‘You’re telling me that not even twenty-four hours after I left, you’re driving to some creepy guy’s camper in the middle of the forest because Cassidy made the mistake of hanging out with him after you warned her not to?’ Breyona deadpanned.
The dry tone of her voice through the mind-link made me clench my hands tighter around the steering wheel.
‘Yep.’ I replied, popping the ‘p’ for emphasis. ‘Even though that’s not why I mind-linked you.’
‘I know, you mind-linked me to ask if my parents could find anything on Alpha’s that the world doesn’t already know, which is unlikely but yeah I’ll ask them.’
She replied with a small huff. ‘Now back to what you’re currently doing, which is driving into certain doom without telling your Alpha of a mate what’s going on.’
‘I’m not driving into certain doom.’ I rolled my eyes, ‘…but yes, that’s what I’m doing and no, Asher does not know about it. If he did, he’d turn right around and demand he come with me.’
‘Well, since there’s no talking you out of it and Cassidy needs help, you need to take someone with you.’ She insisted, right as always even though I was currently low on available werewolves.
‘Who said they have to be a werewolf?’ Maya mused.
Without needing further clarification, I let out a long sigh and adjusted my route to a certain vampire’s house.
When I strolled through the front door, taking a mental note that it was unlocked, and popped my head into the dimly lit kitchen, it wasn’t Tristan’s lean form I saw standing at the stove, but Holly.
It had been so long since I’d seen her that I didn’t even notice the charred grilled cheese sitting on the plate she cradled in her hands. Her pin straight hair was the same silken ebony as mine, though she often wore hers in a long braid that fell over her shoulder.
“Oh. Hello, Lola.” She said softly, in a voice much higher than my own. Her eyes rested on my face and were unblinking in a way most people found unsettling, but I knew she was simply giving me her undivided attention.
There was a wispy quality to her voice that reminded me of wind chimes swaying in a gentle summer breeze. She blinked once and tilted her head.
“Something’s wrong, isn’t it? Tristan will be back shortly. He left to get me more cheese. I’ve been trying to cook, but I’m afraid this stove works too well.”
She gestured to the stovetop, which was set on high heat until the burner glowed a bright shade of red. I glanced down at the square shaped charcoal on her plate and reached over the stovetop to turn the dial down to medium heat.
“Try it again, that should help. Tristan didn’t teach you how to control the heat?” I questioned, watching as she tossed the charred sandwich in the trash and grabbed two more slices of white bead. “As for what’s wrong, a friend is in trouble, but Tristan should be able to help.”
“He breezed through it, but I’m afraid I wasn’t paying much attention. He was in one of his moods, you know.
Didn’t quite understand why I wanted to learn to cook to begin with, especially since he can make me anything I want.” She half shrugged, the serene expression on her face unfaltering. “I’m sure he’ll help, but only if it’s you or I who asks.”
“Is he ever not in one of his moods?” I joked but found myself wondering what she meant with that comment. Holly let out a quiet chuckle and began smearing butter along the slices of bread. “I didn’t know you didn’t know how to cook, but I suppose that makes sense.”
“Father primarily fed me blood, but truthfully I prefer human food.” She hummed under her breath, and as she finished the beginning stages of her grilled cheese, she set the butter-coated bread down and turned to meet my stare. Her nails drummed across the countertop softly.
“There’s something you want to do, but you’re feeling guilty about it. I can’t tell anything else, other than it has to do with magic.”
I opened my mouth, expecting my brain to catch up and formulate a reply, but nothing came out. Surprise unfurled across my face, lifting my eyebrows, and reddening my cheeks.
“Did you see this in a dream?”
“No, I picked it up just now.” She explained, swiping away the strands of ebony hair that spilled over her slender shoulders. “Ever since beginning therapy, which I should thank you for considering the therapist you chose is quite lovely, it’s been easier to use my magic.
The less nightmares I have, the more I seem to pick up while I’m awake.” Unblinking, she hit me with a look that made me wonder what exactly went on in that head of hers.
“You can ask me for help, you know. You tried to be close to me once, and I pushed you away. I wasn’t ready for a sister then, but I am now. If it helps, I’m quite good at secrets…”
“You’d be willing to help me?”‘ I couldn’t help the surprise and skepticism that bled into my voice, along with the kernel of hope that she was being truthful. “Even if it meant lying to everyone?”
Asher’s face flashed in my mind; eyes pitch-black with fury. He’d be more than pissed at me, but I’d risk everything-right down to our bond if it meant keeping him and this pack safe from harm. He needed me, he needed this.
“Your mate is no threat to me, Lola.” She reassured me with a small half-smile, but it was her knowing tone that struck me as odd. “Now, what kind of magic do you need help with?”
Swallowing back a wave of indecision I said, “…I want to put a protection spell on Asher.”
It wasn’t surprise that morphed her heart-shaped face and lifted her soft eyebrows but interest.
“I’m in.” She nodded, and while the gesture would’ve seemed normal to some people, I could tell there was an eagerness within it that hadn’t been there before.
“Does tomorrow night work for you? I need the day to gather the supplies and study the spell book I have.” I told her, leaving out the part about Asher and his whereabouts.
My mate and the group he’d assembled would make it to the borders of the deserted pack by tomorrow night, but only if Alpha Bran and the Vampire’s lurking about didn’t slow them down.
“Just don’t tell Tristan-” I began but was cut off by the front door swinging open, followed by the scent of saltwater and male musk.
“Tell Tristan what?” The blonde-haired Vampire asked, his pale eyes washing over my face before flitting to Holly’s. They had lingered on the marks on my neck for a fraction of a second, and I ignored the slight pull I felt in his direction.
“Lola and I are going to have a girl’s night tomorrow, isn’t that wonderful Tristan?” Holly said in her sing-song voice, closing her eyes as she smiled at the Vampire that towered over her by a good two feet.
“You’re having a girl’s night…” He grunted, his sandy eyebrows gnashing together as dread filled the depths of his angular face.
“Don’t be so sour, it’s not that bad.” I snorted on impulse, rolling my eyes at the grim expression on his face. The Vamp had brooding down to an artform and was even better than Asher if that were possible.
“It’s going to be at her house, Tristan. What better way to finally leave the house than to visit my sister’s?” Holly scolded him, but it was almost playful how she laughed and tugged the package of cheese out of his hands. “‘We’ll be fine, I promise.
You’re more than welcome to tag along if you think we need the protection. Lola’s going to teach me all about sleepovers and what normal girls do at them.”
Instantly I picked up on where she was going with this, but before I could play along I had to s*w the nervousness I felt when realizing how well my half-sister could spin a lie.
“Oh, I’ll be pulling out all the stops. Nail painting, make-up, boy talk, popcorn, and the best romantic comedies of our time. Oh, and don’t forget the pillow fights.” I grinned cheekily, directing it at Tristan who let out a sharp breath through his nose.
Truthfully, the grumpy Vampire wasn’t half bad when he wasn’t trying to seduce me into his den of iniquity. He might be quick to anger and even quicker to frustrate, but he was surprisingly loyal and would go to any lengths to help me.
I wasn’t sure if it were because I happened to be his Queen, or if he was still trying to snare a place on the throne, but I was in no position to decline the help.
“Fine. Have your girl’s night, just leave me out of it.” He grumbled, and as though he felt the need to prove my point, he waltzed to the fridge and pulled out a small water bottle of blood.
Without changing his expression, he shoved the bottle in my hands and muttered. “Just… just call me if anything happens, all right? Does your mate forget you need blood to stay strong?”
“He’s been a bit busy, thank you.” I snipped back but took the bottle without hesitation and brought it to my lips. “I’ve been busy myself, which is partially why I’m here right now.
I need your help.” A sigh bubbled past my lips, though not from the rush of strength I felt as the chilled blood ran down my throat. “A friend of mine is in trouble, and I’m the only one she has that can help, but I need back-up.”
“Let me guess, no one else is available.” He deadpanned, and the tone of his voice offended me a little.
“We don’t have the best…relationship, but I trust you. Even though you’ve given me more reasons than I can count not to, I do.”
That seemed to appease him, or perhaps it was the sincerity in my voice, but I was genuinely happy to see his disgruntled expression fade a bit.
“Go, on and help Lola.” Holly urged, nudging him in the direction of the door before turning her attention back to her slices of buttered bread. “I have a feeling this one will turn out (perfect).”
“Where are we headed?” Tristan asked.
I replayed Cassidy’s hastily given instructions in my head and said, “…the woods, to some guy’s camper.”
“Oh, you are?” Holly’s eyes instantly perked up and for the second time her grilled cheese sat forgotten. “I had a dream about a camper just last night! It has to be for you, I can feel it.”
“You didn’t tell me about that dream.” Tristan pointed out, his lips tilting downward.
Holly shrugged. “It wasn’t a particularly long dream, but there is something you should know…” She trailed off, and as the tone of her voice switched from soft to ominous, I wondered if this dream of hers was actually a nightmare. “When you see the purple eyes in the forest… run.”