Authors: Lola James
“Kevin!” Dawn shrieked.
“Where is Antonia?” Kevin demanded with a faint Greek accent I had never heard him use.
I hung my head in defeat. Both of them loved Antonia and looked to me for answers. But how could I explain that Hades, Lord of the Underworld, had her?
“Kevin, what are you doing here? And where is Toni, Ben?” Dawn asked.
“I can answer all of your questions.” Catherine stood a few steps from the bottom of the staircase, wrapped only in the black sheet from the bed to cover her nakedness. Moving in a blur, I met her before she could get any closer.
“I can handle this,” I ground out.
Kevin walked in and slammed the door behind him, making the old Victorian house shake.
“Nonsense, I would love to meet these friends of Antonia.” Catherine pushed past me, oblivious to the fact that I would kill her if she harmed them. “Then maybe we can have them for
dinner.” She smiled viciously as she sat on the mid-century couch in the living room. I knew she meant that literally.
“Ben, who is this?
And why is she wearing the ring you gave Toni?” Dawn asked as she walked to the chair facing the couch. Her eyes were fixed on the diamond and ruby ring Toni had worn only days ago, before it had removed it. Kevin remained quiet as he stood close to the door. He looked ready to handle anything that came his way with a coolness that was almost callous.
“I am Ben’s fiancée, Catherine.” Catherine extended her hand to Dawn, who cautiously declined by folding her arms across her chest. “As for your
Antonia, she is with Hades in the Underworld,” Catherine boasted with a pitiless laugh.
“Vampire, you turned her over to Hades, and you have already moved on!” Kevin shouted. He ran toward me, dropping his book and bag to the floor.
“No!” I choked out as Kevin forced me to fall on the hardwood floor.
Dawn jumped up and slowly inched toward the door.
“Relax, Dawn, I have this under control.” Kevin glanced over his shoulder before he pulled a stake from his back pocket and placed it above my
heart. “I warned her about you but she didn’t listen. I wanted to tell her that you were a vampire but I couldn’t.” His words were laced with hate for me. I didn’t have the desire to fight him off. I deserved it. I deserved to die.
“She knew I was a vampire.” I dropped my head as astonishment casted over Kevin’s face. “It is my fault she is with Hades, I’ll take that blame.” I swallowed the lump in my throat that formed around my next words. “Do it, take me this pain away from me!” Kevin pressed the stake hard to my chest, and I closed my eyes, preparing to die.
In a flash, Catherine tackled Kevin to the ground, knocking the stake out of his hands. Dawn screamed and I picked up the stake with the swiftest of movements and drove it through Catherine’s back. She turned to ash while still atop Kevin whose eyes widened in shock.
We looked at one another, both bewildered, in the moment before I offered my hand to help him from the floor. Dawn eased closer toward us. As Kevin brushed Catherine’s dust off him;
then he picked up his stake, and returned it to his back pocket. Kevin stared at me for a long moment before he gave a nod.
"For now, vampire."
As he stood there, the shimmer of the ring Catherine had worn caught my eye. I picked it up and shook off the dust before pocketing the sacred jewelry. I looked at the mound of residue that was Catherine and felt nothing. Sadness escaped me but despair took over at the loss of the only person that could lead me to Antonia.
“How long did Antonia know that you were a vampire?” Kevin’s words snatched me from my thoughts.
A smile touched my lips before I spoke, “She found blood in my refrigerator a few days ago. She was more intrigued than afraid.”
Kevin continued to dust himself off and mumbled, “Of course, she’s attracted to supernatural beings.” His sarcasm translated to my annoyance.
“What?” I questioned with wide-eyes as I moved closer to Kevin.
“Okay, y’all are going to have to explain this to me…and somebody better get to talking fast or I’ll be outta that door.” Her words were laced with the southern drawl that only appeared when she was excited—or scared. I turned my attention back to Dawn who stood with her arms folded over her chest and her eyebrows rose. I noted that my question went unanswered by Kevin,
I extended my arm toward the couch with a nod. “Please sit and I will explain.”
“I’m fine with standing. I won’t be here long enough to sit.” She walked back toward the door and tapped her foot. I sat on the couch where the black sheet Catherine had been wrapped in still lay. I pushed it to the side, thinking about the woman I had once loved, now dead by my hand. I couldn’t live in a world where Catherine was free to roam, not knowing she was on the side of Hades.
“Catherine spoke the truth,” I said. “Antonia is with Hades in the underworld.” My head dropped to my hands as Kevin approached Dawn. The stunned look and wide eyes of Dawn’s caught mine. I would have to make her forget this horror.
“How do you know if she spoke the truth? She could have lied to bed you.” Kevin’s voice and mocking smile irritated me but his question was valid.
“I know b...”
Dawn cut me off before I could finish, but he called you a vampire…they don’t exist. And that Catherine woman turned to dust when you stabbed her in the back. What the hell is going on here?” She let out an exasperated sigh and combed her fingers through her perfectly curled hair. “Are you a vampire, Ben?” she asked, her voice a near-whisper. She, unlike Antonia, showed no fear just shock as the words escaped her. I expected her to run out screaming but she didn’t. She only questioned.
I debated lying, but compelling her to leave hadn’t work. Maybe if I told the truth, Kevin would stake me and put me out of the misery I felt for losing Antonia to Hades. “Yes, I am.” A cleansing breath escaped me.
“But—” was all Dawn could say before she froze. Her heart pounded in her chest, singing to me like music. As she shook her head, sweat trickled down her furrowed brow.
I shut my eyes, desperate to drown out the sound of her erratic heartbeat. Maybe Catherine was right with her words from last night: I should give in and be the monster I really was. The nightmare that I’d lost Antonia to was worse. I shivered and swallowed the lump in my throat. My mouth felt dry. In a movement too fast for their human eyes, I sped to the kitchen and began drinking the blood I had stored in the refrigerator.
As I gulped the last drop, I heard Kevin speaking to Dawn. Her heart rate had slowed as she spoke, as she no longer feared the danger of me and the myth of vampires.
“You can help Antonia, Dawn,” Kevin said as I cautiously walked in, not wanting to frighten either of them with more quick movement. He picked the book up from the floor and turned toward Dawn.
Dawn asked. Her eyes met mine and her disbelief started to resonate. She finally sat down, exhausted from the news of Vampire Ben; I think the weight of my words paired with Kevin’s quick explanation and him telling her that she could help forced her to. My eyes shifted from Dawn to Kevin before I spoke.
“How can Dawn help?” I asked Kevin, confused, as I sat back on the couch. Kevin knelt in front of Dawn while he held the book.
“I will explain. Dawn, can you tell us about your mother?” he asked.
I didn’t understand how Dawn’s family history could help, but I listened.
What does my mother have to do with helping Toni?”
“Can you please just tell me…err, us about her?” Kevin’s voice softened but still had the faint accent from earlier.
After a deep breath, Dawn started, “She’s a southern belle and is not happy with me being unmarried in San Francisco or about my being a doctor. What does she have to do with any of this? She didn’t even know Toni.” She still looked confused by his question.
He looked surprised by her answer, as if he’d expected a different story.
“Kevin, what relevance does Dawn’s mother have to her helping Antonia?” I finally asked, since this was going nowhere.
“There was nothing magical about your birth mother?” he persisted. His heartbeat quickened with his question and Dawn shifted in her seat.
I wondered if they were too scared of me to speak freely.
“My birth mother?
Oh, I don’t know her,” Dawn said, her words momentarily slapping me out of my self-loathing. “My father married my stepmother when I was a year old. He always spoke in riddles when he talked about my mother and told me she was gone forever. I just assumed she died.”
“So it was your birth mother you received the power from,” Kevin mumbled. He tapped his chin with his index finger, balancing the book in his lap.
“She has power? What are you getting at?” I asked. I stood and paced the floor. Kevin opened the book, and I stopped pacing to see what answers the mysterious tome might reveal.
“Dawn is a witch,” he said. His smile was like the Cheshire cat’s.
Dawn appeared faint and paler than she had from my vampire confession.
“That would explain why I was unable to compel her at the door,” I mumbled aloud. My focus shifted back to Dawn as Kevin did the same. Her ashen countenance disappeared, and she gritted her teeth, cheeks flushed, and her narrowed eyebrows settled with anger.
“I am not a witch!” she roared. “I don’t even believe in witchcraft! So, I guess you don’t have a way to help Toni. I’ll just be on my way now. I don’t want to be late to work.” She stood up, dusting herself off as if some of the Catherine dust had landed on her.
Kevin stood with her. “Dawn, please trust me. Place your hand on this book and you will understand.” He held the book in front of Dawn. I hoped that Kevin was right and that she may be
in getting Antonia back from Hades. I mean, that was my plan any way, to get her back. I want to have Antonia in my arms and away from anything close to the ruler of the underworld.
“Kevin, I am not a witch!” Dawn fumed as she pushed him away.
“Can you at least try for Antonia’s sake? I mean, not even five minutes ago you would have never guessed I was a vampire,” I said, walking toward her, “and if what Kevin says is not true then you can leave. But if it is, I beg you to stay and help.” I needed Kevin’s word to be true I wanted Dawn to help.
“Y’all are both wrong, but I’ll try for Toni’s sake.” She shook her head, releasing a calming breath as a nervous giggle escaped her lips. She went from angry to semi-agreeable in an instant. Dawn took her small hand and placed it on the leather-bound book. The moment she made contact, the ancient volume flew open, pushing her hand off.
I gasped, and everyone gazed in awe as the book opened to a spell. Dawn’s wide eyes sparkled at the unexpected reaction. She looked at the words on the page before she raised her eyes to Kevin, with her mouth agape.
“This is your test spell. Try it out, Dawn,” he encouraged her with a genuine smile.
I was motionless as Dawn looked over at me, still reeling from the way the book had opened for her. She moved her now-shaky hand toward the book again, which Kevin held open for her. She cleared her throat, and fixed her eyes on the words.
“I seek the truth here not found, let the light of the night remove all the clouds.” As the words left her mouth, a beam of white light shone from the center of the pages. The book levitated out of Kevin’s hands. Startled, Dawn stepped back as the book dropped to the floor.
“What the…well I’ll shut my mouth. I guess that means I’m a witch?” She glanced from me to Kevin.
Kevin nodded his head enthusiastically. “So, you’ll help?” he urged.
“Of course, I’ll help Toni, but what kind of help are you asking for?”
“We need your magic to save Antonia!” Kevin said as he picked up the book.
We were together again. I wrapped my arms around Hades’ body and tilted my head back. I met his gaze and fell in love all over again. There was something hypnotic and intoxicating about his hazel eyes. He looked important in his white robe and red sash with gold on it. He was standing in his office that held only his black glass desk and claw foot wing chair.
“Come, my sweet. Let us go to the bedchambers.” Hades took my hand as a devilishly sexy smile touched his lips. He led me toward the bedroom as butterflies fluttered in my stomach, and I placed my free hand over the white silk dress that covered my nervous stomach.
I was in awe when he opened the door to his glorious sleeping area that was a drastic contrast to the dark stone walled office and hallway. The empty room held only a massive round bed in the center of the room, raised on a platform. The bed was made of what looked like pure gold with an elaborate design on four bedposts that reached to the ceiling. Jewels of blue sapphires and rubies decorated each of the posts of the bed and they covered over the top of the bed like a crown. In the middle where the jeweled post connected, a purple stone cradled at the top. The white bedding appeared plain compared to the extravagance of the bed itself. Sheer canopy curtains were drawn back on one side, making the plush mattress even more inviting. Unlike the pungent smell of mildew and mold in the rest of this place, the bedroom smelled like lavender and mint. It danced in my nostrils, calming me and the butterflies that danced in my stomach.