The next hours we all spent sitting or standing around nervously, Caleb looked heartbroken but calm, Silas’ face was motionless as a mask, Ezio looked worried and angry at the same time. Blaine was holding me tightly against his chest, so I could not see his face, but he seemed tense, like me. What I was looking at were the chains still dangling from the walls.
I was not a person to sit and wait problems out. In fact, sitting and waiting was one of my biggest weaknesses. I was a fixer, always had been. So I was looking around and had an idea. Blaine reluctantly let me out of his embrace, then watched me pick up Autumn’s sweater. I was off doing my thing while he stood and got involved in a conversation with the other guys, none of them minding me. After a while I noticed movement from the entrance and two mortals, very obviously under outside control as their eyes were rolled back in their heads and their movements mechanical, put up pieces of furniture, then an unconscious Lucien was dragged in, his hands tied on his back, he was placed on the chair. The men stood by, way in the background, reminding me off our robot vacuum at home, returning to its base when done.
Lilith entered, so very pregnant, waddling slightly. She ignored us but as she approached we all noticed the light humming sound and the glaring in the air in between her and us. Dang it, she put up some invisible, impenetrable barrier again. I attempted to teleport and my powers were still not there. Argh. That negated one idea. But I already had another.
She never addressed us but some ceremony was performed, candles were lit, incense burned, some chants in a language I did not understand were spoken, before she dropped every thread of clothing she had been wearing, then laid atop that table facing up next to Lucien, who was now barely conscious, looking confused and scared. While I was busy with my own little project, I had overheard Silas tell the others that the host body never survived such a ceremony, as a sacrifice needed to be made for it to finalize or something. Now, I always thought that as a vampire you would be exempt from being a sacrifice, obviously not.
We all gathered, as close as we all could stand to be next to one another, looking on as Lilith, still chanting was going into labor, never interrupting her flood of words when some creepy light-show started. Preternatural glimmering, bright lights, suddenly Lucien stiffened his back, throwing his head backwards as if in great pain, screaming to confirm my guess, while I started seeing the very top of a head from my pole position straight at her giving birth. Hmph.
I turned around away from it, started carefully pulling apart my little sweater contraption when I noticed Caleb watching me, looking at the item in my hand, our eyes met, he shook his head came to me, took the sweater from me, nudged me aside so hard that I fell to the floor while he stood for a minute, watching the scene tensely, then suddenly lunged forward.
I heard one of the guys scream, realized as Caleb threw himself atop his sister during all this, in between them my sweater project when I also computed that the glimmering and humming of the air had stopped, obviously Lilith had diverted her attention and energy to the reincarnation assuming we would be too stunned to notice.
What happened next is more guessing on my part as all anyone could see was a gigantic flash of bright light, the most deafening out-of-this-world sound, before we all were hit by something like a supersonic blast and thrown aside, I landed against the wall, then tumbled to the floor.
Then it got dark. All dark. Black. Even the torches were out now. I saw nothing, heard nothing as my ears were ringing but no other sounds. I fondled for my phone, turned on the flashlight function on it and searched for Blaine, found him, knocked out. As I was patting his cheeks trying to wake him and he began to stir and moan I shone the light around me, saw Ezio a few feet away, holding his head, likewise Silas. I saw Lucien shaking his head in a kneeling position in front of the chair. I did not see Lilith, Caleb or a baby, but heard confused moaning in the way back, the two mortals were probably coming to, wondering where the hell they were and how they got here.
I stood up and went to the table, then found Caleb behind it, completely motionless. Still no Lilith.
Bending down trying to wake him as I had Blaine I cursed the fact that vampires had no pulse. Would be handy right about now. I spoke softly to him, while so worried inside. I really liked Caleb, had known him a long time and found him not only a very nice man and good friend, he was also Blaine’s very good friend. He had helped us out of a pickle more than once and he had just lost his son, I would not want to have to tell his wife Grace she also lost a husband. A quiet moan now, and his eyes fluttered open, but closed again. I knelt and put my face close to his, whispering
“Caleb, are you all right? Anything I can do?”
“No … need rest … drained. Is … she …”
“She is gone. Disappeared. I don’t know where to.”
“Good. Means dead. Both of them. Lucien?” he stammered.
“He’s ok. I think, at least he is upright.”
“Great. Untie him. Oh – and Vik …?”
“The idea was brilliant. It worked.”
“You owe me a drink, and I count on you to make that happen.” I said mostly to encourage his recovery and to play down my worry.
He smiled in response, eyes still shut.
I went to Lucien, helped him back on the chair after undoing the ropes around his hands.
So what I had been working on, my little project, aside from destroying my granddaughter’s sweater – sorry kiddo – had been me collecting all the poisoned locks from all the chains, so 16 in total. Then I had carefully taken off the sleeves of the sweater, opened the side seams till I had one larger blanket-style piece and then affixed all the locks firmly to it, toxic side facing out. My plan was to jump Lilith’s crazy butt, drape this over her and ruin her day, if this was not enough to kill her, maybe at least it would have somehow distracted her from the transfer. Caleb had taken over I assume when the barrier faded, our powers were back and he used his, plus my project to send her and the Count’s spirit to hell. Or wherever. Hopefully for good this time.
Later, after he had recovered, he told me that once he realized what I was about to do, he knew I was going to do it too early, which would maybe have only stopped it, leaving the Count’s spirit in Lucien, with no way to get it out. Since Caleb knows everything, as far as I could tell, he took it from me and applied it all at the right time, he knew it would eliminate his sister and the spirit at the same time, liberating not only us, but Lucien and the two mortals who had regretfully been sucked into this as Lilith’s henchmen. Caleb wiped their memories and had us drop them near a hospital. We heard in the news later that they had gone missing during a morning jog and were presumed to have suffered an accident, retaining light concussions and probably temporary amnesia but were expected to make a full recovery. Caleb mourned his son, but was unfazed about Lilith.
The rest of us recovered at our respective homes, where we were received by grateful arms. Caleb’s son really did vanish, presumed dead. The son had a family, he had not come home, nobody knew anything, but without even knowing where to look for him, as I knew he could not be at the castle, we had to assume the worst. At first. Evidently, after weeks of heartbreak, Caleb was contacted by a foreign chapter of the vampire society, they had found a confused young male vampire and finally heard about his son. Long story short, it was him. Soon all were reunited, a happy ending here. Luckily.
Vivian would not let Silas out of her sight anymore. Likewise with Melissa and Ezio. I am expecting another baby soon. From either or both of those households. Just a feeling, but mark my words.
Blaine and I were pretty dinged up, so oddly enough, we were happy to just hunker down on the couch together, at times with Liam and the pups, who were all fine, by the way.
Within days, life as usual resumed. Work, PTA meetings, party invitations, phone calls by friends, daily routines.
But all that left me thinking. This was not the life I wanted. Being friends with the leader, the Elder, proved to be dangerous again and again. I adored Caleb, and in a way, he was Blaine’s first ever real friend, aside from me. But for the past few years, every time I had seen Caleb I cringed, expecting bad news and was usually right. So much had happened over the past years too. The trouble with Vivian, then Liam, then Melissa was taken … recently Autumn. I was in some sort of crisis and was actually looking around potential new places to move to. Had you asked me a year ago I would have never considered EVER leaving this little house by the beach. Blaine and I had put so much of us into it. We went from living here barely able to pay bills to now having a sizable sum in the account. Blaine’s music really paid well and pay for my job wasn’t too shabby either. My job was a lot of work and long hours at times and the recurring rumors about Ezio and me, which only really seemed to bother me, gave me another damper. Melissa knew about it, as did Ezio and neither seemed to care. I did. Not only did I not believe in going back for seconds with the ex, although in a way I had done that once before, but he was a very good friend now and moreover the husband of my bestie.
So I took my compiled thoughts to my other bestie, Blaine, who shut me down gently, by telling me that it’s probably just the stress talking, that I needed to relax and unwind, maybe should take a few days off and just chill. So I did. Ezio was not loving that idea, but agreed anyway.
On day two I was sitting in our home office, when Blaine strolled in.
“Whatcha looking at, babygirl?” Blaine asked while looking over my shoulder.
“Funny you should ask, I was going to show you anyway. I think you would really like this. A lot!”
“Naked pictures of you?”
“Hey, a man can dream.”
I scrolled around, pulled up one of the sites and made Blaine sit in my spot. He looked, clicked, then whistled through his teeth.
“Del Sol Valley, huh? So who do we know there?”
“Hopefully us … sooner rather than later.”
“Hmm, we better get busy winning that lottery then.”
“Blaine, you need to be open…”
“Babygirl, the only thing open about me right now is my mouth. We don’t have that kind of money.”
“We have enough. We could rent first, then buy. Or make it a weekend getaway and look at properties within our price range. You have been on me about a vacation anyway.”
“A vacation, laying around a beach or exploring, not uprooting our entire life!”
“Please just look at it.”
“I am looking. Why there though? At your ripe age you now want to be a famous movie star?”
“I am going to ignore that comment for your sake, and we already have a pretty successful artist in the family, and isn’t one of your agent’s headquarters there?”
“I am sure they would be thrilled to have us plus teen plus two large dogs sleeping on the studio floors.”
“Blaine, we CAN afford it. I am not suggesting we live in the biggest villa in the hills!”
“Good, because that would definitely only be attainable if you hook up with the guy next door again. As long as you are with loser Blaine, we will never be rolling in the dough like the Mafioso. Aside from that, baby, I think for anything decent in that town, we both need to pimp ourselves out at the street-corners daily, just to make the rent. I think even Liam and the dogs would need to take up poll dancing!”
“Oh come on!”
“Why do you suddenly want to move so very far away? We know nobody there.”
“One of the biggest selling points. I can find work anywhere, you can work from anywhere and as a musician of your caliber, that place may be THE place.”
“And Liam? Are we putting him up for adoption? What about Viv and the grandkids? And what about Lissa and the Mafioso? What about all of our friends here? Are we taking them all with? Or just ditching them to find fortune and fame?”
“Blaine, I am not talking about you getting famous, although, I could see it. I am talking about change of scenery. Needed change of scenery. A new beginning, starting over.”
“I thought we already did that once before and found it incredibly hard then. Why do it again?”
“Can you please look at the bookmarks?”
He shook his head, but did. Wordlessly. Then closed them all with one click of a button.
“What did you think?”
“Some looked like whoever owns it now has too much money and wants to show the world, the others look like they are owned by people who want to be that other person who has too much money, but aren’t, so they fake it.”
“That’s just tasteless decor, we would do our own.”
“Birds looking at fish again?”
“Oh my gawd, I am going to toss that damn bird!”
“No. I am used to it now. Too late.”
With that comment I had lost his attention span and he was done with this conversation, instead began to pursue other interests with me. I could tell when he turned to me with that special grin and reached for me that the next few hours would be R&R and not productive.
Hi kissed me, then continued.
“So, where is Bob?”
“Who the hell is Bob?” I did not know one single Bob. Or so I thought.
“My fish loving bird buddy. When I just got dressed this morning, he was missing. There is some weird pot in his spot now.”
Liam almost spit out his coffee, laughing.
“You named a figurine? And that is not a weird pot, it’s a scented candle. So what names do the fish have.” Yes, I went there.
“I only name fish watching birds. So where is Bob?”
“Of course you do. Where do you think?”
Blaine went straight for the trashcan, fished out the item, gave him a full foamy soap bath in the kitchen sink, all filmed by a laughing Liam on his cell phone, plus a bonus Selfie of my man-child husband and my son posing with the freshly laundered treasure.
Soon ‘Bob’ was placed back in his old spot when Blaine came back to the kitchen, sat next to me.
“You want to hurt me, don’t you.” he grinned.
“Well, I tell you what. I’ll look at some houses in the ritzy town with you if you guarantee Bob, the dogs and Liam will move with. Now, you would have to run that by Liam, you know, because of Leonie. I am not touching that with a ten foot pole. If you get him to agree to it, I am willing to look and move. YOU are also the one to tell Viv, Lissa and the Mafioso!”
At least for now the dark chapter in our lives was done with for a long, long time.