Authors: Lola James
I could feel the satisfaction and hatred in her voice as I began to understand her anger.
“So you would rather see her dead than—”
“Than to have her happy and in love with one of you!”
“But her soul will be trapped in the underworld. You are heartless, Annie!”
“Thank you, I’ll take that as a complement. And that little speech is exactly what I am talking about. Even after you learn of
Kevin—Markos, whatever his name is—and Hades, you still stand there and defend her,” Annie spat.
“To know her is to love her,” my father replied. “I have seen my daughter love and
loved for centuries. It is something that she and her sisters learned from my wife, their mother.”
“Not you too.
And when did Toni become your daughter?” Annie asked.
“I am Antonia’s father. I gave myself to Hades ten years ago because I grew tired of running and thought giving myself up would make our deal done. No riches in the world were ever worth my wife dying and putting Antonia through a new life over and over again,” he said.
“What happened to your wife?” Ben asked.
She killed my family in a fire when I disappeared with Antonia.”
“So she must have known another doppelgänger, because Antonia and Joanna were born centuries apart,” Ben said, thinking aloud. “How did Antonia come to have the name Hollander?”
“I met some of my wife’s descendant’s years after we began to hide. They bore the name Hollander so I gave her that name when she woke on her eighteenth birthday ten years ago.”
“Come on, I have to lock you back up.
You too, old man.
We wouldn’t want Toni to die before she gets to the underworld.” I felt Annie’s body weight leave the bed.
Warm lips touched my cheek, my father’s hands still held mine. Simultaneously I felt Ben's cool lips kiss my hand. When Bion released me, cool lips pressed to my mine, and I replayed every intimate moment Ben and I had ever shared, from that first kiss in the break room to the last in the Arboretum before our blood exchange. My cheeks warmed with the last thought as the ecstasy hit me too.
“Come on, Vampire, we need to move,” Annie’s tone was angry and irate.
I lay still and quiet with my hands at my side in the bed where I’d made love to Hades only hours earlier. I was dressed for my own funeral; I’d been put to sleep by Hades, found out that Bion was my father–– and then there was Ben… who I just realized that I loved him!
I cried inside feeling helpless as all the voices went silent.
I couldn’t believe this has happened. I knew the minute I laid eyes on Antonia that I should have left her alone. But after losing Joanna and Catherine, I longed for companionship so badly that I catapulted myself into her life. I should have let her go. I should have insisted that I make her forget about me and everything she knew but, alas, I hadn’t. And now she lay so still, so quiet, dressed in black and about to die. I felt shame that I had let her get away from me after I’d vowed to protect her.
“Come on, dead man, you need to rejoin the party in the dungeon.” The pride in Annie’s voice made me sick as she looked at Antonia in disgust.
“Can I at least kiss her goodbye?” I asked as I outlined Antonia’s now-petite frame with my finger, stopping at her collarbone.
Annie rolled her eyes. “Fine,” she sighed.
The concern on Antonia’s father face troubled me but he nodded in approval before I leaned down to touch my lips to Antonia’s. Her breath was light and shallow. The warmth tickled my lips as I hovered above her. My cool lips met hers and chill bumps sprinkled across her face. Her perfect pouty lips were still as delicious as the first time when I surprised her with a kiss in the break room of the hospital.
“Let’s go.” Annie’s harsh words ended our kiss too soon.
I looked over at Bion and nodded. He smiled as he kissed his daughter’s hand before placing it at her side. I walked toward the door, glancing over my shoulder one last time. There were so many things that I regretted, but the one that I regretted the most was that I’d never told Antonia my true feelings for her. I loved her, and it took Catherine’s return for me to realize just how much. I wanted to turn and run back to her and confess my love, but I wasn’t sure she would hear me through the induced coma that Hades placed her in.
As we walked down the stairs to the dungeon, I heard Dawn’s upset voice.
“Who is that and where is Toni?” The southern accent flowed freely now. “Ben,” she choked with pain on her face when her eyes met mine.
“Oh, give it a rest,” Annie spat as a gust of wind pushed Dawn to the ground.
“You want to play dirty, now that you know I don’t know how to use my powers,” Dawn complained as Kevin helped her up. She dusted the dirt off herself.
“That’s the only way I know how to play.” Annie’s voice was as wicked as her smile when her sadistic laugh filled the entire dungeon.
I made it to the unlocked cell that Dawn, Kevin and Joanna occupied. Annie turned to walk back up the stairs when Bion made his way inside the cell. The earth rumbled under our feet and the shaking caused Annie to fall onto her back, landing at the toe of Dawn’s white Nikes.
“I can get dirty, too.” Dawn folded her arms across her chest as Annie conjured fire in her hands and raised them toward the younger witch. In typical girl fashion, Dawn again raised her arms in front of her to protect her face from the flames, but this time the flames ricocheted off her and hit Annie in the shoulder.
,” Annie screamed as she jumped to her feet. “What the hell? You should be in flames right now!” Annie’s face was confused as she rubbed her burnt shoulder.
“I told you I can play dirty,” Dawn boasted with her sunshine smile.
Annie, on the other hand, started speaking in a foreign language as she turned her palms up and toward Dawn.
“Don’t try and scare me with your different language. I can speak French with the best of them,” Dawn said as she suddenly floated above the ground. “Kevin, Ben! One of y’all
me! Get me down!”
I rushed forward but was stopped by a pain in my chest that felt like a stake in my heart. Kevin also seemed stuck in place, but Joanna leaped into action. She knocked Annie to the ground, causing Dawn to drop.
“Why don’t you get out of here and climb back into whatever snake pit you crawled out of?” Dawn said as a gust of wind picked up Annie and dragged her up the stairs.
The pain in my chest subsided, and I ran to Joanna’s aid. She lay in the same place where she’d just knocked Annie over. She was motionless and paler than usual for a vampire.
“Joanna, when is the last time you drank blood?” I asked
my old friend cradled in my arms.
“Too long,” she said in a whisper.
“You need blood if you are to survive, Joanna.”
“I know but I’m as good as dead anyway. There is no need for me to make another weak.”
“No. We will figure this out!” I carried her to the bottom of the stairs to sit her up. Annie left so quickly the cell doors were unlocked and we were free to roam in the dungeon.
“Is she dying?” Dawn asked.
She needs blood but we have none to offer,” I explained, entranced by Joanna’s lovely face—the face she shared with Antonia.
“She can have some of mine,” Kevin said. He walked to Joanna and stuck out his wrist.
“No,” Joanna said firmly.
“But what if she couldn’t resist it?” Bion asked. He’d been so quiet that I’d forgotten he was with us.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Dawn asked.
With the sharp knife he pulled from a scabbard at his side, Bion sliced Kevin’s wrist and held it over Joanna’s mouth. Blood trickled onto her pale lips. Her canines lengthened as the blood hit her system when she pulled up to meet Kevin’s wrist they both let out audible moans.
be shitting me, y’all really are vampires,” Dawn said, her mouth wide open as she stared at my fangs which had elongated as I watched Joanna feed. “Why are they moaning? Is
that normal?” Her eyes were wide when she backed up into the wall to glance from me to Bion. “And who are you to just cut into Kevin like that?” She inched toward the stairs just as Joanna pulled away from Kevin’s wrist.
I am Mattathias Bion Nikos, Antonia’s father.” He walked toward Dawn, hand extended as he engulfed her hand into his. Kevin started to fall but in a blur, Joanna caught him before he collapsed.
Dawn’s eyes darted from Bion to Kevin’s now-limp body.
“I was afraid I might drink too much,” Joanna admitted. She punctured her index finger with her fang and stuck it into Kevin’s mouth; his lips wrapped around her finger and he softly moaned. “Not too much. I wouldn’t want to turn you.” Joanna pulled her finger from Kevin’s mouth, and his eyes opened to Joanna’s smiling face.
“My love,” he mumbled as he touched the side of Joanna’s face.
She shook her head. “No, I am not the one you love. And you are just on a blood high.” She smiled and stroked the side of Kevin’ face as she helped him to his feet.
“Can somebody explain what in the hell is going on here?” Dawn screamed in a high-pitched voice, her eyes darting around the room until they landed on Bion. “I’m sorry, Mr. Nikos. It’s really a pleasure to meet you, but I am more than a little disturbed at the happenings around me.” Dawn’s hand was still in Bion and she shook it vigorously before wrapping her arms around him to hug him.
“The pleasure is all
. Please, call me Bion,” he said with a smile. “I’ll answer your questions to the best of my ability. Joanna here is a vampire, and a very old one at that. She needed blood, and Kevin offered, so I obliged since Joanna was unwilling to take the initiative and bite him. She would have continued to weaken without it, and we will need all the help we can get to save Antonia.”
She turned to Joanna. “But how is that you and Toni look alike?”
“We are born of the same blood,” Joanna explained.
“I am still not convinced that myth is the true,” Dawn fumed.
“I am in awe myself at mention of this myth,” I offered.
“And you're sure it has to be you and Toni that dies to let that bitch go free?” Dawn shook her head as Joanna nodded her confirmation. “Where is Toni? And Why?”
“She was put to sleep by Hades,” I said.
“The Muses only speak the truth and
the Muse of tragedy spoke this myth long ago when Zeus ordered Persephone to stay half the year in the underworld. My daughter’s face and the one of Joanna’s were etched in a stone that resides in this temple for Hades. I had heard the myth when I came here some years ago but never knew of Joanna. If I would have, I would have warned Antonia and contacted Zelma.” Bion dropped his head as we all stood mouths gaped open.
, stole her from Kevin, has a wife, and is probably in on this scheme,” Dawn fumed.
“Actually, I think my daughter went willingly. She seems to love Hades and he her, I don’t think he knew of Persephone’s plan.” A sad smile planted on his face.
“It’s true. I think they do love one another.” I couldn’t believe I let the words escape my lips. I should have said that I loved her too, but I didn’t want to further complicate an already-complicated situation, since Kevin was also still in love with Antonia.
“If that’s true, then we need to figure out a way to kill that Persephone!” Dawn asserted.
“We can’t kill a goddess. Even saying the words is blasphemous,” Kevin interjected.
“Kevin is correct. Only a god can kill a god,” Bion confirmed.
“Well then let’s ask a god to do it!” Dawn smiled deviously.
Kevin laughed. “And where do you suppose we will find a god willing to kill her?”
“She has to have some enemies. She is a bitch!” Dawn peered at Kevin. “And slap that smug look off your face.” She walked up to him with her hands on her hips.
“I think Dawn’s right,” Joanna said. “The only way we’ll be able to fight against the gods is to get them involved.”
“How do we summon a god?” I asked.
“It’s not as simple as you may think,” Bion said. “Only very few gods come here to Hades’ temple. Besides Hades and Persephone, Hermes is the only god allowed in this temple per Hades orders. The others only visit usually to threaten Hades.”
“Well, that’s who we need to contact then, Hermes...” Dawn said with utmost certainty.
Kevin strolled toward Dawn. “I know that you are new to this world and to being a witch and all but—”
“That’s it!” Joanna interrupted
“Antonia told me that Circe came here earlier with a warning about a witch and the balance of nature.”
“She is a minor goddess, but a goddess nonetheless. She is the mother of all witches.” Kevin’ words were almost a whisper, all trace of smugness gone.