Authors: Kaitlyn Davis
Tags: #Vampires, #love, #paranormal romance, #Fantasy, #Magic, #Young Adult, #heroine
"I'm just trying to make you understand,"
Pavia said, stepping back.
"I know," Kira turned to Pavia, ready with an
Pavia held her hand up and shrugged, "As far
as I'm concerned, we're good as long as those flames in your hands
don't come shooting in my direction. I came back to help you, hard
as it may be to believe."
"Because I saved you from Aldrich?"
"Because you gave me some hope," Pavia said,
Kira looked at her, really took the time to
take in the vampire standing in front of her. Aside from Tristan,
Pavia was the only vampire she had met who seemed to want something
more, who was tired of the shadow of immortality.
"Let's not hug this out, okay?" Pavia
"Deal," Kira smiled, "but can I ask you one
"What would you want, if you were
"I," Pavia started, but at that exact moment,
Tristan reappeared, holding a mud-crusted box in his arms.
"I can't believe I found this!" He exclaimed,
excitement coloring his words. Kira turned toward him, lighting her
features with a mock enthusiasm.
"What is it?" She asked, looking away from
Pavia, whose mouth was still hanging open, offering the answer Kira
either dreaded or wanted to hear. There would be time to found out
"A box I buried before the war." He knelt
down in the grass and gently lifted the lid. "These were my prized
Lifting a small canvas bag, Tristan flipped
it over in his hands and a handful of glass marbles dropped out. He
rolled them around his palm, laughter dancing across his
"Marbles?" Kira asked.
"Glass marbles," Tristan corrected, "the best
gift my father ever gave me."
"What else?" Kira asked, kneeling next to
him. Why had Tristan never shown her these things before?
He took a cloth out and slowly unwrapped it
like a present. A giant golden amulet gleamed in the sun, and
Tristan picked it up by its gold-link chain. As it spun with the
wind, Kira realized it was a pocket watch, still preserved
incredibly well despite the passage of time.
Tristan put the device against his ear,
slacking when he failed to hear it tick.
"Don't worry," Kira said and placed a hand on
his shoulder, "I'm sure we can get it fixed somewhere."
He shook his head. "It stopped working the
day my brother died, the day I joined the army. I did not really
expect to hear anything."
"Your brother died before you joined?" Kira
asked. "I thought you joined together…"
"No," Tristan said softly, "I did not start
fighting until his death gave me cause to go to war. I enlisted
with him out of duty, but eventually joined the war for him,
despite all of our differences."
He set the watch back down and pulled out a
third pouch. Kira sat back, stunned. Who was this man in front of
"My mother," Tristan said, revealing his
final trinket, which was an elegant cameo of a woman's profile cut
into rose quartz. "I'm surprised this is still here, I thought I
would have come back for it."
"That's beautiful," Pavia said, leaning over
Tristan's shoulder, running a finger over the pendant. "Before I
turned, I used to dream of having jewelry like that."
"It was her wedding present from my father,"
Tristan folded the cloth back over the jewel, covering it up again.
"It was meant to be passed down to my bride, and to our children
Kira tried to fight the sting of those words.
Was she being an idiot? Tristan loved her, more than she knew a
person could love someone else, but why had he kept these things
from her? Why had his human life remained so far apart from the
stories he told her?
"What's in the last pouch?" She asked,
indicating the last unwrapped box.
"My paints," he said sadly, "but I doubt
they've passed the test of time. I will open them later."
He closed the lid, shutting his personal side
off. Standing, Tristan brushed the dirt from his clothes and
"I've seen everything I needed to see."
"Let's find Luke then," Kira said while
stretching her body back upright, "he's probably back by now."
"Let's go," Pavia chirped and started
walking. Tristan followed and Kira brought up the rear.
As they reached the river, Kira took one look
back. She would never be here again, and that was a promise. It had
been a mistake to come, Kira realized. Whereas before, this had
been their place, their oasis, Kira now felt like an intruder. It
was Tristan's spot and it had been for years—Kira was just a blip
on the radar, drifting farther away, getting quieter and
She knew what she had to do.
Tristan could never remember.
The first time they had met—five seconds
before English class began, a moment Kira would remember
forever—she had seen it then. The weight of time in his eyes, the
heaviness over his heart. The more she grew to love him, the more
she had seen why.
Life with Aldrich, watching everyone he had
ever met die, feeding off of humans to survive—it had been a burden
on his soul. And she wouldn't be the one to bring that shadow back
A few days ago, Kira had been ready to say
goodbye to the vampire, but now she was ready to say goodbye to the
man that had been inside of Tristan all along.
But there was one thing left to do.
One more burden to overcome before Kira could
let him go.
When the three of them finally reached the
clearing, Luke was there waiting, as he always had been. He looked
up over the rim of the sandwich he was biting into, and his eyes
instantly traveled to the berth of space between Kira and Tristan.
His shoulder slackened, the worry eased from his body.
But that wasn't what Kira wanted either. She
didn’t want Luke to feel like the leftovers. For once, Kira wished
he could step inside of her head, to feel the way her pulse was
quickening at the sight of him, to feel the peace that settled in
her body just by thinking about him.
He wasn't second place.
He was the grand prize—the one hiding in
plain sight this entire time.
So Kira opened the door and gripped the hand
resting in his lap, holding on securely and letting warmth funnel
through their bond.
"How'd it go?" He asked and rubbed his thumb
along the sensitive skin of her palm.
"I know what to do," Kira said, looking into
"And the rest of us are starving," Pavia
sighed from the backseat. "Got any blood in that shopping bag?"
"Sorry," he grinned, "I'm a human-only lunch
service. Tristan, turkey or ham? Take your pick." He tossed the bag
of sandwiches into Tristan's lap.
Perplexed, Tristan pulled a ball of paper
from the bag and began to unwrap it.
"Don't worry. It tastes really great," Kira
smiled at him.
"Especially if you put some of those hot
peppers on it," Luke suggested, eyeing the peppers spilling from
his own concoction. "If there are any left…"
"There better be some left!" Kira grabbed the
bag, "I'm the one who introduced you to those things."
"And then the student became the master,"
Luke teased and took a huge bite from his sandwich, barely able to
close his mouth without letting breadcrumbs slip out.
"Ah," Kira gave a satisfied sigh as she
pulled a hidden plastic cup full of peppers from the bag. She
opened the bread roll and dropped some on top of the ham and cheese
before taking her own huge bite.
"So where to?" Luke asked when he was finally
able to swallow.
Kira tried to respond, but ended up spewing
bits of her sandwich in the process.
"You are bringing it right now," Luke joked,
wiping a breadcrumb from her cheek. He kept his palm there for a
moment, cupping her face long enough to run his thumb along her
skin. Disbelief channeled through Kira's mind, a satisfied
disbelief. And Kira could read what it meant in his emerald green
eyes, now alive with swirling flames.
Mine, Luke was thinking, finally she's all
And Kira didn't look away.
The heat in his palm warmed more than just
"I need to meet up with my gang," Pavia said
from the back, blowing her bangs from her face in the process, "and
I need to find a meal."
"Good, we'll drop you off downtown," Luke
said, turning his attention back to the car and revving it to
"And then we'll meet up tonight," Kira
demanded, there was no give in her voice, "you, me, Luke and the
vampires. If we're bringing Aldrich down, there's no time to
"Agreed," Luke said.
"Done," Pavia confirmed.
Kira turned on the radio and leaned back,
putting her feet up on the dashboard before taking another
satisfying bite of her sandwich.
Aldrich was going down and there was no way
she would let him escape again—no way.
And, Kira thought, taking a look at Tristan
in her peripheral vision, maybe he wouldn't have to be alone. If
some of these vampires wanted to turn, wanted to reawaken to a new
world and experience it with him, Kira would find a way.
No shadow in her heart, black as it was,
would stop her.
"Spill," Kira said, eyeing Luke from the
passenger seat of the car. Ever since they had left his house, Luke
had been silent—never a good sign.
"Nothing," he shrugged. Kira rolled her
Tristan was safe back in Luke's home and
Pavia was waiting for them at the meeting place, so Kira wasn't
about to let Luke hide from her—not when it was just the two of
them, alone for what seemed like the first time in ages.
"Luke," she pressed further.
He hesitated for a second before letting a
huge exhale slump his shoulders. "Fine, fine."
Kira waited while he thought… then poked him
when she got impatient.
"It's just, we've done some crazy
things—facing Diana, hiding out at the Red Rose Ball, taking
Aldrich on at his home turf—but this seems a little insane. We're
walking into a meeting with vampires, one where they'll definitely
outnumber us and have the advantage."
"Is that it?" Kira asked.
"Well, yeah, mortal peril seems like a good
reason to be a little wary."
"Mortal peril, really? I didn't know you were
so chicken," Kira grinned, chiding him.
"Chicken?" He raised his eyebrows. "I'm best
friends with you, that alone makes me braver than the little
toaster, and he had the word brave in his name."
"Braver than a kitchen appliance… definitely
something to be proud of…"
"Did you ever see that movie?" He turned to
her in disbelief. Kira shook her head. He tsked, "I'm
"Oo," Kira held a hand over her heart
pretending to be wounded. "But really, back to topic, why are you
"I guess," he sighed, "well, the only person
who told us it would be safe is Pavia and I just don't trust her.
If you set this thing up, no questions asked, but something about
her… I don't know, I don't like it."
"I trust her, isn't that enough?"
"But why? Why are you so sure?"
"You weren't there, but," Kira thought back,
back to the dungeon, to the hungry look for freedom in Pavia's eyes
and the earnestness in her expression when she promised to show
Kira more of her birth mother's memories. "It's hard to explain, I
just trust her. She didn't have to come back, she could have run
away from me and from Aldrich, leaving everything behind, but she
didn't. She kept her promise. That's worth something, isn't
Luke shrugged, "I just don't trust
"But you trust me."
"Enemy of your enemy is your friend—these
vampires want to get rid of Aldrich, we want to get rid of Aldrich.
Everything will be fine."
"I hope you're right."
"Am I ever wrong?"
"Do you really want me to answer that?" Luke
grinned, looking away from the road to meet her gaze for a quick
instant. Kira shoved him gently.
"Just drive," she chided, but a giddy
excitement stirred in her stomach.
"Where are we going anyway? This place is in
the heart of Charleston."
Kira shrugged, "Pavia just gave me an
address. She didn't say what it was."
"That's reassuring," Luke said wryly.
112 North Market Street, Kira read quietly to
herself. It was right in the historic district—what could it be?
Whatever it was, they would be there soon.
Luke exited the main highway as they crossed over a large bridge
into Charleston City. A few minutes later, he pulled to a stop next
to a meter and stepped out of the car.
"Follow me," Luke said, turning toward the
left and walking quickly down street.
People were everywhere, relaxing outside of
the ice cream shop and walking through the market place even though
the street vendors had closed their stores. Couples held hands
while they approached restaurants and little kids ran around,
ignoring the calls of their parents.
Where were they going? Kira wondered. This
seemed like the least vampire-y place in the entire city.
"The Peninsula Grill?"
"What?" Kira asked, not understanding. Luke
pointed to the sign hanging from a wrought iron fence. "Oh, it's
the name of the restaurant. I get the hint, we can eat here
sometime, but let's get to the meeting place."
"Kira, this is the meeting place. 112 North
She nodded and looked closer.
The entrance to the restaurant was a wrought
iron fence that opened to a brick courtyard. The bushes lining the
walkway were lit up with white Christmas lights, even though it was