Linda thankfully remained unconscious for most of the trip. The few times she woke up we talked about what would happen next. I made her promise that she would never mention that her friends were in the clearing with her. If the alphas knew there were others that knew what had happened, they would hunt them down. Keeping us unnatural beings a secret is the highest priority among all species. I also made her promise not to tell the others about the death of one of their own. Eventually they would figure it out, as things like this have a way of getting out, no matter how much you try to hide it. I just wanted as much time as I could before that happened. At the end of our journey, I only hoped Linda was coherent enough to remember all of her promises. Our lives depended on it.
After a day of traveling, I finally reached the edge of a friendly pack’s territory. Their alpha’s great-grandfather was the one that had signed the treaty with my elder. They were fiercely loyal to all that it entailed, and Linda would be well looked after here. Unfortunately, I could not cross into their territory without permission, so I had to leave her for one of the pack to find. I debated about whether or not I should stay and give an my own account of what happened, but in the end decided it would be best if I just left. I figured the less the others could connect me to Linda for right now, the better. It would buy us a little more time before everything went to hell.
Now, I know at this time that I should’ve returned to my coven and told Cassius everything that had happened. He had always been a fair elder, and I’m sure he would’ve found a way to straighten everything out without too much hassle. However, I believed that in order to do so, he would have had to lock me up so I could stand trial for my actions. The outcome of that trial would most likely result in my complete death, which would leave Emily all alone, an idea that I could not stand. Besides, I had already promised Emily that I would return. I found that in the recent decades, keeping my promises had become very important to me.
By the time I returned to the city, it was in the middle of the day, and I figured Emily would be at work. I debated whether I should go there to meet her, but in the end decided that with all we had to talk about, privacy would be better. Besides, since I was new with this entire love and emotion thing, I didn’t think that since I had finally accepted our relationship that I would be able to control myself that well around her anymore. My desire to express everything to her would be immeasurable. So, I waited…very impatiently.
Finally, as the sun was setting, I felt her drawing near. I started to pace as nervous energy flowed up and down my body. I really had no idea what I was going to do or say. I tried to calm myself by standing by the window and watching the sun go down. I thought I was successful until I noticed my foot was tapping instead. Finally, heaving a large sigh, I folded my arms and sat on the windowsill, accepting that whatever was soon to transpire, my actual control over it was very limited.
The key rattled in the lock before I heard the door open and close. She set her purse down on the hallway table, then kicked her shoes off by the door before walking further into the apartment. Emily had always had this weird thing about being barefoot while inside, and realizing how cute I found this, I couldn’t help but smile. She was taking her earrings out as she walked around the corner, and upon seeing me, she froze. Fearing that maybe in the day and a half I was gone she had changed her mind, I uneasily stood started nervously rubbing the back of my neck, trying to think of something to say to excuse myself. Her first words to me eased my fears.
“You came back.”
Heaving a relieved sigh and smiling a little, I took a step towards her “I promised you I would.”
She in turn took a step towards me. “We have a lot to talk about.”
Thanking the fact that her apartment was small, my next step took me within arms reach of her “Yes, we do.”
Her step brought us almost toe-to-toe, and I realized that she was slightly shorter than I was, as I had to tip my head slightly to look into her eyes. “Before anything else, I have one question to ask.”
Wanting nothing more than to take her into my arms, I slowly nodded my head. “Okay.”
Looking back at me, she tilted her head a little, and with a small smile asked “What’s your name?”
I couldn’t help but chuckle at this. With all that had transpired over the past several days, we had never been formally introduced. I couldn’t help but find this funny. Taking a small step back, I dipped into a bow and took her hand. Bringing it to my mouth, I said “I apologize, my lady, for my rudeness. My name is Maurice,” before laying a small kiss on the back of her hand. Straightening up, I refused to let go of her hand, drawing her even closer to me.
Blushing slightly, she replied “Well, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Maurice. My name is Emily.” I found it endearing that, even though she knew I knew her name, she still felt the need to formally introduce ourselves.
“Trust me when I say, the pleasure is all mine.” Not being able to stop myself any longer, I drew her the rest of the way to me, and closed my arms tightly around her. I couldn’t stop the shiver that coursed up and down my body as her arms slipped up my back, to hold me just as tightly. Without the fear or possibility of danger nearby, this embrace was the most peaceful and sweetest we had had so far.
We simply held each other for a few minutes, and I truly believe I would’ve continued holding her if she hadn’t pulled back.
“Can we sit down? I’ve been on my feet all day, and would like to rest a bit.”
Cursing myself for not noticing her discomfort before, I immediately led her over to the couch and helped her sit down. She gave me somewhat of an odd look as I held her elbow until she was fully settled. Not knowing how to interpret the look, I simply sat next to her, and then not knowing what to do with my hands, I started to nervously rub them up and down my legs. Emily solved my dilemma by calmly taking my hand in hers, and my anxiety instantly died down.
Looking down at our entwined hands, she suddenly said “You’re a vampire.”
This was a statement more than I question, but I felt that it still required a response. Nodding my head, I replied “Yes, I am.”
“And those guys the other night, they were werewolves.”
“Yes, they were.”
“And Linda, she’s going to become a werewolf as well.”
“Most likely, yes.”
Looking up hopefully, she replied “You mean, there might be a chance that she won’t become a werewolf? Is there a chance that she can come home?”
Hating to dispel her hope, I shook my head. “I’m sorry, but no. What I meant by ‘most likely, yes,’ is that if she survives her first change, then she’ll definitely become one.”
Looking at me fearfully, hoping that my words didn’t mean what they meant, she asked “If she survives?”
“I’m sorry. The rate of survival for humans to become werewolves is about 30%. Their bodies just can’t take the stress of the first transformation. Only about 10% of the women bitten actually survive. Most packs are made up of purebloods, those born as werewolves.”
A confused look crossed her face and she contemplated my words. “Wait, those boys wanted to change us into their mates. At those odds, none of us would’ve survived our first change.”
“Apparently, it was a risk they were willing to take.”
She dropped her head back down, mulling over my words. I wish I could give her better news about her friend, but there really wasn’t much I could tell her. We had always wondered why the odds were so low, but only a few outcast vampires had tried to study the phenomenon. Needless to say, all of them were killed before their experiments were finished.
Obviously having all of her questions about that subject answered, she moved onto a new topic. “How old are you?”
I started to fidget a bit, as I knew these questions would be getting more personal, and I didn’t know how she would react to the answers. “It has been 212 years since I was turned into a vampire.”
“And how long have you been following my family.”
This was the question that I dreaded, because I knew the answer definitely fit into the creepy category. “I have been watching and protecting your family for the past 40 years.” Knowing she would want to know the story, I launched into the telling of Seth and his death and my subsequent promise to him. I continued on with how I met her grandparents, and watched her mom and uncle grow up. I amused her with some of the problems her mom got into, but could tell she wasn’t too surprised by her antics. She knew her mom too well. As I reached the point in the story where she was born, I couldn’t look into her eyes. I told her how I watched her grow up, how I followed her out to the woods where she played with the animals, how much it worried me when she stopped going. I finished the story with the night in the alley, and waited for a response. As always, Emily continued to surprise me.
“Well, that certainly makes things easier. You already know everything about me, so trying to hide my bad habits isn’t necessary. Thank God as I’m horrible at it anyway.”
Looking up, I was surprised to see the look of caring on her face. She knew I expected her to act troubled, and she was doing her best to ease my fears. Even though she seemed to be calm, though, I could tell her emotions were chaotic. She was trying her best to hide it, like she usually did, trying to make everything okay until she can deal with stuff in private. Disengaging one of my hands, I reached up to cup her face, making sure our eyes were locked so she could see my sincerity. “I want you to know you don’t have to hide from me. I do know everything about you, so I know when you’re trying to contain your emotions. Please, just let go. I won’t hurt you. I promise.”
Now it was her turn to look surprised, and at this she tried to pull away, but I wouldn’t let her go. I was trying to will her to let go, but she was resisting. Finally, I decided that now wasn’t the time, that more trust needed to be built before she would be herself. Giving one last smile, I drew her head down to me and placed a kiss on her forehead. As I did so, I heard her stomach growl, and a laugh escaped both of us, easing the tension.
“Obviously it’s time for me to eat, so I’m going to go make myself something. Can I get you anything to eat?” She asked as she rose to go to the kitchen. Realizing what she had just asked, she paused and blushed. “Ummm….”
I simply smiled and also rose to my feet. “No need to worry about me. My feeding necessities are very minimal, but thank you for the offer.”
Still blushing a bit, she nodded her head and headed back towards the kitchen. Following afte her, I couldn't help but think "so far so good. I wonder how long it will last?" I could only hope that it would last forever.