Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Part 5 - The Transformation

Jillian’s eyes were still their striking turquoise color. But they were now illuminated by a pale, ominous glow. Her skin was significantly paler, almost as pale as Kenzie’s, and when she opened her mouth to speak, her canine teeth had extended.

It was official. Jillian Swansen, Kenzie’s best friend since first grade, had been reborn. She was now a vampire. Her sun-loving, beach-going best friend forever was a creature of the night.

“Jillian,” Isaiah said softly. Jillian whirled her head around to stare at her mate. Then, she held her hands out at arm’s length, studying them. Then, she dashed to the mirror.

She seemed to be as surprised by how fast she’d made it to the mirror as what she actually saw in it.


“It’s all right,” Isaiah said reassuringly. “You’re okay now.”

Jillian spun around. “Okay? You call this okay?! I’m a freaking vampire!”

Kenzie bit her lip. Great. More guilt was forthcoming.

“You were dying, love,” Isaiah stated. “It was the only way. I explained it to you. I had to give you some of my blood to heal you. There was no time to take you to a hospital. And human blood wouldn’t have been enough.”

“But why did that turn me into a vampire? Why didn’t it just heal me?”

“Because it takes three vampire bites and drinking a vampire’s blood twenty-four hours after the third bite to transform into one. You were held hostage, and fed on…”

“That psycho bitch that took me! Yeah, she said she was one of my models, and next thing I know, I’m waking up in a shitty old house, and she’s biting my damn neck! And now this! Now I’m a damn vampire! What am I going to do? I can’t live like this! I don’t know how to do anything, I don’t want to drink blood, I don’t even know my own strength…”

“I’ll teach you. You aren’t alone like I was. You’ll never be alone. And right now, you need to feed.”

“No! I won’t eat people!”

“You won’t. You can feed from other vampires as well, and there’s plasma juice...”

“Feed from me,” Kenzie interjected from the door. Everyone focused their eyes on her and inhaled sharply.

“What?” Jillian inquired.

“This is all my fault,” Kenzie elaborated. “You were kidnapped because of something I did years ago. That crazy vampire thought it was you. I should be in your place right now.”

“No,” Hayden growled.

Isaiah held up his hand. “Kenzie, I already told you, I don’t blame you. Besides, Jillian should be started on plasma juice and plasma fruit. That way she won’t require human blood for sustenance. I brought some with me, since that’s what I eat and drink anyway.”

Isaiah walked over to the dresser and extracted a bottle that Kenzie hadn’t known was inside. He walked back over to Jillian and handed it to her. “Drink this.”

“What’s that smell?” Jillian asked instead.

“You’re smelling human blood. Hayden, get Kenzie out of here. Now.”

Hayden grabbed Kenzie and hauled her out, and this time she didn’t object. She didn’t have the strength to. All she had the strength to do was, after returning to her and Hayden’s hotel room, sit on the floor and break down into hysterics.


Their stay in Midnight Hollow was extended and the photo shoot postponed. Jillian was in no condition to travel. Isaiah was keeping her nourished with plasma juice and fruit, which made Kenzie cringe.

Had she truly done the right thing? Yes, Jillian was alive. Sort of. But was she really going to be able to truly live? The life she wanted, the one she’d always dreamed of…would she be able to have it?

No, not if it involved the sun and the beach. But she’d still be with Isaiah, and she wanted that too, right?

Though she was a vampire, Jillian still required sleep. And after learning some of the basic skills of vampires from Isaiah, she’d worn herself out.

While she slept the next day, Kenzie approached Jillian’s mate in a concealed corner in the hopes of keeping Jillian from hearing them.

“What about the promise you made to me?” she probed. “You promised that you’d do the right thing after we got Jill back.”

“I did,” Isaiah replied. “But I never clarified what that entailed. And right now, I don’t think the right thing to do would be to leave her. You said it was too dangerous for us to be together if I’m a vampire and she’s a human. That’s no longer the case. Besides, she needs me. I won’t let her go through this alone. Not like I had to.”

“How’s she taking it?”

“Very well, surprisingly. She’s over the initial shock, and seems to be quite taken with the idea of us living together for eternity.”

“And…what about Sunlit Tides? She was going to move there. And what about her career?”

“She can still have her career. Supernatural creatures are no longer hidden, remember? As for Sunlit Tides, she hasn’t mentioned that, but obviously she can’t go there or back to Sunset Valley in this condition. Besides, I’d rather keep her with me so that I can take proper care of her. I already checked into town records. Flossie was right; that manor truly was my father’s, and as his only heir, it now belongs to me. I’m going to take up residence here, and I’m going to bring Jillian with me.”

“Are you getting married?”

“Perhaps someday. But one thing at a time.”

Kenzie just nodded. At least Jillian would be taken care of, and hopefully safer now that she and Isaiah would be living together. And in Midnight Hollow, where the sun never shined. The perfect place for vampires.

Still, it would take some getting used to. Kenzie wasn’t a big fan of change, and now her best friend had gone through one of the biggest changes either of them had ever seen.

But at least there were no grudges held. Jillian didn’t hold Kenzie responsible for being reborn as a different species. In fact, she told her that she’d even talked with Isaiah about becoming a vampire one day. And she did thank her for saving her life, or allowing Isaiah to do so in whatever way he could.

The photo shoot happened the following day. Kenzie felt like her cheeks were going to split in two because of the fake smile that was plastered on her face. But it was a relief that Jillian herself was happy, and that was good enough for her.

Once the photo shoot was over, everyone departed but the two vampire mates. On the drive back to Riverview, Kenzie suddenly realized something. Jillian and Isaiah were now living together, and Austin and Cheyenne were married with a baby due any time. Hayden had asked her to move in with him and she’d been reluctant to do so due to her low tolerance for change.

But if Jillian had been living with Isaiah, if they hadn’t had to meet in Midnight Hollow, she would have been safe. Or at least safer than when she’d been alone.

A mate could only do so much for the one he promised to protect when they lived towns away from each other. And now, it was time to make a big change.

“Hayden,” she said, “I’ve made a decision.”

“What’s that?”

“Yes. I will move in with you.”

Hayden looked at her with wide eyes. “Really?”

“Yes. Seeing this with Jill and Isaiah…it made me realize that I don’t want to be away from you, the person I love more than anyone. I don’t want to have to be alone. I’m usually not big for change, but I think now is the time to make one. So, if the offer still stands, I’d like to take you up on it. Of course, Sage would have to come, too.”

Hayden reached over and held Kenzie’s hand in his. “Of course the offer’s still there, for both you and Sage. We’ll start making plans. And maybe we’ll get a bigger place for ourselves. A PI needs her own office.”

“Oh, no…”

“We’ll worry about that later. Right now, I’m the happiest man, and beast, in the world.”

Kenzie smiled and squeezed Hayden’s hand. Her heart pounded in nervousness and excitement, but one thing was for sure. Nothing was definite, nothing was permanent, and life was unpredictable. No one lived forever, but the cautious never truly lived at all. And she was through being so cautious all the time.

The ties that bound Kenzie to Riverview were severed. Much as she loved her parents and enjoyed having them just down the street, she loved Hayden more. And she had to live her own life.

The ties that bound her and Hayden were stronger, just like those that bound Jillian and Isaiah together. Their blood ties had allowed Jillian to be found before worse harm could come to her. She could have been lost forever had he not had her blood in his system to use for Paige’s ritual. Maybe it was fate.

But regardless of what it was, it was time for a change. And Kenzie was ready to make that change.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Part 4 - The Awakening

Time seemed to stand still. It seemed like everyone was staring at Kenzie, willing her to make the most important decision she’d ever had to make thus far.

What would Jillian truly want? As much as she loved the sun, would she want to live out the rest of her days, the rest of eternity, in the shadows?

But on the other hand, Isaiah had said there was only a fifty percent chance of her transforming into a vampire. It was possible that his blood would heal her and she’d be fine. If she did transform, she’d be able to be with him easier.

There really was only one choice.

“Do it. Save her, Isaiah. If this is the only way, then do it.”

Isaiah wasted no time. He held his wrist to his lips as his incisors elongated. Allowing his own blood to spill forth, he hastily propped himself up onto the sofa and pulled Jillian into his lap. Then, he allowed his blood to flow from his wrist into Jillian’s mouth.

Hayden held onto Kenzie as she watched the repellent scene before her. She hoped this would work, so badly. Even Ellis knew better than to intervene; with Flossie dead, he was no longer needed, anyway. Elijah and his croons headed back to The Crypt, the favor to Isaiah repaid. They didn’t even wait around to witness Jillian’s fate. Kenzie and Hayden were left alone in the frayed manor with Paige, Isaiah, and a dying Jillian.

At last, Isaiah’s wound healed and he stopped feeding Jillian the crimson liquid that seemed to never cease flowing.

Kenzie could have sworn that she heard him murmur, “I’m sorry” to her with genuine culpability in his voice.

“She’ll need rest,” he said out loud, but still quietly, as if unsure himself if she’d be all right. “I don’t want to risk moving her from the house. Plus, if worse comes to worst, we won’t want to be around…civilization.”

Kenzie tried to stifle a shudder. Isaiah had a point. If Jillian did transform, it would be best to keep her away from humans. Including herself.

Isaiah didn’t leave her on the couch, but he did carry her to one of the bedrooms and place her on the bed.

“If only we’d gotten here sooner,” Kenzie was going on frantically. “We could have helped her sooner…”

“No,” Isaiah stated. “Florence was blocking the blood bond. She was more powerful, being an elder vampire. That’s why I wasn’t able to locate Jillian without Paige’s help. She only knew of me; she didn’t block a witch’s magic because she hadn’t anticipated that.”

“But why won’t she wake up? And why does she still have that nasty gash in her neck? Your blood should heal her.”

“It will take time, Kenzie. My blood has to work its way through her bloodstream, and then her tissue has to repair itself from all the…trauma.”

“The bite marks inflicted by that bitch, you mean.”


“How long?”

“There’s no way to tell.”

“Kenzie,” Hayden said as he held her tightly, “it’ll be okay. Jillian’s stronger than you think. She’ll pull through this, one way or the other.”

Kenzie spun around and buried her face into her boyfriend’s chest. It wasn’t just trepidation that was causing her turmoil. It was guilt.

A small voice in her head kept taunting her, chanting over and over, “It should be me. It should’ve been me.”

It was like a broken record playing over and over relentlessly with no one to turn off the phonograph. Guilt had been eating away at her ever since Flossie had stated the reason she’d come after Isaiah – because he’d killed his mother, which was to be her revenge. And he’d had a human companion help him do it.

Jillian was paying the price for something that she’d done.

Isaiah had pulled up a chair and was sitting next to Jillian, scrutinizing her closely, watching for any signs of change.

The agony was unbearable, the tension too high. Isaiah seemed to sense this with his keen abilities.

“I think it would be best if you went back to the hotel,” he said at last. “Just to be safe.”

“No. I’m not leaving her.”

“Kenzie, please, don’t argue. Not now.”

“Isaiah, you know why I’m staying.”

“Because Jillian’s your best friend. But if she changes…”

“It’s not that. You heard what Flossie said.”

“About what?”

“You took away her revenge with the help of a human companion. She thought your mate was that companion. But it wasn’t. It was me. This is my fault. Jillian doesn’t deserve to leave this world permanently because of me. I’m the one that should be laying in that bed.”

Kenzie hadn’t turned away from Hayden upon saying this. She didn’t have the nerve to look Isaiah in the eye.

Hayden, however, was the first to respond.

“Don’t you dare blame yourself for this,” he said intensely. “No one could have known that psycho woman would plan this bullshit. You were just trying to stay alive when that happened back in Bridgeport.”

“I don’t hold you responsible, Kenzie,” Isaiah affirmed. “That woman manipulated everyone she met, even back before she knew my father.”

“But still. Jillian should never have been kidnapped. It should have been me. And then even if I was in the same position as she is, Hayden could have healed me, and even if I turned into a werewolf, it would be okay because…”

“No, it wouldn’t be okay,” Hayden interrupted hotly. “We’ve already talked about this.”


“No buts. And I think Isaiah’s right. We need to leave. Give them some privacy.”

“I’ll stay,” Paige added. She’d been so quiet that Kenzie had practically forgotten that she was there. “Maybe there’s something I can do. Some spell or other that will help.”

Kenzie didn’t want to leave. Even if it meant having to shack up in one of the dreary, filthy old rooms of this manor, she didn’t want to leave. Not wanting to argue anymore, Isaiah finally assented and only asked her and Hayden to stay clear of the bedroom.


Three hours. That was how long it had been since Jillian had succumbed to darkness. She was breathing fine and her wounds seemed to have healed. But she still hadn’t woken up.

Kenzie’s imagination was beginning to run away with her. She began pacing, fretting, envisioning horrific things. Hayden tried to console her as best he could, but to no avail. Even taking a private tour through the Cavanaugh manor (though Isaiah hadn’t known that until earlier tonight) couldn’t repress her fears.

Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore. She excused herself to go to the bathroom, but she didn’t actually go that way. She went into the master suite, where Isaiah was hovering over Jillian, his fingers brushing her face, a look of peril upon his face.

“Any change?” Kenzie asked. Isaiah shook his head. “She shifted in her sleep slightly, but nothing more.”

“I’ve been thinking,” Kenzie continued. “She’s your mate. You truly love her. You would have healed her regardless of what I said.”

“Yes. I love her and refuse to lose her.”

“Then why ask my permission?”

“I guess I needed reassurance that, no matter what happened, you’d know that we did everything possible to help Jillian. And I wanted to know that, in the end, it was all right with her best friend. I guess I wanted to have a clear conscience if worse came to worst.”

“And if she changes?”

“I would never do that to her. You know that. Not if there were any other way. But, as it turns out, there wasn’t.”

Kenzie looked down at Jillian. She seemed to be sleeping peacefully. It was reassuring to see her chest move up and down, and she didn’t appear to be in any pain.

Still, what was really going on inside her body?

Suddenly, Jillian stirred. Kenzie got closer and looked down at her. “Jill?”

Jillian’s eyes fluttered open. She looked fine, normal.

Upon seeing Kenzie, her lovely face broke out into a smile. She reached out her hand and Kenzie grasped it while climbing onto the opposite side of the bed.

“How are you feeling?” Kenzie asked softly.

“Okay, considering.”

“Do you remember what happened?”

“Unfortunately, yes. I remember all too well.”

Her eyes shifted until they rested on Isaiah’s. “Isaiah,” she whispered.

Kenzie moved away so that Isaiah could hold Jillian now.

“My love,” Isaiah said as relief washed over his face. “Are you all right?”

“I hurt. I feel weird.”

“That’s undoubtedly because of the vampire blood in your system.”

“Vampire blood? What?!”

Isaiah leaned down and kissed Jillian, as if touching his lips to hers would make everything just fine again. Although, knowing Jillian, it probably would; she was already wrapping her arm around his neck.

Then, he looked at Kenzie and asked for some privacy. Kenzie frowned, but obliged.

When she got back downstairs to the parlor where Hayden was, he was waiting for her, waiting to comfort her. She tried to ignore the dried blood on the rug from Jillian’s earlier wounds.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“She’s awake.”

“Uh…why is that bad?”

“Because I’m scared. She isn’t quite herself, and she says she’s in pain and she feels weird. I don’t know if she’s…”

Hayden embraced her, cutting off her words.

“Jillian will be fine, one way or the other,” he consoled. “She’s awake, and she’s healing. Just keep your fingers crossed.”

Kenzie nodded, but she knew that crossing her fingers wasn’t going to help. She wanted Jillian back the way she was, and safe.

Fear of the unknown was a powerful thing. She didn’t know how much longer she could endure not knowing the fate of her best friend.


By the time morning arrived, everyone was still at the manor. Jillian had been slowly showing signs of progression overnight, but she still complained of pain, particularly in her neck area. Isaiah was certain that was because of all the feeding that had been done on it.

But she’d still insisted that she felt well enough to return to the hotel, so that was where everyone was now. Everyone had their own rooms, grateful to be in a clean hotel instead of the grimy old manor.

Two nights later, Kenzie was lying in Hayden’s arms, trying to sleep, but she was restless. Nightmares invaded her mind, threatening to strangle her. Hayden comforted her, as always, but she couldn’t shake the foreboding feeling that seemed to make itself prominent in the forefront of her mind.

The next day, Kenzie was once again in Hayden’s arms, finally taking a nap after those restless nights.

Unfortunately, her naps were also restless. Dreams haunted Kenzie. Horrid, nightmarish images flickered through her subconscious depicting all manners of monsters. A demonic child with glowing eyes was the last thing she saw before she shot up in bed, a scream caught in her throat.

“What’s wrong?” Hayden asked as he shot up in bed like a toaster pastry.

“Bad dreams. Horrible.”

Hayden wrapped her in his arms. He cursed himself inwardly for not asking Paige to give Kenzie something to help her sleep peacefully.

Because that was all that could really be done at this point. Sleep, eat (when he could convince her to eat anything), and wait. He was also beginning to get restless and worried that his methods of comfort would soon wear off.

“It’s okay,” he said as they once again sprawled across the bed. “It was just a dream. It wasn’t real. Why don’t you think about something happy before you fall asleep, and that may prompt a better dream?”

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to sleep at all,” Kenzie quipped. “How do you possibly expect me to sleep? My best friend was dying just a couple of days ago, being kept alive by vampire blood, she still isn’t feeling like herself, and I’m supposed to sleep?”

Hayden held Kenzie close, her face pressed into his chest. He could feel her suffering, her anguish, in her trembling voice and quivering body. He offered her comfort, all he could give, in the only way he could. But he was just as worried as she was, only for different reasons. If Jillian didn’t come out of this all right, what would become of the woman he loved?

“Jillian is safe now,” he said softly. “That’s the important thing. She’s alive and well, as good as can be expected. Worrying won’t help her, and I know she wants you to take it easy.”

Kenzie seemed to be following this advice when suddenly, an agonizing shriek sounded from the adjoining room.

“What was that?!” Kenzie and Hayden exclaimed simultaneously. They both bolted from the bed and ran to the next room, Hayden charging right in.

Jillian was lying supine on the bed, her eyes rolled back into her head. She was clutching her throat tightly, as if gasping for air. Kenzie jumped back in trepidation.

“What the hell?!” Hayden boomed as he barged further into the room, Paige right behind him and Kenzie sandwiched between the two.

“Everyone get out!” Isaiah commanded. To Jillian, his voice ringing with authority, he said, “It’s all right. I’m here.”

“Isaiah…it burns! My eyes! And my throat! What’s happening to me?!”

A red mist cloaked Jillian, and Kenzie swore she saw bats flying around inside it.

“No!” Kenzie screamed. “Jill!”

“Get out!” Isaiah roared. Hayden grabbed Kenzie and tried to pull her away, but it was too late. It was over as fast as it had begun.

The red fog had vanished and Jillian was sitting upright on the bed, her head lowered. When she raised it, she took everything in with new eyes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Part 3 - The Captive

It didn’t take long to arrive at the destination that was shown on the map revealed by Paige’s locator spell. The place looked like a typical dilapidated house on the outside. Surprisingly enough, it also seemed to be completely vacant, with not even a vampire patrol surrounding the perimeter.

Still, both Isaiah and Elijah warned everyone to proceed cautiously. The cavalry quietly traipsed toward the house and cleared the yard, somehow avoiding detection. Elijah sent the clan mates he’d brought with him to survey the area to confirm that it was empty. Isaiah, Kenzie, and Paige headed inside while Elijah crouched on the porch to guard the place and to listen for anything that might be amiss.

Upon entering the manor (through the door that had fallen off its hinges), Isaiah’s stance changed from one of caution to one of fury. He actually pulled his lips back in a snarl, revealing his sharp teeth, and he stalked forward, nearly leaving Kenzie and Paige in the dust that arose when he moved across the unkempt floor.

Kenzie was about to whisper-ask what was wrong, but she didn’t have to. She saw it for herself, the horrific sight in the parlor.

That sight was Jillian Swansen herself, tied up and unconscious, lying on her side on a dirty sofa, a gash in her neck with dried blood surrounding it.

“Jillian!” Kenzie shrieked without thinking. She bolted toward her, but she didn’t make it that far. A dark shadow swooped into the room at the speed of light, shoving her violently away from her friend. She hit the opposite wall with brute force, the breath knocked from her lungs.

“It’s not nice to break into people’s homes,” said a sickeningly sweet, feminine voice, “and try to take their things. Or their food.”

“Who the hell are you?” Isaiah demanded as he quickly untied Jillian’s bound wrists. Discretion was thrown out the window as he sent the woman a glare that could melt steel.

The woman just crossed her arms over her chest and shot Isaiah back an equally malevolent look. Upon closer examination, Kenzie ascertained that this woman was a vampire.

“It’s a pity,” the woman continued. “I knew you quite some time ago, Isaiah. It’s truly a shame that we had to officially meet under these circumstances.”

“I’m going to ask you again, and only one more time. Who the hell are you, and how do you know my name?”

“I suppose it’s no surprise that Mathias never mentioned me to you.”

“Mathias? My…my father?”

“Correct. Though I’m sure your mother mentioned me, and not in a very ladylike demeanor, I imagine.”

“How did you know my parents?”

“I didn’t know both of them closely. I knew your father. Very well, I might add. I was so sorry to hear of his death.”

“Wait…if you knew my father, and you never met me, but you know me, and my mother…”

“Yes? Go on, Isaiah.”

“You can’t be…you have to be someone from back when I was first turned…”

“Precisely. Though your father had shown me photos of you and your brothers before then.”

“And you knew my father ‘closely,’ you said. You’re…you couldn’t be…the woman with whom he had an affair?”

“Not only could I be, but I am. I am Florence Ingram, and after all these years, I’ve come to take my revenge.”

Isaiah looked genuinely shocked. He almost seemed to be more baffled by this revelation than the fact that his mate, her best friend, was lying comatose on a filthy couch within leaping distance of him.

But he did manage to sputter, “What revenge?”

“I suppose I might as well explain. I have all the time in the world, after all. You see, your father probably never told you, but this manor is his. It was passed down to him from his great-grandfather. Of course, time hasn’t been kind to it, and your father never claimed it due to marrying your mother and starting a family. Your mother was the native of Dragon Valley, and he chose to live with her instead of claiming what was rightfully his. Regardless, when he met me, it was true love. He hadn’t really known that with Serrina. We were going to get married, run off together, and live here in this house. He was even planning to introduce me to you three boys and have you live with us as well. But he was killed, by none other than your mother. You see, she believed that what Mathias truly wanted was a young woman, and she wasn’t young any longer. Not like me. But he never wanted her younger; he didn’t want her at all. Not when he had me. When he still refused her advances, she killed him. Of course, I didn’t discover this until much later. I had been preparing myself, fixing this manor up, but he never arrived. When I heard of his demise, I swore then and there to avenge my mate. Because, as you know, a vampire’s mate is the one thing they cannot live without. But your family had already departed Dragon Valley, and I was unable to track them down. I’d been a vampire for nearly a century then, not long enough to perfect my abilities. Then I discovered them in Bridgeport. But you, Isaiah, you took her life, and that of your two brothers who were so loyal to your dear mother. That revenge was meant to be mine. And I was also informed that you had a human companion help you. I knew that companion had to have been your mate, that human lying pathetically on the couch over there. I’m the one who set up this grand photography show for her fashion line. I lured her here, knowing that if I put her in danger, I would eventually get to you, for you’d come searching for her, like a moth to a flame. And as you can see, my plan worked perfectly. Now, I shall take your life, and that of your mate, so that I may finally have my revenge.”

The entire time she was talking, Florence had become more animated. Kenzie thought she’d seen crazy before, but this was ranked high on her list. Isaiah had never really talked about his past before, but now she could see why. Even if what this crazy woman was saying wasn’t true, she knew first-hand how asinine Isaiah’s mother and brothers had been.

And then something dawned on her.

“Jillian wasn’t the human who helped him take down his mother and brothers,” she asserted as she stood up. “It was me. I’m the one who was with him in Bridgeport.”

Florence looked at Kenzie, as if seeing her for the first time, even though she’d knocked her away like a rag doll only moments before.

“And who, pray tell, are you?”

“I’m Jillian’s best friend. And we’re here to get her back.”

This got a loud guffaw out of the otherwise reserved vampire woman. “You think you can possibly defeat me? Walk out of here with your little friend? You and what army?”

“My army,” Elijah suddenly growled from behind Isaiah. He stood in the doorway, his large frame nearly filling its entirety. “I should have known you were behind this, Flossie. You never could leave old matters buried. Pun intended. And it’s equally unsurprising about the lack of vampire guards around this place; you always did want to handle everything yourself.”

“So it seems that you’ve sided with the prodigal son,” Flossie purred in an irritatingly unctuous voice. “You never could show loyalty to your own flesh and blood.”

“Technically, you’re not my flesh and blood. You’re only half, and I don’t claim either.”

“But what could you possibly owe this boy?”

“Some of us are actually capable of showing remorse. Isaiah never actually met you, so he had no idea what you looked like; only that you were a vampire, like me. You didn’t even take your adopted last name. It’s no wonder he didn’t recognize you now until you gave him your entire story. I owed him a favor for your very actions. You seduced his father, thus shattering the entire Cavanaugh family.”

“Mathias didn’t have to be seduced. He was very willing, in all ways. That family was shattered long before I entered the picture.”

“Shut up!” Isaiah shouted, and charged toward the petite woman.

“Take another step and she dies!” Flossie threatened, twice as fast as Isaiah and already hovering in front of Jillian, who was barely breathing, her fangs bared with her stance not unlike that of a wild animal predator guarding its prey.

The sudden noise and movement caused Jillian to stir, and her eyes finally fluttered open as she took in everything around her.

“What…?” she began to ask. But Flossie was on her instantly, a wild animal claiming its prey.

But Elijah was also there in an instant, moving as fast as his half-sister had. Kenzie ascertained that this was because they were probably both around the same age. According to Isaiah, the older a vampire, the more powerful he or she was in terms of strength and speed.

Lucky for them, at least one of these two elder vampires was on their side.

“Let the girl go,” Elijah growled. “If it’s Isaiah you want, then take him. You don’t need the girl.”

“Maybe not now, but I’m very thirsty. He should be thanking me that I even kept his mate alive all this time. But I do need something to sate my thirst, you know.”

And with that, Flossie held Jillian up with one hand as she exposed her fangs, ready to strike like a snake.

“No!” Kenzie screamed. Isaiah lunged toward Flossie, but Elijah was faster. He ripped his half-sister’s hand from Jillian’s neck, but he wasn’t as gentle as he could have been. Jillian dropped to the floor painfully, letting out a high-pitched yelp.

Meanwhile, the sibling rivalry was heating up, until Flossie appeared to surrender.

“Fine!” she exclaimed madly. “I’ll let the girl go. My primary intention here was for revenge. And since that human over there” – she pointed at Kenzie – “has stated that she was the one that helped Isaiah take my revenge away from me, I’ll have her blood, instead!”

“I don’t think so,” said a new voice from the doorway. Everyone turned to see Hayden standing there, fully transformed into werewolf form (and it wasn’t even during the full moon), with his brother beside him, also transformed.

Kenzie heaved a sigh of relief. She knew Hayden wouldn’t disappoint her. He’d stayed away long enough for her and Isaiah to get to Jillian, but he’d had a plan all along. He’d called his older brother, the alpha male of the werewolf pack in Moonlight Falls, which was only a short drive away, to assist in taking down some vampires. Of course Ellis would love that.

“Seriously?” Flossie asked. “Who invited the dogs? I have a rule – no pets allowed in this house. Unless, of course, they also provide sustenance.”

“You bitch!” Isaiah raged, and lunged once more. Hayden and Ellis actually joined him, knocking over the coffee table and its contents in the process. Even Paige got involved, beginning chants and emitting sparks from her wand that hit Flossie square in the head and chest.

Flossie, being an elder vampire, was pretty powerful. But with two werewolves, lethal enemies to vampires, a pissed off vampire mate, a just-as-old half-brother, and a witch taking her on, she didn’t stand a chance. She obviously hadn’t figured on Isaiah bringing backup of any kind to take her down. Overpowering him and Jillian would have been child’s play. But three other allies, all supernatural creatures? This was a prime example of karma.

But the horror wasn’t yet over. Kenzie, unable to really contribute to this battle (having not even thinking to grab the stake Isaiah had given her all those years ago), turned her attention to Jillian.

And saw that her friend was lying prone on the floor, once again unconscious from the impact from being dropped earlier…but with blood oozing out of a large wound in her head.

“Shit!” she screamed. “Jillian! Oh, creator, no!”

A sickening snap was heard, and Kenzie looked up just in time to see Flossie’s head bounce across the floor like a basketball. She fought back the urge to retch and turned back to her friend.

“Isaiah!” she screamed. “Help her!”

Isaiah was at her side in an instant. He propped his mate up and held her head while Kenzie sobbed hysterically next to them. The blood only seemed to darken and continue to flow. The more Isaiah looked at Jillian and tried to revive her, the more hopeless the situation became.

“She’s lost too much blood,” Isaiah ascertained as he shifted positions, causing Kenzie to crawl to the other side of her friend. “There’s no time to take her to a hospital. And that nasty wound in her head, plus in her neck, need to be healed.”

“So heal her!”

“Kenzie, there’s only one way to heal her at this point. She’s beyond human help.”

“I said to heal her!”

“You won’t like it.”

“What is it?”

“I can use my blood to heal her. She needs supernatural blood. But with the amount she’s already lost, there’s a fifty percent chance she’ll become a vampire like me because of how much blood must be replenished.”

“Are you insane?!”

“There’s no time to argue, Kenzie. It’s your choice. But you have to decide fast; time is running out!”

Kenzie couldn’t believe this. The fate of her best friend was in her hands. What did she do? Did she save her best friend’s life and risk her becoming a vampire? Or did she save her soul and let her die as a human?