I've put a lot of thought into The Returned so I hope all of you like it. It's going to be a huge roller coaster ride if everything goes as planned. Enjoy.
"Are you sure?'
"Yes," he nodded as he knelt down beside the tombstone. "She's perfect."
"Then get on with it," his male companion told him. "Do your freaky voodoo thing so we can get back."
The other man couldn't help but laugh at his companion's choice of words. He didn't understand why he had volunteered to come along in the first place if it bothered him so much.
"Run back home if you're that afraid, Danny boy."
"Zachariah," the one called Danny growled. "Lilith is going to be pissed when you bring home another one."
Again Zachariah laughed. Danny was right of course. Lilith, who also happened to be his mate, had a fiery temper and while she loved all of their children, she was beginning to grow angry.
Zachariah had brought home one stray too many.
"You leave her to me," Zachariah told Danny. "It's not too late for you to go on back."
"I'm good, thanks. If I head back without you, Sarah will have my head on a platter."
Zachariah gave a nod – mostly to himself – as he ran his hand over the cold granite of the deceased's headstone. He knew that the one beneath the hard ground would be a perfect fit for his family and hopefully, as a mate for Logan.
"Shh," Zachariah hissed. He quickly brushed his black hair out of his face before returning to the task at hand. He moved slowly, getting a feel of the one beneath. He knew that she was different than the others. He just didn't know how yet. Even in death, she was powerful. He couldn't wait to see what his world had in store for this one.
"Quiet. I'm working."
Danny rolled his eyes before focusing on Zachariah. Zachariah was now on top the freshly turned ground and digging at the dirt.
"What are you doing that for?" Danny asked. "Can't you just abracadabra that crap and poof?"
"No poof," Zachariah answered. "She's already begun our transformation."
"And that means… what exactly?"
"She needs a bit of help. Start digging."
Danny groaned but did as he was told.
Both men dug furiously, neither speaking. This gave both the time to reflect. Zachariah thought about how far he had come since the Dark Ages, when he had been turned by a beautiful redheaded stranger. He had been alone during his transformation into a vampire. He had been by himself – meeting others of his kind as he traveled, living life as a nomad. In 1692, he found himself in the New World in a town that was in turmoil. The townspeople were accusing others of witchcraft and that was how he found his mate, Lilith. She had been one of the accused and executed. For nearly one hundred years, it had just been the two of them. They had only been in the newly named Raleigh for six months before Danny joined them. He had grown gravely ill and passed at the age of twenty. Sarah, Danny's mate, was eighteen when she perished in 1820 from a horrible carriage accident in New Orleans. Finally, in 1830, the coven found themselves back in Raleigh. A house fire had claimed the lives of twins, Logan and Olivia. They had been the children of Danny's beloved little sister.
Danny, on the other hand, thought that Zachariah's talent was quite unnerving. He knew that if Zachariah didn't have the power to bring the dead back to the land of the living then he would still be in that unmarked grave rather than next to him – his father figure for the last two hundred years – digging through the dirt of tiny Forks.
Since Olivia and Logan joined them, Zachariah had been on some sort of mission. They were the only ones without mates and until now, every grave had been unworthy.
This girl - this Isabella M. Cullen, as her headstone read – had been deemed worthy of Zachariah Turner.
Danny only hoped that Isabella lived up to Zachariah's expectations.
"How much more of this?" Danny whined.
"How much more of your whining?" Zachariah retaliated as he slid down into the deep hole that they had created. "Give me a hand, would you?"
Danny sighed before sliding into the pit as well. Though the hole was decent sized, the casket was still lodged securely in the earth. Zachariah grabbed hold of a handle and Danny grabbed the other. On the count of three, both men gave the casket a tug and a heave before sending it flying out of the hole.
Wasting no time, Zachariah scurried out, ignoring a cursing Danny who was now covered in loose dirt and small rocks.
Zachariah pried the coffin open and gasped.
The woman inside should have started to decay but instead, she looked as if she had just been laid to rest. Her brown hair was still perfectly curled and her pale white skin was flawless. The only indication that she had even been underground at all was because her white dress was filthy and torn.
"Come on," Danny hissed. "I want to get back."
"Then go," Zachariah snapped, finally having enough of Danny's moaning and groaning. This time, Danny didn't reply. He gave a small huff before taking off. "Cry baby."
Zachariah examined the young woman more closely by kneeling beside the white casket. He didn't quite understand how she had passed or how she had ended up half way through the transformation.
"What happened to you, my dear?" he asked himself. "Who did you leave behind?"
Glancing at her headstone, he finally saw her name.
"Cullen." He rocked back on to the heels of his feet, resting his arms on his knees. "That explains everything."
He didn't know how she had come to be associated with the Cullens but it was clear that she had been human and by the large ring on her left hand, she had been married as well.
Zachariah had met Carlisle Cullen briefly when both were staying with the Volturi in Italy so many years ago. Carlisle had been the one to turn him on to the vegetarian lifestyle. He had a mate and five "children", much like he did. All had a mate except one from what he had heard.
That one had –
"Damn it," Zachariah growled.
Now what was he supposed to do?
Isabella was no longer a viable candidate as a mate for Logan but he knew that he couldn't just leave her behind. Her transformation was so close to being completed and he had already gone to the trouble of disturbing her grave.
Resigned, Zachariah thrust his hand straight into Isabella's chest. His hand wrapped tightly around her heart and he gave the organ a few good squeezes in an effort to jump start her body.
Her heart began to beat furiously, forcing Zachariah to remove his hand from her body.
All he could do now was wait. He had done his part. He could hear her heart beating, working overtime as the transformation neared the end.
It wouldn't be much longer, Zachariah knew. The woods of Forks was no place for a newborn to awaken, especially if she had been a local.
So Zachariah did the only thing that he could do.
He picked Isabella u out of the casket and took off, in the direction of home.