The world is in danger. Seven women are destined to save it.
Only problem is - they have better things to do.
Decreed by an ancient prophecy, a group of women, known as The Destined, are fated to come together to combat a hell god who threatens the Earth. They reluctantly join together, all the while fighting heartbreak, tragedy, demons and each other. As they attempt to accomplish their mission, they ultimately discover startling information about themselves, their allies and the fate of the world.
Fantasy/Sci Fi Characters:
13 Sep 2012 Updated:
11 Oct 2012
1. Chapter 1 by DestinedRev
2. Chapter 2 by DestinedRev
3. Chapter 3 by DestinedRev
4. Chapter 4 by DestinedRev
He should have been back by now.
The words echoed uncomfortably in Desdemona Jaren's mind. They drowned out the merry banter of her two companions as they stood beside her in the vestibule of Mama Luigi's Italian Restaurant. She looked through the rain splattered window, into the greyish-black night, trying to control her growing unease. It was still raining outside. The city was waterlogged and shiny wet, providing a tempting incentive for people to stay indoors. The streets were deserted and she kept hoping she would see the dark cut by a swath of headlights. She pulled her phone out of her tiny purse to check the time. He'd been gone more than twenty minutes already. Something isn't right.
"Des, don't you think Chase should have been back already? I mean, we parked no more than five minutes away," said Mara, breathing life into the thoughts that were bouncing around in Des's head.
Garret, Mara's boyfriend, looked at his watch. He wrinkled his brow, a move he did so frequently, that Des was surprised it wasn't already permanently etched there. "Yeah, he should have been back. I wonder what's keeping him."
Des punched the speed dial button on her cell phone to call Chase. It rang several times and went to voicemail. She ended the call without leaving a message and went back to monitoring the activity on the vacant street.
She peered through the window, looking as far up and down the street as she possibly could. Impulsively, she pushed the door open and stepped outside. She immediately felt large raindrops make polka dotted patterns across her blouse, rendering Chase's act of getting the car to pick them up, completely moot. He'd be mildly annoyed that his sacrifice would be for nothing, but Des was worried. Mara and Garret followed her through the restaurant door and met with a similar, polka dotted fate.
“Something’s happened,” she stated. She was fighting to keep the panic at bay. Even though she had no real reason for the way she was feeling, the horribleness sat inside her like a stomach-flu induced knot. Something bad had happened.
“He’s fine,” Garret offered, reassuringly. “Let’s start walking towards where we were parked. We’ll meet up with him as he drives by. We’re already wet. Might as well.”
Des turned and walked briskly down the street with Mara and Garret behind her, walking the slow, staggered walk of the mildly tipsy and tightly snuggled together. The distance quickly separated between them as Des hurried anxiously ahead. She stopped suddenly, looking in front of her and then to the side. Mara and Garret caught up to her.
“What if he took the short cut back to the parking garage instead of keeping to the road?” Des wondered out loud. She didn’t bother to wait for an answer from her friends. “Mara, you and I’ll take the short cut. Garret, keep along the road and watch out for him. If you find him, just have him double back and pick us up at the parking garage.”
“I don’t know if I like the idea of you two on your own, going through the back alleys. It’s nighttime and it’s not exactly safe,” Garret said, protectively.
“That’s why Mara and I will go together. We have to cover both routes so we don’t miss him if he comes along. It’s the best arrangement and we have to find Chase quickly,” she said, urgently. The feeling in her stomach was getting worse.
“I don’t know…”
“Garret, there’s no time to argue. Come on.” Des grabbed Mara by the hand, pulling her away from Garret and off towards the alley. She glanced back to make sure Garret was following her orders. She noted with satisfaction that he was already down the street.
Des half-dragged Mara down the alleyway and turned the corner. In front of them was a startling display. They paused briefly, attempting to make sense of the scene in front of them. A dark figure hovered over another, crumpled figure dressed in Chase’s smartly tailored dress pants and ocean blue dress shirt. The head of the crumpled figure was cocked awkwardly to the side, while the dark figure’s head bobbed ever so slightly over top of it.
“Hey! Hey, you! What’s going on there?” Des yelled, as she dropped Mara’s hand and started running towards the unnatural tableau in front of her. Suddenly, she froze as white-hot terror coursed through her.
The dark figure lifted its hood-covered head. Instantaneously, there was an incomprehensible mishmash of horror. Pale, sallow, almost luminescent, ghostly skin. Sunken cheek bones on a disfigured face. Red, glowing eyes. Sharp, pointed teeth. And blood. Blood dripping from the pointed teeth. Blood gushing from the neck of the crumpled figure. Blood spilled onto the crumpled figure’s clothes, the path distorted by the small rivers born of the falling rain.
The crumpled figure was falling. By the time it hit the pavement, it was the only figure remaining in the grotesque scene. Des snapped out of her terror and ran over. She quickly kneeled down beside the crumpled figure and gently turned it over. It was Chase. Chase had been attacked.
“Dear God, no,” Des breathed. There were two puncture wounds on the side of Chase’s neck, where blood was gurgling out. With barely a thought, she ripped off her blouse and pressed it firmly to the side of Chase’s neck, trying to keep the blood from leaking out of his body.
“Oh my god, what is happening? What was that thing?” Mara shrieked. “What was that? Oh my god, what was that!” Mara was still rooted to the spot, throwing a hysterical fit.
“Mara! Stop freaking out! I need you to call 911,” Des commanded, trying her best to twist to look at her best friend, while keeping pressure on Chase’s wound.
Mara made no movement towards getting her phone. She stood mumbling in disbelief. “Oh, dear God in heaven, what was that?”
“Mara! Please, we can’t freak out right now. Call 911. He’s hurt badly,” Des begged her friend.
Mara obediently pulled her cell phone out of her purse and dialed the numbers with shaky hands. The phone wasn’t connecting. She tried dialling the numbers again, her hands becoming increasingly unsteady. “It’s not going through! I can’t get a signal,” she wailed.
"You have to run back to the street and get help,” Des instructed as calmly as she possibly could. She looked down at her blood soaked blouse against Chase’s neck. His face was devoid of color. She swallowed to keep the tears back, otherwise, she would never get the words out. “Please Mara, you have to go quickly. He’s dying.”
Des’s words snapped her out of the hysteria. Mara turned and ran as fast as she could down the alleyway. Des watched her until she turned the corner leading back to the main street. When she could no longer see her, she turned back to assess Chase's condition. She kept one hand firmly pressed against the wound and picked up his wrist in her other hand. She felt around for his pulse. She couldn’t find one. Stay calm, Des, she told herself and kept moving her fingers on his wrist, searching. She felt something. She pressed a little harder on the spot. There it was. A pulse. Faint, but still there.
“Please, Chase. Please hang on. You have to stay strong. Help is on the way. You just stay with me until it comes. Please Chase, stay with me,” she begged.
She couldn’t help the tears, which blurred her eyes and mixed with the streaming rain. She took a deep breath. She didn’t have the luxury of losing control right now. Chase needed her. She had to follow her own words and stay strong.
Chase stirred and let out a soft moan. His eyes opened slightly.“Des?” he whispered.
“I’m here. I’m right here, Chase. I’m not leaving you.”
“I – I’m sorry.” Chase struggled to catch his breath. “I wanted… with you… always.” Another struggle. “Love you.” He closed his eyes.
“Chase, I – .”
The only thing Des knew after that, was darkness. The inside of the ambulance came slowly into focus, as Des opened her eyes and adjusted to her surroundings. She was lying on a stretcher, with an oxygen mask on her face, that was making her nasal passages dry and sore. She struggled to take the mask off, to get some relief from the bombardment on her airways. She was met with resistance as she tried to take it off.
“Leave it on. It’ll help you. Just try to relax,” the ambulance attendant said.
What the hell happened? Des asked herself. She looked out the open ambulance doors into the alleyway. The rain was still coming down. Chase. She sat up and yanked the mask off.
“Where’s Chase? Is he okay? Please tell me he’s going to be okay?” Des pleaded.
“I don’t know. When we got here, you were the only one in the alley. Looks like someone knocked you out pretty good.”
The only one in the alley? Des looked down at her blood stained hands. Chase’s blood. She had no top on, she was only wearing her bra, also covered in Chase’s blood. She pulled the blanket back up to herself. “We have to find him. He’s badly hurt. He’s not going to make it if we don’t find him soon.”
“You should lie back down, Miss. The police are looking for him.”
“Where’s Mara? And Garret? Are they alright?”
“They’re giving their statements to the police. You should really just try and rest right now.”
“I can’t rest. Chase is out there somewhere and he’s injured. We have to find him.”
It was far from ideal, but there was no choice. She was running out of time. It wouldn’t be long before they were closing in on their location, but he was fading fast. His heartbeat was already so weak. She was afraid that he was already beyond the point where she could help him.
She kicked in the back office door of an abandoned industrial warehouse. Despite the stickers on the window, she was relatively sure that it wasn’t protected by an alarm service. She carried Chase into the building, listening for the tell-tale beeps of an alarm, prepared to flee if one went off. Grateful silence. She gently laid him down on one of the desks and relaxed slightly. If the space had been alarmed, it would have already gone off. She doubled back to the door, closed it, then flew over to her patient.
She lightly slapped Chase’s face. There was no response. She needed him to be conscious, even if only marginally. She couldn’t save him if he succumbed to the black oblivion.
“Chase! Chase, I know you can hear me. You have to wake up. We don’t have time. You need this. It will make you better.”
She raised her wrist to her mouth and savagely tore into it with her teeth. She pressed her opened wrist to Chase’s lips and let her blood flow past his slackened jaw, towards the back of his throat. Blood dripped out of the corners of his mouth and trickled down his chin. As it hit his tongue, it revived him and gave him the energy to form his lips around her wrist. Every mouthful made him a little stronger. He grabbed onto her wrist and held it tighter to his mouth, his lips now sealed around the wound so that not one precious drop of the life-giving fluid was wasted.
She pulled her arm out of his grip. He reached for her and made a small noise of protest. He wanted more. He needed more.
“That’s all I can give you. It'll have to do for now,” she said softly to him. “You need to rest. They’ll be looking for you, but I don’t have the strength to carry you any longer and you aren’t strong enough to carry yourself. It’s not the best of accommodations, but we’ll have to stay here for awhile.”
“Who are you?” he asked. Chase looked through weak, hazy eyes at the beautiful woman with flawless, caramel colored, porcelain skin and long, flowing obsidian hair. He was confused. He had thought he was still with Des, but this woman wasn’t her.
“Someone who needed to save you,” she replied.
Chase closed his eyes and went limp.
“Des, please, you really need to rest,” Mara begged, as she brought in a tray with three steaming mugs on it. She gave one to Des, who was pacing the small living room of her apartment. “I know it’s been an awful night, but you can’t do any good if you run yourself ragged.”
Des took the cup from Mara. Her shoulder-length, chestnut hair was damp from her recent shower and she had changed into a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt. She had scrubbed herself clean, watching the blood flow down the shower drain. I’m washing him away and now he’s all gone, she had thought.
Mara placed herself on the love seat beside Garret and handed him his own mug. She snuggled into his large frame, as close as she possibly could, for comfort. Des could no longer pace with the cup of hot tea in her hands, resigned herself to sitting on the sofa across from the couple. A framed picture of Chase and herself, snuggled together, much like Mara and Garret, sat on an end table. It caught her eye, sending a shard of pain through her heart. She quickly dropped her eyes and studied the contents of her cup instead.
“I don’t understand what that was,” Mara mused. “What was that in the alley? What did it do to Chase?”
“It was probably some strung out junkie that mugged him,” Garret said confidently. “Knowing Chase, he resisted giving him his wallet and he stabbed him."
Those weren’t stab wounds on his neck, Des thought to herself. At least if they were, it wasn’t done with a knife. Two puncture wounds, spaced at either end of a crescent shaped indentation. It was almost like a –
“But that face, you should have seen that face,” Mara persisted. “It was so... unnatural.”
It wasn’t a mugging by some strung out crack head. It was something awful and terrible. The stuff nightmares are made out of. Des shook her head to clear the thoughts.
“Yeah, think about it, Mar. A drug addict is going to be pale and thin, sunken looking, just like you guys described. It was dark and raining, so everything’s distorted. Not to mention you were panicking. Panic plays tricks with the mind, you know.”
“It was just so horrible. Why would he have taken him? It just doesn’t make any sense.”
“Maybe he didn’t have time to get his wallet before the two of you interrupted him. So when you ran to get help, he knocked Des out so he could get it.”
“But if Des was unconscious, why wouldn’t he just take the wallet and go? Why would he take Chase too?” Mara asked, playing devil’s advocate.
“Maybe there wasn’t time, so he just dragged him off to a more secure location to go through his pockets thoroughly,” Garret speculated.
Chase’s body, Des thought dully, as she stared into the mug in her hands. You mean, he dragged off Chase’s body. She had seen how bad off he was. There was no way he would have made it without immediate medical attention. No one could lose that much blood and live.
They needed to get out of warehouse. The ones who were looking for him were dangerously close and he needed more help than she could provide for him there.
They were down the hall from the main part of the warehouse, tucked into a corner of one of the adjoining offices. There were no windows in the room itself, but the door was open and she could see the outside windows from her vantage point. She would know if anyone came around and would at least have a small head start if they were to come into the warehouse.
She had gone back and fixed the door as best as she could. At least at a cursory glance, it would appear untampered with. The desk Chase had lain on, was shoved underneath the window, so that it wasn’t visible from outside. She had found an unwanted, worn feather duster, left behind in the maintenance closet. She erased their footprints from the dust on the floor and did her best to restore it to its former, forsaken state. Once she had completed her tasks, she returned to her patient and sat down beside him to keep vigil. She strained to listen for any outside sounds. She was weakened herself, but she used her remaining strength to remain diligent.
She looked down at Chase, lying on the threadbare carpet of the old office. He was deathly pale, cold and clammy to the touch. She brushed a lock of his curly, sandy brown hair from his forehead. He stirred, but did not open his eyes. He should have been sleeping soundly. Instead, he was unsettled with the delirium of a flu-ridden victim. She had to get him help, but she could still sense the ones who were looking for him. They were closer than ever.
She looked into the main warehouse and froze. Moving light reflected through the windows. It hadn’t arrived yet, but its source would be there in a matter of seconds. The door knob to the warehouse door rattled. Lights shone inside, sweeping back and forth, through the entire room. She remained motionless, yet poised to take flight. Chase moaned and stirred. She put her hand protectively on his chest, as though it would keep him safe from what was coming. She looked at him briefly, then returned her focus to the windows. The lights paused for one awful, tense moment, then retracted and disappeared. She relaxed and removed her hand from Chase’s chest. She rested her head against the wall in relief and settled in to wait.
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you, right now for what you’ve done,” Sierra hissed. She held her captive firmly by the neck, pressed against the wall with the grip of one hand. He dangled above the floor.
Her prisoner, Mestipen, laughed uncontrollably. He was unable to speak, the situation was so hysterically funny to him. His continued cackling only aggravated her further. She tightened her grip on him, pulled him forward and threw him up against the stone wall of the cellar, where she had caught him. Her threating action made the situation no less amusing to him.
Sierra had intended to return home, only briefly. She had come to pick up a car to transport Chase out of the warehouse. Time was running out for him and she couldn't afford to wait any longer. She had to risk leaving him by himself, while she travelled out of the city's core to the secluded location of the mansion. When she arrived, she had sensed that Mestipen was back in the house and had gone to search him out. She had found him in the basement, hidden in the labyrinth of hallways, leading to various cellars and storage rooms.
“Oh come on, Sierra,” he managed through his laughter. “Don’t be angry with me. I was giving you a gift.”
In her other hand, Sierra held a wooden stake. It was fashioned from a black ash tree, the deadliest and most effective type of wood for a stake to be made from. It would glide smoothly and efficiently into his chest, effectively ending the cause of her current dilemma. However, it would not solve her problem.
She loosened her grip on Mestipen’s throat and let him drop to the floor, but she held the stake firmly. He doubled over, trying to compose himself.
“A gift. You think what you’ve done is a gift?”
“Oh, my darling Sierra. I’ve watched you for so long. Wanting him. Aching for him. Your desire so powerful that it was an entity unto itself."
By this time he had composed himself. He circled slowly around her until he was behind her. She remained motionless, but turned her head ever so slightly, to keep track of him. He touched her, letting his fingers trail gently down her neck and across her shoulder. She didn’t move to stop him.
He whispered in her ear, “How long were you going to continue to watch him from afar? Dreaming of holding him in your arms, your jealousy of her so strong that it would make a grown man weep? Well, it was more than even I could bear.”
“You wanted to kill him.” Her soft brown eyes briefly flashed red with anger.
“Oh, no, no. Quite the contrary. I meant for him to live. For you. But, I was interrupted.”
“You still haven’t given me a reason to let you live.”
Mestipen turned her around to face him. She looked back at her friend with cold, dark eyes. His face was beautiful, flawless. A paradox of delicate porcelain skin over strong, chiseled cheek bones, framed by short, wavy, strawberry blond hair. His blueberry eyes danced brightly with mischief, a touch of amusement still on the edge of his mouth. His face softened. He dropped to his knees and took her hand with the stake into his own. He positioned the stake at the center of his chest and pressed it against the cage of bone that protected his most vulnerable spot.
“What I did, I did out of love for my dearest friend. You would never take him for yourself, so I did. To give you the companion you desired, so that the two of you may roam the Earth for the rest of days, together. If love is a crime, then stake me where I kneel.”
“It wasn’t for you to choose,” she said savagely.
“Tell me you don’t want him,” Mestipen taunted.
"You drained him and left him. You meant for him to die.”
“I had to flee. I was discovered.”
“Then you should have taken him with you and finished it!”
“I couldn’t have taken him. They would have followed. But you were there to save him. If you didn’t want it to happen, you could have stopped it," he countered.
Sierra was momentarily taken aback. He was right. She had arrived after Mestipen had started, but before he had gone too far. She could have stopped him. It was wrong, but she knew deep down that she wanted what Mestipen was willing to give her. What she never would have voluntarily taken for herself. But there was a greater issue at hand. Her fury returned.
“You had his blood. It had to be you! I didn’t have enough to give him and he didn’t get his own back,” she raged at him.
Realization crossed Mestipen’s face. The playfulness drained from him. He released her hand and slowly rose to his feet.
“What happens now?” he asked tentatively, with wide eyes.
“I don’t know. We watch. I watch. I’ll try to nurse him as best as I can and we’ll see what happens.”
"Where is he now?"
"He's in an abandoned warehouse. I couldn't manage him on my own, so I came back to the mansion to get a car. But I can't be gone for long, it's not safe. They are still actively looking for him and he could be discovered at any moment. I have to get back to him."
Mestipen was hesitant. "Should I come with you?"
"Quite frankly, I don't think I can stand to be around you, right now."
Mestipen was visibly hurt by her words. “Sierra, I never meant...”
“That’s the problem with you, isn’t it, Mestipen?” she shot at him. “You never mean anything. You never take anything seriously and you certainly never think things through. It’s all just a big game to you. Everyone and everything is here for your amusement. One day, you’ll cross someone who’s not as forgiving as I.”
Sierra left the room, her enraged heels, clacking sharply on the stone floor. Mestipen’s face clouded over as he watched her leave.
Why didn't anything ever go right? he thought, angrily to himself.
Templeton Sewell opened the door to the little bayside bar and entered the dark, dimly lit room. It was a few degrees cooler inside and provided some relief from the scorching Mexican sun outside. The heat was wearing on him, having driven all over the countryside, visiting what felt like a hundred little bars, almost identical to this one. He hoped this would be the one that would end his exhausting search.
The room was peppered with a few locals, huddled over their afternoon drinks. They looked up with curiosity at the gringo that entered, but quickly returned their focus to their conversations and liquor. Templeton glanced around the room, swiftly and expertly taking in the details. Hope soared as he spied his target at the bar, the lone foreigner in the room, apart from himself. There he was, hunched over the glass of solace he was nursing. Whiskey, neat, Templeton speculated. Could be with the heat, the ice had long melted in his glass.
Templeton walked over and took a seat beside the man, even though the other stools along the bar were unoccupied. The man paid no attention to the person who just invaded his space, and continued to stare into his whiskey. He picked up his glass and took a sip of his drink.
The bartender, an elderly, weathered Mexican, hobbled over to Templeton. He gave him a curt nod and looked at him expectantly. “What he’s having,” Templeton said, indicating the man beside him.
Wordlessly, the bartender hobbled a few steps away, poured the whiskey and set it in front of him. Templeton reached into his pocket, extracted a few pesos and placed them on the bar in front of the old man. He glanced at the glass in front of him. Neat, as always. It comforted Templeton to know that he still knew a little something about the man beside him.
He took a sip of his drink, held it briefly in his mouth, then let the amber liquid warm his throat. He put the drink down and turned to examine the man seated beside him. It had been five years since he last saw him, but he looked as though he had aged twenty. He was a tall man with a large frame, solidly built, though not as muscular as he once had been. Even still, he was hardly the type that you would ever try to pick a fight with. He was sporting a week’s worth of beard growth on his strong jaw, which added to his intimidation factor. Although he looked worn, he still retained his darkly rugged, archeologist-turned-treasure-hunter good looks. His skin had been made olive by the relentless Mexican sun. Medium brown hair, which he had normally kept short, was now shaggy and long. While he had let himself go a bit, there was no doubt that he was still a very powerful man.
Despite Templeton’s long examination of him, the man continued to sit silently by his side, apathetic to his neighbor's nosiness. Periodically, he would take a drink from his glass, then set it back down on the bar in front of him. Templeton followed suit. They sat in silence for some time in a way that would make onlookers wonder if there wasn't some kind of secret, non-verbal exchange being conducted between the two.
At last, the glasses sat empty on the bar. Templeton motioned for the bartender to re-fill them. The friendly gesture went unacknowledged by the man at his side. He simply picked up his refreshed drink and continued sipping.
“I’m sorry,” Templeton finally said. “There is nothing that will ever be...”
Templeton’s words broke the spell of silence and spurred the man into action. He swivelled viciously on his stool to face Templeton. Now, it was his turn to examine the man seated next to him. He looked into the face of his one-time mentor, the one man in the world he had trusted with everything.
Templeton's hair, once salt and pepper, was now completely silver. The strong, toned body he had had at one time, was now, almost cruelly, replaced with one of a much older, frailer man. Templeton was shorter than himself, but now, five years later, it appeared that he had shrunken, become smaller, less significant. He too, had aged so much.
He looked Templeton dead in the eye. His own eyes were so black and cold, that Templeton almost made an involuntary movement away from him. The radiation of hate shot silvers of fear through him. He had hoped that he was still the same man underneath, that the wounds had healed or at least been soothed. But Templeton had misjudged the effects of time. With that one look, he realized the wounds he had helped cause, were still as raw and vivid as the day they had been received. The look told him he no longer knew this man.
The man said nothing, but shot out of his chair, almost knocking it over. Templeton flinched inside, but kept his stoic composure. It was entirely possible that he could die, right here, in the middle of this nowhere, dusty, little Mexican town. This man could kill him where he sat and no one in the bar would give it a second thought. Not that Templeton could blame him if he did. The man merely downed the rest of his drink and started to walk away.
“Berkeley,” Templeton called out. “The storm’s coming. We need you back.”
As Berkeley reached the door, Templeton’s words stopped him in his tracks. He paused a moment, as though he were letting the meaning of them sink in. Templeton was hopeful that he had uttered the password, that he had presented the magic key to bring him back.
Without turning around and without feeling, Berkeley said, “Deal with it yourself.”
He was out the door before Templeton could say anything further.
Berkeley Thorpe had managed to keep his emotions buried for the past five years. Templeton Sewell had just stepped into his world and put an end to that. They were starting to bubble and he was struggling to keep them down. He knew he had to get away as fast as possible from the bar and from Templeton before he lost control of everything. He could feel the whole ball of ugly, churning within him, threatening to be exposed. And he knew if he didn’t get away, he wouldn’t be able to keep the demons down. There was just too much hurt for that.
Berkeley hopped into his car and sped off down the road, desperate to put as much distance between himself and the monster that had come to seek him out.
Audra Duncan strode through the nightclub, surrounded by gyrating bodies, which were illuminated by the neon lights. The hypnotic, pulsating music emanated through the darkened room, ravaging the senses of the enraptured crowd. She was oblivious to the appreciative stares from men on the hunt and to the glares of jealous women, trying to capture the attention of the men. She was appropriately dressed - though not on purpose - in black leather pants and bustier that accentuated her tight, shapely body. Her black hair flew out in soft, kinky ringlets, giving her a tousled look that emphasized her wild sensuality. Liquid brown eyes swept the room, searching the crowd for her prey.
She made her way to the back of the club and arrived at the corridor, jammed with females, waiting their turn for the washroom. She glimpsed movement at the end of the hall and took off in pursuit of it. She was blocked by disgruntled women, who protested her cutting through the line. She ignored their displeasure and continued fighting through the crowd until she was free of the snaking line.
She continued down the rest of the short length of the corridor, and arrived at the last door at the end. She yanked it open, quickly scanning the room before she entered. It was the kitchen to the nightclub, whose operations were winding down for the night, now that the dinner hour was long over. Once again, she was met with protests to her presence, but she ignored them and jogged through the narrow aisles, past counters, racks and the kitchen staff. One of the workers reached out to grab her, but she shook him off without so much as a beat in her step. She arrived at the back door, leading to the alley and burst through it. She looked to the right, which led to the front of the nightclub. Nothing there. She stepped around the open door and quickly closed it, looking to the left. Jackpot.
Twenty feet in front of her were two men involved in a fight. The larger one was outfitted in a black leather motorcycle jacket and jeans. His hulking form towered over the other man, who was of a slighter build and dressed in a button-down shirt and khakis. Button-down laid a punch on Motorcycle Jacket that sent him reeling backwards, but he quickly regained his composure. He went back after Button-down, connecting a solid right hook with his face. It barely budged him. Motorcycle jacket rained repeated punches on Button-down, trying to flatten him out. After many punches, Button-down fell to the ground and Motorcycle Jacket immediately pounced on him. He reached inside his jacket and pulled out a silver dagger, which he raised up, ready to deliver the fatal blow.
Both men were so absorbed with their fight, neither one realized that Audra had snuck up to them. As Motorcycle Jacket tried to bring the dagger down into Button-down's chest, Audra caught his wrist with both hands and snapped it back. The dagger went flying in the opposite direction of its intended trajectory. Motorcycle Jacket jumped up in surprise and spun around to see who had thwarted his action. Before he realized what was happening, Audra stuck her foot behind his legs, flipped him off balance and sent him crashing to the ground. Big, dumb and lands hard, she noted with satisfaction. While this was going on, Button-down managed to scramble away from the scene and was now running desperately down the alley.
Audra quickly jumped on top of Motorcycle Jacket. She smiled seductively down at him. The surprise on his face was replaced with recognition, then stormy annoyance. He tried to bring his hands up to throw her off him, but she quickly pinned him.
“Ah, ah, ah,” she taunted. “This dance isn’t done yet. Just like a man to want to rush things, but I need a little more foreplay.”
“Audra, get the hell off of me,” he growled.
“What, don’t like having the woman on top?” she laughed. “Okay, we’ll play your way. Just not tonight. This one’s mine.” Audra's face hovered close enough to kiss him. “Did anyone ever tell you how delicious you are when you’re angry?”
She hopped off him and ran at full speed down the alley, to where he had left his motorcycle. She jumped on the bike, threw on the helmet and gunned the engine. She took off in the direction that Button-down had fled.
Aidan St-Pierre picked himself up off the ground and stood in disbelief as Audra rode off with his motorcycle, after his prey, that she had let escape. He threw up his hands, then remembered his dagger. After a few moments of fruitless searching, he figured she had taken that too.
“Son of a bitch!” he spat, then walked away in the opposite direction.
As Audra approached her brownstone, she saw that Aidan was waiting for her. He had been leaning on the stone mouldings of the steps, but as he saw her approach, he stood up. He was a tall, imposing figure – six feet, four inches of moodiness. He was still in his motorcycle jacket - a geared up cowboy missing his horse. Audra could tell he was furious with her. She screeched his motorcycle to a stop in front of him, a move that would aggravate him further. She hopped off the bike and pulled the helmet off, her wild mane cascading to her shoulders. She tucked the helmet on the back and then stood beside the bike. She swished her hips and put her hands on them, thrusting out her chest. She hoped the little flaunt would help diffuse his anger.
Audra sashayed up to him, a playful, flirty smile on her full, sensual lips. Aidan walked toward her, meeting her half-way. Before she could do anything, he hooked his arm around her and pulled her close. Audra’s smile widened as he made the move. He grabbed her right hand, wrestled the keys from it, then let her go. The flirtatious smile faded.
“Is that all?” she asked. “You just gonna leave a girl wanting more?”
“Touch my bike again, and you and I will have serious issues,” Aidan said calmly, but firmly.
He strode over to his bike and put the helmet on. The intoxicating scent of her perfume was all over it. He wanted to inhale deeply and let it wash over him but he would never give her the satisfaction. She was one of the sexiest women he had ever known and she played it for all it was worth. He took one last furtive look at the mocha goddess standing before him. No wonder they nicknamed her Black Magic. She effortlessly was able to get men to bend to her will. She wasn’t going to get him to fall under her spell.
“It’s not your bike I want to touch,” she taunted. The smile returned to her face.
He ignored her goading. “I’ve been chasing him for months. Did you at least get rid of him?”
Audra, still smiling, cocked her head to the side. “Sometimes you need to lose the battle in order to win the war.”
“You let him get away,” he said incredulously. “I hope whatever you’re playing at, it's worth it.” He dropped the visor and started the engine. He gunned the bike and peeled off into the night as Audra watched him go.
Audra dropped the vixen demeanor as soon as Aidan was gone. She let herself in through the front door of the brownstone and wearily climbed the stairs to her apartment on the second floor. The apartment was ablaze in lights, the Kinks blaring from the stereo in the bookcase. It was a British invasion in her home. She glanced around the room for signs of life. Other than the Kinks, there was none.
Audra went into the kitchen, grabbed herself a bottle of water from the fridge, then went back to the living room and flopped into a chair, her legs dangling over the arm. She pulled off her leather boots and extracted Aidan’s silver dagger she had picked up during the fight. She tossed the boots off to the side and turned the dagger over, admiring the craftsmanship and the weight of it in her hands. It felt good and powerful. She could do some serious damage with this beauty. At least her little seduction trick had worked, distracting him enough so that he forgot about it. His only concern had been the big ticket item she had taken from him. Sooner or later, he’d realize she had it and come looking for it.
“The only time I feel alright is by your siiiide.”
A high-pitched voice screeched, interrupting Audra’s thoughts. She heard the voice before she saw the creature that was making it. Presently, a slender, half Japanese - half white, pixie of a girl danced into the room. Her black hair, which was tied into two short pigtails made her look much younger than her twenty years. She looked up and was startled by Audra's presence. She dropped the book she was balancing in surprise. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t know you were home.”
The pixie girl was Ellie Goodwin, her roommate. As she bent over to pick up the book she had dropped, Audra slid the dagger between the cushion and the frame of the chair. Ellie retrieved her book, then went over to the bookcase and turned the stereo down. She flopped on the sofa next to Audra’s chair.
“You know, there’s this great invention they came out with, it’s called an iPod. It even comes with headphones so you can play music and not torture your poor roommate with it,” Audra said.
“Yeah, I know. What do you think’s playing on the stereo?” Ellie said cheerfully. “So did you get any info out of our guy?”
“No, I tried chasing him down, but he got away,” Audra said, irritated at the reminder.
“Was Aidan still waiting when you got home? Boy, was he ever pissed at you. He came up here ranting... He’s so hot! In a scary big, bad boy, way older guy, kind of way, you know? Did you really steal his motorcycle?” Ellie gushed.
Audra smirked. “Yeah. He found our target and was about to kill to him. Apparently, he’s been hunting him for months and I put a stop to that.”
“No wonder he’s pissed at you. But he’s so totally hot.”
“Okay, calm the hormones. He’s volatile and aggressive, not to mention dangerous. Did you find out anything more?”
Ellie opened the book she was carrying and placed it in front of her on the coffee table. “Not really. There’s a vague passage in this book about the Gem of Hazmerath. It just says it’s an instrument of The Calling - don't ask me what that is," she said, preempting Audra. "But how it works or what it does - you got me. There’s not even a picture of it, so we don’t even know what it looks like." She paused in thought for a moment. "Maybe we should let Aidan in on what’s going on. He’s a good Hunter. Maybe he can track this guy down for us again and not kill him.”
Audra sat up and leaned in close to Ellie for emphasis. “No. Aidan does not get involved with this. He doesn’t understand. His game is kill first, ask questions later. You can’t get information out of something that’s dead. He sees everything in black and white.” Thoughts of Johan popped into Audra’s mind. She quickly dismissed them. There wasn’t time for that now.
“So what do we do? Audra, I don’t think we can do this on our own. We need help. We just don’t have enough information and our little underground network is either disappearing or doesn’t know anything. I get the feeling we stumbled on something way bigger than just the two of us.”
Audra nodded thoughtfully, staring off into space. “I know. But who would believe us?”
There was something not right with the world and Ellie Goodwin was painfully aware of it. It wasn’t anything she could put her finger on, but she had a knack of knowing when things weren’t as they should be. It was a feeling that had hit her as she walked across the university campus, travelling from her Latin class to the student center to meet up with some friends for an evening coffee. There’s a disturbance in the force, Luke, had flashed through her mind. She had stopped, pulled the iPod ear buds out of her ears and looked around in confusion. Nothing seemed any different, as she observed the activity through the campus square. Students were milling about as usual. People walking through campus as usual. Nobody else seemed to notice that soemthing was askew. But somehow, things were not the same. That had been less than a week ago.
She had felt too jittery and just plain weirded out to sit through her evening class after that. Three hours straight of listening to a less than dynamic professor drone on about ancient civilization was more than Ellie could bear. She begged off having coffee with her friends – she didn’t need the extra caffeine in her state – and headed to the comfort and sanctity of home instead.
When she arrived at the apartment, she had curled up on the sofa and pulled the throw around her. She had chills going through her body, even though outside it was a balmy seventy-five degrees. But Ellie needed it more for protection than for warmth. She had remained that way until Audra had tumbled into the apartment, much later that evening.
Ellie looked up at her roommate, covered in the remnants of a green substance, completely dishevelled and looking far from her normal, well put together, flirtatious self. She was missing buttons from her blouse and it gaped open, revealing glimpses of cleavage and a lacy bra. Her usual confidence and energy had been reduced to sadness, exhaustion and something else - was it fear? The two had stared at each other for a long while. She could tell that Audra was searching her mind for an explanation. Ellie decided to put her out of her misery.
“Something’s happened,” Ellie said. “Something’s happened to the world.”
Audra had simply nodded and closed the apartment door. She was hunched over in her chair, studying the floor, deciding where to begin. The two had sat together in silence, absorbing the situation. Audra thought of how she could alleviate Ellie’s suspicions. She wanted to reassure her that she was just being silly. Or maybe she was worried about something else and projecting that worry into something bigger. But when Audra had looked into Ellie’s eyes she knew she had to tell her the truth. Ellie was incredibly perceptive and would see right through her if she didn't. Which was kind of ironic, since Audra had originally chosen her as a roommate because she figured her to be clueless and flighty.
Audra had finally realized she could tell her everything she knew and Ellie would understand. It would be a welcome relief, telling her the truth. There was comfort in sharing this awful reality with someone else. It would no longer be hers to bear alone.
“We’re not alone in this world,” Audra began carefully. “There are others...”
And so she began the fantastical tale of what she knew and of her double life. Privileged master’s student by day – demon hunter by night. Ellie had absorbed everything and at the end, to Audra’s relief, she showed no signs of signs of freaking out. Once Audra was done with the story, she had merely processed all the information quietly for a few moments.
“I thought it was just me,” Ellie finally said.
Sierra felt no less furious, disappointed and worried after her confrontation with Mestipen. He was a creature of impulse, rarely thinking his plans through before executing them. Eventually she would forgive him, but not for awhile. She was determined to stay away from him. Besides, one of his observations was eating away at her and it was something she had barely admitted to herself. Yet Mestipen had managed to discover that tiny little kernel of knowledge she had buried deep down inside. She had wanted Chase.
Even though she had come upon the scene of the attack after it had begun, she should have stopped it. But everything had happened so quickly. The shock of Mestipen’s act had paralyzed her and her curiosity had kept her immobile. Subconsciously, she had been fully aware of what was happening. They were of an order of vampires that did not take innocents. So when one was attacked... she had known what Mestipen had meant to do. But then there had been the surprise of the girlfriend, unexpectedly stumbling upon the entire scene. Yes, Sierra knew she was as much to blame for the situation as Mestipen. The anger she felt towards him, she felt tenfold towards herself.
Sierra swept into her lavishly decorated living quarters, consisting of her bedroom with a full ensuite, a comfortable sitting area and study. Heavy curtains hung on the windows, blocking out the harmful rays of the daytime sun. The suite was part of an even more luxurious mansion, located on a private, abundantly treed lot. It was close enough to the amenities of the city, but far enough away that they were not bothered by a multitude of curious people. Most were not even aware that the estate existed there, hidden by the dense forest surrounding it. The mansion had been her home since she had left the mortal world.
Sierra's attention immediately went to Chase, who was lying on her beautiful, four poster mahogany bed. The mattress felt like a cocoon that enveloped and lulled her into peaceful sleeps. Chase was far from resting peacefully. He was still pale, feverish and restless. He spent most of his time in a semi-conscious state, dotted occasionally with delirious ranting. She brought a wet washcloth and pressed it gently against his brow, attempting to bring his fever down. He stirred slightly at the coolness, but did not open his eyes.
“What fresh and exciting hell have you gotten yourself into now, child?” breezed a familiar voice from the doorway of her room.
Sierra looked up at the see Tilda, one of the elders, watching with concern. Tilda was wearing her trademark jewel toned, flowing gossamer robes and matching head scarf. She was a cross between royalty and some kind of gypsy. She smiled wistfully and rose to greet her old friend. The two women embraced each other.
“How did you know?” Sierra asked.
“How do I always know when you’re in trouble? So what’s the story here? And what has Mestipen done now that you are paying the price for?” Tilda glided into the room and over to the bedside. “Well, he certainly is a handsome one.” Tilda gently stroked Chase’s cheek. “And very sick.”
“I’m at a loss as to what to do with him.” Sierra joined Tilda beside the bed as they watched Chase’s shallow breathing. “Mestipen tried to turn him, but was interrupted before he could give him blood. I rescued him and gave him what I could of mine. The police – they were looking for him, so we were stuck in hiding for a while. Then a Hunter caught wind of the commotion and began snooping around, so I wasn’t able to get him more blood right away.”
Tilda sat down on the edge of the bed beside Chase and watched his shallow, labored breathing. She lifted his eyelids and peered into his eyes. She ran her hands down his arms and along the sides of his body. Sierra watched her tentatively as she completed her examination. Tilda brushed the hair from his damp forehead. Chase moaned and moved his head slightly.
“Poor, poor soul. Such a shame for one to be suffering like this,” Tilda observed. “He would have been stunning. A wonderful addition to our family.”
“So what do you think? What can we do to help him?” Sierra asked her nervously.
“He needs to be put down.”
Sierra’s eyes widened in shock. She looked Chase, who was still lightly moaning and moving his head. “No, that can’t be the answer.”
“I’m sorry child, but you must accept it. He’s suffering. Do you wish that upon him?”
“No! Of course I don’t want him to suffer, but neither can I let him die. He was a good person.” She added quietly, “He didn’t deserve to die in an alleyway.”
“Your reluctance betrays you. Are you in love with this man?”
Sierra looked at the floor and said nothing at first. “He was… kind.”
“You can’t keep him. Even if you can get him better, he will never be right. Once they don’t get their blood back, that’s it. The change has not taken place and yet he is no longer mortal. He’s been put in the in-between world. End his suffering. And yours.”
Tilda stood and stroked Sierra’s hair, a gesture to ease the sting of her words. “I am all too familiar with that look of determination on your face, but it is best if you heed my words. It is an unfortunate situation and but a vampire who does not receive his own blood when he is sired, can never be anything more than a savage demon. He’ll have no trace of humanity left within him.” She looked over at the Chase. “That is, if he were to even recover.”
Tilda glided to the doorway, her robes flowing behind her. “Do it quickly. I’ll send Mestipen to dispose of his mess.”
In the brightness of day, Des’s psychotic mind rantings seemed almost ridiculous. She had gotten up, sleep deprived and groggy, dragged herself into the shower and had gotten dressed for work. She trekked into the office and began her day. The coffee with the extra shot of espresso she had drank, did nothing to lift the fog from her brain. She worked for a short while, on automatic, doing mundane tasks that required very little cerebral power. She stopped in the middle and stared off into space, the thoughts of the night before taking over her waking consciousness.
“What in hell are you doing here?” asked Sam, incredulously. “You shouldn’t be here. Go home and rest.”
Des snapped out of her reverie to find her boss standing in front of her. He was looking at her with a mix of wonder and pity. It took a moment for his words to register in her muddled mind.
“I just... I have work to do,” she finally managed.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’ve been through some kind of hell. Go home and rest. You need time to recover,” he said sympathetically. He came around to the other side of her desk and gently lifted her by the arm from her chair. “Do you need someone to take you home?”
Des shook her head. She didn’t want to go home. She had nothing to do there and the awful thoughts would possess her brain once again. She needed to keep busy. “I’m okay. I’ll be okay,” she said, not really convincing herself, let alone Sam.
“Alright. Go. Take the week off. Whatever you need, take it.”
Whatever I need? Des thought as she gathered her purse. I need answers. I need to know what happened to Chase.
Des found herself on the street, in front of her place of work. She stood in the middle of the sidewalk, dazed and confused as to what to do next. People walked around her, oblivious to the world of hurt she existed in, some of them even perturbed that she was in their way.
She tried to figure out what her next move should be. She could walk to the police station a few blocks away, but she already knew that they had no further information. And they had her cell number, they would call if they had anything. They were supposed to be keeping an eye on the hospital emergency rooms as well. But in a city of millions, the police were stretched thin. How would they be able to put everything into finding Chase? She had to do something herself.
She made a quick decision and jumped onto the subway. She spent the better part of the day going from hospital to hospital in the city, talking to emergency room receptionists, showing them Chase’s picture. She had to pose as Chase’s wife, taking the promise ring he had given her almost a year ago and turning the tiny diamond setting around to make it look as though she were wearing a wedding band. Otherwise, she would not be able to coax any information from them. Was anyone admitted with severe blood loss last night or early this morning, possibly a victim of a mugging last night? Each time, the answer was the same. There had only been two within all the hospitals in the city, but one victim was from a gun fight and the other was a major car accident on the highway. And those victims had already been identified.
By the end of the day, she was discouraged and exhausted, her physical pain matching her mental state. Her feet were singing and her bones ached like she was seventy. She sat on a bench outside of a small downtown chapel, drinking a coffee and trying to settle the spinning thoughts in her head. She contemplated the people around her, envious of them, going about their normal lives. She played with the promise ring on her finger, turning it back around so that the setting sat in its proper position on her finger. She needed an answer to the question that was burning inside her.
“Don’t ask again, because I’m not telling you. You’ll find out, when you find out,” Chase said, his eyes twinkling with excitement. “You’re like a dog with a bone. Just relax and enjoy the trip."
Des sat back and pouted. She crossed her arms defiantly and looked out the car window at the passing scenery. They had been driving for an hour already. She didn’t like not knowing, but he wasn’t going to tell her. He loved to surprise her, probably because he knew that the suspense ate her up inside.
“Pout all you want. I’m still not gonna tell you,” he grinned, as he kept his eyes on the road. He didn’t even have to look at her to know what she was doing.
A few minutes later, he had turned off the highway and driven through a quaint town that time had completely passed by. He pulled into a small service station and parked. Des looked at him curiously as he got out of the car.
“You have to trust me,” he said as he came around with a scarf made from heavy material. He put it over her eyes and tied it gently, but firmly at the back of her head.
“So not only are you not telling me where we're going, but now I can’t see anything either. Are you trying to torture me?”
Chase laughed. He had a wonderful laugh - the kind that as soon as you heard it, it instantly made everyone feel good. You didn’t even need to know what it was he was laughing about, it just magically made the world a happier place.
The car started moving again, but shortly after it stopped. Chase had rolled down all the windows and a soft summer breeze caressed her face. They were close to water, she sensed. Were they at the beach?
“Okay, be a good girl and stay put. Don’t lift the blindfold, you don’t want to ruin the surprise,” he cautioned.
Des did as she was told, but strained to listen for any sounds that would give her clues. She heard him rummaging through the trunk of the car and then the lid slamming closed. She sensed that he was no longer nearby, but there had been no sound of footsteps walking away from the car. Probably walking on grass. Okay, so maybe not the beach. She held still again and listened intently to her surroundings. There was the faint sound of children frolicking.
She was about to be driven mad with anticipation, when she felt Chase return. He opened her side of the car and gently pulled her out. He navigated her away from the car and she could feel the grass tickling her feet around her flip flops.
“This is crazy!” she said impatiently. “Everyone must be wondering what the hell is going on.”
“Pipe down and just enjoy it,” Chase told her.
“Enjoy being blindfolded, not knowing where I’m going?” she huffed. “He’s kidnapping me! He’s taken me against my – “ she yelled out.
Chase clamped his hand over her mouth. “Are you crazy? You’re going to get me arrested!”
Des giggled at her prank. She turned him to her and felt for his face, pulling him close. Her lips found his and she kissed him deeply. “There, that’s your get out of jail free card. I’ll stop being a brat now.”
She let him go and waited for him to continue on. There was a pause before he took her arm again, during which she imagined that he was smiling and shaking his head at her at the same time. They continued walking. A moment later they stopped and he helped her to sit down on a blanket. It was then that he removed the blindfold.
It took Des a moment to adjust to the brightness. She blinked and squinted. When her vision cleared, she took in her surroundings. They were sitting under a large oak tree in the park, a lavish picnic spread out in front of them. A large bandstand was before them, with people setting up similar picnic areas on blankets and on tables. To their left, the blue water of the lake sparkled and danced under the late afternoon sun. Behind them, not far away was a playground, where the sounds of children playing, had come from.
Des turned to look at Chase, who was sitting beside her and was waiting for her reaction.
“Oh, Chase,” she gushed. “It’s so beautiful here! This is so... amazing!”
A big smile lit up his face. “This isn’t even the best part. Look.” He handed her a goldenrod colored flyer. She took the paper and read it. She looked up at him unbelievingly.
“Isabella’s Puppets? They’re playing here today? Oh my god! How in the world did you find that out?” she squealed as she threw her arms around him. Isabella’s Puppets was an obscure indie band that had she had discovered in college. She had been a devoted fan for years, but since graduating, she hadn’t kept track of them.
“A guy’s gotta have some secrets, you know,” he winked at her.
“Oh my god! I can’t believe this! This is so amazing and fantastic and unbelievable. And you’re amazing and fantastic and wonderful for doing this for me,” she said, her words tumbling out excitedly.
“I would do anything for you, Des,” he said, becoming serious. “I want you to know how much you mean to me.”
He pulled out a small jewellery box and popped the lid open. She looked down at the box he had presented to her. Nestled inside was a beautiful, white gold ring, with two inverted waves at the front, tapering into the band. Held by the peak of the top wave and the valley of the bottom wave, was a small, but perfect, brilliant diamond that caught the rays of the sun and flashed them back at her. Des’s hands flew to her mouth in surprise. Chase carefully took the ring out of the box and slid it onto her finger.
“It’s just a promise ring for now. I have to keep saving for the real thing, but I wanted you to know how much you mean to me and that I’m serious when I say I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
Des put her arms around him again and kissed him. She hugged him close and whispered in his ear, “I’m yours now and forever.”
It hit her like a ton of bricks, that her life would never be normal again. She burst into tears, her body shaking so hard, she had to put down her coffee on the cement walkway. As Des suffered through her breakdown, the people around her continued on, oblivious to the heartbroken woman crying in the middle of a church yard. No one caring that she had just lost the greatest love of her life.