yeah. Everything is fine, no worries. There is just one thing I need though.”
I smiled and waited for his request.
“You and Chris,” he sighed. “In order to make sure the thing with the fire doesn’t harm either of you again I need you to come with me to the Pit.”
“No, Drake. That’s out of the question.”
“It’s nothing big. It’s just a small spell that has to be cast over the swamp there in order for it to take effect. Five minutes and we’re done and you’re safe, I promise.”
I looked over at Vincent and he shrugged. “I could tag along if you’d like. I’ve been interested in seeing this place anyway.”
“I don’t like the idea of going there with him again, Drake. You know how uncomfortable that makes me.”
“It’s important for us to move on, Zoe. Please?”
Chris looked up at me and I thought about his question regarding Daddy returning home with us. I didn’t want him to miss out on anything with Chris but I had to continue to make sure his safety came first. I nodded at Drake. “Let’s go.”
“Bring your grimoire also.”
“The grimoire? Why? I haven’t needed that in so long, Drake. You know that.”
I walked into my bedroom with Chris and picked up the book before Vincent and I went with Drake to the location he instructed.
We got to the sulfur laden swamp and he led us down into a room hidden by tree. “Wait here, I’ll get the others,” he smiled before exiting the door.
“Why did I want to come again?”
“Because you’re crazy. No one wants to be here, Vincent.”
We waited around for about thirty minutes before Chris began to get agitated.
“I need to feed him. Where did Drake go!?”
“I don’t know. I saw a small cantina up by that swamp though, want to head up and get him something?”
I nodded and we left the room and went up to the bar.
Vincent ordered for Chris and me and we found a table in the back. Chris sat happily munching on cookies as I was preparing a small bottle for a real meal.
“So this is the pit,” Vincent said looking around at the inhabitants going about their daily routine.
“Scary isn’t it? They are all unique and have crazy powers. It’s why I don’t want Chris here.”
I handed him the bottle and saw Drake enter with the demon he called Bob, the baby eater.
“Drake!” I yelled motioning him over.
“Zoe?” he looked at me and then at Chris; a curious and shocked expression on his face. “What are you doing here?” he took a seat with us.
“Well Chris was getting hungry so I brought him up for a bite. You were taking too long.”
“What? Why would you bring him here to eat? Did something happen at the house?”
“At the house? Drake what are you talking about? You came to the house and asked me to bring Chris here to do something you needed with a spell.”
“Zoe I haven’t seen you since you kicked me out this morning. I never came for you!”
“Drake yes you did.” I looked at Vincent and he agreed. “You told me that you had a way to stop the fire from harming us and we could help with the spell. You had me bring my grimoire and when we got here you closed us in a room downstairs and said you had to get the others.”
“Baby, listen to me. That wasn’t me. I would not have brought you here after the issues it’s caused us. I don’t know who you spoke to or what they wanted but I am getting you out of here.”
He picked up Christopher and took my hand. He led Vincent and me through a long hall that would lead us back out of the Pit. “Get back home and lock the doors and stay away from everyone. I’m going to try and get to the bottom of this, ok?”
“I’ll stay with her Drake, don’t worry.”
“What room were you in?”
“It’s underneath a tree out by that marsh,” Vincent answered as he pushed at the exit. The moment he touched the door he was thrown back, knocking his head against the wall.
I moved over to check on him. “Are you ok?”
“What was that?”
“That was the door sealing your escape,” Drake answered watching as the door disappeared. “Come on I have to get you some place safe.”
We headed for Karver’s throne room. “Wait here,” Drake said before exiting.
I held Chris close to my chest and walked over to the wall closest to his chair.
“That’s where he sits?” Vincent looked at me. “You look tired Zo, why don’t you let me take Chris and you get a little rest?”
“Rest? You actually expect that I’d close my eyes in this place?”
Chris bounced in my lap and watched Phenrir lick himself.
“Hand him here!” Vincent growled snatching Chris from my arms.
“What the hell has gotten into you, Vincent?” I jumped up to get him back.
He threw me across the room. I landed hard on my leg and felt the bone snap under my weight as I fell.
I screamed in pain and it caused CJ to react. He slipped from Vincent’s arms and tossed him across to the other side of the room before rushing over to me.
I reached for his hand just as Vincent made it back to us. He grabbed CJ once more and tried to exit the room. I had no clear shot without harming my son. Panic set in as I remembered the way he stopped Malachai, “Chris! Freeze him!”
I yelled as I tried to stand. The pain was still present and the bone hadn’t healed as it should have. I winced as I tried to put weight on it.
Chris did as I instructed and froze him in place. Drake came back into the room just as Chris had made it back to my arms.
“Vincent attacked us. My leg, Drake, it’s broken.” He rushed over to balance me in his arms.
“Zoe, that’s not Vincent.” He said as Vincent appeared behind him from the hall. “He couldn’t enter into this room so I asked him to stay outside and keep an eye on the door.”
“Zo, are you alright?” he asked staring at the block of ice in awe.
“No! Drake what is going on?”
“Doppelgangers; there were reports about them working with or for Zavier some time ago when I first got here. There is a small clan that can change their appearance at will to match that of anyone they meet. They have to come into contact with that person first, have some sort of personal item or physical piece like hair or nails in order to transform.”
“How do we get out of here?”
“I’m working on it baby, trust me.” He shifted me completely in his arms as I held Chris.
“Why isn’t she healing?”
“Karver. He did something to the people here so whatever happens has to be healed by his blood. He calls it hellfire. It’s how he healed me from my fight with Evelyn.”
“Where is this All-Powerful King anyway?” Vincent asked looking down the next hall before Drake carried me up the stairs.
“I don’t know, probably in his brothel. It’s where he spends most of his time lately.”
“Sounds like my kind of guy,” Vincent smirked opening the door.
“Where are you taking us, Drake?”
“The Torture room; it’s the only place I know you’ll be safe; no one here is dumb enough to fuck with me or anything in there.”
He laid me on a small cot covered in dirty newspapers near the back of the room and I rested Chris at my side. “We have to get out of here.”
“I know. I just have to figure out how to get the exits back.”
He ran over to a table and grabbed an ice pack. He placed it on my leg and adjusted an old blanket behind me and propped me up. “I’m sorry, Baby, I know that hurts. I’ll find Karver to come and heal you.”
“No. That means I’d have to drink more of his blood. I’ll heal, Drake, it’ll just be slow, I think.”
“And if it doesn’t heal at all? You want to live eternity with a broken leg?”
“I don’t want you to leave me again.”
“I’ll go,” Vincent said. “Just tell me where he is.”
“That might not be a good idea. He hates being interrupted in that room.”
“So I’ll get some poor sap to knock on the door for me. Where is he, Drake? Zo needs this!”
“The brothel is under his throne room. There is an entrance on the other side of the bookcase you’ll find in the hall outside of there. ‘Karma Sutra’ is the code.”
“Kinky. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Vincent exited the room and Drake turned his attention back to me.
“What did ‘I’ say to you exactly at the house?” he asked taking a seat on the end of the bed.
“Only that you knew a way to stop the fire from hurting us again,” I winced as I tried to adjust my leg.
“Stop moving Baby, you’ll only hurt yourself more.”
“Daddy, Banessa’s Daddy hurt Mommy,” Chris said. “He’s a bad man!”
“That was make believe Baby, Vincent didn’t hurt Mommy.”
“Uh huh! I saw it!” he said shaking his head furiously disagreeing with me. I couldn’t help but laugh.
I returned my attention back to the grimoire to read more about the Doppelgangers.
Drake smiled at him and gently stroked my leg. “We’ll get you healed up,” he sighed.
“No, don’t do that. I don’t blame you for this. It was inevitable, things have been after me since I learned who I was, and I knew the same would happen to Chris as well. I just didn’t want to keep getting left in the dark about the things concerning our family.”
“I know. I’m sorry Baby, I…”
The door started creaking open and Drake jumped to his feet, a ball of fire rotated around his hand and I watched as he waited to toss it at the first sign of trouble.
“Whoa, Drake wait, it’s me, Vincent!” he said placing his hands in front of him
“I fucked your wife!” he said smirking at me.
Drake pulled back the flames and Vincent approached. He let his fist rip into Vincent’s jaw and watched him stumble back. He held his face. “It’s really me!” he reaffirmed.
“I know,” Drake said moving over towards me and CJ. “We have to get out of here, there’s no telling who it will be next or even how many there are. Where’s Karver?”
“He wasn’t there.”
Drake sighed. “Can you stand?”
I nodded and got to my feet. My leg again folded under me. “Nope. You can’t walk, Zoe!” Drake said lifting me into his arms.
He tried to grab CJ to carry him as well but couldn’t balance us both.
“I can take CJ,” Vincent suggested.
“No. I don’t think so,” Drake moved in front of him.
“What? You still don’t believe it’s the real me? Come on Drake we’ve known each other for too long for you not to know better!”
“And exactly how long was that?”
Vincent scoffed. “I don’t have to answer that! I’ve already proven my identity.”
“Except you offered to take CJ and not Zoe.”
“And the mark on your chin from where Drake hit you still hasn’t healed,” I noticed watching him defend himself.
He rubbed his jaw. “Oh yeah, vampires,” he flashed a wicked smile and charged towards CJ.
He quickly tossed me to the ground and snatched CJ into his arms.
“We’ll be back!” Vincent hissed in a raspy and echoed voice before disappearing in a burst of black dots.
“Zoe,” he said kneeling next to me. “I’m sorry about that.”
“It’s ok, Drake. You made the right decision.”
“We have to get out of here! That thing is getting better at imitating us!”
“The longer it impersonates one of us, the more details it can gather from memories and thoughts we’ve had,” I explained.
“And we still don’t know how to defeat it?” he lift me up and held me close.
I shook my head and rested against him. “That’s what I’m working on.”
“Well they are obviously after CJ. We need to get him some place safe.” Drake crept to the door and took a look around.
I gripped Chris tight in my arms and Drake once again picked me up and raced us to the other end of the hall.
“You’re not leaving with him!” Drake said behind us.
“You must be the handsome devil that tricked my wife down here!” he looked at me and smiled. “Sorry, but he is.”
I laughed and he placed me on the ground near his leg.
I pulled Chris deeper into my arms as Drake approached himself, his hands presenting balls of flame as he prepared for battle.
“You’ve fucked with the wrong family!” he tossed large fiery missiles at his target, connecting with two before he shrieked in pain and tried to put himself out.
Drake charged him, knocking him to the ground and rounding off with large fists to his face and upper body. He kicked him off and they went back at one another with kicks and punches.
One of them was grabbed in a choke hold and was being tossed around the room with an incredible force that he couldn’t keep his balance for very long before he was being pummeled again.
“Drake watch out!” I yelled watching the wild kicks and punches fly through the air. Then it dawned on me, who was I rooting for? I couldn’t determine which was which. I tried to stand up and felt the pain in my leg just as it was breaking all over again. I screamed and fell back to the floor.
Another series of high kicks went soaring through the air and both Drakes had a ferocious glare on their faces. Chris called out for him and they instantly responded.
The two stopped fighting and stood side by side confusing me even more.
“Drake?” I picked up Chris and leaned my weight against the wall.
“Zoe, stay there. It’s for your own good,” Drake said.
“Don’t listen to him, Zoe, get Chris and get out of here!”
Listen to me baby; we learned from Vincent he’s not a vampire. I need you to try and walk. Get Chris and get out of here.
Zoe, he’s going to try and trick you, stay where you are. Wait for Vincent to come back with Karver so we can get you healed up and get out of here.
“Stop it!” I yelled. “Both of you get out of my head!”
They looked at each other and frowned.
“Ok, I know one of you isn’t a vampire. You can’t mimic traits. So one of you is talking to me, letting me hear your thoughts, but you won’t be able to hear mine.”
Drake if you can hear me, tell Chris to freeze the other you.
One of the Drake’s rushed from the end of the hall and yelled “CJ, freeze him!”
Without hesitation, Chris froze the Drake standing beside the exit.
“Good job!” Drake said walking over to him.
I grabbed him tighter.
“Baby, it’s me. Think something to me.”
Show me your eye change. That’s something else the mimic wouldn’t be able to do.
Drake flashed his crimson irises at me and smiled.
I draped my arms around his neck and pulled him into a kiss.
“I never thought I’d be happy to see that!”
“We want the boy and you’ll give him to us or we’ll rip a fine trail down the center of your precious clan! You left them weak! It’ll be fun watching you die!” the frozen Drake said looking at us.
“You can’t have my Son, and if you come near us I’ll watch as you boil from the inside out!” I yelled back taking him in my arms again and propping against the wall.
Drake tossed a fireball at him and watched as the vapors dispersed and the images disappeared.
“Is he gone?”
Drake looked down the hall and noticed the exits were back in place. “At least for now.”
“Right behind you beautiful,” he mused.
Drake was immediately on guard.
“It’s really me this time, Drake.”
Drake’s eyes narrowed at him and Vincent scooped me up in his arms and kissed me. His tongue quickly flicked across mine as his hands worked across the small of my back.
He pulled away and winked at me.
“Zo?” Vincent smiled.
“It’s him, Drake.”
He slowly placed me back on the floor and Drake wound up on him, sending his fist to his jaw…again.
“What the hell was that for?”
“Keep your hands off my wife.”
Vincent smirked and rubbed his chin.
“Did you find Karver?”
“Indeed he did.” Karver said approaching me. “Hello Zoe. I see you had a run in with a few Malachites. I’d warned you it wasn’t done.”
He offered me his wrist and I reluctantly fed from him again. His face curled into an evil smirk.
“Can you stand?” Drake asked lifting me.
I placed my weight on my leg and felt much better.
“Let me get you home.”
We exited the Pit and Vincent hurried to his home.
“So I’m curious, Baby,” I said as Drake walked me to the door.
“Who was winning that fight between you and…you? And answer me honestly. Were you getting your ass kicked?”
He laughed and answered with a peck on my cheek. “I love you, Zoe.”
“He was right you know. I’ve left all of those witches on their own, the ones Mom tried to unite and help. I need to get back into the tradition she started and prepare a Witches’ Eve. She’d want me to!”
“You’re right,” he smiled back at me. “And she’s always watching you.”
Karver entered the Chamber again. For months after Zavier’s death he had been dealing with cleanup. He hated the man for the way he fled but he had to admit, Zavier knew his evil.
Hundreds of witches captured and even more drained of their magics. Their powers now coursed through his veins thanks to Christopher’s balance of the source; the bloodletting gave him what he needed and then some. He let them think he was returning the powers where they belonged. But the moment they touched Christopher, they were his.
There she was again; sitting on the small day bed in the corner. He’d tried to make her as comfortable as he could since discovering her, but there was no comfort here. Here she was locked away for years and forced into unspeakable acts of terror. He was intrigued the first time he stumbled upon her; she not only possessed the ability of foresight, but she owned magics he’d enjoy draining from her little by little.
She wasn’t timid; in fact it was quite the opposite, she was forceful, demanding. She took what she wanted of him only to be slapped down by her defiance each time. But he loved their game. Something Zavier taught her in the time he kept her prisoner. It was because of this he’d never let her see his face, not his true form; not yet. He quietly slipped into his Zavier mask before approaching her.