4-12) The Price of Power

“Good morning sleepyhead!” Everleigh had spent the night at her grandparents’ home, officially in her room, but obviously with KC in his down the hall. He had not been there when she woke up, instead she found him downstairs as he greeted her cheerfully when she entered the kitchen, handing her coffee as they kissed.

“Oooh, coffee and food! Grandma’s already up…” Evey said happily looking at the stack of pancakes on the counter.
“Nope. Grandparents are fast asleep.”
“Who made the pancakes then?”
“This guy!” KC pointed at himself, smirking.
“You can cook!?” the surprise of her words reflected on her face.
“Evey, I lived on my own since I was 14. Of course I can cook. Nothing like your grandma, but I haven’t killed myself with my own grub yet.” he shrugged, smiling at her.
“Then why the hell did you always let me make you food?!”
“I told you before, I like feeling like I am special to you … ”
“Oh my gawd! Well, let’s see how well you did, Mr. McCoy….”

She tasted one of the pancakes and it was good. She smiled up at him.
“Not bad. So what other secret talents are you hiding from me?”
“You will have to find out as we go.”

Smiling and chewing she watched him finish his coffee, then clear the dishes. What a change he had behind him. Amazing what can happen when the right person is given a proper chance.

That very same moment she felt a sting in her heart, her smile faded. Unfortunately not all were given a chance, no matter how much they deserved it.
Heath.

Instantly her elated mood gave way to a deep sadness.
She missed him.
It had been almost 7 months since that day.
Secretly she still hoped to see him again, but knew she had to heed his warning.
Heath had never been one for idle threats.
Still …

Memories of the last time she saw him popped into her head.
After their long talk in her cell, both of them were fetched by the cold blonde woman, who barely ever said a word.

They had followed her into some hall-like room with a throne. After standing around for a long time, neither of them speaking much, the others reappeared.
The women kept in the background, both now donning odd makeup, their eyes aglow in a deep red, their lips smeared with blood contrasting the paleness of their skin.
In front of the throne was that vampire leader Heath had spoken of, after a brief glance at them, he began holding some speech, more to himself as nobody but the two vampire women, Heath and Evey were present and none of them paid too much attention to his ramblings.
Most of what he spoke of were things that made little sense to Everleigh anyway, but watching him it did not take much to realize what Heath had been talking about when he told her that New Breed vampires were very different from humans. She had many vampires in her family and never once feared them. These on the other hand …
Neither of the three other vampires was anything like Heath.
Not once even a faint smile.
Their faces were like those of mannequins in clothing stores. Unmoved, cold, expressionless.
The man, Armand Grainger, was the one giving orders and the women never questioned any of it, but instantly did as told.
Good thing Heath had never tried that with her, it would not have ended pretty, as even in her young years, Everleigh was almost 19 now, she took pride in being a strong, modern woman, not a man’s subordinate.
Thinking about how that could have played out if Heath had ever tried to rudely order her around like that vampire grand master made Evey giggle, a quiet, brief snorting noise escaped her, and echoed off the walls.
Armand Grainger stopped speaking and all stared at her.
The Grand Master had come over to her, and she felt Heath tense up next to her.
The older Grainger took her chin into his hands, like Heath had done many times, but it felt nothing like it. His grip was firm, hard and almost painful, his hand and whole being exuded the coldness of a grave. His eyes were icy, cold and empty. He frightened her.

Turning her head from side to side under the cold, angry stares of the female vampires he smiled, a cold gesture, exposing frightening fangs, still remnants of blood on them.
The older vampire very openly measuring her up from top to bottom before he released her.

When he began to speak, standing mere inches away from Evey, the two vampire women watched on, their eyes narrowed, shooting angry stares at Everleigh.
“Pity that you have been made part of the agreement. You are a nice specimen of the other race and I can see you are sturdy enough to bear solid offspring.” he whispered into her ear sharply, then let go of her.
“No!” Heath simply said.
The older vampire smirked a cold, devious smile at Heath, like a person certain they had the other backed into a corner.

How could this individual be Heath’s father? They were nothing alike.

Not long after that Heath had taken Evey’s hand, she followed him through a labyrinth of hallways and rooms.

The path they took seemed sheer endless, up several flights of stairs that had been worked into the rocky ground, until the yellow light of the torches granting faint illumination throughout the cave changed to the blueish cast of daylight.
“This is as far as I can take you, Little Leigh” Heath had told her near the exit of a cave, then instructed her to follow the road, never look back and never ever come back here.
She clung to him, unwilling to let go.

Everleigh knew there wasn’t a way that he could go with her into the daylight and she could not be among those dangerous vampires. The first step was the hardest thing she ever had to do.

The reunion with her family took some of the pain away, but the other part remained with her, relentlessly.

All this had now been months ago, sometimes it felt like only days, sometimes like decades ago.
Still she could not look at one of the many pictures of Heath without tears instantly burning hot beneath her lids, yet she could not bring herself to take them down.

College helped, midterms kept her busy, as she did not want to disappoint her daddy with bad grades.

Now it was semester break again and she had come home. KC worked during the week but always spend the evenings and all of the weekends with her.

This weekend they would spend with her cousins and their boyfriends and girlfriends, a large group planning on releasing the stress of college and work by making their way through the local stores, cafes, restaurants and dance clubs all weekend long.

At some point Saturday night the dancing, flashing lights and loud music at Club Zero in Windenburg left Evey feeling flushed, hot and needing some air.

She stepped outside into the cold night, deeply inhaling the crisp, salty ocean air she looked over the water, enjoying the view at Windenburg island in the distance.

Her mind was her far away, when suddenly she felt watched.

Looking around she saw him.

A tall, slender man with long hair, dressed in all black, motionless in the distance. She could not see his face, but felt he was looking at her. The initial realization had raised her heartbeat, but now she could not stop staring, waiting for him to move. Clearly he wasn’t human. Everything about him exuded the aura of a vampire.

“Heath?” Everleigh asked, her words little more than a whisper.
No response.
“Heath, is that you?” she called out louder now.
She took a few steps towards him but in the blink of an eye he was gone.
Running now, she arrived at the spot where he had been standing, but not a trace left of him.
“No, not like this …” she mumbled, then walked down the only road other than the one she came from, her pace fast. She searched and walked, looking into each dark corner.
If it really had been him, he was long gone.
If it had not been him, she was gambling with her life.

Vampires were not known to turn down a chance to help themselves to hapless people’s blood, who had been dumb enough to creep through dark alleys alone at night. As a matter of fact, around bars and clubs was one of the main hunting grounds for them. Most vampires only took some blood, leaving their victims alive but unconscious. But there were others, the New Breeds, who often had gone rogue, and did not stop until their victim was completely drained. And there were those who bit to turn their victims …

According to some of his last words to her, wouldn’t that now be true for Heath as well? He did tell her he would become just like his father and she would not put any cruel action past Armand Grainger.
Heath’ father would be scary donning a bunny outfit while chained to a giant tub of garlic.
In other words, what the heck was she doing?!
With a deep sigh she turned to go back to the club when she stopped as if she had run into a wall.

He was back.
Right in front of her now, maybe 5 yards away.
Her heart was pounding hard, she was certain everybody in a five mile radius could hear it.
Neither of them spoke, nor moved.

Then suddenly footsteps, Evey noticed a female shouting around in the background, apparently drunk as her walk was unsteady and her words slurred, it diverted her attention for a few seconds, when she looked back he was gone again.
The female in the background now hurled loudly onto the pavement.
Lovely.
Everleigh shrugged and returned to the club.
If it had been him, he would never come back now with that woman around.

***

Everleigh twirled and out of the corner of her eye, saw the dark figure through the glass front of the ballet studio. She stopped and told Madame Dubois she needed air. Running out the front door she saw him vanish by the side of the building and followed.

There he was, only for a few seconds, then he was already gone.

She ran inside, wrote something on a Post-It note then ran back out and stuck it to the wall where she last saw him.

***

The next time she practiced, still at the same old studio she once started learning ballet when she was still a toddler, and still with the same teacher, she sneaked out to the spot where she had left the note. Hers was gone, replaced with another, it only read
“I have missed you, tiny dancer.”

She closed her eyes, fighting with tears, while smiling.
“I knew it was you!” she said aloud.
“Little Leigh ….” she heard, turned and ran into his arms.
“I thought I had told you to run the other way….” he mumbled into her hair.
“I thought I told you, you would never be like them …” she replied over his shoulder.

“How do you know I am not.”
“Because I know YOU!”
She looked up at that same calm smile she had known and loved for so long now.
“Turns out you were right, Little Leigh. I stand corrected.”
“Let’s go somewhere we can talk.”
“Maybe you should get dressed?”
She looked down and realized she was in her ballet outfit, then looked up at him.
“Not going to let you out of my sight!”
“You have my word, I will wait.” he smiled.
Heath had never made empty promises, yet she nudged his arm as she turned to run inside.
“You better be here when I get back!”
He smiled, as she ran inside.

***

“I have missed this place.” Everleigh said into the dark as they sat in the same old grassy spot near the old hideout outside Windenburg.
“I have missed you.” he said calmly.

“Then why did you not come back sooner?”
“I came as soon as I could.”
“So they did not turn you after all?”
“Long story …”
“We had a talk about that. Either explain or say you do not want to talk about it!”
“All right, no they did not turn me.”
“So come back home! We all miss you. Your room is still untouched. I just dusted and cleaned it again yesterday. Move-in ready. Let’s go now!”
He smiled, shaking his head.
“You really did not give up on me…”
“Never.”
“Oh, Little Leigh ..  so tempting … but I cannot.”

“Why not? You are only a half-vampire, no use to your father, case closed. Come home with me. Even KC misses you. Sometimes he even almost admits it….”
“Things have changed so much … Everleigh, I was not turned, it failed, because I was a full vampire all along.”
“What?! How? And why were you not a block of ice on legs like the rest of your family?”
“That took much of this time to figure out, but evidently my mother was turned by another vampire of the Old Breed while pregnant with me. A serious offense, a sin, punishable by death, as it creates unpredictable offspring. My mother died as she was transforming during my birth. Now I carry both within me, Old and New Breed.”
“Unpredictable is right … so you are some special kind of vampire now? You still feel things, right?”
“I am indeed what could be considered special. Little Leigh, I am still the same Heath you have always known. I have not changed, just the circumstances have. I am beginning to realize my potential.”

“Define special. And what potential?”
“I have … certain abilities, if you so want. Rare ones.”
“Like stalking old friends in dark alleys?”
“I consider that more of a hobby.” he smiled at her.
“Look who’s got jokes now. Stand-up comedy one of your new talents?”
“I have missed this. You. Amazing that this feels so much more normal to me than my true destiny.”
“So, quit missing and start moving. Grandma and grandpa would LOVE having you back.”
“It’s not quite so easy, I am afraid. I hold a lot of power now, responsibility weighs on my shoulders. I cannot just leave. Not now. Not yet.”
“What responsibility? Do they make you take the trash out too?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes. Everleigh, I am a Grand Master vampire now. The highest rank. My father has been overturned by some others and me. Admittedly, that gives me much pleasure as I had to endure their mistreatment many years as a child.”

“Well, your daddy is stripped of most of his powers now and you are left to do as you wish, while figuring out your life. Means you can come back home.”
“Would you allow me to demonstrate something? I may have to hurt you, briefly, but I promise I will make it better.”
Everleigh got serious after his last words.
“You already hurt me plenty, by kicking me out of that cave, making me leave you there and then letting me simmer in the worry and self-hatred thinking you are some creepy old monster now cos I abandoned you. I am even more pissed off now that I know all along you were just chilling around the neighborhood stalking me. I feel like it’s my turn to kick your royal ass! I was so worried, Heath! I cried! A lot. Because of YOU! You should have come to tell me you are okay right away! You really deserve a spanking!”
“If that would please you. It’s all the same to me, as I feel no physical pain, so have at it, Little Leigh.” he smirked.
“What’s the fun in that? And I am glad you are taking this lightly. In case this is not clear to you, I am mad at you!”

“Give me your finger.”
“With pleasure!” she flipped him off, he quickly grabbed and held on to her hand and outstretched middle finger, then with a quick movement caused a small cut, it started bleeding right away.
“Ouch! What the heck Heath!!!” Everleigh protested, trying to pull away, but he held her firmly, while he now closed his eyes, placing his free hand over her bleeding finger. Moments later he released her and the wound was gone, no more burning pain, no more blood.
“What the hell kinda magic trick was that!?” Everleigh stared at her finger in disbelief.
“One of my abilities. I am a healer. I can heal or hurt. Take life – or give it.”
“Now you are starting to really creep me out.”
“I told you to run from me.” he smiled.

“Not gonna happen.”
They exchanged another smile, as he embraced her.
“Heath? What was with that peek-a-boo drama at the club and the dance studio? Why did you not just stop and talk to me then?”
“Oh Little Leigh. I swore to myself I would keep away, keep you out of all this so nobody would ever endanger you again trying to get to me – at least until I felt it was appropriate, safe. It proved much harder than anticipated, I ended up telling myself that all I wanted was to assure you were safe and well by looking in on you on occasion. Then when I saw you I just could not leave. I wanted so much to talk to you, hear you, hold you again, knowing I should not. But being a New Breed vampire and seeing how evil and cold my father truly is, I thought I better not engage with you again.”
“So what changed your mind?”
His lips parted to a grin, exposing his fangs he was usually so careful to keep hidden.
“Somebody left me a rather insulting note…”

She giggled.
“Worked, didn’t it?”

“You might well be the first and only human – or vampire for that matter –  to ever call a Grand Master New Breed vampire ‘CHICKEN SHIT!’ and living to tell the tale.” he chuckled.

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