"You've definitely known him your whole life?" I asked once more. We'd been at it for ages, I'd forced Emmett to skip his last period and he was starting to get tired of my prodding into his personal life.
"Yes, I've already told you. We met in middle school! He's a little odd, but I'm telling you it's nothing to make such a fuss about, can I just go to my locker now, the final bell's about to ring."
"No." I growled. "Have you noticed any change in his usual behavior? Is he doing poorly in his classes?"
"What? No, I mean, nothing out of the ordinary, he just doesn't apply himself–"
"But does he seem, I don't know, colder? Has he changed at all since you met him?"
"Audrey, come on; I really think–"
I shot him a look.
"Sorry, Hex. I forgot. But do you really think he's worth all this? I mean you've only been here one day, why does it matter, just give him a chance, he's just shy is all."
"Shy? That was not shy, that was… that was carrying out orders." I said, the realization dawning on me finally. "Think." I spun on Emmett. "Has he changed at all since you met?"
"I don't know, what does it matter?" Emmett sighed.
"No, no, not as a person, I mean has he changed? Does he look any different today than he did all those years ago?"
"What do you mean? Of course he's changed! Like grown? Well of course, he's… you know, taller…" Emmett faltered for a second, and I pounced.
"No he hasn't Emmet has he? He was too tall, too grown up back in middle school, and now he's on the short side. He doesn't put on weight like the other boys and his hair never grows, is that right?"
"No way." Emmett shook his head. "I mean yeah back then, he was an early bloomer, and we've all just caught up is all. And he's just kind of a skinny kid! Look, Hex, or whatever your real name is, I'm getting tired of this game. What's the point?"
"I'm right aren't I?"
Emmett fell silent.
"Listen Emmett, don't go anywhere with him okay? Just trust me on this one." I pinched the bridge of my nose, trying to think of a solution, something to say to get him to trust me. Inspiration came with a snap of my fingers, and I grabbed a sheet of paper out of Emmett's binder and a black felt marker off a nearby desk. My hand flowed over the white paper, streaking it with black ink, the insignia coming to life under my palm. "Do you recognize this?" I turned the page to face him. It was long shot, but my best option at the moment. Emmett leaned forward, examining my drawing and heaving a great sigh.
"Okay now I know you've completely lost your marbles." He said finally, looking up at me, his emerald eyes almost bored. I looked back at him expectantly. "What's a rose got to do with anything?"
"A black rose. You've never seen anything like it before?"
"Well… I guess my mom used to have a lot of jewelry with little roses." He answered. "But I'm sure loads of people do."
"Your mom had black roses?"
"Yeah, she had a pair of earrings with roses on them just like that, wore them everywhere. My dad still has them I think. Why?"
My heart sank into the pit of my stomach. "She wore them everywhere?"
"Pretty much. Now will you tell me what all this is about? Or can I please go home?"
I nodded. Emmett bid me goodnight and vacated the library, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
If Emmett's mom wore her roses everywhere she went in human society, she was either crazy, or unaware of her magical lineage. Most likely they were passed down to her, she probably didn't know what they meant. But some people did. Some dark Monster would have seen those roses and known exactly what they meant even if she did not, which made her car accident look less like a car accident and more like an assassination. No, no it cannot be. I thought miserably. Too evil, that's play too foul for even the slimiest of Monsters. I shoved the idea aside and made my way towards the parking lot at the front of the school, hoping to catch Emmett on his way home and make sure the only person following him, was a friend.
The wind had picked up since the morning, and I pulled my cardigan closer around my body, trying to block the worst of it. Emmett was clearly visible, cautiously backing out of his parking spot and making his way for the lot exit. I hurried to my own car and slammed the key into the ignition, never taking my eyes of the blue sedan. I followed it onto the highway a couple cars behind, not wanting to be noticed.
After a little while of driving, I realized we were turning off the road onto the thin path leading to Emmett's house. A black pickup led the three of us around a couple bends, until the road was barely wide enough for two cars. I hung back a ways and parked my car off to the side of the road, far enough behind a bend to remain unseen as I slipped off my heels and climbed out. I could see that there were a few driveways here, each with identical iron gates that I had not noticed on my previous visits. Clearly I had been too obsessed with finding Emmett to pay much attention to my surroundings. Rookie mistake there. I caught up to the cars on foot, carefully trying to step where the path was smoothest to save my bare feet. The black truck started to pull into a driveway, blocking the entire road while a long arm reached out from the driver seat to punch a code into the gate. A man hopped out of the passengers seat and stepped towards Emmett's window. My body tensed as the window came down and the man leaned forward to speak to Emmett.
A bad feeling started to build in my stomach as I watched them, and I occurred to me that although the gate was open, the truck made no move to enter the property; instead, it waited.
Suddenly, the man reached his hand through the window and grabbed Emmett around the throat. The rest of the truck doors opened and two more men joined him, one wrenched the door off Emmett's car, the other made for his seat, lifting a terrified, struggling Emmett out of the vehicle and into the air.
Their strength was incredible. The humanoid creature had torn away the car door as if it were a piece of paper, and his buddy had managed to pry the entire drivers seat out of the sedan, including the steering wheel, which Emmett still clung to, kicking his feet out madly, trying to fend off his attackers. The whole scenario would have been comical had the pale, terrified expression on Emmett's angelic face not marred it. Not willing to waste a single second more, I acted, snapping a good-sized branch off a nearby tree and hastily breaking the end into a crude, splintered point, I moved from my hiding spot into the attack. Quickly as I could, I thrust my stake into the lower back of the monster who carried Emmett's chair and used it's hold to support my weight as I swung my leg around and hit the second creature full in the stomach. The one whom I'd stabbed screamed in pain and fury, dropping the chair and clawing at the point of the stake that poked through his shriveling belly.
"Get up Emmett!" I shouted to the boy who'd just fallen. He hastily fumbled with the seatbelt and managed to get himself free as I twisted my stake from the back of one monster and faced the second. It hissed at me, it's eye's reddening and canines elongating until they surpassed its bottom lip. Instinct took over and I feigned for it's right hip, ducking at the last minute and avoiding the blow that followed. His fingernails scratched against my cheek, as I stepped inside his shield and forced my stake into the softness between his ribcage. Dark red blood spurted from the wound and the vampire screamed in agony, his skin already yellowing, his hair flaking away as he died.
"Emmett!" I ran towards him. "Did they bite you? What happened?"
"There's one more, it's…. Did you just kill those men? What's going on? Hex, what the hell just happened to me? One minute I–"
"Hold that thought Emmett." I cut him off. "Did you see where the last one got to?"
"Right here darling." A voice purred. I jerked my head up and saw a figure perched on the back of the pick-up, a satisfied smirk on its lips. Pushing Emmett behind me I raised my bloodied stake and let a low growl escape my throat. The figure laughed and pushed back his hood to reveal a cold grey stare, half concealed by strands of ebony hair.
"You're stronger than I anticipated girl, a little more fire in your blood than I'd have thought." Cain half-whispered, his voice as slippery as a snake. "Oh don't look at me like that, I'm paying you a compliment. Besides, fiery blood is quite the delicacy these days wouldn't you know?" He rose from his perch, leaning forward slightly and inhaled deeply, letting his eyes close.
In a blur of movement I felt pain in my right hand and the stake was gone, hurled into the forest leaving nothing but little splinters in my palm. Cain stood a few feet in front of me, his eyes still closed, his breath deep.
"Cain…what are you doing?" A hushed voice spoke from behind me. The vampire's eyes snapped open and he smiled.
"I didn't think your new friend needed that anymore Emmett. Besides," His grey gaze locked my violet one. "Such rich, powerful blood can only be consumed by kings." I watched in disgust as the vampire's eyes trailed down my face to my throat, his fangs poking out from his mouth, drenched in saliva, he wet his lips and took a step towards me, gently pushing my hair off my neck with a long fingered hand. I prayed the bloodlust would distract him enough so that he could not hear me, and whispered as quietly as I could, with at little movement of my lips as possible.
Te, omnis immundus spiritus omnis satanica
"But surely…it wouldn't hurt." Cain murmured to himself. "Just to have a taste. A small sample."
Potestas inimici cum omni phantásma, et ceciderunt omnes socios Hecates nomine.
I spoke faster.
He was near upon me now, his teeth glinting in anticipation, I heard only the beat of my own heart against my chest, barely aware of Emmett's cries to his friend.
Et effugare ab hoc plasmate procul eius.
My voice was louder now, but Cain didn't seem to notice. His teeth scratched against my skin as he chose the spot to bite, clasped my wrists with his hands and touched his tongue to the surface of my skin. My breath was quick as I shouted the last line
Protegeret eum et custodiet eum custodiam!
Hot, red fire exploded from my hands and Cain jumped back snarling. My hair whirled around me as the magic flowed freely, enveloping my body and giving me new strength. Cain flew backwards and screamed as the spell washed over him, sending him writhing on the ground. Not willing to miss the opportunity, I lept on top of him and pressed both of my hands against his heart, magic prickling inside them, dying to be released.
"Who are you working for?" I screamed at him. "Tell me!" I shouted, send jolt after jolt of magic into him, but the vampire only laughed a manic laugh until some force pulled me away.
"What are you doing?" Emmett hollered. "You're going to kill him!"
I turned to the boy lying on the ground before me.
"No I won't. I can't without wood." I picked a twig off the ground made to threaten him with it, when Emmett's hand clasped by forearm.
"Don't!" He shouted.
I looked at him incredulously. His green eyes had darkened with concern and he pulled my arm again.
"Please." He begged. "Don't…just don't hurt him anymore."
I scowled. "If I don't stake him, he'll hurt you."
"No he won't. Just don't kill him." Emmett pleaded.
I turned to the vampire and back to my lost witch and gave a big sigh, choosing Emmett's side. I didn't want him to think I was as much a monster as his friend Cain was.
"We're going to regret this." I growled, bending down to Cain's level, his eyes opaque black, hissing like an animal but paralyzed on the earth, his hair standing on end. I touched my index and middle fingers to his forehead and he fell unconscious.
"Can't we…do anything?" Emmett called behind me, hovering over the scene. Two piles of yellowed dusty clothes lay beside a wrecked car and an unconscious vampire on the middle of the road. I shrugged.
"No. Come with me."
"Listen." I huffed. "We can't stay here. You're in terrible danger, please. Trust me."
Still Emmett did not move.
"If you don't come with me, I'll have to force you." I said sternly. "More of them are coming I'm sure, and we have to be long gone by the time they arrive."
"I'll come." Emmett took a step toward me, his eyes wide and fearful.
I moved us quickly, listening intently to the woods and hoping that back up was delayed. I started the car engine before Emmett sat down and was already going 60 when he got his seatbelt on. I maneuvered the twisty road at top speed, barely keeping all four wheels on the ground. Emmett sat in silence, his hand gripping the edge of his seat until his knuckles turned white. The engine roared and the car bounced wildly on the loose surface of the road as we whipped around corners, my eyes fixed on the forest ahead. A flicker of black caught my eye and I swerved the car sharply right, pushing Emmett's head down with my free hand.
"Get down." I ordered. Emmett obeyed, slouching in his seat until only the top of his blond head was visible. I tore past a black pick-up truck and glanced in the front window as we flew by. The driver's eyes pierced mine, glowing red with anger. I pushed the gas pedal to the floor as we broke out of the woods, screaming onto the highway. I twisted my body around and saw the truck spinning, spraying earth everywhere as it struggled to turn around.
"Shit." I swore, laying on the accelerator, weaving in and out of traffic. Cars scattered and blared their horns, but I ignored it all, glancing in my rearview mirror.
"What is it?" Emmett asked calmly, his hands still gripping his seat tightly.
"They're here already. Goddess how did they move so quickly?" I swore again.
I ignored Emmett for the moment, putting al my focus into losing the truck while keeping civilian fatalities to a minimum. The truck was in fast pursuit, closing in on our tail. I pursed my lips and cranked the wheel left, cutting off a minivan and sending it reeling into the meridian.
"Where does the first exit go?" I demanded.
"Springfield, down by the lake."
"No, mostly offices."
"Great." I slowed a little, allowing the truck to catch up and switched to the outermost lane so that we were riding directly beside them.
"Emmett listen very carefully, I need you to look out your window and tell me everything you notice about the driver. Can you do that?"
"He's… He's shouting something. Oh god, someone's getting out. Another guy… I think he's going to jump! Hex, what is going on?" Panic crept into Emmett's voice for the first time.
"The driver Emmett, worry about the driver." I saw that a man was climbing on the outside of the truck, looking like he was most certainly about to hop cars. I cursed.
"He's skinny? Really pale skin, and… oh god, he's got red eyes. White blond hair, sharp cheekbones, looks like he could use a good night's sleep." Emmett looked at me.
"You've got two seconds, what else do you see?" I grunted, keeping one eye on the jumper and another on the approaching exit lane.
"Nothing! Wait hang on… he's got like, a tattoo maybe?" Emmett squinted at the driver, but time ran out, and not wanting to miss my opportunity, I turned the wheel as sharp right as I could, just as the vampire decided to jump. He flew through the air, over the car and into oncoming traffic. Cars squealed to a stop all around us, but I pushed the wheel harder, sending the back end of the little car in a wide circle, dodging traffic and trying to remain on the road, I pulled the car into the exit lane and stomped on the accelerator. As the car zoomed ahead, I turned back and saw the black truck struggling to recoup, but was unable to move anywhere due to the massive pile up I'd just caused. I smiled a little and checked Emmett. He looked a little green, but didn't appear to have been shaken up too badly.
"We're not out of the woods yet, Emmett." I laughed at his expression, "But you're safe, I promise."