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She turned and looked at him, her hand on the latch that would open the doors.

“I don't think this is going to be easy for you. I don't think there is any turning back. ”

“I know. ” She unlatched the door and swung it open revealing the black Lincoln tucked inside. It was from the 1970's and huge.

“If you. . . if you. . . change. . . anymore than you have now, don't come back here. ”

She looked at him, startled.

“I don't want you to hurt anyone I love,” he said softly.

Pressing her lips together tightly, the sting of his words brought instant tears to her eyes. She fought them back knowing she shouldn't lose anymore of her precious blood. The hunger would come that much sooner.

“Okay. ”

She opened the second door and walked into the darkness dwelling in the garage. Her vision adapted quickly. She unlocked the driver's door and swung it open. Tossing her bag in, she looked back at her cousin. His expression was agonized and his posture was tense.

“I love my family. I won't do anything to hurt any of you. I'd rather die than do that. ”

“I know, Amal. I know. But all the vampires in the stories always end up. . . twisted. ” He sighed. “I believe in you, but I don't know what might happen to you. ”

Nodding, she had to agree. She had no clue what would happen next. Silently, she slid into the car and turned it on. The highly-maintained engine caught immediately and purred loudly. Slamming the door shut, she switched gears and slowly backed out.

Her cousin moved to one side, h

is expression pained and somber as he watched her. Rolling down the window, she waved to him. He gave her a short wave back.

Driving down the long driveway to the road, Amaliya took one last look at her grandmother's house. Chances were, she would never come back and she knew it. Sighing, she turned the wheel, and the car pulled onto the road.

***

Tilting his head, The Summoner watched his newest creation speed away in the well-preserved Lincoln. He was impressed so far with her resourcefulness and luck. She hadn't floundered as badly as some of his offspring had. She was a bit messy and definitely working on instinct, but so far she had survived and not been revealed.

Returning his gaze to the house her cousin was disappearing into, he considered entering and destroying her support system. But even from where he stood under the peach tree, he could feel the power of the holy relics within. It repulsed him that he could not destroy the tiny old woman and her lumbering grandson, but even he had limits when it came to faith.

Tucking his hands behind his back, he somberly started off into the darkness.

Chapter Ten

Roberto was deep into his research at Cian's bank of computers, when Samantha appeared next to him, setting down a bag full of groceries on the glass desktop. He quickly minimized the screen. The petite blond was all about saving the environment and carried around the ugliest bags, made from recycled materials, to do her shopping. Setting her hands on her hips, she looked at the computer screen, then back at him as he gazed up at her with a blank expression on his face.

“I'm making you and me dinner,” she declared, and eyeballed the tiny button for the minimized window. “Watcha doing?”

“Research for Cian,” Roberto answered truthfully, but did not enlarge the window.

Samantha tossed back her shoulder length hair and flopped onto the second computer chair that Cian had bought just for her. She tended to lurk when he was on the computer. Bothered with her hanging over his shoulder, Cian had bought a chair for her to sit in. Samantha reacted like it was a sweet gesture, even if it was born out of annoyance. Cian was on the computer a lot lately. He was taking another online course to get yet another degree. Without a doubt, Roberto's master and Samantha's fiancé was an information whore. Or maybe he was just bored after being a alive for so long. Roberto wasn't sure which.

“You're hiding something,” she chided Roberto. “Cian does his own homework. ”

“Not homework. Business related,” Roberto answered with a charming smile.

“You do remember the part where I am the Executive Vice President of one of his companies, right?”

“Of a company with ten people in it,” was his tart little answer.

“Oh, bosh. Semantics. ” She exhaled dramatically, then continued in her Texas twang, “Well, at least the title makes my parents happy. ” She leaned toward him, her cute little face looking so innocent and fresh. “Watcha doing?” she asked again.

“I am certainly not telling you,” Roberto said firmly. He was used to this game and growing more immune to her charms. Or lack thereof. He wasn't truly sure which.

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