I don’t know, but something will not allow me to put it back, so I gently set it inside the box and put it in my duffle bag.
I sweep the room once more but find nothing except emptiness, the same thing that will eventually fill me, so without wasting any more time, I shut the door.
Standing in the hallway, I hold onto this life for a moment—the life of my childhood filled with dreams and hopes—before stepping towards the stairs and letting it all go.
Now, nothing but anger, pain, and regrets fill me.
I make it all the way downstairs and to the front door of the mansion where our court is housed before I see anyone. He slips from the darkness like a wraith, his eyes hard and red. His red hair is swept back, and his beard is neatly trimmed.
He’s Druig, the king’s second-in-command.
“You’re leaving?” he asks.
I hold my bag tighter and give him a firm nod.
He scans me from head to toe and finds me lacking. He’s always intimidated me, and there’s something cruel in his eyes, or maybe it’s just because his job is to punish bad little vampyrs of our court.
I startle at that, and the smile he gives me is almost . . . kind.
“What?” I murmur. “Aren’t you supposed to stop me?”
“Probably.” He shrugs, shoving his hands in his pockets. “But I owed your mother one last favour.” He grins at my swallow. “I was her friend right up until the end, even if you don’t believe that. I promised I would always watch out for you. I guess I failed.”
“You couldn’t have done anything,” I reply.
“Not true. I could have killed him, but one simply doesn’t kill kings.”
“No, I suppose they don’t.” This is surreal, and we just stare at each other.
“Go far away, little vampyr, where they can’t find you. If you stay, they will make your life a living hell. You would be their punching bag for all eternity, and someone of her blood, the daughter of the greatest woman I’ve ever met, deserves more. You deserve more,” he states. “So find it.”
“There’s nothing left,” I tell him. “I am rejected—”
“So what?” he snaps. “Do not let one foolish man you do not even know decide your future. Your mother was a fighter, a warrior until the very end, and I see her in you. Be that person. Find your own path, your own destiny, and live the way she never could. You owe her that.” With that, he steps back into the darkness, releasing me from his power.
When I step outside, I know he’s wrong because I’m not my mother.
I am not a warrior, and I’m not a fighter.
I’ve already given up, and each step I take towards the gates only proves that.
I know I will never be anything more than this agony-filled creature until the end finally comes for me.
The one I foretold.
Gripping the cheap, stained motel sheets, I release a curse as another wave of pure agony rocks through me.
It feels as if every nerve is being burned and every part of me is being broken and reformed.
I drove for as long as I could, heading out of the city and into the next where the court couldn’t reach me, before I finally had to give in. After checking into a cheap motel, I fell into a painful, fitful sleep, only to wake up in so much pain it bowed my back with a scream before I choked it down.
The last thing I need is the police. The humans are not to know about us after all.