4-11) The Price of Freedom

Heath pushed open the lid, and was on his feet in seconds, after KC had repeatedly placed hard kicks against the outside of his coffin, calling for him loudly.

“What in the world is your problem?!” he asked KC, his voice not as calm as usual. It was daytime, since vampires did not need much rest, he often was awake, but today he had been hibernating to recharge his energy. Waking vampires out of their state of hibernation was never a good idea.
“Where is Evey?!” KC demanded.

“How am I supposed to know that? You saw I was resting!” Heath argued drowsily.
“What about last night?” KC continued, noticeably upset. Realizing this was not a random taste of KC’s short fuse and jealous pangs, Heath became suspicious but calmly replied.
“I have not seen her. I was up until midnight with you and the Camerons watching our show and argh…”
KC had grabbed his collar and pulled him closer, but let go again before yelling at him, face to face.

“What about after we all went to bed? Did you creep around her home again? Make her come outside to you. Maybe you were pissed off that she chose me and thought you’d just help yourself to her? If you hurt her… I swear, I’ll tear you into a million pieces!” KC clearly and undoubtedly was very upset and beside himself as he grabbed Heath again, shaking him.
With one swift effortless movement Heath freed himself, a warning glance at KC, when he calmly spoke.
“I have told you before not to pick fights with vampires! Do not dare threaten me! You know better than to accuse me of hurting her. Isn’t she at home? Or with her friends? Or cousins?” Heath was almost certain to know the answer to it, but wanted to learn the extend of the situation.

“Are you serious, you moron?! Do you not think we have checked?! The whole family is running around like chickens with their heads cut off, police is there … this is serious! Everleigh is missing, you dumbass! So if you do not know where she is, then use your magic powers to find her!”
“I am a vampire, not a wizard. I have no magic powers or crystal balls. I cannot do anything right now, as it is still light out. I will search for her as soon as I can.”
“Fucking useless prick!” KC ran his shoulder into Heath on purpose, then rushed up the stairs.
“Oh, this is not good. I hope she turns up … this is not a good sign at all … please Little Leigh, just come home. Please let this be something harmless … simple explanation…” Heath mumbled to himself, looking at the pictures of him with her on his wall.

She remained gone.
Search parties had been underway for hours. Heath looked just as desperate as the humans.
Once it was dark enough he had entered the home finding Everleigh’s grandparents, her parents and KC. All of them in a horrible shape. Leonie had been crying a lot, her eyes were red and swollen, she still was sobbing, Liam looked beyond worried and Everett seemed on the verge of losing his mind any second. KC was unusually pale, looking desperate and scared.

Heath left again. He closed his eyes, his face a grimace of despair, before he vanished into the dark night.

***


“I knew you would come.” a deep voice stated.
“Where is she?” his words were firm, emotionless and echoed faintly off the walls.
“We will get to that. After we speak.”
“No. I want to assure she is unharmed.”
“You forget whom you are speaking to.”
“You forget that you need me. The girl, or I will leave.”

“You think I would let you?”
“I think you would have no choice. Besides, refuse me and you will not get what you want unless I get what I want.”
“I will say this: you have changed. I like seeing you seem to realize now who and what you are. Very well, you may see her. RAVEN! Take Heath to her.”
The beautiful dark haired woman set into motion, her eyes cold, face a frown.

She started walking down a dark hallway and Heath followed her.

After they arrived at a cell she stopped and just stood there.

“Thank you Raven. This will do.”
“I will stay.”
“You will go.” Heath said, his voice firm and deep, yet something in his face made her leave after she hissed at him.

Once he was sure she was gone, he approached the cell.
The young woman sitting on the ground in the farthest corner from the door looked up. Traces of tears on her face.

“Heath?”
“Hello Little Leigh …” his voice now calm and soft.
She jumped up and ran to him from her side of the bars.

“Are you here to get me out?”
“I wish I could. But not yet. Soon. I am sorry Little Leigh. So very, very sorry.”
“Heath, what is going on here?”

“Later. Forgive me, beautiful angel. I have to go now.”
“Heath no, don’t go.. Don’t leave me here. HEATH!”
Her voice echoed like a scream of fear after him.

***

She awoke with a shriek when her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she saw the person standing near her, motionless like a statue.
“Heath!”
“Apologies Little Leigh. I did not mean to startle you. You were asleep and I …”
She had  jumped up and run into his arms.

“Heath, are you here to take me home?” she sobbed against his chest.
“Not yet. But very soon.”
“Did they lock you up too?”
“No. The door is unlocked. But we cannot go anywhere. Please don’t.” he held her back when she tried to run. His grip was strong. Resigned she seized her efforts and he pulled her back into his embrace.
“Heath, what is all this about?”

“My worst fears have come true. But I will make this right.” he seemed incredibly quiet and sad. Not once had he smiled at her, like he usually did.
“Where are we? And who are those people?”
“Not people, Evey. Vampires. Very strong vampires. Old ones.  New Breed ones, but ancient. The male is a Grand Master. A ruler or used to be, obviously here the Old Breed Elders rule, which he does not like one little bit. He is very powerful, dangerous and ruthless. Think of him as a very powerful king – once upon a time. He ruled over many other vampires. That is no more, but he wants to make it so again.”
“So what do they want with us?”
“Not us. You were bait.” Heath explained quietly.
“BAIT? For what?”
“Me.”
“HUH?”
“It is me they really want. You were a means to an end to force me to come here.”
“What do they want with you? They are not going to … hurt you… are they?” Everleigh looked frightened.
“They cannot hurt me. Well, I suppose there is one way and they figured that out. They found my one weakness and used it against me. But I will remedy that. Fear not, Little Leigh. I will set this right.”
“Heath, why don’t you just hug me and take me to the hideout like before?”
“Porting does not work down here.”
“Down here? Where exactly is that?”
“We are in a vampire lair. We cannot just leave here. Do you remember, when we were children and I disappeared for a long time? I told you about a rite, a tough choice I had to make?”
“Yes.”
“This is about that.”
“Still? I thought you did that years ago.”
“I did. But things have changed again making my decision naught and the issue acute again. You see, the powerful vampire wants an heir. Needs an heir. Unlike many years ago, the evolved vampires can no longer procreate among each other. They need humans for that now. New Breed vampire pregnancies are different, taxing on human bodies, and births are dangerous to humans, most do not survive them. My own mother, a human, was once violated by a vampire creating me and she died giving birth to me. You have seen that the vampiric way to procreate is not a gentle one as urges become primal and uncontrollable. Even I was unable to contain my darkness when … well, I am sure you remember. The Grand Master is Armand Grainger, and also my father. I am his only heir. The two women are sisters, Raven Stark and Archeflow Grainger, the blond one is my father’s mate. I supposed that would make her my step-mother of sorts. The rite I told you about when we were children was to change me from being a half-vampire to a full one. I refused, because I would lose my ability to feel, my very last bit of humanity would be gone and all that I would then be would be the monster. Cold, heartless, careless, without emotion. When I declined, my father shunned me and I became an outcast. Banned from family, left all alone to my own devices. Unfortunately has my father been unable to create another viable heir. All offspring died before they were even born. Vampires of his magnitude often feel they need heirs, for various reasons. So he found me, stalked me and found my one weakness. You. He is using you to pressure me into accepting one of two choices, both equally repulsive and terrible. One would be to accept the rite and become like them. The other is to father a male child with you and relinquish it to them.”
“Oh my god! So … which one did you choose?”
“Do you really have to ask? I would never hurt you like that, never involve you in this any more than you already have been. I have agreed to the rite, in exchange for your freedom.”
“What makes you think he would let me go? Probably does whatever to you and then kill me anyway.”
“He may be cruel and evil, but his word counts for something. He will keep my conditions. There were more. New Breed vampires are different in so many ways, Little Leigh, but trust me, you and your family, vampire and mortals alike, will always be safe.”
“Heath, I am not leaving here without you.”
“You will. I am paying a very high price for it. Please honor my request and make it count.”
“NO!”
“Everleigh… there is no use … it is decided.”
He looked at her with a deep sadness, she leaned over and embraced him, crying into his shoulder as he folded his arms around her.

“Heath … will I see you again?”
“No. And if our paths should ever cross again, run the other way as fast as you can, Little Leigh, for I will no longer be whom you used to know.”
She continued to cry in his embrace until her knees gave out and she collapsed to the ground, him gently guiding her.

“Heath, run away with me. We can go to Europe, there are no vampires, so nobody could bother us there.”
“No.”
“Maybe my great-grandpa Blaine can help. He is an Old Breed vamp and the Vice Elder and knows a lot about vampires and …”
“NO.”
“We can hide you again, somewhere else and…”
“Evey, NO!”
“Do you not even want to try?”

“I have tried. This won’t go away. I have to face it. My path is predestined. No use trying to fight it. But what I have are memories. For some years I had a life like I never dared hope for. A true home. I was shown mercy and kindness, treated like a person, not a rabied animal. I was part of a family. And I had you in my life. There are no words to decribe what all that meant to me. All I can hope now is that while my compassion may fail me, my memories remain.”
“There is no way I can let you do this.” another bout of sobbing shook the young woman.

“Everleigh Rose, beautiful flower, we have no choice. You’re willingness to fight for me despite of all makes me as happy as it makes me sad. If only I could make you understand how different vampires are. There is no hope left.”
“Will you  … forget me?”
“Never. You are engrained into the deepest part of my existence. For as long as I exist I will remember you, Little Leigh.”
“My grandpa never liked to speak much about being a vampire, but he told me once about soulmates. The old breed all have one soulmate … do you have a soulmate?”
“No. That is specific to the old breed, along with their ability to retain their humanity even as full vampires. I do not know how or why all that changed for the new breed, but it is no more. The new breed does not have any romanticized notions such as that. They don’t fall in love forever, searching the world for the special someone for all ages. The only reason they socialize is for personal gain and mutual benefit.”
“You are not like that. You will never be like that.”
“You saw that the darkness is already within me …”
“That again? Heath, even human men sometimes lose their shit when they are … you know …. extremely and urgently romantic. I mean, not to get too personal and all, but how long has it been since you last … you know.”
Heath’ facial expression changed from serious and sad to surprised, before he burst into loud laughter, echoing off the walls.
“What? It’s true …” Evey giggled a bit.
“New Breed vampires do not engage in recreational pleasures of the flesh. Only as means to an end. Either to create new vampires or to possess a human by clouding their mind. Never for love or lust, Evey.”
“So when you … it was for one of those reasons?”
“No, Evey. That was the other side of me. The one so desperately wanting to be human, like you. Forgetting that I am not a human. Your beauty and sweetness tempted me and I allowed it, wanting to be human with a beautiful girl. But we both learned, it does not work like that. I am not like you. Ignoring that fact is dangerous and reckless.”
“So you cannot be with .. anyone?”
“I don’t know. And after the rite it will no longer matter.”
“Don’t do it Heath. What could they do to me? Turn me? Keep me here forever?”
“We shall never find out. I will not have it. You will go. You will live your life, and I will live through you. You will experience all that I am denied. Do it for me. Evey, I never asked you for anything, but I am asking you for this now. Honor my wish. Don’t fight me, this is already so very hard for me. I was left to die in a basement at a construction site once, but you found me, you saved me. Because of you I spent the last years no longer lonely, with your KC and your grandparents. And you. You saved my life and gave me a life worth living. Let me repay you in kind and be the one to save you now.”
Silent tears were streaming down Everleigh’s face.

 

 

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