Damien is one of those people whom you’d spend your entire life trying to understand, but when you think you’d finally figured out how he works, he goes ahead and does something that’s completely out of character and you get thrown off balance yet again. But what’s more confusing is, why do I spend so much time trying to figure him out in the first place? Why even bother with such an arrogant, self-absorbent bastard who thinks he can make everything right between us by sleeping with Vandal’s daughter!
Two centuries. We’ve been playing this cat and mouse game with each other since we first met almost two centuries ago. I know we can both feel this sexual tension between us, it’s a living, breathing entity. We’ve been attracted to each other since forever, I could see the hunger in his eyes, knew I felt the same in my bones. Over time, this attraction has only gotten stronger, denser; to the point where it is getting impossible to hold back. I know deep in my heart that it’s no longer just lust between us anymore. But nothing will ever be the same again if I sleep with him. He’ll try to own every part of my life and it’d be no better than living in a cage. With Damien, it was all or nothing.
I brought my car to a stop in front of my house, just south of Central Park, or whatever was left of it. Ever since our discovery, humans and supernatural beings had never seen eye to eye, each wanting to destroy the other to become the all powerful ruler of the world. That’s what had led to the war between the races, with the humans dropping several bombs across the world to wipe us out. In the end, since they didn’t know our exact location or just how many races were there, they had done more damage to their own race and the supernatural’s had taken advantage of the chaos to establish their rule. Although, it had been the carelessness on behalf of the werewolves that had actually set the humans into panic, their bombs had done severe damage.
Half the world’s population had been wiped out, hence the name, and the bombs had caused a lot of destruction to the property as well, which had turned into green patches after two centuries. Even the forest has expanded and now there is much more greenery than there had been in 2019. It seems the wolves had taken advantage of that fact and started to inhabit those lands without anyone knowing.
I’d stopped at a bakery on my way back from the Castle. Neema seems to have quite a sweet tooth and he loves having those tiny cupcake bites with strawberry frostings. I’d made sure to get a dozen of those, along with some other assortments which I’m hoping he’d like.
But the second I set foot outside my car, I knew something was seriously off. Keeping the doors to the car unlocked, I bounded up the stairs to my house and burst through the doors to find everything in shreds.
But as soon as I took another step inside, something lodged into my leg, piercing through muscles and bone, causing me to fall on the ground as a scream tore through my lips. I landed on my hands and knees and shards of glass pierced through my skin and temporarily blinded me from the sharp stab of pain. When I chanced a glance at my leg, I found a thin metal stake on my left leg that had gone straight through my leg and from the burn it was causing around the entry and exit points, I’d say the stake was laced with Holly and Buckthorn, two plants that can cause serious damage to a vampire, but also two key ingredients in a Daylight bracelet. If they are mixed with a black rose, it helps us walk in sunlight. This is why black roses are now only cultivated in laboratories, under strict supervision and the direct command of the King.
I rose up from the floor, keeping my weight on my right leg as I plucked out the glass shards. Then I wrenched the stake out of my leg and stood up on shaky legs, almost falling over as the pain made my vision blur. Walking was even more difficult since I now had a gaping hole in my leg and it won’t be healing for another day with the Holly and Buckthorn now in my bloodstream.
I looked around the doorway to find a thin metal wire that had been broken down the middle when I’d stepped on it. Whoever had set up such a childish trap had done so in a hurry and to harm me when they couldn’t find anything in the house. That was the only possible explanation. Because there was no way they could have found Neema.
I turned away from the door and went straight for the basement. As expected, everything here had been trashed as well. And if all this had happened only a few hours ago, then someone must be around still, keeping an eye on the house. I’ll handle that person later, but first, I need to know that Neema was safe.
I was in such a hurry to get to the basement that I almost missed the hand poking out from behind the couch…the splatter of blood on the wall. For a second I thought that they might have gotten to Neema, but then I realized that he was far too valuable to Vandal alive than dead. Then who…?
“Zoey!” I rushed towards the couch, falling over in the process as a sharp pain made me go blind. But when my vision cleared, I found the poor child behind the couch, her throat slit and her body drained of blood.
“Oh God, Zoey!” I whispered, tracing my fingers lightly on her cheek. “I’m so sorry.”
She had been my responsibility, and I hadn’t been able to protect her.
Getting up from the floor once again, I closed my eyes and said a prayer for a life lost too early, too unfairly. And then I made my way to the basement. Making a split second decision as I limped inside and shut the door behind me, I dug my phone out of my pocket as I made my way to the furthest corner of the basement and lifted up a trapdoor. Before I went in, I hit the call button.
One ring. Two-
“That was fast.”
“I need your help, now!” I spoke as I opened the manhole with bloodied fingers and jumped down to the sewers, my injured leg causing pain to shoot up my body as a scream was torn from my mouth.
“What happened? Trisha? Are you alright?” Lucas sounded awfully concerned for someone who was blackmailing me to get to Damien.
“My house has been compromised. I need to get the boy to safety before Vandal’s men come back for me.” I grit out through clenched teeth as I stood up shakily. “Tell me where I can hide him? Please!”
Right now, I didn’t mind begging for help to the enemy. I’d rather crawl and beg than lose another child.
“Come towards the woods near Upper West side. You should reach within fifteen minutes if you drive fast enough. And use the Patrol station 9 opening. They won’t ask for ID’s.” With that he hung up, making me realize just how deep rooted a connection he might have even with other vampires. But right now I needed his help and beggars weren’t choosers.
“Neema?” I called out, trying my best to walk as fast as I could. I wouldn’t be able to go back up the stairs, but there was another exit from these sewer systems just outside my house where I’d kept my car waiting.
“Trisha!” the little boy came running towards me from his hiding place in a corner. This is where he stayed during the times I was out of my house and since not many people knew about the sewer system that went under my house, it was the safest place to hide Neema, which had also saved his life today. “You’re hurt!”
He stopped just in front of me, a look of horror on his face as he took in my bleeding hands and legs, the trail of blood behind me. My blood might lead Vandal’s men to me, but I’d be long gone by then. “I’m alright Neema, but we have to go now. We’ll go through the emergency exit.” I told him, referring to the second sewer exit. Neema nodded and ran towards the door that led to the exit, jabbing his finger on the electronic monitor to open the door…just as my ears picked up the sound of footsteps coming down the basement stairs.
I ran after Neema. I’d shut the sewer door from inside when I’d climbed down, but I’d left the trap door wide open. It won’t take them long to get to us now.
I went through the electronic lock protected metal door and slammed it shut just as the sewer door was ripped open. The door locked after me with a beeping sound as Neema and I climbed up the ladder to the second manhole.
The car was right next to the manhole and I got into the driver’s seat as Neema slid in beside me, strapping on his seatbelts. I have to give the boy credit; his eyes were wide with fear, he was sweating profoundly and his body shook like a leaf, but he hadn’t let that fear slow him down.
“We’re going to be safe Neema, I promise you.” I said as I started the car and stepped on the accelerator.
At first I felt relieved to lose sight of my house in the review mirror, but then I saw a black Sedan start to follow us a minute later. Driving like a maniac, I broke a hundred traffic rules as I missed red lights and drove through one-way lanes to get to Upper West Side. It was a good thing that it was late afternoon and the sun was still up, the traffic minimal. But it won’t be long before the sun sets and more people are sent after me. At first there was one black Sedan on my tail…now there were three. They’d me followed throughout New York and were about to find out where I was headed if I didn’t do something about it soon enough. I couldn’t let them know! My hands stung from the pressure I was putting on them, but I didn’t stop to think about it. I couldn’t let them catch us!
I had no idea who had sent these goons after me, but Rudolf would be my first guess. I couldn’t rule out Damien just yet, but my gut instinct said that it wasn’t him. Damien was a lot of things but he wasn’t a back-stabber. He didn’t let others do his dirty work. He liked to stare his victims in the eyes as he ripped out their beating hearts from their chest; he enjoyed the fear he inflicted on others. This had Vandal written all over it.
I was about to cross another red light when I saw an eighteen wheeler approach from one end of the road. If I slowed down, the black cars would catch up to me, but if I didn’t slow, I was sure to collide with the truck. Making a split-second decision, I pushed down on the accelerator and drove by the truck barely avoiding a side collision. The car jolted as the truck bumped into the rear-end and the glasses cracked on impact, but it wasn’t anything major. But the best part was, the truck slowed down to a halt at the impact and blocked the road for the Sedan’s to follow.
Turning on a wrong lane that was a cross-roads leading to four different places, I decided to abandon the car and run the remainder of the way so as to buy more time. I was nearer to Upper West Side that I’d thought at first because Patrol Station 4 was visible from the car. I had to evade security and get to Patrol Station 9 before someone caught up to me.
I checked my pockets for my ID, wallet and cell-phone. Once I’d confirmed that they were all present, I pulled out a handkerchief from the glove case and tied it around my leg at an attempt to stop the bleeding. Surprisingly, it worked better that I’d expected, the blood flow having halted already. I got out of the car and Neema followed behind me, coming around to wrap his little arms around my waist with trembling hands. At first I thought he’d done it out of fear, but then I realized that the little boy was helping me walk and my heart filled with an emotion I had no name for.
“We’re almost there Neema. Just a little bit and we’ll be safe.” I said wrapping my arms around his trembling body. I felt him nod against my waist and then we started walking as fast as we could towards PS-9.
It wasn’t a long walk, but with me limping all the way and avoiding suspecting vampire guards, it took us ten minutes to reach the densest part of the woods where PS9 was located. There were hardly many buildings remaining in Upper West Side, or in the entire world for that matter. Nature had taken over and everything was covered in dense vegetation. But this part of the country was denser than I’d expected. We’d managed to evade detection by staying in the shadows, hiding behind forest giants or broken buildings, but now there was only an open grassland with nowhere to hide.
Taking a deep breath, I held on tight to Neema and limped forward into the open grassland that led to a dense forest ahead. I was nearly to the end of the forest when growls sounded from every direction and several people in all black attires surrounded us out of nowhere. I dropped to the ground with Neema clutching me for dear life. I wrapped my arms around him in a death grip and spoke in a clear voice, “My name is Trisha Redfern, Lucas is expecting me.”
The men stepped even closer until they were breathing down my neck. “We know.” Someone said from behind me…and then the world turned black.