Three days, or possibly four–I wasn’t entirely sure, but the monotony of being locked in this room was slowly eating away at me. The silver cuff on my wrist kept me from mind-linking Asher, and kept Maya at bay. My skin under the cuff was sore, red and irritated as though I had a rash.
My days and nights began to switch, screwing with my already questionable sleeping pattern–not that I expected much sleep when my Father was somewhere lurking about. Tristan came to the door once every couple of hours, a tray of food and a small cup of blood in his hands.
He needn’t worry that I might run, as I was already too weak from the constant contact with silver. I was practically human, making Tristan and the rest of the Vampire’s much stronger than me.
It was blatantly obvious the Vampire’s weren’t used to human or half-human guests, as the food was horribly lacking. Gelatinous oatmeal and often small packs of crackers or cookies.
I wasn’t ashamed to say I downed the cup of blood he had given me at each meal, though it worried me where it might have come from.
Each day I’d ask Tristan when the Vampire King would finally see me, when would Breyona and Giovanni be released–each time he said ‘soon’, annoyingly cryptic.
It gave me more than enough time to think over Tristan’s sudden loyalty switch. He had told me once that he had his own plans, that he never wished for the Werewolf species to be eradicated.
Does that mean I suddenly trusted him? Not at all, but I needed whatever allies I could find.
I leapt from the bed as I heard footsteps echo down the hallway, followed by the thick wooden door to my bedroom holding cell open.
Tristan stood in the doorway, this time without a tray in his hands. He stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. When he finally spoke, his voice was low and hushed.
My stomach was in knots as I followed him down the hallway, towards the back of the warehouse. Tristan was silent the entire time, his shoulders tense at what was to come.
We stopped in front of a thick set of double doors, the wood smooth and flawless to the touch. Two Vampire’s stood on either side of the door, their dark eyes never once straying from where they stared.
My eyes bounced around the room as the doors swung open, revealing a room I had once been to. It was the room I visited when my Father used the shadows to call me to him. A large maroon sectional was sat in front of a large fire place, a thick Persian rug under our feet.
A small bar carried decanters of suspicious looking scarlet liquid. Sitting on the sectional, with one of his arms draped over the back, was my Father–the Vampire King.
I had seen my Father once before, but this time was different. I hadn’t seen him in person, not truly. The aura that surrounded him was dark and suffocating, like walking into a sauna. My lungs struggled to breathe in the thick air, and my heart rate sky rocketed.
The mop of styled raven hair on his head was identical to my own, right down to his bright eyes, which stared into the flames roaring in the fireplace.
I was hyperaware at how the shadows in the room slithered, hiding in the darkness as they surrounded us. I could taste their excitement, their interest in what was about to happen.
“Sit, Lola.” My Father all but commanded, never once turning to look me in the eye.
Tristan stood off to the side, leaning against the fireplace mantle as I trailed over to the couch. I sat as far away from my Father as I could get, holding my ground as he turned and looked into my eyes.
I always thought his eyes would be empty, lacking any hint of a soul. I was wrong, his eyes weren’t empty. They were filled with a burning hunger that would bring the world to its knees, an anger that consumed every sliver of compassion or conscience.
Looking into my Father’s eyes taught me something, evil doesn’t just pop into existence–evil is born, bred, and taught.
I tried to imagine my Father as a child, eyes full of wonder and happiness. I didn’t bother looking for any sliver of good within him, as I knew it had all been smothered by that vicious fire burning in his eyes, but he had not been born evil. Life warped him, changed him into this monster–and not once had he resisted.
I could see my features reflected in his own. The dark hair, full lips, and round eyes. Looking at my Father’s face made me realize how little I had gotten from my Mom, and I wondered how she stomached raising me. How could she look into my eyes for all those years and not see the evil, twisted mate she had once given into?
“Do you understand why I need you here, Lola?” He asked, those luminous eyes staring at me, slicing away the layers until he reached my soul.
I resisted the urge to fidget, to shift uncomfortably under his stare. Everything about him was intense, frighteningly so.
I knew without a doubt that with my help, he would achieve his goal. He would never rest until the Werewolves were all but eradicated, and the humans lined up for the slaughter.
“You need a Queen.” I repeated the words that plagued my mind for months now.
Tristan watched the two of us carefully, his eyes never lingering on the Vampire King for too long. My Father scoffed, though the action lacked emotion.
He looked me over for a minute, running his eyes down my hair, my face with his speculatory gaze. I was sure he saw what I did, himself reflected in my face.
“Why would I need a Queen I cannot trust, one I cannot control?” My Father asked, one of his dark eyebrows lifting as he stared at me. I had the feeling his question was rhetorical, so I kept my mouth shut. “What do you know about witches, Lola?”
The question caught me off guard, and I wracked my brain for every last detail I remembered. Grandma had taught me the history of witches, though not much was known anymore. Most of the information had faded into obscurity, or had been buried over the centuries.
“Not much.” I admitted, “There used to be a lot of witches, but many lines died off or went into hiding.”
“Do you know why they went into hiding?” My Father pressed, and seemed to be amused at my lack of knowledge.
“No, I don’t.” I replied.
“My Grandfather had a plan, one that would rid the world of our enemies. A plan that would ensure Vampires were finally able to step into the light.” My Father continued, “Vampires have been at the bottom of the food-chain for too long, letting the humans think they actually held some semblance of power. My Grandfather hunted the witches into near extinction, all whilst remaining under the noses of Werewolves.”
“What does this have to do with me?” I asked, fighting to take the edge out of my voice. Before leaving the room, Tristan had warned me not to speak out against my Father, that he was cruel and vengeful when need be.
“It has everything to do with you.” My Father’s smile was oily and serpent-like. “Let me tell you a story, then you might understand your purpose.”
“Many years ago, the shadows guided me to a woman, one who would be my ideal mate. She was a werewolf, and lived in a small pack with her family. The moment we locked eyes; she was under the thrall of the mate-bond. I spent countless weeks with her, until she allowed me to mark her, and I let her do the same.
I told her of my plans, and while she was conflicted, she remained by my side.” My Father began, and I knew he was talking about my Mother. I wanted to stop him, to deny that she would’ve ever had a part in his plans, but Tristan’s firm look stopped me in my tracks.
“I told her of the child we would have, and her importance in this world. The child would be of three different species, and would wield power the world has not yet seen. She would be the product of a Werewolf and a Vampire, but hold power bestowed to her from generations of Witches.
The young, mated Werewolf was horrified when she learned the truth, that she would sire a monster unlike any other into this world. She fled, but couldn’t remain hidden forever. I found her again, and when I did, I used the mate-bond she coveted against her. You were the product of that, Lola.”
My heart constricted as I replayed his words over and over again, each time refusing to come to terms. It wasn’t possible, it couldn’t be. My Mom would never join his side, would never abandon her people.
My stomach rolled, and I clenched my fists as I fought the urge to hurl all over the expensive Persian rug on the floor. He had used the mate-bond against her to conceive me, that much I expected. What I couldn’t understand was how he thought that child was me.
Witches were all but extinct, and I had never seen one in real life before. My Mom was not a witch, that much I knew, nor had I ever exhibited any signs of strange power. My mouth flopped open, and I said the first thing that came to mind.
“My Mom wasn’t a witch.” I shook my head, “You’re wrong. I’m not that child.”
“Something you’ll learn, I am rarely ever wrong.” My Father smiled grimly; the shadow of the crackling fire wavered against his alabaster skin. “My Mother was the last in a long and ancient line of witches. She was Half-Vampire, and had been sought out by my Father for a very specific purpose.
The Magic in her blood-line skipped a generation, and only seemed to show in the women of her family. The Magic of my Mother’s bloodline skipped her generation, falling onto you.”
I wanted to cover my ears, to ignore everything he was telling me like a child would. Tristan’s firm gaze was the only thing keeping me sane, reminding me to remain calm, to remain respectful.
My Father wasn’t above hurting me, nor would our family relations keep him from throwing me in a cell next to Breyona and Giovanni.
“Now, I want you to listen closely, Lola.” My Father spoke clearly, enunciating each word so that I might commit them to memory. “Do not overthink your purpose here. You will comply to my terms, or be eradicated with the rest of the Werewolves.
I won’t for one second believe you have suddenly changed sides. As my first-born, you hold the most power.”
“First born?” I repeated, feeling my gut twist at his blatant threat. “My Mom never had another child.”
She hadn’t, not with the Vampire King. I was sure he knew about Sean, but I refused to speak his name, to give the Vampire King another person to use against me. My Father’s lips twitched, pulling up in that dry, serpentine smile he favored.
“You are not the only one to make deals with the Shadows, Lola.” My Father replied, lifting his hand to wave at Tristan. “You would be amazed at what they can do, if one is simply willing to pay the price.”
I watched as Tristan left the room, returning a moment later with someone in tow. Every muscle in my body stiffened, every joint locked as I looked into the eyes of a girl no older than eighteen. My hair, my Father’s hair sat on her head in long, raven-colored waves.
Her face was soft and round like my own, her cheekbones high and lashes long. The only difference were our eyes. I had gotten my eyes from our Father, where the girl must have gotten them from her Mother–whoever that might be.
“How?” The word left my lips in a ragged whisper.
I couldn’t force my eyes from the girl. She gazed at me with the same curiosity, though hers was laced with caution and suspicion.
My eyes darted over to Tristan, silently pleading with him to tell me this was some elaborate lie. From the hardness in his eyes, I knew my Father had not told me a single lie since arriving—that everything he said had been the truth.
“Two years after your birth, I tried relentlessly to regain you and your Mother, but the man she chose as a mate had a witch for a Mother.”
My Father laughed dryly, his eyes burning with that uncontained, murderous light. “The woman possessed little power, but was able to keep your Mother and you safe.”
I wracked my mind, lingering over each word until I finally understood. Grandma, my Dad’s Mom. She had always seemed to know when something was happening, when someone was hiding something from her. Her little cottage came to mind, the old and dusty books she kept littered on shelves, and the sprawling herb garden she had outback.
Grandma was a witch, a part of a breed that was thought to have died off many years ago. I wanted to be surprised, but I found this information the least surprising of the bunch.
“I needed an alternative, in case you proved to be unreliable.” He sneered, “I called on the Shadows, who were happy to do my bidding. They offered me the chance at another child. Not as powerful as a first born, but not without potential.
All I needed was a powerful witch to sire this child. I found one in Craiova, Romania. A blood-witch who had grown tired of hiding, who had grown comfortable in her habits. She didn’t have the gift of foresight like her Mother, and never saw my men coming.”
My stomach rolled again, and I pressed a hand to my throat as the urge to hurl increased. He had sought out a witch, and forced her to carry his child.
My brain refused to process the thought, to accept that someone was capable of such a vulgar action. I knew without asking that his request had come at a steep price, but couldn’t hold myself back as I asked.
“What did you pay?” I asked, my voice weak.
“As you’ve already figured out, the higher the request, the steeper the price.” He smiled grimly, “I paid ten years of my life. After the witch was with child, I fell asleep for the next ten years. In that time, the witch used what remaining power she had and escaped my men.
Ten years later, I sought out the child she had stolen from me. I perfected my plans, gathered my recourses until I could finally come for you.”
“You know why I’m here.” I stammered, forcing the words from my lips as I struggled not to think about what he had done to the poor witch. “I’ll do whatever you need, just let Breyona and Giovanni go.”
“I am a man of my word.” He nodded, “Despite the fact that Giovanni was one of my best men, I will let them go. I’m sure you wish to see proof of that before moving forward.”
“I do, I want to know that their still alive.” I nodded, leaning forward in my seat.
“Very well, but I must take measures of my own to ensure your compliance.” He replied, his eyes flashing with deadly intention. “There is nothing stopping you from betraying me once your companions have been released.”
“Tristan, you may proceed.” My Father nodded, his eyes never once straying from my own.
I knew what was coming next, as Tristan had warned me before taking me to my Father. I watched as Tristan stepped forward, and shuddered as he slid into my mind.
I could feel him trail his fingers down the shield I had around my mind, the steel door that kept him barred from my innermost thoughts and feelings. The door shuddered and shook as I wrenched it open, allowing Tristan access into my mind.