Read Holding on to Hope Online

Authors: Sid Love

Holding on to Hope (6 page)

BOOK: Holding on to Hope
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“Go to hell,” Ian spat.

Volund looked innocently between the two dhampirs. “But I assumed you brought her as an offering in exchange for your boyfriend,” he said.

“We have brought nothing but death for you, you bloodsucking fucker,” Bo said, walking into the room with Kol. Those two looked like they had bathed in fresh blood. “There are no other vampires in sight, except for this one,” Bo informed Ronan.

Leslie could see the fear on Volund’s face, no matter how hard he tried to hide it. Finding himself alone and outnumbered by dhampirs that were against him, he must have thought it best not to piss them off anymore.

“Fine, let’s make a different deal,” he said, finally letting go of Brad’s head. “Promise me that you will let me get out of here safely and I will let your boy-toy live.”

“Not happening, old man.”

“Fine.” Volund exhaled. “I’ll just kill him then.” He reached to hold Brad’s head once again.

“No!” Leslie screamed, fearing that she would be experiencing another death before her eyes, and this time Brad would be the one to die.

Something else happened, though.

It appeared to be a perfectly timed move that Ronan made when he suddenly took a leap, landing right on his father before he even had the chance to touch Brad. Volund grunted and kicked his son off him. Ronan flew across the room, hitting one of the walls. Kol was the first one to attack Volund after that, and Bo followed suit. As she had seen them fighting before, Leslie knew there must be a reason why they weren’t trying hard. Neither of them tried to kill him with one of the weapons that they hid inside their leather jackets. She realized all they were trying to do was help Ronan to kill his father. After all, Ian did say that it was the only way to break the dhampir curse.

Ronan managed to recover from the dangerous fall, and he too joined the duo in fighting his father. He had retrieved a gleaming knife out of his coat pocket to use in his assault.

“Let’s go help Brad,” Ian whispered, and she was pulled back from her thoughts.

She rushed to Brad’s side and knelt down before slowly putting his head on her lap. “Hey, wake up. Brad!” She slapped his cheek gently, trying to get him out of his daze.

“He won’t wake up, Les,” Ian, who had also knelt down by her side, told her. “He has been glamoured to stay like this.”

He checked Brad’s neck. Blood was still flowing a bit out of the bite marks on it. “Can’t you like glamour him out of it?”

Ian looked up into her eyes and smiled sadly. “No, I can’t. My powers went away after I killed my dad last year.”

Leslie stared, becoming aware of the fact that she could never get used to hearing this stuff. She glanced over at the fighting. Bo and Kol had managed to hold Volund by his hands, making it very easy for Ronan to kill him. She could see how Ronan was burning with rage.

“How dare you even look at Brad? Your eyes… I am going to cut them out,” he hissed and did exactly that. Volund’s horrible scream echoed as the knife went directly through his right eye. Leslie immediately looked away, cringing and cursing under her breath.

“Don’t look, Les. It’s probably going to get very ugly.” Ian pulled out a glass vial from under his jacket and told her, “This is Zalmerin—a healing potion. Wait and watch,” he said with a smile. He opened the vial and dropped a little of the silvery liquid directly on Brad’s bite marks. The fluid gradually ran down his neck after covering the marks, and for a while, Leslie thought nothing was going to happen.

However, when she looked closely, she could see the skin healing itself. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed, not being able to believe it.

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” She looked up to find Ian smiling at her. “Dhampirs have invented some pretty cool stuff, you know.”

Leslie realized she couldn’t hear Volund’s screams anymore. The only thing she heard was Ronan yelling at the top of his voice, swearing and hitting his father. “Ronan, he’s dead.” Bo and Kol let the limp body drop on the floor and held Ronan back.

With a sharp intake of breath, Brad suddenly came into consciousness and choked. “Oh God. Brad!” Leslie sat up straight, cupping his face, then looked to Ian for some explanation.

“Of course!” Ian grinned. “Volund died, and the effect of his glamour has now worn off him. I have heard of it but never saw it happen before. This is so cool!”

“Les!” Brad’s voice sounded groggy. It caught Ronan’s attention, though, and he was by his side in no time.

He held Brad’s face between his hands, so Leslie had to let go. “Brad, hey!” There was no trace of the previous anger on his face anymore. Instead, what Leslie saw was sheer happiness and contentment.

“It’s you.” Brad’s eyes widened a bit.

“Yes, Brad. It’s me. I was so worried about you,” Ronan said.

“Oh my God, it’s you!” Brad yelled suddenly, looking revolted at the sight. He tried to sit up, getting a hold on Leslie’s hand. “You are a vampire!”

“What?” Ian, Ronan, and Leslie exclaimed in unison.

“Les, he is a vampire, and he wants to kill me,” he told Les in a shaky voice. “He wants to kill us all.”

“I am not a vampire, Brad. I swear.”

“No, no! You have been stalking me all along. And last night… you tried to kill me.” Brad was shivering badly in Leslie’s embrace, and she looked at the dhampirs for some possible explanations to this.

“Damn it!” Ian swore, looking intently at Brad. “He must have manipulated his memories,” he whispered, before looking at Ronan. “Volund has done this to him; I am sure of it.”

“But isn’t it supposed to wear off, like you said?” Leslie asked.

“No, memory alteration is more complicated than a simple glamour,” Bo replied, standing behind Ronan.

“What are you guys going on about?” Brad frowned, looking at each one of them. “Why aren’t you freaking out? He could kill us all. We need to get out of here.”

Leslie held him down as he tried to get up. “Nothing is going to happen to us, I promise,” she said.

Ronan tried to take hold of Brad’s hand, but Brad wouldn’t let the dhampir touch him. The hurt on his face broke Leslie’s heart. “Look at me, Brad.”

“Volund is dead. Your glamour won’t work anymore, Ronan,” Kol pointed out.

“I don’t care,” Ronan snapped, looking at him over his shoulders and faced Brad once again. “I don’t need any magical abilities to get him out of this. He will remember me, just the way he remembered that night even after I compelled him into forgetting.” He whispered, “Brad, please. You have to remember me. I am not a vampire, and I am not trying to kill you. I love you, Brad. I love you so freaking much that it hurt every time I saw you and you never remembered me. And it hurts now that you don’t remember me either.”

“You aren’t a vampire?” Brad cautiously asked.

“No, Brad.” Ronan slowly tried to take his hand once again and this time, Brad didn’t cower away. The dhampir grinned and kissed his held hand. “Please, try and remember me, Brad. Last night, when we made love, you said it had been your first time.”

“Yes,” Brad whispered, staring deeply into Ronan’s blue eyes. “I also said it was worth it. That you were worth it.”

Leslie perked up, realizing Ronan was actually making it happen. Brad was seemingly recollecting pieces of their night together. She noticed everyone shared the same reaction as hers.

And Ronan looked like the happiest man in the world. Tears were freely flowing down his cheeks. “Yes, yes! And I will still say that I am not,” he sobbed, ducking his head in shame. “But you, Brad—you are precious to me, and I don’t want to lose you.”

“You said that too.” Brad smiled slightly. Leslie had seen that look on his face once before. It was when he was telling her about Ronan that morning. But then something changed. “Ah!” He cringed and then groaned like he was in some kind of agony.

“What’s wrong, Brad?” Leslie asked worriedly.

“I—my head… ugh!” He held his head with his hands and closed his eyes.

“Damn it! He is bleeding,” Ian said and looked up horrified. “He is bleeding through his ears.” Leslie noticed it too, and her heart raced.

“His brain can’t take it anymore,” Kol said, bending down too. “I think the memory alteration is taking its toll on him. Now that he is remembering bits and pieces of what actually happened, it is creating a paradox inside the brain. It’s getting too much for him to handle.”

“What do we do then?” Leslie demanded, feeling helpless on her side. “Isn’t there anything we can do?”

“Well, there is one thing….” Kol spoke.

“No!” Ronan interrupted him. “Anything but that.”

“But there’s no other way, Ronan. You know it,” Kol said. “I can do it for you….”

“No!” Leslie watched, totally clueless, as Ronan shook his head vigorously. He looked extremely vulnerable at that moment. “You know a lot of things, Kol. You should know some other way.”

“Ronan, whatever it is, just let him do it!” Leslie desperately yelled. “It’s Brad’s life we are talking about here.”

“But you don’t understand, Leslie.” Ronan looked at her through his glassy eyes. “He is suggesting that we should wipe out every memory in his brain that is even remotely related to me. I don’t want to do that to him again. You were right before. I was playing with his life when I compelled him to forget me.”

“I don’t care anymore, okay?” Leslie said, simply irritated by his stubbornness. “Just do it. I want his life saved, don’t you?”

“But… I don’t want him to…. he’ll forget me.” Ronan held her by her elbow, a bit too tightly, and it ached. She hissed.

Leslie looked at him sadly and wondered where the stiff, no-nonsense bar owner had gone. All she could see at that moment was a man so desperate for love that he didn’t have sense of anything else.

Kol palmed his shoulder. “Maybe this is the way it is supposed to be, Ronan.”

Ronan turned his gaze to look at him, then looked down at Brad. He was still holding his head, making agonizing sounds.

Ronan brushed his finger against his jaw. “Do it, Kol.”

Epilogue

 

“Y
OU
ORDERED
coffee?” Leslie was amused. “Seriously?”

Brad smirked. “I know, right.” He took the cup that the barista had brought for him and took a sip. “I do crave for it at rare times. And today is a rare time.”

She laughed. “Cravings! Did you miss your period, Brad?”

“Oh shut up!” Brad chuckled.

They’d chosen to sit at the counter. The barista brought Leslie her cup of cappuccino and she thanked him with a smile. “So what’s rare about today?”

“I don’t know,” Brad said between his sips of coffee and frowned. “This morning I just woke up and felt calmer in my head. It was like I had the sleep of my life last night. And still, I feel damn exhausted.”

Leslie was about to take a sip from her cup but stopped her action when she heard him say that. She stared at him for a moment, deep into her own thoughts, trying to contemplate how much exactly that he remembered. Brad caught her staring and offered her a cute smile.

She slowly set her cup on the counter. “So what did you do yesterday?” she asked, trying to sound casual.

“Nothing much.” He shrugged. “After attending classes, I headed back to the dorms and went straight to bed.”

“Hmm.” Leslie studied him. “What did you do on Valentine’s Day?”

Brad narrowed his eyes at her. “You must really enjoy having me admit that my love life is nonexistent. Yesterday, your boyfriend was rubbing it in my face about how romantic your Valentine’s Day was! And all I did was stay in my dorm room, watching
Casablanca
.”

Leslie gave him a hesitant smile but didn’t comment any further. She knew that was what he had done last year.

It proved, though, that Kol had successfully compelled him into forgetting everything that had happened in the last couple of days. They couldn’t test his memories to make sure last night, as Brad had passed out soon after the compelling was done. There were no more headaches after that, and the bleeding had also ceased. Leslie had requested Kol to glamour her boyfriend too because she simply didn’t believe Pat would understand any of this. It was better to keep him out of the loop. So with Ian’s help, she took the two boys back to their dorm room.

As Leslie took in the pleasing aroma of the coffee, she thought back to that moment the night before when she had almost wanted to ask Kol to wipe her memories as well. She wasn’t sure she could live with so many bad memories. Something unimaginable had happened in the past two days. Coming to know of species existing in this world that were only heard of in books and movies, she wondered what more secrets there were that she didn’t know of. With thoughts like those coursing through her mind, her life seemed to be filled with too much mystery for her liking. Living with a constant fear of running into some blood-sucking monsters wasn’t living at all.

“Who are you looking at?” she asked Brad with a teasing smile.

While she was thinking about monsters and vampires, Leslie had noticed her friend constantly glancing over her shoulder at someone behind her. She knew the flirty look he was giving at that moment, and she was certain it had to be a hot piece of meat he was checking out. So she turned to look.

“Oh!”

“That hot guy in the suit sitting over there,” he whispered, leaning closer to her. “I caught him staring at me more than once now.” Leslie could pick up the excitement in his voice.

She hadn’t expected to see Ronan that morning, even though it made perfect sense that he would come to see Brad. Guilt washed over his face as soon as he noticed her looking. He quickly stood up, left his coffee, and put some cash on the table before he hurried out.

“Do you know him?” Brad asked her. Leslie turned to find him looking perplexed. “Is he gay?”

“Yeah,” She smiled slightly. “Listen, I’m going to be right back.”

“But—”

“Take care of my purse. I won’t be long. I promise,” Leslie said to him and rushed out of the coffee shop to find Ronan. She turned her head to look down both sides of the street to figure out which direction he went. She spotted him across the street, walking aimlessly with his head down.

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