When Tristan left, the front door clicking shut behind him, I slumped against the kitchen counter and took a deep breath. The bottle of blood I’d been sipping on sat untouched at my side, which didn’t go unnoticed by Breyona or Giovanni.
“You feel like death, and I’m not talking about how exhausted you are.” Breyona commented, her voice laced with worry. “Did something else happen?”
Clutching the bottle in my hand, as though it’ll somehow give me the courage to break the news, I mumbled, “This is going to take some getting used to.”
Breyona was already more intuitive than your average wolf, but now the two of us were magically connected. Even now, I could feel the smoky threads between us, connecting our souls.
Her nod was one of understanding, and as much as I appreciated it, it only made my heart seize in my chest.
“I promise not to pry any more than I usually do, but I get the feeling there’s something you need to tell me, but you really, really don’t want to.”
“You might want to sit down first.” I said, fighting to keep the nerves from my voice.
Breyona’s expression fell, “Now you know I can’t do that. Lola, what is it? You’re scaring me here.” She laughed nervously.
Giovanni closed in behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders. She didn’t acknowledge him, but her posture seemed to relax under his touch.
He tossed a subtle nod in my direction, telling me to continue, reassuring me that he’d be there to support her.
“Before we were forced to escape, we were eavesdropping on the witches. They showed up at the Vampire Lair Tristan and I went to, which is a long story on its own, but they started talking about my magic and what the Blood Witch wants with me.
There’s this ritual they’ve started that will give them complete control over me, and they’re close to finishing it.” I explained nervously, feeling pathetic for dumping all of this on her at once.
Breyona gasped, her hand trembling as she raised it to her lips. The fear in her eyes was genuine, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it would still be genuine after she heard the rest of what I had to say.
“Oh, Goddess. I’m sorry, you’re my best-friend and I love you, but this is so bad. With your magic and position, they could permanently destroy things for all of our species.” She said gravely, her eyes flickering up to Giovanni.
The Vampire I now considered one of my second-in-commands remained stoic, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t as torn up as Breyona.
“Life as we know it would be over.” He said firmly. “There would be Vampire’s and Werewolves trying to kill you, hoping it would end the threat.
Asher would never allow that to happen, and neither would Tristan or me. We’d be at war with our own kind, killing each other off before the Witches even lifted a finger.”
“It gets worse.” I whispered, watching as Breyona paled.
“They’re in a hurry. The Blood Witch wants this done before I realize the ‘full extent of my power,’ whatever that means. They-they mentioned two werewolves I sent out to search for information…for relics and old texts.”
The words dried up in my throat, and any explanation I had thought of vanished into thin air. What I managed to say hung in the space between us all, dangling there until the pieces shifted and began to connect one by one.
I could tell the moment Breyona realized I was talking about her parents, because her lower lip began to quiver and tremble. Slowly, she began to shake her head. With each motion growing in speed, I felt my stomach flip and turn.
As much as I wanted to sink to my knees and beg for her forgiveness, delivering horrible, damaging news was part of the position I had taken up.
Breyona could break, she could shatter into a million pieces under the weight of her grief because she deserved to have that option, but as her Luna and her best-friend, I needed to remain strong.
“Lola, please don’t say it.” She begged, her voice cracking. “Anything else, say anything else.”
Tears welled in my eyes, burning angrily as I forbade them from falling. This wasn’t about me and my emotions, but Breyona.
I was breaking her heart; I could see it. She wanted me to remain quiet, because once I spoke the truth, nothing could ever take it back.
What was even worse was that I couldn’t give her the gift of not knowing, of pretending her parents were alive and well, too busy in their adventures to ever return. She deserved more. As much as it hurt, she deserved the truth.
Biting back the guilt and agony that constricted my throat and cut off my air supply, I spoke.
“They killed them, Breyona.”
The truth rippled over her, settling deep within her bones. It would never leave, never once waver even as her thoughts began to rush by without restraint.
Not only could I feel it through the strange connection we now shared, but I could tell simply by looking at her.
She was frozen in place, standing upright only because Giovanni now had his arms wrapped around her waist, his head resting on her shoulder.
Minutes passed as she stood there, frozen in disbelief. Each second that passed was like spikes of silver driven into my skin, draining my life force faster than magic sapped my energy.
I barely recognized my own voice when I said, “Tell me what I can do…”
That seemed to snap her out of her stupor, sending her spiraling head-first into grief.
She pulled away from Giovanni, swatting at his hands as she began to pace the length of the kitchen, tears streaming from her eyes. Her tone shifted from agonized to angry, then back again.
“There’s nothing you can do, Lola. My parents-my parents are dead. I’ll-I’ll never get to see them again. I’ll never get another Christmas with them, with those stupid itchy sweater’s mom would always force us in, and-and I’ll never get to hear another one of dad’s lectures about being too rough with his books-always about the dusty old books, and-and…” She stammered, choking back a vicious sob as it stole away her very breath.
Backing away from Giovanni, she ran her fingers through her hair so hard that I knew she’d taken a few strands out in the process. Her eyes speared right through me, carving into every sensitive part of my soul until I felt absolutely raw inside.
“What can you do, Lola?” She asked quietly, never once breaking her stare from my face. “Can you bring back the dead? Is that the ‘full extent of your power’? Is it? Is it, Lola?”
“I don’t…I don’t know.” I told her truthfully, batting away a tear that manage to slip my grasp. “I’m so sorry-.”
“Shit, I know you are. I’m just-I’m just so angry. I have everything I could ever want, a future with someone I love and…and my parents won’t be here to see any of it.”
She whispered, her hand once again finding her mouth, muffling the sobs that broke free. “I need time to myself to process this.”
With those last words, Breyona slipped out the patio door and vanished onto the back porch. Every inch of me was pulled in her direction, but I remained rooted in place. A gust of air slid past my lips in the form of a long hiss.
Up until he spoke, I had completely forgotten that Giovanni was still here.
“You understand she doesn’t blame you, right?”
I couldn’t help but laugh, even if it did sound like some f#cked up version of a sob.
“Yeah, I know. Breyona’s perfect that way.”
There hadn’t been a single part of me that worried she’d blame me for her parents’ deaths. I knew her too well. She felt every single thing deeply, to the very bottom of her soul, and even though it left her hurt more often than not, it’s what made her heart so pure.
It was the witches, the ones who had directly sapped the life out of her mom and dad that Breyona would focus every ounce of her rage onto, and for some reason, which hurt even more.
Giovanni glanced towards the patio doors, undoubtedly making sure Breyona was alright out there. He nodded in agreement, his expression pained.
“She intended to tell you this herself, but given what’s happened, her thoughts are elsewhere. Two days ago Breyona received a call from her mother.
This wasn’t unusual since they’ve been in close contact since she came to visit my family, but this particular call was different. Her mother sounded frantic. Terrified, actually. She kept talking in circles and wouldn’t answer Breyona whenever she asked where they were or what they were doing.”
He explained, his lips set in a thin, grim line. “All she told Breyona was that they found something-something important, and that they needed to get it to you before it was too late.”
I felt my stomach drop, overflowing with a sickening sense of dread.
“And now they’re dead…” I heard myself say.
Giovanni nodded, his eyes like two pitch-black stones staring straight into my soul. “And now they’re dead.”