Evey was walking home from dropping off a few clothes at the local dry cleaners in little historic downtown Brindleton Bay. It was quite a walk since her home was located on the edge of town.
The air was crisp and cool, a light breeze, but the walk was enjoyable. The blowing-cobwebs-from-the-brain kinda walk.
Brindleton Bay was considered a very safe town. Everybody knew everybody and looked out for each other.
Which is why the attack came completely unexpected for Everleigh. Suddenly she was grabbed from behind, a hand pressed on her mouth to prevent her from screaming and no matter how she struggled, she could not break free. Then it got dark and blurry, someone must have put something over her head.
Just as sudden she was released and could see, but did not recognize the surroundings in the dark right away. She twirled around, ready to fight, yell and scream but did none of it.
“HEATH!” she exclaimed.
“Sorry Little Leigh.” he smiled apologetic. Now it made sense. Nothing over her head, she had been teleported with, which made everything dark and blurry for a moment. In her surprise she had not even noticed the familiar humming sound that happened during teleportation.
She never responded, just launched herself into his arms, hugging him tightly.
When she let go, he smiled
“Does that mean you are not mad at me?” he said hopeful.
“Oh, I AM livid with you! How could you not come to me or send me a text or a frigging carrier pigeon – anything – to let me know you are okay?! I was worried sick about you! And why the hell are we here … in …. where are we?”
“In the only safe place left for vampires to go. The few that are left, that is. Forgotten Hollow. Welcome to my new home.”
“You sold the home KC and I remodeled with you?! Why is everybody hating on my houses?!”
“I did not sell it, it was taken from me. Vampires are treated worse than dirt, and are not allowed to own any property outside the designated vampire areas – fang ghettos are we vampires call them. If we do, they take it from us. Luckily I had enough money to buy some run down home and property here. I would never have left the home you made for me. The last place Heather and I …” he stopped talking.
“I am sorry, Heath.”
“Thank you, likewise. Through absolute coincidence did Abigail and I escape, only because she had forgotten her teddy at home, was tired and a brat, I figured I better end up being late to the vampire society meeting, than having to deal with a screaming childzilla in front of everybody, so we turned around to get the teddy bear first. When we finally got to the meeting location I realized quickly what was happening but it was too late for me to even attempt stopping it, especially not with my number one priority being the safety of my child, who was right there with me. I know that my father wanted to take Abigail from me, since she is his only heir. Just hiding her was not safe, and even if I had been alone, my father brought too much support for me to fight against, there would have been nothing I could do, so I ran to bring my child to safety. Now, nothing is safe anymore. She grows up in a world that hates her, through no fault of her own. We should go inside. Few mortals come here after dark, but you cannot be seen with me. You know interactions between mortals and immortals are strictly prohibited now. Again. Just like when we were children.”
She followed him into the creepy and fairly run down Tudor-style home. The exact opposite of his former home.
On the walls of the entry way Evey immediately noticed the framed photos of Abby and her late mother.
Poor little Abby. Losing her mother at such a young age.
He showed her around some, the home smelled stale and damp, like moss and mold. It had a certain charm and with a lot of TLC could be a nice place. But it was light years from Heath’s taste – let alone Evey’s.
“I can help you fix this place up again.”
“No, Little Leigh. You should not even be here, but I could not stand it any longer. I missed you, I am hurting for you and your loss. I am glad to see you are all right, too.”
“More than all right, Heath. I am pregnant!” she beamed, and he put his arm around her.
“Oh, sweet angel, congratulations. You will be an excellent mother. So happy for you. Ah, speaking of children, there comes someone who has been dying to see you…”
Evey stood in awe, a little girl came running towards her until she caught her in her arms.
No longer a little Toddler, she had grown a lot in the recent months. Heath remarked that he had the hardest time keeping her in clothes, she outgrew everything as soon as the tags were off.
Abigail was home-schooled, but clever, spunky and well spoken nonetheless. Vampire children were banned from schools and there weren’t enough vampires, let alone vampire children left to warrant making their own schools. And according to Heath, none of the remaining vampires were very sociable. Polite, but distant with each other. All of them scarred by the drastic changes that had been forced on them. Yet, you would never know looking at and listening to Abigail Grainger, who happily and excitedly babbled on and on. Just like any happy, healthy child.
It tucked on her heartstrings when Abigail’s mother came up as she and Heath spoke.
“I am sorry, honey, about your mommy.”
“It’s okay, I still have daddy and I love my daddy sooo much! And I have you, Aunty Evey!”
“Love you too, ladybug.” Heath smiled down at his daughter, melting Evey into a puddle.
One day, in the not too distant future it will be KC and their daughter or son in scenes like that. After the warmth of that imaginary scene, she felt sadness, for her best friend who had been so close to happiness when the entire world fell apart. She knew he and Heather had been wanting another child, but wanted to get married first. Now there would never be a wedding, nor another child for them.
“And I love both of you!” Evey said in an impulse.
“Duh, we know! Love you too Aunty Evey. Will you sleep here tonight? I’ll share my bed ..”
“No honey, Aunt Evey has to go home. In fact, I best return you before anybody realizes you are missing.”
“The only ones who would, would be my family and they all know you Heath. They would not tell on you!”
“I would not be so sure about that, Evey. After all, it was my father and his army who took their parents, grandparents and friends from them. That makes me guilty by association and I cannot blame them for it. I would resent them just the same, if roles were reversed. Now, say goodbye young lady, then off to get ready for bed. I will be back in a jiffy to tuck you in and you had better be waiting for me in your pj’s and in bed with the book of your choice for me to read you to sleep with. No discussion!”
“Bye Aunty Evey. Good night. And please come visit again soon. It is very lonely and boring here …”
That was the last Evey could hear, as Heath and she rose off the couch, he immediately embraced her and teleported home with her.
Everleigh walked out of the medical center on wobbly legs, paler than usual. She sat on a bench in the sun for a while trying to process the news. It was just one of the usual appointments expecting mothers would go to once they found out they were pregnant, which is why she went alone and did not wake KC, who had a long night taking on a sick colleague’s shift at the bar.
Now she wished she had.
Today would have been the day where the gyn would let her listen to the heartbeat of the baby. Except, there wasn’t one …
There had been two. Twins. Boy and girl.
Evey was more shocked than excited. She and KC had planned so carefully, but never expected this. The house they had so carefully renovated was sizable, but the layout was odd and there was no room for two babies. Or toddlers. Or kids.
Walls could neither be moved nor torn down, they already had that checked.
Which translated to her having to go home to her husband and tell him that the house she almost blackmailed him into buying, then for long weeks remodel till they could barely stand upright anymore, was too small.
Maybe her parents would let them swap houses?
Then her eyes lit up with an idea!
The house went on the market, as KC and Evey moved into the still vacant home of her grandparents. None of the siblings wanted it. The memories were great, but they all had their own home and lives now, most didn’t even live locally and were not interested in moving back to a small coastal hamlet. KC and Everleigh had fond memories in this beautiful home.
Everett and Katie moved into the Beach House with Josh, after much needed updating and upgrading.
KC was happy to live in Liam’s old home as it was where many years ago now he had gotten his chance to turn his miserable life around with Liam & Leonie’s help. It was here where he had learned how to be a decent man and it was here where he and Evey first became a couple. It was a large, luxurious place, big enough for their twins, since it once had been built to accommodate four children and visitors. The parental bedroom was on the bottom floor, making it a place to one day grow old together.
The Beach House was equally as loaded with memories for Everett and Katie.
Many of those from a time long past. Long before the first grey hair and wrinkles. This was where Everett wanted to grow old with his Katie, and they would.
Joshua seemed okay with the move, but likely would move out in a few years to attend college anyway. No telling what would happen after that, but it seemed clear that it would involve Emmi.
Heath kept his word and would visit Evey every at least once in a fortnight, sometimes sooner. Sometimes he would take her with him, sometimes he’d have Abigail with him, sometimes it would be just Everleigh and him.
The renovation of his home was making progress, albeit slowly. It was obvious that he was not thrilled with the new location, nor with the situation all this put his daughter in. Abigail was a vibrant, outgoing child, always had been, despite the parent raising her being a shy loner. Heath made sure she would not suffer his issues. Now it would appear it had been in vain, since interactions with mortals were strictly prohibited, the few vampires left were illusive, aloof and rarely allowed their children out of the houses, resulting in a very bored and lonely Abby. To make things worse for Heath, he and Abby were the only New Breed vampires left near or far. While the remaining Old Breeds could harvest plasma fruit to sustain themselves, he could not. He needed blood. Since there were no more reserves, he had to hunt, which always bore the risk of being exposed. And his daughter would face the same problem once she came of age and could no longer sustain herself with human food.
Despite of him seemingly acting like he always had, Everleigh noticed Heath had changed too. He had even become more aloof as well, even towards Evey. Sure, they would hug occasionally, but he wasn’t as comfortable around her as he had been all their lives, a fact that hurt Everleigh almost as much as realizing the reason for this was his deep guilt. Guilt for being related to the man who had spearheaded the war on mortals by the vampires he had roweled up against them.. Evey felt no resentment towards Heath, she told him various times, but he would only ever smile melancholic and change the topic. He always seemed melancholic and even sad, nothing Everleigh said or did appeared to really make much of a difference.
She wanted to do more for him, and for Abby, but he wouldn’t let her, telling her that them seeing each other as they did was already playing with fire.
Everleigh knew he was right. As much as she loved her family, and they her, from words spoken during family dinners and other social events, she knew many would report every single vampire on sight. Including Heath. She also realized that she had been wrong. Nobody in her family ever truly liked the young vampire, except her grandparents, who prohibited any rude behavior towards him when living. Now they were gone. Even KC would probably report Heath. He and Heath had started to develop a friendship, KC had taught Heath to drive a car. But KC cared immensely about his new family and hence had no kind words left for any vampires. Too much of a risk. Including Heath.
Weeks went by with only the occasionally, secretive visit by Heath. While they barely got closer than necessary to teleport of hug, somehow Evey felt almost like she had some secret lover she had to hide from everybody.
Heath returned from running a few errands, he had picked up Everleigh earlier and she was keeping Abigail entertained. Heath’s faint smile faded when he entered the building and felt instantly that something was wrong. It was too quiet for those two and there was no way Abby would dream of napping when Aunty Evey was over.
Heath dumped his shopping onto some counter and ran, finding the house empty.
Shaking, he stood on top of the stairs, cursing himself for risking this. They had been found out. They had come to take them and there was nothing he could do. They would kill his daughter and do who knows what to his best friend. Heath felt as if her were on fire and in Antarctica at the same time. Unable to manage even one coherent thought he froze in his tracks when he heard the front door unlock and laughter.
Peeking over the railing of the upstairs he saw them and relaxed.
Evey and Abigail.
He exhaled and ran down the stairs, on the way his worry changed into relief and then into anger.
“Oh hi, you are back!” Evey chirped happily, angering him even further.
“Where were you?!” he roared at her, causing the smiles on both females’ faces to vanish instantly.
“Just down the street at the cemetery we…” Everleigh began, but he cut her off.
“You left the house?!”
“Daddy, Aunty Evey took me to ..” Abby tried.
“Go to your room!” he barked at his daughter.
“But daddy…” frightened by the unusual harsh tone Abby clung to Evey’s leg.
“GO TO YOUR ROOM, ABIGAIL! And you, how dare you do this Everleigh!?”
“Do what? Abby wanted to visit her mother’s grave … it is dark out.” Evey was confused about Heath’s behavior.
“You KNOW this is dangerous! How could you be such a fool?! Risking my daughter’s life so recklessly!? And your own and that of your unborn children! And you are STILL here, Abigail! Up to your room, NOW!”
Abby let go of Evey’s leg, who crouched down and hugged her whispering into the little girl’s ear softly, before Abigail ran up the stairs crying.
“Great job scaring your child! And excuse me?! You may have forgotten that I have watched your child since she was only just born! You even left her at my home at times without even telling me, for me to find like an Easter egg! So do not get all high and mighty on me!”
“Those were different times, Evey. Back then I wanted my daughter to be like everybody else. But our world has changed. Being like everybody else could get her killed now!”
“Aren’t you two technically dead already?”
“I see no reason to joke.”
“I was not joking Heath. She is a bright little girl. You cannot lock her up forever!”
“I can, I have to and I will!”
“You are insane!”
“I feel like it, for having brought you here. I will return you home now. You will not come back. It’s no longer safe. Our friendship has run its course, it seems.”
Evey was not done with him and laid right into him.
“WHAT!? You suddenly got tired of me, so you take this one mistake – and that term is debatable – to toss me aside like an old shoe? At least be honest then and say that you do not like me anymore!”
“Tired of you? Not like you? Have you forgotten everything? You are my soulmate. I have lost everything. Everyone who was ever dear to me, except my daughter and you, and I will do whatever it takes to keep it that way, even if that means doing the hardest thing I ever had to do: break all our hearts by severing our bond. Maybe one day, Evey, when you are holding your own children, you will understand.”
“I always imagined our children to one day play together, Heath. I have been imagining you holding my babies, like I have held Abby … don’t take that from me.” Everleigh begged.
He looked at her with sad eyes, then said
“And I had always imagined you to be the mother of my children one day. Looks like we just cannot have what our hearts want. Farewell, Little Leigh.”
Before she knew it, his arms were around her, she was in the backyard of her home and he was gone before she could get a single word out. Not even a goodbye.
It took Everleigh minutes that seemed like hours to realize he was not coming back, then she ran to her bedroom and cried herself to sleep.
It was starting to become Spring in Brindleton Bay. There had been much change. Everybody had moved. After the devastating loss of the old patriarch, who despite all power could not outlive age, all the Auditores had left Brindleton Bay and joined those that had been living in the birthplace of the Auditore empire, Newcrest.
Heath’s home had gone up for sale by the government as ‘seized property’ and the last time Evey drove by it read “sold”. Cruel!
Many of the old buildings were no more. Sold, some after the structure had been bulldozed into the ground, as the constant reminder of what once had been seemingly had become too much for the former owners. The entire world was changing right before Everleigh’s eyes in fast forward and she felt helpless as she could do nothing but look on and be grateful she still had all she cared about. Minus one. Heath kept his word and stayed away.
Brianna, Deacon and their son had moved to where they opened their own restaurant in Newcrest. They had owned and run the old restaurant by the harbor in Brindleton Bay for a long time, but they had bought it from the previous owner, who had run it for 40 years before them.
It was impossible to modernize the place or the menu without turning off customers. Now they build their own place called “Sprouts”, a fusion of modern, healthy and experimental food with a French influence.
They had moved to a tiny cottage just minutes from the new restaurant.
Critics and customers were head over heels with their new eatery.
“Heath, open the goddamn door!” Everleigh was banging on it hard, as she had been for minutes straight. Her fists were reddened and hurting. She had given him time and space, but had reached her limit. At the very least she had to try to talk some sense into him.
“Everything okay, Miss?” she heard a male voice from behind her.
Unwilling to engage at first, in an impulse she turned around and her blood ran cold.
Catching her, a mortal, in the act of knocking on a vampire’s home. An interaction that was strictly prohibited by law.
“Uh – yeah, thanks officer. Bye!” she tried down-playing it, hoping he’d just continue his round.
Naturally, it did not work.
“May I ask what you are doing here, Miss?”
“Uh – I am – I … uh … my cat. She has not come home in days and I already asked everywhere back home, so now I am expanding the radius …” Evey lied.
“I am sorry about your cat, but this is vampire territory. It’s dark and not safe, especially not in your condition.” the officer pointed at her belly.
“Come on, the cemetery is right there. I have family there. Nobody worries about us going there, right?”
“Wrong, Miss. Firstly, the cemetery closes before it gets dark nowadays. And also, I see you did not get the mail yet, but everybody with relatives resting there will be informed in writing that city council has decided to relocate the cemetery and all its … inhabitants, before the year is out. Once that happened, all this will be restricted territory and it will be illegal for mortals to enter. Or undead to leave, but you know how they are. They just wake from sleeping upside down and fly out the window to wherever they can wreak the most havoc.”
“WHAT?! They cannot move a cemetery!” Everleigh ignored the prejudiced opinion.
“They can, and have already started. Details will be clearly outlined in the letter you should have soon. Please go to your car and leave now, or I will have to escort you home.”
Everleigh didn’t even try argue, got into her car and started. As she started to drive off she looked up to Heath’s creepy new home and saw his face by the window. It stung like a million knives to her heart.