"It's been three days, Dylan." I heard a boy say in a voice that rang like a bell. He was talking softly, but I could still hear the sound of his voice over my racing heartbeat. "When's Evan going to get back?"
"I don't know, Tatum." The boy named Dylan replied. His voice sounded dryer than the other boy's voice. "I haven't been able to get ahold of Jon, either."
"Something is up, Dylan." Tatum stated coldly.
'What could have happened to Evan?' I asked myself.
"It's nothing for you to worry about, Jenna." Dylan stated, making my mind immediately try to figure out how he knew what I was thinking. Then, Dylan giggled as he replied to my thoughts. "I can read your mind, Jenna. You may as well get used to it; I can't turn it off."
I felt myself frown at his words.
'Am I on fire?' I decided to ask.
"No," Dylan replied with a giggle. "You're actually very beautiful, Jenna."
"What did she ask?" Tatum asked.
"She asked if she was on fire," Dylan replied.
"Oh," Tatum stated. "Don't worry, Jenna. You're not on fire; even though it feels like you're burning to death. This goes for you, too, Leonard. You're both going to be very different when you wake up in a few days. You'll be stronger, faster, but most of all; you're going to want to drink blood. It's going to be the one thing that you want more than anything. Trust me. You'll kill for it."
'Is he serious?' I asked.
"Yes, Jenna." Dylan replied. "He's being very serious. I know you've witnessed it already, Leonard, but it's going to be different when you actually experience it for yourself, though. I pushed a car over a cliff, and then I fought against my own family just so I could drain him dry."
"You should tell her," Tatum suggested.
"It's not my story to tell, Tatum." Dylan replied shortly.
"Part of it is, Dylan." Tatum said soothingly.
"I just can't, Tatum." Dylan finally said. "Not yet."
'I understand, Dylan.' I told the mind reader as I tried to think around the pain. 'How much longer are we going to be like this?'
"We don't know, yet." Dylan said. "It's kind of hard to judge with a new species."
"Evan took eight days to go through the change, Jenna." Tatum added, picking up on what we had been talking about. "I only burned for six days."
'Burn is an accurate description for it,' I said before the fire in my head flared up again.
Sonya would spend hours talking to me every night while Isabella made sure that my human needs were well tended for. After proving that I wouldn't run off during the daylight hours, Sonya gave me free reign of the Penthouse. Adam was barred from entering the rooms during the daylight hours due to his hatred of me for some reason, so a younger werewolf was assigned to watch over me during the day.
Oscar was forever sixteen; having only been turned into a werewolf for two years, that made him eighteen. Adam approved of the teenager's loyalty to Sonya, so he didn't mind Oscar being assigned as my guard. Oscar was friendly and would spend his waking hours with me playing different video games or watching corny television shows. He was always nice to me and made sure that Isabella's instructions for my care were followed closely. Something told me that he cared more for the vampire than he wanted to admit, and he would do whatever it took to keep Isabella happy. I guess that made my life easier.
Nobody would tell me about Evan, though. Sonya had forbidden anyone from talking to my brother about it, so I gave up even trying. It kept Sonya from getting pissed off enough to end my life. Only she truly knew where the line would be drawn before she decided to keep me locked away in the dog kennel that she kept next to her coffin in the basement. It was Isabella who had talked Sonya out of making me spend a day in there just to see what I was missing.
"It'll be okay, Ethan." Isabella told me later that night as she tucked me into my bed. "Sonya won't do anything to hurt you, child. She needs you alive since you're the only one who can open the portal to Orthis's prison."
"Who is that?" I asked nervously. "Who is Orthis?"
"He's the Father of Darkness, Ethan." Isabella told me icily. "The human born son of Arella."
I looked at the woman in confusion as she said another strange name that I had never heard before.
"You'll figure it all out, soon enough." Isabella told me. "For now, it's almost morning, and time for you to get some rest."
"Thanks for keeping me safe, Isabella." I told the dark-haired woman.
She smiled before she kissed the top of my head.
"You remind me so much of my little brother," she said before she left me alone in the bedroom at the top of the skyscraper.
The days continued to pass; one after another, until I had been Sonya's prisoner for six days. I wanted to scream as I felt myself beginning to lose my grip on sanity. I watched the news daily just to see if there was any story about my disappearance, but nothing was ever said. Why wasn't my father looking for me? Or was the search being kept under wraps, so nobody discovered the existence of the Underworld; the same world that I had been drawn into kicking and screaming. After four days, I gave up even trying to find any story about my kidnapping. My father was obviously up to something. That idea made me feel safer as the sun rose above the horizon outside my prison window.
'I love you, Evan.' I thought sadly as I drifted off to sleep. 'Please, come save me.'
The dream caught me off guard with a vision of Evan and Tatum standing before me; both with blood red eyes. They both turned to look to their right as Jenna stepped up with the same bright eyes as theirs. My heart began to race in my chest as Jenna's red eyes gazed at me thirstily.
"Jenna?" I asked in fear.
There was a low growl coming from her throat as she took another step towards me.
"Please, Jenna." I begged in a soft voice. "Please, don't kill me."
"I don't want to kill you, Ethan." Jenna sad in a dry tone. "I need to kill you."
I frowned as tear fell down my cheek, but I didn't flinch or scream as the three vampires stepped closer to me. I looked up at my brother, the thirst was evident in his pained expression as he returned my stare.
"They told me that you're still alive, Evan." I said.
The monster didn't even flinch when I said his name. Instead, he just continued advancing towards me methodically. All I could do was wait for them to kill me.
'It's just a dream,' I told myself over and over again. 'Evan's dead! It doesn't matter what anybody says! Your brother is dead!'
Evan, Jenna, and Tatum all reached out for me at the same time, but I woke up and escaped the nightmare of my own demise. It wasn't my first dream like that. I had already had multiple nightmares where Evan was the star of the show. Sometimes he would be defending me, while in other dreams he would be the villain.
Oscar was sitting in one of the recliners with the television on low when I sat up suddenly with tears falling down my cheeks. Oscar glanced at me in confusion before he was suddenly seated on the bed next to me. The werewolf pulled me into his warm chest and let me cry myself out as I tried to get over the nightmare.
"Was it the nightmare about your brother again?" Oscar asked softly.
All I could do was nod as I fought off the sniffles left over from my crying fit. Oscar didn't give me any grief over the situation, though. Instead, the werewolf just held me until the last of my sniffles had died away, and I drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
"What?" I stared at my mentor in disbelief as he told me what had happened over the past week. "Croft took Evan in as a prisoner?"
"I believe the word you're looking for is 'kidnapped', Justin." David said calmly.
I couldn't believe how nonchalant he was being about the entire ordeal. Ethan had been kidnapped. Evan had been kidnapped. Jenna was in the process of turning into a vampire.
"Doesn't Croft know what kind of fire he's playing with?" I asked David with an edge to my voice.
"Relax, Justin." David instructed. "Some things are meant to happen for a reason."
"Like the love of my life being kidnapped by a fucking werewolf?" I snapped angrily before I turned and stormed off into the approaching darkness. I couldn't bring myself to listen to anything he had to say any longer. I would have done anything to protect Ethan, but David had called me on my phone just before Jenna and Ethan decided to take their fateful walk; the walk that would take them out of my life.
As the tears began to fall down my cheeks, I broke out into a run. I heard David calling for me, but I didn't want to stop. I couldn't stop even if I did want to do so. All I could do was run and think about how scared Ethan must be. My brain kept showing me the worst possible scenarios; Ethan being bitten by Sonya, Evan being burned alive by Agent Croft, Jenna dying in the middle of her change, and back to something equally as terrible happening to Ethan.
I didn't see the felled tree branch through my clouded vision until it was too late, and my foot caught on the edge of it before I could jump over the rotting obstacle - effectively throwing me face first into the mud-caked forest floor. I felt the skin on my cheek tear open, but the sting from the wound began fading before I even had a chance to pick myself up. I wiped the mud away from my face and found the wound was slowly stitching itself back together, leaving me with a tingling sensation in its wake. I stumbled to the nearest tree and sat with my back against it as I continued to let my grief run its course. There was nothing else I could do. Ethan's kidnapping was the final straw for me, and it took David nearly three hours to keep me from going off to find him by myself.
"And what are you going to do while that fucking moonwalker gets further away with my boyfriend?" I had demanded of David the night Ethan was taken. "Am I supposed to just sit here and pretend everything is normal? My best friend is barely clinging to life with the back of her head smashed in, and Ethan is who only knows where?!"
"That's exactly what you must do, Justin." David said in his infuriatingly calm tone. "It will look suspicious if you disappear, too. Go be with your friends. You're not the only one that cared about Jenna and Ethan."
"When are you coming back?" I had asked.
"I'll meet you at our usual spot in four days, Justin." David said before he ended the call.
I had done as David said, and spent the next week at school acting mopey like the remainder of the student population. The school was going to close for the week, but there was too much backlash from the city and its residents. So, our high school continued on like nothing had happened. Kevin was the hardest person for me to deal with. He loved Jenna as much as I loved Ethan, and it was destroying him to hear what happened. Then, Jenna went missing from the hospital without any clue as to what had happened to her. The nurse that was on duty at the time had left the room to do her rounds and returned to find that the comatose patient had vanished in the space of fifteen minutes.
I giggled slightly as I tried to imagine the look of bewilderment on the old woman's face when she had returned to find the bed empty. The giggle turned to sniffles as I remembered why Jenna had went missing from the hospital. My Mentor and his favorite student had rescued Jenna from death. My only hope was that none of what had happened was in vain. I wouldn't be able to bare it if something worse had happened to Ethan.
I continued to wander around the school like a lost soul as the days progressed and I continued waiting for any word on Ethan's whereabouts. The only thing anybody knew was that Sonya had taken him. All David would tell me was to be patient.
The rumors running around the school about the incident involving Ethan and Jenna were crazier than I could have imagined. A few people were suggesting that Ethan's dad had pissed off the wrong people, and the Bentley Family was the target of the mob. I giggled slightly when I heard that one, but it wasn't nearly as funny as the students that were saying they were being kidnapped by aliens.
'If only you knew the truth,' I thought bitterly as another school day ended, and I was still without my Ethan. 'Where are you, Ethan?'
I breathed a sigh of relief the moment that my heart finished beating for the last time and the fire that had been burning through my body for days on end had finally faded away to nothing. A million tastes and scents flooded my senses as I took in that first breath. I heard myself growl as the fire flared up in my throat. I opened my eyes to find myself in a dimly lit motel room. The sound of a thrumming heartbeat drew my gaze to my right to find a young man that appeared to be slightly older than myself grunting in agony with his eyes clenched tightly shut.
"He's still going through the change," I heard from my left.
My body reacted before I could even process what was happening. I pushed myself up and off of the bed, and in the blink of an eye; my body twisted around until I was facing the back side of the room and I landed in a defensive crouch.
"Wow," a blonde-haired teen said in awe.
The black-haired boy standing beside him giggled lightly and smiled at me.
"It's nice of you to finally join us, Jenna." The smaller teen said. "I'm Tatum Bentley."
"Oh," I said as the name brought back a brief memory of Ethan telling me about how his cousin was dying. "Ethan and Evan's cousin."
He smiled and nodded.
"I'm Dylan Thompson, Jenna." The blonde-haired teen introduced himself. "I'm the one that's been listening to your thoughts this past week."
"Relax, Jenna." Tatum said as he continued to smile. "Neither of us is going to hurt you. You're safe here."
I nodded and let myself stand up the rest of the way, but I still kept my legs tense and ready to run if I needed to. Dylan shook his head while Tatum giggled.
"Where's Evan?" I asked curiously. "Why isn't he here?"
Tatum's facial expression flashed to one filled with anger before I saw him visibly relax and scowl.
"He was delayed by Director Croft, Jenna." Tatum answered. "We're not exactly sure how long he's going to be delayed for, either."
'Damn,' I thought miserably. 'I really needed to tell him about Ethan.'
"He knows, Jenna." Dylan said. "You told him already."
"The dream was real?" I asked in disbelief.
"Sort of," Tatum said with a shrug. "I'll let Evan explain it to you when he gets back. It's not really my story to tell."
I began to study the two teenagers as they talked back and forth for a moment about Evan. They both looked relatively similar, but their skin texture was different, and Tatum had silver streaks in his eyes that seemed to flash as he glanced about the room. Dylan giggled, and I couldn't stop myself from frowning as I remembered that he could hear my thoughts.
"Sorry, Jenna." Dylan quickly apologized. "I can't really turn it off, though."
"What's wrong, now?" Tatum asked, mildly concerned.
I sighed and sat on the edge of the other bed. Leonard shifted slightly as the bed dipped beside him. I could feel the heat radiating from him as his heart pumped the venom of rebirth through his veins. His screams had turned into mild grunts, and his heart sounded like it was beginning to skip beats.
"He was bitten a few hours after you were, Jenna." Dylan explained cautiously. "We're expecting Leonard to wake up about an hour before it's time for you both go hunting. Now, if you'll excuse me, the sun is about to rise and I don't want to spend my sleep listening to Leonard's heartbeat. Sorry, Leo, but you make me have funny dreams."
Leonard grunted slightly differently.
"It's not your fault, Leonard." Dylan replied to the unspoken statement. "And don't worry, Tatum has all day to fill you guys in on what's going on."
With that, Dylan strolled to the door and promptly left us in the room. Tatum just shrugged like it wasn't a big deal when I looked at him, so I let myself relax again.
"We've got a long day ahead of us, Jenna." Tatum said as he moved over to my unoccupied bed and laid down on the far side of it. He reached over and snatched the remote off of the nightstand and proceeded to flip through the channels like a typical teenager. "There's never anything on this early in the morning."
"Why does my throat burn?" I asked as I felt the fire flare up in my throat again. I put my fingers to my throat and massaged it gently for a little bit.
"It's because you're thirsty," Tatum replied. "Leonard is going to feel the same way, tonight."
"Oh," I said softly.
"So, why did Dylan apologize to you?" Tatum asked me as he suddenly sat up and crossed his legs in the center of the bed. I flinched slightly at his movement, but relaxed once I realized that he really wasn’t trying to hurt me.
"He caught a stray thought," I said with a shrug.
"What was it about?" Tatum asked me curiously.
I frowned and glanced down at his hands. They were pale and smooth like my own, but they looked like they were stronger than Dylan's hands were. His skin looked like I could tear through it easily.
"Your skin," I said with a giggle. "Oh, and your eyes, too."
"My skin?" Tatum grinned wryly as he held up his hands and studied them. "What's wrong with my skin?"
"It's different than Dylan's skin," I told him.
"Oh, that." He said nonchalantly. "He's a different type of vampire than we are."
Tatum began to turn like he was going to lie back down.
"What?" I asked in confusion.
"What?" He asked in return; already having moved on the idea of watching tv.
"You can't just drop a bombshell like that on me and expect me not to have any questions, Tatum!" I said with a growl. I hoped it sounded friendly, but I really had no idea if you could even make a growl sound friendly. Tatum giggled as he returned to his sitting position.
"Ask away, Jenna." Tatum said with a grin. "Whatever I can answer; I will. If I don't know, then you're just going to have to wait for Lulu or one of the others."
"Fine," I said dryly. "I thought you were dying from cancer. Ethan's been devastated over it."
"I was," he stated sort of sadly before Tatum's smile returned. "But, I'm one-hundred percent better now!"
"Did the government do it?" I asked, ignoring the fact that he didn't mention Ethan.
"No," the younger teen replied. "Evan did this to me. It took a hell of a lot of begging to get him to change his mind, though. I was taking my last breaths when he finally caved in."
"Yeah," he said sadly. "I wanted to see Ethan one last time, but I was too weak to travel anywhere. It's one of the few regrets I have. But Evan, he saved my life, just like he did for you and Leonard. He's our Father, now."
I glanced down at my hands as I thought about what Tatum had said about Evan being our Father. I felt a strange sort of click in my mind the moment I accepted the notion of Evan being my Maker, and I felt several connections suddenly spring to life in my mind. I could feel the teenager sitting across from me with a wide smile on his face, and I could feel the edges of a link being formed coming from the man behind me still going through the change. I also felt Evan, but his connection seemed fainter, like he was far away. It almost felt like he was weak.
"Amazing, isn't it?" Tatum asked dreamily. I glanced up to see that his red eyes were distant, but I felt a strange sense of 'welcoming' coming from him. The teen's eyes suddenly focused in on me again. "Did you feel that?"
"Yeah," I told him with a nervous smile. "I think I did."
"Evan and I were still trying to figure out how all of these different connections worked when he decided to get himself kidnapped," he told me happily. I could feel his happiness pouring into me; overwhelming my sense of misery for not being able to keep Ethan safe.
"Has anybody found Ethan, yet?"
"No," Tatum told me truthfully. "There's going to be a war when we do find him, though. I've never seen Evan that pissed off before."
"Evan loves Ethan," I said absently. "He would do anything for his little brother. If Evan has to kill thousands of people to keep Ethan safe; I think he would do it."
"Without hesitation," Tatum agreed.