Betrayal

for reading each draft and loving the story more each time. my story would still be locked away in my laptop. Adrienne. Aaron. there is always… Betrayal .com Betrayal Copyright © 2011 by Mayandree Michel. because you knew mommy had to write.Book One The Descendants Series by Mayandree Michel PUBLISHED BY Mayandree Michel mayandreemichel. Andree. for not fussing too much when it was time to go to bed. To Mary “Mamouche” Stone. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission of the author. To my baby sis. whom I miss very much ***** ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Without the assistance of my treasured few. for understanding that the story of The Descendants had to be told. To Samantha. All rights are reserved. for all of your encouragement from beginning to end. or organizations is entirely coincidental. ***** Where there is love and power. The names. places. and for an incredibly stunning cover design. and my mother. or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. To my angels. actual events. locales.blogspot. living or dead. Any resemblance to persons. for reading my story. To my husband. and for your approval of every action scene. and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. This book is a work of fiction. Blake and Kale. characters. Cover design by Samantha Oyola Model: Giselle Elyse Lopez ***** For Blake and Kale. for lending your beauty. I am blessed to have you both and love you with all of my heart. To Giselle Elyse Lopez. and action flick enthusiast.

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devoid of any light. I couldn’t hang around for twenty minutes in this downpour for the next bus. I cursed my cheap umbrella for succumbing to the forceful wind gusts. and be teased and called a ‘bus rat’ by my fellow classmates. After a dozen or so tests. . your status was catapulted. My eyes glanced instantly at the clock as the heat filled my head and my nostrils flared. The raucous group. trying to make out what it was. obstructing the entire view of the bus. ears. was where I served my sentence. Only two minutes had passed since I last checked. which outlined the figure. The shadow appeared to be of a giant man towering at least eight or so feet. I realized the figure wasn’t a man or a person at all. with still a quarter of a block to go. I froze when I saw the giant shadow emerge from the sidewalk in an upright position. I couldn’t tell in the haze of the bus’s headlights. Nickel City High. whipped around like a swarm of furious bats exiting a cave. stark white sheets covering me on the stiff bed I laid on. If they had. and a rush of stinging and stifling heat arose from somewhere deep within the core of my body. was armed with skateboards in hand and colorful skull caps strategically placed askew on their heads. As if on cue with my heightened fear. so my plight of taking mass transit for the last three years was common knowledge amongst the entire senior class. as I ran the half a block to the stop. and barely made out the view of the Nickel City playground from my window. The rays which seemed to retaliate against the chorus of bellowing thunder in the sky were aimed at the shadow which had been silent up until this point. I didn’t care about status. my mom and dad never brought up the night of the storm or mentioned a thing about me being struck by lightning. if it meant I could defect from this dreary town promptly after graduation. I hated thunder storms because of my debilitating fear of getting struck by lightning. I waved my hand in the air hoping Fred. I narrowed my eyes and clenched my teeth when the goofy quartet started zooming up and down my freshly straightened greeting card aisles. This time it wasn’t because of the thunder or because of the deep puddle I just splashed through. The silhouette recoiled into the sidewalk with a screech as if the lighting had caused it excruciating pain. I squinted upward. No one cared how you got the vehicle. the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with me. I began to tremble uncontrollably when crackling lightning bolts shot from my fingertips. The silhouette stood a few yards ahead of me. I woke up two days later with eyelids that seemed to weigh a ton a piece. Already soaked through my shirt. The hours seemed to drag from the moment I punched in for work. eyes. Nevada. maybe? The shadow’s coat or cape. a familiar bunch from Nickel City’s only junior high school. One Reverie Once again. The sky was black as singed coal. I watched the corners of her mouth curl up a little. It had been the other way around. and inched toward me in a swift pace. noticed me. or mommy and daddy’s checkbook. but an enormous shadow. and flipping upward several times. I hated cashiering at Clarkson’s Gift Shoppe and being surrounded by ‘Old West’ collectables – reminders of a sluggish era. it wasn’t as my mom had explained it. My heart sank. Nickel City was a tiny town where everyone knew everyone and their family. Everything came rushing back to me as if a plug had been yanked out of my head. the creature spread out its flickering cape with a snap. blinding rays. As it began moving toward me in slow motion. To my left. and the shop was empty. It was ten minutes to quitting time. I wondered if anyone knew what really happened that night. so I was discharged. cautiously approaching my bus stop. I couldn’t move as if my feet where an extension of the wood boarded sidewalk. I jumped from the startling crackle and chime of the bells hanging on the etched glass door as a group of rowdy kids stumbled into the gift shop. What the heck were they thinking coming in here now? The shop would be closing in eight minutes. and would wait. I vaguely made out the bright headlights of the C Street Line bus. As the days crawled by. the bus driver. or the real estate of the much fought over senior parking spaces. on one of its weekend tours. Only a few yards away from my stop. I was rooted where I stood under the pouring rain. I peered at the clock on the wall. I tried to focus. before running out of the hospital room to get a nurse. The shadow lurched forward. yet tonight there wasn’t any. I had no idea where I was until I noticed the shocking. Through the deluge. earned it from an afterschool job. But working here was a small sacrifice. their plan had worked. I decided to abandon my now rectangle shaped umbrella. and my only shot at an escape from this dawdling town. and burst from my chest in long crooked. I hadn’t forgotten although. I was forced to immediately stop running again as if I slammed into a brick wall. I’d ride the bus for another year. whether you inherited the car from a generous uncle. I planned to flee before my graduation cap descended from the toss. I saw my mom sitting in a chair beside me. Lightning didn't strike me. she started rambling about how I’d been asleep in the Nickel City Hospital for the last two days after being struck by lightning. Thunder rolled and crashed. halting me midstep.Prologue Two Weeks Earlier The thunder grumbled louder than the ancient Bergnum steam engine train. I shielded my eyes from the torrential downpour. but it was futile. I wondered if the little slackers had come in precisely at this time to tick me off. unable to breathe with a strange and unfamiliar clenching in my chest. A car meant money being spent on insurance and gas. the only high school in Nickel City. A man on stilts. Kudos to them for finding some way to obtain the most coveted item – a car to park in the senior parking lot. Without warning.

and rode the archaic Bergnum Steam Engine Railroad. or reshut their eyes for another quick doze. But in fact. More times than I could bear. right now as the sun set. so satisfying. You would expect the ghost stories would keep the tourists away. had a crowded population of twenty thousand. in such a minute town.” I yelled. once a home to musicals. and shabby restaurants. grabbed my messenger bag. the travelers and the locals. as the group of greeting card snatching buffoons grabbed a couple packs of chewing gum from the candy stand by my register. Our town’s organizers saw the opportunity to reap the cash flow. unlike its glory days over a hundred years ago. They all gazed up at me to either smile. during the gold rush. They were watching a sitcom. and then throw them out of the shop by the seat of their pants. was a short butterball of a man. The longer I stared out of the bus’ grimy windows I couldn’t fathom another eight months of suffering in this town. bed and breakfasts. I've heard time after time how Nickel City. Nickel City practically appeared overnight with the discovery of gleaming silver in its lakes and mines. he never uttered a word about that night. I tip toed into the kitchen through the back door. Clarkson. grunt. closing the door behind him. The mining era had been a prosperous time. The sightseers traveled far to observe and hear all the nostalgia this dull town had to offer. After taking a shower. They showed up in Nickel City every weekend to tour the inactive mines which haven’t produced a nickels worth of silver. a couple of crumpled up dollars landed on the counter. he looked at me with anxious eyes as if he were a parent watching a toddler’s first steps with the anticipation of an inevitable fall. He waddled out of his office. I feared he had seen what happened. I looked out the grimy and smudged window of the bus. The second I stepped out of the gift shop. the parades. I wasn’t that hungry so I picked an apple from the fruit bowl.” Fred chirped from behind the wheel. I snatched my messenger bag from the stock room. the oldfashioned saloons on C Street. but they ignored me. I could almost feel my front door knob twisting open as I anticipated getting home. sniffing beef stew as I pulled the lid off the large pot. once a bustling mining town. I never tired of the serene and sandy brown peaks that. “Good Evenin' Delia. Listening to them bicker. a hundred years. But the vacationers got to go home. or the steam engine train ride. in my opinion. they’d tell you that it’s not the plays. Greedy and at times murderous prospectors from all over the U. They argued for a minute about who was actually going to pay. I guess visiting here could be a fun experience. They finally left the shop grinning at me with their future perfect teeth. since the turn of the century. The day trippers toured the poorly preserved mansions and sagging buildings (where they believed we kept all the ghosts). One look at this dilapidated town now. and me of him. I guessed hearing the audience’s prerecorded laughter. mega movie theaters. Lately. Although. yet I couldn't be sure. I thought. orchestras. Chain smoking had to be safer than being stuck in a room with a bunch of asinine junior high kids. He watched.“Hey. the town’s main street. grabbed my text book on World History. with an exaggerated frown which was strictly for my benefit. I looked out the windshield of the bus to the familiar main street. and it had been two weeks since the galactic thunderstorm. made it difficult to differentiate where the mountains ended. Clarkson and I began closing up. he always had a beaming smile – the ear to ear kind. I couldn't imagine residing here then. a mountain range stretching from Nevada to Northern California. my boss. . I waved goodnight to my boss. Even though he seemed cautious of me. in stitches. and edged passed him. I sat my bag on the granite counter. Since the night of the tempest. I’ve felt trapped in a time warp as if I’ve stepped back in time. I began to have one of those out of body experiences where you see yourself do something erratic and so out of character that it shocks you. I looked past the knuckleheads to my perfectly aligned greeting cards which were now a flipped over and smeared mess. must have shaved at least a year off my life. Tonight that consisted of Mr. I put on my comfiest tshirt and lounge pants. The nostalgia was lost on me. Picture it: dopey camels saddled up with clumsy jockeys that did an awful job staying seated while they prompted the animals to gallop at maximum speed. The psychological livelihood of a teen like me with no tangible escape route was incomprehensible.S. back to their metropolises. old saloons. At last. pick axes and shovels in hand. heard that the roads were practically paved with the sparkly and lucrative minerals. Today our town is thought of as an ancient ghost town although. The town’s wood planked sidewalks littered with gifts shops. The view. As I eased down the aisle between the bus seats. you'd know that those days were gone. The legend remains. I haven't seen one specter yet. and super malls. and me aligning the greeting cards. I shuffled along to my favorite seat in the rear by the exit doors. I opened the drawer to my desk and pulled out several college applications. keeping everyone. leaning over the counter. I saw myself leap over the counter. Most would agree that it was a tossup between the hysterical outhouse race (not so artfully painted outhouses raced up and down C Street like gocarts) and the camel race. Finally. and owner of the gift shop. I saw my bus gliding down C Street. again. and catered to the tourists by putting on ridiculous 'Old West' reenactments at the aged Whitney Opera House Theater. Finally home. smack every one of those knuckleheads hard across the face. and was out the door. and beyond it was the wondrous and breathtaking view of the looming Sierra Nevadas. which I hid under the counter to sneak and study while there weren’t any customers. to stake a claim on their fortune. Aaahhhhhhhhh. It took us all of five minutes. If you asked the tourists what their favorite attraction was. it was a clear evening. I narrowed my eyes and mouthed some choice words of profanity at them. They came in droves. they lured them in. I almost hurled their change at them. “Hi Fred. and headed up the back staircase. was the only perk of growing up and living in Nickel City. was home to a population of just a thousand or so strong. and the pinkish tangerine sky began. no pun intended.” I did my best impression of a smile. I still felt apprehensive about the half a block walk to my stop although. Mr. Fred seemed wary of me. Clarkson locking my cash drawer away in the safe. My mom and dad's voices filtered into the kitchen from the living room. and scrutinized my every step as I entered the bus and swiped my bus card. I glanced at the same faces I'd been looking at three nights a week for the past two years. Mr. what I believe to be the overall pleaser. The closest movie theater and mall were in Reno. you can't ride your skateboards in here. thanks to the gunmetal tracks. and abroad. He was as plump as a Thanksgiving Day turkey. and plays. but equally dangerous. had to have been chaotic. That much activity.

Suddenly. then to the right. It was my cell phone.” I said. I found Greek mythology fascinating. We stopped again. That would be Nevada all over again. but sometimes I required a dose of silence. “Hi Mom. and placed it over my shoulders. “Did you have dinner?” “I wasn't that hungry. His eyebrows were wrinkled in the center of his forehead. mom. “Ugh. I closed my text book. something. the tip of my nose. It was all the confirmation I needed. He took my face in his hands. and it pulsed in unison with my own as if we were fused together. reminded me of the tides in an ocean wave. I read the danger in them. Maybe somewhere on the east coast. I don't know when I fell asleep but the dream began the same way it always did. gritting my teeth. I could feel his heartbeat. After the fourth yawn. I wanted to go away and study where there was a distinct variance in the seasons which you could feel and see. so I had an apple. his tender kiss leaving me weak and breathless. I got home about a half an hour ago. In return.” I answered. My nose should be wedged deep in Greek Mythology for my quiz tomorrow. mom. The howls seemed to be coming from the direction of the caves where the bristle pines grew. and kissed me. “Mom said. I had no desire to watch another camel race for as long as I had the ability to breathe. . and forced the young goddess to be his wife by keeping her prisoner in the Underworld. at least half a mile away. and the broken weathered branches that snapped without warning beneath our feet with our every step. I looked deep into the dark haired boy’s eyes. and then lightened my voice a bit. A low buzz and vibration caught my attention. we barely saw each other’s faces. I poured over my notes on how Hades had abducted Persephone from her mother. were the howls I heard now. My lips beckoned him to kiss me once more. and he lowered his head..” Remnants of the night of the storm still lingered in her mind.” There was a short pause before my mom continued. We stayed that way.” “'Night. but that didn’t stop us.” I said.” I said. “A little stew won’t hurt your slim frame. the bone chilling wails were the only other sound in the dim forest. the Goddess Demeter. We walked palm–in–palm down the slopes of the moonlit mountains.” I allowed his crystal blue eyes to swallow me whole.. and he removed the jacket of his three – piece suit. He pulled away for a second. and my lips rejected the cool air. Filling them out would have to be delayed until tomorrow. sorry. the battle to keep my eyes open was lost. “What?” I searched his eyes for a hint. In between feather soft pecks which he placed on my forehead. and knew we had very little time left. and ardently on my anxious lips. first to the left. Then I wrapped my arms around his neck.They were all out of state universities and each at least a thousand miles from Nickel City. with only the midnight moonlight streaming through the long prickly branches. I hated to make them worry. I tucked the applications back into my drawer. They searched as if he expected to see something burst from behind a tree. Through the darkness. azure currents darting everywhere. “Oh. and unsettled stones made it a little difficult to navigate in the dark. mashing the END button on my cell. and evaded their inquiries regarding the snore provoking events of my day. and crawled into bed. “I want you to hold me like this forever. adding a sinister edge to his beauty. His eyes. I snatched it off the corner of my desk before it dove for the floor.” I grunted. I shivered. The dark haired boy jerked his head upward.” I detected fear in my mom’s shaky voice. and stared into my eyes. What he had heard from somewhere far off in the distance. cracked branches. I reviewed the applications. and the beautiful dark haired boy. he stopped kissing me. New York and Massachusetts were possibilities. “No. brushing a tendril of hair away from my forehead with a finger. “Did you hear that?” Half of his face appeared somewhat illuminated by the moon’s glow and slightly overcast.” “Ok. I surrendered my seventeen year old heart to him.. my love grows for you with every night we steal to be together. “I'm studying. mom. I hadn't realized how much I missed him and desired him until he was with me again. pressed his lips against mine. “Cordelia. but no later. but a low and drawn out yawn caught me off guard. “Where are you?” “Up in my room. he whispered. considering each states environment. I vowed. invigorated by the refreshing scent of the evergreens. So the universities in Arizona and Texas got balled up and tossed into my wastebasket. The inclined terrain of moist dirt. my mouth gaping. who stood a few inches taller than I. “Uh! Oh no!” I gasped. We paused every few moments to enjoy each other’s kiss. and into the heart of the forest of towering pine trees. “When did you get home? We didn't here you come in and thought that maybe. Every now and again. my parents would throw fretting hints about that night and safety in general. intertwined for a long time. hon. and leaned my yearning body into his as I pressed my lips against his warm mouth. “Are you sure you don’t want anything else?” I’d had a piece of fruit because it was all that I had been hungry for. happened to you.” I chuckled to ease the stress that must’ve been building.. High pitched cries sliced through the frigid night air like a sword. Besides our whispers. ‘night. I wasn’t about to select a college located in a state with a dry and sticky climate above ninety degrees for two thirds of the year. loudly.

I sent them flying backwards several yards.” One of the largest wolves jumped on the dark haired boy's back. In one sweeping motion. my love. unfolded. Their razor sharp claws scraped against the scattered rocks and boulders sending shivers up and down my spine as they leapt over them. and almost reached the branch I stood on. darting this way and that to avoid being struck by any low limbs. One of wolves viciously tore at the edge of my lace fringed dress. We were so high up that the pale moon seemed within our reach. awaited my decent. I did my best balancing act. a night flooded by the light of a full moon – a wolf’sbeacon. the skin on my bare arms burned as it tore against the branches. My heightened voice pierced into the night. “It was a dream. We were sprinting past the trees. hitting numerous trees on the way. and began to fall. I gripped the tree bark with one hand. The air was hitting us in waves as we began to fall. lifeless. flinging a bearsized wolf biting into his shoulder onto the ground where it landed on its back. The beast’s sharp teeth dug into my lover’s flesh. through chomping fangs. massive wolves arrived. We glided straight to the top of one of the tallest pine trees in the entire forest. It was permanently wounded. and they are ravenous. “No!” My shrill voice echoed through the forest and rippled across the nearby lake. He snatched them as they came at him. His strength was without bounds. making him seem only an inch or two away. It spiraled in the air. Parts of the branch's extended limbs became intertwined fingers forming a gigantic hand which I clutched desperately. We ran so fast that it almost felt like flying. and his skin was as smooth as velvet. “We must go now. Our escape was uncertain as ferocious growls. As the wind whipped across my face.. They leapt high into the air. He was no longer the gentle boy whose kiss guaranteed the need for more. They flipped over in the tidal wave. Their mission not yet fulfilled. This time I got close enough to smell the wolves breath. In a whisper that I knew he could hear I said. The ravenous wolves were just as fast. The branch seemed to spring to life. he grabbed two wolves that leaped up into the air by their furry necks. we were nearly at the entrance of the forest. We were trapped. I grabbed at a branch. flinging them across the lake bordering the eastern side of the forest. blood red with the intent to kill. But still they returned. “You must come back up. slumped over the trunk of the pine tree.” But the dark haired boy ignored me. salivating. The evil eyes of the wolves. possibly fetching more wolves to feast. Instead.” My heart was thudding against my chest as I bellowed. “No.” He yelled. I reached out to touch his cheek. and I wavered. I held on to Evan's hand as the spiral of water flew out of his other palm like an aquatic tornado flooding the wolves. and the wolves were quickly gaining on us. With what seemed to be the strength of a dozen men. “Be careful. and shouted. The dark haired boy fought effortlessly with the monstrous pack. The dark haired boy gazed up at me with yet another monstrous wolf lunging at his back. The palm of my hand flew to my mouth in horror. and said. I watched my lover descend with incredible speed to the ground where he baited the wolves. One of the relentless beasts jumped so high that he was almost at my feet. We leapt over petrified tree logs that had fallen ages ago. and were closing the gap. our passage home. and slamming against a tree.” He tugged at my hand.” I whispered to myself. and willed it to grab hold of me. From every more. no!” I was descending fast. My eyes bulged in horror. no!” The wolves mouths seemed opened wide enough to swallow both of us whole. Then he was where he had been all along. snarling mouth disappeared into the face of a young woman about my age. I shuddered at the sight of her naked. and bashed their skulls together. I realized the number of wolves had multiplied to a dozen. “Evan. Her death seemed to fuel the other relentless wolves. The dark haired boy jumped up. “Cordelia. The large wolf slowly began transforming. one after the other. This time the dream had been a little different. “Help!” I screamed. I looked at my lover's face. on the ground battling the fierce beasts. One by one. My throat tightened as the dark haired boy snatched another sizable wolf in midair as it tried to lunge for his beautiful face. I fought arduously to keep up with the dark haired boy. You're out numbered. stay there. The pack is getting closer. as if my arm had the power of a magician's wand. The dark haired boy's eyes met my gaze. and the stone and branch littered ground was coming closer and closer at an alarming rate. The wolves began climbing the tree. I sat straight up in my bed staring straight ahead at the tall book shelf against the wall. and the blood began to slowly stain his shirt and vest like a scarlet rose bud blossoming to full bloom. He grimaced in pain as the wolf's fangs ripped into his flesh. I woke up startled. and this time I had spoken the dark haired boy’s name. But he didn't succumb to the agony. he flung the wolf clawing at his back to the ground. Left alone. I tried to convince myself.We couldn't ignore the piercing barks any longer. “They’re right behind us. Ravenous and relentless with the intent to kill. which held me. Just a dream. Breathless and panting. and waved them away with the other. I shuddered and panted and tried to catch my breath as I vividly recalled what I had experienced. “Cordelia hold on!” I lost my balance. behind you. whimpering in pain as it slid down the gnarled trunk. jumping out of this new river to devour us. The same dream. and then I didn't feel the ground beneath my feet anymore. nearly losing my footing. “No. and were half way up before I knew what was happening. The creature’s thick fur thinned into smooth tanned skin while the menacing. and the light in them fed me strength. He grabbed my hand. they endured the dark haired boy’s blows. and grabbed my hand as the tree’s intertwined limbs.” “Faster” The dark haired boy hissed between gasps. and began running. . and the stab of a knife into my heart would've ached less.. In the air they whirled and spun out of control. The barks were thunderous. standing on a gnarled branch. he tossed the wolf. and mouths full of fangs opened wide. Cordelia. now came from the entrance of the forest.

and sauntered over to the bay window. and was shocked at the long gash taking up the entire length of my forearm. I got out of bed. I eyed the gash on my forearm suspiciously as if it knew something I didn't. “We should go to the Summit tomorrow. and knew I needed to hurry. and the sting was replaced with searing pain. At first I figured it was perspiration. Evan. and smeared with a thin layer of my blood which seeped from the slash. I loved the sound of his name on my lips now. gasped. and almost screamed. The slightly swollen gash throbbed like a heartbeat. but I still couldn't fall asleep with these inconceivable thoughts in my head. My long and wavy auburn hair was drenched as if I just shampooed it. and the ability to pour a river out of his hand? Why do I feel unbridled love for him? Why was I so captivated by him when I could barely see his face. Today would be a typical Nevada day. I paused when I saw my reflection in the mirror. and stuck my tongue out at myself like a five year old. I winced. the dim moonlight flooded my bedroom. Today. The uncharacteristic dark circles under my almond shaped eyes made my usually tan complexion appear sallow. This can't be possible.” I gave her a kiss on the cheek and she patted my hair which was still wet from the dream. confused and afraid of the unknown answer.” My mom had one love that nearly superseded her love for me and dad. having coffee with buttered wheat toast. carefully maneuvering my injured arm so that it didn't touch anything.” “Maybe?” “I mean I don’t know.” Her eyes darkened from their usual bright sky blue to cobalt as she turned her attention back to the sale ad. I knew this for sure. I read the time on the clock. Two Souvenir I woke up the next morning. I looked as though I hadn’t slept at all. I sunk back into my sheets. my unexplainable wound had to stay hidden. and padded into the bathroom. opened in front of her to the sale pages. I let out a sigh of relief and exhaustion. I touched it with the tip of my finger. Why do I keep dreaming of werewolves hunting me. She had the Territorial Enterprise. Through my window. ninety – plus degree day. I might meet up with Bethany. My cotton camisole was soaking wet. maybe. our town’s only newspaper. or make any sense of this nightmare. I pulled on my favorite jeans. all she needed to make her day . well you let me know what your plans are. there’s a sale at Dillard's. so I tiptoed back into my room. sparsely covered in dried sage bush and bordered by the pine tree forest I had dreamt about. After flushing my face with cool water. As I took in the beauty of the mountains. I hoped that somewhere beyond my window I would find the explanation to what happened last night. She had Dillard's and Talbot’s.” Her eyes smiled brighter than the sun ablaze beyond the kitchen window. “Oh. This was by no way a simple task. We can go when you get home from work. revealing my blood. having a very low threshold for pain. ok. She started reading aloud the moment I entered the kitchen. I was very apprehensive about falling back to sleep. How could something like this happen? How could I get hurt in a dream. My heart shaped face looked angular and thin. and what happened on the night of the storm. The cut was slightly open from one end to the other. and this boy with super human strength. but I was wrong. I missed him already. forgetting the reality of my dream. perched on a stool at our breakfast nook. grabbed my messenger bag. and only hear his mesmerizing voice? I've had the same dream every night for the past two weeks since the thunderstorm. I took great care in bandaging the gash with gauze using my one good arm.Evan. Droplets of water that smelled like the sea streaked my face as I ran my fingers through my hair. tranquil and valiant at the same time. “It says here. and my full lips appeared dry and cracked. And now I have woken up with a wound to show for it. I pinched my cheeks hoping for color. I slid out of bed. than an emerald jewel – sparkling. but dragged instead. but somehow I got the wound covered. dry. “Sure mom. The dry desert heat warmed my face. a scorching. and my front teeth. even though the weather would undoubtedly be insufferable in a tank top. and stretched across my carpeted floor in one straight column. and headed downstairs. I decided on a long sleeved button down shirt. and have the wound when I woke up? Am I still dreaming? Pause. I analyzed my bandage. I turned my arm upward. I was fully awake. yet I did before I could think of an answer to my questions. No. The last thing I wanted to do was wake my parents. Shopping. Between munching and sipping she said. The skin surrounding it was bright pink. until I suffered the sting of my souvenir. But I didn't have a choice. and sort of resembled myself a little more – somewhere between pretty and attractive. the green in my eyes reminded me more of the moss you’d find at the root of a tree – dense with no vibrancy. I found my mom in the kitchen. A sudden sting on my right arm below my elbow startled me.

So I kept my anxiety tucked away deep within me along with my puzzling secret. I think. I couldn't stop thinking about him. I could do without – knowing my life was about to end. the walking shadow. I experienced things while I dreamt that I’d never known before. who had a car. never actually experienced. and I wanted to drown in the sweet smell of him. “Yeah. What would happen if I died in the dream? In reality.” I sighed. If my parents had an inkling of what I’d been through. and then I’d finally labeled a freak. I’m late. who I was almost sure I was falling in love with. A frown formed on her lips.” I paused for a second or two. Did you sleep alright?” She said.” she answered. and said. “It’s not my dream.. Should I risk going to sleep tonight? I shuddered as the questions swirled in my head. have caused me to manufacture a romance in my mind? How could I fall in love with someone who's a figment of my imagination? The visions felt so incredible. but what about your dream?” She asked. I needed to know. She didn’t seem to notice my pained grimace. Mom put the paper down.” I rolled my eyes at her.” I wasn’t a fan of makeup so I didn’t bother covering the circles up myself. But how would I go about finding out? I wasn't sure that I could tell anyone about these occurrences. but needed her to confirm that I wasn't going nuts. the dreams that started the night I came home from the hospital. I couldn't escape him. I yelled over my shoulder as I grabbed the front door knob. and I wasn’t about to share my romantic. I don’t need any concealer. due to my acute case of tonguetied syndrome. Evan. “Are recurring dreams normal?” I tried to sound calm. and lastly the bleeding souvenir that I had to keep incognito. Could this be love? How pathetic. “Mom. the lightning coming out of me. and both were located at the Summit Mall in Reno.” I gave her a peck on the cheek. nightmarish reverie with her.” She set her coffee cup down on the counter top and went back to scanning the sale ads. though. “Look at you honey. wrapped in his arms. But it all had to mean something. “Okay. That would only provide proof of my freak status. I went to bed with his beautiful face tattooed on my mind and woke up with the imprint still there. That part.worthwhile. every night?” I held my breath and hoped she knew the answer and wouldn‘t pry any further. I found myself. would I never wake up? Last night. I’m pretty sure that mom wasn’t the authority on recurring dreams. Uh oh. I snatched a piece of toast from her plate and listened for a horn blowing. “Yeah. My parents believed everything was back to normal but of course they were wrong. in all my seventeen years. and my blood ran ice cold with fear when the wolves came. “Mom. “Anyone could have them. frightening. I got hurt in the dream and woke up injured. The dream and my bandaged wound wouldn't make any more sense to her than it did to me and worse. I needed to be held by him. She should’ve been here ten minutes ago. But I didn't. I had the sudden urge to scream at the top of my lungs until all the windows and glass in the house shattered.” “I believe it's called a recurring dream. I got a ride to school most mornings from my best friend Bethany. it was just a question. My teeth would chatter. the cut would scare her a hell of a lot more than it scared me. his touch and his words of promise made me want to stay in the dream until we heard the howls of ravenous wolves and had to run for our lives. and I wasn’t certain that I wanted to. I slept fine and no. . I know but. I jolted when I heard the sound of a horn blaring from the front of the house. “I have to go mom. My heart always felt like it was going to explode. I hopped of the stool and took my piece of toast with me. Bye. “Maybe you should let me put some concealer under those eyes.. what’s up?” She said. I decided to change the subject to what plagued my mind. “Sure hon. “What do you think it means when someone has the same dream. threw my messenger bag over my shoulder and headed for the front door. can I ask you something?” I tried not to sound distressed because if I did. I still wanted to know. they'd have me start seeing a shrink. It may have been just a kiss but there was an immeasurable intensity when our lips touched that I’ve only read or heard about. Could my silly fear of talking to boys. wanting to go to sleep to experience it all over again. “It’s the same every night?” She asked. Though I was desperate to talk to someone. not tearing her eyes from the sale ads. Love you. I had gotten pretty damn close. her parental instincts would pick up like radar and she'd begin to worry. I tried to smile so her feelings wouldn’t be hurt and winced instead from the soreness of my injured arm. and started eyeing the shadowy circles under my eyes. “Yeah.” “Will you be working tonight?” Mom asked. One of her eye bows raised and she had a suspicious light in her eyes like she had just discovered a secret. I’ll be home by nine. I believe it's perfectly normal. His voice alone consumed me. my mom couldn't handle this one.

a bizarre spectacle of the town’s folk dressed up in historical costumes dated back a hundred and fifty years or so. My heart was pounding against my ribs and I felt the perspiration pooling in my shirt. I couldn’t be bothered with all the frilly outfits and the gawking tourists.” I sighed and rolled my eyes in her direction for pointing my dark circles out as my mom already had. “The parade will be great fun. “I haven’t been sleeping well. “Are you sure?” “Yep.The minute I stepped outside.” I said. in a whisper. “Yeah. Whatever I thought I saw disappeared the second I turned around. I’m betting by the time the final bell rang. flowing. Biden called me by my full first name.” Bethany referred to her black Plymouth Neon. Bethany raised an eyebrow at me and said. I checked the time on my cell phone and groaned.” I laughed. for two weeks?” Bethany asked.” Bethany said. lived up to the hype. The parade always drew a large crowd. throwing a quick glance at me. My mind was drawn to my arm. You should join me in the parade this Sunday.” We pulled into the senior parking lot. if you're done daydreaming. “You look really tired Delia. When it was lunch time. she whispered back. I wanted to tell her about the dreams so badly. I made sure Bethany and I didn’t sit at our usual table of chatty classmates. With a crooked smile. We couldn’t see ourselves living in such an unprogressive time without a voice which equaled inequality. “Just listen. “I’ve had this disturbing dream every night for the past two weeks. our History teacher. the price of avoiding intrusive questions. I peered at my hand resting on the opened page of my text. I answered as best as I could and strategically avoided one of her humiliating and tactless rants. It already felt like ninety. I barely waited for Bethany to sit down with her lunch tray before I began blurting my suppressed emotions. “Yeah. or she’ll give us detention for sure. “Sorry I’m late. the entire student body would label me a freak.” I lied.” Bethany said. I had trouble starting this thing again. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. The subject usually held my attention because it caused quite a stir with the girls. We were twelve minutes late and Mrs. ok. “Why are you whispering?” I sighed and shot a look to the ceiling in frustration. Although her golden blond hair was piled high on the top of her head. If Bethany didn’t let me tell her now. and smiled when she saw me in the driveway. “You look like you're a trillion miles away. I couldn't get past the inconceivability of my injury. I decided to tell Bethany everything. Biden’s harsh tone brought me back into the classroom. Bethany cocked her head to one side and said. stepping in front of her and twisting the door knob. I found concentrating on what Mrs. some of the wisps that escaped the bun blew softly in the warm breeze like feathers. since the thunderstorm. would have our heads. then I feared I may never tell her. I stifled a groan. I knew the temperature would hit over a hundred degrees on this late October day. I’ve been having a really strange dream. ankle length skirt whipped in the delicate breeze. and realized that I was trembling. Biden discussed impossible. “Is there something wrong?” “It’s nothing… I mean we’ll talk at lunch. Besides.” . Biden’s classroom door. Suddenly.” “Every night. For the rest of the morning I went from one class to the next reliving what I recollected from the night before. but I wasn’t sure this was a good time to bring it up. Bethany giggled. Bethany honked the horn one last time as I shut the front door behind me. Today. Telling her would be a gamble. I jumped when Mrs. If anyone overheard our conversation. would you please tell the class what the suffrage movement was about. something flashed in the corner of my eye. Beth. the night of the storm and what I dreamt. “I’ve been thinking. Again. She looked in the rear view mirror and backed the car out of my driveway as I listened to the gravel sputter everywhere. I said. “I’m still here. Although the hallway was empty.” In History we reviewed the ways of life of women in America at the turn of the century. I closed the passenger side door and fell into step with her as we made our way through the lot. Biden. Her long.” I said. notorious for extreme desert heat.” Mrs. I scooted my chair closer to the table and leaned in toward her. I sighed again. it felt like Bethany I weren’t alone as we stood in front of Mrs. I'd be forced to enjoy the blaze in this insufferable long sleeved top. She knew that I was preoccupied with something.” I whispered. Nevada.” I said. “Who me? No way. The parade Bethany referred to was the ‘Living Legends’ Parade. Bethany knew me so well.” Bethany kept her eyes glued to the road but her eyebrows were furrowed in the center of her face.” “I’ll pass if you don’t mind. She turned her gaze to me for a second before turning back to the road. “Is something bothering you?” “No.” I didn't want to rush through my explanation of my sacred visions. We’d better get in there. I have to work all day Sunday. and I stopped where I stood. “Cordelia. making her appear angelic. Bethany always participated and seemed to really enjoy dressing up in corsets and prairie dresses.

I had told someone. The idea may seem crazy. but I don’t believe you are. She listened intently.” I said.” “I knew it. Bethany is staring at me and sitting sort of frozen but I know she’s listening. I heard you. but urged me to finish. They started the night I came home from the hospital.” Bethany looked pokerfaced. as I clasped my hands together in front of my face as if I was about to pray. “Last night while I dreamt. but she didn’t think I was out of my mind. She would think I cracked. No one seemed to be listening to us.” Bethany raised an eye brow and asked. right?” “Well.” I took another deep breath. and we’re madly in love and everything.” I pause for a second to catch my breath.” Bethany promised. I’ve never been so nervous talking to Bethany about anything before today. “The truth is… I wasn’t struck by lightning.” I sighed. Bethany was like a closed book. I said it.” There.” I had swarming bees in my stomach and chuckled at how ridiculous I must sound saying this out loud. “Yeah … um the dream is the same but it lengthens and gets scarier each night. her expression unreadable.” “More like a nightmares. I prayed that she wouldn’t judge me or think that I belonged in a psych ward. All the other students appeared to be engrossed in their own conversations. and refolding my paper napkin.“You mean when you fainted.” “Why are they strange?” Bethany asked. Bethany nodded slowly and said. and they didn’t believe I needed to seek a psychiatrist. “Oh my God. but blew into them instead.” I watched for her expression. I’m not. and then she’d stop being my friend because she’d be afraid of me.” My hands stopped shaking and the tightening in my chest subsided and allowed me to breathe again. His strength is equivalent to a super hero’s or… something. vicious. but no. I mean it’s the same every night. “Long jagged bolts of electricity came out of me. “Suddenly these huge.” I said. She just sat there. She raised both her eyebrows and encouraged me to continue. “On the night of the thunderstorm. but I’m your friend.” I looked Bethany in the eyes and she willed me to go on. and intense. “You’re going to think I’m going mad but…” I stalled again. “Tell me about it. That’s just what my parents told everyone. fights off these savage wolves with his super human strength. and … strange.” Bethany repeated my words. “They're so real and vivid. and really terrifying. “Yes. and I just wonder why I keep having them and what it all means. You think I’m crazy don’t you?” “No. But the dream also becomes deadlier each night. I barely survive in it. “No. Maybe she didn’t hear me. Bethany had stopped eating her lunch altogether. “Ok. The lightning came… out of me.” I paused as I watched Bethany. but were met only by Bethany’s blue ones. narrowing her eyes slightly at the mention of the idea of werewolves. I took a deep breath. I felt the blood rushing back into my cheeks as I . “Struck by lightning.” Bethany said.” “You’re right. “The boy’s face is kind of shadowed in the darkness. This morning I woke up with this. We’re strolling through the forest surrounding these mountains.” “Yeah. in a flat tone. I got hit and cut by the branches. They didn’t want anyone to know I’d been struck by lightning. no… not exactly. She didn’t even flinch. “How can you be so sure? You haven’t even heard what I’m about to tell you. that’s the boy’s name in my dream.” My eyes searched the entire cafeteria for a pair of eyes staring back at me. motioning to the cafeteria windows where the Sierra mountain range was visible. and stared at me. and then they turn back into human beings when they’re killed. I have no idea what you’re about to tell me. I didn’t faint. Bethany’s reaction wasn’t what I expected. While I was falling. “So tell me about the dreams. but his features become clearer each night as if the moon is shining brighter.” “I’m with this boy. “Evan. and ravenous wolves start chasing us. “Go on. and stared at me. and kept folding and unfolding. “Did you hear what I just said?” I asked. This was good. as motionless as a sculpture. our feelings for each other are genuine. but paused after each word. I fell out of one of the pine trees.” I explained in a hushed tone so that only Bethany could hear me. you can tell me anything. I can’t believe I’m about to say this. I shook with fear because I knew what I wanted to tell her would sound incredulous. “What do you mean by ‘not exactly’?” My hands trembled and knots formed in my stomach as I contemplated telling Bethany the whole truth. and again there wasn’t one.

and pretended to be asleep when my mom checked in on me. I didn’t know what to think. and left the cafeteria. hoping to run into Bethany. No one did. and in the evening. and stepped out into the corridor. and then said in an even tone.. and caught the bus home as usual. Finally the last hour was over. and wept in silence. A chill coursed through my body from the . Neither one of us spoke for a few seconds. wiped the tears away again. I detected a soft pattern of footsteps above my head. All of a sudden. “I’m not crazy. The aroma in the kitchen was savory. I walked the eight blocks to the gift shop. There I would probably live out the rest of my days chased by werewolves. Bethany cleared her throat. looking even more perplexed than before. I noticed Bethany had left her cell phone beside her tray. I prayed no one would ask me. Not a sound could be heard but the low roar coming from inside the cafeteria. and I regretted telling Bethany anything. Could I have imagined the gash and the pain? I sobbed. I waited a half hour by Bethany's car. She assured me that Bethany hadn’t been in to see her at all today. “I had a deep scar right here.” Her face became ashen. and went back into the cafeteria. she pushed her chair back. I’m sure the tale will be tall and along the lines of hair pulling. At some point I checked with our school nurse. But she never showed up to any of them. Once I was back at our table. She stared for a long moment as if waiting for the cut to appear. that these things really did happen. I went to all my afternoon classes in a daze waiting outside of each. The pit in my stomach ached worse than the scar had. and had no desire to dwell on it anymore tonight. and I couldn’t bear losing her friendship. I heard the shower come on and knew I’d better get to my room. I gave my dad a feathery peck on the forehead. Mom preferred working out in her bedroom. Nice. My first stop was the parking lot. I needed her to understand that I wasn’t losing my mind. I tried to look inconspicuous but met a few curious glances from the student body. I slipped into my bedroom unnoticed. she was gone. I got close enough to read the message without being seen from the living room. but I was relieved that she wanted to meet up. I couldn’t tell another soul or I’d undoubtedly be confined to an institution for the mentally insane.. I was extremely apprehensive about falling asleep. My light was off so she poked her head in for a quick second. Why hadn’t she call me on my cell? The note read: Delia – Bethany called. Fantastic. I kept my eyes on the checkered linoleum. I couldn't call her. I snatched the phone and the blemish free. Bethany looked as if she had seen the waking of the dead. I dabbed my eyes with my sleeve. By the end of the day. Bethany had called. I needed her. yet again I didn't have an appetite. By the time I reached the double doors of the cafeteria. and turned my head from left to right several times. The hours dragged longer than usual. Bethany's car was parked in the same spot she’d parked in this morning. and that she didn’t have to be afraid of me. but didn’t wake up. they found something more interesting to gawk at. I let the doors close behind me.” I said. called him Evan in the dream. caught my eye. and I wondered why this piece of information mattered to her. My stomach did flips and my heart was crashing against my ribcage as Bethany met my gaze again. and pulled it up as far as my elbow. Again. I entered my house through the backdoor. I would have waited longer had I not been scheduled to work tonight. and my mom took the message. I was drained. We were still friends. I dumped both our trays.. The gasp had come from me. Had I scared her so badly that she couldn’t bear to be around me? Oh God. He stirred a bit. “His name is Evan. I mean I. and afraid that I may not survive the dream this time. I thought better of it. but she didn’t return any of my calls. and then I removed my poorly applied bandage. A loud gasp caught the attention of a few students. I thought. stood up and sprinted out of the cafeteria. but it was gone. Bethany shifted her eyes from mine and stared at my forearm. or risk running into my mom. and then shut my door.” I pointed to where my gash had been as I battled the urge to wail. I wasn’t prepared to be tackled with a barrage of questions regarding my day. I thought. How could she have made it down the hall so fast? The hallway was vacant. I left a couple messages. No explanation on her disappearing act. but after a second or two and a few odd glares. From the living room. crumpled ribbon of gauze and threw them into my bag.. I took one last look around the room.unbuttoned the cuff of my sleeve. A bright yellow Post It stuck to the center of a covered dish on the kitchen table. She said she’ll pick you up tomorrow after work. I called her home several times but only got the answering machine. She asked that you hold onto her phone. I jumped up and ran after her. I threw my hands over my eyes. and tip toed into the kitchen. and then searched my arm again. I heard the grumbles and low whistles escape my dad’s nose as the sports caster summed up the game. I thought about going over to Bethany’s house. “What did you say the boy’s name was?” She asked very slowly as if I was a five year old and she didn’t want to confuse me. uh. Everyone reverted back to chatting.. They saw the spectacle and wondered what happened. but was skeptical of what her reaction would be of me showing up uninvited. something cheesy with plenty of onions.

If he was a transfer. As soon as I was done with the applications. on the curb directly across the street from where I stood. Kick this old boomtown’s dust off of our converse and start living. I grabbed my bag. I was somewhat relieved now. but I never got the chance. obviously petrified. . like this. the entire student body wouldn’t have the power to contain themselves. So I headed to Nelly’s Ice Creamery. Possibly new in town. and his thick eyebrows framed his handsome face. I wanted to jump back into the body I recently began to accept. I hadn’t known what to do with my jittery and uncooperative hands. would be the answer to my prayers. Bethany was to blame for my optimism. but I craved nutty banana chocolate chip crunch. and to be in love. and as warm as melted butter spread on a freshly baked muffin. I planned to stay up all night. Like a smack across the face. I would be late for work and Mr. and drew me in like a magnet. they locked for a brief moment. who sacrifices his life in the present by time traveling to the past to find his true love. “Ugh!” I forgot to set the clock. We all had the same plan. The sun seared my skin and I welcomed the warmth with a smile. I tried to recall the last time I woke up without having to shrug off the remnants of fear from being chased. I’d never see Evan again. There’s just something about the power of love. like a mounted statue. I would’ve expected to be relieved but I wasn’t. He’d blend in a small town like Nickel City about as much as a shiny silver spoon would in a drawer full of plastic ones. and wanted to tell Bethany that the nightmares had ended. so I turned my television on. If I had. His delectable lips had me desiring one thing – to be kissed. so I shied away. for some unknown reason. His jet black hair had shone in the brilliant afternoon sun. and not pasty. But his presence tugged at me. Before it happened. as she requested. The skin would have been tan. I sat up with a jolt. or visiting – probable. dressed in all black. I wondered what it had been that first made me think of the lover from my dreams. I cry like a fool every time I watch it. I had held this mysterious guy’s interest. from his fitted buttoned down shirt to his metal tipped cowboy boots. composed and with an unruffled approach. It’s a story about a young writer. and I fell asleep. I spent the next couple of hours filling out my college applications – each one on the east coast. with a luring gaze. I know it’s an odd choice for lunch. and held. The eyes were wrong. As I regarded him now. and I’ve read the book at least half a dozen times. that I hadn’t woken up frightened and gripping my sheets. I’d expect. I loved it so much. I had thought. She had always faced every challenging situation head on. seeing the curves I’d been waiting for since puberty. the nightmares. I mourned the chance of it being over. I resisted what the chorus of sorrowful voices surrounding me stated. I noticed him immediately. Clarkson would be crabby all day. I’d never seen him before. Both of my parents had finally gone to bed. It read SAT 8:30 AM. Fleeing this place was on every senior’s mind. shimmering steel. Bethany realized she had gotten all weird. wholesome. I blinked and blinked feeling like I was missing something. yet regrettably ordinary. added a stamp to each and tucked them into my messenger bag. When our eyes met. it hit me. with having the unworthy attention of a good looking guy. I would’ve remembered those eyes. I’d had a taste for ice cream. He certainly stood out on a sweltering hot day like this. This time she’d been blindsided. and the current inside me. icy cold. and not pursed and void of any expression. high calorie treat. I’d be willing to subject myself to the horrors of being nearly eaten alive just to see him up close. even after dashing out of the cafeteria. and how it transcended across time that was nothing short of mindblowing to me. This guy didn’t look like the boys I went to school with. His inscrutable expression had made me uneasy. They should be as clear and blue as the ocean. and left the house. Three Ghosts and Gargoyles As I stared at myself on the hot asphalt stained with my blood. I died. It had been brief because I was nervous and unsure. and I realized what was different. but the sun’s rays weren’t what made me feel somewhat fortunate right now. I scanned the channels and was thrilled that Somewhere in Time was airing tonight. Today at exactly 12:08pm. and my nerves were like a tangled mess of electrical wires with the awareness of this mysterious guy appraising me. even the juniors were prepping escape routes. Although I was thoroughly exhausted from the accounts of the day. thousands of miles away from Nickel City. Ninety degree Nevada heat was ideal for a sinfully sweet. She probably acted accordingly with the madness I burdened her with. and I couldn’t. I’d been on my lunch break. His stunning features wouldn’t have gone unnoticed. The differences were staggering. but here. I ached to be kissed. But when I turned around to investigate. The lips should be inviting. and to touch his smooth face again. with no clue as to how to handle the stupefying situation. His eyes were unwavering. I sealed them in separate envelopes. I must have been an hour into it when exhaustion took over. the book it was based on. laid out in the middle of C Street. in two weeks. who awaits him there. his eyes had shimmered like melted titanium. making sure my applications were tucked in it. I would mail them in the morning. someone who could capture the curiosity of someone who resembled such striking beauty as he did. He must be looking at someone behind me. But a fresh face would’ve provoked frantic chatter regarding where he and his family were from. there’d been no one standing remotely close to me. but it wasn’t him. He stood motionless. and that I’m still her friend no matter how daunting my mind seemed. If I sat in bed for a moment longer. It was an old movie I saw and fell in love with. As I approached the curb and waited for the light to change. I woke up the next morning feeling indolent. No one in this town would blame me for running. It was the first morning. I’m a hopeless romantic so of course it’s a love story. and I was certain of that. as usual. I did my best to bring myself to the speed I needed to get to work on time. We’ll be meeting up when I get off of work today. He reminded me of someone… someone so irresistible and exquisite that had captivated me while I slumbered. Although he stood across the two lane street. I ran out and bought Bid Time Return. I tried to find a movie that would get my mind off Bethany. Groggy would’ve been an understatement. my alltime favorite flavor. I rolled over and peered at the digital clock radio. Clearly. I wouldn’t confront the obvious.base of my neck to the tip of my toes. To be anywhere.

Unable to tear my eyes away from the mysterious stranger. They saw me – dead. and I lived in them. I never saw the jeep approaching me at an accelerated speed. I had only heard the blasting of the horn. I wasn’t sure if it was the cluster of thunder. and the banging in my chest became erratic. and fixed my eyes on the wood planks surrounding me. and screamed to deaf ears around me. My thin arms stretched out and twisted. But tourists will be tourists. The rumbles of thunder seemed to protest my demise. My new strappy. but suggested by my mom who demanded I get one dress instead of jeans – again. My cheeks had become flushed. I turned just in time to see the drivers’ face. so they would feel at ease when spilling their life's juicy details. Now you could only make out the shape of my body. I wasn’t an onlooker. masking it in several shades of gray. but it was as if we were the only two beings in the universe. or maybe the ambulance that brought the crowd of people out of the businesses which split the real estate on C Street. completely traumatized as the police tried to bar them from getting too close. “What's wrong with jeans?” I asked. There was no doubt that I’d be uploaded within seconds onto a video sharing network across the internet. but they were all worn and comfortable. obviously a jerk for snubbing me. “Nothing. When I finally broke the stare. Gloomy clouds rolled onto the cerulean blue sky like shaken dice. the idea had actually crossed my mind. and observe the puddle seeping through the heavy cloth. as several took pictures and videotaped my gruesome corpse with their digitally enhanced cell phones. and the silver jeep plowed into me. But how did he get into that car. Everyone seemed to ask the same questions. It was polkadotted with numerous splotches of blood. My face was still recognizable but frozen with an empty stare. intent on killing me. the weather seemed to react to my death. “Get something pretty. my mother had insisted we buy on our last shopping trip. I thought. but I was kind of annoyed that my new dress was ruined. Why did this happen to me? I wanted so badly to turn back time. wanting the details of the gruesome tragedy. Unfortunately. which felt more like a spell. There was so much blood. as I stare at myself in macabre. I had mustered the courage to smile. . “Fine. Where had the jeep come from? Why hadn't I moved? I had a question of my own. Many onlookers winced. It pained me to listen to the stunned screams and muffled wheezing from my neighbors and tourists. I had already been halfway across the road when I heard the earsplitting horn blare.” Mom said. I had required a deep breath to gather myself so that I could concentrate on not looking at his irresistible face. “Why me? Why? Why? Why?” I detested being seen this way. Get a dress Delia. His ambiguous expression hadn’t broken. Maybe they weren't pretty. not the ghost. People milled around us.” She faked being disgusted by furrowing her eyebrows and flashing an impish grin. I proceeded to cross the street. At least that’s what it felt like to me. and from somewhere. which would be spread like peanut butter throughout Nickel City. no one could admire my new dress now. I nearly applauded the person who finally put a dark and weighted fabric over me. The driver was the guy with the liquid steel eyes who had captivated me for the early part of my lunch break.” I said. and he had the nerve to keep staring at me. and what happened to those beautiful eyes? From behind the windshield. It was our way of welcoming the newcomer. the streetlight finally changed.The girls would be swooning and hoping for a second glance while the guys would resent him. he glared at me wickedly with glowing crimson eyes. but instantly regretted it. becoming obnoxious due to all the attention he’d be enjoying from the girls. Mom had wanted me to emulate her by being in vogue with the most fashionable clothes and heaps of makeup. I was too late. Whoever covered me up didn’t bother to cover my left foot which was twisted and looked somewhat like a detached extension of my leg. For the first time since I had seen him. I realized then that he hadn’t taken one step forward. sopping in all my blood which could easily be confused for cherry syrup if you were unaware of the carcass under the fabric. but a ghost standing amongst the living. I stared down at myself. demanding loosely. I heard everyone around me. every individual voice. I had wanted to stop staring. They huddled around my body. “Dead on impact” I had heard a man say. I was utterly grotesque. I had thought. I was in the air in a matter of a second. and my bare legs were shattered and mangled. or the wailing siren of the sheriff’s cruiser. He must think I’m some kind of grinning idiot. A resounding gasped escaped my lips. and turned away. A whole lot of flinching as no one stared back at me. white. I don’t think I had taken three full steps before gazing up at him again. I just couldn’t be bothered with all the superficial crap. while browsing the racks at Dillard's. gawked at me in shock from the balconies above the shops and saloons. I owned over two dozen pairs. but you’re becoming this beautiful young woman trapped in denim. as I glared down at myself. Somehow. I’ve never been a vain person. The crush of my bones had echoed in my ears as the air in my lungs exploded out of my mouth. I had turned away. but succumbed to his trance. I watched some of the reactions. placating her. layers of them. so that I could continue crossing the street. and being ‘girly’ had never been my style or a priority. Groups of people. and drenched in blood. I noticed the menacing look which gripped me in those platinum eyes. and dead the next. After what had seemed like a torturous eternity. The dress had been picked out by me. Right now. Paralyzed where I stood by his perverse smile. I needed that ice cream more than ever now. I wanted to expunge this guy from my memory. an ideal match for my new dress. but that's what we small town folk did when a new face appeared. espadrille. laid about two feet away from my body. and still stood motionless on the curb as if he intended to wait for me there.

” My mom wailed. “Don’t take her away from me.. I didn’t want to reflect on that night. and I never felt more alone. with only one desire. The humidity rose with the steady drizzle as the thunder bellowed above everyone. just mom’s sniffles and heart tugging moans. and was perfect for this profusely obscene weather. and hungered for her motherly touch. had been to hug my mom.” I whispered against her cheek. Dad’s hands shook as he clutched the steering wheel. Practically every girl around my age wore a similar version these days.. but the torment they left behind that mingled with my mist. due to all of its patrons gathered on the sidewalk speculating about my accident. but of course a birth certificate couldn’t lie. This person went through my phantom body. and cried. “I’m here mommy. but still looked like sticky syrup on the asphalt. They were deep. my attention. and slowly rolled her head back and forth. But dad heard nothing. while the van taking my body away edged into traffic. My dad slid into the driver’s seat just as I quickly glided into the back seat. aching murmurs. The anguish seemed to overwhelm her. The words stung. “She’s gone. I wanted it to stay that way – sandwiched between them like that forever. Right through me! The vapor I’m composed of now. “No! No! Nooo!” The cries wailed uncontrollably. My blood was becoming slightly diluted. bloody. She lovingly touched my blood streaked face. The person was wracked with agony yet it wasn’t the cries that demonstrated this fact. My dad.. Oddly. and virtually let go of me. wet with tears. but she was oblivious to my presence. and it was pretty. Her lips quivered as she continued to weep. How will my parents survive without me? . But it wasn’t.This morning while I dressed for work. I looked nothing like my mom. at that point. Oh God. his face expressionless and detached as he told my father that they would be moving me to the morgue. “Please let me stay with her. My mom laid her head on the passenger side headrest. now dark smudges and chalky streaks down her cheeks. if I had been adopted. and motioned for my parents to leave. He bawled shamelessly. I shook with sobs. Somehow I was in tune with the heart that was still in my lifeless body. from left to right. I couldn’t bear my father letting go of my mom. I couldn’t differentiate their cries. My body was now in the back of the coroner’s van and no longer laid out directly in front of Nelly’s. and it was love. Mom reached over to embrace him. She was as unresponsive to the two deputies who tried to pull her away from me. and could be sensed through her sobs. not beating. sensed the being that penetrated me. I recognized the person the moment I saw her waver and then drop like a damp towel to her knees. or the horrors which had followed.. bowed his head. I guessed it was partly because the dress had made my mom deliriously happy when she saw me in it. in a desperate whisper. I ran out of the house before she could make me do a runway walk. Only one emotion could exude such grief. opened the passenger side door. I’m kind of surprised right now at how emotional I am about the dress. Mom didn’t flinch when the drum roll of thunder erupted again. murky skies. The rain finally started which sent many of the spectators to take cover under the numerous awnings which lined C Street. The crashing thunder forced me and everyone else to look up at the charred sky of violent clouds that resembled brutes in a fist match. The periwinkle empire mini dress was made of delicate cotton. unaccepting. Mom had been right.” My dad whispered. I was comforted that my parents were going to stay with me. hysterically. The voice was shrill and quivered like a vibrating guitar string. both void of any lightning. I often wondered. His intention. and stroked my scraped cheek. I really lay there in her arms… eternally lifeless.” I said. as my hollow green eyes were. A dress was a nice change. burgundy and black mess. Suddenly the shrieking cries from somewhere behind my ghost body seized. The ice cream shop was practically empty now. would have probably woken me up had this been just a horrible nightmare. But for some reason I did. and sat her down. them both being so fair with shockingly bright blond hair. My mother’s screams. of course. said he wouldn’t leave until they moved me. He also said that it was best that my parents head there to formally identify me for the record. I touched her face. and that I cared what these people thought of my new dress. and ultimately letting go of me. Suddenly my dad wrapped his arms around me. I reached down to where she was crouched on the ground. More than I had cared to admit to her while she sipped her coffee. Her eyes were closed. in her hand as she raised my head up. and they remained like that. One of the deputies came over. Please. in an unbreakable hold. start the car. The harsh charcoal sky reminded me of the night of the thunder storm. She had beamed from ear to ear.” I was astounded by the raw feelings that ripped through me as a phantom. I watched him as he led her to our car. but I couldn’t help comparing the thunderous. My auburn hair was now a sodden. Oh God. I couldn’t help but feel attractive in it. blubbering.. reaching my crushed and lifeless form. I’m right here. A deputy who seemed bent on getting some order in place whispered something to my dad. She cried and screamed irrepressibly. staring up at her. Something dashed right through me. Mom was still so pretty with what was once perfectly applied mascara. I want to go home. just take us home” I said. I had to face it. and me sort of olive in tone and brunette. No one heard me. oh mom. My dad slowly let go of my mom. I wrapped my arms around her. since I differed from their features so much. Oh no. “Please! I must be with her! She’s my baby.. and vaguely like my dad. but still loving. on the asphalt beside my blanketed body. sounding hoarse and exhausted. but I couldn’t feel her. nor their unconditional love for me. “Daddy. Tears streamed down the faces of many bystanders who watched my mom as she tore the blanket away from my head.

in a whisper to myself. unproven hauntings. I saw my father twist the key in the ignition. Mr. But only one question clotted my head. oblivious to the microwave we were sitting in. and shuddered remembering. What felt like a blaze against my cheek. I imagined the headlines in tomorrow’s edition of The Territorial Enterprise. at least once. A few of them had weekend jobs on the main street as I had. But the longer I stared at him. I turned around and examined what was directly behind me. They noted ancient stories dating as far back as over a hundred years ago. I hardly thought a hit and run could compare to some of the ghosts stories they rambled about. and didn’t seem to mind getting wet in order to see it all. Nothing. but she was nowhere in sight. I’d only been on a couple of dates. someone that I couldn’t breathe without. an unfathomable injustice. dusty. As I sat there in the backseat of my parents’ car completely dumbfounded. My eyes fell directly on the mysterious guy that had somehow been in two places at the same time. if I had to. piled high at the crown of her head. The revelation of my death seemed to age my classmates. and felt the juddering of the car's engine coming to life. right through the window. as he shielded his grief stricken face. desert town had perished with my last breath. I wanted to be kissed by someone special. and I plunged back into my new reality. my dad eased the car forward into traffic. didn’t count. My plans of getting as far away as I could from this old. and at someone or something else? Instinctively. My parents seemed totally unaffected. Heat. and have love reciprocated. Extreme heat roasting the right side my face as if the sun was just inches away.I had too many questions that were never going to be answered. Many remained at the scene. Vehicles don’t just disappear. which were forgettable. The mysterious guy’s eyes were hungry like the wolves that haunted me every night for the last two weeks of my life. be in love. I turned around. directly behind the ambulance. It was as if he had become someone else when he floored that jeep. and gruesome attacks by unknown entities. who cherished me. Countless bystanders remarked on how implausibly odd my accident was. old age. As if on cue. was hot enough to scorch metal. my body being hauled to the morgue. He glided towards me as if on wheels. He stood about four feet away from the car door closest to where I sat. “Tetherson Girl Mowed Down by Phantom Jeep” I overheard several people who witnessed the accident say that the jeep disappeared right after hitting me at the corner of Union Street. The thick eyebrows that had once framed his handsome face were severely arched forming a unibrow that started at his hair line. or terminal illnesses. the costume rental shop. and connected at the bridge of his pug nose and flared nostrils. I felt the frantic urge to jump out of the car. I turned in the direction of where the heat seemed to originate from as it gradually intensified. But no one could be in two places at once. From where I sat in the backseat of my parents’ car. ominous and lethal. although not very well. yet they all looked dazed and miserable at the loss of a fellow student. She toiled away. disappearances. I scanned the crowd for her honey blond hair. all the while never taking his glowing ruby eyes off me. I was certain I would have melted away into the car’s upholstery. I've seen eyes like that before. and I gasped. Fortunately. back into the luncheonettes. More than anything. happily I might add. Then it dawned on me. C Street had been blocked off on one side at the corner of Union Street so that the traffic could flow through the main street. sprinkled throughout the mob. He glowered at me. The coroner’s siren wailed. Amongst all those faces. I recognized quite a few kids from school that I knew. the sun’s corona was eclipsed by the leaden clouds that continued to battle brutally against one another. tourist and residents alike. His expression took on a hideous gargoyle’s scowl. the gargoyle faced guy halted. she would have heard about the accident. from cool chrome to searing scarlet. Everyone else seemed aware.” I said. I would miss him. I would be buried here. They seemed to agree that it vanished at some point between the corner of Union Street and Taylor Street. but pedestrians. I wasn’t by far the most popular kid at Nickel City High. The tally was dismal. Fatalities usually occurred by natural causes. For one. and had skin. How had that mysterious guy been ogling me from the curb one second then running me over the next? Had I been so overcome by the mysterious guy’s beauty that I saw him everywhere? Had he been a hallucination? No. well former boss. I hadn’t seen Bethany’s. and back to whatever they had been doing before tragedy struck this diminutive town. unexplainable things like this didn’t happen often here. The splendor of his eyes had altered. Had she not come to work today? Surely Bethany must know what happened to me. Clarkson. Can he actually see me? Was he looking through me like a window. He was definitely glaring at me with pure evil intentions. I spotted my boss. The mini crushes which never developed into what I wished for – endless love. My end was considered bizarre and unforeseen. and my recurring dream didn’t count. By doing so. not at all. I’m certain by now. his facial features became more twisted. The entire town of Nickel City had crowded around to speculate. I wanted to fall in love. but some of the beauty still remained making his face ghastly like a disfigured angel’s face. We had planned to meet after work. I’ve never been in love. every weekend at the Victorian Outfitter. including bizarre deaths. and how it reminded them of some of the strange and old folklore they had heard passed down from generation to generation. The heat seemed to radiate from his eyes which burned like glowing coals. . So many identifiable faces gawked at the ambulance as it skirted away from the curbside. how can I be dead when I’ve hardly lived? “I won’t get to graduate. which was only a few streets down on the main street. His fleshy lips curled downward at either end. Then I felt something else entirely. They spoke in hushed tones about inconceivable accounts. I can’t accept dying without falling in love. dragon like. If I wasn’t a ghost right now. Although the rain had subsided. His face looked like it hurt to look that revolting. and contorted. One of the deputies directed them back to their jobs.

There was nothing left for me to do . Surprisingly. His black shirt melted. and out of her hair. My eyes darted all over C Street. “This is so bizarre… every window smashed. Then he mounted onto the curb. carefully brushing the shards of the windshield off the dashboard. His penetrating eyes fastened on mine as he watched our car wedge deeper into the steady flow of traffic. they broke down all over again. curling flames shot out of the guy’s mouth as if he’d swallowed a lit torch. so was the creepy shadow. Every window was shattered completely or partially blown out. cringing in acute fear as I turned once again to face the gargoyle faced guy. Suddenly. The guy turned around to face the huge figure that lowered its head and shoulders over him. scaring a few tourists.the piercing sound hurt my ears. The shadows seemed to come to life and slid off the building walls.and faced him through the back window.” My dad said. the sun made an encore appearance.” The word was at the tip of everyone’s tongue. drowning the residual raucous of the thunder. but didn’t. Instantaneously. But no one mentioned seeing a guy dressed in all black with a horrid gargoyle’s face and penetrating demonic ruby eyes. I braced myself. disappearing into his pale white skin like an Oreo cookie drowning in a glass of milk. Either way I seemed to be the only one who had seen him although everyone had positively heard him. He leapt backwards as if he hadn’t expected the shadow to be there. Then it happened. The massive silhouette’s flickering cape brought back the horrid memory of that inexplicable night when electrical currents flowed through my veins like blood. inching across a china plate. “Let’s go.” “How could this be… it’s bizarre.” My mom said. bizarre. Thunder resounded lightly after a second shower finally tapered off into a mist. Every vehicle had stopped. a traffic light or vintage light post. He never broke his unwavering stare. Maybe they were here to take me to hell. He must have read the feared expression on my face as I stared up at the looming shadow and its cape flickering violently like a flame fighting to survive against a harsh gust of wind. every piece of glass was cracked or completely busted and blown out. “How bizarre. bringing his features back to their gorgeous state. he threw his head back so far that his neck should have snapped. and with his departure. Great. Five Trusting Liars Upon my parents return home from the heartbreaking endeavor of identifying me at the morgue. Floating right outside the car window. but stayed about a car’s length behind. Suddenly the shadows that hovered on the walls of the buildings directly behind the gruesome guy became indistinct shapes. I turned to face my parents. Thinking for a split second that it was safe to. People were trickling out of the shops appearing alarmed and dazed. restaurants. He soared into the dismal gray sky like a hawk. Not a second had past when he spread his brawny arms out wide at his sides. Groups of tourists watched the chaos in the street from the balconies of the saloons. Not even my parents. They crept up as slow as molasses. With a loud snap like a sail flapping forcefully in protest of harsh winds. and bed and breakfasts. and I was proven wrong. averting the madness erupting on the main street.” Dad started the car again. My dad wasn’t the only driver who fought to regain control of their vehicle as pretty much every other car on the road swerved in every direction from the shock of the unexpected growl. It looked as if his upper lip and lower lip were being pulled apart. The earsplitting cry shattered every glass window on the main street into millions of pieces. No one saw a man fly into the sky with wings of a dragon.” “How bizarre…. Dad headed to the morgue. I allowed a sigh of relief to escape my lips. He drifted slowly down the street in the same direction our car headed. “Yes. everyone strolling down the sidewalks as well as those who had returned to their shopping in the shops cupped their hands over their ears to ward of the piercing sound. The evil shadow has come for me again. Then he jerked his head forward with his mouth opened wider than any mouth could naturally stretch open. whom had opted to stay in the car. He was gone. Whether it was a car or shop window. Every driver and passenger stood outside of their vehicle inspecting the damage to their windshields and windows in utter disbelief. The sinister shaped shadows swarmed together forming the shape of a giant man. This was it. and swerved around a couple of vehicles. The roar seemed to go on forever. I thought. I kept hearing the same word thrown around. Safety couldn’t be more out of reach. and made a right turn onto Taylor Street. Was he also a figment of my imagination? Was he a ghost like me? His dragon like wings made me think of some sort of dark angel. It appeared as if a bomb loaded with enough C4 to wipe out ten city blocks had gone off. I detected that it was dread washing over the guys face. he hadn’t forgotten the business of identifying his only daughter’s dead body. The gargoyle guy didn’t work alone. massive reptile like webbed wings sprouted from beneath his arms. There was no way of making any sense of the destruction. Throughout all the commotion. But what had I done to merit an eternity in hell? The ghastly faced guy glowered down at me. causing my dad to nearly lose control of our car. A current of fear shook through me as he appeared. He let out a malicious and deafening roar. off her lap.

just a ghost getting some air. and it was second nature to greet everyone like an old friend. Some of my neighbors and friends had left lit candles. I glided passed the gift shop where I worked – correction. Does a person. flowers bouquets. C Street shone like the Vegas strip while the store keepers rushed to secure their store front windows. moved here . no more ice cream. as my mind deliberated the cons of being dead. Although I couldn’t breathe.now but roam our tiny home. all of them in fact. and the enormity of it made the town seem even more infinitesimal. The questions emerged incessantly. But then how is it that I saw him before I died? Before he killed me. I strolled passed people I knew whom didn't have a clue I walked amongst them. I guess there was no chance of my temperamental hair frizzing up. how would I know them from the living? Maybe they would just come up to me. a part of their communicative world. I reminisced while eyeing the few scattered photos of me framed on the fireplace mantle and those held by quirky magnets on the refrigerator door. Bethany accepted. busier than usual. I had cringed in pain as my mom told Bethany the bad news. I threw myself in with the lot of confused and bewildered town’s people. My feet guided me toward C Street. and start a conversation. but the loud voices in full discussion covering everything which had transpired this afternoon. I knew I would be safe there… close to my best friend. I had thought. I doubted any of them had figured out what caused the wreckage. A tremor ran through what was left of me as I recognized the emotions I still experienced while lifeless. The majority of the shops would have concluded businesses for the day by this hour. literally disappearing from the photos. My parents remained in their respective spots. I was no longer a human being. listening to the warm breeze flood the house since my parents barely spoke to each other. and the punishable sun slid low behind the mountains. I couldn't bear to witness the details of my closed casket arrangements. I couldn't make any sense of any of this as I realized how strange the main street appeared. The taverns had to be filled to capacity. and I had to escape the house. Actually. but I saw the evening mist sparkling when I looked upward toward the violet sky. as she tearfully informed our relatives and friends of my sudden death. and noticed that something was happening to me – in the photos. Their phone conversation had been unexpectedly brief. sending ice cubes through me. The bleak and rocky structure seemed foreboding. well a ghost just wander around forever? Were there others like me floating around aimlessly? If there were others. and told my mom she had to go. even though she wouldn’t be able to see or hear me. I appeared to be fading away. I took a closer look. but not on this night. and found myself on B Street. no more running off to a far away state. my death had to be devastating. But it was the block Bethany lived on. Right now the feeling was alien. We were like sisters. sudden images of the mammoth and fluttering caped shadow emerged in my head. There would be no dinner prepared tonight as puffs of orange cotton candy spread across the sky. I don't believe my parents were aware of the make shift vigil on their doorstep. In the streetlamp lit darkness. Although she has always been resilient. Thanks to my parents who notoriously forgot to bring along a camera to all my special events. just to name a few. and it’s how I saw myself. Dad exiled himself to their bedroom. Maybe it was because I was dead. The finality of my mom’s specific instructions was like a choke hold. and weeping and rocking back in forth on my bed like a helpless child. I missed her terribly. I felt so alone and desperate for a human connection. was a poignant and definitive moment. I continued south on the main street. I appeared vapor –like. ghostly. It had to be the first time I ever walked into town where no one said hello to me or wished me a pleasant evening. Where. I quickly glided down the oak tree lined street. I never had the chance to say goodbye to her. whether it was a tree or another person could be seen right through my smiling image. letting my eyes take in the shadowy mass of mountains looming ahead. I staggered out the front door. well through it. Every owner hoped looters wouldn’t prevail. and stuffed bears on my porch. I made the decision to leave the house for a while when mom made the disturbing call to the funeral home. Listening in on my mother. Whatever was directly behind me in the pictures. along with her older brother Nikolas. it wasn’t the usual laughter filtering out onto the boarded sidewalks that stopped me. and was met with a blur of glimmering flower petals and shinyribboned plush toys. How would this quiet town ever recover? I blocked out the noisy voices from the bars. also known as Millionaire’s Row because of all the old mansions erected so long ago by the millionaire’s who supposedly built this town. I wondered how Bethany was dealing with the news of my passing. but I couldn't. a suffocating feeling enveloped me. I wanted nothing more but to soothe my parents. I hung out in the living room for a while feeling despondent. What I wouldn’t give for another bad hair day. She spoke to Bethany through an avalanche of tears as my friend of two years listened with a strangely calm tone. I couldn’t feel it. that would be more daunting than being alone. My mom said she understood and thanked Beth for being an incredible friend to me. Mom stayed in my bedroom clutching my favorite stuffed animal. No more friends. and today’s events were nothing short of a mystery. I didn’t want to. lacking direction. if he was a ghost. which was scheduled for Tuesday morning – two days away. Bethany had already known so my mom had proceeded in asking her if she would like to say a few words at my service. and sat at the edge of the bed gazing out the window at the Sierras. Tonight. trying to relive the moments in the pictures. This was a small town where everybody knew everyone. Bethany. These new millionaires built their homes on the town's highest ground in order to keep a trained eye on their lucrative mines. Why was I vanishing from all of our pictures? It was as if I was being erased. used to work. as if the mountain range could somehow make sense of his loss. there weren’t many photographs of me. scrutinizing each picture. it would explain why no one in town had noticed him. As I passed several saloons. it looked as odd as the other shops with the store front windows gaping wide open like jaws edged with sharp glass fangs where windows should be. I couldn’t wait to be amongst my friends. Could that peculiar guy with the gorgeous face which later morphed into an ominous gargoyle’s face be a ghost too? I shuddered at the chance of another encounter with him. It didn’t take much to shake up this tiny town. But perhaps. Would that be considered haunting it? I spent the remainder of the afternoon following my parents around.

Please.” What Nikolas spoke of made absolutely no sense to me. “She spoke of how vivid her visions had been. The other Grecian designed estate appeared freshly built. Either way. and paused under the archway leading into the living room. the second kitchen. The house seemed way too vast and unfurnished to feel homey. I knew what they were. as if on cue. I noticed a third figure. as all the properties. Victor will send for his disciples. We have less than twenty four hours. rehashing the events of the day over foam topped and throat scorching beverages. and the spacious kitchen. A huge yard large enough to build a sizable home surrounded the eastern and southern region of the house. which stood tall along B Street since the late nineteenth century. The house would be virtually impossible for an adult to maintain much less a pair of minors. the garden lay barren and neglected. I was about to leave the living room. Instead. like the Parthenon in Athens. decayed and withered. the lone light shining on the long block like a warning beacon. Now I was about to make the silly stories a fact. in this town. the house was quite stunning. “Victor’s senses have heightened considerably. “She remembers. her staple. and how she had awakened with wounds from them. I paused once I was at the base of the two Grecian columns. Quite a few rooms in the house were unfurnished. Terrified of the possibilities surrounding the pristine mansion. deep as usual. and those horrifying dreams. I wondered if I would actually meet any of the ghosts. He has tracked her to this point in time. compared to Bethany’s weathered home. Each visit had been very short. It stood across the street. who wore her hair pinned high on her head.” Nikolas said. were probably due to most of the residents still hanging out in town. including all the acres surrounding it. it was practically in ruins. the enormity of it halted me where I stood. about two years ago after losing their parents in a tragic car accident. The homes. and even worse. I observed the moving silhouettes in the living room as they paused. After a few moments of frenzied anxiety. the living room. Besides the fact that the house was one of the largest amongst all the others. It certainly didn't suit two teenagers. It was the silhouette of a male. which always reminded me of some of the historical monuments of Ancient Greece. except for the two bedrooms Bethany and Nikolas used. Even the vacant barn behind the house looked battered.” Bethany said. It was unfortunate that they had inherited it that way. She and her brother lived in what used to be their great – grandparent’s house. They seemed to trickle in from down the hall. at this time of the year. I turned to go into Bethany’s house. Nikolas’ voice boomed first. Only one other mansion on the lengthy block was styled similar to Bethany and Nikolas’ enormous property. They were dressed as if they were doing a play set in the Victorian era. As I stood in the foyer. I headed up the narrow cobblestone walkway leading up to the wide front porch. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had only been inside the house a couple of times. It was weird how Bethany had always found an excuse to vacate it the moment I arrived. I literally walked right through the towering wrought iron gates which wrapped around the entire property. dining room. less than ten minutes. I walked further down the dimmed foyer. “We must go to her now. It was large enough for a family of twelve. Bethany said the house had been built by her great great great grandfather in the mid nineteenth century. and they will attract the Apolluon. Once they sauntered through the gates as I had. It should’ve been flourishing with foliage as the other gardens surrounding the neighboring mansions. the abnormal perks of my new existence as a specter. wailing. but stopped abruptly when I picked up on familiar voices. I turned and flew right through the front door. Both Grecian styled mansions stood out architecturally amongst all the Victorians. The spacious portico wrapped around the entire north end of the mansion. one of Nickel City’s neighboring towns. So of course. at least I believed they were watching me. He was tall but not nearly as tall as Nikolas whose towering presence I recognized almost immediately. the house didn’t seem to have been updated since her ancestors resided here. They didn't seem to have any use for the other six bedrooms. One of the three shadows was definitely Bethany.from Bedwyn City. Many believed the house was preoccupied with various apparitions.” Bethany was talking about me. of course. I thought it odd that no one was in there when only a moment ago shadows could be seen from the porch. library. There was something odd about them. I quickly climbed the stone steps to Bethany’s home. Though the structural design was impressive inside and out. and noticed a couple that appeared to be gawking at me from across the street. although it was rumored to be vacant of any occupants. Besides all the structural beauty surrounding Bethany’s ghastly home. sun room. I noticed that the front windows to their huge house were lit behind the sheer curtains. study. Each and every one of those rooms remained completely unfurnished. the ghost stories surfaced weekly with the arrival of tourists. Architecturally. . Bethany ignored the rumors. but the lack of renovations and upkeep made the other neighboring mansions appear more prestigious. appearing obscure. The porch was free of any potted plants or flowers which usually adorned every porch of pretty much every house. but about half a block south. how the dreams lengthened each night. as if it was staged for Halloween. I never judged her nor her brother for how their mansion compared. Well. or what used to be the servants quarters below the house. Being in the enormous manor had always felt strange – almost creepy. or it’ll be too late. I gasped when I saw them making their way towards me. The other home had immaculately landscaped grounds which were half a block long in length. I realized the couple hadn’t followed me into Bethany’s house. they wanted to make contact with me! I wasn’t ready to adjust to my new way of not existing. he sounded desperate. practically gliding across the street. Ghosts! They had to be.

I gazed up at Evan. and the urgency in her voice worried me more than what she had uttered.” Bethany said. but that didn’t count. Neither of them appeared to see or hear me come in.” The voice – his voice was uniquely the same – intense and enthralling. She spoke of me as if I were still alive although. It was the voice that held my heart captive every night for the last two weeks of my life. I had no idea of what I was supposed to be remembering. It was my best friend. and I lay in his brawny arms. made me want to reach up and touch his face. and the boy of my dreams – in the flesh. and laid me down on the long chaise lounge as if I were a breakable and costly piece of sculpture.” Bethany said. How could this boy. “There’s other ways to detect the son of Iptian. because I was dead. I’m certain of this. he. My head swayed as the room dimmed. her normally calm voice quivering. but instead. as I had expected since I was a ghost. The alluring voice drew me into the unfurnished dining room. Questions raced through my mindless soul as I began to fall. and faced me. He was a vision of perfection. His eyes. “We should have foreseen her death.” Nikolas said. She had sounded as if she had read it off of an important document. His intense gaze sucked me in as I drowned in it. The blinding white currents blasted out in long jagged rods from my fingertips the same way they exited my body on the night of the storm. at this precise moment. and they will intervene when necessary. I wasn't sure if I had in fact fainted. I never hit the floor. the last person who had called me by my complete first name had been the boy in my dream. The fact that he had . and I stood frozen in its wake when I overheard the next voice – a familiar one. my former crush. but Nikolas sounded even more puzzling than his sister. as I dreamt. who I thought of as a big brother. Nikolas and Bethany stood gaping at Evan in disbelief. It made sense.” Ok. The damage Victor has done is not irreversible. she had spoken to my mother less than an hour ago. no longer hidden by the shadows of the pines under the moonlight. I instantaneously.” Bethany countered. and mesmerizing. which I believe I probably would have sunk through. We are to do battle alone. “Obviously. But there was one discernable difference – the arctic edge. the lightning recoiled and diminished to mini stars on the tips of my fingers.” There was that enchanting voice again. automatically making me jumpy. sounding many years older than seventeen. and it happened at once. and her use of my full first name was unusual for her. although not perfect. impatiently. She’ll come to us.” Bethany wasn’t making a bit of sense to me. The Gods will never forgive us.” Nikolas said. He was far more beautiful in person than my memory of him in the dreams. There the three of them stood in the far right corner of the dining room. Was I dreaming? I was speechless. “But that only provides a brief moment of escape. “I’m well aware of the eminent danger she is in. Bethany. I wanted to see Bethany’s reaction to my sudden presence in her home. The voice of an angel – deep. Then he turned away from me. and stood on the once opulent and now worn area rug which adorned the mahogany parquet floor where a dining room table should have stood. who I created in my mind. The voice I’ve never heard while awake.” Evan said. Clearly I must be dreaming again. and terrified – a complex combination. actually speaking to me.” Nikolas added. “That means we’ll have to wait until he’s within the vicinity to detect his aura. Could it be deemed fainting if you’re dead? Just another inconceivable question to add to the mounting list. had the power to make me melt. and I couldn't tear my eyes away from him. “That’s correct. We’ve already joined our forces to bring her to us. And just like that. the boy who made those hellish nights bearable. stand before me in flesh and bone? Thankfully to Evan's accelerated speed. Evan dashed across the room. I found the entire scenario to be surreal.“Well. she’s beginning to. rich. facing the large floor to ceiling windows. Cordelia will be lost and confused if she doesn’t retain what she knows now of this era. It had to be him. a dead person. Victor has discovered a way to mask his scent therefore. with all this talk about gods. and appraised me. which he’s incapable of concealing. but we are not to blame for that. only as I slept. who in fact possessed the voice. He was just a figment of a love starved girl’s imagination.” Bethany said argumentatively. We will find her. He has defied the Gods. The voice drew me in now as it did in the dream. remorsefully. “You are as beautiful as the day you left. as if it could belong to anyone other than my angel and protector. the figment of my imagination. locked eyes with Evan. In a fraction of a second. Then he stood back. Evan effortlessly carried me into the living room. Bethany knew I had died today.. They spun around in unison. They don’t hear our invocations. in the most delicate tone. His aura will cause the temperature to rise. “The Gods haven’t intervened thus far. “She shouldn’t be alone when her memory returns. and kind of threw me off. He smiled and stared at me adoringly. A rush of heat stirred then shook through my soul like a tornado spiraling out of control. numb.. and grinned at Bethany and Nikolas. I couldn’t believe my eyes or my ears. with one last loud crackle. but they knew I was amongst them. “The Gods are always guarding over the family.” My need to make certain. “Do they no longer feed off of our devotion?” “Keep faith Beth. and I had to overcome the urge to hug Nikolas. his flawless skin. knowingly. The Gods know our intentions and our loyalty to them. was crucial to any hopes of maintaining my sanity. Actually. I could never mistaken it for another. An icy chill slipped through me. since he was rescuing me again it was the logical answer. turquoise in the slightly dimmed room. like a moth to a flickering flame. “… as the day you left” Is what Evan had said. I walked to the center of the room. so they do know that I’m dead. No one ever called me Cordelia. But he wasn’t real. his presence went undetected by us. and impunity is not an option for him.

“It's time. “I don't know who or what you are. and blurted out the words in haste. “I don’t understand what happened or is happening. and found something quite interesting with the lamp on the nearby table. When I reopened them a few seconds later. Evan sighed. great. except what does she remember? Perhaps we should determine that first.. and this time I was swallowed up by the cobalt abyss.” Sadness flooded Evan’s face as he answered me.” He said. for an escape from the hysteria gradually taking over what remained of my sanity. Nikolas shifted his eyes from me. All the while they peered at me with the curiosity of little children who’ve made the sudden discovery of a brand new toy. In the interim. She leaned closer to the chaise lounge where I lay. trailing off.” Nikolas added as he marched to the other . Bethany turned to Nikolas with a radiant smile. and we are all together now. Their faces revealed the same sudden despondency. I had to know how they were aware of my presence.” I said. They tumbled out in a staccato jumble like marbles out of a bag. “I know who I am. I had to be dreaming. “You’ve got to answer one.” I said to myself. responding to what I hadn’t realized I said out loud. “Ok. “No. you will remember me. what’s happened to me? How can you see… wait a minute… is he … real?” I said. “I will do my best to answer all of your questions. I could only shake my head in bewilderment. I thought.” I demanded.” “Your memory. How is it that he can feel me? “I know you are confused and drained from everything that has transpired. “But?” I would be choking right now if I was still able to breathe.” Evan said. “She came to us just as you said she would. I presumed that I had offended him by my inquiry. I knew the certainty of my death.” Evan’s voice was gripping. one. “Beth.” “Yes. I had finally found my voice.” Bethany said. and felt the need to bolt out of the room. you are… dead. He stepped closer to where I lay. but it seemed out of desperation. Evan. void of any genuine conviction. and how it is that you can see me.” I said. “Yes. The crazy thing is… I can only remember you from a dream. No. “I’m real…we are all together now … once again. but my legs failed me.” Nikolas said. this time with enough conviction to spare. of course I’m real. and told myself to wake up.” “Don’t fret. and his hand was left hanging in midair. well sort of.spoken to me made what he meant by the statement somewhat unimportant right now. in the weakest whimper. and looking to Evan for guidance or to be rescued. I searched her flawless face for answers. “Yes. Evander. staring him straight in the eyes – the allure of their depth hadn’t any hold on me for that moment. already knowing the answer “Yes. She looks to be in shock. I guess he was expecting me to be overcome with sobs or something. Three pair of eyes fixed on me. still staring up at Evan’s immaculately chiseled face. “The temperature is rising. demanding an answer. for an explanation. I didn’t allow whatever he may be feeling to deter me. Finally Evan answered. “Ares must be proud of his last descendant. and not frustration. “Beth…please.” “See. My words reverberated around the room as if they swung at them with invisible bats. of course. and said. but at this point.. I must be asleep. “My name is Evander. nice to meet you. I never died. I pulled away abruptly. you’re not dreaming. and I have come a long way to guarantee your secure return. which I couldn’t free myself of. it was as it was before I had closed them. Maybe I was annoying him for going over the limit on the questions. What’s going on?” Evan reached out his hand to help me sit up comfortably. We must prepare to make our return.” Evan said. and then swerved my gaze to Bethany in despair. “Who are you?” I asked. as he was about to begin stroking my hair. but…. Every word he spoke held me like a vice. But the notion was futile.. “I must be dreaming. eyeing me cautiously.” Nikolas was the voice of reason at that particular moment. here’s the thing.” “Once again?” I asked. I only ask for your patience since we are running out of time. jubilantly. particularly the memory of who you are. “Yes. anxiously to Evan. I shut my eyes really tight. I am dead aren’t I?” I sat up straight and swung my legs off the chaise.” Bethany said. once again. The dead silence in the room made me tremble. in time.” Evan said.. can’t be. tucked snug in my warm bed. of course.” “Am I dead?” I asked. “Please tell me. All the while I eyed Evan suspiciously and tried to sit up.” He looked me intently in the eyes. I waited for an answer but Bethany said nothing. as I watched the corners of Evans lips sag. with an unwavering gaze. with a halfsmile that brightened the entire room.” Bethany said. and towered over me. has not returned but will – soon. Cordelia.

not Nikolas’. but for the first time since we’d become friends. no one should. which extended down his back.” I said. We must leave now. I had always wondered and thought it peculiar that Bethany and Nikolas didn’t share one physical characteristic. You must trust us. Not even the status of my death. Bethany’s blue eyes mirrored his more than Nikolas’ piercing steel hued irises.end of the chaise and stood by the large windows as if it were cooler there. They conversed amongst each other as if I wasn’t there. “Bethany?” I said. they seemed to fear him. His expression was softened by her presence before him. practically pleading. impatiently. Nikolas reached down. feeling trapped in a three point cell. Nikolas and I favored each other more than he and Bethany did. Any human being would’ve been burnt ashes in the wind like leaves in a bonfire floating up into the sky. I felt a wave of fear and panic wash over me like a bucket of frigid water being poured over my head. Sensing someone behind him. He lowered his neck. calmly. “No!” Bethany said. “It's alright. and wondered what else they had lied about. especially. Evan didn’t lie. “I can handle it. His broad smile was infectious and Nikolas chortled along with him. Where were they taking me? Before I could ask. “Who is Victor?” I directed my question to Bethany. and I felt like I was intruding by watching them. I must. calmly. This room is well over two hundred degrees. according to him. whose pack of beastly wolves chased Evan and I through the forest? Whoever he was.” Evan said with a light chuckle. “Trust you? I don't even know you. yet sculpted while Bethany’s features were small.” Nikolas nodded in agreement with Evan then peeked through the window curtains as if he suspected a prowler lurking by. Nikolas spun around to face her. Please allow us to begin our journey home. jagged. and familiar. quicker than the flap of a bee’s wings. “Our lives?” I asked. Bethany clenched her jaw but held her tongue. He traced her jaw line with his fingertip. Bethany jolted across the room. please tell me what the hell is going on” How is it that the three of you can stand this inferno? Why aren’t you burnt to a crisp already? Are you alive or ghosts…like me?” I said a lot louder than I had planned. and certainly harsher than Bethany was used to. and similar to Evan’s. but I wasn’t certain of anything anymore. confused and prepared to bolt. pulling him closer to her. and was now standing directly behind Nikolas.” Evan said. “Gentlemen. Now we’re running out of time. and at a faster rate.” While Evan spoke. as I suspiciously eyed all three of them. Although Nikolas’ smooth coppery tone made Bethany’s tan complexion appear pale. “Yes.” Nikolas said. and always wore in a ponytail.” She added.” “We know that you can’t comprehend the danger we are facing but it’s imperative that you place your trust in each of us. and could actually be seen in waves as if the room was engulfed in flames. Your safety is the priority. in shock might I add.” Bethany and Nikolas were instantly beside me.” Evan said. passionate. stepping closer to me as if she feared that I might make a run for it. and counting. His long wavy hair. Could he be the same Victor. Evan picked up on the look of astonishment on my face.” Bethany’s voice quivered.” Evan said. I looked at my best friend and her lover. I desperately wanted to trust her.” “I can feel the heat as well. Hugged “Although it pains me to break this up. smiling and winking at Bethany. soft. rounded. Nikolas’ facial features were long. “Nikolas can't stay behind.” Bethany was adamant about not leaving her brother behind. The idea had already crisscrossed my mind a hundred times. I wondered how they were able to sustain this turkey roast as I stood in the center of them. “Bethany is my sister. and her normally tanned face became chalky. Everything will be clear soon. Victor has indeed pleased him. “Bethany. and drew me in the way they had in the dream. I found myself wanting to trust him. well it doesn’t take much to perk Ares’ interest. and suddenly recalled the name from my dream. pleading to her with my eyes to answer me. I wasn’t about to accept Bethany’s evasiveness as the new normalcy. Bethany completely ignored my question. The heat continued to build drastically. “I no longer have a life. Evan. Nikolas spoke up. “Please Cordelia. She moved like static.” Bethany said. I had been under the impression that there were no secrets between us. A little violence keeps everything balanced.” Evan said. She kept the same stance. in a harsh wail. reminded me of the color of chestnuts splashed with shocks of Indian gold.” Bethany said. It was a kiss that lovers shared – long. Our lives depend on it. Her hands were unsteady. She looked away as Evan began to speak. Bethany wrapped her arms around his neck. now is not the time. “He and his disciples must be on the hill. I was apprehensive in doing so. confirming my earlier suspicions regarding their contrasting looks. starkly contrasting her wavy blond hair. “Bethany was correct when she said our lives depend on our return home. and brushed the subtle roundness of Bethany’s cheek with the back of his large hand. his eyes penetrated mine. I gasped when she kissed him. “Of course you know us. Shockingly. But was it wise to . we must all leave together. It sounded like an order. the fake older brother who I had grown to consider as my own. The signs were there yesterday when she dashed from the cafeteria. “We must take you back. “Nikolas. Your life. and she whispered something into his ear that provoked smiles to emerge across their faces. Victor is producing more heat than usual.” he said. assure that our departure is successful before you transport. All of a sudden. “Victor is near.

I forced my eyes open.” Evan said with a sigh of relief.” Evan promised. The interior had drastically changed. My body didn’t feel drenched at all. If I didn't go with them. all magnificently crafted in mahogany frames. nodding once more. Secondly. Bethany answered with a slight nod. and acknowledging the profound agreement they were making. First of all. the makings of an ironclad friendship. One vested his life in the other while the other accepted full responsibility for a life other than his own. All of my senses were still a bit hazy. Then Nikolas looked over at Bethany. and shook his hand. No matter how hard I tried.” Evan ordered lightly. spinning with the tidal currents. Everything looked brand new but significantly old. It was an extraordinary example of trust and devotion. sat in the center of the room guarded by soaring potted palms and an audience of various sized potted ferns. They embraced quickly.” Nikolas said. It took me a few seconds to recover from the turbulence. The splashing around me was excruciatingly loud. but I aimed at not being preoccupied and overwhelmed by his beauty and lure. I could do nothing but stare at her and marvel at the magic I had just witnessed. and happened so recklessly. he attempted to hide his desperation. like the sound of an Olympic sized pool worth of water being sucked down a drain in a matter of seconds. do you trust me?” Evan asked.” “My brother. . and gently placed one hand on either of our foreheads. It was vulnerability.” Nikolas snickered. and realized I was submerged in a tsunami. I searched passed Evan’s figure. I just want to know from whom. Perceptibly. I could barely make out her face. yet when they spoke. It was definitely the same room but now jammed with bright clusters of nineteenth century furniture. I almost expected a sea of gawking tourists to flock in and start peering at the antiques. Five Realization Nikolas was left to be the sentinel. The water had finally dissipated into a mist. An aquatic make up of Evan’s body still had its hand planted firmly against my forehead. Evan stood a staggering six foot maybe one or two inches over with a slim yet rippling muscular frame which bulged beneath his buttoned down shirt and boot cut jeans. slipping in a kiss for good measure. She was trying her best to appear strong. I was alone. and they weren’t going without me. They were leaving. I felt the floor beneath my feet again. and I disappear from his view. surprisingly enough. I couldn't feel his hand. My body floated weightless in the vortex. Bethany and I faced each other with Evan standing between us about a foot apart from each of us. With very little success. I thought it was safe to open my eyes. where would I go? I certainly couldn’t continue to wander the streets of Nickel City. agreeing. “I will keep my promise to you. “I will see you soon my friend. and then Bethany glided over to the chaise lounge where Evan and I waited.” His vivid smile kept me rapt for a moment until I considered the craziness of his existence before me. I treaded.” Evan said. “Thank you. I was bone dry. “Brothers. I found his existence daunting. They stood with their hands clasped in a vice grip for a few seconds. He held his arms out. and the look could not be confused for anything other than true love. And lastly. trembling violently in the water that seemed to originate from Evan’s body as I fought against the pull of a drain. prompting with a trace of trepidation. I wriggled my legs and arms automatically trying to swim. Then it came all at once. “Yes. yet I have never seen such a heart wrenching look on Bethany’s face before. and I was unable to pull away.” “Plenty of wine awaits your return. Nikolas treated Evan like his elder. and saw that Bethany was also completely made up of water. Finally. I think the decision had already been made.put your faith in someone who just moments ago had only been someone you knew in a dream? The question itself was an enigma and unanswerable. The tufted velvet sofas. I heard myself answer. correcting Nikolas affectionately. I meant it. “We will drink to Victor’s demise. The chipped and peeling bare walls were now covered in busy floral patterned wallpaper and a variety of highend paintings in gilt frames. and I felt weightless as a floating feather. We hadn’t gone anywhere. My body was dropping. a ghost hoping that this “Victor” person never caught up with me. “I will. But then I started to make out figures made out of water. It felt like I was trapped in one of Nickel City’s preserved historical homes. Evan’s hand on my forehead was like a suction cup. I was relieved when Evan turned away to speak with Nikolas. obediently with a low nod. Since I couldn't feel the suction of Evan's hand on my forehead anymore.” Nikolas said. within a blink of an eye. and glass enclosed curio cabinets cluttered with trinket boxes and knickknacks. gold and burgundies. all in rich hues of ivory. The room was the same – the same old elegant moldings and coffered ceiling. miniature statues. His gaze seemed hypnotic. He secured the room as he watched Evan. but surprisingly different. his genuine intent was to safeguard me. and I felt nothing but temperate air. At first I thought I was alone in the water. “You will secure the room. And when I did. Bethany. I stood in the living room of Bethany and Nikolas’ mansion. “Cordelia. a downfall to being deceased. “You are safe to go. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Nikolas surpassed him with another five inches or so looking mighty enough to conquer an ox. I don’t know where the water came.” And.

I opened my eyes and awkwardly looked into his. a crisp white dress shirt. Bethany handed me her handkerchief. beaming.” The sound of my full first name sounded foreign to me. Evan's liquid blue eyes practically leapt out at me. strictly for display. My pulse quickened which I prayed went unnoticed. The once dusty. Bethany’s hair was swept up in a loose bun. I listened as if my life depended on his every word. She smiled. All I could do was nod as the sobs rolled in the back of my throat. I could suck in the air through my nose again. My entire soul quivered with apprehension. I will explain what has happened. It had only been a couple seconds since the water disappeared. “I don't bite. Then he took both of my hands in his. a dark single breasted jacket over a silver gray vest. I read the fancy letters – ‘EC’. The sun was trying to peak through the heavy velvet drapes that hung over intricate lace curtains. The room was littered with several small tables. I had no control over my shaky hand as I took his. and then paused as if he was waiting for this inconceivable information to sink in. instead. and the year is 1891. Along with her clothing. A smile crept across his inviting lips as he gazed back at me. softly.” I stared at the center wall of the large room where the marble fireplace stood. still observing the changes in the room. The entire hem of the skirt and the hem of the cuffs of her sleeves were lavishly trimmed with frilly lace and woven ribbons.” he said. He wore an impeccably tailored pair of trousers. I hadn’t noticed until that moment that he had tears in his eyes. and bare mantle was now refurbished and decorated with colorful figurines. I seemed to become more alive. . It was an ostentatious clutter of wealth. but as promised. Here was this guy who I had only known as I dreamt now standing before me in the flesh. I spun around and my eyes fell on Bethany. never taking his eyes off me as he pulled out a monogrammed handkerchief and dabbed his eyes. and severely out of date. I don't know why I allowed him this pleasure or myself. But it never sounded more beautiful coming from any other pair of lips. The dress looked like it was from the turn of the nineteenth century.” Evan said. We are in my home in Nickel City. He had a look of adoration on his face. and wondered what the ‘C’ stood for. Suddenly. I screamed out to her through my eyes. cracked. He suddenly seemed embarrassed by it. Evan led me to the sofa facing the windows and sat beside me. She looked mature and more like a woman and barely like the friend. The firm yet feathery texture of his skin transmitted ripples through my core when he wrapped his hands around mine. My heart raced and my tear ducts betrayed my commands. I looked over at Bethany who had taken a seat across from Evan and me. Evan walked up to Bethany and me. His skin was warm and smooth. and an ascot held by a tear drop shaped sapphire pin. sophisticated.” Bethany said. and I wondered how she could even breathe.” I said. He had also changed from the buttondown shirt and jeans he wore before the waterworks. something in her face had changed. I couldn't decipher all the sensations traveling through my skin. “I don't expect your memory to take very long to return. my eyes closed and I let his smooth fingertips linger against my skin for a moment. still waiting for my hand. the room was still a bit dim. smiling as she thrust an ivory lace handkerchief at him. My one true hope was that those lips could somehow make me understand what was taking place around me. Bethany looked refined. while the tears continued to rain down my face. the teenager I had known before I died. “What the hell is going on?” I whispered to myself. With caution. I rubbed my arms and I could feel my goose bumped arms as a chill crept through me. The bodice of her dress appeared too tight against her ribs.braving the ghosts. My hair felt silky as the strands wove between my fingers. I’m so used to being called Delia that I forgot how pretty my name really was. yet they were dressed in different clothes.” Evan said. The sensations were so overwhelming that I had to pull my hands out of his. She reminded me of a beautiful life sized Victorian collectable doll that should be kept dust free on a shelf. softly. and very matteroffact. and fought not to look in his direction. Instantaneously. dressed in what looked like one of the Victorian dresses from the costume shop she worked in. “I will do my best to describe the life you lived here. “Cordelia. “Today is October 24th. in the most soothing voice. I was about to ask them what the deal was with the costumes when Evan reached for my hand and waited patiently for me to take it. I felt a jolt as if an electric current had gone through my body when someone nudged my shoulder. “I’ll use one of my own. finally settling somewhere in my soul. I wasn’t sure why he was crying. Evan affectionately swept my cheek with the back of his hand. Although the oil lamps were lit. “Please tell me what is happening to me. With every touch.” Evan said.” he said. Evan looked the way he had looked in my dream –gorgeous in a formal suit that seemed as dated as Bethany’s gown. She wore a dress made of bright emerald satin that was long enough to shield her feet. I pulled the skirt to my mini dress as far over my thighs as I could. and who you are. into my bones. covered in runners bordered with some kind of fringe and beads. “I thought I was going home. As usual. “Oh for goodness sake Evan. The gentle stroke of his hands induced a windfall of emotions washing over me. but now the bun was secured by a stunning jeweled comb.” Evan spoke slowly. here. I believe it will help you to remember. From the corner of my eye I saw his hand moving toward me. “You are alive again. I had the sudden urge to fling the drapes wide open. Evan looked down at his hands with a frown as if they had done something to offend me. Without a sound escaping my lips.

challenging both Evan and Bethany. I observed them and listened to them giggle in that hushed way. begging with no shame. and in a bad way. bustles.” I said marching over to where he sat on the couch. As I watched them go by. I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone would dress so elegantly to be covered in dirt after a walk into town. Shade was a priority in this stifling climate. gravely. Evan looked at me for a long moment before he said a word. If you brought me here. “I can’t do that. I looked over at Bethany. It did. gulped. I spied a couple exiting the mansion across the way and they were dressed in the same dated style as Evan and Bethany were. I tried blinking a few times but everything had changed. I bent toward him. just desperate. I walked over to it. I told myself. but what I had expected. A chill crept up my back as I took in the lush front garden and the view beyond the entrance gates. grabbed his hand. if this is the year 1891 as you say it is. who looked away from me and stared at her brother.“1891? ” I asked.” Breathe. “Please… just please… take me back. “…dream not a dream…dream is a memory. I wasn’t even embarrassed. “Yes. I thought. then I demand that you take me back to the future. and the view made me nauseous. It’s a memory of your life here … with me” Evan explained. As I still stood with my back to the windows and facing Evan. They each wore long dresses similar to Bethany’s. Every accessory matched the fabric patterns of their dresses. and lace than the last. There were horse and buggies parked all along the sidewalk instead of cars. His face was void of any emotion. At this moment I expected more from Bethany. “Well. Oh yeah. I forgot what those ridiculous things are called. consumed my thoughts momentarily. In fact I felt like I was sinking into a bottomless abyss where the lights were quickly being snuffed out. “Cordelia. “Sure. but that wasn’t enough. I swear each dress got fancier with more ribbons. I watched the chatty group of girls until they were no longer in sight. The nausea in my belly was mounting. spinning around to face the two culprits. . gossip no doubt. there is no going back. I took a deep breath.” Then I rose from the couch and practically ran over to the large windows. Tragically. There was a group of gossiping girls who looked to be around my age strolling passed the large mansion. Not what I wanted to hear. But neither of those carriages had looked as authentic and as novel as the ones I observed going by. and too crazy to believe. and tried my damnedest to allow all of this to sink in. but it had really been snuffed out. I looked at the porcelain based oil lamps and tried to remember if electricity existed in 1891. I caught only some of what he said. Then it was his turn to seek assistance. His eyes led me to believe that there wasn’t a chance in hell that I would escape this house or this time period.” Evan removed his hand and stood up. bows. The weird mouth piece looked like an upside down trumpet. I spotted an antique styled telephone sitting on one of the tables. My throat became very dry and my stomach soured. breathe. then you can bring me back. The tears came again and ran down my face. She was my best friend. who in turn stood up. and I swayed as a flash back from the dream. very ladylike and flouncy with a flood of fabric at their feet and huge bumps of draped fabric on their butts. “Of course it is. I watched Evan’s mouth moving as he spoke.” I said. in town.. chuckling. They were competing. Beyond the porch which was now stark white as if it’d been freshly painted. strictly for rides offered to the tourists who wanted to enjoy a genuine “Old West” experience. I wanted to scream my head off and tear all of this ancient furniture apart. I straightened up and took a couple steps back from him. I must be delusional. The information wasn’t sinking in. and she nodded a ‘yes’ to me.” Evan confirmed.” Evan said. Now. I missed my cell phone. All that water must have clogged my brain. This is where you belong. Someone must have said something amusing because they all tittered discreetly – a lace or ivory gloved hand over a modest mouth. “You want me to believe that it’s 1891. Horse drawn carriages rolled up and down the dirt road that used to be a tarred street. I couldn’t read his expression. yet I wasn’t sure if it was being utilized in this house. These people were loons. of when Evan kissed me. They appeared to be deep in conversation. There had always been a couple of old fashioned stage coaches parked on the main street. were flourishing rose bushes in full bloom. They each wore a frilly bonnet that covered an infallible bun on the top of their head.” I said nodding.. I flung back the curtain and my stomach dropped to my sandaled feet. He turned to Bethany. I looked through the window as if I was in search of the diminishing light. “Of course you can. Obviously he was running this charade. ” I said. “Is this some kind of joke?” I said. and placed it on my forehead as he had when we had left this room only to return to this room. “The dream which you told my sister about wasn’t a dream at all. This was beyond strange.” I said. a fancy parasol was also needed as a shield from the punishable rays of the Nevada sun. Their thick heeled shoes were covered in the dirt and dust from the street which swirled around the hem of their dresses like little tumble weeds. and touched the ornate stem and handle which were made of polished brass.

“I didn’t do my job. He was still there and worst of all.” I didn't like the sound of that.” “Unfortunately that couldn’t be helped. who all the while. “I’m also aware that you have the power to take me back to the future. kept her silence. I could see from the reflection in the window that someone was standing behind me. “What do I need to know about myself that I don't already know? I know that I’m stuck in the year 1891. Bethany’s eyes danced between my reaction and how Evan pieced my life together. “Bethany is my younger sister.” Evan said. Evan’s face was pained. there is so much that you need to know about yourself. I glanced over at Bethany. So what else is there?” I said sarcastically to both Evan and his deceiving sister. “ “Only younger by a year. with his eyes locked on mine as if he were gaging how well I was absorbing this ludicrous notion. and you ended up getting killed. His words still lingered in the air. for the ultimate. I don’t scare that easily. I was numb. She made sure that you were never in any danger. wish them away. “By entities. leading me back to the couch. We are the ancient bloodline. the spirit. “You are the first daughter of the Tieron family. “I'm sorry. but won’t. My identity was ripped out from under me. I was angry and didn’t care whose feelings got hurt. The silence around us was interrupted by the constant sounds of the quick trot of what couldn’t be confused with anything other than horses pulling carriages. but unfortunately he is one in many. nodded.” I choked up in a whisper as Bethany walked over to me and hugged me. The large room seemed to be getting smaller as the dizziness numbed me. “Ish – e – roe? What is that?” I wasn’t sure if I had even pronounced the foreign sounding word correctly. I held her gaze and tears flowed from my eyes again – not out of sadness but from love…love of a friend. “Our kind is persecuted by entities with limitations to their power.” Evan pleaded.” He said. That sounded like no possible escape. “Please sit down so that I can explain. “Beth was sent to the future to protect you. the second family of the Ischeros Empire. “Ischero. “It’s imperative that you know as much as possible in order to adjust. he seemed a little apprehensive at the idea of actually telling me what it was that I supposedly needed to know. “Victor is pure evil!” Bethany said with conviction. my visions failed me. “Yes. “When I say powerful. and began again. She was letting Evan do all the driving. Evan’s unsure voice proved that wishes didn’t come true. Cordelia.” Bethany added. Bethany spoke sincerely. This is why you were sent far into the future.” Bethany apologized minus the conviction. It was primarily a safety precaution. those who thirst for more. but listening intently. I didn't want to be the first daughter of anything and especially had no desire to be an empress of any kind. I mean powerful in strength of the mind. “You are an Ischero.” I tried to process what he was saying. I just wanted the life I had back.” Evan said. I was too. The name and its weight hung in the air. I’m deeply sorry Delia. I'm not speaking of our wealth. “So I’m an empress or soon to be one.My head began to spin and I was on the verge of hurling all over the fancy rug. “Cordelia. “I’m the first son of the Capius family. Who or what are you?” I asked curiously. raising a challenging eyebrow in his direction. I had forgotten that Nikolas had stayed behind to guard our departure.” “Survive?” My voice was heavy and I had to gulp just to get the question out. I looked around the room at the portraits and photographs of people I didn't recognize who seemed to be staring at me. “You’re scaring her. Evan’s tone was firm although. I wanted to ignore them. He was quiet for a long moment as he observed me.” Bethany apologized with tears in her eyes. “And why hasn't Nikolas returned yet?” She asked changing the subject. proudly. Better yet. and in order to… survive. the first family of our kind. Cordelia.” Evan said.” “I’m ok. I took a deep breath before peering through the heavy drapes and fancy lace curtains again. for your power. “It's alright. Right?” I said. Evan smiled. My last name wasn’t Tetherson anymore. You pronounced it correctly. all descending from the gods. You’re the empress of our Empire. well you will be in a few days when you are crowned the Empress of Ischera. one of the Powerful and direct descendants of the Greek gods. . please. Even murder. do you mean Victor? He’s the gargoyle. an empire of families.” Evan revealed. wish myself away. but Nikolas should have returned by now. Ignoring my nasty attitude. and of the physical. I decided to say nothing and just listen. I believed our friendship could sustain anything.” Bethany scolded with a chuckle. Evan was wrong I didn’t belong here now. right?” I asked as my voice quivered as if the gargoyle boy was in the room with us. I didn’t belong in this town ever. “Bethany.” I tried to sound brave but I was shaken.

Without your soul the gateway to your powers.” “He’s an Ischeros too?” I asked. We can always be revived.” “But why me?” “You because you are the strongest that has ever been of our kind.” “And that’s what you did to me? But when?” I asked. but he used to be. No one could grasp such absurdity. He can handle himself. “No. “Bethany is correct. You’re speaking of mythological beings and immortality.” He explained. He wants to be the Emperor of the Ischeros. Evan continued with a sigh. he drove the car that killed you. “Is it?” Evan asked. “I revived you through the passage of time. I tried to calm my nerves before I asked Evan the question that I was afraid to hear the answer too. He wanted and needed your soul but he only had twenty – four hours to abduct you. He is the strongest of a small army of devoted disciples. and possibly destroying the earth in order to stake his claim on it. Didn't I have a right to know? “Yes. “We are immortal and can never truly die. shocked. I went from ice cold to hot in a matter of seconds. I’ll tell you more about that later.” Evan promised.” Evan tried reassuring Bethany who still had a worried look painted on her face.” I mumbled to myself. Victor is of the purest evil. I felt moisture suddenly form on my forehead. I wasn't sure if he was going to answer the question. “Did Victor kill me in the future?” Evan stared at me for a brief moment.” “This is incredible. “Of course it is.“Nikolas is both wise and incredibly strong.” . Have faith. he can never do the damage that he desires to do. Victor has steadily built his army and controls them for the sole purpose of garnishing your power. He looked perplexed.

waiting for clearance.” Evan spoke evenly.. “And you? Do you think immortality is absurd or that we’re absurd?” Bethany asked. I’m sure by now Evan and Bethany noticed how hyper I was. yet I was scared to death of the possibility. Is that right?” I asked. This had to be a case of mistaken identity.” Evan said.” Evan explained. while he squeezed my hand. “Ok.. Bethany stood with her icy blue eyes fixed on my face for a second. “You’re unlike anyone in the world and no other as divine. not any other Ischeros. I need to regain my memory of my so called life in this time period so that I will have powers that evil entities will eventually come after me for. His voice was soft and crisp at the same time as he continued. I’ll be eighteen for ten whole years?” My voice was a surprisingly high shriek as I faced this boy who held all the secrets of my existence. “Victor wasn’t able to obtain your soul in time because he lost track of you. The sand was becoming more and more human until we were all looking at Nikolas. with a detectible edge to her tone. “So. “I understand how this may be difficult to comprehend and accept although you already know this.” It was the gift that would keep giving. the Ischeros physically age yearly through our early teens. You’re very. I wanted him to stop talking. I cleared my throat. I was too dazed to even nod. I sat next to him again and stared off in disbelief as to what he was so adamantly trying to get me to understand and accept. . clearing his throat. your ultimate objective is to protect and defend your empire. Those who don’t possess our gift.” He promised.“Absurd?” Bethany cut me off. Why me? I. Not I.” Evan said clearing his throat. the power to read everyone’s thoughts – with your mind left unread. and he recovered quickly and nodded. Evan seemed to be contemplating if he should answer.” Whatever memories I was expected to remember felt lost forever and I’d be in less danger not recalling a thing. which is the door to your power and ultimate control of the elements of the world. “Um…ok…but… what does that mean? What kind of unique and extraordinary capabilities do I have?” I said getting up and walking over to the fireplace. I chewed and chewed on the information. “Ok. the speed of light. almost in a whisper.” Evan said proudly. The information was daunting and I couldn’t be the person he spoke of. For some reason I was antsy and couldn’t stop moving around. but couldn’t swallow. These beings will stop at nothing until they possess your soul. once your memory is restored. age the way they consider to be normal. “These special gifts are envied and desired by the world's most evil entities. “Can I read your mind now?” “Your powers will surface once your memory is restored. “It's only a matter of time. Evan interrupted Bethany’s stare down. your sole purpose. I’ll slowly age for an entire decade before turning nineteen. “You are a part of something that is greater than this earth. He continued as I wondered just how plausible this all could be. special. It is not something we can question but only what we must accept. and older. perpetual youth. the members of your family. I contemplated what he said. You’ll remember in time. The twister of sand spun rapidly in the air taking the shape of a very tall half man half horse. Evan was about to continue when suddenly iridescent like sand materialized in the center of the room like a tornado funnel.” I said. No one said a word for a moment. “Let me get this straight. “I don’t know what to think. it’s all too…much.” I said knowing that I really didn't have much of a choice. I’m better off not remembering. “You. and only you. “Then we begin aging gradually by the decade for the remaining years of our lives. baffled. He watched me and took my silence as a sign to continue. “When will my memory return?” I asked. and then taking a moment to pause.” Evan explained. you must assume. as he rubbed my hand gently then let it go. She didn’t appear angry. capabilities that no other being could possibly manage. I needed some clarity on the whole aging issue.” He appeared to detect the expression of shock in my face. you’re saying that I’m seventeen now and once I turn eighteen.” Evan explained. Something else was troubling me. I didn’t fully get what Evan was trying to explain but I had to admit that I was intrigued. so I was born in 1875. It will take a lot more than a jeep to end your life. practically in one breath. I almost chortled. I expected that he knew the answer. I pulled my hand away.. I mean come on Bethany. I would like to tell you a little more about yourself. You. “You have the strength of all the Ischeros combined. “We are Ischeros. especially since I was standing up. I guess I should be happy not to age. “And so on with every coming decade. If that's alright?” He asked.” Evan said. watching me cautiously.” Evan said.” Evan said. just frustrated with me. because you are. Cordelia. and I’m still seventeen.. anxiously. I don't understand. right. and paused. Almost because I didn’t think it was funny to have my leg pulled. There is so much more to you that only you will know and may choose to grace us with. We. This dilatory process begins at eighteen. “Let me explain. I wondered if I could turn myself into water and spin like a whirlpool too. “So. As the Empress of the Ischeros. it’s a gift.” “I have the power to read minds?” I asked. possess unique and extraordinary attributes. “Yes. as our leader.” “Yes. physically aging older every year of their lives. the wisdom and insight to guide. Isn’t that what every person wanted. I expect soon.

Selfassured. motioned for me to keep watching. My mouth practically dropped to the wood floor.” He said as fire spewed from his mouth. He welcomed her tiny body. Suddenly Nikolas’ form began to change as he stood up. Then. in comparison to his own.” Bethany rushed to his side but then stopped abruptly almost as if she was cautious of him.” Nikolas panted. A mirage appeared on the wall.” Nikolas taunted with a chuckle. emerged. She then asked Nikolas a strange question that sounded more like a riddle. in a warm embrace then began talking again. Nikolas was half man and half horse a centaur. They were the water and were standing as I was floating outward perpendicular to them. he stood tall and muscular with a menacing look in his eyes that clearly stated why he was there. junior centaur!” Victor said. and she threw her arms around him. Then we evaporated. I figured he would rather handle her abduction himself than to leave it to his spineless subjects. “Armor shields the heart. I can smell her.” Victor's eyes were furious with pure rage. I knew better than to expect one of his devotees. “I need a drink. Once Nikolas had transformed. . This boy wanted to kill me. It was crazy. “IT ENDS HERE! IT ENDS NOW!” He seethed with deadly intent. but to no one else’s. Not a second had passed since disappearing when the walls began to buckle from the blazing temperature in the room. He saw me watching him and winked then. as massive ivory horns emerged from his head and his clothes dissolved into his body which was now the shape of a huge black monstrous bull. “He is hell bent on Cordelia's whereabouts and killing her. Below his torso. along with the deafening sucking and slurping sound. It shattered into a thousand jagged pieces.” Nikolas raised his very long muscular arm and pointed to the wall with the least framed pictures and paintings. “A cloak is for debris if?” She asked. The heinous one even claimed to be able to smell her. He snarled and paused at the entrance of the living room opposite where Nikolas waited. Nikolas shook of the impact and stood up unfazed by Victors blow. It was magic. He wasted no time in letting Nikolas know why he was there. “Victor was in the house… I barely escaped.” Nikolas answered. the body of a stallion. and I didn't want to risk it. What happened?” Bethany said. Therefore. obviously to kill again.” Nikolas said. I chose to stay and wait. and be intercepted. Nikolas was left alone in the sparsely furnished living room. His shirt disappeared into his skin revealing an incredibly muscled torso like that of a body builder. I couldn’t contain my amazement and almost missed what happened next as I turned and stared at Nikolas who stood next to Bethany now. with his head. A spark suddenly streamed from the tip of Nikolas’ index finger. I gasped in shock. “A stampede of steeds couldn’t defeat me. I watched in complete horror. to my surprise. squeezing him fiercely as if she expected him to disappear in sparkling sand as he had appeared.Why had we seen a horse man? He still wore his dark jeans and tshirt. But there was no projector. I stared at his two human legs. She was no longer anxious now that Nikolas had returned. into a tiny crystal drop of water that vanished into the air. “You took a while. He was hideous and prepared to trounce Nikolas. “Tardiness is never rewarded. he looked Victor dead in the eyes.” Nikolas directed all of his words to Evan. “Hello Victor. which took a fraction of a second. Nikolas was the taller and larger of the two. He smiled then began talking – breathless and fast. and I thought an old movie projector had been placed not too far behind us. but before we landed back here. “I know she is here. who listened carefully. but who’s counting. “See for yourself. Out of nowhere appeared the gorgeous boy who had killed me. We were watching a movie that looked like it was playing on a wall made of water that faded into the patterned wall paper. “I knew I wouldn't have time to teleport. Cordelia is too crucial to Victor.” Nikolas chuckled. He walked over to the bar and fixed himself a glass of wine and gulped the full contents of his glass. now calm. With one crushing blow to Nikolas' chest. My body began to tremble as I had another opportunity to look him in those malicious eyes. “The dragon boy is unable to transport without great concentration or he would be here now. Victor sent him flying backward. I saw myself submerged in water. of his right hand. “Is that all you’ve got?” Nikolas said as he trotted slowly trying to anticipate Victor’s next move. I understood more now than ever just how badly. sipping the fourth glass of wine. You're late. I floated in the whirlpool along with some sort of liquid hologram of Evan and Bethany. minus the head. in the same living room. He moved at an accelerated speed and lunged at Nikolas. Within a second his face morphed into a gargoyle. Evan had his watery hand planted on my forehead. he poured another than another. Nikolas slammed into the oversized gilt framed mirror that hung on the far left wall. Victor roared thunderously as fire spilled from his twisted lips.

Victor's wicked laughter turned into a ferocious roar when he realized Nikolas’ plan to escape. the bull. FIGHT ME!” Victor wailed. He was too late. Nikolas cracked the mirror against a hoof. More like anticipation. curved. “Well. while the bullock’s been sniffing around for her. The blood tasted salty and warm and the pain faded quickly. then turned around and was elegantly dressed in the same kind of formal wear that Evan wore. Also there have been quite a few developments since you both have been away. Just as the bull was wounded. I wanted to be as far away from this town. gulping from his glass. The shock and pain lasted only a moment. Now injured. “Did you ever have any doubt?” Nikolas said. “Something else?” Nikolas asked. Simultaneously. “COWARD. which I had laid on. Victor will stop at nothing. He has brought on the attention of the Apolluon. They embraced again. Cordelia is here now. “We’ve been away too long. I was startled by the transformation.” Evan sneered referring sarcastically to Victor as being a baby bull. This time Victor's thunderous roar could be heard for miles leaving every window and piece of glass shattered throughout the town once again. The brawny bull’s muscular body twisted to one side as its tail curled about like a lash. Beth. The bull grunted wickedly as if laughing at the large dagger–like shard of glass embedded in its neck. and clenched the large shard of the broken mirror concealed in his hand. . “Something else. Nikolas vanished right before Victor’s eyes like sand in the wind.” Evan said. The bull eyes were blood red and it lowered its head. Victor stood. what would never rest until my soul belonged to them? I was overcome with despair and fought off the urge to scream. But who would protect me from what was coming. No power equals … I watched Nikolas stroll over to the large intricately carved and framed mirror hanging on the wall. The attacks are vicious. He eyed himself for a second or two.” Nikolas demanded. and as far away from this trio as possible. I’d never seen anything so brutal except for what I’d seen in movies. As I watched the centaur move in one direction. whipping incessantly. yelping out in pain and ending in a monstrous yet gleeful chuckle. Nikolas was a centaur. brutally stabbing it on the right side of its neck with the shard of mirror. Victor’s devotees have been having a little fun with the mortals here and in Bedwyn City. as if he saw red. hard and deliberate. ” I listened quietly as they seemed to forget that I was still sitting here. “The wolves haven’t worked alone. Victor along with his disciples have begun terrorizing both towns. A centaur! And Victor… a monstrous fire spewing bull. Nikolas walked past the Queen Anne chair and over to the towering grandfather clock where Bethany stood waiting for him. He used it as a shield to block the flames that Victor. and sharp horns were in position to gore Nikolas. No memory equals no power. I wanted out of here. but this time with the glimmering shard of mirror sticking straight up and out the side of his neck. “Do tell. Its huge nostrils flared. the bull slightly moved forward as it swept one hoof across the floor from front to back over and over again. They will organize a gang of vigilantes soon. He knew that it was now or never. “Since Cordelia is here… now.Nikolas instantly kicked up a large part of the broken mirror that lay on the floor with one of his front hooves. long enough to distract Victor and allow Nikolas to begin teleporting himself. with a confident smirk. Nikolas knew that the bull was only wounded temporarily. the gruesome shadows appeared out of nowhere. Nikolas stood in the center of the room with both arms at his sides. screeching and crawling as slow as molasses as Victor’s webbed wings catapulted him through the ceiling. The mirror flipped into the air as Nikolas reached out with one arm and grabbed it. The mortals are frightened and becoming frustrated with the lack of answers. The bull angrily prepared to charge as Nikolas backed up a few yards. I bit my tongue instead.” Nikolas explained. Both men and woman found in the forest with what looks to be attacked by wolves and something else. you mean…?” “While you both have been away. “There have been more attacks. What? How could I help this situation? I was helpless as long as I had no clue as to what they were talking about. flying upward to grab at the fetlocks of Nikolas’ hind legs which had begun to turn into ankles and feet. The situation will be under control soon. And just as before. cautiously. He yanked it out with one swift movement. the bull transformed back into human form.” Evan said motioning to his sister.” Evan shook Nikolas’ hand firmly and partially embraced him. The expression on Nikolas’ face was intense but not fearful. The centaur trotted backward ever so slowly. Nikolas leaped in the air high and over the bull. fully clothed in all black as before. Bethany didn’t allow Evan to clarify. We believe the Apolluon are near. I was mortified at the horror story I was privy to.” “No!” Bethany yelled. I tried to prepare myself for what would not disappoint in being a brutal fight even though Nikolas stood in this living room now seemingly unscathed. Nikolas galloped forward toward the charging beast and kicked his front hooves into the air with an ominous growl. The bull charged forward. The mirage disappeared and I was at a loss for words. kicked up his front hooves and willed himself to disappear. “You handled yourself well brother. large flames spewed from its mouth torching the chaise lounge. It’s long. “Never. which I wouldn’t miss.” Evan assured. spit at him.” “Calm down.

I felt so invigorated … so… alive. He emptied his glass and poured another. allowing his sweet breath to warm my cheek. “It’s been two long years since I’ve had a drink Beth. There was a familiar feeling that radiated from his intense gaze.” Bethany said giggling and playfully patting Nikolas on the belly. One side needing to be suspended in his aura while the other side. It was like two parts of me fighting to win in an arm wrestle. “Yes we are. Like I said…I can’t put my finger on it but the attraction. “Drink up. The indescribable sensation occurred once more. “Our love for each other is strong and unbreakable. I didn’t see the humor in any of this. Nikolas walked over to the bar and fixed himself another drink.” Nikolas declared. My wish for living has been granted but . Besides I don’t get drunk. which I’m sure he noticed. When he finally did. but I’ve maxed out my tears. He sat about half a foot away from me. I had no clue but something about him was causing me to be in some kind of stupor. But where would I run to? Helpless and alone. Actually I don’t remember Nikolas drinking ever. He smelled like sandalwood. the critical one. Something about his voice or was it the liquid coolness of his eyes or was it both. and plopped down next to me on the sofa. I’m allowed to now. I didn’t know what if anything I could have done to be dealt this hand to play out. then what did that make me? Did I really want to know? No. appearing to accept the fact that I wasn't in love with someone that I didn’t know. Cordelia. “Right now. I wondered what was up with that. I wished that their feeling of elation was contagious so that I could have a genuine desire to smile.. Nikolas and Bethany appeared relieved to be back. but Evan allowed Nikolas and Bethany to ramble on with the conversation of just how much alcohol was Nikolas allowed to indulge before noon. We will talk again later. he did so as he stared down at his feet as if he felt sad about something.Bethany looked like a doll next to Nikolas who towered over pretty much everyone. I'm not accustomed to tragically dying and being brought back to life by the man of my dreams – literally It was all inconceivable to me yet I was here now and living it. They looked genuinely happy. “We are prepared. and then leaned even closer and brushed my cheek. incredibly still – solid as ice. In the future my life may have been somewhat pathetic. Niko. I didn't feel shy around Evan. I didn’t remember ever seeing them more exultant. but I’d rather that than this daunting new lease on life. Welcome back.” I only half heard what he had said. I backed away a bit. He didn’t say a word. my heart. “Yes. I stayed quiet as I had been since arriving here and listened to the both of them discuss how we would prevail. We were face to face.” Evan promised. took two giant steps back to further investigate.” Nikolas laughed yet sounded like someone in Alcoholics Anonymous. Bethany the Aqua woman.” Evan's words of confirmation didn't make me feel any safer from this evil person. I looked over at Bethany and Nikolas again. go upstairs… see your room … change into something more…suitable for the present… time. Instead of melting. emptied it again and was about to pour yet another when Bethany stopped him. I knew no one but the three teenagers that stood in front of me. like two little kids. Evan looked at me like something he would never tire of looking at. Amazingly. I don’t remember Nikolas ever drinking that much. It held me captive the way it had every night for weeks. I was unable to reciprocate what he felt for me. I sat there. just… unsure. I felt the need to tear myself away from him as if my life depended on it. I was still trying to get used to the idea of them as a couple. was undeniable. I don’t feel anything like that now. Just so I could live pleasantly in my fake life. Right now I was not in love with this boy. I stood up. I wanted to remember who they claim I am and at the same time I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up in my bedroom.” He touched my cheek with rosebud lips that lingered. pleasant and not pungent. there is so much more to tell you. slightly opened.” Evan guffawed. Instead he looked at me and nodded. You’ve waited long enough. I felt the sudden urge. but in the future where everything made complete sense. as if I wouldn’t be allowed another breath of air unless I was with him. I didn’t know if I was transparent or if he was just that in tune with what I was feeling – acute despair. If I didn’t then I may very well just melt into a puddle on the floor if I allowed myself to feel these new emotions that were beginning to arise within me. my dream lover. so that we were about a foot apart. I can’t believe I’m going to say this but… I miss my boring. and uneventful life so much I could cry.. What did it all mean? If Evan was the Aqua man. As if I would always remain the exciting and dazzling new toy. Watching them carrying on now. He whispered softly into my ear. and Nikolas a centaur. I was trying to focus but it was impossible. monotonous. to run out of the room. but I do feel drawn to him. a little too abruptly and then Evan stood up too. proved how difficult it must have been for them to live a lie for two whole years just for my benefit. Yes I did. Evan didn't seem to be upset with my lack of feelings for him. I was already flushed. I pushed the disturbing incestuous thoughts that kept creeping up every now and again out of my head. whatever it was. on the sofa now only a few inches away. I have missed you terribly. “Cordelia. Do you agree?” “Huh? Uh…yeah…sure. I think its best…familiarize yourself…your surroundings. I didn’t know what I wanted. my love. my love. Evan moved a bit closer. I want more than anything to be alive and living anywhere even here – Nickel City. The idea of being alive again was unfathomable yet I felt alive through all of my senses even if I was dying inside. I know but I can certainly do without the belching. although underlying. I heard every word he said this time and I remembered what I felt like in the dream but what I felt right now was different… In the dream I suppose what I felt was true love – as if my heart would burst every time I was near him. not for a few seconds that seemed like minutes.

trying to understand how she had become this elegant young Victorianesque teenager with supernatural talents. and then I will show you around the house. “Did you just see that? They disappeared like ghosts. There was so much to try to grasp. The portrait was of a young woman dressed perfectly for this time period. Bethany had to know. I quickly turned to see if Bethany saw what I had just seen. And the echo was gone. My best friend. Her eyes looked deceptive – shadowed. I wanted her to tell me something that would help make sense of the farce that was taking place. I hated and avoided confrontation if I could. the Empress of the Ischeros? Fearful and curious. or from behind a piece of perfectly carved furniture may pop out. I was officially losing it right now. They are going to meet with the elders to notify them of your safe return. I reflected on what Evan said. Evan was leaving the room. like… vapor. causing a frosty surge through my bones. They were all strangers with eyes that surveyed your every move. I wonder. Anyone who really knew me would never ever believe such a ridiculous notion. He and Nikolas were speaking in hushed tones across the room. It’s in our nature to heighten all of our senses. I was equal parts punk and wuss. the happy hostess. I wasn't even sure if there was electricity and indoor plumbing. Am I really expected to rule over a group of people? Am I supposed to be bowed to? Evan said once I begin to remember my past. I stared at her. “Where did they go?” Bethany gave me that smirk I was used to. I’m the most powerful person on the earth. but couldn’t. Remembering what I learned over the years in history class regarding the way of life for the people living at the turn of the nineteenth century was not enough to prepare me to live it. Just the day before. They walked through the draped archway and vanished before my eyes.” I heard every word Bethany said and I trembled all the while I listened. Those qualities could not be expected of the most powerful person on the earth. in written word. The eyes of the young woman bore into mine as if she could see me. Perhaps viewing the rest of the house will help you to remember a little. my eyes were met with more of the same perfectly placed paintings of landscapes. The idea of fighting evil with my bare hands was not what I had in mind. What does it mean to be the first daughter of Tieron.” I whispered utterly stunned by their magic. Or did he detect despair and desperation? I sauntered passed Bethany and Nikolas and went to the window again. “Come with me Delia. I’m just not a confrontational person. It was a black and white photograph of me. belonged here. I couldn’t take my eyes off her dress. I was forced to stop. and heading through the opposite archway that led to the library with Nikolas following closely behind him. The way she looked in it. That’s what they were whispering about. Nikolas was finally free to be himself. But if she did. at the prospect of learning more. I know this is extremely difficult to comprehend but please try to understand. noticed what must have come across as a look of confusion. I needed air. like the fact that I was being hunted. and not what may be there…waiting. Yeah. she had been a fun loving modern day teen without a care in the world. I quietly began to pray for my memory. I knew I had never . which I hoped would return soon. portraits. an eerie kind of quiet as if at any moment something lurking in a corner. In fact. I followed Bethany up the winding staircase.” Bethany was sympathetic as she took my hand and led me out of the room. Halfway up the stairs. Please try to be patient. and looked at me knowingly. As I ascended. I've always tried to be a person who spoke up for what I believed in. “The anguish you feel is felt through us as well.the jokes on me. and make itself known. I will help you to dress. Ugh! “Don't despair. just one of the many gifts we possess. I knew they were erroneous from the core of my soul. Along the walls of the spacious foyer were gilded frames that housed paintings or photographs of a person I'm sure I should remember. With a gasp. she was me. She wasn’t the Bethany I had been close friends with for the last two years. right. Six My First Visitor Bethany. that in my head.” Bethany wiped tears from her eyes. One particular photograph caught and held my attention. I took one last look at Evan before following Bethany out of the living room.” Evan pleaded softly as I turned my beseeching gaze to Bethany. “Delia. an incredibly good – looking wine guzzling teenager who just happened to be a fierce centaur.” “You heard them?” I didn’t bother hiding the wonder in my tone. although it was quiet. my only friend. “Yes I saw them. I’m willing to fight for what I believe to be worth the battle but my punches will be thrown on paper. Dear God. my gifts and powers will return. I felt claustrophobic and queasy. No matter how beautifully decorated this house looked I still felt the vacantness of it. she sure didn't allow herself to show it. So they had to be wrong about me. “Of course. we love you and want you to feel safe with us as you always have. perfect. I stared into hers. abruptly like I hit a wall. Something wasn’t right. The transformation was galling. or vintage looking photographs in various sizes. I looked out to an ancient Victorian world that I couldn’t relate to. I shivered. I did my best to focus on what I was seeing. They all did. and have never been in a physical fight. was all smiles as she led me into the grand foyer. I couldn't steer my eyes away from her. judge me. Every corner had a piece of fancy furniture or a potted fern or palm. It was a rather large photograph that took up a quarter of the museum like exhibit. Everyone will be overjoyed.” She smiled. I felt bolted to the step I stood on. Evan. observant and overly attentive.

It was majestic. and my parents’ room. it explained how she had immediately vanished when she had run out of the cafeteria the day before. revealing two large rooms equal in size. Bethany sat in one of two large ivory tufted chairs and continued to watch me as I toured the room.” Her eyes lit up as she eyed the photograph. I saw no one. Opposite the two chairs was a chaise lounge covered in the prettiest rose colored brocade fabric. Bethany smoothed the fabric of her dress with her hands and gazed out the second set of French doors which led to the balcony. and realized that the voices were coming from behind another set of double doors a couple rooms away. She jumped up. as If I wasn't alone. On the third floor are the children’s rooms. “Evander’s bedroom is first. I checked out the large matching vanity and two massive dressers. The majestic Sierras were even more beautiful than I remembered greener in many parts with iced snow caps further behind.” I gulped. The notion was just too far off. I could see a small portion of the main street. and had been in these two rooms. But the room was vacant of anyone. and many horse and buggies riding up and down the dusty dirt road where cars should’ve been. carefully eyeing the luxurious fabric that made up the bedding. I quickly recovered from the blustery downward current of air. Bethany said. You were very happy that day. About two years ago – in the future. there was no echo of her voice. “Take your time… dinner won’t be for another hour. I peered into the room.” “Oh. no sense in wasting a special gift by walking down the stairs. turning her gaze back to the oval shaped frame. and then as we passed the third set of double doors. and fit for a queen or an empress. The doors to the room were slightly cracked open. the aftershock of Bethany’s accelerated speed hitting me in the face. I had visited Bethany. The guest bedrooms are also on the third floor. “The photograph was a commemoration.” Bethany said. and the echo of my voice reverberated throughout the room. Impossible. One of the rooms was furnished as a sitting room. and guided me up the stairs. looking like a product of this day. Bethany took my hand.” I had no idea which children she spoke of. The view resembled a scene from my dad’s favorite childhood western television show. Being the curious person that I sometimes wished I wasn't. They were the most elegantly decorated rooms I’d ever seen although. Bonanza. To the right. I had just arrived at her house. “This is your chambers. Now that Bethany had mentioned eating. my set of rooms now. Although impressive. I blurted something out to her. We were the only people in her house so I thought it strange when I heard voices in the hallway. By the far right wall was a screen divider embroidered with rose colored flowers that I figured was changing screen. When we finally arrived at the second landing. Bethany was at my side. I was a hundred percent certain that I had heard voices coming from within the room. I was floored by the site of the town below. I went further down the hall.been photographed dressed like that. she led me down a long hallway with four sets of double doors. The two rooms were divided by a set of opened French doors covered with busy lace curtains. The unnerving thing was that when Bethany spoke. “You sat for that photograph two days before you went to the future. although everyone agrees that you are much more beautiful in person. The other was furnished as a bedroom. “You were excited about your fifteenth birthday celebration. and stepped out onto the balcony. “It's bizarre. and slammed right into Bethany. The view was as breathtaking as it always had been.” I hadn’t thought about food since dying. Bethany turned to me. But anything was possible here and now. I thought. I spoke the only words that came to my fragile and exhausted mind. I tried to push the creepy memory out of my mind because the room looked so different now – a lot less creepy – but not totally inviting. it wasn't the first time I’d been in these rooms. the last time I’d seen it. Bethany watched as I looked around. and went to check it out. not wanting to be left alone in the room. and unfurnished. Bethany opened the last set of double doors with an old fashioned skeleton key. and was in her bedroom when we heard someone knocking at the front door. I haven’t been in these rooms since then. By now. It was ivory quilted satin with lush velvet accents and fringed borders.” She nodded for me to enter. . and smiled. At the far end of the two rooms. Staring at the huge bed. I’ve never forgotten the spinechilling feeling I experienced the moment I entered the room.” She paused for a moment as she evaluated the photograph. and had just come to realize that I was not following her. I spun around to run out. In the hallway. “Why was I happy that day?” I asked. Bethany had left me in her bedroom and had gone to see who it could be. You were very content with it. opened the doors. I flirted with the thought then quickly erased it from my mind.” I wouldn't allow this photograph to confirm that I had been here before. there was a king sized four poster bed of dark carved cherry wood. There were many people riding horseback. which seemed to be in conversation. Before I could bat my eyes or ponder another wild suggestion to how I was trapped in that photo. It faced the ornate fireplace that had looked like a gaping black hole. I sauntered up to it. “This is Nikolas’. and then mine. “Do you remember any of this?” Bethany prodded looking down at the town. Bethany was at the top of the next landing. There wasn’t a flake of dust on any of them. and couldn’t imagine children living in this eerie house. covered in dust. Between the two chairs was a small table covered in fringed fabric. I left her bedroom. I nodded and continued to take in the poshness of my new digs. Maybe it was a twin that I didn’t know I had. I followed.” Bethany said. I felt a bit hungry. “I think it captured your innocence while expressing and defining your blossoming maturity. It gave me the creeps.

It's so rude and juvenile.. We moved so fast that the breeze she conjured up literally formed a loose tornado around us. my cheeks. “More importantly. I watched Bethany open the closet doors and randomly pull out an arm full of dresses in an array of jewel tone colors that every girly girl would love to choose from. I forgot about the boy for a moment and noted the change in Bethany’s articulation and choice of words. “This is a corset. all in oval shaped frames. Ugh! He's always staring. “Is this me?” I asked Bethany as I held up the photograph of the baby. It appeared to be true.” I had a lump in my throat as I tried not to cry. the lady of the house. I realized then that I had never seen a baby picture of myself nor of one of me as a child while in the future. just Gerald Bergnum. I wouldn’t be caught dead in the dresses or those ridiculous undergarments. Bethany nodded as she walked over to where I stood. Bethany went into the top drawer of one of the dressers and pulled out several pairs of stockings as I picked up the corset and felt the bone wires sewn into it. I don't know how to feel about it. Whenever Bethany was nervous or uneasy. Was he waiting for our return after such a hasty exit? “Everyone knows the Bergnum family. He seemed to be staring directly at us. I felt sick as if tennis balls bounced around in my stomach. if you must know. is Gerald's grandmother. It was one of the gilded picture frames. no one of any importance that is. which created the contoured shape. “I’m not wearing that thing. This only confirmed my imprisonment now. I think you will find it quite comfortable. They were portraits. Ms.” Bethany blurted out..” she confirmed. I flung it right back on the bed. Bergnum. I didn’t expect him to wave. It was blurry looking through the thick lace curtains. “Ms. Bergnum. who has spent most of her life gossiping and judging everyone in this town couldn’t shield her own family from scrutiny. She laid each dress out on the bed and went back into the closet and returned with a laced up thing that I believed to be a corset and several full length slips. “Of course.” I lied. but he did.” She paused for a second. I really did live in the past. “Do I. “I love it. It looked to be a boy about my age. I know she wasn’t thinking that I was going to wear them.” Bethany explained. especially not Bethany's erratic behavior. I want to help you get settled. Bethany was bored with the subject. Bethany suddenly grabbed my arm.. Actually. This is your chambers. “Well. standing in the center of the room. and dared Bethany to test me. whom died last year of a laudanum overdose. obviously unimpressed. I just stared at the baby’s chubby cheeks. the sadness of my reality caused me to gasp. With a sigh as if she had been laboring for hours. her beloved grandson has not fallen far from the Bergnum tree. There was a third picture. “What’s that” I asked with alarm in my voice. She seemed to be grateful that I didn't prod any further. nearly dislocating it. She sits up on this hill with her nose in the clouds.” Bethany said in that ‘You didn’t hear it from me’ tone. but never could specifically explain how.“I do.” I declared.” Bethany rolled her eyes. One of me at maybe ten or eleven years old and the other I would guess was taken recently. what about him?” I said a little annoyed that Bethany had basically avoided answering my question. I was dressed in the fashion of the day. As I got closer to the fireplace. “No one. It's just too much change. she couldn't keep her hands still. The brassiere has yet to be invented. which stretched the length of two houses. Only pictures of myself as a teenager. A second could not have past. I could tell she was uncomfortable by the way she kept smoothing her dress. a glimmer from the fireplace mantle caught my eye. They were faded and in black and white. she sat on the bench positioned at the foot of my bed. “Well what do you think of your chambers. you did when you moved in before you left two years ago. Just then I noticed someone looking at us from a veranda from the large Victorian mansion across the two vast gardens. As I remembered this. “Those are petticoats” She pointed to the slips. you found him to be annoying and never liked him or his brother. Delia?” Bethany inquired after a short pause. Suddenly.. she sounded way too mature. “Well. I was overwhelmed by the opulence of both rooms and repulsed by the fact that I once lived in them. Her right eyebrow was raised as if she challenged me to disprove that fact. I saw two more photographs of myself. but not like this. and unconsciously rubbed my face. . quite the scandal. There was a distinct change in her diction. I couldn't see the person’s face clearly. I could still see a figure standing on the balcony. “What's wrong? Who was that?” I tried to recover. Obviously. no matter the time or era. one of a baby. therefore quickly changing it as she busily began fluffing the embroidered pillows on the chairs. Nothing shocked me anymore. As I started to wave back. and whisked me back into the sitting room. The creepy feeling was still within reach. I guess some things never change. I'm confused.” Bethany commented. My parents had claimed that they had lost a set of picture albums. did I…know him?” I questioned as I tried to peer out the French doors to see if he was still there. She believes everyone is beneath her selfproclaimed stature since her family owns the Bergnum Railroad Company as well as several banks in both California and New York.

I held onto her for a moment. “Our kind has waited for the one who will save us from the evil that has plagued us for centuries. “I have to admit I rather enjoyed wearing denims and tshirts too.” Bethany continued. You were happy.” Bethany's eyes filled with tears.” Bethany tried to sound reassuring. My thoughts were tangled. . She sighed as she pulled out a white handkerchief and sort of waved it around her face as if to surrender any chance of dodging the question. I hoped for an honest answer. Although her decision made sense. but it's not who we are. "Why did you run out of the cafeteria instead of just telling me what the dream meant?" I asked. Not in a trillion years. We can’t help who we are or the families we are born into. I ran to Nikolas. Just give it a little time. my mind began to wonder. I also knew that it was difficult for you to tell me and that you were in need of a friend. “When you told me about your dream. all of this will be significant. I had Bethany all to myself and I wanted this opportunity to pump as much information out of her as I could. My eyes followed her across the room and over to the vanity.” She was right.” She said desperately. It’s not for us to determine why. “I also didn't tell you because I thought you simply wouldn’t have believed me. Could I blame her? It was warm. Just knowing would have jeopardized your safety. she had to be roasting like a rotisserie chicken in that getup. and now to the intense sunlight that streamed into the sizeable room. Don’t be afraid. it left me with a more million questions and uncertainty. Evan. Bethany pulled a handkerchief from a hidden pocket in her dress and handed it to me. You embraced what you were destined to be. head first into the stone walkway that bordered the gardens below. I needed the feeling of comfort from someone I knew. If it weren't for the fact that I didn't remember then perhaps. I couldn’t help but wonder… “Was I happy living here… in the past?” I asked with apprehension. You’re safe here. “Will I?” The desperation in my voice could not be masked. I had goose bumps all over. I do wish we could dress that way now. She was genuinely ecstatic to be home and looked the part. You had no choice.” Bethany explained and patted my hand. “I had no idea that Victor knew where to find you.” I paused for a moment then the tears came… again. you must be patient. Hence. Delia. it was very… freeing.” I looked at her with her hair piled high on the top of her head. who I am. She blotted away any perspiration that may have formed on her forehead and neck. Why me?” I asked. I knew you would soon remember. You know that. and jovial. I wasn't ready to start dressing. I thought. Bethany walked toward me. So I ran.” I could do without the condescending attitude. “I wanted to tell you everything. She waited as I dabbed my eyes and blew my nose. petrified of being responsible for the security of an empire. “But I couldn’t tell you of your true identity. “It’s a gift that you must accept and that you have accepted before you were sent into the future. “I understand. Cordelia. I believed her wholeheartedly. I wanted to stop feeling confused and disconnected. I wanted to remember who I was – am. with the return of your memory. This was and is your home. I wasn’t trying to disguise it. I suppose. “It’s simple. All the while she patted and rubbed my shoulder the way a best friend should when her friend is hurt or depressed about some dilemma. It's difficult now because you have not regained your memory. “Of course you will. full of life. reclaiming her seat next to me on the bench. “Stop being difficult. at least ninety degrees. As warm as it was both inside and outside of my room. and about my relationship with Nikolas. I would have never believed her.” Bethany stood up from the bench. “Yes. Today we dress like a lady and more importantly we behave like one. That dress is unacceptable today. Now… these are some of your loveliest dresses. I was always drawn to the view of the Sierras. I believe so. Due to the strength of your particular bloodline. There was so much pain in her eyes. I don't understand any of this. It's time to refamiliarize with our way of doing things. “What does it really mean to be an Empress anyway? I mean… am I supposed to rule a bunch of people?” I asked and Bethany seemed to lighten up.” Bethany assured me as she gave me a hug. But first I had to ask her one question. In your case you are the most fortunate being in the entire world.“What the corset? How else do you expect to fit your dresses?” She asked with a giggle. Right now it may seem like a curse. It wasn’t working. but you’ll soon remember the great fortune of your gift. Her sympathetic tone was not enough. As I peeked through the lace curtains. this responsibility ultimately and timely is with you. and said something I didn’t consider before. I wanted to tell you who you are. “Why can’t I just keep what I’ve got on right now?” I referred to the dress I had picked out with my mother.” Bethany said. I wouldn't want to leap from this balcony. and what you know. I let go of Bethany and stood up to walk to the window once again. She stopped and turned to look at me again. shivering actually.” Bethany smiled as she ran her hand over the sumptuous fabric of one of the dresses. about my brother. I tried to understand that she had been in a precarious position. so much sorrow. And you will remember who you are now as well. I was afraid that if I had told you of your past that your memory would fully return and you would not understand the life around you. “I'm scared Beth.

“For a mortal. Explaining will only confuse you further. Bethany was impressed with what she claimed to be. “I didn’t say that we aren’t allowed to use them. Sun Paw’s jet black hair was parted down the middle and twisted into a braided bun at the nape of her neck. I rubbed my face in my hands. “That would be revealing what we are. I have my own housemaid? Just who do these people think they are? I don’t need a housemaid.” I remarked.” Bethany said.” Bethany confirmed. part human and fortunately part god. Although you will have the elders as advisors. I said that we aren’t allowed to display them in the public eye. It was as if my mind was a metal detector and this implausible concept was a huge chunk of iron. I just needed her to say it. All of your capabilities have yet to be revealed. and away from her heart shaped face. I couldn’t see myself ruling over a pet much less a person or a god or whatever we supposedly were.“Delia. “Not human?” I asked knowing well what she meant and how incredulous and sickening it was at the same time. “So. Another is that we must never reveal what we are to a mortal.” The mention of Hades scared me enough not to delve into it. you. I want to know. who looked about our age. and more importantly what we are not. She wore her uniform. Bethany began smoothing the silky ribbons woven into the edge of her emerald jewel toned dress. our leaders have sentenced offenders to eternal banishment in the Underworld. which would leave an Ischeros vulnerable to attacks. it’s better to wait. “Yes. “I don’t see the point of having powers if we aren’t allowed to use them.” “What kind of laws do we have?” “Well. . and never to be released by Hades. all of our members are scattered throughout the west. “But I thought we can’t be murdered. one is that we are not allowed to use our powers in the public eye.” “It’s not that simple. I will return momentarily. and if were not brought back to life in twentyfour hours. and said nothing. Delia you are the dominant force. must sentence the member. Well. was speechless and blown away.” Bethany announced.” Bethany corrected with a sigh.” she said. “What would be the punishment for using your power in public?” “The crime of displaying your power in public may be the confiscation of your powers for a period of time. the mortal’s eye. “As far as what you’re capable of.” “But how does that work here.” The most powerful being was a daunting idea. I jumped when I heard the doors close behind me. To possess powers was beyond my realm of normalcy and logic. and then vanished from the room. ever. Sun Paw was stunning without even trying. Although. divine. the punishment may be exile for a period of years without power and to live as a mortal.” “Just give me an idea. the most powerful of any Ischeros that has ever existed or ever will. “This is Sun Paw. a long black dress with a long white apron over the front. The alarm in my head kept going off with each attempt to compute it. evenly avoiding any eye contact.” Bethany added. pointing back and forth from Bethany to myself. the governing emperor or empress. She quickly walked passed me. “I must summon your housemaid. Bethany just sat and watched me with an inquisitive expression on her face. Denial was my friend. We are not allowed to steal from or murder another of our kind. If it’s a demigod.” Bethany said proudly. It was strange. “We can be murdered on Earth. “We are descendants of the gods. She had a look on her face that couldn’t be mistaken with anything other than grandeur. “So I don’t get my powers until I remember who I am.” The idea that I would have the power to pass judgment on someone was intimidating. Bethany was back and was instructing a young Native Indian girl. The terra cotta tone of her smooth skin shone in the sunlight with eyes the shade of iridescent amber. I on the other hand. all of your actions and decisions will depend on the circumstances surrounding the empire. We are demigods. No matter how hard I tried. It was too overwhelming. a descendant of gods. The crime of murder depends on if it was the murder of an Ischeros or a mortal. I can’t explain it in detail. seeing myself that way and trying to see an Empress. your decree is law. I went over to the fireplace and stared at the pictures of myself again. ” Bethany explained. Let’s just wait for your memory to return then everything will come naturally to you. including their soul. “The powers that you will soon possess are supreme and will never be matched by any other entity. motioning to the girl. and there was that brisk breeze again that seemed to always follow Bethany’s rapid movements. nonetheless.” Bethany said in a strangely subtle tone.” I speculated. we must respect the levels of power within the empire. then our soul will exist in the Underworld. then my temples as if I had an excruciating migraine. we’re goddesses?” I said. to prepare my bath. This also goes for the mortals as well. demigoddesses to be exact. but we also live with our own laws that must be followed or there will be consequences. eyeing me closely. my brain wouldn’t let the truth settle there. In the past. in Nickel City? Don’t we follow the regular laws of the state and country?” “We do follow the laws of this country in order to blend in. I eyed her for a moment. The elders usually make that decision with the approval of the reigning empress or emperor. Only twice has a leader extinguished the offender’s existence. right?” I asked.

At this point how could I be surprised that the bathroom had been ornately decorated? “What kind of Native Indian are you? I mean. and considered it a miracle. especially by a girl my age. I could never speak to her in that way. Sun Paw looked at me as if I was an enigma that she couldn’t decipher. “You mean as in a mother and child?” I asked. instead she nodded almost obediently. Sun Paw’s family has always been treated fairly. Sun Paw didn’t say hi back. I’m great. I really had to focus to control my glee.” Bethany said.. or made her feel uncomfortable. just above the storage rooms. Bethany left my room saying that she would return once I was ready to get dressed. The thought of Sun Paw ending up jobless made me cringe. so I agreed.” She seemed happy with the prospect. It led me to believe that I may not have been so nice to Sun Paw when I knew her. The water was tepid and fragranced with lavender. an unforgivable contraption. Bethany’s housemaid’s name was Moon Rose.” Yeah real fair. and to run errands for you. brother. I pulled Bethany aside. Sun Paw’s older sister. The bathroom was a small room. It actually flushed! Yes! Indoor plumbing – whoohoo! “Are you alright Miss Cordelia?” Sun Paw asked due to my boisterous outburst. I could tell that she was surprised at my tone. the first good thing that has come about since I’d been brought back.” I said. Sun Paw. I had to clear my throat from embarrassment. The petticoat was first. I undressed and carefully dipped my foot into the hazy water. along with her mother. does your name have a meaning?” I hoped that I wasn’t being intrusive. Her English was nearly perfect. I was deep and looked comfortable. I promised myself to treat her with respect from now on. I know I look strange to you but I will be dressed in what you are used to seeing me in. I thought their names were beautiful and wondered if they had meanings as most Native Indian names did. Bethany explained that she as well as her mother also had personal housemaids. I will return when you are ready to be dressed. “It means that someday I will bear many children. while checking the temperature of the water. assist you with all that you need around the house. I almost couldn’t contain myself when I saw the porcelain toilet.” I smiled at Sun Paw as she led me to the bathroom. adjacent to my bedroom.“Hi” I said.” Sun Paw said leaving me alone. Her name was Light Shine. But I guess if they chose to work for the Capius’ willingly.” Bethany whispered as I slipped into the frilly white slip. My leg was still attached to my body. After my tepid bath of odorless soap. before I left.” she answered. The meaning of her mane was an interesting one. I went for it. I did this while saying a silent prayer that something didn't snatch my leg from underneath. Ugh! I couldn’t see the bottom of the tub through the extremely cloudy water. Only one word came to my mind. I felt selfconscious for a couple of minutes as we stared at each other. and then slowly lowered myself. and sister. “Makes Life. and insisted that I didn't need a servant. I decided to ask her the question that I wondered about since being introduced to her. I looked at the bath that she had drawn. “Sun Paw. “Ahem…uh…yes.. “I will leave you now. “Yes. I checked out the roomy claw foot tub. and has stayed on with my family when many other members of the tribe moved on. Beth’s mothers’ housemaid was Sun Paw’s mother. I hoped that I had never spoken to her in such a belittling way. torture. I hadn’t realized that I had exclaimed out loud. but I found being called “Miss” ridiculous. “I see. I sighed and decided it would be best not to fight something that was inevitable. She seemed to stare in disbelief. She pulled at the lacing in . “It's alright. “Sun Paw is here to help you dress. So far so good. and thankfully no hidden underwater creatures. I was disgusted with her behavior. Bethany explained. “They have been with our family for years. Rudely (no point in being respectful to the help). Bethany deliberately spoke down to Sun Paw. live in the lower floors of the house. then she would be let go. taking a seat on a small bench against the wall right below a small painting of a meadow full of yellow lilies. which was unacceptable today. Later Bethany explained that the plumbing was possible due to the pipe running from the toilet to a wooden box about two feet above it. but she said that it was customary and that if I didn't ‘make use’ of Sun Paw. and dipped my other foot in. She called the box a “water closet”. I would have preferred it to be a lot warmer. for this day and age. even before Evan and I were born.” she smiled slightly. Sun Paw eyed my new mini sundress as if puzzled to see a young woman expose her body. I was so ecstatic about these phenomenal and advanced accommodations. I just wanted to know a little bit about her since she was here because of me. I called it. I knew that Native Indian names had special meanings. then who was I to judge? Bethany gave Sun Paw precise instructions on my bath. I asked Bethany to stay in the room because I wasn't comfortable with Sun Paw seeing me naked. Basically it was Sun Paw’s primary duty to be available at my every beck and call. Bethany explained to Sun Paw that I wore a new style of petticoat and that her job was to assist me and not to gawk at me.” She answered. She seemed pleased with it and didn’t bother asking me to test it. do you belong to a particular tribe?” “My tribe is Paiute. “Only one since it’s still very warm. I began the grueling process of getting dressed–with Sun Paw’s assistance of course. I felt embarrassed for Sun Paw. As Sun Paw ran my bath. and I wondered what it meant. We were once a part of the Paiute tribe. I quickly bathed with soap that never lathered.” Sun Paw looked leery of me. I thought. mainly my legs. Sun Paw started helping me with my corset. There was also a sink with running water and another vanity table.

I had just gotten them done a week ago at the beauty salon in the Summit Mall. which looked more like a gown. At first I’d been apprehensive about the whole beauty day thing. “Let me.. I could barely breathe. She secured the bun with a jeweled comb at the top of my head. Maybe no one will find me.the back and cinched my waist until I had to scream out because I was unable to respire. After nearly crushing my ribcage.. That was part of the plan. I moved a little closer to the mirror and stared at my reflection I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing was accurate. I stared at the strands of my hair. Ironically it had been the year I left for the future. and felt completely uncomfortable donned in it. It was like it was made for me. She didn't seem to be listening. Sun Paw helped me get into that too. and sort of dragged myself to my vanity. Got to stop crying. Sitting there for a moment. it was the same heart shaped face. I mean. Why can’t I remember this so called life that I lived? I miss my parents... alone. never had. a slight buffer for my skin from the contoured bone like wires of the corset. this time. So your hair is at its natural state. I wasn’t crying about the highlights. and pedicures.. . as it was before. They have moved on. and emerald green eyes. full lips. Beth. She saw the anger exuding from my eyes. yet I still couldn’t see why a bustle was necessary. a scooped neckline and threequarter sleeves. so out of place. It just felt like everything I had in the future was slipping away. so. “We are your family. these things. But the damage was done. besides you are used to it.. Hair treatments and make – up didn’t matter to me. “WHAT? What do you mean … not my parents?” I demanded. “Memories were implanted so that the transition to the future could be successful. I picked up the gilded hair brush. one and a half inch. My stomach dropped to my feet and I began to feel vertiginous. Sun Paw finally had me fitted in my corset. Sun Paw. completely motionless.... The corset created cleavage I didn’t know I had. “I.” Bethany scolded lightly. revealing an array of sparkling jeweled hair combs and satin ribbons. and then sat in front of the mirror. and no one has to know. managing a beaming smile although. I looked exactly like I did in the pictures. It had the least embellishments of lace frills and bows. monogrammed with the letters ‘CT’. Miss Cordelia. with a blank expression as she quickly departed. satin. Those people were not your parents. I observed my reflection in the mirror. I will be in the kitchen if you need me. are..” I said. I began brushing my deep auburn hair. the tears welled up in my emerald green eyes. I felt as if my ankles were tied up in vines. I tried to walk in the dress and found my feet shuffling amongst the abundance of fabric that made up the layers of the skirts hem. “You belong here...” Sun Paw said.. We’d gotten highlights.. my family. I wanted Sun Paw to leave my room so that I could talk to Bethany again.” I trailed off when I saw the alarmed look on Bethany's face as her eyes darted from me to Sun Paw and back to me again. yet I didn’t know who it was that was looking back. I…feel so. I let her take me to the salon just to make her happy. It had been my mom’s idea. her voice unwavering with the blow she delivered like a champion kick boxer. can't I just go back home? You can send me back. clear tanned skin. nodded. “Of course. Although my features hadn’t changed. Once I was finished dressing. damn it. The thick bristled brush was set between its matching gold comb and hand mirror. Got to stop. but I was convinced that she was. “Um… uh . Bethany passed me a pair of matching lavender. but my caramel highlights were gone. I fought an unsuccessful battle to yield my tears from rolling down my cheeks.” Bethany ordered.” She added in order to attenuate the damage. I decided to move around as little as possible. and noticed something different almost immediately as I brushed my hair. The dress fit seamlessly.” Bethany explained as she brushed my hair and pulled it into a loose bun. Now take another deep breath.” I said my voice breaking into sobs.” Bethany declared. Since I’m alive now.” I said thoroughly shocked and deflated. I peered at myself reflection in the mirror. manicures. I stared at the pretty fabric that made up my dress. Thank you. “Nothing from the future exists now. I chose a lavender taffeta dress.” I said trying unsuccessfully to catch my breath in between words and not alert Sun Paw. Bethany’s expression was doleful but her words were concise and inflicted pain. I was actually thankful for the petticoat. all over again.. I was not prepared for the bomb my best friend dropped next. She quickly changed her tone when she saw the wounded look on my face.. “This is unbearable. “I think I can manage from here. Bethany cleared her throat. I surrendered to my uncontrolled emotion and held my face in my hands. I remember reading about woman. “My hair is different. for her. I knew not to complain or even question it in the presence of Sun Paw so after finally getting the ridiculous bustle in place. and staring at myself. My highlights are gone. as Sun Paw appeared to ignore us.” She took the brush from me and pulled open one of the drawers of the vanity. uncomfortable. heeled shoes. “It is customary. Everyone has already forgotten you. and caught Bethany looking at me in my reflection. She turned around and walked away from me. They fit perfectly. but I’d seen my mom’s face so happy with the prospect of glamming me up so I went along with it. which were my initials now as it had been in the future. Bethany held out her hand to me. Our eyes met in the reflection of the mirror.

. “Where there is no memory there is also no pain. visiting my fictitious Aunt Guinevere. perfectly content with getting burned in order to be within reach of him. You’re stronger than this. I was inconceivably drawn to him like a moth to a lit match. I couldn’t send you to the future if I wanted too. The heat that seemed to generate from Victor’s body must have broken Fahrenheit records across the globe. the aroma was recognizable – fresh burnt cinders. or make an audible sound. then who are? How can all of my memories be bogus? Were my first day of school. His voice was just above a whisper and menacing. Then she clipped a pair of sparkling amethyst. My tears had long dried but the feeling of desolation was still shattering me into fragments. The figure dashed from the French doors to where I sat in a split second. We had no time to erase your programmed memory especially not knowing if your true memory had returned. but yielding to him. Victor’s face was becoming that of a heinous gargoyle… again. Look. The feeling was severe. like the world had been invaded with aliens that were once humans. Stunned and deeply wounded by Bethany's razor edged words. I wept quietly. His eyes were red as glimmering rubies. It's all been erased. closest to my bed and began picking through more accessories that I would be forced to wear. through sobs. Being on the receiving end of Victor’s hypnotic like stare. He knew what he was doing to me. visibly shaking. stabbing through the dainty fabric. I couldn’t turn away even if I had tried–I didn’t try. they were spared of any sadness or pain. There was that feeling again like something was pulling me toward him. I hadn’t expected her to transport me although. “You do not belong heeerrre. I felt so alone and deceived. His long claw like fingernails burned and pierced through the fabric of my bodice so forcibly that I believed they were going to puncture through my skin. Something hypnotic that had me emotionally over powered and dependent on it. The wicked half smile swept across his gorgeous face. making me wonder how someone so beautiful could be so ugly at the same time. and a sharp gasp escaped my quivering lips.” He hissed maliciously into my ear. I don’t possess the power to transport. only intensified . It was unacceptable. Bethany busied herself with tying shiny ribbons in my hair. I sank lower into the abyss.” Bethany's voice was solemn as she passed me a handkerchief. in an ineffective attempt to reassure me of the pain that my family and loved ones wouldn't endure. Victor sniffed the delicate curve of my neck while I fought unsuccessfully to break his penetrating stare. Placing scorching hands on my nearly exposed shoulders. and when my dad taught me how to ride a bike fake? “How could you people be so cruel?” I accused. but I love you too much not to be truthful. in the reflection in the mirror. For some reason I couldn’t yell. You must wonder where their loyalties lay my love. she caught the piercing glare I returned to her curious one. shattering. How could she be so heartless? If the mother and father I had in the future are not my parents. “Wipe your tears. at first. due to my endless tears. I felt betrayed. His fierce grip on my shoulders was paralyzing and I couldn’t breathe. Frightened. and didn’t notice the familiar figure that appeared in the mirror. The story was that I had spent the last two years in France. Bethany told me that no one except the members of the Ischeros knew where I had gone. teardrop earrings on my ears. When Victor brought his face closer to mine. A twinge of searing pain made me wince as I heard my skin sizzle from the burn.” Bethany added. All the while the heat had not subsided. The brilliant stones picked up the sun light streaming in from the partially opened French doors and gleamed. They know what is best. No one can take you away from me. I tried to scream to stop the overwhelming need of him but no sound left my mouth. This time when our eyes met our eyes met in my reflection. Victor dug his long and jagged nails into the flesh of my shoulders. Victor was standing very closely behind me. I’d invested in hope.” “But the entire town watched me grow up here. I was stone. I watched him laugh bitterly as he surveyed my frightened reflection. like gravity. “Your sweet. It was fitting that I was left at the vanity table. He frightened the air right out of my lungs. and quickly looked away. as is your heart. The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention like soldiers. He began to slide his hand toward my chest. “These people only knew what we implanted. Don't you agree?” Bethany said squeezing my shoulders. I was silenced.“Who’s plan?” “The highest members of the council. Youuuuu are my destiny. These people were strangers to her. I heard my skin sizzle beneath his touch and I cringed in pain. Yet.” Victor proclaimed in a bone burning purr that sent blistering sparks down my back. duped. He drew blood that began to stain the intricate lace fabric bordering my shoulder bone.” I muttered.. or scream. tender soul is miiiine. and mortified. and I'm the only human left being forced to succumb to their foreign way of life. All the while I never took my eyes off the girl I thought I knew so well. Why wasn't I? I am her best friend.” Bethany added as she stroked my hair. Why couldn’t Bethany feel the heat and rescue be from being barbecued? While fighting Victor’s trancelike glare to get a glimpse of Bethany. Then you found us before we found you. mmmyyyy Corde liiiaaa. I know the truth hurts quite a bit. so close that I could smell him. Hearing that. The transformation was fast and grotesque. and undeniably evident to him. Nothing more. I stared into her glassy blue eyes. Bethany walked over to the dresser across the room. drowning actually. It was unexpected. They are all better off not remembering.” She confessed. His pitch black eyes pierced through mine. You belong to meeeeee. “It all happened too fast – your death. I was left totally unshielded from anguish and sorrow “By the way. It was as if I was without air in my lungs and Victor was the last person on this earth with an oxygen tank. I stared at my reflection through a glaze. alone– exactly how I felt.

Surely that demon wouldn't be inclined to knock. “GET. Taste you… again? What the hell did that mean? Suddenly. stunned us all. I am going to die all over again.” Bethany demanded. and his hand splashed into the wall. startling me. water and all suddenly disappeared. obviously still unaware of what had just happened but curious as to why we were visibly traumatized. but I was so dazed that I didn’t really see her. her eyes had returned to their normal ocean hue from the vibrant crimson that seemed to look right through you.. I desperately needed an escape from this…this… HELL! I watched Bethany in disbelief.. She grabbed my shoulders and stared back at me. I didn’t realize that I’d been rocking violently back and forth. I knew it couldn't be Victor. which was no match for Victor’s. Why wasn’t Bethany fighting him off of me? As if reading my desperate thoughts and hearing her cue. Victor forced himself free of Bethany’s aquatic vice and stood in the center of the room. running to someplace where I didn’t feel like screaming at the top of my lungs. I would forever be grateful to her for not letting this barely legal monster. which had me scared to death of being burned alive. Beth. I was a mess. “Stop rocking.. Bethany. who I felt undeniably drawn too. with my arms wrapped around me in a cocoon like hug. then thigh. minus the dress. OFF. but he didn’t. Victor ran his hand across the fabric against Bethany's hip. Both Bethany and I jumped. Victor looked Bethany dead in the eyes and spewed fire into her face as she instantaneously shifted into water while keeping her natural shape..” I had to think about it for a second. apparently pissed off that she had doused his flames. They were both so powerful.around me. this time much louder. by a bull morphing demigod. while in his presence. was gone the moment he disappeared. ME!” Bethany growled like an animal. I thought. Victor instantly flipped around so that his back was now against the wall where he just had Bethany pinned. By Bethany turning into water. Bethany finally reacted to the sight of me in distress. It was truly a battle of strength between fire and water. I needed kind eyes right now after just looking into the most evil eyes I had ever seen. and now had Victor pinned against the wall. I couldn’t move. My mind focused on running out of the room. I couldn't deny the instant feeling of safety I sensed whenever Evan was near. Divine One?” Victor teased as his ominous ogle swept over me. He looked at me with kind eyes. Evan turned to look at me. and doused them before he could set them ablaze. Bethany reappeared still fleshed out in water. He walked toward me but stopped in front of Bethany instead. but not quick enough to stop Victor from slamming her against the wall with a suffocating grip to her neck. and I was completely terrified of this teenage monster. Both Victor and Bethany didn’t seem to notice it. Victor began spewing fire in all directions including mine. running out of this house. vindictive and full of dread. Bethany anticipated his targets. I stood up from the vanity. I also thought that he would transform into a bull again. “Are you alright?” She asked. he didn’t attack. The knocking at the door came in rapid and loud raps now. “To taste you…again would be so sweet. I watched him. He is here to kill me. He swiped at her liquid form. turn me into ashes. and then over by the French doors. “Who is it?” Bethany inquired hesitantly. Somehow the water that made up her entire form was capable of grasping onto a solid. I couldn’t stop shaking. Her eyes went completely black then red. he was voracious and seemed to want to kill me now more than ever. “Bethanyyy. I felt cold and hot all at once. . running out of this point in time. Instead. Seven Warning The hypnotic attraction to Victor. But to my surprise. “More visitors upon your return. He held her there and leaned in close enough to kiss her. leaving everything perfectly untouched and surprisingly dry. “Nooo!” Bethany let out a partial shriek like gasp. if that’s what I’d been consumed by. sliding it upward to reveal Bethany’s thigh all the while tightening his grip around her neck and sliding her up the wall. there was a knock at the door. reverberating from my ear to Bethany's.. Her emotions were evident. leaving behind a thick vapor of black smoke as a low and wicked cackle echoed throughout the room. and reflected on what had just taken place. and was about to be reprimanded. you make me hotttt all over” The heat intensified in the room as he mouthed the word ‘hot’. but not for long. Although his stare was prolonged and desirous.. Was I alright? No. but you are not the girl for me. he vanished. Victor gripped the fabric of her dress. She looked anxious as if she had done something wrong. Another rap at the door. “Didn’t either of you hear me knocking?” His eyes searched us both for an answer. Instead.” Evan said taking her inquiry as an invitation and flinging the doors open. Out of the blue.” Victor grimaced as he continued to torment. This time it won’t be instantly. The dreadful sound seeped out into the searing desert heat. just a satin emerald blur of fabric. She had already transformed back into human form from the aquatic creature. “It's Evan. “Uh. I didn't want her to answer it although. and my neck felt incredibly stiff. Victor lost his grip around her neck. She moved as fast as light and was by my side within an unpredictable second.

“EVANDER!” Panic painted Bethany's face. Evan's eyes and body language spoke volumes. but all of the furnishings were stark dry. “Was there anything else?” “He said that my soul is his.” Bethany blurted out. Evan literally disappeared through the ceiling leaving no apparent sign of his departure. Each word was filled with vengeance and thundered throughout the entire room.” I managed to somehow get most of it out. “And you Beth?” Evan demanded softly noticing that his sister looked a bit stunned.” “Why are you concerned about him speaking to me? Who cares what he said. that this is his destiny. This had to be his last visit or I may as well end my life now. with his eyes trained on me even though he spoke to his sister. not a solitary drop of water which had originated from him. I think he was going to tear her heart out had you not knocked at that moment… ” Bethany's voice was strained as she trailed off with the idea of what could have happened while her brother stood on the other side of the double doors. “In this house. “He said that I belonged to him and that I didn't belong here. Delia?” Bethany questioned with panic evident in her trembling voice. and it will be soon. in this room. which had suddenly become soaked. I don't believe that I would survive another encounter with him.” I paused. It’s imperative that I know. My eyes stayed fixed on the ceiling. flawless ivory like an unused canvas. My room was arid once again. Bethany stood as if nothing was happening. He clenched his fists and his pupils grew black then fire red as he stared right through Bethany and I. “Really. and he was completely fleshed out in it.“I would like a moment alone with Cordelia. I was over by the dresser. in a perfect rhombus pattern. What did he say to you. but I wondered what he was insinuating. He began to levitate as the diamond patterned ceiling swallowed him whole along with the swirling typhoon that followed him. but not explaining what Victor had meant. anything was probable. “Tell me Cordelia.” I lied. I was glued to the spot where I stood.” I lied again. He will be back. his claw like nails had burned so bad at first that I thought I might pass out from the pain. as if I expected Evan to return through it the same way he had left. Bethany knew her brother was serious. I wondered where all the water had gone? “Victor is becoming audacious and is developing a sense of instinct as to where you are. “He’s very aware that time is running out. but still needed to hear it from me. This leaves you extremely vulnerable. “I'm fine. “I tried to keep him …” “Are you alright?” Did he hurt you in anyway?” Evan asked me calmly. I was too shocked to make an audible sound. His entire body became engulfed in a wave of water. It was clean of any marks. gulped. I knew that Victor couldn’t be trusted. as he held my face in his hands. but I would have to hire a search party to find my voice. and cutting Bethany words off like a light switch. The ceiling looked exactly as it had looked before Evan went through it. “What do you mean by just here?” Evan’s tone went icy. I knew that it was the latter suggestion that worried her. I felt like screaming too. hence he knows that you have not developed your powers. right? Forgive me for being happy to have lived through his visit. When Victor had put his hands on my shoulders. He was going to hunt Victor down to kill him…or be killed. He told her something. I mean really. Neither Bethany nor I dared to speak. he didn’t hurt me.” I looked at Bethany's neck. I fought to hold on to a piece of furniture as everything in the room became soaked. Evan nodded and prodded me with his endearing voice. I could no longer make out the impeccable features of his face. His words had been precise. and skipped the part about loyalty. and said the words that I would never forget.” Evan said harshly. his right. Don’t be afraid. The deafening sounds of hurricane winds and a tornado of water filled the two rooms. I didn't feel it at all now and they didn’t seem to notice any damage to the neckline of my dress.” “Evan. Her brother had his head tilted completely back. His message very clear. The goose bumps were back. I felt the cold and vicious wind gusts blow passed my face as my furniture rattled brutally. I would be forced to relive the entire ordeal. I sighed and looked down at my hands. and he had his hands on Cordelia – right over her chest.” Bethany gulped. If I did. The silence in the room was deafening as her words hung in the air.” Evan said keeping his eyes on me as he stepped away from me. She didn't lie. began to whip across his face as if a strong breeze was blowing through it. “In MY house?” Evan asked icily. Suddenly Bethany grabbed my arm and forced me to look her in the face. His clothing became drenched as if he had been in the line of Bethany’s fire. “The venomous outcast is also aware that you don’t remember him. Evan’s auburn hair. Victor was just here. “He was talking to her. “I'm fine. how many leases do I get on life anyway?” They both stared at me but said nothing for a moment as I tried to decide whether to tell them what Victor had declared.” Evan pleaded though he looked as if he already knew what had been said. I looked around the room for a moment staring at each piece of furniture expecting everything to be drenched with the remnants of Bethany’s tidal wave.” Evan’s vibrant and concerned eyes swept over me from head to toe as if he were looking for a wound or some sign that I’d been hurt. Killing me and taking my soul was his destiny. I was hesitant to speak the words. I could still hear Victor’s shrill bone chilling laugh. . as long as he didn’t kill me. After all that I had seen. “I WILL NOT REST UNTIL I KILL THE COWARDICE SON OF IPTIAN!” Evan appeared as if he was possessed. “Nikolas is waiting for you in the parlor. and that he won't be stopped. like some demon had taken over his body.” Evan said. and looked at Evan. “I didn't see him enter.

I wondered what kind of warning Evan had sent. “Do you need help to change into something else? Victor ruined your dress.” Bethany assured. Humph. “It’s time for dinner. Somehow. The wounds had healed. My hands shook with fear every time the idea entered my mind. “What's going on? Where are Evan and Nikolas?” I practically stumbled over the hem of my dress trying to get over to the full length mirror where Bethany was still checking herself out.” Bethany said practically ignoring me while she smoothed her hair and looked herself over in the tall gilt framed mirror. as he should be. My hand unconsciously rubbed the skin on my shoulders. as if I was sitting in a rocking chair. Evan has sent Victor a warning through his disciple. and didn’t want to be anywhere in this house much less being forced to a sit down dinner in it. knowingly. What scared me the most was the yearning feeling I felt within his presence. I realized only a couple of minutes had passed since she had left. I sat down on my bed and shivered to my core as I broke out into a feverish sweat. but I was fascinated nonetheless. A perfect gentleman who spoke with perfect articulation. Lucas. Yet on the flip side. For the first time. She looked beautiful as always. I sighed. That’s when I noticed that the brutally inflicted gashes were gone. I couldn't get the image of Victor's handsome face transforming into a hideous gargoyle out of my mind. She was back. he’ll be back.” Bethany said. I knew that he would never knowingly hurt me. But while I was close to him I was terrified for my life. long time letting fear overwhelm me. She walked toward me.“Do not leave this room! I must get Nikolas. I wasn’t dressed and wasn’t prepared to answer it. No one would blame me after all that I had witnessed and heard. I was still shaken by Victor’s visit. There was a faint knock on the door. so I ignored it for a moment while I stepped into the cramped closet and . He could very well burn me alive with his touch alone or set me on fire since the guy actually spits flames from his mouth like some dragon. since finding out that I have powers. I felt a chill that crept right into my bones and camped there. I was astounded by his extraordinary power. It’s not polite to keep dinner waiting. “He is petrified of my brother. “So what does that mean.. Victor’s words played over and over in my head. “I will return. and would probably give his life for me. with neither of the mighty trio to defend me. Could it be the fact that I didn’t know him and was expected to? Or could it be that I didn’t know what he really expected from me? Either way. I was all alone. I decided to keep the corset on only because I couldn't figure out how to get out of the contraption. They practically put me into a trance. over shoulder as she quickly exited my room. whether she was in a slim fitting tshirt or this Victorian ensemble. His face seemed to appear everywhere I looked. which stood in the far left corner of my bedroom. The power that he claimed I could out match. I stood there for a long time marveling as to how this could be. I tried to think of Evan. who made me feel safe even though I didn't even know him. Unconsciously I traced the tears in my dress. It was consuming.” I said calmly. she was a stunner and she knew it. Bethany startled me when she appeared out of nowhere. It was an impossible notion that I struggled with. where Victor had dug his nails. shortly. I was successful in getting out of the dress. Here was this perfect looking guy who looked like he had just stepped of the pages of GQ magazine. I was intrigued. Victor won’t be coming back?” I was hopeful but knew better. According to Bethany it would only be a matter of time before Victor would be back to try and kill me by…snatching my beating heart out of my chest. This was nothing short of a nightmare. which proved a level of maturity which was well beyond the age which he looked to be. Evan’s feelings for me frightened me. Instead.” she snorted. “Come with me. I was in no mood for food. a coward always does. What if Victor returned? Why the heck would they think it was safe to leave me alone with a monster hungry for my soul? Victor would surely kill me knowing that I was all alone and powerless. Somehow I knew this wasn’t the end. but I could gamble my life on it. certainly not the norm for Nickel City folk. Would it be enough to keep Victor away? Would it keep him away long enough. so that I could regain my memory? “Once he believes that Evan isn't watching. “Victor has gone back into hiding. and I wasn’t sure why. I actually believed that. I concentrated as hard as I could to extinguish his evil face from my psyche. I felt strangely secure around him. Bethany had guessed he had come to do just that earlier. Just like that. everyone is expecting you. he is capable of manufacturing a maximum force tsunami out of the dry desert air. Why was Bethany acting like nothing happened? Where was Nikolas? Didn't she just leave to get him? And Evan – where was he? Her brother had just levitated out of here a moment ago on a mission to rid the world of one of its prime evil tormenters. “Well I’ll be in the dining room with the others.” Not the answer I wanted to hear.” Bethany added. My hands were clammy. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror. You don’t need to worry.” “No.. I shuddered at the thought. whoever I really was. but hadn’t gotten the chance. I rocked like that for what seemed like a long. but I knew that everything was pointing to the truth about whom and what I really am.” Bethany demanded. I didn’t want to believe Evan and Bethany. I fought the urge to scream in order to get them to stop. Not a scratch or a bruise was evident on my shoulders. but I had to stop thinking of Victor. I no longer felt the sting of the burns. I dreaded ever having to look into those evil eyes again. After a few minutes of unbuttoning tiny buttons.” “Please don't leave me!” I screamed to an empty room. and I wrapped myself in my arms and unconsciously began rocking back and forth. But Nikolas wasn’t with her. making me need to be close to him. I couldn’t deny that I was drawn to him for reasons I didn’t understand and wasn’t certain that I ever would. this guy who claims to be irrevocably in love with me. I don’t know why.

started sifting through the dozens of dresses. “But –” Sun Paw said. It was quite an achievement.” Moon Rose’s voice became guarded and more hushed. Anxiously. Moon Rose. Miss Bethany.” Moon Rose revealed in an amusing yet cunning voice. and she seemed to have her mind made up. but I guess I was wrong. I heard the knock again. Thank you. This time followed by Sun Paw's voice. “They all have dark auras at times. “I was under the impression that their kind couldn’t be killed. I walked down the lengthy foyer. “No. Sun Paw walked right past me as I squeezed myself further into the darkened corner. She is very delicate. They knew more than I knew. I did my best not to trip as I continued down the staircase in the irritatingly long gown edged in ruffles upon ruffles. You both have plenty to do.” Sun Paw informed. Some more frequent than the others.. you will help me in the kitchen. since she doesn’t know who or what she is. and protect us from the night creatures.uh. behind the closed door. The feeling was mutual. I’m only asking that you be cautious. I’m getting to know her now. She doesn’t even know me. Something stuck out in what Moon Rose had said. firmly. I really had to strain to hear her. and they have brought her back so that she could be revived. and they were trusted with the secret of the Ischeros. “Sun Paw.” I have to admit that I was annoyed by the interruption. I overheard Master Evander and Master Nikolas talking.” I can only imagine what Moon Rose meant by that. “When she lived with her parents in their home. I carefully descended the staircase but had to pause once again at the large–as–life photograph of me. I thought. and left. They knew about me and what I’m supposed to be. and apparently she was killed in the far away time. She is no different. what the hell she meant by night creatures? “But she’s –” Moon Rose never finished her sentence when a woman's voice. and has yet to really know who she is according to Master Evander and Master Nikolas. but stopped when I overheard voices. Stop being a little girl.. She is one of them. me. “You do not know what you speak of. in fear. I stood hidden in a dark corner a few steps away from the wide doorway to the pantry. I listened to hear her footsteps leaving. I was heading to the dining room when I spotted Sun .” I answered. I was intrigued by what I’d just heard.” Sun Paw noted. her last servant said that she could be very arduous at times.” Sun Paw demanded with a hiss. Sun Paw’s older sister. “Miss Cordelia. I didn’t want to eavesdrop on them. therefore she’s pleasant toward you now. I heard Moon Rose sigh of aggravation at the mention of Bethany’s name. “She may be grieving the life she lost in the far away time. Do not be naïve. She is very pleasant toward me. “Before she left for the far away time. Mother says that she is the purist of them all and the most sacred. We must honor that. I've come to see if you need my assistance in preparing for dinner?” Sun Paw asked. but once I heard what they were talking about. She is the strongest one of these beings. Enough of this whispering. Moon Rose reluctantly followed the woman who I guessed to be their mother into the kitchen. unsure. and I don’t see her that way. please stop. tend to the dining room. and hurried out of my bedroom and down the long stark hallway. “The family has always been fair to us. whispers in the Paiute dialect. little sister.. Sun Paw. They seemed to be coming from the pantry. After listening for a short moment I realized it was Moon Rose. and they trust us with their secret. tugging and twisting into the royal blue taffeta dress with more of the same bells and whistles sewn all over it. I had decided then and there that I didn’t like Moon Rose very much. I quickly grabbed the closest dress. and knew that I would soon find out.” “No. she had only been in this house for one moon.. They all have dark auras at times. I continued to occupy my hiding place for a moment while I thought about the sisters’ conversation. It freaked me out in ways so unimaginable.I will be out in a moment. “Well. I practically lost my footing looking at it. Sun Paw waited for a brief moment..” Sun Paw said. Once I was on the first floor I breathed a sigh of relief. It is almost time to serve dinner. ended their little chat. The sisters seemed to know everything.” Sun Paw said. “Well. I was surprised to hear them speaking about the Ischeros. I finished dressing. and finally gave up.” Sarcasm dripped from Moon Rose’s lips. put on the pair of royal blue satin shoes that matched the dress I chose. I really don’t like this girl.. and their capabilities. “Oh Moon Rose.” Moon Rose said knowingly. Unlike. Some more frequent than the others. before being cut off by her sister. she left to soon before any of us could have an opportunity to see her in action. I’m glad that I wasn’t stuck with her as my servant. it just couldn’t be helped.” Moon Rose explained. deeper and authoritative. Moon Rose had made it no secret to her sister that she didn’t think very highly of me. I couldn’t help wondering why Moon Rose felt that she needed to warn her little sister to be cautious of me since she admitted to not knowing much about me before I had left. I was astounded that I understood every word being spoken. Sun Paw seemed genuinely sweet. You stop.” Moon Rose warned. I was shocked that they knew what Evan and Bethany had claimed they were. and open your eyes. All that delicateness and insecurity will be gone with the realization that is sure to come. and quite mischievous. “I barely know her. I recognized Sun Paw’s voice but not the other. I quietly made my way back through the foyer and pretended to have just descended the stairs. “Hush. coming from the direction of the kitchen. and without any power. as I wondered.

Three magnificent crystal vases were perfectly placed on the enormous table holding the most breathtaking arrangement of completely opened and full red. stuffing and sweet potatoes wasn’t as elaborate as this setting. I wondered if she was aware of me spying on her. Already warm in this dress. Jumbo potted ferns.” I felt like I was hit with a brick. “The Underworld?” I croaked. I knew who they were. taller than I. and fruit covered the enormous table. having the same ocean blue eyes but heart shaped face as the woman. More than likely.” Evan whispered. and fuchsia roses. Did she lie? If so. I sat there like stone – unable to feel anything or even move. Maybe she was considering what her sister had said. The kids hadn’t seen the couple enter the room. and could only nod. Across from me were Nikolas. I guessed them to be Evan and Bethany’s younger siblings since we were in their home. “That was your mother and father. “My darling Cordelia. which was totally inappropriate for this temperate October weather. both roasted and raw. Bethany. An array of meats and vegetables. pitchers. I’ll certainly be forced to go up a dress size. But… wait a minute…that can’t be. They appeared to have come through the wall. I felt the perspiration beginning to pool in my corset. This must be some kind of dinner party. The couple looked at me endearingly. maybe. “Our home is the Underworld now and we must go. smiling. I was accustomed to having dinner late in my room most nights after work. Then it hit me. I smiled back and that seemed to make their day. were dead. The room was getting increasingly stifling. I know you don’t remember them and what happened to them. I dreaded. It was confirmed. and the girl looked about six or maybe seven. Evan cleared his throat before he answered. If that was the case. where all lost souls go. This kind of dining was novel to me. They wanted to give you closure so that you may ease back into your role here. I stared at them and they stared back. Her gaze stopped me in mid step. Evan pulled out the empty chair closest to him and I sat down. breads. The dining room table was set for a feast. her expression was doleful. A man and a woman looking to be in their midforties sat on either ends of the table. yet very sincere. I wondered why. I wondered who they were. He appeared to be surprised to hear me speak. in my honor. my voice was loud and grabbed everyone’s attention. The man spoke next. Eight Unexpected Guests Walking into the warm glow of the dining room. Something about them was familiar. we are your parents. The woman spoke first. “Yes. that I couldn’t remember. coral. I looked from one to the other. If they eat like this every night. “They’ve gone to the Underworld. They must be their parents. The etched crystal and engraved silver bowls. how vibrant. and immediately felt itchy. smiling at me.Paw in the parlor. My stomach did a flip. as well as the ocean blue eyes. I would be so deeply hurt by this new revelation. Thanksgiving. my real parents. The woman looked like an older version of me with the same jade green eyes. Something had changed. a man and woman materialized out of nowhere. and a little girl. a place for the grandest of dining and entertaining. I couldn’t tell by her expression. losing my breath and voice altogether. and unfurnished room was now a vision of opulence. for now. Evan favored the woman’s features but had the strong jaw line of the man. I thought. The glow from the chandelier’s crystals projected dancing stars on the crimson wallpapered walls. Suddenly. but still as glum as the woman. I just couldn’t get over how elegant the room looked. and were full of a variety of foods. I was surprised by how different it looked since I had last seen it. leaning closer to me as he looked at the two kids. I honestly don’t remember the last time I sat down with my parents for dinner. She looked at me oddly with her head cocked to one side.” And with those final words they both vanished right before my eyes. I prayed that they weren’t haunting it. I noticed two elegant candelabras lit at either end of the enormous table under crystal raindrops that dripped from the voluminous gilded chandelier. whom he seemed to not want to overhear. Both kids stared at me expectantly. and it was their ghosts that had spoken to me. which left me pondering if there was any truth to Moon Roses’ words. and platters glistened from the brilliance of the chandelier. dim. and were oblivious to the whole encounter. Please accept the role which you must take on. dusting knickknacks on the fireplace mantle. Bethany seemed to favor the man. They were the ghost couple that followed me through the gates of Bethany’s house. The boy looked to be about twelve. and subsequently at the older man for approval. Even then our dinner of turkey. We miss you and love you dearly. He sounded very matteroffact. . I was shocked and found it harder to breathe. Eyes from all around the table peered at me. I detested perspiring. a young boy. Perhaps it is better that you don’t. I couldn’t understand why she felt she needed to lie to me…about something so horrible. as I tried to get comfortable in my seat.” Closure? “Are they dead?” I questioned. I didn’t realize that it had this much potential. but I couldn’t figure out what. The cold.” I was too stunned by their presence and words to reply. Cordelia. and adjusted the skirt of my dress. Bethany had said that her parents had been… killed. Everyone except the kids seemed to notice them instantly. stood in every corner of the room as if standing watch over the guests. My parents.

um…thanks. Thaddeus’ composure was that of a man of greatness. and upon doing that every man at the table stood up. and rubbed it for a brief moment. Phoebe is your little sister and is seven years old. “Sweet darling. Considerably uncomfortable with his touch. this is Thaddeus and Alexandria Capius. deeply tanned face. In which Evan was to me. Both of the kid’s faces beamed as they raced each other to my chair. “We will keep that promise. the words that nearly broke my heart. as if she didn’t want me to leave again. Both of my future parents had deep brown eyes. It was so sweet the way she held on to me for a long time before finally letting go. “You are our daughter now. With his head held up. your younger brother. please know that you are safe now. Evan's parents finally headed back to their seats. She was slender and beautiful in a regal sort of way.” I threw a bitter glance at Bethany who pretended to miss it entirely. “Are you feeling alright?” I wasn’t. Their laughter was infectious and I giggled along with them.” Bethany added. It was a sudden reflex like that of being grabbed by a complete stranger. appearing unsure if it was alright to hug the big sister who didn't remember them. I ignored her. I didn't completely doubt that they were my real parents. which certainly didn’t mirror my green eyes. I immediately felt a sisterly bond to them both. and extended my arms out to them. How could they end up with a daughter who was five foot eight inches tall? These strange characteristics had always plagued me. I still felt connected to them now since loving them unconditionally for what I thought was a life time. He grabbed my hand under the table and gently squeezed it. Phoebe resembled me a bit but had hazel eyes and strawberry blond hair. Then she said it. who sat uncharacteristically for kids. my dear. “As well as to be expected. “Ever. Then they both stopped abruptly. my parents. but said. although Thaddeus’ hair was as pale as Bethany's. We shared so many of the same facial features. I just wished that I could recall some memory of them.” Thaddeus’ voice was a combination of authority and kindness. in my empty china plate. giving them the clearance they desired. quiet and well behaved. who as far as I was concerned were all that mattered to me. My dark wavy hair was a stark contrast to her curly blond hair. “Hello. and his chest thrust outward. I wanted to pull away. Chris is ten years old. “Please don't ever leave again. softening my expression into a smile.” Alexandria hugged and kissed me on the cheek. As far as body types go. therefore to no fault of their own. I caught my new dainty and fancy resemblance. I was suddenly tongue tied with a nervous affliction. My eyes went to my empty plate again then to the beautiful roses. He must have seen something in my expression when he asked. I felt the tears begin to well up beneath my eyelids and I cursed myself for my excess of wimpy emotions. We've promised your mother and father that in any event that either of them was ever taken away from you. Alexandria stood up from her thrown like chair. He kissed my hand. She practically glided over to me. “This is Christopher. and then let it resume its freedom by allowing it to fly away. Well. seventeen years that drastically turned out to be only two.. I didn't know these people. Her oval face was pale compared to my heart shaped.” she said smiling to me than to her husband. My dad was average for a man at five feet nine inches. as Evan motioned to the two adults who sat at either end of the dining table. finally feeling something somewhat remotely close to being happy since arriving in the past. I saw a lot of him in Evan.” The pureness in her immature whisper of a voice melted my heart a . which mirrored the woman who had just vanished. My future parents were imposters. seemed genuinely kind caring. Thaddeus and I would look after you as one of our own. I immediately pulled my hand away from his warm clutch.” Evan decided it was time to introduce his parents which made sense since I was stricken with a sudden bout of amnesia. “Cordelia. I doubt this bunch would ever let me go. that for the life of me I couldn’t remember any more than the two that had vanished. Unfortunately nothing came flooding back. ever so slowly. I had never been much of a crier so this new tendency of weeping was infuriating due to the sudden lack of control I have over it. Evan introduced the children. so the truth was hard to deny. At this moment.” she hugged me again. but didn’t dare insult him. Her hair was dark auburn like Evan's and her lips were full like his. in a harsh whisper. I eyed them carefully. In my despair I caught Evan staring at me oddly from my peripheral view. The way one would be if they had found a bird with a broken wing and nursed it until it healed.I missed my other parents.. unsuccessfully. to find a similar physical attribute to the only mother I remember knowing.” Evan said motioning to the two children. I couldn’t remember ever knowing them. anything. including the little boy who still had his eyes on me. I couldn’t disguise my shock of learning that kids were my siblings? “They have missed you terribly. I was smothered with kisses and hugs from my new little brother and sister. Cordelia.” I barely muttered. I thought about how I’d always tried. I’ve always wanted siblings. My future mom was petite at only five feet and one inch tall. forget about it. unbeknownst to them of course. the familiar ones and the unfamiliar ones. I was feeling unstable and glared at the faces around the table. the parents I left in the future. She gently stroked my perfectly coiffed hair while her husband began to speak. Although. These two strangers. I tried to conceal my tears by staring down at the sparkling silverware. They both giggled uncontrollably. They smiled and nodded as if trying to provide the strength needed to accept it all. reminding me of a queen.

The little conversation there was. didn't leave my side either. “The medallion is the Eye of the Ischeros. Probably anticipating the day they’ll be gifted with their own medallions. Evan’s had a darker blue stone that resembled a whirling twister and Nikolas’ had an onyx bow and arrow inside of a garnet stone. as everyone’s. “Yes. and served with baby potatoes and carrots. or he wouldn’t consider the day’s events to be promising. and made a halfhearted attempt to eat some of it. and more importantly with the family very soon. Bethany pulled her heirloom out from the neckline of her bodice.” I said. “This is your family heirloom. and shaped like a lightning bolt.” I said tying to sound gracious. How arduous it must have been for these kids to lose their parents. I watched curiously as Nikolas guzzled his in one sip and poured another glass full. He waited for the both of them to be seated. as Evan and Nikolas pulled their medallions from under their crisp shirts. He reached into his breast pocket. before realizing the words that had escaped my lips.” Thaddeus said. opening his linen napkin over his lap. including the children. “It’s venison. and then to lose me too. a young deer. The jewel was stunning. That smaller diamond was the color of the sky. do you remember receiving the medallion?” Bethany asked anxiously. We. It was given to you by your parents on your fifteenth birth – year. Yours.” Although Alexandria Capius was smiling when she spoke.” Thaddeus explained. “Children. “Cordelia. unfolding the fabric from the center. “I promise. and was like a magnet drawn to my touch. “I hope that you find your chambers to be comfortable Cordelia. I understand that you’ll need a little time. “What kind of meat is this?” I whispered to Evan. I understood it well. and pulled out a small burgundy velvet piece of fabric.” Thaddeus said. It was a bit too rare for my taste but still somewhat edible. has a symbol of their direct god. It was as if she was playing poker because.hundred times. as it is given to every Ischeros on their fifteenth birth – year. children. yet a real fear of vocalizing it. She expected me to familiarize myself with this way of life quickly. including my own. My heart rate quickened.” Thaddeus ordered. The lightning bolt is yours. “Hope is what one relies on when one has no control of one’s fate. My return was a gift to them. Suddenly Thaddeus stood up and raised his glass.” Thaddeus said. seemed lively although a bit strained. His face was jovial the way a young boys face looked opening a new toy car on Christmas morning. Thaddeus was unaware of what had transpired in my room a short while ago.” Alexandria said firmly. lifting the four pointed edges outward until the fabric was a perfect square revealing a sparkling medallion and glimmering silver necklace. whose eyes were as green as my own and whose dark auburn hair matched mine. The food kept coming and coming. and immediately felt guilty. and barely had any weight to it. “Lightning bolt? I asked timidly. Something about Thaddeus made me nervous. “We shall toast to Cordelia's safe and eagerly awaited return. Christopher. The twinkling stone felt so cool and smooth as I rubbed it with my fingers. She was as pretty as Sun Paw. my dear. The Tieron family is the first family of the Ischeros. or if ever you wish to speak with the gods.. I hope so. kindly. thinking of Bambi. Everyone took a slow sip of the dry bitter wine. I hadn’t really gotten a good look at Moon Rose earlier. and then he strolled over to me once again.. Obviously. twelve courses to be exact. Bethany’s had an ice blue diamond tear drop in the center. He really needed to slow down on the drinking. When she stood behind Bethany and placed a bowl of food on the table. The bolt flashed every time the light from the chandeliers hit it as if it had the power of a lightning bolt. I continued to move my food around on my plate.” All the glasses at the table shot up. I felt a tranquil feeling wash over me as I held the medallion. . The medallion had a diamond eye in the center of it with a smaller diamond as the pupil of the eye. Everyone ate quickly and with minimal conversation. Please come to me if you require anything at all. there was a hint of something in her eyes that gave me the impression that her statement was in fact an order. I couldn’t read her expression. “Please take your seats. when I had spied on them. I will explain shortly.” Then he gently placed the necklace around my neck.” I nodded slowly. while dropping it into the bodice of my dress. have nothing in common with those who rely on hope. I got the impression that there was so much waiting to be said. It seemed to draw from my energy. I loved the way the medallion felt against my skin – like an extension of me. although hesitantly. she took a quick glance at me. “No. Cordelia must be hungry as we are surely famished with the days promising events. “Thank you. We began to eat once the sisters left the room.” I answered honestly. “Your medallion has a diamond which represents your parents’ sacred bloodline. Dinner was served by Sun Paw and Moon Rose. I was told that the meat was venison. The children looked at all four of us in awe. a guide if ever in danger. and vowed to never eat venison again.” Thaddeus proclaimed. “I’m certain that you will be re–acquainted with your surroundings. Cordelia.

the only family directly deriving from Zeus. I looked up at the mention of my name. Nikolas. and heard Sun Paw’s and Moon Rose’s conversation. Alexandria is as well.” Bethany added. Holden’s Ancient Cultures class. Sun Paw and Moon Rose came in to escort them to their respective rooms. “I see. Therefore what I’m about to tell you. Evan looked at me. Our kingdom.” Evan confirmed.” Thaddeus explained. We are both demigods. “You know all of this already. mine being Poseidon. Although. “Yes. my darling.” Thaddeus added triumphantly. so I knew there had to be some truth to what Thaddeus explained no matter how incredulous it sounded. and took another sip from his cup. It was an old venue for parties. Finally coffee and dessert was served. “It will be even better than last year’s. I had to concentrate to tear my eyes away from his face. Everyone believed that they were just that. It was obvious to me that Evan was trying to change the subject. and excused herself explaining that she had an early morning.” Nine Immortal “Our families go back thousands of years. Alexandria was making me nervous with that shadowy smile of hers. stories. Her face appeared darkened when she smiled as if the lit candle in front of her had been blown out. “Our Empire has taken great lengths to have endured this long. in a way. the Powerful. I had no idea what they spoke of.” Bethany beamed. must be taken seriously. As a matter of fact it was. originate from the Twelve Olympians. as our children are.” Thaddeus looked over at me admiringly. “It’s when you will be crowned the new Empress of Ischera. I’d been reading about Greek mythology this year in Mrs. and unfortunately Victor in action. and save me at the same time. repeating what Evan had told me just a couple hours earlier. “The most powerful family is yours. The Ball will be magnificent. “Our Empire of families. I was familiar with Harper’s Hall. “And all the more special now that Cordelia has returned. the god of the seas. Mother. I learned all about how the great Titans had been taken down by the almighty Zeus. your sacred line of divinity. “Yes. We stand at only a hundred or so family members remaining in our empire. Bethany gave me a look that I took as pay attention.” Thaddeus answered. but has allowed his children to. I guess there was going to be a party of some kind. Thaddeus decided that the time was right. Had I not seen Evan. “This year’s Masquerade Ball will be glorious. “Your emergence today was unexpected but on time. and scratched his beard for a moment as if he were mulling it over. When my eyes met Thaddeus’ again. demanding my attention. but continued anyway. thoroughly intrigued. My stomach went sour and I could almost taste the bile in my mouth.” Bethany said. did you find the ride into town today resourceful?” Evan asked as his mother kept her eyes trained on me for a moment too long. You only need to look within yourself to remember.” Thaddeus said as his voice grew. sparkling with enthusiasm. my child. I suspected that he knew that he sort of scared me. I couldn’t tell if his expression was that of annoyance or the need for Preparation H. Zeus has never wished to live amongst the humans. Your parents and your parents’ parents and well… you get the idea. It is your ancestry. They chatted a little more about the Masquerade Ball. while I felt like I was withering away in my chair.“Mother. as Alexandria wished everyone a good night. do you mean an actual kingdom?” I tried to camouflage my skepticism. Ischera.” Thaddeus’ breakdown of the intricate family trees was . Harper’s Hall must be as it was last year. and his voice boomed across the table in my direction. my child. All eyes were on me – every pair. I believe the hall was built around this time. the God of the sky. jubilantly to me. time is something we don’t have.” she quipped. confirming that I’m on candid camera.” I said not knowing how else to reply. They seemed to want to be in my presence. They are all his descendants. with exquisite and grand décor. lemon cake. and nodded reassuringly. living in the clouds on Mount Olympus above the people of ancient Greece. After that the kids were unhappily excused from the table to retire for the evening. but I wasn’t up for much partying or even discussing the décor for one. “We no longer reside in Greece as we did a very long time ago. was destroyed centuries ago. “So when you say empire. He looked extremely uncomfortable. ” Thaddeus explained. direct descendants of the Gods. myths. cleared his throat. “Yes. fore it may save your life. “We are the Ischeros. I think my face revealed my astonishment because Thaddeus looked at me and said. Bethany. I had loved the beautiful and horrific stories about these mythical beings that supposedly existed. I would have expected the prankster who put these people up to this to leap out from behind the enormous grandfather clock.” I nodded and he continued.” He paused. and his Olympians. Each family is a direct descendant of one of the twelve. Everyone’s eyes were on me. “And you are a descendant of Poseidon?” I asked. We are the second family. But seeing had me believing somewhat.

so I decided to say nothing and let Thaddeus finish.” “Modern times?” I asked to no one in general. and I was finding it harder and harder to focus on what he way saying. or how you earn your living. but were extremely powerful warriors with a penchant to drink.” Evan chimed in. On that note. continuing with the history lesson. protective brother I had always wanted. I was going to be a teenager for a long. and can sometimes see into the future. you must do as we have and that’s keep the secret of your identity and your strengths hidden in order to survive in these modern and compromising times.fascinating. then they’ll make something fictitious up.” Thaddeus said.” Evan answered. it’s our responsibility to not call upon them to interfere. I had been in the future to long. I couldn’t help but wonder what my specialty was. slightly. She smiled back. I guess you could say that I’m multitalented. gazing at me admiringly. “And me? What am I? What do I transform into?” I said just above a whisper. “I’m not… perfect. Niko is also your distant cousin on your mother’s side. long time which consequently meant being young for decades. and I can become and channel water. “The gods watch over us from the crest of Mt. “Cordelia. Evan can transport me but only If I’m made up of water. I looked over at Bethany and smiled. “There must always be a credible trace to where ones financial status derives from. redeemed of any vices. “How is silver deadly?” I asked Thaddeus. Although. He definitely had the qualities of a warrior. I could feel my cheeks getting hot as I quickly looked down at my hands. It is the case with you. “I’m part human. your abilities will not be revealed until your memory is restored.” Thaddeus added. the joyful God of Wine. “Yes. water. and use the lies to discriminate against you. It has caused your mind to lapse for longer than any of us anticipated. I was definitely warming to the idea. Therefore we used our power to place the now very lucrative and deadly minerals into the mines that make this town the booming mining town of silver that it is. “I’m a warrior and a descendant of the Dionysus. and the droves of prospectors who’ve migrated to Nickel City. after a few more decades we will be forced to move on so that we can continue to conceal our resistance to age. If they are unable to find anything juicy.” Thaddeus boasted as he blew smoke rings that slowly dissipated before reaching the patterned ceiling.” Bethany added. If they knew all of this then why did they leave me there so long? I was annoyed with the idea that all of this confusion could have been avoided. I could never stay mad at her for long. who filled his empty glass. but wealthy folk. but I don’t have full control of them as of yet. Evan’s morphing into a twister made up of a tidal wave and Bethany becoming water. along with the satyrs.” “That’s right. and air. they will dig and dig. as they are. “We came to this quiet town and made our lives here. and almost always ends in persecution. speculation will follow. I smiled at Nikolas. Compared to what – the days of cavemen and Vikings?” “Indeed. I guess that made sense. But I figured what’s done was done. He was probably the only person at the table that didn’t make me tense. is only a door left open to suspicion. “I also have visions. and when it is. yet I had seen him with my own eyes in the mirage.” Thaddeus was staring deeply into my face. They can only trust what they know. “The year 1891 could hardly be considered modern.” I said with conviction. unafraid and brave. “Forecasting into the future can be a hindrance to progress.” Thaddeus said with a glimmer in his eye and a soft chuckle. “The Ischeros. I was ecstatic to learn that we are related.” Thaddeus stated as he lit a cigar.” Evan said with a slight grin. own the mines in this town and are respected by the people residing here. We have survived by concealing who we are and what we are capable of for centuries by living as the mortals do. I almost regretted asking the question when I saw everyone’s serious expressions. known to the townsfolk as just common. So that was it. your capabilities weren’t completely realized before you left for the future therefore. We've always had an understanding of how the mortals think. as well as by air. I was happy that Nikolas turned out to be my cousin. and have fortified us with the necessary powers therefore. “And Nikolas is a centaur?” I said. We’ve existed long before them. He is really like the older. with a wink as he grabbed his empty glass. Centaurs have always appeared beastly. I was just surprised that they thought this period was modern. Any secret of any kind whether it’s where you are from. it’s . “Despite the fortunes that have been made with silver by some of the townsfolk.” Evan added. It was just too wild. Not aging could certainly be considered a perk I guess until people start noticing that you’re not aging naturally. Olympus. and it wasn’t going to help any by pointing fingers. Where there is suspicion. When some people can’t get at the truth. And now I couldn’t even remember myself. “You are perfection. It all made perfect sense. “I’m a water siren. looking pleased. will someone please pass me the bottle of wine?” Nikolas said. but I’ can’t transport by it like Evander.

They are the shadows in the day. “The Apolluon is the army governed by Hades. still hunt us. which Evan had said.” I asked.” Nikolas said. Hades has always been desirous of Zeus’ power. I understood why the shadows – the Apolluon went after Victor.” I was so numb with shock. and the enemy of all life. the Apolluon have been patiently nicking away at our once sizable empire for centuries. hoping I pronounced the words correctly. The Underworld also known as the Land of Shadows is a place resembling the fires off hell. Bullets are made out of the precious mineral and you’ll hear more buck shots at every full moon. Our superior power has only enraged Hades. sent icy chills up and down my back. every day. “I don’t think that I fully understand what you mean by the shadows in the day. and fuels his desire to completely annihilate the families. The stories included fatal attacks at every full moon by werewolves. His eyes stayed on mine. “The Apolluon have trackers who only search for the Ischeros. in order to obtain control over all.” I remembered some of the stories about Hades. eyeing me carefully as he continued. pausing for a split second. He didn’t have to worry because I hung on every word. I tried to digest this shocking information as best as I could. “Your parents don’t belong in the Underworld.” Hearing long tales about Nickel City's past was common for kids during Halloween. Yet still. and as he continued the words created a world of gloom and evil that I once thought were just myths. “He means werewolves and vampires. then we were surrounded by Hades’ evil. It was what I had dreaded learning about. The gods will not interfere. “Their demise is inevitable if in contact with silver. they also hunt for what they no longer have… the blood of the living which strengthens them. especially the monstrous kind.” “I speak of the Lykanos and the Apolluon?” Thaddeus said. I was the key. They lie dormant until they witness displays of power. They roam the earth at night quite ravenous to fulfill their unquenchable thirst. Thaddeus got comfortable in his chair. and shuddered. He didn’t have to say it. Seeing Evan and Bethany and Nikolas in action was also a testament. Once they do. I turned to Nikolas and he nodded then guzzled the remaining drop of wine and belched.” Thaddeus smiled at me knowingly. “What are the Ly–can–os and the Apo – lawn?” I said looking passed Thaddeus to the others. the Destroyers. “I speak of the Apolluon. still puffing away on his putrid cigar. “Do you follow me. I was following every word. “The Apolluon are threatened by us although they have always outnumbered us. winking at me before taking a sip from his glass. and the most malevolent mortals are sent.been our primary weapon against certain beasts that appear during a full moon and creatures that hunt for blood at night. His threats of starting a war never made it any easier for him. definitely the beastly side of this centaur. a powerful empire of thousands of dead souls whom till this day.” Thaddeus said. I didn’t know if he was joking or not. Hades is known to all as the Ruler of the Underworld. vicious assaults by large felines.” Thaddeus said. I didn’t care much for shadows. and his hound Cerberus that guards the adamantine gates to Hades’ kingdom beneath the earth.” Thaddeus said.” Thaddeus said. he is liked the least. since he had displayed power. Waiting for the right moment to destroy what they cannot possess. they rise up off of the surfaces they shaded and attack. I should be able to believe anything at this point since I was killed and am alive again. I didn’t want any part of it. I looked over at Evan who seemed to eye his father cautiously. “Vampire’s really exist?” I asked in a whisper. “The Apolluon are the shadows you see cast on everything. His voice was deeper now and demanded my undivided attention. and what I desperately needed to absorb. with a sneer as if he dared the Apolluon to try. I knew what was meant by the cunning way he smiled. Cordelia?” Thaddeus asked. They are monsters to the mortals who have been unfortunate to witness them. and the shadow I saw on the night of the storm. but have been gifted to Hades as payment for more power. and monstrous fanged beings that preyed on the town’s people in the wee hours of the night. “Under Hades’ command.” Thaddeus said. They know that we have the key to our ultimate survival.” A flash back of Victor in town. with the shadows moving behind him. I thought of the wolf that Evan hurled into the tree which had transformed into a teenage girl. Some return as the undead. I still found it difficult to believe that these creatures existed. “Evil lives and breathes in this world in constant pursuit to destroy everything in its path. and now everyone stared at me. even after listening to Thaddeus’ narrative and remembering my recurring dream. and puffed a few perfect rings up to the ceiling before he continued. really happened. Even the other Gods themselves have an aversion to him. and looked at Bethany who looked at her father with admiration as he narrated. angrily. but to us they are just dead souls that have taken the shape of shadows by the day and blood hunters by night. but I sure am glad they showed up for Victor when they had. “While the Apolluon track us. The Underworld was where my real parents had said they were going. Zeus’ bitter and jealous brother. Then I remembered the wolves that chased me in the dream. lit another cigar. What did that mean exactly? I was alarmed.” Thaddeus decided to take the history lesson to a darker chapter. They leave the Land of Shadows every day to track us. Hades’ realm and abode for the dead. Of all the Gods. I nodded absentmindedly. The information was terrifying as it was gripping. demigods. but I didn’t get why they had come after me when I was only running for the bus. where death is just the beginning. But never in my wildest dreams would I have thought any of it was true. and his greed has made our empire a direct target for destruction once again. If what Thaddeus explained was true. . “Hades rules the dead with the assistance of various demonic creatures such as Charon the ferry man who escorts you across the river Styx. is where the exiled gods.

which was my first glimpse of the dynamics of their relationship. I knew the chances of leaving was nonexistent. dear?” Thaddeus asked me in an authoritative yet endearing tone.” Thaddeus said sternly. “As long as we don’t allow any displays of power in public.” Before I had a chance to comment or ask another question.” “Father. but won’t. my purpose. As father said.” Evan said with an edge to his voice. until now. I had a wrenching feeling that it was only going to get more complicated. They’ve employed shifters of the Lykanos kind.” I had to interrupt. I nodded without allowing my eyes to meet his. Bethany added “In any case we still limit the amount of power that we use in our homes. “Very good. we don’t want any unnecessary attention from our neighbors as well. and ultimately we’ll be defenseless. “What about displays of power in private. therefore not really heightening the Apolluon’s defenses. Thaddeus cleared his throat but said nothing for a moment. they are just the undead souls controlled by Hades. “There has never been another Ischeros to possess the magnitude of power that you possess. Vampires are what they are called by the mortals. the wolf.” Thaddeus said. “After over a hundred years of evading them. You have no idea why Zeus had granted her that gift. and Hades has contributed in an ominous way. I had to know. but I nodded and kept my mouth shut. you don’t know that. pausing for a brief moment. then we are potentially safe from attracting unwanted attention from them. so I had to have a full understanding of my existence. Cordelia. However. like in the house and behind closed doors?” Everyone looked up at me because they knew exactly where I was going with my question. “They are more of a threat to us as shadows than as hunters at twilight. they have become aware of us in the west. It allowed terrifying thoughts to clog my head. and can put up quite a battle. They dissipate upon trying to enter. As shadows they will render an Ischero powerless. they are powerful in strength once they have feed. everything. “Is there anyone that can defeat Hades?” I asked. I understood but was shocked at what I was listening to. I especially needed to know everything about the evil beings who wanted to destroy it. “I believe that person is you.” Thaddeus smiled at his daughter who in turn seemed to bask in her father’s adoration. They all had shown off their powers. who is the only being that can rid the world of Hades. A long time ago.“All creatures are created by the gods. Then I shall continue. The room remained quiet as he appeared to be thinking of a response. and of those who surrounded me – those who make up this ancient empire. But unfortunately the Lykanos are also susceptible to silver. Now we have an abundance of silver and they are aware of that fact. many Ischeros perished at the hands of an Apolluon vampire.” The dude was scaring me. and then threw Evan a withering look. Evan cleared his throat and answered me. He was definitely challenging his father. “The Apolluon can sense us as we can sense them.” “Can they hurt us as shadows?” I asked. Do you follow me. Cordelia. but indoors. this empire. “The Apolluon are rendered powerless in our dwellings. I guess it was the million dollar question.” Thaddeus said. Why else would Zeus give you the power of his bolt? You are the only descendant to ever possess such a gift from Zeus. . Thaddeus ignored Evan’s interruption. I braced myself for whatever else Evan’s dad had in store. but as I stated. they all had done it not just once but several times. Yet they won’t drink our blood which is poisonous to them. I wanted out of this family. As the walking undead.

” The unforgettable words Evan yelled when he rocketed out of my room earlier rang in my head: “I WILL NOT REST UNTIL I KILL THE COWARDICE SON OF IPTIAN!” “Why does Victor. we all hope that he doesn’t get the opportunity. “It’s your purpose. the god of war. who was known to have an ever changing temperament like the weather. they will seize a deity. was consumed by greed. He sat beside me.” “What?’ I asked anxiously. Whatever it was must have been left behind in the future. Nikolas and Bethany snickered along with him. You are the only deity with immunity to them. But I knew they secretly watched me.” Thaddeus continued.” Thaddeus answered. Thaddeus jumped on it. because I had absolutely no clue what it could be. they seemed to hang onto his every word. as Thaddeus took a few brief moments before answering. “Yes well. I adjusted myself in my chair. Evan’s face stayed expressionless. and looked to be somewhere other than at this table.” Thaddeus paused. even Cerberus…possibly Hades himself.” Thaddeus said. I guess you couldn’t blame his parents after their offspring fed on their friends and relatives. and as a defense when there is no other choice. I had to wonder if the man was just messing with me. former members of our pantheon. Either way she kept her eyes fixed on the sparkling crystal.” Evan vowed. .” The long winded Thaddeus barely stopped to breathe.“So how do we get rid of the Apolluon?” I asked wanting to hear a solution to the growing problem. due to the shame his parents felt for having a beast for a child. “Victor can shift into any animal. Something had me believing that he wasn’t. “Why is he the fallen son?” I asked. “I second that. that would be the Minotaur. That story is one of the points in the quiz I was scheduled to take on…how quickly I’d forgotten where I am. “Only you know. “At the chance of a sighting by these creatures. although over time.” Ten The Iptians My head hurt as I tried to figure out what Thaddeus claimed that only I knew. several of our members have been obsessed with power. we use our strengths only when necessary. well boy. render them powerless and take you to the gates of the underworld where you will be eagerly greeted by Cerberus. his ancestor. But you must remember something. “As I’ve told you. He will not stop until he kills you. an oath if you will. “Is he half bull and half man?” I still couldn’t believe what I had seen in the mirage. Victor is all man. You are here to save us from the evil that has persecuted us for centuries. More than anything. One family.” Nikolas raised his partially filled glass as Bethany eyed it cautiously. I wanted to know about his family. that’s who you’re referring to right?” “Yes. “Them?” “All of them. or the chances of him accidently spilling it on her dress. The fallen son is becoming restless. I was enthralled. We vow only to use our powers to protect. and scared out of my mind. I wanted to know why he was banished.” Thaddeus said. trying not to appear sick. “No. Murder has always been his proclivity as is his descendants.” There was some friction around the table as Thaddeus said this. I had been waiting to hear about Victor this whole time. I bet his tsunami was more powerful than the seismic waves I had just witnessed compliments of my dream warrior here. He was imprisoned in a labyrinth built just for him. the families have survived the mounting evil of the resilient Apolluon due to a sacred vow to honor a creed. “You must search within yourself for the answer. The Iptians had broken the rules and used their powers to gain status and ultimate control. Everyone appeared to be paying very close attention to him.” Thaddeus spoke evenly. I wasn’t sure if she was concerned with the gallon of wine Nikolas had already burped up this evening.” “Hades’ hound.” Thaddeus chuckled again at his own little joke. my child. who didn’t see it. “The creature will only allow you to enter but never leave. He was a descendant of Poseidon. Thaddeus’ eyes looked inclement as if a tempest was brewing behind them. brother. I remembered the awful story of the Minotaur. and when it can’t be detected. as Thaddeus smiled.” I acknowledged. the true figure behind every form of violence. waiting to witness my reaction. They are descendants of Ares. the evil beast who feeds on human flesh” Thaddeus chuckled to himself. He didn’t seem to take our existence and safety lightly. and I felt my stomach drop. even though they already understood. perhaps it’s just one thing. making it almost sound as a challenge. each families individual deity – the giver of such gifts. Actually. “Over time. I threw a look at Evan. the Iptian family in particular. to stay true to our light. “He won’t get the chance. but prefers the bull as does Ares. “No.

They’re discovering ravaged. The story of Victor’s family sounded a bit biased. His disciples. He winked at me. and said a prayer that when I opened them again that I would be back home – in the future. They were great contributors to our kind.” Thaddeus paused and cleared his throat. You see Cordelia. so that he could replenish it with the bitter wine. Hades works alone. he will draw the Apolluon. and began murdering the other members so that they could reign in power. They all tried not to stare at me. Thaddeus cleared his throat once again. He smiled and filled his own then Bethany’s. “When Victor tried to attack me after I was killed in the car accident. Therefore. although small now but steadily growing. and will indeed bring on attacks from the Apolluon. I shook my head telling him no. That just makes me all the more popular. we were unprepared. For once I actually wanted to hear Thaddeus’ voice break up the awkward pause. in grave danger as we were when his family was alive. “Since Victor’s arrival in Nickel City. His tone sounded as if a small monster had been aroused somewhere deep in his chest. We know that the Apolluon are near because of the attacks that have left the mortals baffled and in fear. I closed my eyes. Great. and has grown in power that only you can exceed.Thaddeus’ voice stole my attention from Evan. “The Iptian family became weak with their lust for power.” Thaddeus paused. in my bedroom listening to my IPod. They make him stronger by number. I don’t think I could ever forget the vehemence in his eyes. “Victor is aware of this as well. why even tempting. as he calls them. as it has for years. live in Victor. no Ischero knew of Victor's existence. “Victor has been busy since his unexpected arrival in Nickel City. a higher commanding family’s power. They knew with your survival we would all survive any attack from the Apolluon. “He has built an army.” Thaddeus demanded obviously intrigued. brooding. but I had no choice but to believe it after seeing Victor up close and personal. I thought. They are powerful as long as he is. in order to rebuild the strength he has lost in building his legion.” Life source? “Does that mean that I can give life or does it mean that if I die. We are. With more bloodshed. and have supreme control. He thrives off of avenging them. I knew that they all had detected the quiver in my voice.” Thaddeus practically growled with indignation. “Yet it is ultimately destructive. I thought. Evan didn’t miss a beat and glared right back at his father. The room was quiet for a moment – too quiet. They realized that you are our life source. I granted it. They’ve always had an appetite for it. You see.” “Do the town’s people believe that there are vampires? I mean monsters in Nickel City?” “Seeing has been deemed proof enough. have been gifted with secondary power through him. and our neighboring town. I gulp it in three swallows.” Thaddeus shocked me by his admission of craving power. Hades protects no one. The expression on Victor’s face became fearful. My hand trembled as I placed the wine glass back onto the table. We've tried to keep him at bay. Almost as quickly as the shadows showed up. “Tell me why. He knows what the Apolluon are capable of. They can devour him as well. The Apolluon.” I had everyone’s attention with my little interjection. “Appalling!” Thaddeus exclaimed. I could hear the warm breeze waft into the dining room from the large windows behind us. Then Thaddeus stood up and began pacing the floor surrounding the dining table. and flew into the sky and disappeared. Cordelia. Some bodies have been discarded further than the Bergnum Railroad can take these mortals. but they have followed his trail. Victor grew wings.” He stopped long enough to glare at Evan. crept up and stood over him. and not far off somewhere. so with a short nod. gently running his fingers through his graying goatee. “Oh…” I uttered. So much for powers. They took the shape of monsters. my child. He needs our power. even though I had a feeling that my nod might have been interpreted as an acceptance to the duty of getting rid of Victor. Nikolas gave me an odd look and gestured for me to hand him my wine glass. All found with punctured necks and limbs. They will kill Ischeros as well as mortals. “It only proves how callous Victor really is. “Both” They all four answered simultaneously. My approval to continue was suddenly needed.” “I believe that he does know about the Apolluon?” I said. no one. I needed something to calm my erratic nerves so I grabbed my nearly full glass of red wine. “Your parents lived to protect you. then you all die?” I asked. It’s not only because you were their daughter. the shadows.” Nikolas added. I must admit that the desire for so much can be appealing. and they will begin a war that will not end. I fixed my eyes on Evan. the world of his evil. there has been quite a bit of bloodshed while you’ve been… away. The death toll has risen considerably and it is time to liberate this town. They knew that I was on the verge of freaking out. Bedwyn City. “Everyone expected that Victor had perished along with his family. . I prefer gang of bandits and murderers.” Thaddeus said. and will always end in evil exploits that cannot be reversed. They understood your purpose. “Victor’s ancestors. yet weaker alone.” Thaddeus said. A second or two more… I lifted my eyelids very slowly as if they weighed a hundred pounds between them. since their banishment took place when he was at a very young age but his family made him quite aware of your importance. as I played unconsciously with my napkin. His family may have failed to educate him about the Apolluon. he has declared himself emperor and is stronger than he has ever been. but only for a moment. and yet he doesn’t give a damn as to those creatures becoming aware of our location. It can be none other than The Apolluon vampires. blood drained corpses allover our forests. I guess his mind was back in this room again. He has proven to stop at nothing. once again.

” Thaddeus added as he glowered at Evan. It was more of a command than a precautionary suggestion. looked away then down at his hands. As a safety provision. It was he and not his words that left me feeling uncomfortable. I hoped for my life that she was telling the truth. We’re just kids. Evander stayed behind in order to lead the members in tracking Victor and his disciple’s movements. my dear. regaining and mastering your power. a questioning look. She is safe here.” Thaddeus remarked but didn’t answer. We had hoped that we could destroy him then bring you back safely. “Since Zeus is the god of the sky and the ruler of all mankind. I planned to ask Bethany or Evan instead. Bethany had said that they had the situation under control. you were transported to a time where we figured Victor Iptian would never find you. unsuccessfully. turning his angry stare into a softer one as he turned to look at me. All of his dwellings are secluded. Somehow. why doesn’t he stop Victor and the Apolluon? Doesn’t he care what may happen to us? Don’t any of the gods care?” “Those are all good questions. and seemed to direct the question at his father. like his father. Victor had already paid me an unexpected visit.” Thaddeus bluntly advised.” Bethany added. Bethany and Nikolas suspiciously.” Evan said. “We tried. a genuine coward at heart. “Before the Apolluon discover us first. I was a goner. “Therefore. “Your abilities were at an immature state. that evasive bastard. It was shaking. or myself?” Thaddeus asked as he prepared to answer the question himself but Evan interrupted. My attention was quickly summoned by Thaddeus once again. I unconsciously rubbed the spots on my shoulders where he had pierced until I bled. Bethany and Nikolas followed. and then paused for a split second. to discover Victors hiding places. which were in his lap. Bethany and Nikolas appeared to be a bit nervous. directly opposite Evan. practically groaned glaring at his father whom returned a silencing glare. I observed Evan. “Therefore. almost as if he were implying that Victor should. Evan. We will find out who advised him of your whereabouts. “Our lack of success is what kept you in the future longer than we had anticipated. But he was dead wrong. I was trembling from head to toe – all brought on by what I was hearing. They all three looked at me as if they prayed that I wouldn’t let the cat out of the bag. maiming. They are into savagely beating. or the rest of the gods haven’t any concerns. “We will capture him. We certainly had not foreseen him jumping time. but I kept my mouth shut.” Evan said. my dear. he still eludes our efforts. “Hopefully.” Thaddeus said. has never been of the patient kind. Thaddeus saw how I rejected his son and exchanged an odd look with Evan. I didn’t care much for his attempt at consoling me. Father. The integral part in finding and destroying Victor is you. not even legal yet.” Did I detect a bit of amusement in Thaddeus’ voice? His cerulean blue eyes twinkled like the crystal vases on the dining room table. “Before you departed for the future. ” Nikolas answered crossing his arms across his barrel of a chest. he'd rather kill off the source. “No…it’s definitely not their handy work. Well not Bethany and I. “Yes. making it sound as though I had gotten on a plane.” Thaddeus stopped pacing. If I didn’t get out of this house soon I was sure to suffocate. I was tempted to. why wasn’t Thaddeus out there flipping over rocks looking for that snake. We know that finding you was not a fortuitous act on his part. or Bethany. I had to ask the question that had been on my mind since Thaddeus had first begun speaking of the gods and the doom that seemed inevitable for the Ischeros. and sat in the chair opposite mine. “Victor. I wasn’t safe here at all. while eyeing Evan and Thaddeus cautiously. Why I couldn’t stay in the house I had grew up in? I didn’t dare ask Thaddeus this. unable to execute the plan to terminate him. Why not go after Evan. Cordelia. you. therefore we could not risk Victor's next attack. Malcolm Iptian. Cordelia. We still have no idea how he found you. Evan cupped my hand. “It’s not that Zeus. but we’ll flush him out soon enough. Evan held his father’s gaze. . We were certain his next attack would be on you.” Nikolas commented. I had no idea what was going on between Evan and his long winded father. and rumored to change as quickly as the weather. before you’re at the height of unparalleled power.” Thaddeus suggested firmly. He spoke to me but looked at Evan. His sleepy eyes pierced right through me.“Couldn’t it be Victor’s disciples?” I asked. himself? He had better start because from the sound of it.” Thaddeus sympathized. “No. “He may have shrouded himself this time. But still. and straight forward murder. We expected that he would be searching every inch of the earth for you. I wondered why they all spoke as if it were up to us to capture Victor. I caught Evan watching me again. unwavering. Evan noticed everything. Evan sat up suddenly and said. “It is best that Cordelia remain in this house until her power is restored. but it was obvious that they had some issues. why not go after you?” Evan said. because the thought of having to stay in this house made my stomach sour. Thaddeus sighed heavily. and again I pulled away. not wanting to believe that vampires really exist. with smoldering cheeks. sauntered over to the side bar and fixed himself a drink. Bethany played with her dinner napkin while Nikolas got up.” Thaddeus appeared to be tired with eyes drooping every so often. I didn’t want to stay in this house. They have fortified us with great power and wisdom. not fully realized. I turned my eyes away from Thaddeus and looked at my right hand which rested on the table.

and gulped what was left of his wine. We live hundreds of years with power then live hundreds of years without. Something in his expression came across wicked. I was relieved to see him go. “As demigods. “Listen Evander. a long and tired kind of sigh. I saw two boys who were behaving like grown men. and I was taken aback. I guess out of nervousness. as did Bethany and Nikolas. “For some it is a reality that is very difficult to. he actually believed his second hand powers were a match for a genuine Ischero. How can I live up to their expectations if I don’t have an inkling as to when I will remember any of this? There was a sudden uncomfortable silence in the room – a chill to be exact. “That does not give him the right to be condescending and accusatory.” What Bethany just revealed hit me like a thud. This all seems more like a curse than a gift.” “I see. It seemed so cruel to watch your descendants being hunted. Evan. Lucas' corpse is a direct message. Evan leaned back in his chair. It’s actually amusing if you think about it. dreadfully.” Nikolas said. Evan commented on what Bethany had said.” The anger didn’t show on Evan’s face but there was an unmistakable trace of pure venom in his voice. and got up so slowly from his chair. He looked as if he were to take another step. water dotted. Then as quickly as his eyes were blazing.” I waited for a response but no one said a word. This information is not meant to be onerous. It had never occurred to me that he was powerless within this world. our powers begin at adolescence and mature at the age of seventeen. his chest heaving. It was the way they spoke. Suddenly. and maybe that was Zeus’s intent. but I didn’t. and acted as If he didn’t hear me. “My parents live vicariously through the power of their children as all the elders do. they returned to their natural penetrating azure.” I suddenly felt really bad for Thaddeus and Alexandria. which Thaddeus had just walked through. He wants this thing with Victor to end. Again they ignored me. feeling its icy coolness. She was so different from the easy going teenager I befriended two years ago. and are respected and admired for the world they’ve kept safe for us. It was as if I wasn’t even in the room. Nikolas and Bethany appeared somewhat stupefied. crashing loudly against the molding of the archway. Her face was somber as she looked at the archway her father had just gone through. She spoke with such wisdom. She was a woman with insight. accept. Zeus will not be culpable for the destruction to the entire world that a war with Hades would bring.” Bethany said. I had no . Corpse? “Who is Lucas” I asked. The man had scared me at several distinct points while he revealed the world of terror surrounding me. The tension in the air had intensified.” Nikolas was standing up and leaning over Bethany to get closer to Evan. “Lucas' first mistake was thinking that Evan's visit was an attack. It led me to believe that they saw it that way too. “Don’t be upset with him Evan. Olympus laughing all the while. so mature. It came off rather natural. “The warning certainly shows that we can and will get close enough to avenge his extremely bad decision of coming here. There definitely was a whole other side to Evan. They must feel so helpless. “Father is patient. I was taken aback by his actions. It is as Zeus intended. I had to come to terms with the fact that I really didn’t know her. I couldn’t conceal my curiosity after listening to him for over an hour.” Evan said. so self assured. the warning will not go unanswered. I think the warning will be well received.. I was overwhelmed and petrified of what my life would be like now.” Nikolas added. He feels helpless. I fingered my medallion. We. “But then. wisdom. if only for a moment. I tried like hell not to convey my uneasiness. Zeus will not interfere or allow the other gods to fight a war which we can handle. whose eyes were blood red.” Nikolas chuckled. The beautiful. The ‘forgotten son’ will try unrelentingly to get what he believes to be his. The elders are sought for guidance. roses scattered onto the wood floor just as the water from the smashed vase began to seep through the area rug. “I shall retire now. Cordelia. a demigod. We must keep the world safe so that our children may not have to fight any wars. I expect that after all the events of the day that you will sleep well. I looked at Evan and then at Nikolas.so that we can live without their intrusion.” Thaddeus sighed. he would fall into a deep sleep on the fringed rug. He will know that we don’t take kindly to threats although.” Bethany tried to explain where her father's hostility stemmed from. “His second. and sailed across the room at the speed of a blink. I calmed along with him although.” Bethany said. the children fight the wars as they had for their parents and so on and so on. but left a strange and bitter taste in your mouth. confidently. Both Nikolas and Bethany glared at Evan. and so deadly. and he trusts you. velvety. Eleven Double Headed Coin The crash happened so fast that I nearly vaulted out of my seat. Maybe he was punishing us.. “You know that father is not accustomed to being without any power or control.” I said. I wondered if the gods were just sitting on Mt. nor will he war with Hades. one of the rose filled crystal vases jumped up from the table.” I watched Bethany who showed so many signs of maturity. “Is Thaddeus powerless?” I asked. “Father is this way because he can no longer do what we are capable of. “Wow. they decrease substantially once we physically age past fifty.” The equanimity of Bethany’s voice was soothing. It soothed me almost immediately. a mystery. Everyone seemed tense.

” Bethany said. Sacha. It was another mirage. At this point I was ready for anything. I should be aware of what’s going on. I think it is best that you show Cordelia what happened. He inherited the house and its land from his adoptive parents. was also home. Lucas’ home is very large. The ice chips in his glass clinked again as if applauding him for his clever retort. Whatever Victor says. But she was underestimating me if she thought that I was a wimp. Where ever Lucas went. The Rock.” Nikolas added. Evan stood tall and genuinely gorgeous. Lucas was definitely stewing. A young man. Evan thought it best to send a verbal message to Victor through Lucas. “Who is Lucas?” I asked again. besides Victor himself.” Startled. It made the room appear frigid. but because he wasn’t entirely colored. but he wasn’t. as if challenging me. Lucas’ skin was the color of sand –” “And his soul was as gritty. Neither Evan nor Nikolas said a word. walked over to the onyx and marble bar. but somehow he was able to stay composed. as if perhaps I couldn’t handle the details. who watched Evan all the while. Lucas’ eyes were closed. Bethany decided to answer. We locked eyes for a moment. He made himself comfortable. She should be aware of what we are up against. “Nikolas. sat relaxing in a chocolate brown. most loyal.” Bethany explained. even the massive fireplace were made of marble or onyx or a combination of both. opposite Lucas. She was right. his twin sister. this time a lot louder. in an identical chair to the one Lucas rested in.idea what Nikolas was talking about. Is the Empress of Ischera free tonight?” Lucas was being facetious. Perhaps I should swing by your place… unexpected. preparing herself for what I'm sure would be a long evening at the saloons. Evan's eyes blazed red for a split second with Lucas' reference of me. staring at Evan. leaning over the table as if she was revealing a wellguarded secret. he had a false sense of confidence. “Lucas’ features were striking. you speak of him in the past tense?” “I think Cordelia should know what transpired with Lucas this evening” Nikolas said. fixed himself a drink. and that’s not accounting for the acres of land surrounding it. “Where are your manners. “His roguish exterior made him one of the most feared men in Nickel City. “Is it bedtime already?” Evan questioned his adversary’s evil cohort... I agree with Niko. All the other wealthy families live on Millionaire’s Row. Out of nowhere Evan appeared in the room like an apparition or something. Lucas does. I dug deep inside of me. “Ahh…I am a hospitable man. a thick muscled brute. Lucas was very muscular in a bulky way. even if only for a second. “I would have expected you to be out terrorizing the town at this hour. You’d expect to see marionette strings attached to the overgrown thug. Lucas was stealing a quiet moment in the parlor of the lone mansion that sits behind Gold Hill. Not because he was colored. Evander? Don't you know that it’s customary to knock?” Lucas responded in a deep voice similar to the low growl of a Rottweiler. Lucas was born and raised here. but a sharp contrast to most of the residents of this town. I hear she is back from her.” Bethany added. “Why is it that when you talk about Lucas. he stood out. Lucas. “Yes. and appeared as large as the one in this mansion. “Knock? Why would I want to confuse you by giving you a false impression of respect for you?” The sarcasm rolled off of Evan's tongue as he casually got up. trip. or if I should remember any of it. Tonight he wasn’t home alone. Because he was extremely muscular. Lucas looked directly at Evan with intense hazel eyes.” Bethany suggested. I was prepared for whatever they were about to tell me. He appeared to be dozing. leather tufted smoking chair. Lucas raised his drink to his lips. the tables. and braced myself. Then she looked at me. and extremely handsome. strolled back to the chair. and allowed a vindictive chuckle to escape his lips as he crossed his legs. Both Nikolas and Bethany waited for Evan. “Tonight. Bethany's description of him was exact. . The parlor was dimly lit by several oil lamps. I guess he was one of the few who owned an ice box. Evan’s arrogance clearly antagonized Lucas. and again I was in awe of the magic. Looking at the mirage was like looking into another room that had a sparkling lining edging its entrance. Lucas cleared his throat and smiled. The floors. He was dressed in the customary gentleman's attire. “Lucas was Victor’s most trusted. and sipped it then casually shook the glass from time to time causing the ice chips to clink. as a thick vein appeared at his left temple. The major difference was that everything seemed to be made of shiny ivory marble or onyx. It turns out. an unusual place for a mansion actually. especially for the Divine One.” Nikolas said. The rest reside across from Gold Hill. for what I guessed to be his approval. My door is always open. nodding to Evan. He shrugged as if he didn't have a care in the world if I knew what had happened. Nikolas nodded and pointed his finger to the far right wall. after Evan disappeared through my ceiling. first appearing like a vapor then fleshing out into a person. about my age I’d guess. and sat back down. looking over the town. I wondered if they could all do this or was Nikolas the only one with the gift. Her aquamarine eyes sparkled as she described Lucas. and most powerful disciple. I knew it was Lucas the moment I saw him. smirking. It was obvious that Evan wasn't there for a fight. He reminded me of the former wrestler turned actor. he had paid an unexpected visit to Victor's notorious head disciple. searched for strength. and he leaned his head against the back of the chair.

“Tread carefully, son of a streetwalker. My battle is not with you.” Evan eyed Lucas scornfully, yet cautiously, the way one would regard a slithering snake that at any moment could strike at you unexpectedly. I guess you can never be too sure. “Although, I’m enjoying this conversation immensely, I can’t stand the suspense any longer. Why are you here? Ahhh… let me guess. You have yet to find Lord Victor, the true emperor of the Ischeros” Lucas laughed, sounding more like a growl. “Lord, as in master?” Evan chortled, lightly. “Well, your master may believe that he has secluded himself, but it’s only a matter of time before he is found and terminated. It’s inevitable. And any slave riding his coat tails will go down with him,” Evan said, watching Lucas tense up at the idea of being referred to as Victor’s property. “I’m no one’s slave. I choose to serve the real leader of the Ischeros.” Lucas said, uncrossing and recrossing his legs. His face was beginning to redden. “It’s fitting that he leads an army of primitive brutes. What could a troglodyte know of reigning an empire? He knows nothing. Your Lord, as you call him, is no longer an Ischero.” Evan’s voice was climbing as his hand gripped the glass fiercely. “You and your clan should beware of the inevitable take over. Join us now, Evander, before it’s too late, and you’re forced to kneel to the true Emperor.” “Whoa… Victor’s really got you under his thumb. Do you hear yourself Lucas?” “We are stronger and will defeat the Ischeros.” Evan laughed heartily. “Of course you will. Since you’re already accustomed to taking orders, give your lord a message for me. “I take orders from no one.” Lucas seethed glass still in hand, but no more clinking. The ice had melted. “You and I both know that you will do as I say. You let your master know that he should stay away from my house, and all who reside there.” There was a significant trace of malice in Evans tone that quieted Lucas for a moment. “I will be the one to end him, and anyone who does his dirty work, if they dare to come near Cordelia or my family again.” Evan warned icily. Lucas’ hazel eyes could barely be seen as he narrowed them. “Oh, Evander, Evander, Evander. Tsk, tsk.” Lucas said, shaking his head slowly from left to right. “Victor does not take kindly to threats and neither do I.” “Fine. Don’t take it as a threat. It’s a promise, and I’ll clarify so that there is no confusion. I don’t break promises.” Evan said casually getting up from the large leather chair, and walking over to the bar. I thought I was ready, but I wasn't. How could anyone prepare for what was in store? “You won’t come into my house, and exploit my hospitality!” Lucas snarled, and then got up from his chair. Lucas was taller and larger than I had expected. He had to be at least six foot – six inches tall. His suit actually strained against his broad chest and bulging arms. He stood a few inches taller than Evan. “Sit down Lucas, and finish your drink.” Evan ordered as he drained his glass and sat it down on the counter of the bar. “Don’t order me around Evander; I’m not one of your foolish minions.” Being the brash fool that Bethany described him as, Lucas acted impulsively. In one swift move, Lucas flew across the parlor to where Evan stood at the bar, and lunged for Evan's neck. I couldn't believe the rate of speed in which Lucas moved. It was like watching a flash of light, but with a whole lot of muscle. But Evan was the quicker of the two well – dressed young men. In a matter of an immeasurable second, Evan was now behind Lucas. Using the strength of what must have been ten men, I figured it would take that many to stop Lucas, Evan punched Lucas in the back. The forceful and equally thunderous blow connected, and I nearly jumped out of my chair as I watched in disbelief as Lucas leaped several feet forward. Just then Nikolas appeared out of nowhere like a ghost, unbeknownst to both Lucas and Evan. Nikolas glided at an accelerated speed to catch Lucas' bloody and grotesque and still beating heart in his hands just as it burst through Lucas’ chest right before he slammed into the marble bar in one booming crash. A white cloud of dust like the ash of a volcano filled the air momentarily with the crumble of crushed marble. Not a sound had escaped Lucas’ lips as he landed on the bar. He was a hulking heap covered in white dust. The surprised look of terror on Lucas’ face was frozen forever. The crash could surely be heard throughout the house. I couldn't believe what I just saw. I hadn't realized it, but at some point I had put my hands over my mouth in shock. My hands were still positioned there now. As it looked, Lucas was obviously dead. Dead, by Evan's hand. Oh my God! Now I know why Evan didn’t want Nikolas to show me what had happened. He was afraid that I would think of him as a monster.

The truth was I didn’t know how I saw Evan. I didn’t know him. What I was slowly learning about him, all of them was that I didn’t want to be like them, and live this way. They may be demigods, but they were also murderers. The fear of knowing myself rose in me. Please God…I don’t want to be a murderer. Perhaps I’m praying to the wrong God. I shut my eyes for a moment. I had seen enough. My stomach churned as I tried to overcome the urge to vomit. When I opened my eyes again, I looked over at Evan who was looking directly at me. His eyes were intense as if he could see right through me. His expression was difficult to read. He must have been watching my reaction the entire time the horror movie played. I turned away, but still felt his gaze boring into me; into my soul. Tears welled up in my eyes as I couldn’t see how I could have been in love with this boy. What I saw next, blew my mind. In the mirage, I watched Evan move aside as Nikolas carefully stepped over Lucas' dead body; well his legs, and tossed his heart into the roaring flames of the elegant onyx fireplace. I was startled by the loud crackle that erupted from the flames. Nikolas looked down at his hands and Lucas’ blood washed away like a bucket of water had been poured over them. “Lucas, what was that noise?” A woman’s voice sailed through the house from the floor above. Evan looked upward toward the ceiling then at Nikolas. “This was not my plan. I didn’t come here to kill him.” Evan eyes were back to their natural hue. “Lucas got what he deserved.” Nikolas sympathized. “Victor's army must be dismantled. We agreed on that. Who better to start with? ” Nikolas’ expression was dead serious. Evan began to walk away then stopped abruptly. He turned to face Nikolas. “Why are you here?” Evan’s tone changed to annoyance. “I didn’t follow you, because I thought you were in need of my help.” “Again… why are you here?” Evan demanded. “I know that Lucas is no match for your skill. Your sister on the other hand would have come herself had I not.” Nikolas amended. Evan nodded and said, “I should’ve known.” “I love your sister, more than life itself, but she can be as stubborn as a mule at times; this being one of them.” Bethany snorted and Nikolas winked at her in a seductive way that made me instantly uncomfortable for witnessing it. Both Evan and Nikolas vanished just as they neared the front doors of the large estate. The same woman’s voice echoed as footsteps could be heard descending the grand marble staircase. “Lucas, are you here?” I guessed that the voice belonged to Sacha, and she was investigating the loud thud for herself, since her dead twin hadn’t answered her. The mirage suddenly moved to the entrance, so I never saw who came down the stairs. The mirage showed the front of the house from the outside. Evan and Nikolas walked side by side, and disappeared into the night once again. Painfully shrill cries of a woman could be heard echoing into the still, dry, and warm night air just as several horse and buggies going by nearly slowed to a stop. Once they realized where the screams came from, they quickly sped away. I stared at the wall long after the mirage had disappeared. Nikolas broke the silence. “I didn’t intend to scare you, Cordelia. I just thought that it would be better to show you. What you must understand is that we’re not monsters although; there are circumstances that arise where we must act in order to survive them. Lucas was a cold blooded, murderous, hot head. He never backed down from any opponent, even if he knew that he was in over his arrogant head. It’s a commendable trait, but foolish nonetheless.” Nikolas added. “Lucas’ twin sister, Sacha, lived with him. The twins were orphaned at the tender age of eight when their mother, a shifter, one of the most dangerous kinds, and an under nourished and under paid prostitute, never returned home one night,” Bethany said, in a solemn tone. “A shifter? So she changes into things, right?” “Her family history is very old, not as old as ours, but ancient none the less. Her greatgreatgreatgreat grandmother was raped, and later coupled with a feline.” “What? A Feline? Is that… possible?” “Of course it is. Lucas and Sacha are proof. Being that their mother was a prostitute, and a colored one at that, she wasn’t thought of as any value to some of these men seeking her services. She would attack the clients, who wouldn’t pay, and well one client got a shot off his Smith & Wesson, and she was killed.” “That’s so sad. So everyone found out what she was?” I anxiously played with the diamond medallion around my neck. Its coolness soothed me. “No, upon her death, she shifted back into a human,” Bethany said, very matter – of – fact. “The authorities found deep scratches on the shooter’s body resembling that of what an animal with huge claws would make, but no one could understand how they had gotten there since the man died from the injuries before he could inform anyone.” Bethany sighed.

“What happened to Lucas and Sacha?” “The secret stayed with the twins.” Her narrative had every ones ear except Evan's. He seemed to be far off somewhere outside of this room, and this house, maybe even this town, possibly the state. Bethany saw that Evan wasn’t paying her any mind, but continued anyway. “How do you know about them being…?” “Werepanthers, part human, and part panther. It’s one of our keenest attributes. We can detect all beings whether divine or monstrous.” Bethany explained. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t an investigation held for their mother’s death.” “Why not?” I asked, surprised. “The mortals who ran this town then didn’t give a damn about a dead and colored prostitute. Since Lucas and Sacha had never met, or ever knew who their father was. He could very well be any of the numerous white men who sought their mothers’ services, didn’t pay, and was mauled to death. Therefore, arrangements were made, and the twins were to be sent to the towns' only orphanage. But Lucas and Sacha had other plans. They hid where they could, and lived on the streets.” Bethany said gravely. “When we were children, I actually remember seeing them in town stealing food from the mercantile and grocer’s. I wanted to help them then. Now I know better.” Bethany noted. “Who cares what the color of their skin was. Someone should have taken them in.” I was really saddened by the story. It was heartbreaking, unfortunate, yet fascinating. As Bethany continued to tell it, in just above a whisper, I leaned in closer so that I wouldn’t miss a beat. “Well to everyone’s surprise, they were taken in by a kind and wealthy couple who loved charity cases and perusing the Territorial Enterprise to see their names mentioned with praise.” Bethany paused for emphasis. I was kind of surprised to learn just how long the town’s newspaper has been in publication. “The Hayden’s, a prominent couple of Nickel City’s aristocracy, knew all the right people in the right places, due to having some of the oldest money in town – strictly from banking and not entrepreneurial mining. They were believed to be unable to have children of their own. Therefore, out of the genuine goodness of their hearts, after witnessing the twins rummaging through trash for half eaten and spoiled food, The Hayden couple legally adopted, cleaned up, and enrolled Lucas and Sacha in the Nickel City Elementary school.” “That’s great. The twins must have been happy living wholesome lives which every kid deserves.” I was beaming. I was genuinely pleased to hear that Lucas and Sacha finally had somewhere to live, and had loving parents to care for them. My remarks got Evan’s attention for a moment. Then he went back to staring off into space. Was it that I had spoken, or what I had chosen to say that caught his attention? “Indeed and as a result, everyone publically accepted the twins although privately, that was a whole other matter.” Bethany said. I was curious to know how Lucas ended up running with the likes of the uninvited visitor. Victor must have used his powers to brainwash poor Lucas. “So what went wrong? Why Is Lucas hanging with the likes of Victor?” Bethany answered, almost anxiously, as I hung on every animated word. “As young children they adjusted well to school and etiquette, learning all the does and don’ts. At first, they seemed to ignore some of the snubbing they received in school on a daily basis, but soon realized that nothing had really changed. They knew that they were only accepted because of who their new parents were. Hence, as the years went by the apples had proved to not have fallen far from the tree,” Bethany said, nodding knowingly. “Kids can be so cruel,” I declared. “They both were constantly reprimanded by their teachers and their new regretful parents for rebellious and inappropriate behavior with the opposite sex.” Bethany leaned closer as she raised a knowing eyebrow. “Worse, was that they were both past the age of adolescence, and were equally promiscuous, and had begun shifting and killing.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Lucas whom had grown to be huge and dominating in size had also become aggressive and violent both at school, and at home although, he never allowed anyone to know that he and Sacha were shifters. He was expelled from school and Sacha soon followed. The Hayden’s were humiliated, and practically living in fear of him,” Bethany revealed. The towns’ people are partially at fault to whatever happened to Sacha and Lucas. Had they not been prejudiced with such backward thinking, the twins would have thrived. Equality just doesn’t exist now, and my gut wrenched with that reality. I don’t think I could hate Lucas or Sacha if I tried. This time period was a colossal factor. “For years, Mr. and Mrs. Hayden were at their wits end at steering the twins in the right direction,” Bethany added, as she stood up and glided to one of the windows. She peered through the drapery and heavy lace curtain as if she expected to see something unusual beyond the glass. “Then the couple mysteriously disappeared,” Nikolas said, leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed over his huge chest. “Mysteriously?” It was obvious as to what might have happened to the Hayden’s. Bethany sauntered back to her chair as nothing seemed to perk her interest outside. She nodded and said, “Yes, although we know the truth.

the townsfolk. “Give the lady her prize. Three reasons actually. I thought that Bethany was as inexperienced as I was. especially due to the unequivocal rewards they would enjoy. he has come up with nothing.” I whispered as if he would appear if he overheard me. “Sacha. They see her as used goods so they don’t want anything to do with her.” “Awe. double headed coin. “She lacks decorum. destined to find us.” Bethany explained as she finished her coffee. she can never parallel your beauty.” Nikolas amended. It wasn't long before Lucas became Victor's first and closest disciple. and made a grimace. “After a while everyone stopped asking.” Bethany said.” Bethany snorted. “Cordelia. She looks for the company of any cowboy. I wanted to be in that place too.” “Beautiful? Poor girl. She wasn’t just telling the story she could relate to their relationship. and the intent to kill didn't lurk. . Unfortunately. and that he wasn't above murder.” Nikolas nodded as the clue sunk in. was still shunned all the same. Once Lucas proved that he could be trusted. He paused as he let the smooth liquid coat his throat before continuing. glaring at Nikolas for his choice of words at describing Sacha. “Victor. therefore no man will be seen with her.” “Wow that’s just crazy. including the sheriff. Sacha was one of the ways Lucas had paid for the powers he possessed and abused. and one lonesome drifter who mysteriously showed up in his hometown one day. Meanwhile. “For Lucas. I’d lost count. It was obvious that she was way ahead of me just by the way she spoke of Sacha and Victor. Their relationship seems to thrive on mutual infidelities. At first Lucas must have thought they were putting together a gang that would eventually run the town out of fear. she is still the physically beautiful side of the heinous. “Lucas learned the truth about Victor’s talents.” Bethany painted a sweet smile on her face and decided that she was better at telling it. I didn’t want to hear anymore but Nikolas continued the tale of the evil Hansel & Gretel.” Bethany was practically breathless as she told the story. One girl can’t seem to fill his insatiable appetite and ‘No’ is never an option. Lucas protected his twin from everything and everyone but Victor. “Victor was their age and knew a thing or two about being an orphan.” Nikolas winked as he confirmed my correct answer. “Although. Lucas was such a fool to allow that union.” The way these kids lived symbolizes just how out of place I really was. half white and half colored equals all wrong.” Nikolas paused. Lucas and Sacha live off of the Hayden’s’ estate since they are the beneficiaries. He gulped down his tenth or eleventh glass of wine. then turned its nose up to them. whom is thought to be one of the most beautiful girl's in Nickel City. “Sacha is very jealous and has gone as far as murder in order to maintain her position as Victor's girl. They were not Ischeros and that meant that they were inferior. not because she wants to sleep with Victor or sought to fill Sacha's shoes. “Did anyone investigate The Hayden’s disappearance?” “The sheriff’s still investigating. and the twins decided scandal and killing would be their only entertainment. Nikolas continued as he got up to pour himself something a lot stronger than wine. In his eyes. the way she held her cup and it was like watching a stranger. He was still staring off into another galaxy possibly. “Victor has a penchant for variety in the opposite sex which makes for the volatile relationship he and Sacha endure.” I guess Victor didn’t have to brain wash them after all. Not a trail to follow or a trace of them.” Nikolas explained. this town had killed his mother. and an unmatched physical power so enticing. I was baffled by the fact that he drank and drank and never got drunk. raping. and killing. It seems like Lucas and Sacha already had a penchant for crime. a rogue opportunist. Explaining the Hayden's whereabouts seemed to serve the twins as a form of amusement and entertainment. I would guess that he wasn't listening to a word. and that this was much deeper than just everyday robbing.When asked by family friends. This was no ordinary violent gang. as if he were drinking water. which was just what Lucas had always wanted. Even the coloreds don’t want her. If another girl is with him it’s because she fears for her life and her families lives. who hadn't said a word since Bethany started filling me in on the evil twins. he realized that he was wrong. She is Victor’s main girl but never his lone love interest. “Happily ever after doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Victor and Sacha but they are together. He also discovered what motivated Victor. to run Nickel City. A simple date and kissing was about all I could relate too. and has not given up although. are you listening?” Bethany asked although it sounded more like a command. She’ll do just about anything to make Victor jealous. the twins would answer with a variety of places their parents were either vacationing or visiting relatives. This was about an endless appetite for greed. She’ll never understand that these other girls are forced to accommodate him. left him and his sister to nearly die on its streets. I gazed over at Evan. and an incredibly lethal secret. Victor parades her around town as his girl not giving half a damn what the town’s people think. and took a sip of brandy. except for those who run in their circle. come on Beth. in public. that is the only honorable thing Victor has ever done for the poor girl. I watched her. In this town she is considered a halfbreed. and survival. he was someplace where dangerous monsters with eyes red as blood.” Bethany snapped. Perhaps. and she’s a whore.” Nikolas snickered. looting. “By then they were sixteen and practically feared by everyone in town. Sacha doesn’t appear to mind that all of Nickel City thinks of her as a woman of the evening like her mother once was. this must have felt like striking enough silver to purchase an entire town. quickly. and the town’s leaders on the couple’s whereabouts. and shared some of his own.

Bethany reached over.” Bethany noted smiling at Nikolas and me. and dropped into the opening of the vase. It happened shortly after my seventh birthday which is why I was raised by your parents. “Cordelia. I was astounded by the amount of alcohol he drank but more so shocked by his lucid disposition. Every drop of water that had splashed onto the floor. “No. I would never have believed it had been shattered. I was completely lost in this world of greed. The uncomfortable silence was back. It's not your fault. He was sitting rigid in his chair. I watched in utter disbelief. the vase was back on the table as if it had never moved. Twelve Invisible . but I made a very poor attempt. I died today. My exhaustion was due to the implausible events of the day. I felt like a child amongst adults. I was still in shock from what I had just seen. “Once Evan has calmed down.” I felt like an idiot for asking.” Nikolas said. Nikolas quickly stood up and waited. I didn’t know. I didn’t mean the reconstruction of the vase. absolutely. I began to hear pieces of glass clinking together. I stole a glance at Evan. but it had also been a profoundly life altering one. you must be exhausted. Me. by the boy of my dreams. becoming the vase again. and who stole who's girlfriend or boyfriend. I peered over the edge of the table. Then. There is no need to fetch Sun Paw. It has been a long and tiresome day. but not because it was late. without a trace of emotion in his voice. This was so far from the regular high school drama of who was going out with whom. I’d been brought back to life today.” Bethany added.” I agreed. and why the Iptian family was finally banished. The medallion sparkled as it picked up the glow of the chandelier and sent rays of light across the room and onto the walls. I’d been attacked and nearly killed again today. and then slowly walked into the dimly lit foyer. I was both terrified and anxious to see what tomorrow would bring. “We should retire. to see the shattered pieces of crystal slowly. I was exhausted. combing his long fingers through his thick wavy hair. “Ok. but what I saw in the mirage. I couldn’t tell if she was angry or shocked by her brother’s behavior. I tried to smile back. He appeared to be studying the fancy table cloth. he will undoubtedly be angered with himself for smashing one of his mother's most cherished pieces of crystal. I understood but I couldn’t relate. but extinguishable regardless. and the puddle of water that had saturated the fringed rug. Evan stood up and walked out of the dining room.” Nikolas smiled at me with a twinkle in his eye. Then she stood up to excuse herself from the table. Nikolas softened the mood with a smile. “Oh. and gently squeezed Nikolas’ hand. “They’re dead. He always had a way of making someone feel comfortable at an awkward moment. saddened by what Nikolas must have gone through. The most powerful descendant. it had been quite an exhausting day. Nikolas?” I asked. “Yes.” I said in a whisper. Yes.” We looked at each other for a moment. power and deceit. Nikolas looked at the broken vase on the floor.” “The Apolluon are horrible. not realizing the weight of the question. Her expression revealed nothing. piece by piece. I had forgotten all about the jagged pieces of fine crystal.” Nikolas smiled boyishly as he hugged me.” I smiled. just passed the fringe of the table cloth. Nikolas spoke very matteroffact. The most intriguing and shocking moment of the day was finding out that I’m the descendant of the most powerful deity. and poured back into the vase as the long stemmed roses danced up one by one. it’s late. don't be sorry. without a word to anyone. beautiful scattered roses. I wished I hadn’t asked. I turned my gaze to Bethany who fingered her diamond medallion vigorously. My mother and father were killed in an attack by several Apolluon members as my parents tried to defend Victor’s family whom had somehow alerted the Apolluon’s attention. if I got through the night. she and Moon Rose will be in shortly to clear the table. “Where are your parents. If I hadn't seen the vase smash against the wall. floated in the air.I couldn't believe how grown up everyone appeared to be. “Goodnight Nikolas. I couldn't read the look in his eyes. This definitely beats an afternoon of gluing it back together with crazy glue. I'll spare him that. It was a ridiculous notion that would take some time getting used too. In a matter seconds. “Good night cousin. I will help you undress for bed. I'm sorry Nikolas. The lump in my throat was preventing me from speaking so I just nodded like a cooperative child. They threw words like murder around as if it was as ordinary an act as eating or sleeping. and found myself more accepting to the answer than the lack of emotion in his voice. violence.

She was in the hot seat now. Maybe being in the house will bring something back.” I lied. I want you to know that you can trust me.” Bethany informed. I needed a straightforward answer. Anyway she took a fleeting one before answering. even if they weren’t what I wanted to hear. Bethany opened the double doors to my sitting room. “Oh…” I was deflated.” The look on Bethany’s face was lethal.” I clarified. “Why is it empty?” “Well. She smoothed her dress and finally began speaking. I took a deep breath. I had every intension of seeing that house. “There is nothing left.” . Bethany threw my dress over the embroidered screen divider. it isn’t safe there. I loved horses – the beauty of them. yet the idea of getting on one. marble topped tables. I decided to change the subject to an even more important one. assisting me with unbuttoning over a dozen. Bethany must have noticed the look on my face because she decided to clean up her insensitive reply. But was it an accurate translation? Only time would tell.” Bethany said. Why was Bethany suddenly so argumentative? Why was she changing the subject? It had been a simple request. It was as if she knew I was on the verge of inquiring about something which she wasn't sure she could or wanted to answer. I wanted this opportunity to talk with her alone like the best friends we once were. I thought.” “Not safe? I don’t seem to be too safe here either. I hoped she would give me honest answers. Even a morsel of a memory could help. “I just think that maybe being in the house. “Why not?” I practically hissed. “What are you saying? You don’t think that we’ll protect you.Only a prayer would save me from a tumble on the unfamiliar staircase. so I hoped that it wasn’t what she meant when she said ‘morning ride’. miniature.” I wasn’t allowed to finish my thought with Bethany’s rude interruption. I don’t think that’s a good idea. where I grew up. “You won't need them all once you are ready for bed. “Why did you lie to me about your parents? Why’d you tell me that they were… dead?” I hoped that she would be honest with me. I just think it’s too soon after Evan’s warning to Victor to be out where his disciples may see you before we see them. one way or another. but I didn’t care. Now I’ll probably never get her calm enough to answer the rest of my questions.” I listened to the sound her hand made as it rubbed against the stiff ruffled fabric of her dress. and being violently thrown off one. The idea quickly left my mind when Bethany looked at me for a moment. for a little while. There were questions that were causing knots in my stomach.” Bethany said. it’s not that… I…” I sighed. How clumsy I must appear in this long and flouncy gown. most of your things are here. I looked at her – me. The banister was my crutch. I didn’t mean that I would stay there. throughout the two rooms. This question was sure to have Bethany squirming. and waited. “I can’t apologize for what I told you. She was right. I’d never ridden a horse. Once I was out of the brace of a corset.” I noted. Perhaps that is what the photographer wanted to translate. “Sun Paw will take care of it when she comes to wake you early in the morning for our morning ride. and then swung the doors open to my adjoining bedroom. Great. It would be pointless really. I am your friend. “Look. As expected.” Bethany had a point but I still wanted and needed to see the house. “I’ve already been attacked once. I will not be a prisoner in this one. who seemed to glide up the steps. Bethany quickly started lighting the numerous lamps. There were half a dozen oil lamps scattered on the little doily covered. surprised. Bethany appeared to relax a bit but said nothing for a moment.” “No.” “Fine. Bethany needed a moment to think or get her lie together. “Honestly. “Because. I wanted Bethany’s take of the day’s twisted events. It was what I was ordered to do. may actually help me to remember who I am. I repeatedly stepped on the hem and almost tripped up the stairs a couple of times. I’ll stay here. What a freeing feeling to be rid of that horrid rib splitting contraption. Don’t get me wrong. even if just for the night. It would probably…” “No. I could breathe again. I quickened my step to keep up with Bethany. with one hand on her hip. enough said. and then landing – bones shattered on the gritty dirt. Closing in on me was the step where the portrait was hung. “I would like to see the house that I grew up in.” Bethany said. and most of your parents’ belongings were destroyed by Victor’s disciples. didn’t perk my interest one bit. which adequately brightened the large space. There was a perpetual light in her jade green eyes as if I had been happy when I sat for that picture. Why couldn’t I see the house I supposedly grew up in? “Then what?” Bethany asked. “I do apologize for how you must feel. The house is empty. I don’t see how a bunch of empty rooms will help you to remember since being surrounded by your own personal possessions hasn’t helped. pearl buttons that were on the back of my dress.

I wanted to talk some more. unable to hide the fact that I was still stunned by the idea of Evan killing someone.. It’s not your fault. He is the second in line after a still born brother was birthed. becoming obnoxious and dancing around like fools. scornfully in a heightened voice. Whoever I was. Chiron. I was afraid of everything including myself. “Nikolas is not the first born.” Bethany said. We are second in the bloodline. “I’m happy that you and Nikolas are together. Lucas would have killed Evan. “Yes and no.” Bethany said.” I commented. They won’t accept the peaceful approach as you witnessed. I needed her right now. I get it.” Bethany further explained. in general. which I thought she’d be able to shed some light on. have a different effect on him then it does on others. I believed that peace has always been the victorious route.” Bethany said. I wasn’t the Cordelia she spoke of. She must have thought that I was afraid of the dark. How is it that he doesn’t get drunk?” “Nikolas is a child of Dionysus. sleep well.” I said watching Bethany's reaction closely.” . It doesn’t affect him the way it does satyrs. Her eyes radiated the sincerity that her tone projected.. I just needed her to understand how I felt. The evil entities that we face. many times.” I said.” Bethany admitted..” I nodded. Evan did what he had to do. waiting for the first opportunity that I be left alone. I never pulled my eyes away from Bethany’s unrelinquishing hold. “I was told to tell you that my parents were dead so that it wouldn’t look suspicious that I didn’t have parents. We are all forced to be adults at an early age. at least for now. I wanted my best friend back. There just has to be another way. I like the light. I was happy to see her sit down on the bench at the edge of my bed because.” Bethany declared. leading out to the balcony. Cronus. will stop at nothing until we are extinguished.. He did it for you. therefore Nikolas is my equal.” I asked shakily. We are Ischeros. “That's ok. “Alright. “Therefore I’m not upset with you. a protector.” Bethany was out of breath and agitated. We battle the worst forms of evil. or I’ll never get any sleep. is willing to do what is necessary to accomplish it. Drinking makes Nikolas wiser.” I had to ask one more. She was practically trembling. She smiled too. “Does Nikolas have any brothers or sisters?” I probed a bit. Was she actually pissed that I dared to ask the question? Or was she pissed because she thought that I didn't appreciate her brother’s efforts to protect me? She had it all wrong.” I decided to change the subject and ask another question that disturbed me. Good. Heathens. and she knew it. Appearing to be in full control.monstrous. Right now you are not who you really are. I didn’t want anyone killed because of me. I did appreciate the attempt. This was a difficult question that perhaps. I should have saved for Evan himself.” I challenged. “Would you like me to turn one or two out for you?” Bethany half yawned while motioning to the numerous lamps. Nikolas possesses exceptional capabilities as I. being that I’m only seventeen. murderers. “I feel so bad about what happened to Nikolas. Those beasts stay drunk and go wild. and raised him. “It was tragic.” Bethany said. I didn't want to fight with Bethany. you are no longer portraying the frightful senior at Nickel City High. I held my own ground.. The Cordelia I know. Bethany slammed me with words that hit harder than the jeep. I wasn’t sure I would ever be… again.. I was actually pissed at her for wanting me to see the brutal. understands this. which was the after dinner show. violent. I needed her. She has accepted her purpose.. “I don’t want people dying because of me. but we are both not as powerful as you and my brother are. I’d better stop. We've been called many things. I decided not to speak another word about it. and then quickly clarified once seeing my puzzled expression. I wanted to tell you the truth about Nikolas and I. Her eyes were distracted as she turned away from me and gazed into the night sky through the French doors. He is as astute as his ancestor. and murderous attack. The Cordelia I know.no. and smiled when Bethany turned to look at me. Your parents stepped in immediately.” Bethany explained admiringly. My smile gave Bethany the indication that I would be alright for my first night sleeping in an unfamiliar bed. She stood up. but I didn’t feel killing a human being was necessary. “It was very difficult keeping it from you. “Um. as I sat down on the bed. I didn't expect her to. a teacher and a son of the Titan.. “There is NOT. and gave me a hug. I changed the subject to another. And he will do it again and again to protect us all. had he not killed Lucas first. Really. as do I. “Yes. that you may soon face. and with both hands on her hips this time. She is a warrior. Please allow yourself to remember why you truly grace this earth. “Wake up Cordelia. and walked toward the balcony. Lucas was bad. with demons lurking just outside my windows. when he was a boy. Her icy blue eyes were a shade or two darker than their usual hue. I wouldn't accept her answer. “Nikolas drinks so much. “Wait. but. There has never been. the attack on Lucas. we were in a good place again. “Why did Evan have to kill Lucas? I get it. but we've made the majority of the vulnerable safer. She didn't answer immediately. but we had to. and pierced deep into my eyes carving a path into my soul. Right now you lack the understanding. with a creeping edge to my voice. Wine and alcohol. Our way of survival is kill or be killed.“Why were you ordered to lie?” I wanted to believe Bethany. Her face was ashen and red at the same time. who her family needs desperately.

Bethany. but as I got a better look. She actually looked relieved. “It would’ve been nice to have had someone to talk to about it. sort of see through. I was scared out of my mind. his hands behind his back. The thing lunged at me. in a solemn tone.” “Was it the Apolluon?” “Yes. although puzzled. his beauty and his… everything. This was amazing! “Am I really invisible?” I asked. didn’t you?” “I had an idea. It is the strongest kind. Then unexpectedly. sweetest voice. My right hand instantaneously flew up to my medallion and it seemed to calm me with its iciness. but I dared not. and that’s when the crackling lightning bolts emerged out of my eyes.” Evan chuckled some more. Evan smiled slightly and appeared nervous. I see that some of your powers have returned.” “I’m sorry Delia.” “’Night. I wondered if he’d ever seen me naked before. I guess. But I do wonder what provoked it. You are made up of immeasurable energy. I’d been running to my bus stop when I noticed the bus nearing my stop.” Just as Bethany smiled and left the room. I promise not to take up much more of your time. I suffered for two whole weeks with that truth. well I thought it was a man. to feel his flawless tanned skin beneath my fingertips. “It's ok. It’s late. “What?” I asked. the slip was practically transparent.” I sighed deeply. Bethany didn’t look shocked by the change in direction of the conversation. Suddenly. I’m not surprised. and realized that I was only wearing my sheer petticoat. and somehow you sensed the danger you were in. and hair.” Bethany admitted.” I said.” “My powers. I’d been so embarrassed with the thought of Evan seeing me in this transparent slip that I willed myself invisible? But now I felt like I was being rude. you knew what happened to me all along. and his back against the doors. but just above a whisper. and never lit up with lightning as it usually would. he shut them both. a ripple of laughter filled the room. We must do right by those who came before us. nodding with an ear to ear smile on his face. but I wasn’t sure. they came back that night in the storm. “You've rendered yourself invisible. So. and I shouldn't have come at this time. still uncertain of what I felt or how I felt for him. I wondered if he was aware of the emotional tie I felt for him. and they were visible. Beth. astonished. which was a few inches from the double doors. His voice was deep. He could probably detect my nervousness and sense my attraction to him. “Goodnight. in a way it did. and you reacted. it appeared monstrous. I had to admit. and now I was invisible. “I suppose I can speak to you without seeing you. All I wanted to do was disappear.” He continued chuckling lightly. I noticed this because the sky stayed black.” “Me too. I . The shadow thing disappeared as soon as it saw the light. I felt the strange desire to touch him.” “That’s incredible. His powers had to give . I couldn't get past how incredibly gorgeous this boy was. like a thin transparent veil. I thought.“Zeus’ father. didn’t they?” I needed to know the truth about that night. A true gentleman. uh. I wasn’t ready or planning on changing that anytime soon. Evan walked in. He was still fully dressed in his suit. he spoke with his back to me while looking at the painting on my wall. I knew that I was emotionally connected to him. sweetheart. “Indeed.” “There hadn’t been any lightning to go with the thunder that night. He was doing his best to keep his eyes on my face. fingers. To my chagrin. Evan looked away as I reappeared. Then I saw this shadow of a man. totally bemused. I didn’t want to know the answer. right?” “Correct. but I couldn’t tell you the truth. The thought of disappearing had just occurred to me in my mind. and then gazed into my eyes. ears. I was surprised by his presence. Even the necklace and medallion were as clear as a piece of crystal. I quickly darted behind the dressing screen and threw on my silk robe. chest. I’m thankful. I quickly looked down at myself. Our ancestry is to be cherished and honored. My hands were fleshed out again.” I looked down at hands. You can turn around” I whispered. as I came out from behind the screen. “Well.. I would like to speak with you for a moment if I may?” He asked in the softest. right now. I quivered as I let out a nervous giggle. Delia. “I'm so sorry. Surprisingly. I hoped that my innocence was preserved in this time as it had been in the future. All the while. With his eyes never leaving mine. and so did she. “Yes.. He seemed to hesitate for a moment then slowly turned to face me. I became aware of myself right then.

We were still at least two feet apart. He was a protector. I mean everything that is expected of me. He opened his eyes and looked into mine again. I was just not a believer I the whole ‘love at first sight’ theory. After a short prayer and a deep breath. No teenager should have the weight of defending the world of evil on his or her shoulders. I wanted to put him at ease. and I didn’t want to feel this way for him. “Sweet dreams. I grabbed my dress. but stifling as usual with barely any humidity. My attempt to silently tip toe down the hall was abruptly interrupted by a sharp creaky cry from a spot on the wood floor that I had yet to be familiar with. and how we choose to handle it. and then back to my lips again but he didn't kiss me. It was wrong to allow you to see any of it. and made its way over to the garden. Then I heard the doors to his bedroom snap shut. I knew that he wanted to – desperately. I truly hope that you can find a way to forgive me. Crap! . I thought about Victor’s visit earlier. Evan held my gaze. It was as if he knew something might’ve happened if he had stayed in here any longer – something that he was aware that I wasn’t prepared for. actually to everyone at the table. The whole time he spoke he never took his eyes off of my face. I couldn't believe how much I wanted him too. probably the same ones from my dream or memory – as Evan said. He closed his eyes as a kiss as soft as a breeze touched the skin on the back of my hand. and walked out of my room. as softly as I possibly could. The feelings were stirring up from somewhere deep within me. so badly. after dinner. My voice was a little shaky. I – I’m not a monster. creatures with sharp fangs that had a taste for blood. and then paused and cleared his throat. I would never hurt anyone or anything unless my safety or the safety of others was compromised. What lurked in the dark unlit corners of the night clouded my mind. “Please forgive me for what you watched tonight. and listened to his footsteps descend down the wide hallway. I know that you can’t comprehend what we are faced with. I pressed my ear to my bedroom doors. The way I felt just now with him. I’m sorry.” he said. mine. and struggled back into it. but I couldn’t stop it. For that. The illuminating moonlight streamed across the ridged and vast mountains. and kept his eyes on mine the entire time. I could barely make out any light from the gaslights in town below. into the desolate hallway.” I felt sorry for him and myself. without ever looking back. shutting the doors behind him. along with an unlit oil lamp. and you.” I said. He then said in a whisper. and the ones who were shadows by day. Thirteen Hiding Places Through the French doors leading out to the balcony.” I said. I stood there with my back glued to the double doors. I’d never felt with anyone before in my life. Nonetheless. The road beyond the garden was pitch–black. back to my eyes. I made a mental note of the spot. The air was dry. and peered out. The light from my room was the only light casting my shadow on the second landing. Was it part of my memory returning? It had to be. “Evan. I was angry with my father. his threatening words. and terribly honest as he stared into my eyes. I thank you. Then he spun around. and he seemed to hold his breath as he waited to hear what I might have to say. It was a tantrum and it was childish and unfair to you. dazed by his touch. which Bethany had flung over the top of the dressing screen.him that advantage. and how I perceived him. I stood there like that for a while rubbing the back of my hand where his lips had graced.” I spoke his name. and all the emotions surfacing from within me had to be the feelings that had been cached. and us. The space between us could easily be erased. Where were these emotions stemming from? I barely knew this boy. I decided. “I want you to remember who I am. “You’re a protector. Without your memory restored. He was beginning to have a strange effect on me. His concern for my feelings for him. “Cordelia. but I do know that you are trying. not now. hastily. and what Evan had done to avenge me. letting go of my hand. struck me to my core. and I think he realized what was going on. but something he desired from the depths of his soul to initiate. He took one step closer then stopped.” Phew. He took my hand in his and raised it to his lips. In haste. nodding. “I understand. I thought it best to skip the corset and bustle all together. I didn’t want them to surface. I decided to stick to my plan.” He spoke softly. “I don't understand everything. It was an incredulous situation to fathom. and crept forward. then his eyes moved from mine to my lips. I walked over to my double doors. getting into them would only slow me down. and closed my doors behind me. and doing your best to safeguard me. After talking with Bethany.” Evan paused. not this soon. like a sneaky mouse sniffing for cheese. needed to feed. I stepped out into the hallway. and took another step closer. the full moon gleamed like a luminous beacon calling to all that was wild and ravenous tonight.” Evan whispered. Not a sound. Feeling didn’t just materialize that quickly. “I owe you an apology for my behavior tonight. I was three – quarters of the way down the lengthy staircase when I heard voices. I cracked them ever so slowly. The howls seemed to originate from the forest. It had to be the memory. and quickly becoming my reality. what you saw Nikolas and I do. to defend us all. but Evan was a gentleman. Although this night seemed calm and peaceful. but I got it all out.

with grounds that took up a little more than half the block. I had to know why I wasn’t allowed to go to the house I had grown up in. ornate entrance gates. Once more. I closed the gates behind me. I would have to cross the dusty dirt path where the horse and buggy was parked. if you could consider nearly half a block away being next door. The dead silence was deafening. The air was as still as the Sierras in the distance. and stepped about a foot away from the double doors. Perhaps a key was concealed underneath a flower pot the way my mom used to keep one for me for all the times I would lose my keys. and there was no breeze. The wolves had stopped howling. I could see that the flowers had long died. No matter how horrible. There was a faint light streaming out from the parlor into the foyer. The Bergnum property stood directly across the street from the mansion I had supposedly grown up. and that I may very well be one myself. I needed to know if there was more to what Thaddeus explained. which was my destination. I saw nothing. I stared at the huge mansion before me and finally crossed the narrow dirt road. There was nothing there and now my hand was covered in two years’ worth of dust and dirt. the huge Victorian styled mansion next door. paralyzed me where I stood. The black solid oak doors stood out like a gaping black hole that could swallow a person up. and then started again. Even though it was quite dark. I reached up and swept my hand across the top of the frame. I was annoyed with the fact that Thaddeus was still up and entertaining after he had said he was turning in. Healthy vines that looked more like spider webs crept along the right side of the large manor and ran all the way up to the roof. the mansion looked even more daunting. the house itself was gloomy and deserted. just above a whisper. I thought. Suddenly a familiar bone chilling sound halted me dead cold. I quivered with fear. As I stood in front of the mansion I stared at the grim mansion across the street and was now petrified with the thought of going in. The street was a bit of a distance away from the front doors due to the large front grounds. It was completely bare of any flower pots. I took a couple steps back. Then it hit me. I boldly stepped up to the intimidating gates. Several oak trees were scattered along the sidewalk so I prayed nothing was lurking behind them or within them. and I would’ve been busted. and should be resting. which may have caught someone’s attention. I was deathly afraid to take a step further as I looked into the darkness of the house. as if it could actually breathe. There also had to be more to the passing of my parents. and realized my hand was shaking. and began the dreaded walk up the wide path to the wraparound porch. Howling werewolves. Did the door really just open on its own? Oh Christ. and not up all night – chatting. As suddenly as the howling had started. Its front gates were tall and foreboding. All of a sudden the doors cracked open about halfway without my ever touching them. which was the need for the oil lamp in the first place. I cracked the front door just a few inches wide enough to squeeze my slim frame through the opening. I slipped out the gates and quickly headed in the direction of the Bergnum mansion. The fact that I had supposedly grown up in it didn’t comfort me at all. The landscaping was neglected. if at all. I held my breath and quietly closed the front door behind me. I would learn all of the secrets to my existence on the other side. Had I been wearing that awkwardly shaped bustle. just as before. and tried to focus on why I was out here in the dark. or anything at all. But. I had figured that the house would be poorly lit. He was old. and cursed to myself as the voices grew louder. just anxious. I would’ve had to open the door a lot wider. I looked around the porch for a moment. The street was barren. Dead silence. and surveyed the front door again. and almost sent me sprinting back to the Capius’ mansion. I wouldn’t exactly go as far as refuting it. something let out a low sigh. Besides the dismal outlook of the front garden. I surveyed the street while still within the property.It sounded like Thaddeus and a man with a heavy Paiute accent. it stopped. Anyone seeing the house this way would guess that it was uninhabited and threatening. It sounded as if the exhalation or moan had come from the house itself. I had to make a decision at that very moment. I instantly jerked my hand back. since all of the curtains were drawn shut. Once I was across the garden. I pushed open the gates. hanging from ferocious. It was hard to make out very much because it had become darker since I had stood on my veranda just minutes ago. but proceeded. I . They seemed a little closer now that I was of off the Capius’ property. “Is there someone there?” I said. I looked up and down the barren and murky street. The Tieron estate was enormous. and was fixed where I stood. I’m guessing the parlor. besides the fact that they were dead. frightening or devastating the secrets may be. yet mysterious. sharp teeth. I thought that maybe a key may be hidden somewhere around the entrance. what am I doing here? Was there someone in there? I stood at the entrance still a foot away from the doors. and there was nothing left but some dried weeds and sun burnt shrubs. appearing somewhat larger than the Capius mansion. I was convinced that the answers were within the walls of this house. I’d seen enough in a day to know that I was amongst very powerful beings. planters. It was now or never. so don’t be a punk. at this dangerous hour in the first place. my parents’ final home. I tried to block out my fear. and then cross the front garden to get to the towering. I noticed that the lights were on in the front of the house. I had to know the truth. It was a ghost of a house which was once a home. I wasn’t exactly afraid. The vision of demonic red eyes and drool. I hoped that once I crossed the threshold of the mansion. I took another deep breath to calm my raging nerves. That would have allowed the full moon’s light to spill further into the foyer. and in need of immediate attention. constantly checking over my shoulder to see if anyone or anything was following me. over an hour ago. I reached for the huge brass door knob. so I walked close to the opposite wall where it was shadowy. How am I going to go about getting within the walls of this house? I didn’t have a key. Once I was halfway to the Bergnum’s house. I crept down the stairs to the foyer. and they instantly gave way as some of the dried and twisted vines snapped and tore free. I seemed even darker on the inside. The tall gates were virtually covered with dried and tangled vines. hundreds of years old according to my calculations. Up close. I tried to look past the Bergnum estate. As my hand was about to make contact with the doorknob. It was a do or die moment.

My eyes darted around quickly as I tried to take in all that surrounded me. I went through the first archway on my left. I listened to hear if there were any sounds coming from anywhere around the house. I had to take the diaries with me. Stepping further into the spacious closet. I flipped through each of the books from cover to cover. Even the walls of the walkincloset had been wall papered in the same refreshing print. So I gathered the journals. I could barely make out some type of desk or dresser placed against the wall on my right. so I wasn’t sure which one was mine. The slightly raised board wasn’t perfectly aligned with the others. and needed to be aired out. I didn’t really care for the whole ‘It’s more afraid of you than you are of it’ theory. had scurried somewhere into the foundation of the flooring beneath the floorboards. I realized that it was a journal. leather bound books. I found my very own signature. not two. I saw no one. through the dining room where a chandelier hung covered in a fur made out of dust and cobwebs. Once I calmed myself down. The entries were all written in my hand. Nothing here triggered my memory. The last thing I needed was someone going by. The mahogany molding gave the cream colored walls the appearance of an empty picture frame. Whatever I had hoped to find wasn’t going to be found on the first floor. It was flawless. void of any furniture with a carpeting of thick dust as if the house hadn’t been lived in for the past ten years. I was stunned by the penmanship. and lost the battle as I exited the kitchen. or my lamp would be easy to detect tonight by anyone passing by the house or anyone looking out of the huge windows of the Bergnum mansion. I tiptoed throughout the first floor. The stack was tied with an ivory silk ribbon the way you would tie up a gift. I tugged and slid the object toward the opening. this time with a bit of urgency. It appeared perfectly positioned between the four other boards surrounding it. The leather was worn and supple. I saw that it was completely loose. or entering the Capius’ mansion. The huge room was void of any furniture except for the long and darkly hued drapes that hung against the five floortoceiling windows. The makeshift sack hung against the outer side of my thigh. and heard nothing. I had expected a flood of flashbacks to hit me once I entered the house. I moved the lamp closer and saw that the pages were edged in gold. It was in my handwriting. I even checked out the closets. I guess it made perfect sense that I loved the wallpaper. as I fell backward. I could see how someone could miss that floor board. I tiptoed up the stairs. Luckily the drapes were drawn shut. across the way. and then into several small rooms that I had no idea how they had been used. Once I was on the second floor. I fought the urge to sneeze several times. No one would ever detect that I had a stack of books under my skirt if I got busted leaving my house. as well as the dirt road once more. When I turned to the second page. and waited a few seconds so that my vision could adjust to the abyss of blackness. Once I had it lit the spacious foyer was instantly flooded with the dim light. the study where there were still shelves up against the walls. I quickly shut the front doors. I gave each room a complete walk – through. and I was puzzled by that fact. but didn’t want to have to explain the diaries. and the darkness enveloped me immediately. and listened to my voice echo. as black as freshly poured tar. the enormous sunroom where shadows from beyond the windows scared me right out of the room. I siked myself up. causing the loose floor board to shift onto the board that adjacent to it. which I immediately liked. Ugh. Every room was the same. I fought off the urge to run back out. The floorboard was about a foot long and six inches wide. and witnessing me lurking around my own house. Obviously this must have been my room. They were huge and quite a few. It was the same as the first floor. There were four in total. and tried not to let my shoes tap against the steps of the winding marble staircase. the front walk.surveyed the porch. I knew that they would help jumpstart my memory. tying the ribbon around them as if it was a sack. I seriously had to work myself up to enter the house. hoping that the nasty spider was long gone and weaving a web elsewhere. The sidebar was empty besides a chunky layer of dust and thick cobwebs. I could see that the lamp was actually resting on a sidebar. I was thankful that the creepy thing was gone. I stopped once I reached the kitchen. and then wiped the icky dust off of my hands and onto the skirt of my dress. I put the loose floor board back in its place. I quietly headed back down the stairs. Unlike the Capius’ estate. and I was dying to know what had been written in them. I bent down to push the panel back into place and lifted it. the place that I had once called home. Maybe I’d have better luck on the second floor. You would have to step deep into the closet and step onto the board to know that it was loose. and set down my lamp. there wasn't another sound. I could make out the spacious foyer. I was distracted by a rickety floor board beneath my foot. Upon coming here. and lowered my hand slowly and carefully into the open space. which was probably due to the excitement of finally finding something in this huge house. Before I opened one of the books. and not a blur of a memory came to me. Whatever was wedged under the board felt like a box or a block or something. Maybe some or all of my questions will be answered . My mind was preoccupied with those little leather bound journals. I untied and removed the delicate ribbon. I stepped in slowly. Here I was standing in the house that I grew up in. The tap of the sole of my shoes echoed on the marble floor and throughout the house as I walked down the foyer. and wrapped the stack in the skirt of my petticoat. “Ugh!” I screamed. I wiped the dust off the books with the hem of my ruffled skirt. The diaries were mine. the walls were bare of any paintings or photographs. my eye caught a glimpse of something else in the open space between the floorboards boards. Suddenly. Although the first page was blank. I peered into the space where the floorboard had been placed. The last room was decorated with a combination of mint and ivory striped wallpaper. When I looked at the back covers. vacant and extremely dusty. and practically coming up from the floor. which took some doing. I went into the bedrooms. give them up. “Why couldn't I remember a damn thing?” I said. and not going in. Something was tucked underneath the floorboard which was parallel to the loose one. I was in what I guessed to be the parlor. I walked toward the bulky object. Other than my rapid breathing. carrying the lamp. After I tapped on it a few times. an exact match. I didn’t want to make any noise even though I believed that I was alone in the house. I realized that the hideously hairy spider. or worse. It turned out to be a stack of chocolate brown. Finally. The house smelled musty. I opened one of the books.

I blew out the oil lamp. and had a faint smell of burnt coal. At certain moments they appeared to lock eyes with me. I was certain that I hadn't locked it from the inside. The figure turned its head upward. and the third shadow was a figure of a woman. It wasn’t until I heard the faint sound of the front door slam shut that I believed that they were gone I was astonished by the turn of events. My heart began to race. Ugh! They could actually smell my blood. Then as if looking into one of Nikolas’ mirages. I stood up. the wall melted away and I fell through it. I had been ordered not to leave the Capius’ estate. wearing a Stetson. Someone is here. My heart was beating so hard and fast that I was sure that the Apolluon vampires could hear it pounding. I can smell it as well. Neither Bethany nor Evan could possibly know my deepest thoughts. I told myself over and over. “I am so famished. The walls were of dirt and clusters of rock. I turned out the flame in my lamp. Damn it. unfinished and uneven. I can smell the blood. I had to wonder if the risk of coming here was worth the chance of getting captured or. into one of the other numerous rooms. I must feed. because the parlor was the closest room. I pushed against the area of the wall where I had fallen through. and wore a dark.” The first man answered. or even better. The cave seemed to go on forever. I held the lamp up high and looked up at where a ceiling should have been. was pitch black. I set it down on the ground next to me. That way I could flee out the front door. If I had tried to make it to the rear of the house. but where? I heard the doorknob turn from left to right then back again. Don’t panic.” The woman’s voice was filled with rapture. we will find him or her. Now they’d be proven right. I heard the doorknob click open. I could see my surroundings. seen me scurrying through the house. I couldn’t let anyone catch me here. The second one was a shadow of another man. and the wall melted away as if it was made of air. The panel I had fallen through must be a secret passage to somewhere. I dread to even think it. If someone is here. and ran into the parlor. and escape the danger I had been warned about all along. but the door didn’t open. and would have surely heard me or worse. and sat up. Someone was in front of the house. on the cold and rough dirt floor. Suddenly. It was as if there was no ceiling.” The woman’s voice was a low and raspy drawl. Why the hell had I chosen to hide in here? Obviously. Where ever I was. alone. Why would someone come here at this time of the night? Why would someone come to an empty house? I didn't know what to do. As I made my way down the long staircase. lover. Then I heard a horse’s neigh. I leaned against the far left wall where I wouldn't be seen from the archway. I thought to hide. I could hear the continuous tip tap of footsteps across the parlor’s marble floor. “Patience. I looked into the parlor. I could kick myself right about now. I decided to try the wall again. and . I had a dull feeling in my gut that this was just the beginning of my treacherous fate. I paused at the bottom of the stairs. Once I had the lamp lit. taller. I pressed my ear against the cold. void of any white. Definitely a Nickel City native. You know what I need. although it was my house. and they were unfamiliar and uncharacteristically flawless – perfect cheek bones and thin lips. The smell is intoxicating. I was told over and over how I would be in danger if I left the mansion. long over coat. Amazingly. It was tall. My vision was having a hard time adjusting to the darkness. Driella. “Someone is here Matthias. It took all of my strength not to shriek in pain. the person on the other side of the door would definitely be in the foyer by then. The footsteps were coming closer and closer. but it was obvious that they couldn’t see me.at last. A long and slim shadow of an overcoat blowing in the dry breeze was cast onto the floor of the foyer by the cascading light of the moon. “Yes my love. Finding the journals had yet to prove their worth. and stepped closer to the wall where I had fallen in. The footsteps stopped once they were directly in front of the spot where I stood. Then it suddenly turned around as two other shadows appeared from nowhere. I wished like hell that I would live through this night to find out if they were. The noise caused the house to momentarily vibrate. I wished I could see what was on the other side of the rock wall. the medallion picked up its glow which ricochet the rays all over the walls. head upstairs. I still had a firm grip on the oil lamp. I had escaped death tonight. I observed a shadow of a man that reminded me of the one I had seen approaching me in the thunder storm. Their faces were as pasty as chalk. I reached into my pocket for another match. It was like I was watching them from behind a two way mirrors. I continued to hold my breath. Find them now!” The three Apolluon vampires practically spun as they began to hunt for me. perfectly ripe. the footsteps resumed their crisp tip tap across the floor. After a brief moment that felt like a couple of seconds. dirt wall. Their eyes were liquid pools of onyx. I stepped back from the wall and stopped breathing. It smells like a scrumptious nectar. I was in a small cave like place. and I could see the strong contrast of the paleness of the skin and it was paler than the moon. I put some light pressure against it. I landed hard on my back. Finally they floated away with their footsteps gradually fading away. I finally saw glimpses of their faces. killed…again. I was suddenly jolted by a thunderous rumble. and it wouldn’t budge. The caped figure walked around slowly. I couldn’t hide behind any furniture because there wasn’t any. I prayed that the visitor would bypass the parlor all together and head towards the back of the mansion. There was a light in the window on the second floor that was quickly extinguished. Maybe it was a real mirror of who I really was and am. I nervously held onto my medallion and involuntarily pressed my body firmly against the wall. or in my case an escape from someone or something. Apolluon vampires. I was unable to see the face because he wore the collars of his coat turned upward.” “Split up and search the house. and stopped every few steps as if it was aware of me.

you boys can feed elsewhere. edged in flames. I didn’t even remember arriving at the Capius’ front door but somehow I was now standing in the foyer. “I’m burning! I’m burning up… inside me. Either way they scared the crap out of me. I didn’t care to know from where exactly. “I want her Matthias.” She reached out. But what if those gates were locked? I had to go out the same way I had come in. Maybe I should leave out the back through the rear of the house. I was frozen. They cocked their heads to the side. I tiptoed over to one of the tall windows that faced out onto the street. Their gleaming white fangs were exposed and partially stained with the blood of their last victim. the front walk. I didn’t know how I did it. and erratic heartbeat before turning the knob. due to a glimmer of light coming from down the long hall. My right hand shook violently as I tried to grip the doorknob. “What is she!” Her voice faded while she spun around like a blazing tornado. and touched my hair. “She is different. and eat me alive. It wasn’t until I closed the double doors to my bedroom that I realized what had just happened. The vampiress turned into ashes that had electric current snapping through them as the ashes dissipated in the breeze. With a deep breath. and through the puncture marks that the vampiress inflicted on me. I wasn’t spending the night in this house. still in shock. There was one thing that I knew for sure. but it was futile. I pulled back one of the drapery panels just wide enough to allow my eyes to survey the front of the house. I thought to sprint back into the house. as if at any moment I expected the Apolluon vampires to pop out. fingertips. There wasn’t one. They glided toward me at an alarmingly fast rate as if they were riding magic carpets. I slipped out the aperture. The one the Apolluon vampiress called Matthias. I gulped a few times to slow down my breathing. I didn’t see anyone or anything. Bethany. the vampiress pounced on me. I couldn’t catch my breath. The vampires blocked the gates. The sharp points of her fangs punctured through the skin of my neck. The wall was just that. in the barren garden.stepped back into the parlor. The wall was one individual panel. and were widening as the edges engulfed in flames. or who was still awake. facing me off. and screamed out. They were thirsty. and wanted nothing more than to feel safe in the Capius’ house. All of a sudden.” The vampiress drawled and panted. I was across the street in a split second. The reality hit me. or interest in feasting on me. But damn it. And just like that… I was a believer.. and at the Capius estate’s gates even faster than that. I crept through the foyer. actually voiced it. and shivered uncontrollably as I faced the front door. “Get her!” shouted the vampiress. One of the Apolluon vampire’s eyes glowed like coals in a barbecue grill. retracted her teeth and screamed out. They moved as fast as I had seen Evan.” Before I knew it. Unconsciously. All three Apolluon vampires were within a few inches of me and edging closer. think. but I just killed an Apolluon vampire. but something else happened instead. and thought that I would pass out. a wall. I spun around to look at the panel that I had just walked though. No movements. Think. I wasn’t sure if it was because they wanted to express their annoyance that I tried to escape. I told myself. . and then disappeared. yet seemed to know the answer to the vampiress' question. and barren garden and saw nothing. The lightning burned out as quickly as it had ignited. leaving the other two vampires snarling in her wake. as fast as a flash of light. trying to prompt the wall to open up again. My heart was in my throat. Driella threw her head back. I wanted to be certain that the Apolluon vampires were gone. I ran my hand over the wall papered wall. with that thought. hungry and delighted. I’M BURNING!” The sparks took over Driella’s body and she sizzled and popped and shriveled up in electric currents. The three ravenous looking shadows with stark pale faces stared me down. They both spun around. and I was forced to take a seat on my chaise in order to collect myself. Her eyes were black. but when I turned around to run they were in front of me again. and through the abandoned garden. “I must have her. “I can almost taste her…” He seethed in a growling tone. The two other vampires looked at me for a moment. and closed the door behind me. chest. I had expected searing pain. The angry hissing sound they made left me paralyzed. “She is mine. I surveyed the porch. how do I control this lightning bolt thing? I stood motionless. and I slid it open slowly. and the lightening nearly blinded me when it shot out of my eyes. pushing against it firmly. and Nikolas move. They had waited. but I was fearful of leaving the house – the same house I had been deathly afraid to enter. The new Queen of Ischera!” I watched the second vampire make the full realization. They began circling me like vultures ready to snatch their prey.” She said salivating. “She is the lost Empress of the Gods. Her blood…hmmm… smells delicious. The vampireress coiled a tendril of my hair around her finger without actually touching it as though she controlled every single strand. The house was dim. I finally swallowed the knot in my throat. ears. The door knob released. I felt the heat surging from within me. and then in flames.

so it wasn’t really killing. I was still trying to make some sense of what I escaped tonight. but would have sided with mother in the end. Riding her twice a week is not enough. but being craved by a blood thirsty vampire is the doom of any soul. The first entry was written about three years ago. but it’s all part of blending in. although rather unsuccessfully. I made myself comfortable on the plush chaise and continued to read. I remembered when I felt the warm stack of journals nudge my thigh. I’d been desperate to read the journals since discovering them. this morning. I had forgotten all about my discovery. for the first time. So deserving. I didn't bother getting back into bed. and just as described in the journal. Hopefully. and all the things that they needed me to remember. I’m so happy that Daddy has returned home from France. as if she were leery of me stealing something. dub me as selfish to have risked the empire. Emotionally. just ending their immortality. on the other hand. and be ourselves. a gathering of the gossips. Bethany’s words ricochet in my head like a bullet hitting several points before its target. Today. March 1888 Dearest Diary. The clock was beautiful. and looked over at the mantle. the ladies of Nickel City’s aristocracy. my love. I was prepared to devour the diaries for what was left of the night. They bored me constantly about all the evil forces that could be a threat. Gypsy is gaining confidence in her master finally. This is the only way we can see each other. which was a soft as butter. Even in the dark. Physically. really. not the future warriors of the world. That would mean revealing the fact that I had left the house tonight. There is something to be said about being the object of one’s desire. at the luncheon. I was a mess. Perhaps. Evan’s eyes had shown such honesty and depth as he spoke those unforgettable words to me. but knew better. She looked like a buffoon. Bergnum’s horse and buggy again. Right now. and absolute craziness of what just transpired. yet I felt invigorated because I had the ability to. without a doubt. Mother says she finds the gossiping all quite irritating. I stopped reading. they were already dead. He told me. Thaddeus would have a fit if he ever found out that I had defied him. In all the weirdness. The vampire’s words were etched into my brain forever. Mother said I’m no longer allowed to attend the luncheons. I wanted to seek advice from Evan. that he has fallen quite hard over me. I feared the consequences of the abysmal act of killing an Apolluon vampiress. It is exceptional. I slipped out again last night. and she was forced to chase it around the table. Mentally. and I padded over to the fireplace. death altogether. Well I’m not afraid of the Apolluon. I know what he really thinks of the luncheons. A few more rides and Daddy will be left in all of the town’s dust. I still couldn’t grasp how I had escaped them. This time he beat me by only a tenth of a mile. I felt like I could take on the strongest and most evil opponent even if I wasn’t able to control the power. how much I loved him. I believe everyone had gone to bed. and felt the chill of the diamond medallion against my chest. They would be outraged that we had not followed their strict rule of never venturing out at night. I felt incredible. I pushed back the covers. but I couldn't find the words. Bethany. Somehow my instincts set off powers to protect myself. It's isn’t as if I levitated Ms. She is such a graceful and glorious mare. When we kiss. we are never alone during the day. and what I did unknowingly. The wretched woman nearly had a stroke when she finally stepped out of the carriage. March 1888 Dearest Diary. I needed to talk to someone about it. I pulled the covers up as far as my stomach. Besides. and Nikolas. journal in hand. Daddy. I’m trying to behave. Kill or be dragged into the Underworld. They were thirsty for it and that was beyond what I considered to be scary. What happened tonight was as extraordinary as it was appalling. 17. I adjusted my sheets and quilts which were frigid since they hadn’t been slept in since I supposedly disappeared two years ago. The taste of Evan’s kiss was . I promise to. they would conjure up a memory.Fourteen Dear Diary Could killing an Apolluon vampire really be considered an evil act? I mean. the diaries would lend me some insight on this family. Daddy beat me again. I think I finally got it now. 16. He would. would have found it all very amusing. It’s made of white marble and gilt ormolu French lyre. pumped up like a prize fighter. Evan waited for me at the entrance of the forest. Harriet Maxwell’s bonnet levitated above her head. the house was quiet. I almost thanked her. This time Daddy brought back the most magnificent French marble and ormolu lyre timepiece as a gift to me. long after Mother and Daddy retired for bed. that you have all the control. and got out of bed. and neither is Evan. I wanted to tell him what I had been feeling for him as well. I must try to spend more time with Gypsy in the stables. I had to take advantage of the time that I had alone. It felt like an ice chip against my skin. The meddlesome old biddy watched me like a hawk every time I was in her home. and looks splendid on my mantle. “I’m a powerful prankster?” I muffled a giggle. feeling the warm contrast of the leather book jacket. but couldn’t. I opened one of the journals. my heart feels like it could actually leap from my chest. I missed him so. They had smelled my blood.

How can I escape this house during the day? I didn’t know. It appeared to be a very necessary indulgence. Whoa. She said that I had found him to be annoying. Hmmm… that may be too soon. We were selfishly in love.warm and sweet. Actually. and I was able to heal myself. We had behaved recklessly. Gerald is a true friend. I was shocked by so many things in that entry. and read more of the first journal. We must always meet at his home because Mother won’t hesitate to remind me that it is inappropriate for a lady. But then why did she yank me away the minute she saw him? Bethany must have believed that Gerald was a threat to her brother. We barely got away. Suppose I do? Maybe he is the key to my memory. I must see Gerald. human. But then again it’s normal for a girl my age to be married in this day and age. I’m engaged to be married to Evan. We flew back to my house. our only time of normalcy. Wow. and somehow made it home alive in time for sunrise. More importantly he wasn't a part of this family. Maybe Bethany didn’t know of my friendship with Gerald. when I fell from the tree. He really needed me. He trusts me and I trust him. Everything had been perfect. I should have seen that one coming. and Evan and I will live blissfully from that day forward. I’m both happy and sad. and his touch made my skin tingle. to have another gentleman caller. Mother prefers a long engagement therefore the nuptials will not take place for a year or so. I thought. The excitement left me riddled with goose flesh therefore. It was obvious tonight during dinner. privately. Being able to talk to him regarding everything including the gifts we are acquiring is foremost the most comforting part of our relationship. 24. and enjoyed lemonade over a refreshing conversation regarding his family in New York. First of all. and I was beside myself with guilt. What I just read sounds hardly like what she described. but that would end our midnight rendezvous. Daddy has decided to announce the merging of the two families at the Annual Masquerade Ball. this time. Evan and I are in love. Perhaps. Were my parents dead because I had broken the rules? A knot formed in my gut. July 1888 Dearest Diary. Gerald starts mentioning specific events and occurrences. Thaddeus blames Evan for how bad things have become. soon. The sooner the better. and I can't remember anything he's talking about. and I wrote that I liked that about him. Suppose. other than the Ischeros. I closed my eyes. She doesn’t know how to be objective about her brother. in order to feel some sort of normalcy with the person you loved. and never liked him. Especially after what Evan did to Victor’s pack of relentless werewolves. There was too much weight on his shoulders. Evan lent me his jacket. She also doesn’t like the idea of having friends who aren’t of Ischero divinity. We decided not to worry them. I endured a few cuts on my arm. everything drastically changed. She is a wretched old thing. Fool heartedly in love. a mortal. We were both to blame. Oh my goodness. am I still expected to marry Evan? Second. in a world of evil which we were both unfortunately born into. I read the next few entries which pretty much stated the same. Gerald isn’t a caller. including our own lives and the future of the empire to be together. and then Evan left me at my door. Funny thing I’ve never heard anyone mention children. The werewolves were clearly no match for Evan’s strength. One day. So now that I’m back. a confidant. This is why I’m sad. I've stopped reading Gerald’s thoughts so that I’m truly surprised when he says something witty and thought provoking. drowning them just in time. which existed inside of me. I wanted him to kiss me like we were lovers. He was normal. but not before he kissed me goodnight the way that I’ve wanted him to. believes that I went to France with my parents for studies. Why would a friend be a threat? He wasn’t even an Ischero. Poor Evan. I had escaped blame by being in the future. werewolves. Gerald and I met at his home today. Our secrecy prompted our carelessness. We continued to defy our parents and meet in the forest at nightfall. who is set to marry. and reflected on what I had just read. There has to be a way. I couldn’t exactly show up at his house in the middle of the night. He’s a friend. Well. My love for Evan grows each day. someone other than Bethany. It was so romantic. We elected to deprive our once powerful parents of knowing how much power Victor wielded. In time. nothing to hide from Mother and Daddy. I enjoy his company immensely. They also didn’t know of my . I wish I could remember what led up to the proposal. Then suddenly. thinking I was cold. at seventeen. How would I go about seeing Gerald? Would it be possible to visit him? I had to find a way. I will bring Victor to his knees. but I couldn’t stay in the dark any longer. Apparently. Bethany said that everyone in town. I do realize one particular onerous element in our irrepressible desire to express our love to each other. I needed to remember my past in order to alleviate some of that stress. Bethany had lied. It’s nice to talk to someone who is not one of our kind. Evan had not. The dream was real. He doesn't feel threatened by my friendship with Gerald. I would like to meet with him tomorrow. I will be able to do what Evan has so magnificently mastered and more. I had to catch my breath. My powers are strengthening. waking up something that I was unaware of. I can't really see myself married now. I utilize all of my strengths to not strike her with my bolt. The next entry was disconcerting. I stretched my legs. I wrote in it almost every day. I wish I could remember the proposal. I’m so not ready. We challenged Apolluon vampires. We were so much in love that we risked everything. but my injuries healed in a matter of seconds hence. they would have been prepared for Victor. There isn’t any indication that I’ve been gone for most of the night. I had a friendship with Gerald Bergnum. Obviously the Ischeros have children but it doesn’t look like they start that early. I’m actually happy to know that he and I are friends – were friends. Evan and I were learning to use our powers. I leafed through the journal. I only wished his grandmother would stop giving me harsh looks as if I should feel inferior. This also explains the way he looked at me. Evan and I had really been chased by werewolves. We were being chased by werewolves. How ridiculous. Married with children. Why would she lie about it? Only one thing came to mind. we should tell our parents of Victor’s recent boldness and his new ability to control weaker beings. and was genuinely glad to see me again. We should have told our parents the truth. Like he had missed me. I’m so in love with Evan that I may burst! Perhaps.

. It was delicious. He kissed me on my lips. They greeted me with venom in their eyes. These were mortals. My teeth immediately began to chatter. but I knew that I saw someone… something. I didn't want to be a monster. A bitter.. I wished that was the case. he makes me laugh until my stomach aches. and got back into bed. they figured that I was outnumbered. maybe I’m visualizing things. I couldn’t explain it. yet I merely rid the earth of unwanted evil. I had sensed it as I chose the fabrics my seamstress required to construct my ball gown for the Halloween Masquerade Ball. I plunged into the second diary. I made sure to exit out the back door. I was no longer a virgin. I wasn’t about to allow a pessimistic thought into my head. the room was warm again. September 1888 Dearest Diary. Gerald must think so as well. regardless of what they had done or were about to do. With great apprehension. They were wrong. and ran off and left him sitting there like a lump on a log. 3. “What the –?” Just as I sat down on chaise lounge. Luckily. he didn’t appear to notice the tears in the embroidered fabric under my left sleeve. Tears streamed down my cheeks. How could Gerald put me in such an awkward position? Luckily we were alone. the girl in the reflection looked defeated – puffy red rimmed green eyes. while I returned home without them.. Heathen. and were left for dead by whoever had long fled the scene. I’m seeing things that aren’t really there. but I focused. I feel like such a child for acting that way. I shook of the strange feeling.. I couldn't change the past. . He meant Victor’s army. Victor’s disciples were mortals who had been given secondary powers. Something was happening to me. I pulled the covers up to my shoulders as if I was cozying up to a great novel. As usual. In a little less than an hour I was finished with the first journal. where the valley meets the edge of the forest. monstrous. I ran to the bathroom. Being divine may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. I used all of my senses. instead of the front of the mercantile. and shut the doors behind me. What will happen to my soul? I suddenly felt cold – freezing cold. and more so my own. The shopkeeper was horrified by the sight of the dead bodies. murderer Bethany's words rang like cathedral bells in my skull because. murderer Heathen. monstrous.. Strangely. and didn't show it. When I looked at myself in the mirror. The shopkeeper presumed that I accidentally ran into the three after they had their necks broken. The icy cold air that had just engulfed my room seemed to follow the person out onto the veranda. I returned the kiss. Oh goodness. I must stop. monstrous. It’s believed that my parents decided to stay abroad.. and were waiting for me in the vacant alley between the mercantile and the cobbler’s shop. Something must be disconnected between my eyes. I blubbered like a baby because. ice cold breeze whipped though my hair and petticoat.. I went back inside. and headed for home. They were my first. and I never allowed them to strike their mark. I quickly boarded my carriage. I caught a glimpse of the back of someone’s head – short. I like visiting with Gerald.parents’ death. quivering lips – and incapable of murder. What I've done today would be considered murder to some. Our conversations are lively. all new faces in his army. and before I knew it. like it was the middle of winter. I knew what was coming. Who am I? I didn’t want to find out anymore. I flushed my face with tepid water. Three of Victor’s disciples. I proceeded to finish reading the journals. unbeknownst to the shopkeeper of course.. I snuck back into my room. I have to admit that I was slightly anxious. but I was alone on the balcony. I couldn’t believe that I was capable of killing another human being. and stood in the doorway. Daddy had taught me well. Rather confidently. this time it wasn’t ending immortality – an Apolluon vampire. Obviously I had it in me to… murder. Gerald and I picnicked today under Old Oak. and was about to reopen the second journal. I made the shopkeeper aware that I had just witnessed three dead males in his back alley by screaming innocently. and ran over to the doors. They were people – human beings. the most in appropriate and most shocking thing. murderer Heathen.. I also bawled because I knew I may soon be in a position to have to do it again. I wept for several reasons.. unknowingly. 2 September 1888 Dearest Diary. and blamed it on the band of outlaw cowboys who had recently begun terrorizing the townsfolk. I was stunned with Gerald's improper behavior. a man possibly with blond hair. and vomited. and still couldn’t remember anything.. The only dilemma was that I had to conjure up a reason as to why I was coming in from the alley therefore. bluntly cut blond hair – leaving my room through the French doors and out onto the veranda. I guess no one would think it odd since my father seemed to travel to France so often. I knew that I hadn’t imagined the frostiness in the room. and cracked opened the doors to the veranda to let in the warm night air.. I jumped up. and my brain to have conjured up something that freaky. I wrapped my arms around myself. and I sobbed again. to what else I may find out about myself. Everything was going wonderfully until he did the most unexpected. I expected to see someone. or ask any questions. But they had anticipated my strategy. a very handsome lump.

I’m utterly powerless when it comes to my growing affection for Gerald. instead of lying to him. I’ve based on his actions toward me. the words I had rehearsed a hundred times this morning in front of the vanity. if only for a few hours. It’s the most promising distraction and essential as our enemies increase their threats. I read a few more entries. Yet. 29 October 1888 Dearest Diary. I don’t feel the need to have my senses heightened when I’m with Gerald. and I forgot about Evan. I've spent a lot of time underground. the boy that I still don’t feel that I know. It was another invitation for tea. in hopes that my feelings will cease. I continue to submerge myself in bringing my powers to full potential. and I don’t know what to do about it. My lips failed me. If someone did see us. and Hedea. this could get back to Mother and Daddy. but when I was asked the question. I don't want to lose his friendship. and that we could only be friends. I don’t want an awkward situation at the Halloween Masquerade Ball tomorrow evening therefore. I kissed him. Nikolas. My heart opened up. 30 October 1888 Dearest Diary. I feel awfully depressed for a boy I don’t remember ever knowing. in this time. I must admit. I never realized how much I needed that. I continued reading with the entry that was written the next day. I dread what is happening. knows that I’m engaged to marry Evan. They will believe Gerald and I kiss all the time. I feel like a normal young woman.Everyone. and had to stop reading when I read this one. I tried to tell Gerald that I felt nothing but a friendly fondness for him. I want that very much. And now I was more nervous of meeting with him then I was before. I’ve avoided Gerald by not accepting his invitations. who didn’t exist at that moment. Julius. and the mounting emotions of betrayal I'm burdened with for Evan. Gerald's butler. waiting for an opportunity to kill me. How could I be so selfish? I’m supposed to marry Evan. I received another letter today. In my life. I love them both. Strength without bounds is mediocre to what I will someday be capable of. I’m becoming more and more powerful – controlling living things within my presence. My feelings for Gerald must subside. Do I really love Evan if I spent the better part of my afternoon hidden in the barn kissing Gerald? Perhaps. I wondered just how close Gerald and I really got before I left. That is what I want. I hate having to break his heart. Bethany. I feel so free. he must never act that way towards me again. with Evan. I feel like a different person. hand delivered by Rutherford. beneath the mines. The moment I walked into the Bergnum’s estate and saw his handsome face. but the words wouldn't come out. but more importantly. or worse Evan. without a care in the world. Although my strengths have matured. appearing relieved to see me. Whoa! Well that explains Bethany’s reaction to seeing Gerald today. I don’t remember Gerald a bit. rigorously working to enhance our abilities. . my beautiful Evan. I doubt that I will have enough to do so. when I’m with Gerald. The little I do know about him. I’m in love with two boys. He asked me how I felt about him. I thought about Evan. Yes. I want it to be as it was. Evan and I are meant to be. were never spoken. Now I knew I had to meet him. I don’t want to put my engagement to Evan in jeopardy. but considering what I’ve read. I must see Gerald beforehand. Demons lurking. and then I will tell him that if he wants to continue our friendship. This time I accepted Gerald’s invitation. I will wait a few days. but not a requirement that I accept therefore. I’m so confused. It is customary. I believe that Evan would be devastated if he knew that I was in love with someone else. My feelings for Gerald are changing. Gerald admits to being in love with me. including Gerald. So much depends on our union. We will do great things together. shape shifting into any living thing. The last thing I need Gerald to think is that I truly enjoyed the kiss. I thought I knew. don’t exist when I’m with Gerald. and that we will never be together. and telling him that I felt nothing at all. I’m so lost in my emotions. reading minds. We are destined to each other. yet I cannot control my feelings for Gerald. Tomorrow I will tell him that my heart belongs to Evan. He seemed so pleased when we saw each other across the garden. I would guess that he may be in love with me too.

I hope that Hera is not jealous. laying here reading this journal. once amongst my empire through the anointment of Zeus. or he wouldn’t put an effort in ignoring me. I couldn’t help feeling somehow emotionally attached to both Evan and Gerald. At midnight Evan and I kissed to welcome in the New Year. One look in the eyes or a whisper in the ear and we assess their thoughts. pretending not to see me at all. Hopefully I will stop crying over Gerald someday. I had been all of fourteen when I fell in love with two boys who had fallen in love with me. By the time I finished reading the third diary. With Gerald. I was a woman. I wept because of the pain I knew I would inflict on Gerald. that I was being watched. I can’t and don’t blame her for being harsh. I didn’t realize when I kissed Gerald as I left the barn.The last pages I read were spotted with dried. my mind drifted to Gerald. The emotions I had felt. If it were now. Sadly. Afterwards. and he looks away. I could enjoy the simple things that life had to offer. I love Evan. I knew that if I met with him. It was wonderful. I believe both she and Alexandria simply love throwing the grandest of galas. that was the selfish part of me. Mother and I spent the afternoon picking the fabric for my wedding gown. Bethany can be as stubborn as a mule. I had asked him not to. Of course. I personally can do without all of the festivities. and wants to protect her brother. I did not love Gerald enough to leave Evan. She promises to tell Evan what she saw if Gerald and I see each other again. I wish that I could Glamour him to fall out of love with me. The letter will hurt him. my powers are useless for heartache. I’m the same person then. I see him once in a while when I’m in the front garden. I sniffled and wiped away the tears that streamed down my cheeks now. our future. Something else happened. then he will indeed accept my position. I don’t see why it’s necessary when we have the power to Glamour their thoughts. He still has a portion of my heart. circle shaped water marks. Ready to reign when my parents are no longer able too. She can be so pretentious when it comes to deciding on a selection of fabric. not because Bethany threatened to tell. I didn't have to think about the realm of evil that I was surrounded by. deeply. It made sense that I would treasure the normalcy Gerald offered. I learned that I spent a lot of time with Evan and spent a lot of time thinking about Gerald. and only momentarily. Bethany had it right about being an adult at an early age. he is still hurting. If he truly loves me as he said over and over again the day before. I may never have said the words that I planned to say. I don't want to lose Evan. and experiences I had gone through were intense and had changed aged me emotionally. I could somehow relate to what I must have gone through then. and he had obeyed my wishes. My marriage to Evan is far too important. Oddly. I know that she means well. I also don’t want to defy my parents and go against what is expected of me as an empress. The gods are shining on me once again. I doubt that he will attend the Masquerade Ball tonight after reading the letter. yet I couldn’t help being human and falling in love with a close friend. I didn’t seek her advice. and ultimately the empire. It seemed to placate her. and I didn’t know where to begin. She came to me as she always does when I need her. It was all so amazing. I wondered how he was and who he was kissing this New Year’s night. and a second time so that it can be recognized amongst the mortals. as I’m now. I just want to be Evan's wife. I guess love didn’t discriminate when it came to age. Zeus has anointed me with strength and dominance as he has in the past to the chosen emperors and empresses before me. and his tenderness toward me. his strength. That is my reason for ending my friendship with Gerald. I was an adult because I had a tough choice to make and I made the right one. I just wish we could Glamour a mortals deepest emotions. Yet. or know what love is? How young had Juliet been when she fell in love with Romeo? Just fourteen. I was in tears. I flew through the second diary and was now beginning the third. I read about . Mother is busily making the event the most sought after invitation in all of Nickel City's history and among its aristocracy. We promised to love and protect each other forever. nine times out of ten it was her opinion that prevailed. I sent him a letter rather than meet with him. and stay away. I spoke with Athena again last night. Mother and Daddy say that I will be ready soon. I couldn't prevent her from making all the choices. It pains me as well. I think. not a girl. Was that too young to fall in love. and then Glamour them into believing what we wish or doing what we command. We will be married twice. A part of me hoped that he wasn’t alone while another part of me was suddenly jealous of the idea of him kissing someone else. my heart would be torn between Evan and Gerald. He never responded to my letter. simply because I hated being the cause of someone else’s pain. She always provides the most divine wisdom. I’m ready to marry Evan now. That would certainly solve my dilemma with Gerald. I still don’t remember being with either of them. finally. If he loves me then he will understand that he and I are not meant to share our lives together. A piece of my heart is breaking now as a piece broke when I wrote the letter. I cried myself to sleep last night. 1 January 1889 Dearest Diary. I wanted to marry him because it was what we were destined to do. although she is the goddess of marriage. On occasion she would allow me to voice my opinion but in the end. I felt Athena would relate best regarding the choice I had to make between Evan and Gerald. I couldn't help thinking of him. or between mortals and immortals. I was so in love with Evan. Obviously. She was enjoying the planning too much. Secretly. Perhaps Gerald was the test. Clearly. Evan seems as delighted as I am. I’m growing stronger. I must have been crying as I wrote that last entry. Our wedding is set for early spring. I told her about the letter. the ancient bond we shared. I don't understand how or why but it happened to two people that could not be together. Although it was my wedding gown. I’m a coward. 31 October 1888 Dearest Diary. Evan was my soul mate. Mother says it’s necessary that the residents of Nickel City see that we are one of them. and saw his face. It has been three months since Gerald and I have formally spoken. How do you stop yourself from falling in love? I had undoubtedly fallen in love with Gerald. his valor. Even though I don’t remember the experience of being caught in a love triangle.

Fifteen Morning Ride . Right now. as if their antennas had been raised with every display of power. that’s what the family had planned all along. Ha! I should be so lucky to know. The possibilities were endless. He was relentless. At this late hour. I wasn't sure if I would be able to talk to him without a morsel of a memory of him other than what I just read. something powerful. but say. I scribbled a variation of the same message on several sheets of stationary before I was finally confident with one. but in her eyes Gerald was lethal to the union between Evan and I. It’s now four in the morning. and discovered that there’ve been more attacks on several of the families. But what would I say to him? I just can’t go up to him and say: “Hey Gerald. or who liked me. I couldn't contemplate the idea of Gerald not accepting my invitation. I continued with the last of the journals. That’s what Bethany would say when I explained to her how all my dates never worked out. which looked more like an artist’s paint brush. Just how much control over me. While I’ve been gone. was incredible. I have to meet with Gerald. after several attempts. and by the Apolluon vampires. My hand shook with every word I wrote. we could never find the time to date. I believe it’s going to take someone from outside of this house to charge my memory. I felt compelled to meet with Gerald. Glamouring. and around town. I don't know how he feels about my leaving to go to France without even saying goodbye. Finally. Second. Gerald must have thought it to be since etiquette was the rage. I began to write fluidly without tearing the page. After reading my journals. and began to write my note. Evan’s love for me never died. The part about changing the thoughts of mortals. and trips to town. They were devoured by ravenous werewolves. It was difficult at first. I’m sure he would reply immediately. Gerald doesn't know the truth about the families. What if he didn't reply? Worse. More than half of the journal was empty following that last entry. Gerald may be vital in unlocking my memory. or should I say early hour. I wished that I could remember what I had written in the letter. Possibly. No matter who I liked. The gods were watching. I struggled with the ink and pen. The presence of the Apolluon was becoming evident with every ravaged body. Obviously that’s what Bethany was going for. do you know anything about me being a demigod?” Yeah. Victor’s exploits were leading them right to us. The final entry was written the night before a big party was scheduled for my fifteenth birthday. I doubt I would get much. the merging of the two most powerful families and infinite power. no chance of a relationship between me.all the ways I plotted to avoid Gerald. In the life I actually remembered living. and awful of the decision I was forced to make. I decided to keep the note short. Gerald believed that I went to France. I felt so guilty around Evan. In the note. I’d be knee deep in nickels. The only promising aspect is that he didn't appear angry when Bethany and I saw him on the veranda. I searched for a clever place in my room to hide the diaries. I felt very apprehensive as well. panthers. He was devoted to me. We had been the rude ones. He was a direct threat. She didn’t want me near him. what if he said screw etiquette. I knew that it was crucial that we meet. During the memorable two years I have been away. I didn’t think so either. even though I believed it to be the right one. If he only knew what was really going on. I dug the razor sharp point of the pen into the paper and tore it a little. and another boy. like rearranging my riding schedule. did ya miss me? I don’t remember a darn thing about you. I opened the drawer where my personalized monogrammed stationary was kept. My mind was spinning with scenarios of what would happen when I met with him. I tucked the note in the drawer with the rest of my stationary and finally went to bed. but wouldn’t intervene as Thaddeus had explained. Who am I kidding? I don’t have a choice. I suppose it all depends on how hurt he felt when I didn't say good–bye. I just believed that it wasn’t meant to be. If I had a nickel for every time I’d wished I possessed the power to alter another person’s mind. This happened a few times until I figured out the correct way to hold the pen. I had no idea how he felt about me now. and didn't accept my invitation? What do I do then? I felt a knot forming in the pit of the core of my belly. He had actually waved to us. First of all. Gerald was dangerous. More and more corpses were found in the forest. Now that I think of it. I had lived a completely different life in the future. since that was considered proper etiquette. and give it a little boost. Gerald and I had to meet. I just couldn't put it off any longer. He had to accept. Maybe this isn't such a great idea. He wasn’t dangerous the way Victor and the Apolluon were. and finding out the secret relationship Gerald and I had developed. and I needed some sleep. Victor was building an army of disciples to be reckoned with. Hades’ Apolluon were becoming more aware of our aura. and clearly understood what our union would bring. I basically ask that Gerald and I meet for tea at his home. I had never really had a boyfriend. They knew something was here. He probably thought I had no interest in him. and my life does the family really have? It is imperative that I find out. I decided it was time and sat at my desk. I tucked them beneath a stack of petticoats in one of the drawers of my dresser for now until I could think of a better place. in the valley. I planned to have it hand delivered to Gerald at his home tomorrow. He promised total destruction if the families didn’t concede their powers.

but once I returned to my room.. I looked around my large bedroom. and that she was part of a dream that I was having at the moment. I didn’t know how to make it start. He stood firmly in front of the door meowing at maximum volume. I had truly forgotten where I was until Sun Paw nudged me awake. and a powerless one. sprinting as fast as I could in the direction of the Bergnum Estate. Argos slowly walked up to me. The paintings hanging on the walls looked like they were in 3D. Nope. I didn't bother putting on a hat or gloves. and turned around to make sure that I hadn't been seen. He was clearly a strange man. and nearly scared me half to death. Once I saw Sun Paw’s face. a demigod. Yes it was too early. It was a do or die moment. or how to make it stop. and sneak away to meet Gerald. barely escaping a gruesome death by the fangs of blood thirsty Apolluon vampires. My vision was blurry. or my mom until I saw her pretty tanned face. I hope that I did so unnoticed. I looked at my reflection in the bathroom mirror as well as Sun Paw’s reflection. to vomit. this was anything but the life of an average teenager. I allowed myself to hope even if Thaddeus sees hoping as a weakness. I heard footsteps approaching the top of the staircase along with some more meowing from Argos. I just had a feeling. “Yes.” He stated quite matteroffact. and all the photographs appeared to be glaring at me suspiciously. waving Argos away. not allowing it to close completely so that I could slip back in. while the lace curtains of my windows danced in the early morning breeze. I quietly walked down the never ending stair case. I couldn’t control it the night of the horrible thunder storm. They were way too protective of me. Sun Paw stood beside me. . Those accessories would only provoke questions. After that. rotten. “Good day Miss Tieron. and would flip out. “Shoo Argos. reality slapped me hard enough to make my teeth rattle. I wrapped my hand around the large door knob. and I had thought that she was an angel. and ran into the bathroom. and slowly opened the front door. and bolted up the stairs.” I said nervously. Anxious and not breathing. By doing that. middleaged man answered the door. The wiry man seemed to recognize me immediately although his foul expression led me to believe that he wasn’t pleased by my presence. I breathed a sigh of relief. but it was too early. since Gerald was a mortal and knew nothing of my true existence of being an empress and all. and it suddenly felt like it was shrinking.The bold rays of the sun flooded into my room. so I cinched the fabric at my hips. But I still can’t remember anything about my life. I rushed passed Sun Paw. Meeting Gerald was very important to me. watery eyed. Worse than the funk I woke up in yesterday. but necessary. It was all real and my gut wrenched and twisted. popped out from nowhere. or followed. I still believed that our connection may help jog my memory a bit. and never gave a thought to my parasol. My head was spinning in the opposite direction of the vortex of the room. She looked sad. Today I didn’t wake up to find that it had all been a terribly dreadful dream. Anyway. and realized that I hadn’t had the dream. Then I felt the light pressure of her shoving my shoulder in that annoying way that makes you want to throw something at the person who’s poking you.” He said in a raspy even tone. My dress was twisting around my ankles along with a whirlpool of dirt. or last night in front of the Apolluon vampires. It was still quite early therefore. “If you are here to see Master Gerald. one thing was pretty clear. nearly banging myself into the molding on the way there. a Siamese named Argos. I quietly pulled the door behind me. I could see the balconies of the Capius Estate from where I stood. I forced the heavy gates open. I also didn’t want to return with the evidence of dirt on my skirt. I couldn’t make out a soul through the early morning fog. After all that I had seen the day before. I figured I was still asleep. I hoped. he is out for his morning ride. praying that I wouldn't trip on the hem of my dress or run into anyone. and held my hair back as I rinsed my face in the bathroom sink.. purred around the hem of my dress. the street was vacant. After I was dressed. Victorian furniture seemed to be closing in on me as the room began to spin. The teary eyed man in the tuxedo and tails continued to stare at me as if he was preparing to slam the door in my face. shoo” I hissed in a whisper. and made the floating dust particles resemble a glistening mist. and eased through the narrow opening. All that had happened the day before came rushing back. spoiled cat. I slowed down as I approached the Bergnum’s mansion. I had to act quickly. Revealing what happened to Evan. Worst of all I would never be able to slip them again. I didn’t know what time it was. and Nikolas would mean having to admit that I had snuck out last night. the house cat. When I finally got to the door. Argos had sold me out. and won't be returning for another hour. or some kind of apparition. uh. I didn’t know how long I was in the bathroom. Sun Paw informed me that breakfast would be served momentarily. Once inside the Bergnum’s gates. This morning I found myself in the midst of a deep depression. I saw no one. I guess staying up to read four journals for the better part of the night wasn’t very smart either. My hand was shaking and I couldn't will it to stop. Within a few seconds. Bethany. fast and brutally. It just seemed to happen when I felt threatened. and knocked on the door using the large lion's head shaped knocker. The air was thick and opaque making the four mansions on the street barely visible. when I was still in the future. good morning sir. Although he was a mortal – wow – now I was classifying people as mortals and immortals. I knew that I have powers but I couldn’t control the lightning that comes from somewhere within my core. someone with unexplainable super natural powers. With one quick movement I slipped out. I guess I really accepted what was happening to me. I lifted the latch of the gates once I surveyed the block. It was as if the stealthy feline was deliberately trying to prevent me from leaving. She left me alone for a while. a tall. and almost slammed the door shut. sort of smiling yet concerned. My vision began to clear like the fog had finally lifted its veil before my eyes. I pulled out the little envelope with my note enclosed from the cuff of my sleeve. I had forgotten that Tieron was my real last name. Sun Paw already had my riding clothes laid out across the freshly made bed. I must really be a deity. It was too early for someone who had spent the early part of the night prowling around an abandoned mansion. which raised the hem a bit. it enabled me to widen my stride.

It was the same with the Bergnum’s grounds. I didn't run into anyone. The stable hand was watching me intently on the other side of the horse. who I guessed to be the stable hand. Tall. Someone must have noticed that it had been left opened. He had the same smooth bronze complexion that Sun Paw and Moon Rose's had. I’d never ridden a horse before and didn’t have the faintest idea how to get on.” I said. uh. especially not the horse. then my morning walk excuse wouldn't float. early fall. and knew that I had to think fast. When I first walked up to the mahogany mare. I stopped running as I got close to the Capius house. but not enclosed within the estates gates. “Beth. I tried the gate again. were accustomed to sweating the day through from dawn into dusk. I wouldn’t consider this tragic ending to my perfectly planned outing. He walked around the front of the horse.“No. The sun was beaming. which wasn’t unusual for this time of day at this time of the year. ok. I halfwalked and halfjogged all the way back to the house. and couldn’t be lifted from the outside. . which shone like onyx and hung on both sides of his chiseled face.” “Certainly you are. My attempt was futile. “And Topaz. Before I made the trek to the rear of the house.. A tall and very attractive young man. and released the mare to me by handing me the reins. I uh don’t wish to see Gerald. “He’s staring. Maybe I should try the entrance gates at the rear of grounds that enclosed the garden. as I tried to appear cool and collected. “Are you ready?” Bethany asked. But I had to try something. The residents of Nickel City. and closed them. all of Nevada actually. his long bone straight hair. Night Wind nodded to me. I whispered just loud enough so that only Bethany would hear.” Bethany watched Night Wind quickly walk back into the barn. I looked around. I spotted Bethany exiting the barn which was located a few yards away from the house and garden. I stopped abruptly when she whinnied – disconcertingly shaking her glossy jet black mane at me as if to say ‘You are not worthy’. and I wondered if he was their brother.. and I was a trembling mess. The stable hand stepped back as I approached the horse.” Bethany ordered. I wouldn’t allow myself to think that the gates at the edge of the garden may also be locked. She seemed to tense up when I held my hand out to pet her.” I stammered. “I don’t.” Bethany said looking at the stable hand. my horse. thoroughly embarrassed as I noticed Night Wind peering at me from the wooden doors of the barn. She eyed me carefully with liquid mocha eyes. keeping nosy peepers intrigued with all that took place on the inside. Unexpectedly. I walked briskly to the back of the house. He had a perplexed look on his face. I cursed the fact that I couldn’t climb over these enormous gates in this ridiculous dress. She nodded. Now mount her before we lose the coolest part of the morning. All the while. “You already know how to get on. she sensed a stranger. lightly. as if baffled as to why I still hadn’t mounted my own horse. You would need to be on the inside in order to slide it all the way up. and leaving black spots in my vision if I dared to stare it in the face. As it turns out. She wanted me to get on my horse. The dry air was already relatively warm. I would’ve said that I went for a quick walk to clear my head. Don’t panic. side saddle. as I let my eyes direct Bethany to Night Wind. Perhaps. “Uh…” I was at a loss for words. as well. sounding jubilant. an absolutely stunning animal. The gates rattled loudly but the latch felt like it was bolted down. I pretended to be exiting the rear entrance gates. but had her serious face on. But sweating in a corset wasn’t a joking matter. through the dry dirt walkway between the Capius’ abundant garden and the Bergnum’s beautifully landscaped grounds. Maybe she sensed my fear of riding her. He wore a traditional Native American tunic styled shirt over a pair of beaded cowhide leggings and moccasins. or at least help me to.” Bethany assured. Once he was out of sight. I’m not getting on this horse. I didn’t think I was fooling anyone.” I insisted. I had purposely left the gates open about an inch or two so that I could slip back in. Fortunately. I detected some apprehension from her as well. “Night Wind takes excellent care of Gypsy. fortress like hedges enclosed the perimeter of their property. I had forgotten both Bethany’s and Sun Paw’s mention of a ‘morning ride’. and the other horses. I immediately said yes and fled. and asked if that would be all. My jaw dropped as the realization of something that I hadn’t considered before was staring me in the face.. I would do just about anything for a tshirt and a pair of jeans right about now. Bethany did mean a horse. If I had. “Could you make sure that he gets this?” I mumbled. I would simply have lied about my whereabouts. “Please show me how to get on. His intense copper toned eyes never left mine. “He’s Moon Rose’s and Sun Paw’s older brother. so that I could slow down my breathing. He snatched it.” I said gruffly under my breath. The full skirt of her riding habit was delicately draped to one side of the horse.” Bethany said motioning to the mare. was caught in the early morning breeze which made it look like a cape. followed her out of the barn with a beautiful mahogany mare in tow. If he was. I thought to myself. Night Wind strode towards me. I wasn’t so sure that putting up a fight would change her mind. She stood tall and confident. and walked over to them. I tried to raise the heavy latch but it wouldn’t budge. thrusting the note at the butler. Bethany mounted her horse. pursed lips topped with furrowed eyebrows.. I couldn’t see into the Capius’ garden due to the dense foliage that formed its own gate against the wrought iron bars of the actual gate. If I appeared out of breath.. I assumed he must be a few years older.

Gypsy and I were the only two in the world right now. Still quite self– conscious. It didn’t matter. and she trusted me. and she was mine. We were old friends. This was the Bethany I knew. choking up. laughing and slowing down to a stop next to Gypsy and I. She remembered me. as is my stallion. We weren’t alone anymore. She nodded her approval once more. It was Lucas. We slowed down to a halt. girl. and entering the forest. I was five. Then it happened. I slid the reins in the direction that I wanted to go. beaming from ear to ear. velvet smooth coat.” We rode for a little while longer. I suddenly got a . I marveled at the mighty god of the sea’s superb contribution to the world. “You see. skirting pine trees at a full gallop. He stood next to Gypsy. Give me your hand. Night Wind handed me the reins. I wish I could’ve made a connection this strong with the Ischeros family. We locked eyes for a moment. I really loved this horse. Two close friends sharing a profound secret. raising her neck. It’s inevitable. I remembered when my father gave me Gypsy.” Bethany said. the only oak tree in a forest densely populated with pines. You’ve always loved riding. His heavy Paiute accent was thick and rough. We’re all grateful to Poseidon. Gypsy and I were one. then at Bethany who nodded her approval. whose eyes were serene. That’s when I noticed hers. I always thought that this never ending patch of grass looked like a whole bunch of nothing. Bethany nodded when she noticed my tears. Before today I really didn’t remember ever riding a horse. I've never felt so free and in such control. and distributed my weight evenly on her. I didn’t feel safe as I sat on Gypsy sidesaddle. saddled on a gorgeous golden Palomino mare that had a striking ivory mane and tail. We both got off of our horses. but never got the chance when I heard another horse neigh nearby. Finally I thought.” Bethany said. and you always said it opened your mind. staring at me. but tasted the saltiness of them as they streamed down my face. and was about to tell Bethany something. I stroked her chestnut. It will all come back. where the forest met the mountains. a familiar young man appeared. The gentle wind blowing across my face was invigorating as was the view of the Sierras above. patience is all you need. I held the reins with one hand. I had to admit that I did appreciate Bethany’s spin on it.” she praised. and leaned over towards Gypsy's head. “I knew it was only a matter of time before the old Cordelia would grace us with her presence. as she stroked the gray toned coat of her horse. patiently. “Slowly. it was happening. Bethany smiled knowingly. Riding Gypsy was like second nature. The position felt awkward. I was stunned by his presence. The bond wasn’t immediate. Gypsy trotted slowly passed Bethany who had the widest smile I'd ever seen on her pretty face. this is incredible. While in the future. “You looked wonderful riding. Miss Cordelia. taking in the breathtaking view of the green multi–colored blades of grass which stretched for miles before meeting the end of the forest. as she remained seated on her horse. I had no idea how far behind she was. My fear dissipated. “You’re doing good. and nudged her firmly with my right leg.” Night Wind said. When I placed my hand in his. “Sure. We stood in the shade of the hefty branches of Old Oak. I forgot all about Bethany. My Gypsy was happy to be reacquainted with me again. Then he stretched out with his long muscular arm like a sword. yet his voice was like silk. From behind Old Oak. like I could live forever as long as I was in the company of Gypsy.” “Wow. Night Wind lifted me up onto the horse. his shoulders broad. I immediately felt scared as I looked down at Night Wind. jumping and negotiating the rugged terrain. Gypsy is an exceptional Arabian mare with excellent breeding. The best one I ever got. for creating such a magnificent creature. It was a birthday gift.” I said. and tenderly stroked her lustrous jet black mane. I think this was the happiest Bethany’s been since I returned. With one final nudge. we were galloping through the beckoning valley. I remembered what I had written about her in the diary. wiping away my tears. you loved the wide open space. Gypsy could have gone the distance but she relied on me not to exhaust her. and then onto the dirt road behind me that led into the lush and yellowy–green valley which stretched out beside the forest of pines. yet surely. and it all came back like a forgotten memory or an old dream. At last. It felt as familiar as sitting on a bike.” Bethany assured. and now I feel like I’ve been riding all of my life. I sat up squarely. which stood guard at the south end and entrance of the forest beside the lake. “Yaah! Yaah!” I shouted. “Yes. as if I could just slide off. Lucas was back from the dead and sidled right up to us. but it had surfaced. and placed my foot into the stirrup. feeling so alive. and it’s who you are. You called it the green oasis.” Bethany said. and I remembered.“I will help you. and stopped when we reached Old Oak. “Does this mean that it’s all coming back?” I asked. I trusted her. I felt that fondness now as I stroked her. “Did I?” I asked following her gaze. Topaz. I looked at Night Wind timidly. Gypsy was an extraordinary animal. and pulled them to the edge of the lake to drink. I cleared my throat. I was unaware when the tears came. “You always loved riding in the valley. I was remembering something. with some hesitation as my hand instinctively reached up for my medallion. and letting me know that she had missed me. and she calmed considerably. With another nudge of my leg Gypsy transitioned into a canter.” I said.

flashback of him slamming into the marble bar in his parlor. Gypsy neighed. I watched Bethany as she inched toward the two felines. as I watched Bethany brace herself before being eaten alive by this enormous feline. and then stared me down as if I was a succulent ribeye steak. grimace. “Well look at who we have here. “Not so fast you brute. “Are you now the town gossip. and began snoring as if he were in a deep sleep. as I bounced around on her. Gypsy began to get agitated. a werepanther. I seemed to have forgotten how to. In person. So – ”Bethany prodded. and I never felt so helpless in all of my life. “Calm down girl.” As his face stretched and made a painful. Delia. calm down. and stood a couple yards away.” I said. The smaller one leapt into the air as Bethany smacked it away.” Lucas said. The smaller eased closer. He had a massive chest and his arms looked like they were going to bust out of his shirt. it is. The huge black panther’s eyes were bright yellow and a louder growl tumbled out of his mouth revealing even longer fangs long and glistening whiskers. “You’ve got to be kidding me. as I couldn’t believe my eyes. The second panther’s piercing and blood curdling growl seemed louder than Lucas’.” I screamed. ghastly. Please. calmly. Huge fangs appeared in his mouth. get on the horse now!” Bethany hissed cutting me off as the panther went into a pouncing position.” A low growl left Lucas’ lips as his eyes went from hazel to bright yellow.” Bethany said. He lay still on the grass. kicking her front hooves into the air and then all hell broke loose. “What do you want. and his body elongated grotesquely with limbs extending into hind legs and paws. Lucas knelt down in slow motion. His clothes disappeared into a shiny black coat of fur. Lucas? What do vampires have to do with us?” “Hmm… I was wondering if the Divine One would like to accompany me tonight. The large panther transformed back into Lucas. The second panther stood before us as if we were trespassing on her territory. “What the fu – ” I had forgotten that Lucas was a shapeshifter. Bethany was talking to it. and all of a sudden. Lucas?” “Why is it that you always assume that I want something?” “Because you always do.” He eyed Bethany first. throwing my arms up as Gypsy instinctively kicked up her front legs. I stuck my foot in the stirrup and finally mounted Gypsy just as another. as he dismounted his horse. “Cordelia. The larger panther was already in the air. “Shouldn’t you be dead?” She asked. Did you know that the leader of the vampire clan’s wife was torched last night? ” Lucas asked. Lucas’ huge muscular frame lay naked on top of Bethany for a split second before she pushed him off of her. as Bethany moved with the speed of light and snatched it by the back of its neck. staring at its huge long fangs and fluorescent yellow eyes. Lucas stopped walking. “Please be still girl. I could sense her fear. Bethany reacted immediately. I tried like hell to mount Gypsy but the second the words ‘vampire’ left his mouth. The cat looked the way a kitten looked being held by the neck by its mother. I needed to be away from here and these panthers this very second. I shook off the mental picture of his dead face. with an icy smirk on her face. Lucas was huge. I was as stiff as a stone.” Bethany threatened. It seems that she is a bit of a night owl like myself. The . in a husky drawl. and strode confidently in my direction. I didn’t want either of us to get mauled to death by these panthers. “Is this the Divine one? Why yes. Oh no! How does he know? “Keep your distance Lucas or I’ll kill you myself. slightly smaller panther glided out from behind Old Oak. The panther growled fiercely in midair. never taking his eyes off me. Bethany was about to get up when I saw the smaller panther leap towards me. “I’ll even keep your heart as a trophy. It stood on top of her. our horses could out run either of these cats. But that’s not what was happening. it was like the hands of the clock turned counter clock wise. and then got into a pouncing stance. and had knocked Bethany down.” “Get on your horse. “Bethany!” I shouted. How the hell were we going to get out of this alive? I knew after watching the large feline’s chase down zebras on the Discovery Channel that there was absolutely no way.” My voice shook with acute fear.” He said. “With so much left undone? I’m here to stay. My eyes automatically went to his hands that now had curled claws.

A sparkling bold smile spread across her face. “It’s nothing to worry about Niko. She followed my eyes.” Nikolas mimicked Bethany’s high pitched voice. Oh Delia. and walked toward me.” Bethany giggled.” Bethany said. and literally flew down the stairs in a matter of a second. turned around. Her blood had stained the fabric. “You will go sleep now. She mounted Topaz. “But how did you stop them from attacking us? What did you do to them?” I asked anxiously. “Unfortunately. For some reason I thought Nikolas’ reaction was hysterical. and distracted me. Let’s go. that’s wonderful!” Bethany exclaimed. Delia. Then Bethany did the strangest thing – courageous as hell. Lucas’ twin sister. Once Night Wind took the horses into the barn. She was snoring softly within a few seconds. and pounced again and this time Bethany stopped her with her hand. “You remember. Bethany stood up. Of course that’s wonderful. It was as if the panther was frozen in the air. roared. “Yes that. and bent down until she was face to face with the roaring panther. and all the while. motioning for me to ride ahead of her. whatever scratches she had endured were long gone. Bethany rode behind me as if blocking any chance of another attack by the twins. “They’re taking a cat nap. “Are you going to tell me what you did to Lucas and Sacha?” Why did they fall asleep like that? How did you make them change back?” I asked hovering behind her.” By now. Beth?” “Oh that?” Bethany said. I watched as Bethany lowered the panther to the ground. Even before Bethany was done talking.feline fought to break free. Gypsy whinnied again. His face became pallid as his eyes narrowed. You are extremely tired.” Bethany said. “What happened to you? What did that to you. “Superb. You first. we have only a few minutes. and lay next to him. She was naked as she knelt on all fours. Bethany was heading up the stairs. and was impressed with her speed. “I changed their thinking. and it was obvious that she hadn’t noticed the scars which the panther had inflicted. or the panther rather. but only for a second. “We stopped for a quick break after riding up to Old Oak. and I had to turn away. “Oh my God!” I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.” “You mean you Glamoured them. “We have to get back to the house now. and how Bethany handled it. and we were back in Bethany’s house I attacked Bethany with questions. and Sacha followed suit. Let’s go. standing beside Bethany. and then just let the panther go. but held my joy. and then noticed the slashes in Bethany’s sleeves. but as Bethany peered through the slashed material. I wanted to laugh too. “Full speed. or so before the duo wakes up and remembers what just happened. Sacha? Of course. “Is that all you’ve got Sacha?” Bethany asked. Sacha. the transformation was complete from a stealthy black panther into a beautiful young woman with long spiraling brownish reddish hair. “I’m fine.” Ok. not before they had a chance to do this. How did it happen?” Nikolas asked.” Evan said. Those blue eyes were so intense.” Bethany said. profoundly shocked by the entire encounter. and all they wanted to do was sleep. “What’s all the commotion about?” Neither Bethany nor I heard Nikolas come into the foyer. It was unbelievable. It was then that I noticed the red stained slits in the sleeves of her cream colored blouse.” I’m not sure of what else Bethany said because she was practically whispering. She stopped in mid step. I heard her say something that sounded like. It could be because I found being alive right now to hear Bethany tell the story.” she commanded. but two ferocious panthers in the middle of the valley. with her eyes practically closed. they became tired. “Not now Cordelia. and were met by Sacha and Lucas.” Bethany said. Lucas shifted into a panther. I tried not to laugh. and rubbing a small portion of the ripped fabric . Her skin tone was as tan as Lucas’ and her eyes had reverted back to their natural hazel. I pushed Gypsy as much as I could. very much. Her expression was blank. His eyes locked with mine. snapping me to attention. Just then I Evan entered the foyer from down the hall. “Do tell” “Cordelia is getting her memory back! Isn’t that just wonderful?” Bethany spoke as if the air had been drained from her lungs. and not being brutally mauled by a panther exhilarating. We headed back to the stables. shrugging of the seriousness of being attacked by not one. Bethany looked into the glowing yellow eyes of the black feline and spoke to it as she had done to the larger one. I watched intently as Sacha sauntered over to Lucas.” I said. and turned around.” “Lucas is alive?” “Yes.

He will be unstoppable soon. that Victor taught Sacha well. The water was very relaxing but I still couldn’t extinguish the horrendous thoughts from my psyche. That's alright isn't it?' I said. She would’ve probably thought that I was performing in one of the ‘Living Legend’ parades for the tourists on the weekends. I wondered though. The ride with Gypsy was proof of that.” Sun Paw said. When he spoke the last part about Victor being unstoppable. but I had to admit that I couldn’t get passed how elegant and demure I seemed. and saw everyone’s surprised expression.” Bethany said. “Evan. I wasn’t sure if wearing my hair loose was an option these days. No girl of my stature in this rural high society life.” Thaddeus said. would ever be caught dead sporting a skirt without one. “Cordelia. and they emerged. or Evan about it downstairs. My hero.” I said. I stopped smiling immediately. He certainly wasn’t a man who beat around a bush. And if I hadn’t gone to my house. “The way Lucas and Sacha shifted into panthers. His voice was serious. It would be a real Victorian faux pas.” “I Glamoured them. would think if she saw me dressed like this. I thought about my morning ride. I looked away and smoothed the skirt of my dress as I took my seat. Sun Paw quickly gathered my riding garments. I expected some freedom. I turned away from him. standing up. he was glaring at me. through the door. “Cordelia could have been killed. and I handled the situation. I decided to lounge for a while in my tub. I heard. “I’ll be right out. Evan had his eyes on me the entire time. Thaddeus moved his eyes back to his plate. “Yes. in unison.” “What do you mean?” Nikolas and Bethany said. I just thought that –” “It wasn’t a good idea Beth. I realized that I was late for breakfast. I had been careful not to get my hair wet. and it had saved our lives. I would miss breakfast entirely by trying to get it dry enough to style into a suitable bun. and go as I felt necessary. Does Bethany know too? I doubt it. and Victor has gained the power to resurrect a soul. The bustle was ridiculous and made my ass look beyond enormous. Evan. “Crap!” I hissed.between his fingers. ***Once I was in the dining room. Christopher and Phoebe looked at me with admiration in their eyes. I gulped. smiling at Bethany. If I had. and into our daytime dresses. the one who wouldn’t know me now if she ran into me on the main street.” Evan said. where did you go before your morning ride with Bethany?” He looked me dead in the eyes while sticking the piece of fruit into his mouth. Then he asked me the fated question. I also would have been clueless to the nifty trick Bethany pulled on Lucas and Sacha.” Evan nodded. I’d still rather be wearing a pair of my comfy jeans. Both Bethany and I went to our rooms to change out of our riding habits. but it was the fashion of the day. challenging Thaddeus in a flat tone. or she definitely would have said something to me. and the way Bethany fought them off. One less vampire means a much safer night for someone. not the part about knowing about Bethany Glamouring Lucas and Sacha. thirsty and more seductive then the glowing yellow eyes of the panthers. “No one allowed it. Sacha retrieved Lucas’ heart before it burned. with a serious edge to her tone. “I went out for a short walk. It was hard to believe that I was starting to remember. it had been exceptionally good. For a brief moment. I found it strange that it was my own reflection. “Miss Cordelia.” I smiled. “What Evander means is. My eyes couldn’t have been shut for thirty seconds when I was startled by light knocking on the bathroom door. I wasn't about to become a prisoner in this house. “It was amazing. Her hands were shaking. and stuck his fork into a piece of fruit.” I said. Who allowed it?” Evan asked Bethany in a condescending tone. or saw Thaddeus descending the long staircase until he spoke. how Lucas knew about me killing that Apolluon vampiress – the head Apolluon vampire’s wife. then I would’ve never known about the journals. She was safe the entire time.” I said. That I had learned from the journals. Everyone was already seated. I didn’t understand what he meant either. “Stop it. Delia. I missed her. “Lucas’ rebirth means only one thing. Standing in front of my full length mirror. in an even. Lucas is –” Nikolas chimed in. silencing her. Glamouring them was ingenious. and laid out what I had chosen to wear this afternoon. and walked toward the empty chair. She was incredible. the perfect pale faces and blood stained fangs of the Apolluon vampires. Obviously he was the only person at that table who knew that I had been out before meeting Bethany at the stables. minus the kitty cat drama. and munching on what smelled delicious. nervously. “Alive. and grabbing my silk robe. yet bitter tone. “Did you enjoy your ride?” Sun Paw asked while getting my matching shoes from the closet.” Bethany said. Killing a vampire can’t be that bad. I closed my eyes for a moment. I fought the urge to cry. and so could you. and Sun Paw returned it. and . Thaddeus and Alexandria sat patiently staring. after Sun Paw finished helping me dress. Real memories. breakfast will be served soon. I wondered what my mom. it was great. unable to come. The temperature of the water was just warm enough to put you to sleep. permitted me to truly see the beauty of my lavender gingham dress. Was this really me? I still felt so out of place. “It’s much too soon for Cordelia to take morning rides through the valley. I tried like hell to shut the idea of killing out of my mind. None of us heard.

” Thaddeus gave an accusatory look at Bethany. The petals felt like water in my hand. hence my rule of remaining in the house. Oddly. They glimmered in the sunlight as if they had been recently .” “Do you mean the Goddess of the harvest?” I asked. I get it. It was quickly becoming my favorite room in the entire house. Despite the circumstances of my fate. when I woke up. we will be rendered powerless and imperiled with what Victor or any other evil entity may have set forth for us. I walked into the sun room. “Forgive me. I didn’t know which I was more dumbfounded by. I spent the rest of the morning in my bedroom. The immaculately landscaped hedges bordered and sort of hid the large statues that I hadn’t really noticed before. the marble statues weren’t slightly weathered or cracked as most statues usually were.” Evan smiled bowing his head to get a better look at my face as I peered closer at the roses. At some point I had dozed off on the chaise. nor have my words misconstrued. I was coming to tell you that lunch is being served in the garden. Sixteen Blooming Garden After breakfast. “How are you. and the sun seared us on a regular bases. resting on several small tables. His radiant smile literally beckoned me through the doors. she hurried in to my bedroom then into my bathroom.” Thaddeus’ voice was firm. white. Something quite strange and magical was happening. He was still annoyed about the morning ride. It is in your best interest that you stay in this house. and nearly careened into Sun Paw at the foot of the stairs. I waited a moment before I answered. “No.” I chuckled. and saw that the clock on the fireplace mantle read one o’clock in the afternoon. I gulped quietly and turned away before I fell into a trance. Peering into them was like watching a tidal wave in his irises as if he actually had an ocean splashing in his eyes. When my eyes met Evan’s. His smile competed with the beaming sun. She wasted no time in cleaning up after me. The room gave you the feeling of being in a conservatory. “Pardon me please. Cordelia. The glass walls were covered with wispy silk and linen curtains. and I didn’t notice you either. I left my bedroom and headed for the dining room. young lady. today? Evan asked as he held out his hand. “Perpetual foliage is a gift from Demeter. which were strategically placed on the dark brown wicker furnishings. Both Evan and Nikolas looked shocked. “The flowers…keep blooming. and what my purpose here was. The spacious room was airy and bright due to its absorption of sunlight. “Were you coming to see me?” “Yes. I thought it odd how no one bothered to come and check up on me. I suppose it must be due to the abundance of potted ferns and potted palms that stood at a variety of heights anywhere from three to seven feet. Here we go. tulips in a variety of pastel hues. Most of the color in the room came from the garden. or his words. Unexpectedly. “You are to never leave this house alone.crooked little smiles. I held his gaze and decided to be good for now. The sun made Evan’s deep auburn hair appear coppery as if singed by its rays. “That she is.” It was almost as If he could read my mind. and was overwhelmed by the exuberant floral garden. The ancient looking monuments seemed to be the real focal point of this mystical garden now. dry. I didn't appreciate his tone. and pink rose bushes.” Without another word. The flowers appeared to be blooming over and over again from buds to full bloom. Before I could answer. I noticed Evan leaning against the frame of the French doors. Is that understood?” Thaddeus demanded. for I do not wish to sound contemptuous. I couldn’t understand why she was nervous.” I said. hoping for a message with an answer from Gerald. which I was certain he would. and the array of elaborately embroidered pillows. The sheer curtains blew gently in the dry warm breeze that came in through the two huge opened French doors. I was breathless and in awe. Besides that. that you are the target of malignant forces that wait patiently for the opportunity to capture you when you are most vulnerable. I knew I would sneak out again to visit Gerald if he accepted my invitation. “Without you. I didn't know this man before a day ago. through which you could enter the garden. “Don’t be sorry. and a perpetual abundance of red. I rested my palm in his and stepped outside.” Thaddeus was adamant as he was desperate to have me understand that I was screwing things up for the family as a whole. It was as if they had eternal life. which was especially bright today. I focused on the garden. White to blush peonies bloomed along with. It was a mystery to me how these flowers flourished in this harsh. the aromatic infusion of the botanicals hit me the moment the sun warmed my skin. and concerned. We must consider the nature of our peril. I was about to let out a sigh. We barely got enough rain here. desert heat. which quickly had my undivided attention again. I–” Sun Paw stammered. I thought. coral. We have provided you with a safe haven while your memory and powers are restored. If an outing is necessary. Sun Paw. the never dying flowers or his eyes. yellow. but Thaddeus wasn’t done. I felt like I was walking through an enchanted garden. it is not alright. as she quickly stepped nearly two yards away from me as if she were afraid of me. and gave him the answer he expected. “Let us not forget. there were a number of potted ferns. My eyes widened and swept over the lush greenery and the cornucopia of flowers. patches of wild orchids. you will be accompanied by either Evander or Nikolas. reaching out to a cluster of my favorite flower. No need to alert the watchdog. Then there were the suspicious set of eyes that belonged to Bethany. but left my fingertips dry. the temperature was cooler in this room than the rest of the house. the rose. you didn’t see me coming. His appraisal of me was nerve wracking and undue. The sun room was practically enclosed in glass walls divided every six or so feet by floor to ceiling Grecian columns.” “Thank you. They appreciated a little mischief. Miss Cordelia… I’m so sorry.

Suddenly. pretending to be calm about seeing a statue come to life. It was effortless which was new for me lately.” “How do you communicate with statues? Besides praying to them. I could tell that my answer wasn’t what Evan had anticipated by the solemn look in his eyes. He faced the statue of Poseidon. “Is she real? Where… where… did she go?” I stammered barely getting the questions out.” Evan revealed. I detected his excitement was due to him believing that my answer stemmed from memories of being an Ischero.” Evan said as he led me down the cobblestone path. I missed high school as I have never in my whole life.” I agreed. we do pray to them. She nodded to me.” The statues didn’t have pedestals beneath them. still near the entrance of the garden. I thought. She looked just as she had looked in the vision. “It makes it that much easier to see them and communicate with them. “The goddess of wisdom whipped Poseidon. I wondered why the statues couldn’t be seen clearly from my balcony. and not his salty sea water. Funny. my World History class.” “Yeah. whose stature was magnificent. and walked further down the path. I didn’t see any statues or anything representing the gods at my house. so I smiled back.Olympus.” I said. “Well. unless of course I was auditioning for Jeopardy. “Yes. she is also a child of Zeus. but luckily for me. the Victorious. conveniently draped across his pelvis. Their feet – marbleized feet – stood on the grass. Maybe. I knew that they were images of Greek gods the moment I first laid my eyes on them. It was like they had arrived just in time for lunch. it wasn’t done thoroughly. sounding amused. he meant when my memory returns. in a contest of which deity would be named the patron deity of an unnamed city ruled and judged by a mythical king of ancient Greece. as Evan beamed. “Athena Nike. My mouth dropped to the floor. I recognized the first deity instantly. but really freaking out on the inside. We were talking in what looked to be a sun room but not the one in the Capius’ estate. the vision was gone. At this point I knew that I had to expect the unexpected in this garden. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at or should I say what was looking at me. your … um father. and was now stuck here indefinitely. and that is what they feed on. Next to Evan stood the statue of Apollo. and Poseidon was quite upset over that competition. His trident stood taller than he did. “Yes.” Evan said. not fully comprehending what he meant. but of course. a vision came to me. tall and regal. she is returning to Mt. Pretty cool. How could I ever have known that the sometimes tragic mythological world I had sucked up like a sponge would be the bases of my existence? I had long planned on fleeing this town. . Poseidon’s muscular frame was barely covered by a slip of fabric. I was dressed as I am now – huge gown – but I looked to be about fourteen or fifteen. There is nothing that I wouldn’t give to be back in a classroom right now. actually. The lyre he carried on his back was also a dead giveaway.” “Oh. I never expected what I’d been studying to come in handy someday. huh?” I could tell that Evan was impressed. The imposing statues towered as tall as the ornamental wrought iron gates which enclosed the entire courtyard.” Evan said.” “My sister…?” I just couldn’t grasp the idea of having a goddess as a sibling. The place had been cleaned out. the goddess Athena was rather easy to identify due to the helmet and suit of armor she was clad in. I smiled inwardly about my discovery of my diaries.” “Well actually. I’m still having a hard time accepting that I’m one. “By the way. I mean. Evan stared in the direction of the statues then gazed back at me. I think do.” I added. His jovial disposition was contagious.” I answered. “Do you recognize any them?” He asked. possibly the one in my house. “There are twelve in total. She wore a toga styled sheath without her armor.polished. I’ve been studying Greek mythology this semester in school. who held a bow at his side. he flooded the Athenians for choosing Athena’s olive tree. I observed the first couple of statues closest to where Evan and I stood. “Yes. smirking. The gleaming marble of the statue of Athena turned into tanned skin. he’s not a myth.” I clarified. and then vanished. His smile broadened. Athena and I had spoken before. “Athena. I had never really enjoyed school. I could see her. “Every Ischeros family has effigies of the Gods represented in their home in one way or another. Two subjects in particular. especially the portion on Greek mythology. you’ll soon see. As far as communicating. They were practically glittering. King Cecrops. And just like that. “Each represents one of the Twelve Olympians. as if they could just walk away when the mood struck them. just as it had appeared. not so different than I look now. as he looked further down the path. “You share a lot of the same qualities. but certain subjects had perked my interest. Athena is your sister.” I translated. and more so my class on Ancient Cultures. and Athena came to life. in an approving way. They can only be seen by us.” Oh…right.

I wasn’t so sure of what part of my memory banked that information. Delia. You may speak to them. “Now that they know you have returned. Demeter.” Evan beamed. and spiraled into a whirlpool of water. She lost her daughter. Evan was thoroughly elated.” “The gods have taken the shape of sculptures this time. and Zeus. Beside Poseidon. This pleased Demeter. Don’t be afraid. and not the flooring of a fireplace. Evan smiled that amazing smile. They marvel at you. and exude strength.” “Right.” I said. and Aphrodite were staring at me. “She is the goddess Demeter.” “Did they all return to Mt.” I said. feeling incredulous. began to shake. and Hades agreed to allow Persephone to leave the Underworld for six months every year. They were all coming to life. but something … something forceful was pulling me back.” “Such as?” I probed. Persephone. “Whatever they wish. as if he didn’t want the other goddesses to hear him. Then the rose bush opened up. How could I forget her? She was the reason for this abundant and endlessly flourishing garden.” “Thank goodness. Hestia and Aphrodite walked up into the sky as if there was a real stairway leading into the heavens. Something about her angelic smile reminded me of Bethany. I will tell you about the rest. and I wasn’t prepared. Evan was beside me again. “All. or the part that knows because I’m an Ischero? Either way. “Aphrodite” I paused in front of the statue. “No. “What other shapes can they take?” I blurted out.Olympus?” I asked. I would have aced it. Hades tricked Persephone into eating a pomegranate in the Underworld.” Too bad I didn’t get the chance to take that quiz.” Evan said as he led me a little further down the path. Was it the part that retained what I had learned in class. I was so amazed that I could barely contain myself. “His home is the ocean.“Come. A nearby rosebush. was Demeter. they are content. and vanished. “You may see them in the flesh or you may see their image come to life in a painting. right?” I asked. I spun around. although I had witnessed the same magic earlier with the transformation of Athena. amongst the dozens scattered around the garden. partially wrapped in foliage. when I started following the deities around in shock. and looked at me in such a way that made my blood flood my cheeks. or through a mirage. He had the look of a proud father on his face. I had to blink a few times to make sure that my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. Apollo stepped into the path of a ray of the sun. and now keeps her prisoner there. I will tell you. except for Poseidon. The eyes of the statues actually blinked and followed my every move as they witnessed my shock. who is Persephone’s father made a deal with his brother. but didn’t wait for Evans’s answer. meaning the foundation of family. Hestia. confidently. Poseidon.” I noted. Poseidon did as Evan had done before. revered. where eating is forbidden. and they are well aware of that fact. and nodded. and the eldest daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. I nodded.” Evan whispered. We continued down the path as it curved. who abducted her. Next to Demeter was another of the three great goddesses. He must have noticed that I wasn’t with him. “Hestia. Evan locked eyes with me. but neither is as beautiful and as delicate as the next one. Their ashen stone eyes had altered and had irises and pupils. “Marvel at me? Why would the gods be impressed with me?” “You are the most divine of all demigods. “She is a senior goddess. to Hades. Her body literally shifted into part of the rose bush. The statues of Apollo. But. and Demeter stepped into it and disappeared as the bush closed and continued to flourish. the sparkling sculpture of Hestia.” Evan mused. “Both goddesses are lovely. Zeus’ most unique creation. And I was completely and irrevocably floored.” “Yes. It pissed Demeter off so much that she caused a drought causing all plant life to wither away. The water disappeared into the pond. the goddess of the hearth. “She has a strong sense of family. or we wouldn’t have spring and summer.” Speak to them? Was he kidding? . even after all I had just seen. at the center of the garden.

“What’s so funny?” Evan asked smiling curiously. “I’m trying. “Does he really have a throne upholstered with human skin?” I asked just as Ares’ stone body shifted. I gazed at the marble bird bath.” Evan said. once again.” I said. The goddess of the hunt. and a spear in hand. He raised his spear which magically became stained with blood. he had married the stunning Aphrodite which proved that beauty was in the eye of the beholder.” I said. Opposite the gazebo was a sculpture completely comprised of metal like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. It was like being asked to have a chat with the Easter bunny who you have always known isn’t real. means that he is a metal smith.” Ares kind of marched off. She was too busy chasing that cutie Adonis. The next pair of statues was positioned on either side of a beautifully carved stone bench. smiling while Evan led me further down the path. she literally turned into what looked to be pixie dust. still quite unattractive. “The body is nothing to be ashamed of. and felt relieved. I just wasn’t ready or open to the inconceivable thought of conversing with the gods right now. I looked on in amazement. looking into my eyes. were to completely different views. Artemis had also come to life when Ares had and watched patiently. it’s too bad that Aphrodite was a bit of a floozy. right. The beauty of the garden and the presence of these divine beings were overwhelming. “Believe me I’m trying. Just thinking of that now. and became human.” “Ok. I remembered all the different pictures of statues I had seen in my text book. seeming pleased. but being in it.” “Amongst family. you don’t have to utter a word. hence the bow and arrows she hauls on her back. I quickened my pace around a bend to keep up with Evan. a shield. We continued to stroll down the path that seemed to go on forever. which I think basically. and next to a sizable wrought iron gazebo. “Yes. I slowly twirled around in a full circle. “It was the topic of discussion a few times in class. “They are a part of us and we are a part of them. I brushed them away with the back of my hand. Besides his helmet. yet is standing right in front of you. Ares wore nothing. from my balcony. “She is only curious. put a smile on my face. The real Hephaestus was present although. and his marbleized nakedness commanded attention. I had no idea that the garden was this enormous. and seeing the foliage from above. and it proved just how much he wasn’t kidding. Hephaestus wasn’t good looking like the majority of the other male gods.” I giggled a little more.” I said. and walking through it was enchanting. They are why the members of the Ischeros exist. Just as Artemis disappeared with a wave of her hand. and seeing them will help you to regain your memory. Evan nodded. It was exhilarating for the senses. my fear at the moment was that they may actually talk to me. but I’ve never felt so alive and at peace. “I wouldn’t know what to say to any of them” “Relax. not wanting Artemis to hear me. Easier said than it was to truly believe. the skin of those he has defeated in war. He picked up an axe that I . but weirder with muscles and a beard. somewhat hidden by clusters of entwined vines and multicolored roses in full bloom. Hephaestus’ metal body began to melt into skin. A warm breeze blew a few loose tendrils of my hair into my eyes. making a bone chilling. the god of fire and metallurgy. The hem of my dress swept across the cobblestones. It was to the left of the dominating statue of Ares. Although. nails down the blackboard kind of sound. right. “It doesn’t leave much to the imagination does it?” My eyes guided Evan to the scantily dressed statue of Ares.” Ares lowered the spear and looked at me guardedly. Evan blushed as if he were the one who was naked. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. But still. You don’t have to say anything. It had to be one of the most fascinating places in the world. plus. keeping my eyes on Ares’ face the whole time. Their power is just a small part of what we have inherited. and couldn’t completely devote herself to him. he will not hurt you. I closed my eyes. I was intrigued to see what else this stone path would lead too. It was then that I realized that I was holding my breath. but I know this is quite awkward and surprising for you therefore. “It’s alright to feel the wonder of their presence. and to be captivated by them. “Breathe. taking stock of what I’d seen.” “They created us in their glory. Being here. “She is a huntress and Apollo’s twin sister. and vanished behind one of the tall hedges. Ares loves the attention. unable to say anything. From above it looked like a lovely garden. and then directed his next statement to Ares himself. I just can’t believe that I’m standing here amongst… the gods. Delia.” I nodded in awe. Since I was strolling through a numinous place where magic actually existed. They will not be offended.” he whispered as though he didn’t want the statue of the warrior to hear him. my lord. I also recalled how the kids in my class had giggled and made suggestive comments when they were forced to try to look past the statues private parts. This time it took me a few seconds but the realization surfaced. as I listened to my shoes make clickity–clack sounds against it. and whoever chose to sit on the bench. My hope is that being here. and sniffed the intoxicating aroma of the floral bushes surrounding the stone path. Although I couldn’t quite voice how I felt about what I had just seen. It was Hephaestus.” Evan remarked.” I whispered. I smiled an blushed too. Ares and Artemis seemed to be standing guard over the sumptuous foliage.” “And why we have powers.Evan had a distinct twinkle in his eye that shined brighter than the afternoon sun.” Evan corrected.

Evan looked lost while he poked around the vacant gazebo. who then takes the souls across the river Styx to the entry gates of the Underworld. looking suspicious. They stood at Dionysus’ side as he glided upward just above the garden’s gates. and tenderly pulled my chin to face him.Olympus. I couldn’t tell how she felt as she eyed me closely now. His emerald hued eyes. Don’t take it personal. It didn’t matter that I had already seen several gods come to life. sort of reminding me of Santa Claus if he were donned in a toga. He stood taller than all the others gods. once taking on her human form. I guess as he should since he is the selfdeclared King of Mt. and the Underworld. and sister. In my opinion Hermes had the worst job.” I said. “Actually. or any of the Olympians. I let go of Evan’s hand and did. I smoothed the front of my dress as I tried to calm my rattled nerves. no doubt. would be remembering them. I was jolted by Evan’s crisp voice. “He can be arrogant at times. Incestuous and as ghastly as that may seem. The god of thieves. marrying your brother wasn’t that unusual for the gods. He winked at me. and I immediately became nervous. Hermes leads the illfated souls to Charon. for a price. I had been rebuffed by Zeus. and flew upward into the cloudless sky. He was now in human form. grabbed something from the gazebo. sounding every bit of frustrated as a hamster in a maze. chuckled. and their leader. my clumsiness was partly a result of the hysteria going on in my head at the moment of Hera’s vanishing. I was downright dazed by it all. I’d forgotten about Hermes’ penchant for thievery. Not to acknowledge them and not accepting your purpose. Dionysus took in a deep breath and turned his gaze from the gazebo. He was the only Olympian god who was authorized. It was the luminous sculpt of Zeus. and disappear before my eyes.hadn’t seen lying on the grass. woman in a sheer slip holding a basket of overflowing red and white grapes. met mine. His round belly shook as he chuckled. the ferryman. I guess he thought Hermes stealing something from the gazebo to be amusing. I needed to regain my memory. Hera gestured to me to follow her. Upon death. Suddenly the wreath which Dionysus wore on his head became vibrant. I gawked in amazement as the wings on Hermes’ shoes became feathered and began fluttering about like the wings of a bird.Olympus therefore.” He whispered. Zeus’ jealous wife (her jealousy stemmed from Zeus’ reputation of being a cheat). by Zeus.” “You’re talking in riddles.” Evan said. were two dancing satyrs and a beautiful. I stood there dumbfounded as I pondered the significance of his actions.” Evan reached out. Earth. We strolled a little further down the path.” Evan said. “What did I do wrong?” I asked. “You are not at fault. I looked up at him. He doesn’t reside on Mt. Then something really strange happened. He looked into my eyes as if they were a portal into my soul. which reminded me of my own. I stopped abruptly when I nearly bumped into the largest statue of them all. How was I supposed to acknowledge him?” I asked. I don’t understand what you mean. grabbing Evan’s arm lightly as he began to walk further into the garden. yet it had sent the classroom into a repulsive fit. Next to Dionysus was the statue of Hermes. “He is waiting for you to acknowledge him. intertwined ivy. the light dissipated. “I wonder what Hermes stole from in here. I couldn’t help but smile at the presence of the jolly god.” “I don’t get it. Zeus was gone as If he had never been there. to visit Heaven. and stopped in front of the goddess Hera. After just a few steps she disappeared just as the others did. giving up his search in the gazebo. especially the king of the gods. you’ve done nothing wrong. and sipped from a golden chalice. is defying them. I was no longer paying attention to where I was going. but my mind went to the entry I had written in my journal about Hera possibly being jealous that I had sought the advice of Athena about the choice I made between Evan and Gerald. and looked to be headed straight for the forest of pines. Evan took my hand in his. “Where did they come from? Who is she?” “Dionysus called on them. “You couldn’t.” he said stopping to turn and face me. Nikolas’ ancestor.” What Evan said was an awakening. he enjoys the company and entertainment of the satyrs and beautiful maenads on his travels. What just happened was obvious. The medallion. Dionysus. A small statue of a satyr peeked out from behind him. which was resting on my chest. and accepting your purpose. I looked up at his large face as his head tilted upward causing his curly beard to swirl around in spirals. began to rise upward as if an invisible person was holding it. which was also given to him by Zeus. soon because I couldn’t fathom what the consequences would be for defying the gods. “The only way of acknowledging Zeus. and my medallion dropped back onto my chest. Then he vanished into the cobblestone walkway right in front of the glimmering statue of the always jovial god of wine. I didn’t know how I was supposed to go about acknowledging him. Simultaneously. Appearing out from behind the snow ball white hydrangea bushes. and he stared down at me for a brief moment then suddenly turned his head upward and away from me in the way one would turn to snub someone. . I didn’t understand what I had done wrong. I was beside myself with anger. His broad chest added to the magnitude of his stature. The sky blue diamond shaped like a lightning bolt seemed to pull in the light from Zeus’ eyes. I don’t know why. His ascent was faster than the speed of light.

pouting “Cotillions!” Phoebe added. I guess it had been ages if you consider the fact that I time travelled over a hundred years backwards. I wondered if what I had seen and experienced had really happened. We whipped around and galloped and laughed uncontrollably at the joke Christopher started. . I smiled at the children. cheeses. It was contagious. everyone.” Christopher said. I’d never seen Evan laugh the way he was laughing right now. ride a stallion around the ball room than dance like one as though I was in full gallop. I had to admit that it was reassuring to see everyone in another light. letting its iciness numb the tips of my fingers. “Well I’d much rather. which led us back to the rose entwined gazebo. What I wouldn’t do for a cheese burger deluxe with fries right now. The mockery was hysterical. I was just glad that he didn’t shift into one.” Evan chuckled. I tried to giggle because I was a little embarrassed at how transparent I was. We strolled. couldn’t resist jumping out of her chair and joining in. lightly as his eyes followed mine to the cherub. and I at the patio table. feeling the blood return to my face. retreated into the house. but it was difficult after all that I had just witnessed. and watched as the diamond reflected the sunlight onto the tangled vines. and how I remembered how to ride Gypsy and… but the words wouldn’t come out. but I knew that he wasn’t. but it just trickled water into the pond as if it couldn’t be bothered for a little interaction. I didn’t make a sound. Bethany got up. I couldn’t help but smile at her pretty innocent face. Just looking at Phoebe as she gazed into the sky. and formed a ridiculous looking couple waltzing with a funny high step. and pretended to gallop like a wild steed around the patio table. who sat next to me. and Bethany when they joined Evan. I waited for it to smile. As he galloped around the table. I wanted to tell him so much. but the thought of defying the gods had me wanting to run away and hide in a deep hole where no one. Phoebe. and I loved it. trickling water into it. Their flouncy dresses twirled swiftly around their ankles looking like vortices of taffeta and lace. I forgot all the hideous and downright outlandish things I’d seen and experienced in the last day and a half. In that elating moment. jumped out the wicker chair. instead I rolled my medallion in between my fingers. At the center of the pond was a mischievous looking cherubic angel that served as a fountain. I wondered just how long the feeling of happiness would last. forever looming. I guess it made sense with the weight of the world’s evil resting on his shoulders. jubilantly. To my surprise. Evan laughed at the mock waltz Nikolas and Christopher performed for our entertainment. and sliced meats. I loved Nikolas for his immaturity at that moment. Evan and I sat just a few inches apart on the charming wrought iron settee. waltzing around a glittering ball room with her knight in shining armor. With his head thrown back. I looked around the table. Just a few yards away from the table was the breathtaking pond which Poseidon had sunk into. which practically made my knees buckle every time I saw it. He jerked me out of my chair while I begged him profusely not too. Nikolas and Christopher joined hands. “Aunt Alexandria says that I must begin dance instruction in order to thoroughly enjoy the balls. and circumstances which had very much become my present. My mind was free of the fear of being caught up in this unfamiliar time. I can’t recall ever witnessing him appear so happy. The table was spread like a buffet with fresh. although muscular ones. ominous creatures.” Christopher said. The rays of the sun fought to peek though the vines. and galloped around like a horse in an exaggerated way. and seemed relaxed. Seventeen Listening In After lunch. it had to be a burden for any eighteen year old. I forgot all the foreboding. Everyone was chatting all at once. There was no trace of the statues. She was a true girly girl. and grabbed my hand. I should just plunge head first as if I were diving into an Olympic pool and tell Evan about the Apolluon vampire that I killed the night before. threw off the oxford pinstripe jacket to his three piece suit. His laughter thundered above everyone else’s. Everyone was acting their age. back up the stone path. whispered in my ear. I laughed and laughed as the awkwardly paired couple whirled around the garden. especially an Ischero. In the pond were several schools of glittering multicolored fish. It felt wonderful to laugh. silent for a moment. and on what Evan may have to say. stone patio table. hand in hand. The clusters of fragrant roses and thick vines wrapped around the gazebo like yarn. Suddenly Nikolas jumped up. Nikolas. “Oh” I said. I smiled back catching my breath. There wasn't a dry eye in the garden as everyone tried to catch their breath. and about finding the journals. probably dressed in the most magnificent of ball gowns. no imprint of their marbleized feet in the grass.I tried not to let my timorous disposition show on my face as Evan led me to the marble topped. grabbed Phoebe's hand and they were off galloping around together as a couple. and just nodded as I shoved a fork full of greens into my mouth. as Christopher did. It was obvious that she couldn’t wait to be old enough to attend the extravagant and formal balls. I did my best to focus on what everyone had to say. knowing that I had to focus to breathe. Everyone giggled. His smile hadn’t faded as he held out his hand for mine. or do something that would prove that it too was alive. He ran around the table to where I sat. I laughed as I gave in.” I said nothing. Out of the corner of my eye. sliced breads. wink. “The gods are happy to have you back as much as we are. could ever find me. I tried to focus on the pure beauty of the garden. I continued to watch the hilarious spectacle. I saw Evan hop out of his chair. It seemed like ages since I had. I tried to relax too. as he grimaced. “That one’s just a fountain. Nikolas. sliced fruit. he appeared drunk. she appeared to be far off somewhere. We held our aching bellies from pure joy. Actually I’d never seen him laugh. in the direction of the house. Evan gave me one of his mesmerizing smiles. except Evan and I. So far he’s always appeared moody and sullen. and I obliged. not to be outdone by her older brother. nothing.

or a replica of them to call on them?” “No. I sat still. and the raw beauty of the perpetual flourish of the foliage. I couldn’t control my tears either.” “You shouldn’t be shocked at this point Cordelia. “I know what you did. Evan looked at me. Hopefully sooner than later either way. just a peaceful one being shared.” “Well at first I thought that maybe you were just performing some kind of magic but then something in me changed. You don’t remember how to.” Evan explained. they can be called upon.” Evan said. “How… how did you know that?” I stammered. It will come.” Evan’s voice was even. the sounds of nature. We are divine. but he is a little over two thousand years old.” I nodded repeatedly. Look. I saw something.” The shock in my voice couldn’t be concealed. although a vessel is not always necessary. I’m counting on your honesty. and believing that they were just myths. “I’ll be honest with you. It just happened. and told many other things about my existence.” I couldn’t read Evan’s face. “To a mortal’s eye they are statues but when in the presence of an immortal. I allowed my senses to take in all the garden had to offer including absorbing the pungent aroma of the flowers. and could feel the tears in my eyes about to overflow onto my cheeks. He abruptly moved his hand away from my face then chuckled nervously. You will see what is real in your own time. It was like someone had let the air out of my lungs like a tire.” Evan said.” “I see. although it’s easier. still looking me in the eyes. I’ve been told who I am. He seemed nervous. Evan seemed to do the same.” “I don’t even know how I did it.” I said. an Ischero. “I had hoped that Matthias couldn’t identify you. it will come. “So how do you know it was me?” “Only you have the ability to do that to an Apolluon. but difficult to see. willed into taking human form. otherwise they are present. while he did this. I don’t know what to believe.” “I’m not frightened. I tried to detect some anger. I mean before coming back I only remembered reading about them. when you killed the head Apolluon vampire’s wife.” I knew it.” “Do the gods actually talk back to you?” “Of course. I thought you meant last night. but I think he took what I said the wrong way. and is well aware that only one kind can kill a vampire that old. only an emperor or an empress of the Ischero has that kind of power. Sometimes they’ll just appear as an orb of light. but didn’t want him to interpret my stiffness as brushing him off. just a little… shocked. “I didn’t mean it that way. “I hope that you’re not frightened.A family of playful cardinals. By having a replica. Evan took my skepticism as an insult. “So you don’t need to have a statue. not wanting to move. their image is clear. “I know. I was stunned speechless for a brief moment. What does all this mean?” . I assure you. I meant today… I had a vision. but I hadn’t seen any real proof until – ” “Until last night?” “Last night? No. “I was there. They guide and protect us. It wasn't an awkward moment. looking at me intently. Evan.” I said playing with the intricate beading on one of the numerous layers of my skirt. but I believe he was hiding his real emotions about me sneaking out in the first place. It’s best to call on them only when necessary. but his face appeared constricted as if he was holding back his anger. “We don’t have to resort to imagery and magic tricks. “That was amazing back there…seeing the gods.” “Oh my God. chirping and tweeting at full volume in the birdbath. as he kept his eyes me. I didn’t actually see you do it. They are our ancestors. in just above a whisper. hesitantly. and gently removed a wisp of hair from my face which had fallen astray from my bun. turning away and looking at his feet.” He said. “Please do. and I was kind of glad that he was. I couldn’t control it. and the steady flow of the water trickling from the fountain were the only sounds in the garden. “What? Wait a minute – you saw what happened with the vampires. He had to know that I was tense as well. Evan turned to me. and I saw myself having a conversation with Athena. We always try to solve our issues without their grace. Besides my powers. trembling like a leaf on a blustery day.” Evan declared.” I explained.

” Evan mused. When he did. “When we were children. Matthias is not like the other Apolluon vampires.” Evan spoke tenderly and truthfully.” He whispered. Mother got what she desired and well we continued to play hide and seek.” “Honestly. I can and will protect you. His soul no longer belongs to Hades. “By the way. Victor believes that he has leverage now. That was the deal he made when he turned two thousand years old. but couldn’t look him square in the eye. He couldn’t know that I had been to Gerald’s house. He has to know that this wasn’t a direct attack.” Evan smiled referring to Thaddeus’ outburst about my ‘short walk’. huh?” I asked. Although I doubt that Hermes will interfere. it means that I have to speak to Matthias. and I despised sobbing in front of anyone. as he reminisced and gazed at the small fish pond. it won’t hurt to ask him to deny Victor’s request. “Yes. because Hades still owns the Queens soul.” Evan laughed. He just sat there. “I went for a short walk through the valley. and then took my hands in his. If we don’t prevent Matthias. Finally he spoke. so I stared down at my hands. with a sublime grin. Patience is key. sweetheart. then it suggests that Victor knows. “Mother wanted a gate erected around the pond. I’d be curious as well. “There weren’t?” I said. There was a long pause before Evan spoke again. I shouldn’t have left the house. I was relieved although. where did you go this morning?” I looked away because I knew that I had to lie to Evan. give or take a hundred years. “She was about a thousand years old. looking over at the pond. But how could I tell Evan the truth about where I had really gone. Evan turned to face me once again as my face began to feel warm. I should have listened. and there weren’t any fish then. “It’s only been a day. splashing the cool water all over ourselves as well as all over the garden. Therefore. I detested the feeling of being so vulnerable. and then at Evan. hence the fish. “Does Thaddeus know?” “No.” “I guess that makes sense. without a care in the world. softly with his sweet breath grazing my cheek like .” “Right.” “Speak to him? Why would you talk to a vampire? Wouldn’t he try to kill you?” “Technically. He may ask Hermes to send the proposition to Hades since Hermes is the liaison between Zeus and Hades. and doesn’t have a quota of dead souls to fill and send to the Underworld.” “Well. then it will bring more Apolluon. I knew that I was blushing. I’ve put this family into more danger than they were in before.” “We were in awe of the tiny fish.” “How old was his wife?” I dared to ask. Matthias must be stopped before informing Hades that the queen has been killed here. free as birds.” “Damn it! Why can’t I remember? Why is it taking so long?” I loathed waiting. just a few inches away. Only time will tell not if but when Victor will attempt to sell this information to Hades for immunity. “We were pretty rambunctious. smiling at the idea of running around.” Evan said. we used to scamper through the pond. It brought back so many fond memories. Driella was not free and officially still belonged to Hades. of course. we were. he changed the subject. I could feel Evan’s intense blue eyes on me. “I loved hearing your laugh this afternoon.” I never even considered what this could mean for Victor. He is free to roam and dwell where he pleases. Being that Lucas knows. breakfast wouldn’t have been such a delight. I prayed that I would get my memory back soon. My mother could have killed us a hundred times. it’s expected.” I looked at him. while recollecting. I knew he was onto me. “Do you think Victor will tell Hades what I did?” “It’s a very strong possibility. a little surprised. and watched me blush. and he won’t. He is obligated. We named them and stayed out of the pond from that moment on. so I knew I’d bomb at lying now. So I will. I’d imagine that I would have wanted to search my house if I was told by a room of strangers that I needed to stay in their house. but father said it would not appear to be natural. so beautiful in all the colors of a rainbow. he doesn’t.“Gods. “Cordelia –” Evan took a handkerchief from the breast pocket of his jacket. If he did. and we will be grossly out numbered. A sour feeling swept over my stomach. No matter what happens. and dabbed at the tears that slid down my face. who shook his head from left to right. no. I wasn’t good at lying in the life I remembered having.” “I’m so sorry.

then he spoke again in a very low whisper that was barely even a voice. You are what we say you are. I couldn’t deny what had just happened. I wasn’t sure if he was expecting me to answer it. “Cordelia. The fact that it comes is mindblowing. so I looked up at the vines that intertwined with the strips of iron which made up the top of the gazebo. I felt Evan take my hand. and remind you of what you used to feel. It was wrong. I’d been able to read his mind.” Evan admitted. I couldn’t breathe as I watched him lower his head. Sweetheart. and full of what I perceived was raw desire.the lightest feather. I had to turn away slightly just to say it.” I declared in just above a whisper. It just came and went. It was just like listening in on a conversation. He knew that I wasn’t ready. indicated that he knew all too well that I had heard his question loud and clear. Evan almost appeared to be meditating.” I gulped but said nothing.” he smiled.” “Right.” I said. I sighed with frustration.” A crooked smile crept across his Evan’s face. “I’m sorry what do you mean?” “You just said that you wanted to tell me so much and that you wanted. “It’s just one of the powers you possess. I looked into Evan’s eyes. His mouth didn’t move yet the words came out in the same whisper like voice and stunned me the moment I heard them. of course. For some reason. It helps to clear my thoughts. you read my thoughts. yet sensuous kisses that sent ripples of soft waves throughout my entire body. I just couldn’t reciprocate what I didn’t feel. It's peaceful.” I barely got out the last part. I don’t know how or why. you’re not ready. But I still didn’t feel what he was feeling. and the smoldering look of his eyes. They were warm. I want to kiss you so badly. I know but how did I do it?” I couldn’t believe that I had read Evan’s mind. and I have a fresh outlook for the day. “May I kiss you?” Evan hadn’t said a word. All the while I felt totally . I concentrated for a moment. quietly. rude and intrusive. and blushed all at once. I nodded. His feelings for me were intense. so I pretended to have not heard anything. “Cordelia. You can’t deny that now with what you’ve just experienced here with me. My face was warming again. He wanted to kiss me. Was I being intrusive by attempting too? Sadly. “It’s alright if you would rather that I didn’t.” I said.” “Um… ok. but no one has touched me so deep inside. I couldn’t.” I was blown away by Evan’s admission. But it seems like every time I display some form of power. I couldn’t hear anything. “I didn’t actually say that. honest. I was overwhelmed by his feelings for me.” I added. almost causing them to form a unibrow. as I quickly stole a glance of him – perfection embodied in human form. “Didn’t what?” “It’s alright. I was forced to look away. What I miss. Besides that I couldn’t get past his actual thought. We were quiet again. searching for the love that I couldn’t remember feeling and the love he so desperately craved. “Try it right now.” “Wh – what? But… I heard you… are you sure? I mean how?” I half spoke and half stammered. and turn it palm side up.” What was he doing? I couldn’t read his mind. I had to avert my eyes from Evan. I looked down at my hands. I tried like hell to fake it. although at this very second. He placed a kiss as delicate as a warm breeze on my wrist. I’m prepared to wait for you to come to me when you are. and we sat there like that. “What is it that you want to tell me so much? I asked. I love you so much. They were innocent. He looked like he was meditating.” I heard his thoughts again. please. Evan wove his smooth fingers through mine. looking at me oddly. how I feel. “I thought it. his blushing expression. “The flowers are intoxicating. it’s not within my control. “The garden is beautiful. We both sat quietly for a moment listening to the birds chirping. Now he was looking at me again. Evan looked at me with his head cocked to one side and his eyebrows furrowed in the middle. The warmest feeling washed over me. Evan broke the silence. It was nothing short of incredible.” Evan looked me in the eyes. you and I both know the truth. his eyes were too intense as they bore through me. He had a way of looking at me as if I was the most interesting thing on the planet. I didn’t have any control over it at all. I wondered if he were able to block me from reading his thoughts. His eyes would leave mine every other second to gaze at my slightly parted lips.” Evan wasn’t upset just stating the facts. and then gently kissed the palm of my hand. as I cleared my throat. “To…um…tell me how you feel. “Would you like to try it again?” He looked at me earnestly. I’m trying so hard right now not to. He gazed at me. It is likely my most favorite part of the entire house. “I treasure the time I spend sitting out here. “I want to tell you so much. This time when I heard his voice it was from his lips. “I … I don’t know… if I can. for what seemed like a long time. “I’m waiting for your answer. And he was right.

I ignored her. like no one was home. Behind the fringed velvet curtain. Upon entering the house. They swung in unison in their oversized. “Oh don’t worry. and a parasol. I don’t remember ever seeing this much traffic by foot or by car on C Street. and was fastening the single pearl button at the wrist of her lace gloves. I refused to read his thoughts the entire time and more importantly. I was desperate to remember. as if our hands belonged intertwined.” Bethany assured. I wasn’t sure what I felt for him. Indeed. remembering how aged and deteriorated they were in the future. he couldn’t read mine. but what I was sure of at that very moment was that I didn’t want to let go of his hand. I was pleasantly surprised that she would want to venture out after the strict reprimand she and I had received for the early morning ride. eyeing the town folk skeptically. Night Wind will escort us. Bethany’s dead wrong. Eighteen Town Trip After only a few solitary minutes. It was like being in a whole different town not just era. and unconsciously grabbed my medallion. “Shall we?” She prompted me. and standing in their front yards waving as they watched us go by. was also our driver. Perhaps. as if nothing was ever going to be powerful enough to pry them apart. “I can’t believe this many people live in Nickel City. had been somewhat preserved with minor renovations for a recent revival to showcase Nickel City's historic lore. who besides being the stable hand. Our carriage made its way onto what could be considered the main street. with our hands still interlocked. Maybe. a bonnet. I stared out at all the houses. blocking it. Please allow it to happen. the restaurants. It was as if his kiss had the power to calm my nerves. There was no doubt in my mind that they would be discussing a strategy to stop Victor and that Apolluon Vampire named Matthias.” I said with my nose still pressed up to the carriage window. but she was ready to go. “How do you know that?” “Look.” . Somehow it always seemed to calm me with its cool temperature. that’s not true. we. and guilty of the mess I had made of things. impatiently as she motioned to the archway leading out of sunroom and into the foyer. I felt consumed by an eerie feeling. Maybe she was right. Too quiet. I noticed some of the town folk gawking at our carriage. I kept my nose pressed to the carriage window.comfortable with Evan. We left the gazebo. Evan said that he needed to catch up with his father and Nikolas. She’s wrong. In no time. and it felt like we were an overly attractive float in a parade. “Your memory should be restored by then. I was surprised at how pristine they all looked now.” Bethany advised. With a languid kiss on my hand. I watched him out of the corner of my eye and he stared forward. and peered at the two birds. “No I don’t think so. I wondered if he could sense that. it was the comfort of being intimate with someone that clouded my mind. I’m not the reason that I can’t recall anything from my past. I spied the busy town below. gilded cage. won’t help. it’s not that. Something else must be blocking it. well it’s not only that. Maybe I was blocking the memories. “Just don’t think about it. A trip into town. for the first time. hasn’t returned. we were seated in the dim. the lumber yard.” “No. I decided to stay in the sun room for a while. There were more people in town now than there was when the tourist would flock here for the tours on the weekends. People were sitting on their porches drinking beverages. wondering if they were truly smitten with each other. the hotel. put silver in the mines and they came. Cordelia. “It will be better once we prevent Victor and the Apolluon from destroying this town and the entire west. as Sun Paw brought me my matching accessories. The ride was fairly bumpy due to the uneven sandy terrain of the dirt road. The town was bustling with people coming and going into and out of the mercantile. I didn’t want to remember. in the future. I felt so helpless. Bethany summoned Night Wind. It felt right. I walked over to the cage.” She ignored my look of concern and fear. That was easier said than done. She instructed him to bring the carriage around. smoothing her dress. unconsciously. Bethany dashed into the sun room with an invitation that I couldn’t resist. Evan was up the stairs and out of sight. No. it was quiet.” I argued. slightly swinging our arms to and fro.” “You will be. but I enjoyed sitting here in this romantic gazebo with Evan. It was hard to believe how different and how similar the streets looked compared to how they will look a century later. whatever it is that I’m supposed to recall. they came in droves. a pair of lace gloves. I didn’t know for sure. seeming to take in the lovely landscape of the garden. and the tinsmiths. But it was impossible to fully capture the atmosphere I saw now. and Evan and I were alone in the world. the saloons. Realizing that two hours had gone by. “We’re going into town to choose the fabric needed to have our Masquerade Ball gowns made. As we made our way down the road. the post office. yet lush velvet interior of the completely enclosed carriage. I listened to the only sounds in the room.” Bethany said. alright. the bank. so I didn’t. My memory. This town.” Bethany snapped. I don’t think that I’m ready for my anointment as the Empress of this empire. two love birds swinging separately on two mini swings.” Bethany said. “It’s as my father had explained. Impossible really. Bethany had on a matching bonnet.

and stepped down onto the dusty road. but seeing the town now – all brand new and busy – just knowing how much it will changed for the worse was even more depressing. The riches produced today caused a thief to upgrade to a murderer. who wore nothing on their heads. Practically every man wore a hat of some style. He was causing a disturbance that wasn’t going unnoticed. They worked diligently doing laundry in an alley. It was a very advantageous. mostly the Paiute tribe. I remember when Nikolas and I arrived in the future. proving that they weren’t quite ready to adapt to that choice of weaponry. The shabby and droopy balconies and awnings. and cowboy boots. or in denims. Fortunately. and not lavishly that it meant that they didn’t have the means. He held my gaze for a moment. I wouldn't allow myself to appear attracted to him. tried to keep the shooter at bay. I saw a trace of a smile and a glint of amusement in his eyes. Some folks were laughing while others shook their heads in disgust. But I wasn’t going to make an ass out of myself by assuming that because someone was dressed plainly. keeping their guns holstered to their hips as if at any moment they could be challenged to a draw. Obviously everyone didn’t strike it rich by mining. and a salt and pepper curled mustache to match. They were now freshly painted and ornate. Bethany snapped her fingers snapping me back from my daze. which I was used to seeing every day. and duck as he let off a couple more rounds for good measure. I followed the sharp popping sound with my eyes. Everyone milled about as I was amazed at how everyone interacted. Native Indians. the Native Indians. Then he stumbled in the middle of the road on account of an out of place stone. and then pulled a chord that hung next to the window of the door closest to her.” Bethany sighed. some with children trailing behind. I spotted quite a few AfricanAmericans. It let out the sound of a clunky bell that notified Night Wind that we were ready to stop and exit the carriage. all this was done without blowing anyone’s face off. to where we all thought it originated from. Another man with salt and pepper hair. The balconies and awnings were partly what made this towns architecture unique due to the sophisticated. Besides riding around on their horses or standing around in small groupings talking. It’s a shame really. causing everyone to back up. I’d been so depressed. There were saddled horses. Bethany grabbed my hand as if she thought I would run off like a scared child. although none as ornate as ours. wore mandarin neck tunics. didn’t wear holsters with pistols. The days where miners mined day and night for the precious silver as thieves and looters waited to boost it. As I’m sure you already know. and slippers. It was awesome.“Everything looks so… brand new.” “Everything is brand new. We were immediately saddened by the ruins. I stared in wonder at my little ancient town bustling in what was known to be its glory days. I looked away. were here first. His expression was pure glee. The sheriff smiled at everyone. We rode passed dozens and dozens of people dressed in the fashions of the day. This town was a whole different world to me. The drunken man spun around. then around the forties. “I didn’t realize that there were so many people of different backgrounds living here in this period of time. . while most wore Stetsons. pants. including me breathed a sigh of relief. The carriage jerked my body a little as the wheels rolled over the uneven terrain of the main street. and fell to the ground. and went about their business. I pretended to smooth my dress as Night Wind retreated to ensuring the horses got enough water. It was enough to make a person with motion sickness toss their cookies. Everyone. I was practically deaf for a few seconds. parked like cars along the street. The African Americans and the Caucasians dressed mostly either in three piece suits. yet dangerous time. The sun’s vibrant rays ricochet off of the gold star on his chest. shortly after you did. being stuck in this unfamiliar time. and tipping their hats as they exchanged pleasantries to acquaintances and passersby. about the same time that our kind migrated from Europe.” “Of course there are. and was dressed in a dirt smeared shirt. When he extended his hand to me.” Bethany sighed. mortals of diverse ethnicities began settling here. horse and buggies. long aprons over loose fitting tunic styled shirts and moccasins. where no longer depreciated from time and weather. a dusty brown leather vest. the men spent a lot of time spitting. slightly hidden underneath his tall black Stetson. and extended a hand to help her step down. The Native Indians were either dressed in their traditional dress. everyone settled here in this new frontier. Chewing tobacco was one of the vices of choice and such a nasty habit. or leather vests and denims. He waved a pistol in one hand and drank long gulping sips from a bottle with the other. Some little round bowl shaped hats. The women chatted in small groups while they walked in and out of the shops. “Fascinating. and announced that all was well and that everyone could go back to carrying on their business.” Bethany nodded in agreement. You can’t believe everything you read in a text book. as everyone else did. Strangely. laughing. cowhide pants. The Asians which I guessed were Chinese because of their customary bamboo straw hats. I knew better than that. “Never a dull moment. milling through the wide and crowded street. who was dressed in a tailored black suit. and Asians. the days of getting rich quick. the Native Indians who did wear denims. carved detailing. “Except for the Native Indian. The average thief was no longer just a thief. sooty chaps. button down shirts. vests. I watched in a daze as people darted in and out of the traffic of carriages that rode up and down the main Street. I snapped to attention with the sound of several gunshots ripping through the air. in hopes to strike silver. My eyes fell on a grubby looking man who appeared to be drunk and waving a pistol over his head and into the air. as if he was sullying the town with his spectacle. Some didn’t wear outfits as fancy as ours. The man literally had everyone’s attention. and shiny silver spurs tacked onto his mud coated boots. Night Wind opened the door to Bethany's side. except for the Native Indians.” Bethany explained. The sights and sounds amazed me. He looked to be anywhere in his thirties.

They looked to me to be itching for a battle. and cheerful ragtime music flowed out onto the street along with the sounds of high pitched laughter and shrieks of delight. Would Sacha take a risk and shapeshift in public? No way. He looked as if he might be dead. The doors to the saloon. I was too modest to expose my petticoat. she need not fear the Apolluon. They were anticipating some kind of brawl. yet she seemed used to it. Tieron here with you” The shopkeeper asked in a high pitched pig squeal that fit her portly figure. A short. I couldn't care less which fabric was which or the color it came in. slightly portly woman quickly shuffled up to us. She stepped in front of me. I figured as long as Sacha’s eyes didn’t change from hazel to bright yellow then we might be safe. She watched Bethany carefully.” Mrs. I followed his eyes to the right of us about a yard away from where we stood on the boarded side walk. as did a few women. Only Sacha’s intense gaze danced between Bethany and me. Next door to the saloon was another bar like establishment. Her welcome smile was broad and full of decaying chipped teeth. I think I kind of had an idea of how celebrities felt when they were gawked at. I didn’t know that you were back in town? Oh my.” I agreed. after disapproving of all the silk fabrications Mrs. “We have just received several new bolts of silk from the Orient that may interest you. I was the bull’s eye. He was toasted. He can get even drunker when he comes to. and find out just what her secret was when Bethany. were unshaven and grimy looking. anyone with a pistol would shoot her dead on the spot. Every pair of eyes was fixed on me. “Oh. Her face reminded me of a baby chick. Miss Tieron. follow me. minus the water. as well as Bethany’s flew up causing me to bend slightly to push it back down.” “Of course Miss Capius. “We have an appointment with our seamstress and are in a bit of a hurry. I received some truly shocking stares. The inebriated man passed out in the street. She’d be riddled with bullets from the looks of it. I was the object of everyone’s attention. please call me Del –” “Mrs. and she wasn’t alone. Once inside. three lace patterns. Bethany didn’t act phased at Sacha’s presence. Sauntering toward us in chocolate brown cowhide pants. Please.” Mrs. eyes deep set into a round fuzzy face with a beaklike nose.. She must be the shopkeeper since she came out from behind the counter. The women snatched their children. again. She wouldn’t dare. The sounds grew faint as the swinging doors swung closed. It was as if Bethany and I were royalty or something. and tulle. Although. lace. still with a firm grasp of my hand. All the while we shopped. who made up five of her crew. I just wanted to leave the shop of peering eyes. are we ready. Bethany might’ve been considering this the notion of Sacha shifting as well. Hickam practically jumped. We are interested in your finest silk. Two men dressed in what looked to be matching vests and holsters. She wasn’t looking to be sent home to doze again. a tight matching vest – worn like a corset minus the blouse which exposed her full cleavage. The fancy sign swinging read ‘Madame Clairy’s Secret’. I was caught off guard and couldn’t seem to put an answer together. and the Orient. Her vibrant hazel eyes flashed hatred. that erupted from out of nowhere when Evan had vanished through my bedroom ceiling. Bethany finally approved of two satins. The hem of my dress. Hickam said. “Night Wind. whipping the hair from beneath their Stetsons across their faces. I couldn’t see the point in looking pretty yet feeling grossly uncomfortable in a corset and bustle. I guess yearly trips to the dentist just weren’t a priority these days. etched with the words ‘Bucket o’ Blood Saloon opened. There was only one other woman and she looked as tough as Sacha. She made sure not to get to close to Bethany and kept her distance. I presumed that Madame Clairy was a fortune teller. Hickam allowed us to preview. at least two feet between them. Sacha’s didn’t seem to appreciate the fact that we were departing. The wind reminded me of the tornado. all eyes were on me.. appearing embarrassed by how Bethany spoke to her. I was tempted to go in. A vicious wind was picking up tremendous speed. She knew better after that little episode this morning. was Sacha. Outside we watched Night Wind load the bolts of fabric onto the top of the carriage. and a Stetson. “Hello. and they all were dressed pretty much the same – mostly in dark colors. picked him up by his arms and legs and carried him back into the saloon he had come out of.” Bethany interrupted. Sacha’s backup seemed antsy. Miss Tieron. “We have company Miss Bethany” Night Wind’s face became contorted. We only want to see your brightest hues.” Bethany proceeded to enter the carriage as Night Wind held the door open. but you never knew with someone so evil. . satin. People were quickly getting out of the way and steering clear of Sacha and her gang of wannabe Ischeros. Perfect I thought. the name still didn’t feel like it was mine. Every shade and color made no difference to me. how was your trip? Is Mrs. but of course he wasn’t.” “Yes Miss Bethany. Nearly every man sported a holster & a gun. Hickam. and the men watched with a curious light in their eyes. She had an entourage of about six people with her. Sacha looked ready to pounce on us.“This town has never been more exciting. After sifting through numerous bolts of luxurious fabrics in an array of bold colors and prints. I didn't know the woman. Please show us your newest bolts from Italy. I prayed that she didn’t dare to shapeshift into a panther. whisked me into the shop that we had parked the carriage in front of. The men. shielding me behind her. but I was embarrassed for her and pissed at Bethany. It was exhausting. Everyone in the shop seemed to wait with bated breath for my response. The turbulent wind seemed to surround only Sacha and her gang. I felt weird being referred to as Miss Tieron. totally ignoring the customers who she had just been waiting on.

” Sacha said. It was the . It was obvious that Bethany didn’t want the town folk eavesdropping. Never forget that I know what your kind is capable of. Bethany was still standing angled between Sacha and me. “We are going to kill to achieve what we want. so I couldn’t see Bethany’s face although. I was confused by what Sacha meant. Suddenly the sidewalk grew dark then black. Bethany would have no choice but to react. and her posse chuckled along with her.” Sacha said as I ambled to get into the carriage. and panicked. Sacha’s backup was inching closer as if they desired to get a better look at me. I loved this healing power. I hoped. but as usual you’re proving to be a waste of my time. He stared at me with evil steel gray eyes as he blew kisses at me. “You’re wrong. Sacha must’ve known this. I gulped as I thought of being devoured by a panther. He was skin and bones.” Sacha pointed a jeweled finger at me.” The anger in Bethany’s voice was detectable although calm. “But why should I care? As far as I'm concerned. her stunning face was enraged with pure evil. I could feel the energy radiating from her body. I slammed up against the opposite side door.“Your brother will pay with his life for attempting to kill my brother. making me wonder if perhaps she was the out of control side to the double headed coin. A malicious smile spread across her lips. Probably all stolen. But would Sacha be willing to expose her secret? Does she fear the Apolluon. Bethany had already boarded when Sacha landed on the very same spot where Bethany had just been standing. giving me a once over.” Sacha bellowed. They wanted to attack us as bad as I wanted to escape. But she doesn't know you and what surrounds her. or maybe she looted them herself. stared in what I guessed to be fascination. When Bethany got into the carriage. blocking Night Wind an escape route. To think. “Ha!” Sacha’s wicked snicker had me on edge. Sacha stood only a few feet away now. I watched one of Sacha’s gaunt looking sidekicks. you need another. by her gang of thieves. “Like a scared little rabbit standing there in your pretty little dress. as if they had seen it before yet like a train wreck they couldn’t tear their eyes away. “You? You are nothing. ending the conversation.” Bethany informed. but only for a second. and that pathetic excuse for an empress. Because If Sacha is foolish enough to shapeshift into a panther here. bitch’. but Bethany was faster. “Oh yes. You are devoted to your gods as I am devoted to mine. Two things which I most certainly am not. At first everyone stood around enthralled in what was transpiring between Bethany and Sacha.” “I'm quite sure I don't know what you're insinuating. you know my suitor very well. She then pulled me forward towards the carriage. They all appeared to anticipate this gun – less duel. My heart was beating so fast. The town folk. I had felt sorry for her and her twin when first hearing of their unfortunate beginnings. I automatically knew what was happening. and expose what she is.” Bethany declared fiercely. I turned away instantly. and Victor’s only concern should be how long Evan will allow him to breathe. “Did you enjoy your nap Sacha? The bags under your eyes lead me to believe that you had not. Sacha.” Bethany said over her shoulder as she inched toward the carriage. You’re an animal. “You shouldn’t make idle treats. and eat it for supper.” Sacha said as she narrowed her eyes.” Bethany hissed clearly passed the stage of annoyance.” Bethany’s sneer and words caused Sacha to smile. and out of control. From the window of the carriage. “You’re right.” Sacha promised in a high shrill voice. I don’t think any of the town folk saw anything with the huge carriage blocking the way. I knew that Bethany would never allow these people to see her lose control. “We are not that different. She was almost vibrating.” “I am nothing like you. who were too nosey to go on about their business. I gasped as I heard her insulting reference of me. “I am feeling a bit hungry. winked. She had practically picked up my entire body by my one arm.” Sacha cackled.” Sacha gave Bethany another once over as she dared to step even closer. Neither you nor Victor will get a chance. and lunged like an animal at the mention of her lover’s name. It was as if I was weightless in Bethany’s firm grasp as she shoved me into the carriage. yet I wanted to offer him a home cooked meal. “You actually think that you are better than I am. The debt is your suitors to pay. “You got lucky this morning. How long do you think Victor will allow you and your family to babysit the little Queen here?” Sacha added. I was still stunned by Bethany’s strength. as he laughed. “Death will be your destiny if you continue to fulfill your boyfriend's orders. sending chills up my spine. Perhaps. The nerve. Now Sacha stared both Bethany and I down. Sacha couldn’t help herself. Sacha was fast. I figured. in a whisper that only Sacha and her posse could hear. who took his seat up front. you and I. as I remembered the black stealthy panther that dove onto Bethany earlier. “Owww…” I yelped. I wanted to run and hide in the carriage. and I’ll tear your beautiful little head off. Luckily the carriage had somewhat concealed the displays of power both girls had revealed. and then took a step closer. “Look at you. Now the pain was gone. as Sacha and her sidekicks completely surrounded our carriage.” Sacha sneered. The both of you are no better than I am. Her gang chuckled eagerly. As mortals they could never understand this conversation. you both deserve death. or at least the frenzy that would take over this town if they knew what she was? I’m sure Bethany must wonder. but not before I kill you. “I could kill you right now if I wanted to. but the liveliness didn’t reach those wicked eyes.” Bethany looked at Night Wind. she didn’t seem the least bit concerned about my shoulder which was throbbing with pain. He scared me. But I won’t deny Victor that joy. and began mouthing the words ‘I’m going to kill you. She was thirsty for a fight. and didn’t look like he could kill a fly. as if a storm was approaching. I hoped for a quick exit out of this altercation but it didn’t look probable.

“Night Wind. She sprinted with accelerated speed as her posse dispersed behind her. I got to see it first hand as Night Wind spun our carriage around. They were deathly afraid of the growling and clawing shadows. reaching out to consume him with their claws. if he would retain the memory of those he once knew. I peered out the back window of the carriage. trampling one of Victor’s disciples. “Run. I couldn’t help wondering though. The boy screamed at the top of his lungs in agonizing yelps that sent shivers up and down my vertebrae. as one of the Apolluon vampires to hunt for blood at dusk. through the velvet curtains. or seeking refuge in the shops. causing a distinct overcast shadow of claws and arms that began reaching out toward Sacha. but I knew better than to conjure up such an improbable notion. and knew that we had to escape that very second. lagged behind. They saw the shadows too. which I had witnessed for the first time from out the back window of my parents car. the evil shadows looked like dense and shapeless black smog on a chase. A feeling of déjà vu came over me. Maybe the shadows would swallow them up. The Apolluon shadows growled like hungry beasts. The town folk began running in all directions. Run!” “Grab the children” “Save yourselves from the black shadows!” “The shadows will devour you whole!” They knew. NOW!” Bethany yelled. and almost wished the gods would save him. She didn’t warn them. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if they didn’t get away in time. Unfortunately. I could hear their screams loud and clear from inside the carriage. I pitied him. he didn’t have a chance. and pretty much anywhere indoors. saloon’s. She saw the shadows too. Night Wind commanded the horses to take off. They dragged Victor’s shrieking disciple into the earth along with their obscure murkiness. Sacha’s eyes bulged as she observed the Apolluon shadows that quickly approached her. She didn’t try to save them. They all knew. It was the same. All of a sudden chaos broke out. His skinny legs tried to speedily carry him away and escape when the Apolluon grabbed him and tossed him around in the air. if and when the disciple returned to the earth. Bethany’s eyes were opened wide. and Victor’s other disciples. Nineteen . From a distance. and our carriage. They fled leaving their carriages. jumping on horses. His long gangly arms reached out to anyone or anything in a futile effort to possibly save him from meeting Cerberus at the gates of the Underworld.Apolluon shadows. his date with Hades was set. They crept up the way they had crept up behind Victor. and then sunk into the ground looking like a black abyss in the dirt road. She only saved her herself. Images of the foreboding shadows. They had seen the Apolluon and knew what they could do to anyone within their talons reach. her entourage. They moved in slowly. The scrawny one who had mouthed those unforgettable and obscene words to me only a few seconds ago.

as I took Night Wind’s hand and descended down the carriage. and blown away by what I was hearing. and took a seat on the long chaise.” I couldn’t help sounding annoyed as I anxiously waited for an answer. How could Victor look just like Nikolas? I thought about some of the things that Sacha had said to Bethany. I was going to get to the bottom of this whether Bethany liked it or not. I decided not to bring it up. no one knew about this. Cordelia? Do you believe Sacha over me? She’s a pathetic slave to an evil predator who wants you dead. We removed our hats. From the looks of him. gloves and gave them along with our parasols to Sun Paw and Moon Rose. I thought. “We’ve arrived. Bethany spoke in a voice that sounded like a scared child. I stared at her intensely. But even the kiss had …felt the same.it was…not …Nikolas.” I responded. shaky and unsure. The gates had been left open for our return. might I remind you. who?” Bethany seemed a million miles away from the carriage we rode in. It doesn’t make any sense. “Will he return as an Apolluon shadow?” “I’m sorry. For now I’d rather not let Bethany know that I have gained the power to hear her thoughts even though I have no idea how to turn it on or off. and her eyes never left the window. I got the feeling that she was withholding something. I must have it all wrong. It was as if she had no idea that I was still in the parlor with her. you know my suitor very well. or would you rather I make my own assumptions?” I said replaying Sacha's choice of words in my head. but her mind was miles and miles away from the here.” All the while Bethany’s mouth never moved. Did I detect a hint of annoyance? “You can't take anything that cheap tramp says seriously. because Victor had looked just like Nikolas? That’s crazy. “Victor’s disciple. “It was that one…time. getting a bit annoyed. Bethany and Victor? No way! But it was exactly what she was thinking. It sounded like an accusation to me. Her track record on the truth had been kind of shaky as of late. She opened her eyes really wide. or what surrounds me?” Bethany almost jumped when she heard my voice. “Are we still going to the seamstress?” I asked. and then sighed with fake exhaustion. as if I had defected to the other side. I followed Bethany into the parlor. are you serious?” Bethany challenged. and now Sacha knows that… he and I… made love.Smothered We violently bumped along the uneven road back to the house. I felt like I could use a glass myself. Night Wind pulled the carriage up to the entrance of the large estate.” “It didn't sound like just anything. “Oh Cordelia. “Hmm…. He’ll probably go straight to hell. and Bethany must’ve been hoping that no one ever found out. Oh yes.” Bethany sighed.” Bethany said. Her pretty face darkened as if one of the dreadful shadows had just passed in front of her.” Bethany murmured. I mean. … she doesn't know you and what surrounds her I had to know what she meant by that. but no offers came my way. For now we must stay indoors.” I sighed.” In a low whisper that no ordinary person could have heard.” I didn't say another word until we were in the foyer of the house. “What did Sacha mean when she said that I didn't know you. “I will have her pay us a visit tomorrow afternoon. He had looked… exactly… like him. and I finally stopped staring out the back window. Something else Sacha had said was also bothering me. She was staring out the window. That must be what she meant by knowing Victor very well. Something about her not realizing that it wasn’t Nikolas she had made love to but Victor.” “Gods. I was sure of it. and stared at me in disbelief. a second time. I sat across from Bethany on the velvet sofa and stared at her. “Only if Hades finds him worthy. She was shocked that Sacha knew. She walked over to the bar. Victor must have told her. “How could I… have known…? I should… have… .” “Right. with her eyes closed. . She stared directly at me. I wouldn’t know how to. so I don’t know who or what to believe. intruding on them.. I doubt it. Obviously. “What are you saying. I was hearing her thoughts. the one who was just gobbled up by the shadows. No sense in beating around the bush. poured herself a glass of wine from the crystal wine jug. Are you going to answer my question. Hades likes them thoroughly evil. “You haven’t said anything..” “Oh my God.

but I decided to back off for now. Bethany told Moon Rose that she wished to take a bath before dinner. this conversation is ridiculous?” Bethany was being defensive and intended to make nothing out of what Sacha had implied.…she doesn't know you and what surrounds her …she doesn't know you… …what surrounds her The words were deliberate and precise.” I said. She was definitely hiding something.” “Then they’ll kill us. Certainly you can't expect me to enlighten you on what goes on in that sadist mind of hers. The reference was a direct message to me. “How do we do that?” “We must locate his hiding places. Strictly Smith & Wesson. But the Apolluon cannot see an Ischero until they feel the aura of power. I listened to her satin shoes make clicking sounds against the wood floor. but it was forced.” There was a trace of malice in Bethany’s voice that I had never heard before. Hades cannot see what transpires here on earth. she panicked and fled. My mind was plagued with questions. and where your loyalties lie. and is forbidden to rise above the realms of his Underworld. After a few moments. she had been successful. “Indeed.” Bethany said.” “The Apolluon doesn’t discriminate. He’s rumored to have several. . once they know our aura and exact location. “If Victor makes a pact with Hades. Sacha's words rang in my head over and over. we must get to Victor first. We stared at each other for a brief moment before she spun around and walked out of the room. Bethany and Evan included. and hoped that Bethany was right – that Sacha was only trying to distract me. She still tried to look poised.” “I see. I was determined to figure out what Sacha meant. Remember who your family is. so maybe she thought discrediting Bethany. “But obviously that would be useless to them since bullets cannot harm us. The fogginess in her eyes made them completely unreadable. I guess. It’s not that I don’t trust Bethany. and up the long staircase. and it wasn’t the thoughts that I had heard. although I doubted it. “Sacha knew about the shadows. would hurt her. but I did. I wasn't buying her ambiguous answer for a second. Sacha was just blowing smoke in my eyes. “I have already answered you. but only ended up sounding evasive. and Moon Rose was cautious of me. to me. The look in Sacha’s eyes had been intense and evil. If Sacha’s plan was to mess with my head. but I knew that our conversation had left her a bit ruffled. I knew it in my gut.” Bethany and I locked eyes as I realized that she knew what happened last night too. and they are aware of how powerful his’ disciples are. She had looked Bethany in the eyes when she had spoken them.” Bethany said.” Bethany sat up. That was proof enough for me.” I whispered to myself. I smiled. it’s just that I know that Bethany isn’t telling me the truth right now. She smiled back. Cordelia. They know that Hades is not allowed on this earth. Our fight is with the Apolluon. Only you can defend us against them and Hades…” “What? How am I supposed to stop Hades?” “You won’t have to. Victor’s gang is quite aware of the Apolluon’s increasing presence. Maybe she’s the one I should be meeting with. and her expression was blank but pleasant enough. I knew Bethany well enough to know that no eye contact meant no truth. “Therefore. with her eyes closed. Since you haven’t regained your memory. She definitely meant something by them. and yes.” She said sighing while ringing a small bell which summoned Moon Rose. Bethany got up slowly. the only family I had. “The second she knew that they were there. Bethany watched me very closely from her spot on the chaise. Hades sends the undead souls to track us. I decided to change the subject. It was my turn to sigh. confidently. that I may not know the truth about the Ischero family.” I didn’t believe Bethany meant to make me feel helpless. She was right. “Really. Why would Sacha care if I was safe or not? It was as if Sacha had a score to settle with Bethany.” Bethany tried to clarify. please try not to hinder your chances of regaining your memory with foolish thoughts. We only hope that Victor doesn’t notify Hades of the death of the queen vampiress. Sacha was trying to distract you. but not exactly dishonest. “Cordelia. couldn’t be trusted? Just the thought of this made me nauseous. as per his pact with Zeus and Poseidon. Perhaps. burning you to your soul. I’ve heard that when they overpower you it feels like fire. What if Sacha wasn’t blowing smoke? What if the Ischeros. and never reached her eyes. Moon Rose entered the parlor. and went upstairs. “I don't know why Sacha said what she said. and started to leave the room but not before turning around to say one last thing. Moon Rose quickly departed. The eyes told the truth.” “Sometimes I wish the Apolluon could terrorize the traditional way. then the Apolluon will come straight for us. I’d bet that Victor made Sacha aware that I hadn’t regained my memory. She doesn't know you and what surrounds her The only thing that’s been surrounding me is the family. were hiding something? What if the family. and tried not to appear as if I had overheard her harsh words of warning to her sister regarding me.

and allowed my hair to tumble down into the collar of my dress. and possibly Evan did too.” “Yeah. We were quiet for a moment. “Well something strange happened. absentmindedly. and Nikolas seemed satisfied with that. Our conversations were always about everything else.” I sighed. “Yes. which was stranger than seeing him in a suit. Why am I just realizing this? Bethany had plenty of secrets. so I removed the pins in my hair. He sat back down in the chair. Damn Sacha. It wasn’t until he spoke that I realized that I wasn’t alone. during the time we were friends in the future. and almost did. and seem interested in what we were talking about. “So what did you do exactly?” Nikolas inquired casually as he sat opposite me. she wouldn't miss the opportunity to have Victor kill me. “I know it must have felt strange.” I mumbled. Nikolas listened attentively. “She went upstairs to take a bath. She never really seemed to have any. I wanted to laugh. Now that I think about it. I tried to forget about the people staring at me all the while we shopped. “Really? What?” he asked rather coolly. all that was said. Well you’ve been gone for two years. my parttime job. and exactly where Bethany had sat. Things between us were different since my return.” I tried to smile at Nikolas. but I had his full attention. she would have the pleasure of killing me herself. and no one got hurt. I didn't hear Nikolas enter the room. This Bethany was different…indifferent. was weird. we never really talked about her. Nikolas looked into my eyes with an unwavering gaze. fun. a full glass of wine in hand. Bethany did most of the picking really. act like a distinguished gentleman. and mysterious. limb to limb. I expected you both to be gone for a couple of hours. and appeared content with the fact that Bethany handled the situation. I explained everything in detail. and everyone ran. who I still was having trouble seeing in a suit since I was so used to him in jeans and cowboy boots. Whenever I would ask her something personal like if there was someone she was into at school she would brush the question off with a question of who I might like. but I’d much rather die by Victor hands than be Sacha’s or Lucas’ next meal. and sincere person I thought I knew. my best friend’s once big brother who looked all of eighteen years old.” It worked. We always seemed to be talking about school.” I could tell Nikolas was alarmed at my reference to Sacha because his jaw tightened and he was no longer smiling. “It was a rather short trip. and anything else but her. I knew that I couldn't bother to ask Bethany again. I leaned my head back. Maybe there wasn’t anything to Sacha’s . “I guess. she would hack that person down to nothing as if they weren’t even worthy of a thought. “Sacha seemed to have a lot to say. My expression may have revealed my thoughts. Well.” I watched Nikolas.” Nikolas’ face went ash when I mentioned the shadows. “How was your first trip into town?” I always felt comfortable around Nikolas. and didn’t gulp it as he’d done before. And then the Apolluon shadows showed up. “It was interesting. tearing me apart. The lace trim on my collar felt like barbed wire against the back of my neck. my dream of leaving Nickel City. “Are you alright?” I nodded a yes. She didn’t talk candidly to me anymore. I must say. calculating. including Sacha and the rest of Victor’s disciples. I daydreamed of stuffing my hands into the pockets of my cozy jeans and padding around in my worn navy Converse. while he lit a cigar. Damn her for putting abstruse thoughts into my head.” Nikolas said. There seemed to be so much more to Bethany than the sweet. “Bethany and I picked out the fabric for our ball gowns. but I didn't want to embarrass him. “We ran into Sacha. I wasn't sure of what to expect from her anymore. He then said the same thing I heard just minutes before from his girlfriend.But how? If I tried to contact Sacha. My mind was on the altercation. What about Nikolas and their parents and… I was at a loss. and I think Nikolas was on to me. Everyone in town was probably surprised to see you. We never discussed her hopes and dreams. “What did Sacha have to say?” He demanded in a subdued voice. Either scenario was just plain bad. “You can't take anything Sacha says seriously. before I could stop myself. or perhaps. so I spoke quickly in order to calm him down. I’d forgotten about the town's rebirth of the ruins I remembered growing up around. Seeing Nikolas. and closed my eyes to clear my mind. I wasn't sure if I wanted to reveal all that had taken place in town today. “Is something the matter? You look to be a million miles away. My guess was that he didn't like the idea that Bethany had been confronted by one of Victor's disciples. and that he was standing in front of me.” I blurted. and I let my mind drift to what happened in town again. I think he bought it.” Thanks to Sacha and her posse. He sipped his wine. and some of Victor’s disciples.” I had been wrong in thinking that he would shed some light. getting up from the chaise. Maybe I should drill him with questions. It was the perfect cushion. “Where is Bethany now?” Nikolas asked. but the subject made me uncomfortable. to you. I needed to talk to someone. And once I told her. Perhaps he could fill me in on what Sacha might have meant.” There was evident concern in Nikolas’ deep and crisp voice as he puffed away on his cigar. It’s so different from what you've seen for the past two years.

“Potential for what?” “To track us as a shadow at day break. I speak of Hercules.. “They must have thought he had potential if he was only dragged to the Underworld..” “Has an Ischeros ever been busted out of the Underworld?” Nikolas looked at me as if intrigued at the notion.” I said. holding back tears. but I was beginning to feel an emotional connection to Evan. I sat on the sofa for a while. She would have never allowed that to happen. “Did the Apolluon smother Victor’s girl?” Smother? I guess that’s what happened to the skinny disciple. He thinks that their malevolent acts pay homage to him. Evan was one of the biggest reasons I wanted my memory to return. The intimacy I felt with him this afternoon was something I had never known. and roam as an undead. Did he make them into the Apolluon shadows? Did my parents have the horrible fate of being forced to hunt for blood in the dark? “We are trophies to Hades. I didn’t want it to end. and I had to admit. How could she sleep with the enemy? I replayed her thought in my mind. we all are. You showed a lot of promise when you threw Heracio. I knew without a doubt.” “And if they thought he didn’t have potential…” “The disciple would have been devoured and his soul would be sent to Tartarus. Bethany is a force to be reckoned with. I had no other choice but to believe that I was a part of something pretty huge. I was shaken by the idea of being smothered by shadows.” I shook my head. but in his mind he said. “No. I would never know the truth.” I said. “I’m still unable to lift him.” “Oh my god. a demigod. our souls are allowed to roam his dominion for eternity under his control. Therefore.’ Then Nikolas got up and patted me on the shoulder. preying on the breathing at night. “At least one of them was taken. I answered calmly although. Do you remember them?” “Uh… no.comments. I’m afraid that I may never recall a thing. The gods had enlightened me with their presence. How could I have known?’ .” Nikolas smiled at the memory that was as foreign to me as vacationing on the planet Mars. is proof that he will eventually conquer his brothers. I wanted to truly know. “What does he… Hades do to us. Our imprisonment. I was beginning to want to get closer to him.” “Well you did strength training with them when you were about twelve or thirteen. It was the major secret that she was faced with today. agreeing. I thought about the way he had made me feel today in the gazebo. Besides the chance to escape death. But something was nagging me in my gut.” Nikolas laughed a hearty laugh. wasn’t enough. very matter of fact. The Spiro family are his descendants. He is the only one to ever get passed that nasty pooch. yeah. Perhaps I was blowing it all out of proportion. “Nikolas. if I remember correctly. patient. and are the strongest Ischeros there are. I’m a demigod.” Nikolas said. he believes. correcting me. that for as long as I didn't have any memory of living at this time. and understand what it meant to be an Ischero. She had betrayed Nikolas. I knew that it wouldn’t cease until I figured out what it was. the entire family.” Nikolas’ dropped an octave. I’m not even sure where it all began.” I had no idea what Nikolas meant. Beautiful. And then there was Bethany – an enigma. catching my breath. Tartarus is the ultimate imprisonment. He is our distant relative. I know. ‘I’m extremely worried to. I just wasn’t sure that I could handle it. and is entirely inaccessible to all. Having the ability to read minds. My best friend was keeping secrets from me – a secret that was tearing her apart.” Nikolas said out loud. Bethany and Victor had been lovers. when Sacha called her out on it. The important thing is that you weren't hurt. I don’t remember anything. the realm beneath the Underworld where a soul is never to be returned to earth as the undead or as a shadow. and more importantly. “But Sacha got away. It is Hell. but Hades himself. “Yeah. and the entire empire. ‘. and wanted to know him inside out. clearly disappointed. Cordelia. Hades appreciates mortals who turn to evil. But a demigod did escaped once. an empress. He defeated Cerberus. “Uh… no. He had looked exactly like him. It was bliss. But could trust him? I couldn’t help wondering what secrets he held. and pondered the day’s developments. handsome. but the shadows did drag one of the disciples into the ground.” Nikolas said. and excused himself. the eldest in the family around. and when I had a tugging feeling like that. I’m sorry. The more time I spent with her the more I realized how little I really knew her. the Ischeros who are sent to the Underworld?” I thought of my real parents who were prisoners there now. and strong willed Evan. “Of course you will. and sporadically unleash deadly bolts of lightning without any control. but I don’t. “Gods. and their magic. What would it take to make me remember? Evan came to mind. but I am here for you.

they are the best for night combat against any werewolves. The children had already eaten. The way they spoke to each other proved the magnitude of their positions. makes a deal with Hades. and strained to eavesdrop on their conversation. with the load he carried. Victor will surely strike by then. Miss Cordelia. “Ares has great respect for his father. he wants something else entirely. The doors were unlocked. and Hepolis families to uncover Victor’s whereabouts. Is there anything else that you need taken care of?” Nikolas asked Evan. This was my chance to find out as much as I could. “Please. and Evan’s desire to talk to him about the night his wife … the night I killed her. Did she know that it was me. “ He’ll never defy Zeus. “Niko. sounding a bit skeptical.‘. I will be right up in a moment. sounding every bit as a teenager should sound and feel – exasperated as I’m sure he had to be. werepanthers. I shook my head and thought how unfortunate they were. I realized then that I was actually very hungry. Therefore. and then takes over and allows Hades to imprison us all in the Underworld? That would be pointless. The idea of this plagued me. I did something I couldn’t resist.” Evan commented. but my mind was racked with one question in particular. Perhaps. were empty. and sighed. which I hope will overpower his desire to see bloodshed. Maybe Victor’s sites aren’t really set on ruling the empire. I sat on the railing of the long staircase. A bad habit I’d developed. to my surprise for a girl who kept secrets. For some unknown reason. What if Victor isn’t found in time. but he believes that Charon may be willing to deliver a message to Hades if Victor should request it. “I have. have you contacted Matthias?” I had forgotten about the head vampire.” Evan explained. “Yes I have sire –” Evan cut Nikolas off midsentence. We both looked at each other shocked for a second. Who would Victor have left to rule over? Then it hit me right when the headache began.” Evan said. and then she giggled.’ There had to be a good reason why she would do such a thing. I resumed my search the moment Sun Paw was at the top of the stairs. Leonidas. please. I wasn't expecting her. It was probably Nikolas. How could I get her to confide in me? Then there was the Apolluon and their power to smother anything breathing mortal or immortal.” “With advisement from Athena. or anyone to be there. Hermes will not interfere. since he is unwilling to punish one of his own descendants.” “Are you sure that is enough?” Evan asked. Evan sounded very eager to meet with him. Sun Paw met me at the foot of the stairs.” I planned to continue looking for Bethany. I wasn't surprised that she wasn't there. “We are severely pressed for time with the ball approaching. Sire?” “I don’t feel very much like an emperor these past couple days. Nikolas must be telling him about the trip into town. then what? Twenty Meetings On my way up to my bedroom. I’ve dispatched the Octavius. They will be dining with another couple who were also elders.” Nikolas said. and descended in one quick swoop. “They’re all shifters as you know.. and were already stowed away in their bedrooms. “Bethany. “Dinner is in an hour.” Evan demanded gruffly. which were nearly identical to my own except for the choice in the colors. I rapped on her double doors a couple of times. She had caught me being normal. and didn’t want my company? I stood in the hallway for a moment before deciding to try the doorknobs. But we have his word that he won’t come to Victor’s aide if Victor calls upon him to fortify his strength. I found Evan in the library but I didn't allow him to see me.It was not Nikolas… Victor must have told her… he and I made love. but not angrily. “Oh…yes. and I couldn’t help but join her. for a price of course. I stood behind the slightly cracked doorway. They are to report to me in the morning.. . more like frustrated. but there was no answer. trying to stifle her giggle. I walked into each room.” Nikolas said. don’t call me that. “What… you mean. how the hell was I ever going to uncover anything that may lead me to the truth. so I stepped into the elegantly decorated sitting room and bedroom. There is twentyeight between the three warrior families.” “I understand that. When I got to her room. I knew that Thaddeus and Alexandria were upstairs preparing for an evening out. In the kitchen I found Moon Rose and her mother preparing dinner. He was talking to someone in a hushed tone. powerless. but what was a girl to do when she was left in the dark. and the undead. I felt like a kid. and I think she appreciated it.” Bethany informed. I left her room and decided to search for her around the house. Sun Paw nodded and headed up the stairs. or jog my memory? “I couldn’t petition Ares. The lavender and cream colored rooms. slid. did you speak with Hermes?” Evan asked. I decided to see what Bethany was up to. If so. “Of course. Shall I draw you a bath?” She asked. I mean really. It smelled delicious. Bethany was nowhere in sight. Her laugh was infectious.

“Fine, Evander, I stopped in at the Bucket o’ Blood, and made arrangements for you to meet with Matthias there tomorrow evening.” “You will accompany me.” “If you wish si…uh… Evander,” Nikolas said, correcting himself. “Put the drink down, Evan. How many have you had already?” Bethany asked, in an authoritative voice. There was a long pause where no one said a word then Evan spoke again. “Why don’t you hassle Niko when he’s guzzling wine by the jug full?” “You will stop behaving like a spoiled child. You’re not a centaur; Nikolas doesn’t get drunk, but you do. What good are you to us drunk?” Bethany scolded. “Why can’t she remember anything? It’s never taken this long. The memory usually returns within an hour,” Evan said, changing the subject, and sounding defeated. I couldn’t believe that he just said an hour. I’ve been in limbo for a day and a half, and I’ve got absolutely nothing but sudden flashes and random occurrences of power, which were of no help since I’d have better luck in controlling the weather. “Perhaps, the trauma of being killed has slowed down Cordelia’s restoration,” Bethany speculated. It wasn’t a concrete theory. “It’s still too long. Even the elders are getting anxious, especially since Victor has been in this house. His disciples’ brazen attacks, as of late, has everyone on edge. Sacha and Lucas are just getting started,” Evan said. The stress of having to defend an empire on his own was devouring Evan quicker than the Apolluon ever could. I felt the sudden desire to comfort him. “This is my fault.” I heard him say. “Evan, please stop,” Bethany begged. “It was my idea not to tell anyone of Victor’s new capabilities. I should have told the elders what Cordelia and I saw that night in the forest. If I hadn’t told her not to tell her parents, then they would be alive right now, and she would have never been sent away.” “What’s past is past,” Nikolas said, solemnly. “And you couldn’t have predicted what Victor’s plans were. No one could have.” “Everyone knew that Victor was steadily building his army, including the elders. Victor got lucky. That’s all. Blaming yourself isn’t going to help Cordelia.” Bethany added. “I don’t know how to help her, Beth. I feel so helpless when I’m around her. She looks as if she’d have more regard for a stranger. I think she’s afraid of me. She probably despises me for bringing her back,” Evan said. I was so surprised by his honesty and vulnerability. But he was wrong. “Please stop this selfloathing. She needs you. She’s confused right now, and she doesn’t know what she feels. Everything will be as it was once she remembers.” Bethany showed such sensitivity towards her brother. I almost forgave her for keeping secrets from me although, she didn’t show any of that towards me. I wondered if she was annoyed with me for not being able to remember, and wasn’t admitting it to them. “Don’t you mean if she remembers?” Evan said, slamming something down. I guessed it to be a glass after I heard ice rattle. They were silent for a moment. Then Evan spoke again in the sweetest voice. “I love her, Beth. I’ve missed her, and I want to protect her.” “I know Evan,” Bethany said, as I jumped up at least a foot off the floor, and nearly slammed my face into the oak doors when I noticed Moon Rose coming down the hall. “What on earth was that?” I heard Bethany say. My nerves were rattled. It served me right for spying. Moon Rose definitely saw me eavesdropping. I was late in trying to cover up that fact. I tried to smile at her, but the kind gesture was not returned. I stopped Moon Rose as she tried to walk passed me. “Moon Rose, have you seen Bethany? I'm looking for her.” I said just above a whisper so that no one in the library would hear us. “Yes I have.” Moon Rose said, as she tried to walk passed me, but I blocked her by standing in front of her. Well at least she acknowledged my question. I waited for her to finish answering me. She was striking me to be a real pain. I wasn't about to let this girl, who was just a servant, get under my skin. I was irritated a little, but I did my best not to show it. Instead, my plan was to overwhelm her with kindness, so I smiled, sweetly. She said nothing. “Do you know where she is?” I kept my voice light; I was pissed at her for looking at me like I was the help. “She is behind the doors you just had your ear pressed up against.” Moon Rose said, sarcastically. I had to suppress the strong urge to deck her. It’s a good thing that I didn’t sock her because just then, the mighty trio exited the library doors. They all appeared a little surprised to see Moon Rose and I standing in the middle of the wide hallway. I wondered how much of our exchange had they heard, if anything at all. “Cordelia, is there something wrong?” Bethany said, eyeing Moon Rose with contempt. I somehow found it somewhere in my core to feel sorry for Moon Rose. I hoped that Bethany wouldn’t find a reason to lay into her. “No, no problem. Moon Rose was just giving me a tour or the rooms.” I explained. “Right, Moon Rose?” Moon Rose didn't say a word. She just nodded slightly with an unreadable expression on her face.

“I believe dinner is being served, am I correct Moon Rose?” Bethany inquired. Oops. Obviously, Moon Rose must have been on her way to notify them of just that. Why would she give me a tour? I may have just gotten her into trouble, or made myself look like a liar – a bad one. “Yes, Miss Bethany.” Moon Rose answered obediently. “Well then, let us all regroup in the dining room. It will be just us four. Mother and Father are dining with the Viniturin’s, and Christopher and Phoebe have already had dinner.” Evan announced as Moon Rose excused herself. “Shall we?” Nikolas said to Bethany holding out his arm. “Yes, of course, my love.” She replied, and hooked her arm into his, nuzzling her nose into his shoulder. I watched as they sauntered down the hall. “I guess that leaves us.” Evan said to me with a smile, but it wasn’t his winning smile. Caution seemed to have hardened his lips, and the look in his eyes made my heart skip a couple beats. I didn’t want Evan to believe that I hated him, because I didn’t. “Yes it does.” I smiled, brightly, and wove my arm into his, following his lead. It was already dark. Buckets of rain poured, and the clap of the downpour smacked against the dining room windows causing them to rattle occasionally. The thunder crackled like numerous firecrackers exploding at once. Anyone going out now had better think twice. Luckily, the Capius’ left early enough to beat the nasty storm. The four of us sat quietly, nibbling on our dinner with very little conversation. It had been a precariously eventful day, and they were doing it again. They were acting as if nothing had occurred this morning, and this afternoon. It was as if I had imagined it all. Evan and I stole glances from time to time. I would catch him peering at me, and the moment I did, he would steer his eyes either back to his full plate of food, or to the paintings on the wall; gazing at nothing in particular. This time he pretended to be interested in a painting of a young girl who wore a yellow ribbon in her hair, and sat beside a murky lake. Since overhearing the conversation between Evan and Bethany just a few minutes ago in the library, I couldn’t help but regard Evan in a whole different light. At first, I had resented him for bringing me here, and couldn’t get passed the fact that he had murdered someone. Yet now that I knew that I had killed in the past, still a gut wrenching certainty to come to terms with, and have killed since coming back, I understood Evan a little more. I knew that he did what he did to survive and to protect his own. We were both tortured souls. It was the one grave fact that I didn’t want to remember feeling once my memory returned, if my memory ever did as Evan had so painfully pointed out. I didn’t want Evan to be or feel alone in this. I wasn’t declaring any feelings for him. I just felt a connection to him that left me both intrigued, and melancholy at times. Since Bethany hadn’t answered Evan about my memory ever being restored, it only proved that there was the chance that I may never remember who I was, and all that comes with being Cordelia Tieron, the Empress. I was instantly ill, and thought to excuse myself from the table since I’d already lost my appetite. My lower lip quivered from the thought of such an unacceptable fate. I took another peek at Evan, and eyes didn’t really see what he was looking at. He appeared deep in thought; oceans away from here. He appeared to be having a rough bout, probably thinking of the hell that would soon cross his path. I’m sure that my lack of feelings for him was the icing on the cake. Unsure of what I was feeling, I was frustrated. I needed to figure out who I was before I could focus on my emotions, yet something inside of me was changing; growing actually. The need to be close to Evan was surfacing. Something had awakened in me this afternoon that I hadn’t believed existed between us. But I couldn’t yield to it just yet To the left of me, Nikolas and Bethany were laughing lightly about something. As I watched them, I couldn’t fathom what they found humorous, with all the looming doom which surrounded us. I tried to tune into whatever it was that they were giggling about, but apparently it was an inside joke. Bethany and Nikolas seemed to have found a way to forget, if only for a moment although, I knew they had to be worried. There empire was about to be lost to a traitor who had leverage. I envied them for being able to forget even if only for a few minutes. After a brief moment, Nikolas and Bethany finally stopped chatting amongst themselves and started discussing strategies. According to Nikolas, an attack on the house would come soon. Evan agreed, and thought a meeting of the council, as well as the rest of the members, was necessary. I found out for the first time just how many Ischeros there were. The council consisted of the elders, a total of twenty lesser powered, due to age, they were high ranking authorities with the right to vote, and the right to bully their offspring into doing things the old fashioned way; kill all evil, and the innocent if it meant getting closer to ridding the evil. The rest of the empire consisted of the offspring who possessed different levels of power, with Evan being the most powerful with my absence of power. A variety of strengths and gifts was spread out evenly through the fortress of twelve separate family trees. Each family of Ischeros had a special and unique power. Some families were strictly shapeshifters, from weredragons to werecougars. Some were Seers with the sight to see into the future and past, some delved into the minds of those outside of the empire – mortals, while others had immeasurable strength. No one had all the powers combined, except of course for yours truly. I possessed them all and then some. The meeting would be held in a remote area that was never revealed until a minute before it was to begin. It was the only time that every member had the power to teleport, which was given by the reigning or in this case, acting emperor. Everyone had just that minute to make their appearance or the proverbial ‘door’ would be shut, and they would be shut out, and have to deal with the consequences of being tardy. A minute to arrive at a remote place that you just found out about, in a minute before you were expected to arrive, would sound ridiculous to the average person, but not to

this crew. These rules were not written but known by all, honored, and followed by all. This was so that there was never a breech in the security, especially with Victor’s army progressively growing. Once dinner was over, and it sounded like the rain had finally subsided into a light drizzle, Evan and Nikolas excused themselves, and disappeared into the parlor. Bethany fought off a yawn that claimed its victory when she announced that she would be retiring for the night. Basically, she was doing a great job of avoiding me. I suppose she’s still a little pissed off because I expected an explanation regarding what Sacha may have implied. I didn’t care. If she wanted to be pissed, then she had the right. I retired as well, but was suddenly bursting with energy, and had no desire to sleep. I wondered why I hadn’t received a response from Gerald. I wondered if someone had intercepted my note. As I began to undress, and pondered the possibilities, I heard a light tapping at the door. At first I thought that the rain had started falling again, and the tapping was the rain on my window panes, but I was wrong. “I feel a little tired and would like to go to bed.” I said over my shoulder, as I stood in front of the French doors that opened onto the veranda, hoping to maybe spot Gerald. . Initially, I planned to discover a way to jog my memory. Something or someone had to help me jump start it. “If I could speak to you for just a minute?” Evan pleaded. I was surprised to hear his voice. Why is it that I can’t resist that voice? I felt compelled to let Evan into my room. I had expected it to be Sun Paw asking to assist me with getting undressed even though, I had already told her that I wouldn’t be in need of her help tonight. I pulled my dress back on and quickly fastened the miniature buttons. I probably missed a couple. “Sure, come on in.” Evan walked into the room, and I shut the doors. He didn't have his jacket on. I could see his muscular arms through the sleeves of his gray toned shirt. I never realized how massive they were. I had to stay focused, and stop staring at his biceps. “I hope that my father didn't upset you earlier today at breakfast. He can be very bull headed at times, well most of the time.” Evan came across sympathetically as he walked over to my fireplace. Something told me that he wasn’t paying me a visit to apologize for his father, but I played along, unable to steady myself around him. “No he didn't.” I lied. “Yes, he did.” I knew that I hadn’t sounded convincing enough. I sucked at lying, and for some reason became angry. “Are you here to argue, or was there something you wanted to tell me?” I said a little too harshly, as I sauntered over to my fireplace and faced him. “I know you quite well, Cordelia. You’re feisty, you can be stubborn, and you never back down, not from anyone. Not even to your mother and father. Therefore, you can understand my surprise when you stepped down to mine. This act of passiveness does not suit you. That gutsiness is what I love about you... most.” His tender and soothing voice trailed off. Evan’s face was turning a blush shade of red. He was embarrassed. I played those words a couple of times in my head. … is what I love about you ...most. I felt hot. The temperature in my body must have risen at least a hundred degrees. My face was blazing. I'm sure Evan noticed that I was blushing too. I found myself unable to speak; my throat felt like it was stuffed with cotton balls or something. I had to walk away from Evan in order to focus. I was so confused about how and what I may be feeling for him. I know that I’m feeling something. I’m not so sure that I had control over my emotions when I was in his presence. I still felt like I barely knew Evan. It’s only been a day and a half. “I want, so desperately, to kiss you. Every moment of the day my mind is consumed by you, the sweet fragrance of your skin, the – ” Oh no…he was doing it. “Please... stop.” I cut him off abruptly. I couldn’t listen to another word out of fear that I might just jump into his arms, and kiss him. My mind flashed back to the time we had spent together in the gazebo. Everything had felt so nice then – so normal. The feelings started and… “I'm sorry. This is very difficult for me. I just wish you could remember how it used to be between us.” He apologized, admitting what I already knew. A flash of the dream that haunted me for a couple weeks, engulfed me momentarily. I tasted his sweet kiss, and felt the chill of the night air in the forest. I had been warmed by his body, pressed up firmly against mine…and then the howling. I blinked hard to shake the reverie off. Evan did his best to conceal his frustration, but he did very poorly at disguising it. I thought about what I heard him say to Bethany while they were in the library last night. I love her… I just want to protect her. I had to get it together. Focus! “Well I don't. I don't remember anything. I don't remember you. I don't remember us. I don't even remember myself! This is all too fast, and way too crazy.” I said louder than I had really wanted to. “Can’t you see that?” His pain was evident in his eyes, and I was the reason why, but I wasn’t concerned about Evan’s feelings right now. “When is it supposed to happen? Huh? When am I supposed to get my memory back? How do you expect me to just start acting like your girlfriend…fiancé, when you are a stranger to me?” I said, my arms flailing about. “It will happen, my love. You must be patient. It is the only way,” Evan said, with a strange sense of calm as he stepped closer to me, and started to

Patient? I've been patient. Finally. if that’s what you want. if you don't mind. I locked my doors. and flung them open. and I was relieved to see him go. tracing the perfect penmanship with my index finger. I look forward to meeting with you. Evan’s expression grew dismal. I was prepared to guard it with my life. but… I don’t know how long it will take for your memory to return completely. and I wouldn’t even know where the feeling was really stemming from.” She handed me a small sealed envelope with just my name addressed on the front of it. Evan’s gaze remained soft as he tried to explain. I stuck my head into the hallway. and release the anxiety that had crept up. and faced Sun Paw. again. but it hasn’t halted it. I was annoyed with him for not leveling with me and telling me what he really thought. “Everything I have told you is true. and tore open the envelope. I remembered just then that I’m in the company of a being that could vanish with the breeze. dismissing her as I practically snatched the thin envelope. and cupped it into my hand. I couldn't believe it. and that frightened me. The need to know my past was stronger still. to my chagrin. I’ll leave. I had no idea that I would blow up this way. Sun Paw. I thought you were… someone else. “No. “Oh. I was seething with anger and frustration. Except for the warm breeze that wafted in through the French doors. He stood up. and we were emotionally clashing harder than the Titans and Olympians had. I would like to be alone. who looked at me strangely. Be patient. “Corde” “No. Dearest Cordelia. “Please. Once he was at my doors. I wasn’t annoyed with poor Sun Paw. “I didn’t mean to scare you. don't do that. As I started to relax. but she would have to be the recipient of my pissedoff mood for the moment. All I remember is the life I had before I was brought back. “Thank you. The drum beating in my chest seemed loud enough to be heard throughout the entire house. he turned around. But I didn’t come here to fight with you. I request the pleasure of your company tomorrow afternoon at 1’oclock. and didn’t appear surprised by my aggravation and choice words. The room is quiet with a stillness that made me believe for just a second that the world had stopped turning. Miss. peering to see if Evan was still around. We stared at each other.” I said. and blew the intricate lace curtains a couple feet in the air. I want the truth. I closed the doors. Gerald Bergnum III I read the note over and over.” I stated firmly as I turned away from him to stare out the French doors. I’m here to fight for you. “I think that you are as scared as I am. and slowly walked to the double doors as if he hoped that I would stop him before he reached them.” Sun Paw said. I would meet Gerald. I was a little tired of everyone's odd facial expressions every time I did anything. with as much conviction as I could muster.” Evan sat down on one of the plush ivory chairs. I knew that in another moment I might have begged him to stay. We were the only two people who existed in this dangerous world right now. TwentyOne Old Acquaintances . and we stared at each other again. You said I would be able to remember everything by now. and I couldn’t stop. I yanked the note out and began to read. Sun Paw flinched backward when she saw my face in a half snarl. “Is there something wrong?” I asked. The circumstances of your return has slowed the process a bit. but he wouldn’t allow himself to show his vulnerable side. I have come to deliver this. as I pulled away from him. Sun Paw. Our eyes were locked as we stood only a foot apart. He hadn’t disappeared. a knock at my door caused me to curse under my breath. and that you haven’t the faintest idea if and when I’ll begin to recall my life here. “I’m not afraid. Why couldn't he just back off for a minute? Had a minute even gone by? I continued cursing as I grabbed both door knobs at once. Fondly. yet they grounded me where I stood. causing something to stir inside of me as I caught my breath. it’s you.” I said. again.” I snapped. Did something go wrong when you brought me back? Is there a chance that I may never remember?” I was trembling. Is there anything else?” I asked. Hastily. yet I’m certain that it will. Miss Cordelia. “No.” Evan said softly. I wanted to calm down but couldn’t. which I knew he had since providing me a glimpse of it today in the garden. precipitately. so I turned around to make sure that Evan was still in the room. The hall was dim and vacant. His words were simple.stroke my cheek. backing away and making a quick exit. thoroughly annoyed. He walked out without saying another word. That's all I ever hear from you. sat on the chaise. Evan watched me intently. yet firmly. there was no movement. and I didn’t want him to sit and make himself comfortable.” I started to giggle out of embarrassment as she walked into the sitting room. “It is what I want.

” An impish smile spread across his face. In the future she would be considered a career woman. hello Cordelia. are you about finished? “Yes. and turned around to face Miss Cuttwright. I bolted down the stairs. I would have laughed pretty damn loudly in their face. actually through me as he stood in the weeds that seemed to climb up his legs.. I thought her name was perfectly fitting for her profession. I really needed some powers to block the initial pain. “Do you mind?” Even though the pain subsided quickly. She was in the process of fitting me for my Masquerade Ball gown. I couldn’t help but wonder if he too had seen the man gawking at me from the deserted garden.“Ouch!” I shouted. Finally out of the house. in my peripheral. I slipped out of Bethany’s sitting room while she handed Miss Cuttwright four heavy bolts of carefully chosen fabric. For a few seconds. If someone had told me.” Bethany reprimanded me again. He was as chalky as a ghost where Victor’s disciples always appeared to be… alive. and appeared to be in her midthirties. the boy who I hoped would help me to remember who I was.. The cold air was coming from inside the Bergnum estate. It was rather odd really. and tried to focus on the boy standing right in front of me. She was considered a spinster because she had never married. It wasn’t exactly the greeting I had been expecting. Suddenly. well. I stared at my house across the street while I waited. I suppose. He began to move closer to the entrance gates as if he was trying to get a better look at me. I quickly stepped down from the foot stool. I knocked on the door then took a quick look behind me to check if anyone was spying on me. I thought about what happened there that night and shuddered at the memory of how the vampire had burst into flames then turned into cinders. I wasn’t sure that I’d be keeping my appointment with Gerald. He was dressed in all black with skin paler than the ivory handkerchief I had chosen to carry along with me in my drawstring purse. who I’d seen do some incredibly amazing things was sitting. that Bethany could needle point two weeks ago. had a very plain exterior. “Ouch! Are we done?” I practically yelled. He looked directly at me. and threw my day dress back on. and slightly out of breath. They all seemed to share the same penchant for wearing clothing better suited for mourning. Miss Cuttwright.” Bethany scolded. Then I heard the door creak open behind me. “I’m not fidgeting” I said over my shoulder. wild but contained.” Miss Cuttwright said. I had to make a quick exit or I would be late for my visit with Gerald. It’s good of you to visit. and then marveled at how quickly the pain subsided. But this man came across as unusual and sinister. but you must stay still.” I said. as she sat in one of the velvet tufted chairs. She slipped the muslin dress. “Ouch. “I’m not moving at all. He appeared closer to the gates of my house now. I felt like I’d been caught trespassing on sacred ground or something. Miss Capius. a demigod.well. as Miss Cuttwright. I turned back around. I was unsure that I could even make it out the Bergnum’s entrance gates before it was upon me. my first instinct was to run. He had golden blond hair the color of corn silk. “Miss Cuttwright. but to my surprise he was gone as if the door being opened had scared him away.” I said. The dark clothing he wore. The hairs on the back of my neck had risen from that enlightenment. and an ice cold chill filled the air. working on a piece of needle point. over my head. correcting her through clenched teeth. and his intense stare burrowed into my face like the sun. “Please forgive me Miss Tieron.” I yelped again. was the craze.” “I’m not moving. not footsteps. I was freezing in my three quarter sleeve. this was the Victorian era where needle point. His movements were jumpy. “Hello Gerald. we both stood there. moving in static as if he were made of currents. “Stop fidgeting. the seamstress. it literally felt like the temperature dropped fifty degrees from the warm eighty. She just keeps sticking me. I did my best to shake off the image of the disappearing phantom. I stood in front of the Bergnum’s front door.. . what they actually should avoid at all costs. It was as if they wanted to disappear into the shadows. The head of the lion looked ferocious and sinister. She was acting more like a witch doctor than a seamstress. and inflicting pain on her life sized voodoo doll. Even now it seemed strange although. and gracefully stitching an intricate floral pattern into a piece of fabric about the size of a handkerchief. With trepidation. “Just stay still. probably a few years older than I. mistook me for a pin cushion. Bethany sighed. I turned to see if the darkly attired man came out of the vine encrusted gates.. I spun around to see a young man. and stared down at me with strange vacant eyes. Bethany. a stiff linen prototype of my dress which she will use as a guide when making my actual gown. I watched as a peculiar look washed over his handsome face. I had to giggle a bit when Bethany first introduced us. a figure emerged from the west side of my house and stood in the front garden. and it was all due to the arctic blast that came with the Bergnum’s door being opened. The goose bumps weren’t from the appearance of the man across the street. or from his quick departure. I was about to speak but he spoke first. and goose bumps rose on my skin.” Miss Cuttwright was really pissing me off. “Well.. initially it hurt like hell. linen and lace dress. That time I was sure she drew blood. The intensity of his eyes reminded me of the way Victor had glared at me when I waited for the light to change on the main street. impeccably dressed as the sons of the aristocracy usually were these days. staring at each other. motionless.. packing up her tools and supplies into her carpetbag. like a forewarning of what may be looming behind the door. The knocker on the door appeared larger since the last time I had stood on their front porch.. a gentleman’s suit – all black including the button down shirt. before she noticed me escaping. cheerfully not wanting to show any indication of how nervous I was. led me to believe that he was one of Victor’s disciples.

“Cordelia. Winston looked only a couple years older than Gerald. and saw nothing but the oaken door. at least once a week. I didn't want to be distracted. he died tragically of an overdose. They both towered a few inches over six feet. I eyed Winston who was stifling a wicked chuckle. He couldn’t see Winston. We can move . “How rude of me. thankfully. There was a mischievous look to him as if he should be watched carefully. I spotted a photo of him where he appeared to be close to the age he was now. with only the comfort of my fancy hand fan and no air conditioning. Gerald finally broke the stare. or you’d run the risk of ending up with a strategically placed rattlesnake or frog in your pocket. “Although it is a rather warm day. You do recall how grandmother enjoys her trips into town. I remembered why Winston was dead. Finally. patterned. The realization hit me like a thud on the head. I stifled the urge to swear. and a variety of gilt framed paintings and photographs. sounding much softer than Winston’s. He was extremely handsome in a very boyish way.” I handed Gerald my parasol. which I guessed to be Gerald's family tree. He was freaking me out at this point. Gerald looked less angelic than I had expected. Then it hit me. The arctic blast was the same now. Gerald sat down on the sofa. I remembered how the room’s temperature had plummeted while I read through my journals. I sat down on one of the sofas while Gerald poured freshly brewed tea.Even though I had only seen Gerald once from across the length of two huge yards. It hasn’t always been this way. It was a tender feeling. who lost it and threw his head back and laughed out load. It made perfect sense. It was the back of Winston’s pale blond head that I had glimpsed heading out of my sitting room and out onto my balcony. The remarkable thing was that I could. I also spotted a photo of Winston. I couldn’t help but stare at him. and it was dear to my heart. I stopped at a table which was displayed with numerous gilt framed photographs. my first night at the Capius’ mansion. Gerald followed my eyes to where his brother was standing. and we locked eyes for a short. yet bizarrely familiar moment. As he spoke.” “Really? It is rather chilly in this room right now. Cordelia. and then looked back at me oddly. His hair was a paler shade of corn silk. obviously amused by his brother’s lack of understanding of the tricks of the dead. It was a lovely room. In the photo he looked to be in his early teens. gentler brown eyes.” “Oh… ” I didn't know what to say as Gerald wondered how I was standing in his doorway with the door wide open. and after a couple of years of abusing the serum. and ferns. Luckily. He wasn’t smiling.” I lied. Winston watched me closely with a smirk surfacing across his face. “Please. The second boy was definitely younger with brighter. He had been a laudanum junkie.” Gerald ushered me into the spacious room. realizing that this was poor behavior for a host. and found the door open. I refused to look at him. blowing into his teacup.” I added looking over at Winston. Gerald couldn't feel the arctic chill of his deceased brother's presence. “Strange. handsome but rougher around the edges. eyeing me closely with his head cocked to one side. please come in. “Are you cold?” Gerald asked. and without depth. just a few inches from where I was sitting. another young man suddenly appeared beside him in the door way. “I knocked a couple of times. velvet sofa. Ah. Gerald gave no indication that he knew that his brother was standing right next to him. would have been insufferable. while he stood appraising me for a long moment. shall we go into the parlor? There is tea waiting. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to intrude. but it was the perfect choice with the frigid air that seemed to only exist in this house. all while Gerald observed me on the sly. full of pretty much the same Victorian style furnishing. I could hear Winston's feet shuffling behind us. a genuine memory. He was Gerald and he was standing in the doorway beside his older brother. to watch the less fortunate mill around. Even though Gerald was a couple inches taller than Winston.” Gerald’s voice was crisp yet boyish. But unlike his younger brother's honest eyes. “I’m the only one here and I didn't hear anyone knock at the door. Gerald and I stood about a foot apart and I could actually remember the smoothness of his cheek – the warmth of it. I eagerly sipped the tasteless tea hoping that it would assist in calming my nerves. raising an eyebrow in a sharp arc. but he looked pleasant enough. “You'll notice that not very much has changed. Rutherford has driven my grandmother into town. May I take your parasol?” Gerald said. When no one answered. I was as if the Bergnum’s and the Capius’ shared the same interior decorator – one with a flair for velvet. “Gerald? Dear girl. he seemed too distracted by my presence to care much about doors being left open.” Gerald mused. therefore I’m home alone. his were bleak with no spark. The tea scorched the tip of my tongue. Winston stood tall and lean in a gray suit in front of the large bay windows as if he was spying on the house directly across the street – my house. and tried to disguise my pain with a dab of my handkerchief to the corners of my mouth. thank you. the pain subsided. The picture was of course in black and white but you could still see the warm color in his cheeks and the softness of his eyes.” Gerald said. Normally the idea of sipping steaming hot tea in this weather. I'm fine. I tried the doorknob. motioning for me to take a seat on the large crimson. The morbidity of this revelation nearly sent me sprinting from the Bergnum’s property. It had been him. as I rubbed my upper arms with my hands. Winston – his dead older brother. doilies. the brothers resembled each other so much that they could possibly pass for twins. and his eyes seemed distracted. yes.” A nervous chortle escaped his lips. “Yes. I nodded a ‘yes’ but didn’t remember Gerald’s grandmother at all. but the chill seems to come and go in this drafty house. has it been that long? Do you not recognize me?” He said leaning his head to one side. as my voice quivered a bit from the icy air that Gerald didn’t seem to notice. It must have been the prelaudanum and prefloozy chasing years. and I couldn’t let Gerald think that something was wrong. “No. awkward.

Her inkling was dead on. I had snuck out of the house again. of every day since you have been away. stopped pining for you. but. and sat it back on its saucer. slowly rising from the sofa. He stared at the spot where Winston stood. and wanted me to rectify his pain. I got up. I wanted to use my inaccessible powers to disappear right now.” Gerald should listen to his grandmother more. I would have expected it to be worth your while being that you disappeared that night without as much as a goodbye. I mean yes. and the chill doesn’t bother me that much. but his eyes were still fixed on my house. I couldn't think of anything to say. and carefully lowered my tea cup to the table. my father or perhaps. you’ll have to tell him the truth.” What the heck was that all about? Why was I rambling? “I see. It was obvious that Gerald was hurting. I’m fine. “My parents love France. It would take forever to find anything out with the conversation continuing down this route. but how could I? He’s wasn’t an Ischero. “Since your house has been put up for sale. looking uneasy. How were things here while I was away?” I asked.into another room if you like. actually believes it’s a ghost. who wasn’t always the superstitious type. I believed that now to be a big mistake. sent into the future to live for the last two years. Sale? Why was my house up for sale? Even though my parents were dead.” Gerald chuckled. “I’m sorry. If I could only tell him the truth. and an important part of my life.” I said. so that Gerald wouldn't see my tears of . and walked passed him. My being here right now seemed to be causing him more pain. “I believe it’s her old age. It didn’t make any sense. I noticed that Gerald’s hands were trembling. What else does he know? I turned around to face him. and he wasn’t making any eye contact with me as he spoke. I had to come to terms with the simple fact that I didn’t have a single friend. “I'm sorry to hear that your stay wasn’t special. and I felt an immediate need to escape Gerald’s house. I almost thought for a second that he had heard his dead brother’s comments. and he would never understand something as bizarre as being a demigod with supernatural powers. more so than his brother’s morbid presence. His face fell when I mentioned that I would be staying with the Capius’. and chilled me to the core. I guess. Gerald thought I hadn’t kept in touch on purpose. I didn’t want to appear unaware of this new information. Then Gerald decided to change the subject. but I’m afraid the draft moves along with me sometimes.” he said. They are my family. Gerald was quiet. does this mean your parents don’t plan to return to Nickel City? Will you be staying with the Capius family permanently?” Gerald asked. thankfully. They plan to visit as much as they can. and then maybe he would understand and not hate me right now.” Gerald’s tone was somewhat icy. with a significant edge in his voice. I also couldn’t tell him anything because of the simple fact that I wasn’t certain what I’d been told was a certainty. His tan face was turning a reddish rose. It’s startling to say the least. but it wasn’t anything special. I can’t seem to escape it at times. breaking Thaddeus’ strict rules again.” Winston said. At this point I didn't know what I’d find out about myself by visiting Gerald. then again. I turned my gaze back to Gerald. soon. I took a quick glance at him. I'm with the Capius' for now. no pun intended.” Gerald said. “He actually believes that you have been living in Paris. as Winston grunted obscenely. I was alone in this world. Everything wasn’t as it seemed. how could he know?” I was shocked by Winston's interjection concerning my make believe trip to France. “I enjoyed my time there. I would think that it was something quite special that took you there and kept you there without any correspondence or so much as a word for two entire years. “Maybe I should leave. I was more so astounded by how much he knew about me. excluding mortals from knowing the real identities of the Ischero. although he has not for one single moment.” I said.” “No. I couldn’t imagine why my house had been put up for sale. taking a sip from his teacup. Gerald just stared at the sparkling marble floor. I thought. you’ll have to decide what it is that you really want. while he still held his pose by the window. if I was expected to return. I shivered from the last burst of cold air that filled the room as Winston disappeared through the wall. and possibly the fear of dying. and have returned now feeling like an amnesiac. This wasn’t going well. but I did know that he was once a good friend. I wasn’t sure of anything. If only I could explain. to no fault of his own. One day. I lost track of time.” “My grandmother. so that I could meet up with Gerald. trying to change the direction of the conversation.” Winston sneered. I’m sorry that I didn’t keep in touch. Tears began to well up in my eyes. The room’s temperature instantly rose with Winston’s absence. “One day. I pity my gullible baby brother. “Gerald doesn't know where you’ve really been. I wanted to tell Gerald where I’d really been. Evan was the competition. Father has a lot of work there. so I decided to answer his second question instead. I didn’t want to have to keep lying. It was totally understandable. and hoping he wouldn't require more details about my fake trip. and I’ve never felt so deserted. But he hadn’t. He wasn’t wasting any time with laying on the guilt trip. and I just announced that the competition and I were living under the same roof. my older brother. I like it there. Dare you tell him?” Winston challenged. How perfect it would be to disappear this very second. He looked crushed. so I said the only thing that I could think of to say under the circumstances. and headed for the foyer. I no longer believed that he would be helpful in jolting my memory. and I didn’t know how to do that. “Tell me about your stay in Paris? I had kind of hoped to hear from you… at some point or another. “My brother doesn't know that you have absolutely no recollection of him. But Gerald wasn’t going to be steered away that easily. I didn’t know Gerald. that I was brainwashed. I have my own room. and there were laws to follow.

Taking my shoulders in his hands. The last thing I saw and felt was the hot sun on my face and the shock of pain in my eyes from being exposed to the searing light of the sun. We were in a barn. and I really wanted to do the steering. Tell me that you love me. “So you've lost your memory. Cordelia? If you do then we can leave Nickel City. . and asked. It is too bad that you can't remember. and soul into mine. and I wasn't sure I wanted to be left alone in the room. As Gerald left the parlor. I’ve been privy to them all. A demigod without a memory equals a demigod without any divine powers. The frigid blast was back. and struggling to get up from the pillow of hay. I thought about the vision for a moment. What happened?” “I… I’m not sure… what happened. I was still thirsty after finishing the glass of water. The vision had knocked the wind out of me.” I didn't know where this conversation was going. but my instincts took over and I pulled away. His unwavering gaze was fixed on my house once again. make a life for ourselves.” Winston said. the lukewarm liquid tasted bland. Well actually. Being dead does have its perks. His words halted me at the draped archway. Gerald tried to make some sense of what had just happened. “I don't consider Gerald to be foolish. shame on me. peering at me peculiarly. I felt terrible for using him that way. “He doesn't know your secret. don't go. I'm truly sorry. and the next second. and an unfortunate mistake. where no one can interfere. he turned me around to face him. Your family secrets as well as the secrets you keep from them. There were so many. There was no doubt that Gerald was in love with me. I couldn’t help making a face as I sipped from it. how I felt for him and it was clear. I wasn't even sure of which secret Winston referred to. He had looked this way before. but you’re hopelessly without any clue as to how to control them. “I love you for more reasons than I can express. lying on the coarse hay.frustration and hopelessness. lying on the sofa. “Will you excuse me for a moment?” “Uh. so I sat up and reached for my tea. I ran out of the barn before he could grab a hold of me. in his parlor again. I had been heartless. But disappearing would be revealing something he couldn’t handle. He seriously creeped me out as he stared out into a world which he was no longer a part of. All of a sudden I felt a wave of heat. But I do. “Why Darling girl.” I lied. His doe like bark hued eyes were transparent to the depths of his soul. I could somehow here his heart racing.” I was speechless. “You shouldn't consider my brother to be foolish for loving someone that he doesn't realize he will never have. “One second you were heading out the door. you have managed to gain a couple back. I really had no idea what he was aiming at. yes. or you may not have killed that vampiress the other night.” Winston mused.” I said. “Do you feel alright?” “Yes. I was never in love with Gerald. His expression was doleful.. of course. “My secret?” I wasn't trying to play dumb. are you surprised? I know all there is to know about you. Now I was back in Gerald’s house. “It must be the heat. “We can't.” “How could you know… everything?” I was unable to conceal my curiosity. you fainted. He offered me a glass of water which he instructed me to drink. “Let’s see. pushing him off of me. I decided right then and there that I didn't care for him much I had no desire to be judged by some knowitall specter that had played Russian roulette with his own life. I must have passed out.. Gerald's face looked miserable. so the tepid water was actually refreshing. A horse whinnied somewhere in the back of the barn. Gerald was by my side. “Do you love me. I apologize for my rude behavior. boring his eyes. I stroked his face gently at first. knowingly. “Cordelia.” Gerald pleaded pulling me in closer. He had been my temporary escape from my complicated life as an Ischero. or was that my own? He lowered his head to kiss me. Why else would I be sprawled out on the sofa like this? I sat up and felt a tad light headed. as I tried to shield my eyes as I left the dark barn.” Gerald said. practically mashing himself into me. and then I saw a vision of myself in Gerald's arms. I noticed Winston by the window again. The fancy porcelain tea cup felt cool with no steam rising from it. and your kind. My mouth was surprisingly dry. I know that it was out of your control. and instead kissed him in a devouring way.” I answered. feeling fairly dazed. I felt Winston’s penetrating gaze on me.” I answered nervously. I didn't answer. He nodded. I was harsh.” He said with a knowing glare followed by a wicked chuckle.” I answered. still staring out the window.” Gerald pleaded. and then stopped abruptly. I’m sure that your leaving to go to France wasn’t up to you. To my chagrin.

I was out the door as Gerald stared after me in the doorway. I dreamed of dying so many times while I was alive. bringing with him more of the frosty air. although the sun was still shining above me from the right. Run. Not once had I thought I would die. Winston was right.” I got up. The perplexed look on his sunkissed face.” I was stunned speechless. No. The Apolluon had begun to form a semicircle around me with only a thin opening to the circle left where my shadow was cast. “Am I making you uncomfortable? Honestly. and into the hallway. The warm breeze picked up around the hem of my dress and I noticed my shadow was cast to the left of me in an elongated dark twin of myself. always dreaming the same thing although I never anticipated dying at the tender age of twenty. until I looked down at the dusty dirt road. and was at the Capius’ entrance gates in a matter of a heartbeat just as I felt searing hot claws grab my arms.” I shifted on the sofa. and in Winston’s case. It was as if they couldn’t touch my shadow. for now. not darker just over cast. They became a charcoal gray fog that turned into the curly spirals of smoke dissipating into the clear afternoon air. I felt bonded to where I stood as the shadows stood upright. I thought.” I admitted. cautiously.” Winston stared at me. “I may be of some assistance although I do wonder how you will… repay me. slowly creeping upward off of the ground as if they were trying to stand up. and didn't bother putting on my hat. You should feel at ease with me fore I am your only friend and… the answer to your prayers. A high pitched shriek reverberated throughout the sinister looking silhouettes. I heard his front door shut. close enough to kiss me – standing only an inch or two away from me. and I couldn’t think let alone formulate answers. tall and dominating. It was strange that I never really mentioned Winston in my diaries. . I would spend a lot of time with you. Gerald slammed it shut when he walked back into the room. and turned around and noticed nothing at first. “I need your help. and tried not to bump into the huge mahogany side bar. are you alright? What are you doing? Who were you speaking to?” I was startled by Gerald's voice. run as fast as you can. They were gone. I guess the most important question was. I stopped walking. The roguish look on his face was now one of satisfaction as he vanished into thin air. “Wait!” I jumped up from the sofa reaching out with my hand as if I could grab Winston’s phantom arm before he disappeared completely. “Have you lost your mind? Why did you leave this house? Why were you at the Bergnum’s estate? You are hell bent on risking everyone’s safety especially your own!” Bethany hissed. and his barrage of questions was overwhelming.” Winston moved really close to me. Yes. “Whenever I wanted to get away from this house I would spend time across the street. “I'm over here. it’s not my intention.” BINGO! Some things never change.“I died a couple months before you disappeared. and selfishness. At first you were annoyed by me but slowly you warmed up to my… company. who may actually shed some light. The bombardment of questions and accusations made my head spin. can I trust him? Someone with Winston’s track record of recklessness. and I'd better be going now. I’m fine. I couldn’t get my thoughts together to speak. I was ambushed by Bethany. “What?” I backed up as much as I could. I grabbed my parasol.” Winston purred as sweet as a kitten with nails as sharp as a tigers. and quickly marched past a startled Gerald. his deceased brother who according to him had befriended me as a ghost before I was sent away. I would see myself going off into some kind of clouded heaven with beautiful disrobed angels dancing around me. The second the Apolluon touched me they recoiled instantly and began vibrating as if I had shocked them with a Taser gun. and turned away from his gaze in shock. “I don't remember anything. I became aware of the Apolluon shadows a few yards behind me. He had been silent when he reentered the parlor. I would watch you sometimes just to see what it was that my innocent little brother loved so much about you. Here I was sitting in the Bergnum’s estate hoping to make some kind of connection with Gerald that would jump start my memory when it’s Winston. he was the same old opportunist in death as he had been known to be for all of his short life. “Cordelia. may be looking for some sort of payment. deceit. I never looked back. wanting nothing more but to please me… in every way a man should be. He may just be my only friend. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean. I did. and you appear to be talking to the window or the …wall. Once out of the Bergnum’s entrance gates. Upon noticing my own shadow. I was at least several yards from The Capius estate. at your former home. and I noticed it was getting darker out with every step. He was the window into my life. Gerald was still standing in front of the archway. I didn't want Winston to leave. Are you alright?” “Yes. He knew who and what I really was. It is a mean trick really and an utter bore. and he was not an Ischero which lent a whole different aspect to my existence. TwentyTwo Sisters and Riddles The minute I stepped into the house. and be forced to hang around this dreary house indefinitely. your parents' home.

“It’s too dangerous to be out of this house right now, especially alone. You can’t defend yourself.” I guess telling her how I was nearly smothered by the Apolluon would not be a good idea right now. Besides that horror, I still didn’t know who that man was, staring at me, dressed in all black, and standing in the desolate garden of my house. I was beginning to believe that he may be a vampire, but how is it that he was out and about in the daylight? “Nothing happened.” I lied. Luckily it didn’t seem like Bethany was aware of the Apolluon’s ambush and my escape. “Why were you at the Bergnum's estate?” Bethany demanded. Her voice sounded harsh and decreased in volume. Maybe she didn’t want anyone to hear her scolding me like a child. “I... I... uh... ” I stammered. I couldn't get my thoughts together. I was still rattled by the Apolluon shadows as Bethany edged my every step. I was cornered, and basically couldn't move. “Did my father not make himself clear, when he said that you are not to leave this house alone? How could you disregard our attempts at keeping you safe? You are putting yourself at risk. You are putting us all at risk. Could you really be this selfish?” Bethany stomped the floor around me; her arms waving about emphasizing certain words. Her pretty face was twisted in a scowl. Actually Bethany didn’t look pretty at all right now. “I'm sorry. I just needed some air. I went for a walk, and ran into Gerald, who then invited me in for tea. I thought it would be rude to say no.” I explained, but mostly lied. “You're lying,” Bethany accused, as her eyes narrowed into slits. I wanted to slap her. At this point I didn't care if she believed me or not. I thought about all the questions Bethany asked. The nerve of her. She was the liar. She lied about everything from the first time I met her. She said it was all to protect me, yet I ended up dead? And she's been lying ever since. She lied to me about her parents and about knowing Gerald. I didn't trust her. What was she hiding? Besides, I had just escaped the Apolluon by the skin of my teeth. I was in no mood for this interrogation. “What gives you the right to question me?” I challenged. Bethany's face turned beet red and revealed the shock to my question as well as anger. “I beg your pardon?” She said in a huff. “Oh cut the lady like crap. I’ve heard you swear dozens of times, and I'm exhausted with your perfect diction and etiquette.” “Answer me Cordelia, why were you there?” “Wouldn’t you like to know?” I asked with a hint of a smile. It was my turn to keep secrets. Let’s see how she likes that. “So I take it that you want to start keeping secrets again.” “Ha! Me? Keeping secrets? Are you kidding me Beth? I know nothing. You know all the answers and all the secrets.” I was trying to stay calm, but Bethany was really testing my patience. “Your secrets will put you in a difficult position,” Bethany barked. “I hope that you didn’t reveal anything to Gerald. It will only jeopardize his safety.” “Safety from whom or what?” I asked. I knew exactly what she meant. If Gerald ever found out about the family’s secret, he would be a threat to the Ischeros, and he would only be unsafe from us. But did this mean that he would be killed? I suppose that was why Bethany said that I would be put in a difficult position. The position of being forced to choose sides. “First of all, Gerald is not a secret. He is my friend, so I still don’t get why my meeting with him is such a big deal. Second He isn’t dangerous and he isn’t a threat to the family. I wouldn’t dare reveal our little secret and get him killed.” Why is she doing this? Why is she seeing him again? Why can’t she just follow the rules? He’s a mortal for the Gods sake, and isn’t worth the trouble that would ensue. Evan would be so hurt if he knew that she was doing this behind his back. I was reading Bethany’s thoughts again. The girl was torturing herself without cause. “Our little secret? You make it sound like something dirty when it is completely the opposite. We are the purist and the most superior of all beings. You should be honored to be the daughter of the almighty Zeus.” Bethany proclaimed fiercely. I said nothing as Bethany’s words hung in the air. It was the contrary actually. I didn’t feel honored at all. I felt cursed. “I’m only concerned with your safety, and I hope that you are telling me the truth,” Bethany said, although I wasn't convinced. “Wait a minute. I thought you said you ran into Gerald, and he then invited you in for tea. Did you plan this meeting?” Bethany asked icily. We locked eyes for a moment. Even though I said nothing, Bethany knew the truth. Bethany turned away, and slowly sauntered into the parlor. She waited for me to enter the room before she closed the double doors which closed us off from the rest of the enormous house. I watched her suspiciously. She appeared to be serene, and not at all irate as she had proved to be just a couple minutes ago, when she expected to be in control of our exchange.

Bethany's lovely face was poised now. She stood in front of the unlit fireplace. It was much too warm to have a fire going. “I didn't feel it was necessary to tell you about an old childhood friendship which would only cause uncertainty in a time when the priority is to help you regain your strengths.” Bethany elucidated. I watched Bethany's elusive eyes dart around the room; darting to numerous paintings that hung on the patterned wallpaper. She only made eye contact with me for one split second before her eyes flitted away like the panicked wings of a butterfly. Bethany began pacing from one point of the parlor to another like some scheming caged animal. My best friend of two long years was still keeping something. “Is that it... is that all?” I asked. “No, I wish it was.” Of course that’s not all. You couldn’t comprehend it all. And I’m stuck baby sitting you. We all are. Meanwhile you’re out gallivanting with a mortal. Do you wish to hurt my brother? Why must you hurt him so? Bethany’s thoughts came in waves, and I perceived them clearly. She looked me dead in the eyes, attempting to hide her frazzled nerves. She thought that I was out with Gerald so that I could rekindle whatever it was that we once had. One minor transgression, and I’m held guilty for an eternity. I knew Bethany well. She was definitely rattled. She needed to be in control more than she needed to be correct. “Well, this is your chance to be straight with me Bethany.” I said patiently. Bethany was temporarily hushed. With her head tipped downward she proceeded to appear distraught. I walked up to the fireplace where Bethany stood. I grabbed her arm and turned her to face me. I looked her in the eyes as I spoke to her. “I’m waiting.” “You fell in love.” Bethany said, freeing herself of my pathetic grip. “You broke the laws of the Ischeros when you stepped out of our circle, and sought a relationship with a mortal, hence, ultimately betraying my brother. You kept the secret from me, from everyone.” “I don’t remember what I felt then, Beth, but I’m sure that I didn’t look for a relationship with Gerald. It just couldn’t be helped. It wasn’t intentional. ” “How could you know this now?” Bethany looked at me incredulously. “I don’t know how I know,” I lied. “I just know that’s all.” “Well you knew then. You knew, and understood the consequences and you knew that the union between you and Evan was imperative to our future. It still is.” “Don’t forget the part when you threatened to tell Evan.” Silence. Ah, the missing chapter from the book of Bethany. “How do you know that? Did Gerald tell you that, or are you remembering it?” “No he didn’t. I guess my memory is coming back after all.” I would never tell Bethany about my diaries. I suppose best friends did keep secrets from each other, sometimes. “I was protecting my brother. But I guess you’ve made your choice.” Bethany’s eyes narrowed and a scowl emerged on her heart shaped face. Her expression was lethal. “I’m not saying that I’m making any choices because as far as I’m concerned I don’t feel anything for either Gerald or Evan right now, but it would ultimately be my choice.” I proclaimed. I wished that I could scream it from the peaks of the Sierra Mountains. “Oh grow up, Cordelia, and realize one thing; your loyalties are to this family. You are the Empress of the Ischeros, the divine daughter of Zeus, and that won’t change. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?” “Does that mean that I don’t have any right to choose who I fall in love with?” “We don’t have to choose. We are drawn to our matches, and are destined to be with our matches. It’s a feeling, a connection so strong that no other feeling or attraction could break it. The connection is permanent, and what the gods have set into motion. Besides, you already made your choice, the correct one. My brother did nothing but love you in return.” I said nothing, and the room was hushed again. I felt like I was a hostage, stowed away in this huge mansion, with my heart already claimed. I knew what Bethany was saying was true, because I had read my own words of love and devotion for Evan, yet my brain, without the actual precious memories of feeling and knowing the love that pulsed between Evan and I, couldn’t comprehend the idea of a forced union whether the both of us had really accepted it or not. Bethany broke the silence, and I was forced to focus on her again. “If you continue frequenting with the wrong kind, you will get us all killed. We are all here to protect you. Being out of this house on your own is extremely perilous. You are also putting Gerald in danger. Victor will go after anyone and will use anyone to get to you. ” Bethany reconfirmed. I hadn’t actually thought about that possibility. “Delia, please trust me. I don’t want to sound like your guardian, or a parent, but this is for your own good and for the survival of our people. Your relationship with Gerald, whatever it was, is over, and has been since before you left. So leave it at that. It was a mistake to begin with. You are in love with Evan, and were planning to marry him, not Gerald Bergnum. Evan is your fiancé.” Bethany

declared. Trust her? Bethany was out of her freakin’ mind. “I've known you for two years, and honestly, Bethany, I don't know who you are anymore. I'm starting to believe that I never really knew you. I don't know that I can trust you, Beth. You should have just told me the truth from the very beginning when I was brought back here. I don’t know why you felt like you needed to treat me like some infant. I could’ve handled it.” “I was trying to make things easier, and make things right. Unlike you, who was out having your cake, and having a taste as well. You were playing a dangerous and selfish game that would only end badly. And you are doing it again now. We can only be with one of our own. You are behaving like a slut Cordelia.” How could she call me a slut? Gerald and I never… “Well I guess it takes one to know one.” I hissed, “Pardon me?” Bethany asked, innocently. The act was a waste. I knew what she had done, and I wasn’t about to spare her feelings. “Gerald and I have never done anything but kiss. But you… you and Victor. You…and Victor?” I stammered. The blood flooded Bethany’s face as the heat reached her eyes – pure horror. She knew exactly what I was getting at. Silence engulfed the parlor. Bethany fell into the chaise lounge, hung her head over the back of the sofa, allowing her face to fall over the side, and then cried. She sobbed like a lost child. I felt awful. I had only wanted to hurt Bethany because she had hurt me. I sat down beside her, and said nothing as I patted her shoulder, trying desperately to comfort her after taking her to the point of tears. The room was quiet except for Bethany’s heavy sobs. I honestly didn’t remember ever witnessing Bethany cry like this. This was a pivotal moment. I just wished that I wasn’t the culprit. “Are you alright? I didn’t mean to…” My insides ached for her. “But you did.” Bethany looked up at me with glassy sky blue eyes and a tear stained face. “How did you know? It happened while you were in the future.” In the future? “Yesterday, you were sitting exactly where you are sitting now, and you were thinking about it, and I read your thoughts.” Bethany’s face went ash gray to pale white. “I didn’t mean to. I was suddenly able to. I heard what you were thinking. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to intrude on your thoughts.” I tried to explain, but I was a jumble of nerves juggling words. “When we came back?” “Yeah, from buying the fabric for our gowns. You were reflecting on what Sacha had said to you about you knowing Victor very well.” Bethany nodded and gulped all at once. It was true, and she was humiliated. “I love Nikolas. I would never knowingly hurt him.” “Knowingly?” “I didn’t know I was in bed with Victor until it was over.” “Huh?” “That’s when he exposed his true self to me. I know what you’re thinking.” I was thinking that I had no idea what she was talking about. How could she not know who she is with? “I don’t understand. How could you not know that it was Victor?” Bethany sighed, sat up, and began to explain. “There was a battle ensuing here in the now while you, Nikolas, and I were in the future the night before you were hit by the jeep. Nikolas was needed and was called back by Evan to battle Victor’s disciples who had targeted the children of four of the families. They were being held hostage for a trade for you.” Bethany paused and pulled out a handkerchief to blow her nose. She even did that with a dainty flair. “I stayed in the future to guard you. Nikolas was gone for just a few hours, or so I thought. I was in my bed when Nikolas came to me. I had been worried about him and couldn’t sleep. I had been overjoyed with his safe return, and well we made love that night… for the… first… time, but –” Bethany had to pause again. Her lower lip trembled as she tried to speak. “But, it wasn’t… Nikolas.” Bethany broke down all over again. I was heartbroken for her although I was still a bit confused as to how Victor was Nikolas or how Nikolas was Victor. All I got so far was that her first time was with Victor, the boy she loathed indefinitely, and not with her soul mate. I was crying too. Something that sacred, should never be exploited. “It was Victor, and he had staged the whole kidnapping of the children perfectly. He knew that Evan would seek his strongest disciples, and he knew he took a chance in believing that only one of us would be called on and the other would have to stay behind to protect you. Somehow he had known that it would be Nikolas. Somehow he found out which point in time Nikolas and I were hiding you. He knew once he found us, he would find you, and then kill you.” The information was incredible. “So that’s how Victor found me.” “Yes. While we were… in bed, he was Nikolas and he asked where you were. I thought nothing of it. I told him. I told Victor …where you were. You were killed the following afternoon.” Bethany broke into sobs again. I hugged her, and her tears flowed onto my shoulder. She was a mess of quivers, and now I understood why she was always full of angst. The poor

“I’m so sorry Cordelia. After a few moments. He used Nikolas’ body. “Do you remember me?” She asked in a voice that sounded almost symphonic. can I ask you something?” “Of course. Just then. if I were in your satin shoes. She was real.” “Me too. We are all baffled by his growth in power. “Sure. She was now standing right in front of me. “Look about this afternoon. and it was heart breaking. sis.” I smiled broadly. Nikolas still has the scar. Bethany looked at me. but didn’t know how to. and he had answered it. The other families are aware of this gift because he has used it before. I would have to arrange for another meeting with Gerald. I should have known.” I said. sisters as before. and we were all a happy family. and went up to my bedroom. I’ll see you at dinner. “Ever since that night I’ve asked Nikolas to answer a riddle that only he and I know the answer to. and even kissed like him. I hoped that our talk would make things less stressed between us.” Bethany said. yet refreshing. It’s understandable Delia. I think. stretched my legs out on my chaise. and headed to her bedroom. with a glimpse of a smile.” “No it’s alright. I could either sit idle and wait for my memory which may never come back. “But before you go. I would really be pressing my luck with leaving the house again. The empire is in peril because of me. Within a few minutes. I wanted to cheer her up. I needed to speak with him. and sobbed even harder. We change the riddle every time he leaves me. spoke like him. “I’m so pleased that we are friends again.” I said. I didn’t need a nap. She cried for a minute.” We were both quiet for a while.” She sauntered toward me. and Victor has the gift of the Chameleon.” “When did he wound Nikolas?” “When we were children. When I opened them again I noticed some movement in my peripheral. I knew that I had seen her before. and whatever else there was. but he has to have wounded them once.” She was up and headed for the foyer.” “And no one ever will. and no one knows it. You’re curious. “Does Victor have to Glamour the person?” “No. “How is Victor able to change into another person?” “It is one of the gifts which he has acquired. He looked exactly like him. My mind was made up. beautiful woman robed in what appeared to be white silk.thing was wracked with guilt. I exhaled and plopped down on the chaise lounge. about a foot or so away from my chair.” Bethany assured. the family. I would have never thought that this was the reason for the riddle. . It’s genius.” I said. I guess it made sense. and looked up at me. a tall. and has done this without killing another Ischeros after your parents. She looked like a glowing angel.” Bethany said gazing up at the patterned ceiling as if she was reminiscing about the good old days. well what I expected an angel would look like. not his mind. Bethany grabbed my hand and squeezed it. and I knew that I shouldn’t have asked. I’m just curious.” I vowed. “Anyone with a higher grade of power. He doesn’t know the real reason why we do it.” “How do you know that’s it’s really Nikolas when you see him now?” I watched Bethany’s lower lip quiver. He only loses it when the person he is impersonating looks him in the eye. Who would have ever expected Victor to be a Chameleon. I want you know why I went to see Gerald. Bethany had asked Nikolas a question before embracing him. “Don’t let me keep you. “Nikolas and Victor were seven years old and training. I know it sounds silly but…” I remembered the first time I saw them together after arriving in the past. Winston came to mind. and closed my eyes and tried to relaxed. Bethany nodded. or expect him to use the gift so cleverly?” “Is there anyone that he can’t impersonate?” “Oh yes. and wondered when and where. and was just above a whisper. It was so sad. Victor has developed a power that is above what was expected of him. The glow surrounding her began to dissipate as she moved closer to me. Victor accidently wounded Nikolas in a mock sword fight. Had I fallen asleep? I bat my eyelashes a few times just to be sure that I hadn’t fallen asleep to another strange dream. In all honesty. Some of us are gifted with a special device. but only his body. It was further confirmed when she spoke. I witnessed an entirely different side of Bethany today. really.” “Stop. With a short nod. blew in with the temperate breeze. but I… never want to doubt that it’s Nikolas again. I would be too. I was a fool. Bethany was gone. “No it’s not silly at all. just some time alone to think. I leaned back. then something struck me. “I’m so sorry Beth. He is extremely powerful. I needed a friend. He has surpassed the magnitude of power that he should have. a small nick right below his chest. I decided to do the same. or have Winston fill me in on everything he knew about me. “I’m exhausted. that leaves Evan and you. She appeared closer this time. By the French doors to my veranda. I’m going to go up for a nap. but I had no other options. only a few inches away. He shifted into Nikolas.

our earthen empire. Her words still hung in the air and played in my head over and over again like a scratched cd. alone on his veranda. No other being has the ability to assist you. You hold the strength were you lack the aspiration… Was this a riddle? Did Athena mean that I supposedly have the strength. Zeus wishes you to embark upon this alone. I couldn’t shake her words. All the while. What should I do? How do I find the strength?” I asked Athena. the minute town that resembled a scene of an old western film that I would never have selected to watch. I fought to expunge tortured thoughts of suicide that steadily invaded my mind. and descendants of the Olympians. No gods. but it still wasn’t high enough. I didn’t know when I got up. I was forced to turn away. His hair fanned away from his face with the gentle and early evening breeze. Gerald was beautiful inside out. even with the distance of the two gardens between us. “Please tell me. I didn’t believe that I could. and it is time that you return to us. At some point I knew that I would have to make things right with him. but I was now out on my balcony. No statues. and for the umpteenth time. He waved and I waved back. his kindness and vulnerability was evident. I was thankful that I was sitting down. You have the strength were you lack the aspiration. Zeus wants me to do it alone. Another visit to the Bergnum estate was crucial in gaining the knowledge I believed would ultimately get my memory back and essentially save my soul. I had used him. did Athena mean survival or power? Probably both. The drop from up here could do permanent damage. She was gone. Besides the fact that the boy was gorgeous. taking in the familiar view of the Sierras. and didn’t quite get why I had to. but I guess I was expected to comply. but not before I allowed the golden haired boy into my view. The blistering sun bore down on me as I leaned against the wrought iron railing which posed to be the only obstacle to landing head first onto the stone path below. if you do not make the realization. It is within yourself that you will find the answers. That high power is you. young empress. whenever I stood in this spot. . Winston was the real enigma. a perpetual abundance of Demeter’s gift. The thought alone was debilitating.” She stood regal. I was dying to find out what he knew and he seemed just as eager to tell it. In a matter of days your soul will be snatched away from this earth.” Those words left me feeling profoundly mystified. Everyone in your kingdom is aware of this certainty. Gerald may have brought about the much needed illusion of normalcy. Hades’ disciples search for the strongest in power. I wasn’t so sure that the Apolluon couldn’t hurt me after hearing Athena’s warning. By everything. Then I walked back into my room. Gerald was where I knew he would be. yet nothing I try seems to help. and sent to the Underworld. “I’m trying to remember. He knows that his disciples are close to finding this high power. Hades is driving his disciples hard. minus the helmet and shield.” “The answers are within. and tell him how I feel once I knew what I was feeling. but I didn’t want it? Perhaps she’s right. moving about gracefully through the garden. and use him again. Everything stems from you through your father. just two stories up from the garden. puzzled to my core. “You are the leader of the Ischeros. The empire stands to perish without your strengths. I expected to see all of the twelve below again. I sucked in a deep breath as if it were my last. He stood across from me. anxiously. hoping to see me. knowing that a relationship with him could never go anywhere. I could totally see how I could fall for a guy like that. I don’t remember anything. I had no other way of making contact with Winston. I was terrified. You must free yourself from what you know. The probability of running into the Apolluon again was a certainty. and being sent to the Underworld to dwell for an eternity. I automatically felt guilty for the way I had treated him before I was thrust into the future. “We are sisters. That was simple and straight forward although her next statement was a little tricky. No other being possesses the ability to assist you. as are the souls of the members of the empire. I wondered why I’d been chosen to save an entire kingdom of powerful descendants of gods. Zeus wishes you to embark upon this alone. and has dispatched another battalion. Everything stems from you through your father. But only that. you and I. You are the Goddess Athena. And with that the Goddess Athena turned and walked out onto the veranda. and below that. It is imperative that you accept all that you are destined to be for your soul is in grave danger. but I no longer knew what normal was.” Athena was looking down at me with intent in her luminous eyes. It is within yourself that you will find the answers… You have the strength were you lack the aspiration… Free yourself from what you know. With my fists balled up.“Yes. and vanished into the cloudless sky. But right now I had to plan a visit.” A biting chill raised the hairs on the back of my neck as I contemplated my soul being snatched. But I’m scared to death of leaving this house. but it was as it was before when I’ve looked down into this mystical garden.

Quickly . and beside me was an impatient parent who kept suggesting that the training wheels be taken off. during autumn. Evan. I wondered. If I were her. Here I go again. Hades had plans for the strongest Ischeros once the Apolluon figured out whom that was. yet the other part of me. I’m tired of crying about things that I couldn't change. This night was antithetic because I was bursting with unexplainable energy. Evan came to mind. if my memory would return before my soul could be snatched. I was running out of time. if anything had awakened me. and only bits and pieces have returned. and my feet taut like a ballerinas as I got up from the bench. or to each other. Had I been praying to the wrong God? Now that I’ve accepted the idea of Zeus as my father. Like a little boy forced to eat veggies. Thaddeus and Alexandria excused themselves as did Evan and Nikolas. but every time I thought to bring it up. but strangely full of energy. Because I didn’t remember being in a relationship with him. believing that everything had something to do with me. fought for control. Bethany decided to have dinner in her sitting room. but that would risk waking the entire household. She complained of a headache. I knew better. or if I woke up in the past I would wake knowing everything about myself. my fiancé. It's not unusual for me to wake in the middle of the night but whenever I did. I had contemplated mentioning my brief encounter with Athena to Evan last night. and my cheeks were damp. Could I fall in love with someone I genuinely felt I didn’t know? Was that even possible? I knew that I felt something. That’s if I got to live. more so the normalcy that comes with powerless. Has it only been three days? It was obvious that Evan’s mind was preoccupied as he played with the food on his plate. I jumped out of bed and began to pace the wooden floor. They won't remember my existence. It made the lack of air conditioners in this point in time almost unlivable. I was halted immediately by what I saw in the aperture. This night was as antithetic as the last. my powerful werewolf slayer. The wispy fingers of the moon’s haze delicately clawed through the lace curtain panels. and it was dangerously surfacing. I wasn't ready to remove my training wheels. I couldn’t help but wonder what that was about. I peered at the marble and gold clock. A part of me wanted to express what I was feeling for him. I didn't hear anything. with the sensation of icicles slipping down my back. and was surprised to read that it was only three in the morning. that wanted to know more. I held my head in my hands. my soul mate. At this time I wasn't able to offer him any other choice. so I never got the chance to divulge what Athena had proclaimed. The children ate quickly and were sent up to their rooms as usual. I felt inexperienced since I had never really had a real boyfriend. I threw on my silk robe. He had sat wounded. so I decided to get a drink of water. I was doomed. He wouldn’t allow his daughter to die and be sent to the Land of the Shadows. Thaddeus would begin talking about the mines. not a sound. and his hands busily shifting his food around. emotions in check. I held my face in my hands and cried. Damn it. He had kept his eyes on his plate. I stretched upward with my arms extended above my head. Thaddeus and Alexandria barely spoke to me. Evan should be privy to the timetable of my capture and death. I was thirsty. I never got the chance. but pleasant. Evan. TwentyThree The Femme Fatale I fell asleep quickly. I prayed that when I woke I would have all my hopes. he continued to play hockey with his Brussels sprouts. After dinner. The man seemed a little obsessed with the lucrative minerals. I stopped pacing and sat on the bench at the foot of my bed. to wake up from my slumber with the room still dark.Dinner was quiet tonight. It can’t be any worse than the rollercoaster of emotions I’m riding. no longer feeling sleepy at all. The dead silence was only broken by my own uneven breathing. It was a different side of Thaddeus that even Evan appeared to be tuning out. Stop it. It was pointless to worry about how they felt at the moment. the days were still very warm. I’d be groggy and desperate to fall back to sleep. it’s brought on thoughts of my fake parents and the ill feeling that wouldn’t subside. During dinner last night. my resurrector. and how much silver they were extracting each day. I wonder what. Evan would protect me. My memory should have been restored an hour after I got here. Evan. I still missed my fake parents terribly. Making amends was a concern but not a chief one. Athena’s words rang like chimes in my head. I knew if I tried to make amends now. Surely a father wouldn’t hesitate to defend his daughter. and cracked one of them open. nothing substantial. Evan would have to wait if his feelings were sincere. fears. I wanted to talk to Evan about my encounter with Athena. I chewed my food quickly as I tuned in and out of the conversation regarding all the silver that was being hauled to Bedwyn City through Gold Hill on the Bergnum railroad. anyone at the table. padded across the large room to the double doors. I couldn’t help wondering if their lack of banter had to do with their evident disappointment of me returning as a disobedient amnesiac. but thanks to the long winded and silver boasting Thaddeus Capius. I expected that he would know what to do. and have been on for the past three days. a lot more. bringing in inadequate light. I’ve prayed every night that I would wake up the next morning either back in the future with this nightmare long forgotten. The tears rolled. Existing in a fog for months or years like some terminal amnesiac is not what I considered to be living. the stronger part of me. I guess I would want as little contact with everyone for one night. and slipped my feet into my uncomfortably toasty slippers. Surely he had a plan. every ligament exhausted. I felt like a nervous kid learning to ride a bike with training wheels. To no fault of my own. I guess it can't be easy to have the love of your life reject you. Instead I’ve awakened every morning with neither prayer answered. Evan. and would probably not acknowledge me if they saw me now. nondeities as parents. The house was tranquil. I watched the lace curtains on my windows as they lifted gently in the faint breeze that was barely a breeze at all. not saying a word. Usually. it was obvious how I had hurt Evan. and pressed my elbows into my thighs. I would have wailed. I scolded myself. According to Athena. I was beginning to feel like a selfcentered person. Lying still for a moment. and the evenings only slightly cooler. Perhaps Zeus will jump in and save me from his evil brother. and it has been three days since I time travelled. he might that as a sign to start wherever we had left off two years ago.

I heard Bethany’s and Nikolas’ voices clearly. “Please do. The light posts were all lit. were the saloons. I felt guilty doing it. but I was too far above town to see anything. Even though they were muffled. I cautiously tiptoed in the direction of Nikolas’ room.” Nikolas tried to explain defensively. so that I wouldn't be noticed. but eavesdropping was quickly becoming a passion of mine. The vision was only of you ascending from her house.” Bethany explained. I was absolutely certain I heard voices. freesia.” Nikolas’ soft chuckle cut through the air. I wasn’t so sure that Bethany’s angst was only motivated by Nikolas speaking to Sacha and the threat against the family. “No. “But. My strength is ten times her strength – which she only has after she has shifted. I stood at my door for a long moment wondering where she could be coming from at this hour.. it had nothing to do with Sacha’s attempted attack on Cordelia and yourself. and noticed the light coming from under Nikolas’ bedroom door. and saw that his lights were out. right now. “And lastly. It's not what you think Beth. so I presumed that she must be coming home from somewhere. Besides. or hear any sounds coming from C Street. “First of all. I ran into Sacha on my way into the saloon. I opened the doors to my veranda and the aroma of the roses. to discuss the death of his beloved. Driella. you're behaving like a child. and nothing else. At three in the morning? She moved at a snail's pace.” Bethany sighed. I didn’t follow you. I’m a lot stronger than I look. There was light streaming out from under Bethany's as well. or you will alert everyone in this house. “I’m thoroughly disgusted with you. when they do come. She disappeared into her room through her doors without ever opening them. With my ear against one of the double doors to his bedroom. My visions. at his saloon. You took an unnecessary risk. but it seemed to be the only way I ever found anything out.” Nikolas added. She would not have known she had killed you until she was human again.” Nikolas snapped. in a gruff whisper. The silence was abolished when I began to hear faint voices. “Your gifts don’t include mind reading therefore. and stopped when I was right outside Bethany's doors. and Sacha stumbled out of the saloon and practically fell on top of me as I was about to .” Nikolas said. “Calm down Beth. lilac. I slyly peered through. There wasn’t a chance of her transforming into a panther. “Calm down? I will not calm down.” When I heard my name mentioned I almost ran back to my room. why are you paying her visits?” “Your visions you say? Well then you should have all the answers. and saw Bethany quietly making her way to her bedroom. “That harlot has been stalking Cordelia and I. He didn’t appreciate Bethany’s accusatory questioning. I was on my way into the Bucket o’ Blood. I focused.” Nikolas demanded.” “May I remind you that she is panthoras. I looked down the opposite end of the long and wide hallway to Evan's room. “And what am I thinking Niko?” It was obvious that Bethany was irritated by Nikolas' icy tone. because hers sent chills down my spine. sounding exhausted. So tell me. Bethany may be fearing what Sacha may disclose to Nikolas about his beloved. have never betrayed me. and orange blossoms wrapped around me like a tender hug. Therefore. and cracked my bedroom doors open once more. It was an entirely different matter. and looked down at the dim town below. “Ugh!” Bethany screamed. I stuck my head out this time.” Nikolas paused to gulp something. I didn't pay her a visit.” Nikolas acknowledged sarcastically. “Why were you with that whore?” Bethany hissed. “Secondly. Everyone seemed hell bent on keeping me out of the loop. “And what entirely different matter may I ask was Sacha privy too?” “You know that I was on my way to meet with Matthias. and appeared to be gliding on a slow motion belt similar to the ones you grab your luggage off of at the airport.. “As I was saying. “She would never have had an advantage over me. The only places known to be open on the main street at this time of night.” “And…” “If you will let me finish. she could have had the advantage. I couldn’t be sure if his light had been on when I saw Bethany come in. in a controlled and low voice that I had to really strain to hear.” Another gulp. She was wearing the same dress she had worn yesterday and the matching bonnet to her dress. ” “That’s because there is nothing more. don't presume to know what I think Nikolas! I saw you leave her house!” “Did you follow me?” Nikolas demanded. “I know. and I could tell that he was getting angrier as his tone dropped about forty degrees. I finally closed both my doors when I couldn't come up with a conclusion. Once I realized that the voices weren't coming from there. I thank you for the vote of confidence. Sacha would never have had the advantage. and I shuddered just hearing Nikolas’ reference of Sacha shifting into that huge black panther. If she had shifted. I tried not to breathe so that I could be sure. and flooded my senses.minimizing the open space between the two doors. Bethany wasn’t the type that hung out at all hours of the night at a saloon. I left the veranda. I tiptoed out into the hallway.” Bethany challenged angrily. she was drunk. I just took her to her home.

I’m looking out for this family. I watched Bethany’s reaction carefully. “JEALOUS?” Bethany screamed. this way” Nikolas turned to walk away. The image of the main street was dim. I didn't move an inch away from the doors.. Neither Cordelia nor I was hurt. and I’m not.. “Indeed.” Bethany said. I went beyond eavesdropping.” Nikolas sighed heavily. This was going to be bad.” Bethany said. “Why are her reasons of devotion to Victor now your concern? She is the enemy whether she is the leader or working for him. She broke down and admitted to being under some sort of spell by Victor. and then began swearing. she was drunker than a sailor on his last night before heading out to sea. “Please. lively laughter. I saw an opportunity therefore.” Nikolas confirmed. I watched as a tall guy dressed in a suit.. I could see Nikolas pacing. “If you continue to associate yourself with Victor. no one seemed to care if a girl like Sacha wept in the street. Then she realized that it was me. “Go on. I gave her a warning. I hoped he couldn’t see my peeping eye taking in the dramatic lover's quarrel. help. “She began to fight me. Now watch. I think. I told her that this was her chance to defect. and was on the verge of screaming. “I have no reason to be jealous of Sacha.. “No.. I’ve seen enough. Nikolas looked as if he were carrying her. and took the position of a peepingtom. I could detect the fear that was slowly enveloping her. was loud ragtime music. waved her off. She went on for a moment about how we thought we were better than she was.. I could only see her expressions when she turned either left or right to follow Nikolas’ pacing. Nikolas snatched her up. to live. I’m not. as a mirage emerged. She wasn’t making very much sense. and that we’re trying to take the only boy she’s ever loved away from her. While Sacha knelt on the sidewalk with her hands covering her face as she cried. Apparently. still famous in the future due to the rumors surrounding a nocturnal outlaw who built it around this time.” Bethany demanded. Sacha began crying and explaining to Nikolas as to why she hated Bethany and me.. Nikolas stood on the wooden planked side walk alone with Sacha. I crouched down low enough to comfortably peer through the keyhole. “That’s enough Nikolas. and they disappeared into a haze of sparkling pixie like dust. you wanted to know what happened.” Nikolas paused. I was looking at the entrance to the rowdy Bucket o’ Blood saloon. I prayed that I didn’t get caught snooping. It was the same masculine looking parlor that I had seen when Nikolas revealed what had happened to Lucas. She can take care of herself. yet the thought of that happening wasn’t mortifying enough to get me up from where I knelt. I don’t see why you felt it necessary to escort her to her home. Like a flip of a switch. now sounding like she was in tears. transforming the room into a modern day cinema atmosphere. Sacha. “You have no reason to be jealous. evil. I was barely breathing as I anticipated what would be said next.. She was loud. Bethany?” Nikolas assured. and played on the wall directly across from the doors I knelt behind. but at the left of the mirage. There. Several of the town folk stood by laughing as this strange spectacle drew unwanted attention for Nikolas. revealing too much cleavage and not enough modesty. lit only by the incandescent gaslights. and facing his bedroom doors. Trickling out from the saloon. don't wish. disappearing every so often as he went too far to the left or right of my view from my peephole. She seemed beside herself with anger. As he was about to enter the tavern. as the lights in the room suddenly went out.” Sacha’s normal drawl was slurred. She feared Sacha saying too much. You are to stay away from her.” Nikolas said. nearly knocking Nikolas down. stumbled out. and had begun retreating back into the saloon. I’m showing you. Her dilemmas are not yours. I told her that she will end up dead if she continues to follow Victor's commands. and then suddenly reappeared in her parlor. with long dark hair tied in a ponytail. I. Bethany and Nikolas stood side by side. I thought. Wanting to see as well as hear. “He’s at… Riley’s… saloon. but was too inebriated to even mount her horse. Nikolas noticed that there was no one around – no one to witness a display of power. and then stopped abruptly...” Bethany prodded.” . She called him a murderer. no longer pacing. I recognized the room immediately. Bethany stood in the center of the room with her back towards the doors. raising her voice slightly. allowing me a camera man's view. now face to face with Bethany. made his way to the front doors of the saloon. Nikolas. I transported her to her house. I don't care if she is miserable. It was Nikolas.” Nikolas concluded. Since knowing her secret. and sudden growls from men either winning or losing their hand in whatever card game they were playing.. let alone an entire sentence. “Look. He put her down as she looked up at him.” By now the crowd had grown bored.enter.” The anxiety in Bethany’s voice surprised Nikolas.. Evidently.. me. and her words slurred so much that it was difficult to make out a single word. sooner than later. “I handled the situation. scantily dressed in a black lace trimmed red dress.. then you will certainly die. as she clenched her fists. “Where is your twin?” Nikolas asked as he laid Sacha down on the leather sofa. Nikolas. “Sacha was rambling. I wish you would do the same. It would be utterly embarrassing.

” Nikolas practically growled.. Please help me.“I. I don't want to spend… the rest of my life.” Sacha reminded Nikolas with minimal slurring. His demise was and still is inevitable... I've just done.... We can make a deal. naturally. a bad person. bad. tortures me if I don't do.” She said. It was his.. “There she is. a bit wobbly in her steps... She tried to reach up. “I know..” I braced myself for Sacha's next words in response to Nikolas’ lack of remorse..” Tears ran down Sacha's face all over again followed by sobs.. as is yours. had.... gave me to Victor so that he could have power. some. She landed on her stomach with her face against the arm of the sofa. unforgivable… things....” More sobs. Bethany said nothing. her hazel eyes possibly alluring although clouded with alcohol. and turned to leave again.. please. say you will. I did whatever Lucas did. “I’ll tell you where Victor hides. Surprisingly. and left him for dead... I promise… I will tell you… where Victor…hides.. and the exploited. “This discussion is over...” She pleaded grabbing at Nikolas’ ankles as he stepped back.. When I was younger. Perhaps he wasn't buying Sacha's desperate act. “I'm not. “NO! Please help me.” Nikolas rebuffed her advances instantly. Sacha stood up again. bad. punish me for how he. “Why would I help you?” “I don’t… know… why you would.” Sacha said.” Sacha stood up... I was as enthralled with this spectacle as she was. I doubt if she even knew how to pray. It's not that I thought he should be. again. but I.. The cap sleeves of her dress falling somewhat seductively...” Nikolas was getting angry. if he were strong enough. “I. “That's not true. but this time it came out like a roar..” Nikolas laughed again..” “You can leave Victor anytime you want.... and once again began to turn away. and threw her back on the sofa in one quick movement.” I was astounded with Sacha’s agreeable response.. and I’m deeply sorry. Victor... “You can protect me.” Sacha cried out.” Nikolas said... Bethany flinched. Bethany sighed in exhaustion. “Owe you?” Nikolas said.” “What is this? Buy one and get the second for double the aggravation. and became rigid with the mention of his parents. but I always… believed that the Ischeros… fought for the good. “Your brother makes calculated decisions the same way you have. and the evil Sacha would make an appearance. a bit agitated. and turned her gaze back to the mirage. “All I ask is that you don't. He would have done the same to Evander and I. I didn't want to. He sold me. Sacha raised herself off of the sofa. but ended up face down on the floor. He knew that someday. as Victor's.. Deep down. and walked towards Nikolas. Nikolas noticed. Nikolas would be outnumbered by one too many panthers... But… only if you.. he would still be dead. sounding incredulous... “If I help you.. Now I do what I'm told... He will kill me and… Lucas if I… leave him. begging you.... attempting to sit up. Even if Lucas returned alone. throwing her arms around his neck as she plunged her head into his chest.” Both Bethany and I held our breath as we waited to see what happened next.. He ignored her. “You killed my brother. deserve to die.. “I know that Victor's parents killed. Not even… me.. girl… at the mercy of a paying man like my…my… mother was. or was it that he was not comfortable being there since Sacha was known to be a liar. he would die. “Your loyalty to your family is. What makes you any different from him? You are two sides of the same coin. but kept her eyes pasted to the mirage.. parents. owns me and.. but only to fall on the floor with her head just a foot away from the steel toe of Nikolas’ boot. yet kept watching.. and tried to lunge at Nikolas. Nikolas looked at Sacha.” Sacha blubbered..” Sacha said dropping to her knees as if she were about to go into prayer.” “How dare you.… protect me… and Lucas. I continued to peep through the keyhole. I will be breaking the laws of the Ischeros.. I’d kill him again if given the opportunity. as he demands.... as a centaur.” I heard Bethany gasp. I was wondering when the real Sacha Hayden was going to show up.. “You are the only one who can help me. slave or as a saloon.. my only brother. commendable. but wasn't leaving.. I know what Victor’s parents did to your.” Nikolas chuckled. Please.. and his family have hurt you. and took a deep breath. I just knew it would strike a nerve. pursing her lips to kiss him. Slowly. He was. payment... He’s my twin and… all I loved and.. things.. in an inaudible whimper. “You owe me. “Lucas. I’ve hurt… a lot of people… mortals mostly. I know this. . I’m sure the thought of Lucas returning to his home with a few more disciples had crossed Nikolas’ mind. Had I not found his heart in the cinders. I will be dead before I turn nineteen if you don’t help me. He looked enraged. that way because he was… hurting… deep inside… where no one… could reach to soothe… the pain.” Nikolas tensed up.. I took a quick peek behind me. “I am.” She stammered as she labored to stand up. and kicked her just hard enough to get her to free his legs..my twin brother.” She looked so frail standing in the center of the room with her arms crossed over her stomach as if she were in extreme pain. and stumbled close to where Nikolas stood. don't want to. and turn her head to stare at Nikolas.. and saw that there wasn’t a sign of anyone. “Lucas has done some. to… to… my soul. I just wish that you would. “Your brother got what he deserved.

Yet when he turned to look at Bethany. “I stopped the mirage before Beth could hear Sacha's proposition. In my haste and clumsiness. and cried hysterically as the mirage dissipated into the stripe patterned wallpapered wall. and I was still kneeling behind them. It's hard to imagine him knowingly putting the family in jeopardy. I don't think she should be trusted no matter how miserable she appears. and a sparkling light streamed into the foyer. He could have walked right into a trap. “Yes it has. I just made it passed the parlor when I heard voices… again. Dammit! Was I ever going to get some water? Doesn’t anyone ever go to bed in this house? I guess someone has to always be on watch for any evil entities hoping to invade the house. Then there was the mention of the Apolluon vampire that owned the Bucket o’ Blood saloon. “I would like to be alone. It's been a long day. For as long as I have known him. but now it was as normal as… I wasn’t sure what the criteria for normal was anymore. and Nikolas was a gentleman. Show me. I vowed to be done with the super sleuth life style. Niko.” Bethany sighed “A long day indeed. I believe this could be the opportunity we've been waiting for. and then refilled his glass with a coppery colored liquid. I didn't want them to think that I was snooping. I scrambled for a minute as I expected her to come through the same doors I spied through. She looked poised. I wondered what happened at that meeting. and scurried back to my room. I come to you brother. along with the hurt. I’m certain. I watched Bethany stare at the wall. I guess Bethany's jealousy was expected only she should have trusted Nikolas. To my surprise and relief.” Sacha whispered as Nikolas disappeared. I could now hear Bethany in her room as her light went out under her door. leaving more sparkling pixie dust in the air. She had been wrong. and her image was gone. I was kind of leery of Nikolas’ new turn the other cheek approach when he decided to take Sacha home.” Bethany whispered. and even more so to Bethany. You've never given me reason to. I plastered myself against the wall. Nikolas is loyal to the end. all the while looking her in the eyes. Nikolas had proved that he was a hundred percent loyal to the family. She was too close to the prime evil that I've been told we must never find ourselves unprepared for. I knew the voices all too well.” She knew it was best to let Nikolas have a moment. and disappeared into the bathroom that she and Nikolas shared. He took a few puffs from the cigar – I could already smell its stale distinctive odor wafting up from beneath the door. his tone softening yet still maintaining a frosty edge as he dismissed her. anxiously. forever in control of herself. to my surprise. I fell backward onto my back. I didn’t like the idea of drinking the water from the bathroom. don't torture yourself.. Nikolas was walking toward his bedroom doors. but the silence was more than she could bear. It was Evan and Nikolas.” I gasped. Nikolas turned away. I was awfully thirsty. Bethany had thoroughly pissed him off. It was evident that he was furious. Suspiciously at first. She had practically accused Nikolas of betraying her and the family – his family. I peered into the parlor. he was always super protective over her and me.” “Are you sure she was convinced that you really left Sacha's house?” Evan asked. The idea of demigods conversing with vampires would have been inconceivable pre death. I felt bad for my Nikolas. I saw that a few lamps had been left lit so I began my trek to the kitchen. his deep love for her was very evident in his eyes. The facts were in. I didn't rebound fast enough. sweetheart. and not his captivating voice. I found the name for the saloon perfectly fitting. Suddenly. but locked the doors shut. my love. Luckily Sacha was sincere in her misery although. so I slipped out of my room.” Nikolas' tone was once again as cold as ice with no chance of thawing on the horizon. and into a compromising position – the skirt of my petticoat and robe around my waist. I decided to give it another shot. and the time read four o'clock. “Yes. and tip toed down the long staircase. Her face was beautiful. I shouldn't have doubted you. Nikolas moved away from her. Sacha crumpled to the floor in a heaving lump. Male voices. I was about to get busted. and heard the click of the door as I scrambled up to my feet. “Uh.. “Sleep well. and she knew it. “I'm… sorry. She had certainly seen enough.” she waited for a second or two probably hoping that he would wish her a good night’s sleep as well. Bethany was probably worried about Sacha exposing her. and turned to Nikolas.“Nikolas. He was a gentleman. Now she was apparently embarrassed by her recent ranting. “We wouldn't want Beth paying Sacha a visit. and her secret was still a secret.. It's not very becoming. I figured I better get to my room as well. What I had just seen and heard was one for the books. He didn't deserve the third degree that he had endured. she walked through the wall. when I was under the impression that he was Bethany's brother. Sacha was beautifully lethal. By now my throat was so dry that it hurt. Once I was on the first floor. Nikolas didn’t come out of his room. and vulnerable. and didn't bother to wait for her answer. “You know as well as I. and being forced to prove himself when he had done nothing wrong was nothing short of ignominy. I observed the body language between Bethany and Nikolas closely. and hoped that they couldn't sense me. but instead. The lover's quarrel appeared to be over. and not her boyfriend. I looked at the clock. that Bethany would not have agreed to it. and walked over to the mantle of the fireplace where he lit a cigar. and he wasn’t ready to forgive her just yet.” I tried to concentrate on what he said. and saw that Evan and Nikolas . and into my nostrils. “Please Bethany.” “Good.” Nikolas informed. my parched throat reminded me that I had never gotten that drink of water. At first Bethany didn't answer.” Nikolas said. gently shutting my doors with as little noise as possible. darling.” All of the oil lamps were snuffed out instantly. and I wish to retire. I listened intently. and the oil lamps magically turned back on. yet he still continued to maintain the peace. calm. “Are you satisfied?” Nikolas’ voice was laced with vexation.

” The boys were quiet for a moment before Evan spoke again. Nikolas stood over Sacha as she cried in never ending sobs into the marble floor. She’s a major risk. “Well that’s convenient. “But you saw her.. She is genuinely afraid of him..” “She has only one request. I quickly hid in the hallway again. “I said get up.” “She will never defect from her brother. She had a surprised look on her tear stained. since he moves around constantly.” “Yes. Why do you want to. with a deep long sigh as he took a seat in the large leather smoking chair. He's not even being hunted. you feel that I am not.” “I thought you said that helping me. Sacha has always been violent. without a second thought. Our residence is public knowledge. “I’m not a whore.” Evan mused as he took a sip of something. “Will you help me?” Sacha asked.. but she won’t know ahead of time. corrupt. If he doesn't trust anyone then how can we be sure that she can lead us to him?” “Sacha says that she has always been led to the designated hiding place blindfolded. It was a continuation. “I could very well kill you right now.” “Tell me where Victor is. It was of Nikolas and Sacha in Sacha's house again. “You have a good heart. She will notify us once she is summoned. and she is well aware of that. reaching for Nikolas’ large hand. Cordelia’s memory is taking much longer than we expected to be restored. It could be a trap. but her fear of Victor does not guarantee her loyalty to us. “And Lucas?” “That’s not part of the deal.” Evan said.” Evan said.” The mirage vanished.” The look in Nikolas’ eyes was intense. You know where he is.” ... still standing over Sacha. “She’s in no position to make requests.” Nikolas said. because Victor trusts no one. “I’ve spoken to Julius. sounding annoyed. “I see. “She tried to attack Cordelia and Bethany. We will then follow her. but still a beautiful face. My mouth began to water.. We must do something..” Nikolas explained further.. Sacha's head rose up slowly. But this was different from what Nikolas had shown Bethany.. worthy. If you promise to help me. Evan. yet. I will spend the rest of my life proving to you that I was worth it. He has reported another attack by Victor’s army.” Nikolas informed. Sacha is a major risk. “Get up. “She says that she will lead us to Victor's hideout. whore. “Are you afraid of me?” She asked. Nikolas pulled his hand out of Sacha's tender grip. Sacha continued to cry. not anymore. don't you?” “Yes. who was slowly getting to her feet. but Lucas to the routes of his hideouts. I know.” Evan reasoned. Her voice trembled. Your parents are in danger. Her twin brother. “It's pathetic really. and we know that it’s not only because she is under Victor's control.” Sacha said. help me now?” “I don't. “Will you protect me?” Evan watched Sacha intently..” Nikolas demanded.were watching a mirage.” Nikolas explained.” Nikolas sighed deeply in agreement. “I’m sure she wants something.. He was beginning to think that this was a waste of time. You know this better than I. but you must protect me. They have begun slaughtering the elders. “No. sarcastically.. would be breaking your family's rules. A conniving face if you didn't allow the beauty to fool you. and I'm not convinced. “That depends. I hoped you would return. We could be led to our deaths.” Nikolas’ voice was malicious. yet they maintained their natural hue..” “Sacha will only lead us to him if we agree to protect her indefinitely. “I've seen enough. She informed me that it’s always an unexpected move. apparently she didn’t hear him or see him reappear in her parlor.” Sacha looked and sounded wounded.” Evan noted. and gently cupping it. “Enough” Evan said. She is prepared to lead us to Victor once he summons for her. Victor’s power will continue to grow with every drop of our blood. She looked shocked and terrified. I saw what happened..” Nikolas said. Sacha eyes bulged. with a slight seductive hint in her tone. He didn’t appear moved at all by her. I don’t like it. What I do want is Victor… dead.. Just tell me. pressed up closely against the wall.” “Yes.. “Always the coward with a dozen hiding places yet he calls us weak... anxiously. and stepped back.

Due to this unexpected encounter. If she doesn’t have her memory by then to receive the fortifying bolt from Zeus. Matthias is also sure that Hades will not make a deal with Victor. every single Ischero. Matthias told me that he saw Cordelia yesterday. I shifted my weight from one foot to the other causing the floor to make a light creaking sound. I was numb. now that he’s been freed from Hades. yet she loves her brother more than she loves herself. ultimately powerless. He is as adamant about it today as he was then. With my persuasion. Apparently she was expected there.” Evan confirmed. and took a sip from his glass as I almost fainted. . and my promise of protection. and of course the crowning of the Empress. Nikolas. and she didn’t seem to know who he was.” Evan explained. Cordelia’s as well as our lives for one. “Hades vowed to Matthias.” Evan paused.” “He is certain of this?” “Yes. He spoke of my visit with Gerald so casually. But what about Victor? Would he be powerless too? He was an Ischero once. as I’m sure you are with the threats and the Masquerade Ball for her crowning scheduled in just a few days. he has decided not to inform Hades of the death of Driella. The members. There was no doubt that they heard it too. I was so thirsty.” Evan said.” Nikolas said. and she is deathly petrified of Victor. no matter what vile liquid it contained.” “And he believed that?” Nikolas asked. “I was forced to tell Matthias that Cordelia has her powers although. shocked. Niko. I assured him that it is a top priority. “I see. Why do you feel that we can trust her? Is there something that you're not telling me? Did you feel her emotions?” Evan asked curiously. flatly.” “As expected. Is there any plausible reason why her memory is delayed?” Nikolas asked.” Nikolas sighed. and probably both were hidden away beneath the surface. he would be emperor. she wasn’t aware that they had resurfaced. “I read her emotions. and I thought that perhaps they knew that I was listening. Therefore she didn’t realize what she had done to Driella. I had a strong desire to barge into the room.” “Indeed. For a short while no one spoke. Matthias understands that the killing wasn’t premeditated. He wants us to kill Victor promptly. But he wants to be certain that Victor will not send the message of his wife’s death to Hades. He doesn’t want to be forced to return to the Underworld. and empty it. Unfortunately the crowning must be made on the New Year.” “How can he be absolutely sure?” Nikolas asked. yet I knew he had to be hurt or upset.” Evan knew. “We have to approach this cautiously.” “Of course. I’ll fill you in.More silence. My ears perked up with the mention of my name and the head vampire’s name in the same sentence. “He was outside. There was a lot of selfloathing there. I suppose. with a large dose of skepticism. in the front garden of her parents’ estate. Suddenly Evan started talking which gave me the clearance to breathe again. I was forced to suppress this desire immediately in order to find out what they would decide to do. would be rendered powerless without my anointment. She was being ushered into the Bergnum’s home. I wasn't sure if I could make it back up the stairs without being seen or heard. Either emotion was expected. I held my breath.” “I’m listening. We have to bring this to the council. and will not negotiate one for another. it will be the first time in our history that we go into a new year without a reigning heir. and desperate to escape him. solemnly. if we do decide to go forward with using Sacha to get to Victor. “Matthias said that she saw him as well. or we would postpone it. and several older undead a century ago that he wants to hunt all Ischeros.” Nikolas said. “Well since you missed our meeting with Matthias. It all made sense now. “I'm concerned about Cordelia's memory. It’s taking surprisingly longer than we had anticipated. He wants every last descendant of every Olympian. The silence was broken by ice clinking in a glass. “I’m well aware of the escalation of attacks. They were in a severely precarious situation. “What? Where?” Nikolas asked. grab that glass. If he was aware of this then why would he want to kill me? Doesn’t he want to keep his powers? Maybe he isn’t aware that his powers would be diminished as well. or maybe he believed by killing me. “Surprisingly he did. Matthias will do anything to prevent Hades from finding out about one of his highest undead being killed under his watch. The empire would be defenseless to the Apolluon. There is so much as stake. So Matthias is a sun walker?” “He is now. “I’m plagued with that same question. I was also curious to hear Nikolas’ reasoning.

I speedily made my way down the street to Gerald's house. “Why was Delia at the Bergnum’s home?” “She is searching for something. she doesn’t feel comfortable here. I really can’t be sure. acts of desperation. When Sun Paw informed me that Bethany had said she felt we should take a break from riding today. naturally.” Nikolas explained. She is petrified of what she is. I pulled the covers. Her once vibrant blue eyes were now empty and fogged with contempt.” Evan said. They dangled from her neck. I got back into bed. she doesn’t trust us. I should have known he wasn't around since the room wasn’t bitter cold. “Strangers?” “That’s what we are to her. I would still apologize although it may not be necessary. sounding defeated. the only life you remember. “Why doesn’t she trust us?” Evan asked. and could be anywhere at any time. Possibly. I wanted to plan a private meeting for Winston and me. not the newly acquired wealth generated from the mines. sadly. But. I shut my eyes tightly. He wanted to meet for brunch today. more importantly. and appeared to be about eighty years old. Her prune like face was one of those faces that you knew was once very pretty. but he was nowhere in sight. “I’ve felt her emotions. old money from generations who came before her.” Nikolas added. I followed him as ordered. and then escaped the house full of voices. “They’ve asked me. Ms. I bathed and dressed as quickly as I could. The same tall wiry middleaged man answered the door – Rutherford.” “Yes. that it feels like you may be in another kingdom or realm?” Evan said nothing at first as he pondered Nikolas’ suggestion. and that you must rely on a group of strangers who claim to be your family in a time so foreign. and sparkled blindingly as the sunlight ricocheted off of her blanched face unto every piece of jewelry. putting on the first dress I saw in the closet. but her arrogance overshadowed any chance of that prettiness ever coming through. yet she is desperate to understand it. she doesn’t trust us. but only for a moment. I found a sealed note on my bed side table with just my first name on it. but the tears leaked out anyway. Follow me. “Yes. so I will ask it of you. and your right. I crept down the stairs to the foyer. He had obviously forgiven me for my silly display the day before. the upper crust of Nickel City's affluent aristocracy who believed that her money. “Come on.” Evan said. Evan. I felt nauseated. In a matter of seconds. down to her gaunt wrists. “I guess you’re right. It was Gerald’s grandmother. the butler. “Master Gerald awaits you in the parlor. I expected her to feel at least a connection to us all. all dining in the sun room. and they are convinced that all will go as planned.” Nikolas said sounding angry.“I’ve spoken with the elders at length.” Nikolas agreed. I was exhausted from being up in the middle of the night. Her speckled neck was partially concealed by a high lace collar which was also covered with miniature stones as glittery as the larger ones on her wrists and fingers. in haste. I was getting a little better at fastening the corset by myself. TwentyFour A Matter of Time The next morning when Sun Paw woke me up. I didn’t know what to expect from him. Gerald rose from a velvet tufted chair. scrawny. I ask that you have faith and patience. I immediately felt guilty. give or take a wrinkle or age spot. Ms. ignoring the cotton balls in my throat. I recognized the handwriting. Master Gerald. It was from Gerald. I didn't get out of bed. She feels as lost as a castaway adrift on a deserted island. “She’s putting herself in harm’s way by leaving this house. Once again he recognized me. unnoticed. She was drenched in twinkling stones. The old woman was pallid.” Rutherford announced with a hint of annoyance as he ushered me into the sun lit parlor. but I intended to accept the invite. was the only money worth anything. “Miss Cordelia Tieron. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak with Winston. in the same raspy flat tone as he took my parasol and hat. I crept back upstairs and into my room. This was going to piss a few people off. of course. This time I would apologize to Gerald for how I acted – running off the way I did the day before. to the black satin jewel encrusted shoes. When I finally decided to get up it was after eleven in the morning. Black from the lace doily pinned to her severe bun. trust would be impossible. She appraised me as I observed her gaudiness.” He commanded. wasn’t real. perhaps? Perhaps.Hortance Bergnum. over my head. I was at the Bergnum's front door. He smiled from ear to ear. I expected her instincts to be heightened. but I had to be there. which were still warm. Bergnum wore all black as if she were in mourning.” “Searching for what?” “Her memory. Presumably. She is afraid as she is curious.” I couldn't bring myself to listen to anymore. Gerald . I'm sure it could be arranged being that he was a ghost. and once again he didn't look pleased to see me.” Evan said optimistically. I snuggled back up to my pillow with a smile on my face. I quickly scanned the room for Winston. and was prepared to miss my morning ride with Bethany. She sat in a large wicker backed chair that she seemed confined to. His tone was low and subdued. Beside Gerald was an elderly woman who looked at me in disdain. that’s understandable. How would you feel if you were told that the life you know.

Bergnum began speaking. “I've already forgotten about yesterday. “There is something that I would like to say. “Yes.” Gerald agreed. I continued to shiver. “Yes. I don't think she’s ready to be left alone in this huge house. yet it’s colder in here than it was in the parlor. What a waste I thought. then he also knew that Gerald and I could never be together. and sat in the chair which Gerald had pulled out for me. The feeling of relief washed over me with the chill.” Winston pretended to muse. “I decided the sunroom for brunch. So did Gerald. I began to shiver. because if he could. and I’m delighted that you accepted my invitation. Bergnum said. my dear grandchild. “That’s alright. Bergnum said. obediently as he ushered me out of the parlor and into the adjacent sun room. Waiting for an opportunity to speak with Winston was driving me mad. It was childish.” Gerald confirmed. I could see the roof of the beautiful rose entwined gazebo. I tried to relax. I doubt that I would get the chance. Madam. “I'm sure I mentioned that Cordelia would be joining us.” “Personally. He sat directly across from me. no one is good enough. is not. I have someone in mind. Today is a new day.” Ms.” “What will you do when you do find someone?” I was curious. Evan’s house was magnificently huge – larger than I remember it in the future. “You have?” I stopped chewing but kept my eyes on my plate. please carry on with your guest. even if it was only for a moment. and enjoy the crab cakes. finally making an appearance. . and bringing along the arctic blast.” He explained as he took a bite of his crab cakes. Ms. expressionless. but my mind.” I said.” He declared triumphantly shoving another bite into his mouth. He knew for a fact that Gerald had meant me.” Gerald seemed to be listening intently. It was imperative that I not lead him on. I will be dining in here.” Gerald hinted with a wink.” I walked over to the attractively set table for two. There were so many tall potted ferns along the glass walls that the sun was only allowed in through the few inches left exposed close to the ceiling. with more aches in my deteriorating bones than I care to admit. Gerald. I was overcome with a genuine feeling of desperation to do something that would force Gerald to leave the room. really. and grandmother enjoys plenty of conversation. In her opinion. exposing an even more handsome face. Please arrange for a table to be brought in. and hoped my teeth wouldn't start chattering. “Grandmother.” Gerald beamed. yet unavoidable introductions while stepping closer to me. If Winston really knew the truth about me. “I already have. More like a green house. frigidly then rang a tiny bell which summoned Rutherford. “Grandmother – ” “It's already been arranged. timidly. With Gerald sitting opposite me. Despite feeling awful about using Gerald for an opportunity to communicate with his brother.” Ruthorford said.” Ms. I hoped that he meant someone other than me. still shivering. I smoothed my satin dress. and smiling would be confirming that I was accepting it. and I’m in no mood to entertain. and continued with the tasty crab cakes. “I'm sorry about my grandmother.” And just like that we were dismissed. “I wonder who that could be. Rutherford has been with my family for a little over forty years but he's not quite the chatty companion. enjoy. She has returned from her trip to France. expecting the room to feel temperate. As Rutherford walked into the room. as one would eye a rattlesnake.made the awkward. I wondered if Gerald could see the entire gazebo from his balcony. nervously.” “Yes. I knew all along that that he had meant me. She will be having brunch with us. please have a seat. and saw the top half of Evan's home above the tall hedges that secured the Bergnum’s garden. and decided to say what I came to say. “I was not aware that we were having company for brunch. “I just want to apologize for running out of here the way I did. It's not you. then there was a good chance that he witnessed Evan and I. “Its fine.” Gerald commented. but still not as large as my house. scornfully in a surprisingly clear and crisp voice as she eyed me as cautiously. or Gerald will surely think that I’m anemic or something. My aches have returned. “Rutherford. Why have glass walls then cover them up? I peered through the ferns along the wall. I was consumed by the beauty of his smile. of course you remember Cordelia Tieron. “I may be an old and withering woman. The old woman’s welcoming glare was as warm as a glacier. “Cordelia. Grandmother.” Gerald smiled again. but didn't allow myself to return the smile. and take her grandson away. but watched me cautiously as if I might try to run out again. The sun room wasn't a sun room at all. I’m comfortable. Winston knew his brother better than anyone.” I smiled. I suppose she thought that my plan was to slither in here. Please. I tried to focus.

Winston leaned against the only wall in the sun room that wasn't made of glass, with his arms folded across his chest. He wore the same gray pinstriped suit that he wore the day before; his eternal attire. “How is Bethany?” Gerald asked, seeming only mildly interested. “She's well. She’s engaged to marry Nikolas.” I announced, trying to appear informed, and trying to hide the fact that I was freezing. Strangely as cold as that room felt, my crab cakes were still quite warm. “They shall be happy, I suppose. Nikolas is a fine gentleman.” I wasn't sure if he meant that sarcastically, but I suspected that he did. I suppose he knew that Bethany had interfered, and forced me to stop seeing him. “Yes, I'm sure they will be, and yes he is.” I agreed. “I predict in about a year that I will be married as well.” Gerald said, gazing into my eyes. “So, you’re engaged.” I said, knowing that he wasn’t, and hoping that he was. “I’m not.” “Oh.” I nodded slowly. “Cordelia, I’ve missed you, you must know that. I’ve missed you terribly...” Gerald laid his hand on mine and clasped it tenderly. I wanted to pull my hand away but couldn’t as if my hand wasn’t a part of my body and I had no control of it. “Gerald I –” I was stunned momentarily as Gerald pressed his index finger lightly to my lips “No, please let me finish. I expect that you will marry soon as well. It is no secret that Evander has waited for you. But so have I. I haven’t stopped loving you and –” “I have to marry Evan.” I blurted. It was all I could think to say, as I watched the light in Gerald’s eyes diminish from a bright and glimmering beacon to a slowly flickering gaslight. I’d snuffed out any hope of us ever being together with that statement. But I didn’t feel anything for him, but the sadness of delivering bad news. I certainly didn’t feel the sadness of losing a lover. “You don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do.” Gerald tried to reassure me with his eyes. “I will marry Evan.” “Cordelia, that isn’t what you want.” “How do you know what I want?” “You loved me once. You didn’t have to tell me. I knew.” “Gerald, this is not what I came here for. This isn’t what I want.” I said, firmly sitting back in the large wicker chair. “This?” “Yeah. You declaring your love for me – someone that can never be with you that way. I’m sorry.” Gerald let go of my hand. He sat back in his chair, and stared at me for a moment. I wasn’t sure what was going on in his mind right now. Then the whispers came and I knew that I was hearing Gerald’s thoughts. Why don’t you want me? Why can’t you see how much I love you? Why are you doing this to me? Why did you come here? I don’t want to be friends. Please don’t make me hate you…I can’t. I’ll only hate myself for not being who you want. Please love me. I felt guilty, being the source of his pain. “I’m sorry too.” Gerald said, solemnly. He averted his eyes to the glass wall beside him. I desperately wanted to leave, but I had not had a chance to talk to Winston. I glanced at Winston who was stifling a yawn. He looked bored. He didn’t seem to care that I was breaking his brother’s heart. I felt sorry for him at that moment. He was dead, and forced to spend an eternity haunting this large house. Along with that, he was surrounded by a bitter old woman who didn't seem to have anything nice to say, and a younger, more handsome brother, who was full of life, reminding him of all the things he’d be missing out on. Winston was unpleasant simply because his soul was tortured with regret. I pitied him. “A fool in love.” Winston said, as he deliberately knocked Gerald's glass over, spilling the full glass of tepid water onto Gerald's pants. Gerald, who had still been staring forlornly at the wall, instantaneously jumped up, and grabbed a table linen to dab at his pants. The upper portion of Gerald's pants was soaked, and the stain looked obscene, as if Gerald had urinated on himself. To Gerald’s chagrin, he caught me staring at the drenched spot as I tried to quickly avert my eyes. “I... I don't know how this happened, please excuse me Cordelia, I will return momentarily.” Gerald stammered, obviously abashed, and completely dumbfounded at how his glass tipped over.

Winston stared at me with a triumphant look. Poor Gerald had no idea of the supernatural forces that were working around him. I was secretly thankful that Winston did something to rescue me from that awkward situation. Now I could finally have an opportunity to speak to him. “I want to talk to you.” I said. “I expect that you would want to. Fine, talk.” Winston said, in a flat tone. “I need you to tell me everything you know about me, and my… family, and Victor.” I said in a whisper, as my teeth chattered. Winston was now a few inches from where I sat at the table. I watched as a smirk emerged on his lips. The kind that usually paved the way for a sarcastic comment. “Pour quoi avezvous besoin de moi?” Winston asked in French, why I would need him. “You’re not the only one who’s been to France,” he added. The journals were right; I guess I was fluent in every language. “Nous pouvons nous rencontrons dans la salle m ce soir à huit heures.” I asked Winston to meet me this evening in my room at eight o'clock. Although I felt a bit apprehensive inviting a ghost over to the Capius’ house not knowing if they would be able to detect his presence, I had to speak to him uninterrupted. Dinner should be over by then, and if not, then I would fake a headache, and excuse myself. Winston stood over me, and brought his face close enough to plant his dead lips on my vibrant ones. He had one sinister eyebrow raised as he spoke in a whisper. “One does not turn down an invitation by such a divine beauty. Yet I must admit, I do wonder what is in it for me, beautiful Empress of the Ischeros?” Winston leered. “I don't know what you mean?” I sat as far back in my chair as I could to lengthen the space between us. “Is it my question that has left you confused or my statement?” Winston quizzed. “Your question.” I answered feeling slightly annoyed. “Ah. That's right I haven't actually made my demands.” “And they are?” “I know what you are capable of. Not your kind… just you. You can do anything with your mind. I want what any man in my position would want. We will meet this evening.” He said, never taking his eyes off of my own. He scared me a little because I didn't know what he was capable of. “Will you tell me about Evan’s meeting with the Apo…the vampire?” I wasn’t sure if Winston knew the depth of the existence and history of the Ischeros, particularly, the Apolluon. “I saw Nikolas just outside the Bucket o’ Blood last night helping the infamous town harlot, Sacha. That apple didn't fall to far from the tree did it? Hmm…Sacha, she could be a lot of fun.” Winston reminisced. “She was drunk, as usual, but he was kind to her. I’m sure you know that the majority of the people in this town would have left her on the ground where she had tumbled. Ahhh… Nikolas is a fine fellow. ” Winston confirmed with a snicker. I never doubted Nikolas. He was an Ischero to the end, and saw an opportunity to use Sacha to get to Victor, although it may have looked like something else entirely; something juicy to gossip about. “Then I saw Evander at the Bucket o’ Blood. Evander spent some time at the roulette table then later followed the owner of the saloon, Matthias Vittadini, the two thousand yearold head vampire, who was once a prince of Romania, into a back room when his father, Thaddeus, finally came in. Nikolas never made it to the saloon,” Winston informed. “Therefore the meeting was between Evander, Thaddeus, and Matthias.” “Ok so …” I waved my hand in a circular motion so that Winston could get on with it. “Patience, Divine One,” Winston ordered, lightly. “Evander told the head vampire that you have your powers now, which is a lie of course.” Winston sneered knowingly. “He also told Matthias that you didn’t know that you had them when you killed his wife. It was obvious that Matthias wasn’t completely convinced. But he had his own dilemma. Now that he knows that there is a divine being that can kill him, he’s used the leverage of his wife’s murder to demand protection from you, the being in question who is the only one who can kill him.” I was dumbfounded by the idea of a vampire as old and as powerful as Matthias actually fearing me. Meanwhile I’m afraid of my own shadow. Shadows period. “Ok. Tell me about –” “We shall speak again tonight.” Winston said, cutting me of abruptly. “Yes.” I agreed. Winston turned away and disappeared. I was suddenly feeling nervous. My nervousness had little to do with Winston personally. My jittery nerves stemmed from my anticipation of finally learning the whole truth tonight. Only a moment ago, I was wondering if I was making a bad decision having this ghost boy over tonight. But he was willing, and I was in need, so this was the only way. I want what any man in my position would want. That could only mean one thing. Winston wanted to be alive again. I couldn’t blame him. It was what I wanted when I had died. He was pretty sure

that I could make it happen. I felt like I should be outfitted in a turban, balloon pants, elf shoes, and take on the role of a full time genie. Poof. I mean really. Could I actually restore his life? Just then Gerald walked briskly into the room outfitted in a completely different suit. I didn't expect him to change his entire suit over a pair of wet trousers. He had changed from a deep charcoal gray suit to a heather gray one as if the heather gray pants wouldn’t have matched the charcoal gray jacket. I couldn’t get over how proper these boys were, and how they took the whole ‘dressed to impress’ thing to the next level. “Would you like to go for a walk?” Gerald asked, with bright anxious eyes. I don’t want you to leave me. I can’t stand to be without you. I heard his thoughts again, and I really didn’t want to. “Actually I have to go. I’m expected back at the Capius’,” I said, regretfully. I felt bad about cutting out on Gerald but I didn't lie. If I didn’t get back to Evan’s, I’m pretty certain that they would dispatch a search party for me. “I see. You don’t want to keep him waiting. Well thank you for the visit.” Gerald was upset. He jingled a small gold bell that summoned Rutherford. “Would you kindly show Ms. Tieron out.” Gerald said to Rutherford. These days, it was impolite not to walk a guest to the door, and Gerald had basically turned his back to me, and stared out the glass doors as if something had summoned him from the garden. Unsure that I would ever see Gerald again, I turned to look at him one last time before I exited the room. He stared out the French doors with his arms ridged at his sides. I hoped that someday he would understand. The only thing accomplished by meeting Gerald was discovering his arrogant older brother's ghost. I wasn't sure that I could trust him to shed some light on my existence here, but how else was I to find out about myself? Was I complicating things? I knew the answer to that. I hated the fact that I was snooping around, eavesdropping on everyone's conversations, and sneaking off, and risking my safety. I was knowingly sabotaging their efforts to protect me because, I didn't want to be kept in the dark about things that seemed to be extremely crucial, and that had everything to do with me. From what I did remember of myself, the self I thought I was, I’d always been sensitive to the feelings of others. I didn't want to make things complicated or difficult. I just couldn't deal with not knowing the whole truth. Patience, a virtue, was the one commendable quality that I didn’t seem to possess. I couldn’t do as Evan and Bethany had asked; wait for my memory and powers to return on their own. I didn’t totally trust them, and I wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel that I knew them well enough. It was more of a feeling of not being told everything that there was to know from the beginning. They said that they thought not telling me was protecting me. For whatever reason though I didn’t trust them, completely. As soon as I was out the door, Rutherford shut the door with a thud. I quickly slipped out of the tall gates of the Bergnum’s mansion. I anticipated something coming after me so I wasted no time getting back. I glided passed unfamiliar faces, extending pleasantries – wishing me a wonderful day, in haste. It was so strange how I blended right in, and stood out all at the same time. I got lucky this time. No Apolluon shadows pouncing on me on this glorious afternoon. Once back at the Capius house, I started to go up the stairs as Evan appeared in the hallway from the parlor. He looked saddened by something. Did he know where I'd been? Did he think that I’d rejected him by visiting Gerald? Evan is obviously hurt, and feels that I have betrayed him. He couldn’t be more wrong. It was a fact that I may not be able to prove to him any time soon. I would never have thought that I would be caught in a love triangle. My need to learn about myself has consumed me so much that I refuse to allow any emotions to surface. I either had to regain my memory, or find out as much as I could about my life here and this family through my new dead friend, Winston. I couldn’t allow myself to feel anything for either of these boys. “You've been gone for a while. We expected you... well, I was hoping that you would have joined us for brunch. If you don’t mind my asking, where did you go?” Evan asked, looking genuinely concerned. He looked as blue as his startling eyes which he bore into my quickly averting ones. I found it very difficult to lie to him. I didn't want to. I decided to tell him the truth, but not because I felt obligated to tell him my comings and goings, but because I knew he deserved the truth. I took a deep breath, and then exhaled slowly. “I was invited to brunch by Gerald Bergnum, at his home. I accepted the invitation.” I admitted, skittishly, yet relieved not to be lying. Evan’s eyes grew bluer as I mentioned Gerald's name. It was an incredibly beautiful – change that literally took my breath away. They went from light sky blue to a deep turquoise. “I see.” Evan noted, casually. He acted like it didn't matter where I had spent my morning, and early afternoon. He acted as if meeting with Gerald was totally acceptable. I knew better. “Did you enjoy yourself?” Evan asked. He was hurt, and was doing a horrible job at masking his vulnerability. It was that vulnerability which drew me to him. He didn’t wait for my answer as I averted my eyes from his glare. Evan turned around, and slowly walked back into the sunny parlor. All of the curtains in the large room were drawn open, allowing the oppressive afternoon sun in. I stood at the entrance of the beautifully decorated room for a moment, unsure if I made the right choice in telling Evan, my supposed soul mate, whom has done everything in his power to protect me, that I’d spent the better part of my morning and afternoon with another guy, someone outside of the family. Specifically, a guy who had feelings for me, and who I had shown feelings for, before I left to be stashed away in the future.

It was as if he wanted me to believe that he was snoozing. but I knew he wasn't. and tried to refill my lungs. It’s only damaging when we don’t learn from them. but where only seconds. I don't want to upset you either. and capable of mistakes. Don't cry. I want so badly to understand this life. I didn't feel worthy of him. I hope that you will. But it was too late. the moment you know it. “I don't want you to feel obligated due to your role in the family. yet tender. I was so moved by Evan's words that uncontrollable tears streamed down my face. I tried to dry my tears with my hands realizing that I still had on my gloves. but on my shoulder at the moment.” Evan paused momentarily his body motionless. We held each other’s gazes for a moment.It must’ve seemed like I was throwing it in his face. How could I be so lucky to have someone as gorgeous. The thought to turn around. and now I was doing it again. I’m only human. Evan looked at peace. but to have his love for me reciprocated if that's what my heart willed. and acknowledge my sincere words. Evan was immeasurable perfection. The knots in my stomach were tightening.” The feeling of safety intensified as he spoke. in my past. and as sensitive and as selfless as him. “If it is I that you want. As I stared at Evan. although it felt like long. Finally seeing Bethany’s point of view. and what I’d been doing. and without any air in my lungs. “Half human. as I waited to hear his request with bated breath. I made my way into the parlor behind him. I was afraid of what it might be. I was lost. I told myself. “During the time you were away… I was human too. Come to me. and the palms of my hands were moist with sweat. and without guidance in a world controlled by evil and the gifted few to defend them. after hearing what Evan had said.” Evan corrected.. and here was this boy. It's only a matter of time.” Evan said. voice hypnotizing as usual – crisp. as my hands began to tremble. but stopped abruptly a few steps in. his eyes still closed. I will love you until my heart no longer beats. and I knew that I had. I wondered if he was reading my mind. I had only found a fondness for him but nothing more. this man. Maybe Evan was testing me in order to determine if I would admit where I’d been. It felt like the air had been sucked out by a hose. and I was flawed. Evan opened his eyes. “I thought by visiting Gerald. I struggled to control my urge to cry again. I didn't want to hurt him anymore. So much that I’d found a sort of peace with Gerald that was forbidden. his head still leaning back against the large chair. I too have felt overwhelmed at times. and meant more to me than anything. My heart was beating so fast. Since reading the journals. is what made me believe that the strong connection could possibly jolt my memory. My world went quiet when he graced me with his voice. I will wait forever for you if that's how long it takes for you to see what we have. Maybe he thought that I still had feelings for Gerald. and I was in his arms – willingly. Only a few seconds went by in complete silence. He wanted me to know. Strangely. please don’t hesitate. Now it must seem like I was doing it all over again. Perhaps it would have been wiser to lie even if he probably knew where I’d been. and I made a small gasp which appeared to go unnoticed by him. wood floor. Evan thought I was the precious prize. Whenever Evan spoke to me it was as if whatever was going horribly bad at that particular moment became all better. not only human. courageous. but that he loved me enough to let me go if I felt I would be happier with someone else. the most beautiful words I’d ever heard spoken by anyone. “I'm not upset. I felt like a selfish fool. loving me? Could I be so lucky to have had a love as boundless as his? I had lost the love of two sets of parents which left me lonely. But now that I have spent some time with Gerald. and then sighed softly as if he were satisfied.” Evan said with a pained strain in his voice. His words were simple. He had it all wrong. The emotion poured like rain from his lips. and out of his chair in an instant. pure.” Evan gulped. “I don't want to lie to you Evan. He was up. Evan had nothing to worry about in that regard. It is not your fault that you were born into this life. I had hurt him the other night when I rejected him. I placed my hand on my chest. knots formed in my stomach. Evan sat that way – silent – eyes shut for what seemed like minutes. I had no idea what he was going to ask of me.” I said.” I finished with a small tremble in my voice. No one could. I’m of flesh and blood. my knight. and the air got caught in my throat. who wanted nothing more. as if they were cemented. I had behaved like the ungrateful winner. My emotions were a tangled ball of yarn. I knew just how much in love I once was with Evan. and wondered if I would be able to honor his request. I might remember more… of myself. yet refreshing. I only ask one thing of you. and run up the stairs to my room had just entered my mind when Evan finally spoke – eyes still shut. and I desperately need to remember. But I still behaved like a selfish little jerk then. therefore. Still standing in the entryway of the parlor. go to him. Evan’s face was of great concern. That was a definite plus in this madness. and the rhythm of our heartbeats was the same – exactly the same – fast. I could hear his heartbeat. The sour feeling in my stomach churned on. I was painfully confused. He tenderly kissed my tear drenched cheeks. I wanted Evan to open his eyes. He was what every girl hoped for. I was stunned by what Evan asked. I took a deep breath. He was planning an attack on Victor before Victor could have a chance to attack the head of the family – me. Evan sat in the same chair that I spied him sitting in last night while he and Nikolas had their after hour’s discussion. I knew it wasn't my own because it seemed to be coming from the leather tufted chair which Evan lounged in. a beat that reminded me of a ticking time bomb prepared to explode at any second. and felt as if it wasn’t resting on the mantle of the fireplace. I know that he was a friend to me. But he kept them tightly shut. drudging minutes. I plan to patiently wait for my fiancé to return to me. and willed the tears that were forming beneath my eyelids to subside. . and then I remembered that he was unable to. His eyes were closed. “Then the moment you know it. Realizing that I had been romantic with Gerald. If it is not I. his eyes still shut. They were stronger than the words ‘I Love You’. and I knew just how overwhelmed I felt with the burden of eliminating the world’s evil. The ticktock of the opulent gilded clock sounded amplified. The tears had already soaked my chin as I did my best to wipe them away. and gazed up at me as I coughed lightly. and understand that he didn't just love me.. My desire to remember was intense. My shoes clicked and clacked against the shiny.

But only if you do. but he didn’t surrender them to me. I had fallen asleep. I was tired. I headed up the stairs. Loving you eternally. I would deduce that anyone in your position – being killed then revived. Was I falling in love with a boy that I barely remembered? . Evan felt to me the way one feels like after a lengthy aggravating trip. My darling Cordelia. and Evan in his impeccably tailored slate suit. It was from Evan. at least not yet. yet gift of life. It was while I watched Sun Paw set my dinner down on one of the small tables in my sitting room. I want you to be happy Delia.” Evan said looking into my eyes. more so now.” Sun Paw said. “Do you remember the first time that I told you that I love you?” Evan asked. and that I don’t want to be disturbed. It was sealed with red wax which was stamped with the calligraphic letters EC. There was only one question to consider. This seemed incomplete. I didn’t want to go. Suddenly.” “You told me that if I still did. I just wanted to be alone for a while. I could read into his soul through those peaceful ocean eyes. I still felt all tingly from the experience. in five years. I allowed myself to be dreamy. yet I remember him being in my sitting room. Like it really happened. We held each other close. I wanted to relish it. and an even more aggravatingly long and grueling commute. being brought back into an unfamiliar point in time. I yearned for his petal soft lips. Just passed her petite frame. wait. “Ok… I will.” Evan chuckled. The penmanship was different from the notes I’d received from Gerald. like an actual memory. vest. He would wait until I was ready. His was a pure soul. but firmly as if he never wanted to ever have to let me go. But then a strange feeling came over me.” Evan said in a whisper slowly rubbing his cheek against mine. bringing me back to reality. and read the simple note over and over again. then you would have to marry me. or be forced to listen to Thaddeus and Alexandria chat about how much was hauled from the mines. He felt like home. and feathering a kiss on my forehead as he held me tenderly. Miss. I will wait forever for you. me in this emerald taffeta dress. That couldn’t be too much to ask. I blinked.” Sun Paw said. “If anyone asks. and feeling a little whipped from what I just went through. We lounged. The envelope was leaning against the floral printed ceramic based oil lamp on my bedside table. losing the only family you remember. Sun Paw?” “Of course. I opened it carefully. Once in my sunlit bedroom. I know that you are afraid and well. as she turned to face me. The last thing I remembered was climbing the stairs to my bedroom after Evan left the parlor. Cordelia. whether it was real or not. or about the upcoming ball. Was it a memory? But we had been dressed as we are today. Evan removed his jacket. I think that you’re brave. nodding and turning to walk out of my room. I've always admired you for your bravery. blushing to the color of pastel pink. “Sun Paw. Then he walked out of the parlor. and gold timepiece. The feeling of Evan lounging in my sitting room with me had felt so real. or be anywhere but here right now. made me only want to invite him in further into my heart. I looked up at Evan’s beautiful face. Miss Cordelia. It always will if you want it. I was still unsure of what it was that I felt.Words couldn't describe what I felt because. and happily ever after.” “I don't want you to worry. I sat up on my slightly rumpled bed. desperately not wanting to permit a pessimistic thought to invade my head.” I said. I allowed myself to feel something that I had vowed not to succumb to. side by side on sofa with our feet propped up on my coffee table. and fantasize about weddings. Something was missing… “My heart belongs to you. Feeling his muscular frame though his now wrinkled shirt. I didn’t want to have to carry on conversations. “I’d like to take dinner alone in my room tonight. and then forced to understand this complex. I focused. I realized then that I didn’t need to let Evan into my heart because he’d always been there Sun Paw’s insistent nudges woke me. I hoped that everyone would honor my request. Would you mind bringing up my plate. Had Evan really been in my room. and looked around my bedroom. “Dinner will be served soon. I allowed myself to look fondly into an uncertain future. “No I don’t. I could see that the sun had already set. But I’d been alone when I climbed the stairs. I finally felt a calm I hadn't felt since returning to the past. could it? I laid back down for a moment. and no one else existed in our world. or had I dreamt it? Although confusion engulfed me. Miss. could you tell them that I’m tired. while I removed my satin pumps. would be right to be frightened. Evan Sigh.” Sun Paw walked out of my room. and looked at me adoringly. and since I didn’t know the answer I said. and closed my eyes. and as I swung my legs over the side of my bed that the precise and neat penmanship caught my eye.” “As you wish. Taken back by the question. Evan stepped back. as I cuddled up to his granite hard chest.

I was pleasantly surprised by his devotion to me. But this time he was right. Against my better judgment. “I would like you to fill me in on what you know about my family. your capabilities will not be matched by any other. I traced the lace over and over with my fingers. and winced. Looking at myself I noticed the crooked smile on my face as my thoughts continued to linger on Evan. “I hope that I'm not tardy for our meeting?” Winston said. with an aggressive edge to his voice which he quickly tried to mask. “We are friends are we not?” “I’d hardly consider us to be friends. flatly. He was here in my room. I motioned for him to take a seat as well. doing his worst impression at being coy after appearing unexpectedly by my fireplace. “I want to live again.” I admitted. casually. I didn’t care for the idea of him beating around the bush. “Certainly. Could we survive this precarious life? Could love keep us sane? I didn't know the answers and neither did Evan. I thought joy and happiness may never exist for Evan and I. I couldn’t look into his eyes.” Winston declared. I had no intention of giving him a renewal on a life which he had been so careless with. at one point I allowed a pessimistic thought to corrupt my psyche. Now the opaque vapor filled out into the distinctive shape of a tall young man. and admired at how good I’d gotten at pinning a perfect bun. coldly watching his every move. I wondered why Winston didn't trust me. I felt it. He leaned nonchalantly against the mantle. I fiddled with the lace trim that edged the scooped neckline of my taffeta dress. The notion that I may be willing to wait. We looked like teenagers with centuries and centuries of knowledge regarding the entities that desire the power which had been vested in Evan.” I answered. I was thinking that I’d be fine with that being that he was a son of Poseidon. I was starting to thaw though slowly. and quickly threw a couple of logs into it.” I sat in the chair closest to the fireplace. and ran it through my silky auburn hair. and stared at myself. you’re right on time. but more for his devotion to protect this earth from evil. What a way to win me over I thought. a habitual liar. I still needed to hear what Winston had to say. that you’ll honor your part of the agreement?” Winston asked. The fire crackled loudly as if in protest of Winston’s presence. but he was willing to make any and all the sacrifices necessary to see to my happiness and my safety. I thought that I would melt away into a pool of water. and find the truth on my own. I don't.” “No?” “We can help each other. “Name your price Winston. The image appeared in my mirror like a veil blowing in the wind. and we both knew it. We can do this cordially I believe. I hoped that he was willing to help me. Winston. I didn’t want to rush this… whatever this was. But I needed something else from him as well. The room had grown frigid as any room did when he was in it. and he did. When Evan held me in the parlor. Winston was more desperate than I was. “No. Had I done something in the past that deemed me untrustworthy? I doubt it. lightly and expressionless. and lit the fireplace without saying a word. Undoubtedly. I felt safe when I was with him. Evan’s passion for his family was extraordinary. and a thief. and looked at the clock my father had brought back from his trip to France. I was proud of myself for being able to imitate the style perfectly.” Winston continued smugly. I got up from the vanity. I understand clearly that there is a price for this.TwentyFive Demands I barely ate my dinner which consisted of some type of meat wrapped in green leafy spinach with a creamy type of sauce dripped over it. His strength was a major attraction for me since the first time I had seen Evan in my dream. Then I saw it. The sharp frosty chill crept up my spine. The truth always had an amusing way of doing so. We weren't the average teenagers of this day or anytime period. “I guess I did. I removed the gemstone encrusted comb from my hair. and instead stared him down as he chortled nervously. “How do I know that once I tell you everything that I know. but of course you already know that. I picked up my gilded hair brush. hanging halfway down my back. seemed to frighten . “I guess the same way that I know that all you tell me is true. Winston was known to be a pompous knowsitall. I suppose it's a risk we both have to take.” I said. The truth about my existence would undoubtedly be revealed sooner or later. Winston was here to tell me what he knew I was still so desperate to know.” I said.” He said. “I know that once you have assessed your powers. I sat in front of my vanity. I tried very hard to maintain a poker face. It was a misty vapor that took on an opaque shape. Well the feeling was mutual. and especially the powers vested in me by the gods. He appeared a little more relaxed now that the cat was out of the bag. Winston. I didn't say a word. and filled the room. I pinned it back up with a sparkling gem stoned comb. So much evil surrounded us. if fate had an entirely different plan for us. and not bask in the warmth that emanated from them.” I demanded. I marveled how the hue of my dress brought out the emerald in my eyes. I wanted to get right down to business with this odd specter. and watched the waves gently tumble down passed my shoulders. as he eyed me cautiously.

and then loosely wove my arm through his as he walked through the wall. or what is happening at the risk of being seen. Surprisingly.” I couldn’t believe that this was the world that I was a part of. on the night I made the discovery of the diaries. the mine belonging to your family. “Your family has many. No one deserved to die that way. “You won't be. but almost stumbled a couple of times as I went passed the dimmer lit curves. I don't want to be seen. “Unfortunately. but the truth is that Cerberus has not tasted your parents’ hearts. they will never walk this earth again. chuckling lightly. “We can only get this close or they will detect my presence. making it appear as if he was made up of a glittery mist.” Winston assured. “As I said. basically wagons on wheels. Somehow I didn't make a sound as I felt the searing pain travel up my arm. ran in and out of the mine. “Uh… yeah… just a lot of shadows. “Are you ok back there?” Winston whispered. Beneath the mine? Winston held out his arm so that I could weave my arm through it. I’m the only Ischero. but after you’ve seen shadows get up and lunge at you. and was almost at the point of retching after hearing what had been done to them although. It is the only way your kind can die. “Well. I don't have a choice. the Ischeros meeting is in full swing at center of this mine. “I will tell you more. I just had no idea when and where it would be taking place. “Now?” “Yes.” I was suddenly engulfed with sorrow for my parents. I still couldn't evoke any memories of knowing them. I wondered if this was such a good idea.” There were beams above our heads and along the mountain walls of rock. I had no idea how we’d be getting there. But you mustn't make a sound. These meetings were top secret. later. which after passing. and then slowly ease away. but you can hear everything from here. you’d be as jumpy as I was. The lanterns cast shadows that wouldn’t scare the average person. many secrets. a council is what Evan had called it the other night when I overheard him and Nikolas conversing. I was able to walk through it too. The nails were hammered into thick wooden beams along the dirt and stone walls.” “Winston. Its tunnels ran beneath the Sierras. the meeting is already underway. but instinctively moved closer to the wintry cold out of fear. The mule trains hauled silver to the refining mills to extract the precious and desperately coveted metals that had made quite a few greedy people in this town into millionaires. my chill factor. their power source. made what was ahead of you barely visible. instructing me to be quiet while he stood beside a lantern. Winston didn’t seem to spare any of the horrific details. The length of this dress didn't help at all. These people would have been considered billionaires in the future. thus making it virtually impossible to revive your parents.” Winston said. Somehow I knew that it was the same place I had fallen into from the virtual door of the parlor in the house that I grew up in. The glow of the light from the lantern illuminated his face. Without their hearts. Winston saw my reaction and said. I nodded. It’s being held beneath the Tieron mine. I found myself standing next to Winston in a dark cave like mine dimly lit by lanterns which hung from chunky nails. who could grant Winston what he starved for every second of his horrifying existence as a ghost.” I said nearly tripping over a portion of the wooden track only to be saved by slamming my hand onto a beam and feeling the splinters rip into the flesh of my palm. I didn't think Winston noticed my clumsy display until he turned to look at me in an alarming way. It was just one of the numerous mines which belonged to my family. I don’t know where that is. I was careful in my steps. but someone –” Suddenly there was a loud thud coming from somewhere deep in the mine. Hades’ monstrous threeheaded dog that guards the Underworld.” My mouth dropped. dined on your parents’ hearts. between two tunnels that intersect. According to the Capius’. Follow me and watch your footing on the tracks. “I’m afraid that you won’t be able to actually see anyone. Your family. only the shadows cast on these walls. and void of any trace of emotion. “Don’t worry.” Winston said very matteroffact. we don’t want to miss the whole show. . let’s move it along.Winston. that is the rumor.” Winston informed easing me back between two large boulders that were attached vertically to the walls.” Winston whispered. “Victor killed your parents. these are the nice ones. negotiating across the rock foundation. and put one finger to his mouth. Every Ischeros at this meeting has the acute ability to hear over a hundred feet away. and it instantly became a lot warmer as we went further into the mine. On the other side of the wall. Shall we?” Winston said. “I will tell you just one bit of information that they don’t want you to know. and where never announced until they were about to take place. He ripped their hearts out while they slept. Many which have been purposely kept from you. I shivered uncomfortably standing so close to Winston.” A ripple of fear ran through my veins as nausea made a home in my belly. What he wanted was greatly out of reach. I’ll tell you everything but first I’ll take you to where they are meeting tonight. I followed Winston but distanced myself a bit. spirit. but first. I was aware that there would be a meeting. “I suppose.” I whispered back. which was a gift to Hades. Victor has them hidden somewhere.” Winston warned. I eyed Winston suspiciously. My face must have looked twisted or something.” “Who?” “The families. as he started walking toward the doors. specter – whichever he preferred to be called. How could someone commit such an evil act? “It is rumored that Cerberus. Winston and I stood on the tracks where mule trains.

it was Thaddeus. Some voices were shouting as others were just above a whisper. It must be an elder. and definitely an elder by the weight of her tone.” Nikolas added. powerless but respected. He knows where Victor hides.” Evan answered.” Nikolas said. for argument’s sake. and to notify Hades that he. Especially since our trackers have traced Apolluon in Nickel City on two occasions.” “Victor shows the lack of guidance that his wretched parents failed to provide. Sacha admitted that much.” Julius. He will not do anything to jeopardize that.” . Never could be. “He has asked for protection from the Empress in return for not informing Hades that the Empress killed one of his queen. I listened intently. definitely not an elder. directing the question to the youthful voice.” A gruff male voice said. and his disciples plan to attack and seize Cordelia any night now. “It is what I told him. promises to bring the Empress’ heart to him. my Knights of Ischera?” Evan spoke with an authority well beyond his eighteen years. “Sire. Regardless. “Why should we trust an Apolluon undead?” A different voice asked. Is that understood. She is not to be trusted.” Nikolas chimed in. Victor.” “I requested your attendance tonight.” “This of course may bring some very unwanted attention of the Apolluon. and rapidly escalating.“I’m almost afraid to breathe. but younger.” Evan's voice was raised to a low thunder. followed by a raspy voice. He doesn’t understand Hades’ agenda. They have something planned. He asked Matthias to inform Hades of Driella’s death. Matthias turned him down for two reasons. It was confirmed by his twin sister. confidently. Two: Hades will never negotiate.” Evan commanded. who has declined to interfere. “The consequences have already been weighed. even for the chance of annihilating the Empress. One: Matthias knows that only the Empress is strong enough to kill him. She should be put to death for obviously trying to set a trap. I couldn't identify any of them. It was the voice of a woman.” Another voice spoke up.” Evan explained. He is over two thousand years old.” Evan answered. I guess Evan was giving them his proposal on his strategy. therefore Victor went to Matthias. “He also offered Matthias protection but the vampire knows better. I stayed within a few inches of Winston because being within a foot of him felt cool. Hades has set him free. “Lucas is expected to return on the night before the Masquerade Ball. As I tried to stay hidden between the two large boulders. He wants every last Ischero demigod as his eternal prisoners.” I whispered. and the decision has already been made. “The girl shouldn't be trusted. He quieted everyone into nods of approval which shadowed bobbing heads on the walls. Some alarmed. but the wall wouldn’t permit it. a peer. Victor had ordered him to return on the eve of the ball. His shadow moved forward. and the temperature in this mine was well over a hundred degrees. is he trustworthy?” The woman asked. “Will Cordelia attend the Ball?” My ears perked up with the mention of my name spoken by a female voice. “Lucas is a creature of habit. I began to hear voices that echoed in the distance. “I will send an alert once we have the location. “Matthias does not wish to ever return to the Underworld. This is his usual break. “Fine. “It is Lucas that we want. “Well at least one of us can. “And what about his…girl?” Another elder asked. What followed Evan's reply was a sea of voices. including Victor.” “Does he have any insight as to Victor’s plans or strategy?” I recognized that all business voice instantly. “Yes. Sacha has informed me that Victor. “As far as we know. “Perhaps it is best to postpone the anointment. but laced with authority. “Where would he get that idea?” That raspy voice wasn’t recognizable at all. I wasn’t sure of whom he asked about. Hedea. Victor’s only request is that Hades let’s him rule without any further attacks from the Apolluon. firmly. then he will allow Mathias to remain here. this sounds too dangerous. Evan continued. We must be prepared Ischeros. “Former Apolluon undead. We are here tonight to plan the ambush. “I agree.” “Julius. Lucas is the key. It was even toned. others shocked. I was almost compelled to move back a step or two.” Thaddeus added.” A male voice shouted with contempt.” Evan explained.” The sarcasm was hard to miss.” I recognized Evan’s crisp voice as if it were my own. “Victor can’t seek contact with Hades without permission the help of Hermes. Lucas has gone underground. by whom?” Evan asked. “If Hades believes that everything on earth is under control. He believes that she has gained her powers and but wasn’t aware of the fact when she killed the vampiress. in his usual gruff nononsense voice. has this been confirmed? If so. He hasn’t had a taste of freedom for more than two thousand years. not because I want your opinion. “We expect movement soon. as far as his disciples.

I was scared to death of the idea of seeing Victor and his disciples. The female members wore their sash around the waists – cinched by one knot. “Where are you –?” Winston hissed. Sire.“I agree. “Have you been in this room the entire evening?” Evan asked. but he was gone. Evan started walking around my bed as if he were interested in seeing what was on my bedside table but all the while he was scanning the bottom of my dress.” I tried to act unshaken by his sudden appearance. and hadn’t realized it. I hadn't realized that some of your powers had in fact been restored. I figured I might as well take advantage of my power to vanish. I was busted. Cordelia will attend the Ball as planned. “This could end very badly Sire. How did he get here faster than Winston and I? I turned to the right of me. “No. But the Masquerade Ball was only two nights away. thoroughly amused. where I expected Winston to be. I would suppose that if one did not remember the route. and didn’t answer me. I feared them buckling and causing enough noise to alert the entire roster of my presence.” A young woman noted in a shrilly voice. I looked at Winston who appeared to be listening intently as well. We were now standing about two feet apart. stood wearing maroon hued sashes. looking to be in their midforties to early fifties. Again I had made myself invisible. Everyone's eyes turned blood red.” Nikolas thundered. He commanded respect from all of the members of the empire. Victor's execution is our first and last priority. “There is a powerful presence in this room. You’re invisible. and accepted his wishes. and received it. I carefully tiptoed passed him. then how could I not be? My knees began to get weak. I hoped that they wouldn't see me. An empire. like a pungent odor. then one would need the help of someone. alarmingly as he turned around. or what I might say. If a cave full of powerful demigods were in fear. and the smell of dampness lingered in the air.” I leaned to the right passed another wooden beam. all dressed in ivory cloaks that were draped with a sash. and magically walked right back into my bedroom. It was Evan. I believe I heard Evan sigh at the words that echoed and bounced off the walls like handballs being smacked over and over again. Each member donned a sash in one of several shades of either garnet or violet. I would much rather jump off of the highest peak of the Sierras than attend that Ball. as he ambled through the opened French doors that separated my two rooms. The Empresses’ powers have not been fully restored. uh… what are you doing here?” “May I?” Evan asked if he could come into the bedroom portion of the two rooms. I looked at Evan whom had followed my gaze as I searched the room for Winston. and Evan turned and seemed to look directly at me too. Winston grabbed my hand. I followed his gaze. “The mines are almost impossible to navigate with the lamps being so dim. dim. And with that everyone piped down. as he governed this all powerful empire. Amongst them were Thaddeus and Alexandria Capius who wore deep crimson sashes. I was facing a room of a hundred or so members. . from the elders down to the younger demigods. whom stood just left of Evan. proudly. ” Evan said. whose back was to me. An outer circle of members.. I gulped as I was certain that it was obvious to him what the answer was. His sash was bright crimson and edged in gold. the highest ranking Ischero. The male members wore their sash draped from one shoulder to the other forming a cowl under their necks. evenly. and looked directly at me. Oh crap! They know that I’m here. Hades’ disciples will not be alerted. They watched their son. wore a sash in a deep shade of garnet as did Bethany who stood next to Evan. and smiled. Our position remains the same. He no longer wore the cloak. Just then I heard Nikolas’ voice. “Shh.” Another voice commented. which would soon disperse and blend right back into the mortal world.. Nikolas. Suddenly everyone started looking around them as if they were sensing something. and we flew right through the dirt wall. older. “Ugh!” I gasped. It must have been the deepest point because the space was wide.” Evan looked at me as if intrigued as to how I would react. He was dressed in one of his many impeccably tailored suits. Winston must have disappeared the second we went through the dirt wall. He stood high above them levitating. or something in order to make the journey to the depth of the mine possible.” Winston noted. in shock as I saw a figure in my sitting room. “Uh… sure. gazing up admiringly at her brother. I took a couple of more steps deeper into the mine. and it is not you Sire. “Whoa…well. “As long as this mission is executed cautiously. “No.” I admitted in a whisper. I had to catch my breath. “Are you looking for someone?” Evan appraised me. and he was standing in front of the French doors to the balcony. They were all facing Evan. and noticed the dirt stains all over the hem of my emerald taffeta dress.

I truly wanted to live up to who he saw. . but Evan was right. I read his thoughts. Evan was a distraction to any progress of my memory being restored. He knows all of Victor’s hiding places. I replayed the moment in my mind.” I said. The lilacs seemed most intoxicating at this particular moment. The kiss was so light that I barely felt it. aren’t I? The most important part.” “That much I heard.” I stated under my breath. He chuckled. and sort of half chuckled. in the world. incredible as it was. They subsided with his warm gaze. but Evan didn’t seem taken aback at all.. He looked at me for a long second then looked downward at his feet. If what we shared earlier was real and not a dream. “I'm not so. “Earlier today. he was beside me. inside as well as on the surface. “And I don't see you that way. again. He thought that I was beautiful beyond compare.. he’s still quite dead. understandably shy. “Goodnight Cordelia. and overwhelming. and turned around to face him. and asking me all these questions like I answer to him? “My intention was not to shut you out. I wasn't certain that you were ready. and their continuous rebirth. if ever..” Evan's gorgeous face was the same shade as some of the budding roses in the garden – blush pink. and I tried and … nothing. but I couldn’t allow that to happen yet. or be shocked at Evan's clarity on what I’d been up to. as I watched him walk out of my bedroom doors. He took a moment before answering. “Did you ask Winston to take you?” “Yes. with real conviction. I don't only see the most beautiful girl… woman.” He answered. “I love to see you smile. I felt the warmth of his sweet breath against my cheek.” I said. then I felt that we were moving too fast. Shouldn’t I have at least been invited?” I said it all so fast. I needed more information from Winston. I knew that he wanted to kiss me. He walked over to where I still stood at the edge of my bed. His smile was as mesmerizing as always. coming in here.” I played along knowing that Evan was on to me. “How did you know about the assemblage of the entire family?” I felt like I was being interrogated by a seasoned detective who was totally trying to trip me up. I couldn’t allow my growing feelings for him to distract me from my agenda. deep down I still didn't know who that was. I just couldn’t catch my breath. It was like looking at a kaleidoscope made up of pastel flowers. The corners of his mouth looked as if they were about to turn upward into a smile. I see the strongest in will and heart although.” I cleared my throat. Again it felt like we were the only two people in the world. and it was what I wanted. I fought with myself not to drown in the beautiful oasis of his eyes.” As fast as a current of electricity. Who did he think he was.” “Why?” “What do you mean why? I’m a part of this family. “Yes. so I walked over to the window. A few moments went by as we stared at each other. I guess what he said made sense. The goose bumps on my arm were the evidence of my astonishment. I had to know if it was a dream. We’ve decided to… put pressure on Lucas. “How is Winston these days? Still dead?” I didn’t know if I should laugh. I had to turn away.. “When I look at you. and speechless. “Goodnight. I see an iron clad devotion to her purpose in this world although. “How do you see me?” Evan's eyes changed from sapphire to reveal the clearest boldest sky blue. “Winston told me. I was stunned by their dramatic change and waited patiently for his reply. It was like being swept away in turbulence. all in one breath.. after we spoke in the parlor. kind of angrily. I was blown away by Evan's words. The room stayed quiet as neither of us spoke. I thought that with your memory not quite restored. I was angry.” I hadn’t realized that I was smiling as I thought of the time Evan and I spent together today. and I really wanted to. that it may be premature. I was captivated by the warmth of it. And then they did. We'll talk tomorrow. What amazed me was how something as simple as a smile could transform the feelings of the recipient of the smile. I couldn’t hear his thoughts.” Evan said. she may still feel unsure to what that is exactly. He looked amused. did you spend time with me in here?” “Yes. and you fell asleep. so I’ve been led to believe.. I relaxed a little as the aroma of the blooming buds wafted in. fragile.” My admission left a slightly surprised look across Evan's angelic face. “The meeting was set to lay out the strategic plan to finally take down Victor. unintentionally.” Evan whispered in my ear. The garden was a blur of Demeter’s blossoms. Delia.“I suppose one would. staring me straight in the eyes. I then found the nerve to ask him a question that I needed an honest answer too. “It's late. I pondered Evan’s last remark. and peered out through the lace curtains as I could feel Evan’s eye’s on my back. and Evan just stood across from me and watched me intently.” Evan's eyes were intense. it’s my favorite moments of each day.

had the warm complexion in the shade of honey with eyes that shimmered like iridescent gold. and the thought to shift into a panther was obliterated as if it was never even a thought in Lucas’ mind at all. they seemed to determine where the hallways led as if they lived there. or Sacha’s high pitch scream. I dreamt of the Masquerade Ball. Lucas had his clothes on in less than a minute. I loathed anything that had to do with disguises. Hedea’s transformation took an instant. yet terribly brutal creatures. But the four demigods had their orders. Something about not knowing beforehand whom I was looking at and talking to freaked me out. and while we sat together in my sitting room. however little I knew. the member’s faces appeared as if they were in my room with me. and while we sat in the gazebo and he tenderly feathered kisses on the inner part of my wrist and hand. There have been several moments since my return that felt so incredibly familiar. Hedea flew upward and away from Lucas. Bertrand of the Octavius family was burly with skin as olive as the oil from the branches of the Goddess Athena’s tree. yet shocked response to the huge vulture’s beak which was just a few inches from his face. Her recovery was quick and the attempt to shift was complete. just thinking about it made me want to see him right now. I knew that I would never fall back to sleep if I kept rattling Athena’s words off in my head. and mimes. the objective was to prevent an abduction. He proceeded to follow Hedea’s strict orders. and were all shifters of some kind. The others were shifters of magnificent strength. they were all there to achieve one common goal. Her words were forever engraved in my mind. I felt like I’d known his touch. Hedea. In those infinite moments. I wasn’t looking forward to the Masquerade Ball. Suddenly everything felt sinister. the antidote to shifting. The disoriented feline shifted back to her original human form. was a shifter of fire. in my rumpled sheets. and Victor’s disciples were not to be killed. but they weren’t. Lucas was first. was a fire spewing weredragon as his mother. The four warriors looked at each other awkwardly as Lucas was exposed wearing only his birthday suit. mine. Olympia of the Leonidas family. in another room. It just wasn’t possible to fall for someone that quickly. my mind was consumed with Evan. dressed as she had come in. bustle and all. The ferocious panther didn’t hesitate to pounce on Bethany who shifted simultaneously into her aquatic form. Some were divine shifters of the elements and forces of nature. as could be expected with four powerful demigods entering her room uninvited. the warriors. They were led by Nikolas and Bethany. and perched herself on the edge of his huge bed. Olympia spun the night’s soft breeze into a forceful twister which sent the panther clawing and spinning out of control. Sacha was startled. Winston would try to make contact before the Ball. Hedea proceeded to Glamour Lucas. just seized. Perhaps the nightmares were a forewarning of the evening to come. the smell of stale perfume was as fierce as a smack in the face. the feel of his lips. a centaur and Julius and his sister Hedea of the Hepolis family. further down the hall. it was in brief spurts. but it wasn’t a sound sleep. in only four days. I saw them all standing outside of the grim lone mansion that sat behind Gold Hill. With every toss and turn. It was still dark. and I was restless. an overseer like her father. the element alone. The members of the empire. The Hepolis family were winged creatures of flight. exiting totally drenched as the French doors magically flung open on their own. was water of course. I woke up every hour with thoughts that felt like mental obstacles. And just like that. were dressed in their impeccable attire as always. while clad in nothing but a corset and bloomers as she sang a ragtime tune about the joy of squandering some pathetic fool’s gold. like when we were alone together the day before in the parlor and he held me close to him and kissed my cheeks. and transformed back into human form. yet familiar. and I suspected that I was dreaming. such as Nikolas. whose rust colored hair matched the light sprinkle of freckles on the bridge of her slim nose. Even though they all had different dimensions of strength and capabilities. The warriors split into two teams. If I slumbered at all. You have the strength were you lack the aspiration… Free yourself from what you know. I needed to see him again. navigating their way through the darkness until they met their destinations. Therefore Olympia lowered the feline. I thought about Athena’s riddle. and impossible to decipher. floating in a purple haze. again. I knew whose house it was. His snores broke instantly into a groggy. At some point I fell asleep again. deadly cloaked mavericks without faces. Through the gloominess. What I’m feeling had to be based on the memory of what I had felt for Evan before I left. It happened quickly and decisively. so I allowed my mind to drift. With Sacha. soon. and the intensity of his gaze for centuries. His younger sister. She had been sitting at her vanity. Bethany. and as expected. brushing her silky tangle of curls. which contrasted her milky complexion. The teams headed in two different quarters of the spacious house. . The panther sliced through the deluge of Bethany’s body. thanks to Evan’s unexpected appearance. I couldn’t help but feel nervous around him. was a shifter of air – tornados were her specialty. including clowns. and being surrounded by hideous masquerade masks and. I still hadn’t figured out what the goddess – my sister had meant. who had to be at least six and a half feet tall with skin the color and texture of smooth chocolate. invaded the scarcely lit house. and held his hand out to be shackled with silver cuffs. I dreamt violently of Victor ripping my heart out as he had done to my parents. One team led by Nikolas and the other by Bethany. the abduction wasn’t as simple as it had been with her twin. She was a werevulture. Julius. I couldn’t be falling for him in the now knowing him. All the while. Her razor sharp talons jabbed into Lucas’ linebacker sized neck as he lay slumbering in his bed. The warriors couldn’t be sure that if it had been the severe pinch of Hedea’s talons that woke Lucas. Hopefully. I thought of Winston. I could see both teams working simultaneously. He hadn’t had the opportunity to divulge much.TwentySix Abduction I woke with a start.

Lucas. Evan questioned him. Evan went for Lucas first. “You will tell me where Victor hides. Sacha was now strung up against the wall opposite the one her brother was shackled to.” Sacha spit in Evan’s direction. and I won’t hurt a delicate curl on her pretty little head. Sacha was instructed to dress quickly. and Bethany led Sacha to where Evan. while keeping the two prisoners apart. Julius began to Glamour Sacha while Bethany transformed back into her human form. “Perhaps a bath to begin with. but the flames that wrapped around Sacha continued to climb. . He then twisted his face into a scrunched up expression as if Sacha’s hair had a displeasing odor.” Lucas tried to assure Sacha.” Evan said. sis. and Julius to gather three small armies for the ambush which he planned to lead.” Evan smiled at Lucas. Evan looked pleased as he knew the plan had been executed without any errors or casualties. soon got the joke.” But the malicious grin on Lucas’ face slowly changed to a look of curiosity as the screams and profane language arose. and then Evan’s eyes turned crimson as blood and bright as the yet to be invented street light. and couldn’t be used more than once within a twenty – four hour period. He fought the chains that dug into his flesh.” He demanded. but he was proving to be no help at all unless… “Tell us where he is.” Lucas promised. let’s discuss it. Unfortunately.” “Let her go or I’ll Kill you all!” Lucas said. because he and his sister were of the supernatural kind. heading for the same location. She coughed uncontrollably. leaving a burned circular imprint on the ground. Who said anything about killing…yet? But… since you brought it up. but it was futile. He was there when they all arrived. “Lucas please!” Sacha begged.” Evan pulled one of Sacha’s spirally tendrils. He wasn’t strong enough to break them. Julius. both unable to hear the other. The strategy was to never allow one prisoner to know that the other was a prisoner as well. She behaved as any hypnotized person would. and cried hard shaky sobs. Bertrand stepped forward and fire shot out of his eyes. Sacha looked to Lucas through an avalanche of sobs as she lost her footing. His fresh crisp shirt was smeared with dirt as sweat dripped from his face. the smell of sulfur rose in the air. Lucas tried to wriggle free. She looked as if she was being lowered into the fiery pits of Hell. “We know that your twin doesn’t have the faintest idea as to where your master hides. She was complaining that her eyes were burning from the smoke. and then Nikolas. All questions pertaining to Victor’s whereabouts. Tears streamed down Sacha’s face as she tried to stand on her tip toes to avoid being scorched by the climbing flames. and nearly tripped over the wooden tracks. Lucas sneered but wouldn’t divulge a morsel of information – a devoted disciple.” Lucas finally spilled the beans. The mine was dark and dank. Sacha looked at her brother. Only Evan stayed behind. Sacha looked exhausted as she whimpered. “Don’t let them kill me. “I’ll tell you. Nikolas. He described three different dens where Victor isolated himself. Sacha was caving into the floor of the mine.Now Sacha was on all fours completely human. Hedea. The indignant expression on his sweaty face brought on mild laughter from Evan. unlike all the other mortals. Evan raised his hand and the fire disappeared from Bertrand’s eyes. the hypnotic state only lasted a few minutes. evenly as Bertrand walked an imaginary tight rope around Sacha. “Pipe down. She was being dropped into a hole. and dispersed. will I. Lucas was no longer in the hypnotic Glamour mode. and still mildly dizzy from the vortex of Olympia’s harsh winds.” “They won’t. Olympia. heightened by the heat. Everyone but Lucas ignored her. Lucas was shackled to the dirt and stone wall as was Sacha in another portion of the mine. as the platform dropped to the point where the part surrounding her was up to her knees. completely naked. and lined a circle of flames around Sacha. “Oh I will. and then let it slide between his fingers quickly. obediently. Bertrand. and her body could barely be seen through the circular wall of fire. “It feels like an inferno in here. “You’re bluffing!” Lucas yelled. “Well… let’s get on with it” Bethany snapped at Lucas. She almost appeared meek. Lucas’ eyes bulged at the unexpected sight of his sibling in shackles. The heel of her shoe broke. She looked to her brutal twin for help. The teams exited the mansion separately. The members were satisfied. Evan immediately dispatched Olympia. “You bastards! Let her go! She doesn’t know anything!” Lucas bellowed furiously. Bethany and Julius and the rest. It was obvious to everyone what was happening. I’ll tell you where he is. between clenched teeth. and Bertrand held Lucas. Bethany doused the flames into pungent smog. “Stop! Stop! Don’t burn her. His eyes flashed a menacing glare at Lucas. “NO!” Sacha and Lucas screamed simultaneously. and twisting about. Suddenly the circular imprint of the imaginary tight rope began to crumble making a circular platform where Sacha stood. and sniffed it. and more importantly unable to shift.

I doubted it this morning. I couldn't focus on anything. spoke and his voice shook me out of my thoughts. Being consumed with a boy was so unlike me. to break down this whole New Year thing to me.” Evan added. with all the discussion about the Ball. “Cordelia. I tried unsuccessfully to seize his gaze several times. He then turned to walk away. I remembered every moment of the dream as if I had participated in it in some way. I should be able to use my powers to do that. Evan’s expression was frustratingly unreadable. turning to Sacha. and I’m sure he wished he could. but I wasn't. Nikolas chomped away at his breakfast. I still needed to know more. nobody would make eye contact with me. but said nothing. I felt the nausea begin to build in my stomach. It had been intense. You have to let us go.” “New Year?” I directed my question to Evan. I put my fork down. I hoped no one in attendance at the table had taken notice. as well as everyone else. He seemed to relish having the floor. then everyone went right back to their lively conversations regarding the Ball. His deep voice lightly growled forward like a steam train leaving the station. I’d never felt such an intense lure to anyone before… Evan. I simply wanted to be at peace with my life. I was greeted with the customary ‘Good Morning’ from everyone. So he was upset with my lack of recollection.” Evan reminded Lucas as he brushed off the imaginary lint on his tailored suit. but then again. except for Evan. For breakfast it was coffee.” Evan snickered. “They’re both seen through the eye of the beholder.” Thaddeus said. The topic of the day was the Masquerade Ball. I sat up.” Evan said. and I immediately started coughing. you’d expect that I might be at the point of elation. As if I had something to do with the lack of it. and he sort of smiled.” Lucas looked into his twin’s tear glazed hazel eyes. “Bastard!” Lucas seethed. I would forget about concentrating on my memory once his face came into view. My gut did flips and whirls like a pro gymnast. Most of my efforts were now spent on trying to mask what was surfacing between Evan and me. and I muffled a giggled. who seemed oblivious to it. if you didn't count my desire to speed time up a hundred and twenty years. and it was an actual memory of an actual event. more of a ‘are you ok?’ kind of way. “Or beauty. “And if you’ve lied to me about the locations. I needed to somehow contact Winston. In that case.” Evan said. matching hand fans and masks. They had all predicted that I would regain all that I’d ever known by now. forward time. Everyone was chatting incessantly at the table. but his ghostly frame never appeared. He then made a grimace at his father. You are expected to stay in your chambers for the remainder of the day to rest as we all will be resting. yet I sat here with already a week gone by remembering close to nothing. Sacha looked at her brother and began crying. We must preserve our energy for the ceremonies of the day ahead. Tomorrow we will begin our festivities at dusk.“I told you were he is. He looked like a restless animal. and everything must go as planned my dear. I hoped that he wouldn’t commence with a long history lesson on the Ball.. Sun Paw woke me. I’d forward myself right back to the future. This was very odd. I wasn’t surprised when Thaddeus spoke up again. . “I would have thought my son might have shared this information with you since you have yet. and waited for someone. Why was no one talking to me? Was I invisible? Hardly yet. “Besides. “Bastards. but trying not to stare at Evan was most difficult. “I never said anything about letting you go. All of a sudden Thaddeus.” Thaddeus expressed slightly icily.. and the specially custom made. very much.. After a week of constant attention from him. as if he was reading my mind. I caught Evan watching me. Thaddeus and Nikolas were animated as they explained to Christopher and Phoebe how exciting it will be for them when they are old enough to attend the Masquerade Ball. The silly expression caught me off guard. please tell me you told him the truth. smirking as he eyed Lucas. We prepare for our new dawn and the festivities planned for tomorrow evening. I bathed. The nerve of him. “You’d better hope your brother has told me the truth. but stopped and turned and faced Sacha. dressed.. as intense as the dream of being chased by werewolves with Evan. I really don’t need this sarcastic windbag looking down at me. It is the Ischeros’ celebration of our New Year and your anointment. Remembering was all I wanted. to recall. I promise you Lucas Hayden. “Luc.” Evan said. who didn't seem to be listening to what his father had just vaguely explained. whether it would be taking place now or a hundred years ahead. gulped. Evan was always watching me when he thought I was unaware of him watching me – not in a creepy stalker kind of way. This time it will be permanent. or somehow send a message to warn Victor ahead of time. and I wanted to push my plate of uneaten fruit away. appearing to be far off somewhere. with this many pairs of eyes averted away from me. I realized that the temperature this morning was a lot cooler than usual. and then turned to Lucas.” With that Evan followed the tracks out of the mine and vanished into the interior.” Lucas demanded as he rattled the chains. I instantly looked for Winston. A very cool breeze blew in through my windows. who gazed out into the garden. so he wasn’t mad at me. or I’ll take great pleasure in watching my sister tear you one limp at a time. and stretched my arms out. “Today is a day of solace. It was the day before the Masquerade Ball and I would do anything for the power to fast forward to the day after the Ball. evenly as he looked at me guardedly. and hurried downstairs to breakfast. you will beg the Gods for mercy while I kill you with my bear hands. letting this boy occupy so much of my mind. After the time we spent together yesterday and all that was spoken between us. Bethany and Alexandria discussed the gowns. but I just couldn’t help it. How pathetic of me I thought for a moment. who was eager to fill that bottomless pit of a stomach he had. and Nikolas. I know who my father is. and was utterly ignored. smelling the smoke as if I had been inhaling it. and beat his back against the dirt wall. the one meal where he drank something other than wine. I was forced to look in his direction in rapid reflex. Ok. It wasn't my idea to erase it in the first place.

I was instructed to remain there in order to avoid an unexpected attack. Is there anyone out there in this great big universe who could honestly identify with the anguish and fear I’m feeling right now? I really doubt it. I seem to be hitting road blocks every time I try to find out about my past and about the empire. had I not been exposed to them before. and also to rest in anticipation of my anointment at the Masquerade Ball. “Hello. All the while Evan massaged my feet. I ate quickly. I didn’t realize how good my feet felt now that I’d taken those narrow satin pumps off. Once he was in front of the chaise. with no memory of their existence as one. Also I think that I’m falling in lo – Suddenly.” Evan said.1891 Dear Diary. I forced my mind back to the discussion taking place at the table. His alluring smile was contagious. there was a light rapping on the door. I headed up the stairs to my bedroom. I wondered how I would go about occupying my time. I’d be willing to bet the empire on it.” He said. the pain subsided almost instantly. and hunted by evil beings and forced to live in another point in time. a prisoner in my room. I had the most uncontrollable urge to run my fingers through the waves. a bit too abruptly. and let my mind wander. His muscular build. and walking toward me. I sat at my desk and took out the small bottle of pungent black ink and pen. He continued to gently rub my feet for a while before he finally spoke. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t another soul who’d been killed then reborn at the exact age. I’m so afraid of every hour of each day that I live in this point in time surrounded by so much that I don’t remember. I took a quick peek at him. Evan caught me staring at him. “I believe that things will be different after tomorrow night. I removed my shoes and put my feet up. I was completely relaxed. Diary. getting up unexpectedly. yet I’m still very cautious of what I may remember when I finally do…hopefully do. I tried to keep my eyes on his hands. I wouldn't believe you fostered the powers you do. and sat down on the comfortable chaise lounge. I was so nervous that I bit my tongue twice. but not overpowering. but it was Evan – divine and statuesque. back in their hiding place. he gently lifted my feet and slid onto the open end of the chaise. I adjusted myself and leaned back onto the arm of the long chair. I’ve seen small amounts of proof that totally makes this all too real. I haven’t a friend in the whole wide world who could possibly understand what I’m going through. Oct. and then told that they are a demigod. and made me weak. I tried with every grain of my being to shake it off. Evan’s hair was the perfect shade of auburn. I knew that he was watching me now. as he took a seat in one of the large ivory velvet chairs across from me. and saw that he was still gazing at me. Thankfully. 30. I relaxed. which worked effortlessly to calm me. Sadly I’d have to wait nearly sixty years to watch television and a hundred to use a computer. armor like in his cream colored shirt and chocolate pinstriped vest. I pulled out the stack of little leather bound journals from their hiding place. admiringly. .My eyes were drawn to his flawless and exquisite face – the perfect bone structure mixed with delicateness. I gulped. As he tenderly rubbed my stocking clad feet. making up for the time he’d lost when I first sat down. I’m not just sure that there isn’t another soul out there. Not even Bethany. and gently curled upward at his collar. What the heck was I going to do. I quickly closed the journal and put it away along with the rest. I opened the last of the diaries to the first blank page following the last entry. a demigod. the tingling feeling rose upward from my toes to my calf muscles to my knees then to my thighs. and felt my heart pounding in my chest as it began to race. There seems to be quite a few secrets hidden from me and I don’t understand why they are hidden from me when I am the empress of the empire.” I invited him in. made me want to wrap myself up in him. sequestered. By the time the feeling reached my chest. wanting badly for this meal to end.” Evan said. I don’t trust anyone a hundred percent. The light rapping seemed too delicate for a man. I couldn't fathom how staying in my room – the same room where Victor had paid me a visit only a few days before – could be innocuous. “You look so… delicate there. After breakfast. I have no one to talk to. he would peer at me with the slight curl of the corners of his mouth. There was more than enough room for the both of us on the chaise lounge. lowering my feet on his stone hard lap. but found myself drawn to his penetrating eyes. so I expected to see Bethany or Sun Paw. “Hi. The abdicable idea of Victor sent a creeping Nordic chill up my spine. and began writing. pretending to peer over at Nikolas. He stood before me towering. but I had to smile back. all day? It’s not like I could watch TV or go online. and I turned away. It had to be the most sensual moment I had ever experienced. where I would spend the rest of the day. making me want to kiss him. which must have revealed what I was feeling. I couldn’t think of anything else to do so I decided to write to you. I do believe that I’m what they say I am.

he can seize our empire by force and in numbers. His eyes lingered. smiling that mesmerizing smile that always quickened my heart rate. “Cordelia. “How much power does he have?” I asked. Therefore I believe that the crowning may be the missing link. into seclusion. giggling. impatiently.” I reminded Evan. yet Victor was able to get to them. “I’m sure that you don’t. finally. I do.” “I thank you on behalf of every member of the empire. Evan stared down at my hand and placed his hand over it. right?” I asked. staring at his hand over mine for a brief moment. I just believe that your crowning is essential. as the feeling of anxiety began to rise in me like the temperature on a hot summer day.” . “Ok. “He tore their beating hearts out of their chests. Your circumstance is a very unique one. motionless. “How did he kill them?” I asked.” “And if it doesn’t?” “Please think positively. “In the past it has always been that way. he is a great one. and has forced the twenty left. When my father explained to you. “The elders are demigods of lesser power if any at all since aging.” I said. thinking that this conversation had come to a fork in the road and that it could go one of two very different ways – either down the perilous path or continue down the enjoyable one we were about to get off of. For once I didn’t feel nervous with him looking at me as if he could read my thoughts. as I sighed. His voice never wavered as he spoke of the grotesque deaths of the oldest members of the empire.“Because of the New Year.” I said. “Indeed. I was intrigued by the notion. This is the first time that an Ischero to be crowned doesn’t have their memory.” I tried to focus on Evan’s words. The intensity in his eyes burrowed into my soul. Evan stopped massaging my feet. and not the tenderness of his touch. angrily then paused. He stayed like that. But in actuality he explained it quite mildly. “I believe that your crowning may in fact bring your memory back. I’ll try.” He turned his gaze to me. you may have thought that he was being brash or blunt. as Evan sighed.” Evan said. Maybe. “Really?” I knew Evan detected the skepticism in my voice. The confidence in Evan’s voice wasn’t contagious.” “Tell me. Although. The elder’s offspring guarded them because they were vulnerable. reaching out to touch his arm.” I said.” Evan said.” “What do you mean?” I said. including my parents. The empire is in dire need of your presence. I was kind of low on faith these days. Every demigod set to reign had already had their memory intact. “How did he kill them?” “It doesn’t really matter how.” Evan said. It will make the transition to power that much more successful. chuckling quietly. “Without your strength. a few days ago. “How will it make me remember?” I couldn’t shake the doubt in my voice. and looked me in the eyes and took a deep breath. staring me in the face. “I can’t tell you that.” Evan added for good measure. “Victor has surpassed my level of power. I thought. somehow.” Evan said. Victor requires their hearts so that his strength can be magnified. firmly.” “But I thought I needed my memory in order to be crowned an empress.” Evan said. “While Victor is a threat. there are some things that I feel that you should be aware of. Somehow I knew which way Evan was headed and I wanted to get up from the chaise. as he caressed my feet.” Evan said gravely.” I nodded and said. I’m afraid that time is not on our side. “How is he able to do that?” I asked in a whisper. The crowning fortifies your soul in a profound way.” “I want to know. my love. “He has killed two more elders. about the peril we are in.” Evan said. “It’s the most. “That does have something to do with it. “I guess saving everyone is the least I can do. this nightmare would be over. I gulped and pressed on. He is accessing more power at an alarming rate.” Evan explained vaguely and skirted giving me the full details. After a minute or two. “Yours is the only power he cannot exceed. I could handle this. Delia.

It was a familiar feeling. I’m not sure whose eyes.” “Yes. “Delia. sounding heated and out of breath. “Would Zeus allow us all to die?” “Zeus will not have to interfere because we will not let this escalate. well I may be stronger.” I said. “Anyway the members abducted Lucas and Sacha by Glamouring them. Well. I actually woke up choking from the smoke. “The Apolluon’s consumption of us would not cease with us. You named everyone who was there. letting go of my chin and then taking my hands in his. and since the only power to stop them has been… well you understand. the leader of the Lykaon. I trembled in his touch and then eventually calmed down.” I rambled. swinging my legs off Evan’s lap. Evan finally spoke. Obviously someone else was there and the others didn’t pick up on this beings presence.” Evan said. You were all at Lucas’ and Sacha’s house. and looked down at my hands. “I need you to believe it. I decided it was a good a time as any to bring it up.” Evan said.” . right? I mean you nearly defeated an entire pack in my dream. And there was blazing fire.” Evan eyes never left my face. Bertrand.” I blurted. Olympia. This is going to sound crazy but. He is too blinded by greed to see that the end result will be his own demise. as I watched Evan’s eyes twinkle as I mentioned the word Glamouring. since he killed Donatella. There is no significance to his agenda.” “But were stronger than werewolves. were not a result of Winston’s presence. the conquest is just that. and plunged right in.” I gulped. We sat that way. paralyzed in a gaze. as he touched my cheek then gently lifting my chin so that he could look me in the eyes.” “Victor is still an Ischeros in Hades’ eyes even if we don’t accept him. for a long moment before either of us uttered a word. “Like I said. “Yeah. Bertrand is a fire shifter. and ultimately Hades will have all of our souls. He is as greedy.” “Does he want to rule the empire?” “He doesn’t give a damn about this family or our empire therefore. you weren’t. “For Victor. if not greedier than his parents were. the largest and strongest pack. Since I was at a loss for words. if we cede to him.” At first Evan said nothing.” “It wouldn’t? I thought that they only hunted the Ischeros. sitting up. He looked at me. Lucas was forced to tell you were Victor was hiding because you threatened to kill his sister. I knew them by name. Julius. “Do you want to tell me about it?” Evan said. You came later. almost in a whisper. like two old friends reminiscing. “Once the members brought them to the mine. “So what would happen to us?” “We would either be fed to his newly acquired pack of werewolves.” I was dumbfounded and began stammering.” I said. I do. That is also what Athena had meant. Surprisingly. you were in it and so were Bethany and Nikolas and several other Ischero members. I gulped as if on cue. pausing as Evan seemed to hang on my every word. I woke up feeling like I’d been where the dream took place – like a memory or something. a conquest.” Evan said. but many of our members would be slaughtered leaving us outnumbered. “What you just described actually took place last night. I decided to break the silence. ruling our empire would become a bore for him. and I knew them well. “W…what? Did I dream it?” “Yes and no. Yes you saw it as a dream. and dropping my feet onto the ornate rug.” Evan said.” Evan’s face was flushed with emotion. solemnly. then shifted his eyes to a strand of hair that he moved away from my eye and away from my face. Like water going down a drain I felt the color leave my cheeks. and you were in it. He almost burned Sacha alive. “Then they took them to a mine where you were waiting for them. but from the icy chill in my spine by what Evan explained. “I had a dream last night. and noticed the goose bumps on my arm. admiringly.” Evan said looking me straight in the eyes. “By then the Apolluon will have sensed our aura once we try to defend ourselves.” Evan declared. Evan was trying to get me to understand that the power was in me. that for once. I mean when you and I were in the forest that night. The room was quiet as we both allowed Evan’s last words to hang in the air.“Do you really believe that my memory will be restored when I’m crowned?” I asked. “Was it that bad?” “It was so real. Hedea. He just wants to win. I no longer felt nervous talking to him. but somehow your mind saw it through someone’s eyes.

He will surface soon. Let's just rest. I did. but I didn't expect to see you till this evening for dinner.” Evan pleaded. I closed my eyes.” “We won’t see each other this evening. and just like that the spark of hope had been doused like a match in the rain.” Evan smiled sweetly. “What? That everything will be fine.” “So that’s what you meant by things being different after tomorrow night?” I asked sounding breathless. but nothing came. especially when you didn’t know what being it was. Evan’s beautiful face was literally an inch away from mine. I was crippled with fear. I looked deeply into his eyes and I knew then that I could trust him. although I wanted to trust him. I had no control over the visions that seemed to have a mind of their own and came and went as they pleased. a bit harshly. Everything will be fine. I closed my eyes and tried to place the occurrence.” Evan said.” “But how could I do that from a dream? “I suppose you may have called upon someone in the subconscious. for the first time. “Ok. that I closed my eyes. toasty hands. and I promise you this. I didn’t totally believe everything would be fine.. I’m just frustrated and… worried about tomorrow night. I couldn’t help the slight feeling of apprehension at his request. If I were you. of any shadows. I’m just telling you how I feel. I leaned back against the back of the chaise. I guess.” I said. When I opened my eyes. truly believe in who I once was. “I don’t know. and I almost beamed that this horrible ordeal was almost over. Damn near scared of my own shadow. but we have confirmed that they are his hideouts. I don’t want you to worry. I didn’t want to lose the feeling of him soothing me. or make you feel in anyway weak. something was blocking me from trusting him entirely. very matteroffactly. as he took my face in his hands. I was sure of it. I need you to think positively for tomorrow night.” “I know you are. “I’m sorry.” Evan let out a low sigh.” “To be honest with you. “As you regain your strengths. I’m not sure since none of us. . and had gone through what you’ve gone through these past few days. I’m not sure of everything. the Apolluon as smothering shadows and as blood thirsty vampires. ravenous wolves and stealthy panthers didn’t appear. I will make sure that you are safe. I want some control over what’s happening to me. and we’ll be prepared for him. I was trying my hand at being diligent.” “So what happened?” “Victor wasn’t found at any of the locations Lucas provided. we will learn what you are truly capable of.” “I want to help you. as he took my hands in his.” “I’m not upset. “What are you thinking about?” “I don’t know. “But we’ve made it impossible for him to find a place to hide. The foot rub was so comforting. I just wish I remembered who I was. It felt so good like the promise of love unconditionally. Evan had resumed massaging my feet. Evan stroked my cheek and I rubbed my cheek into his hand as he cupped my face. “Yes.. my love.“A being?” It sounded creepy. I was exhausted with being afraid. Knowing this. and that I will have my memory restored.” I admitted. I feel kind of lost… still. but was it? I prayed that Evan was right about me regaining my memory once I was crowned empress. I nodded because I felt safe with Evan although. but I’m sure of one thing. period. and for the first time visions of Victor. We sat quietly for a while. Despair began to rise up in my core again. “Let's not talk about this now. well not with you anymore. I guess I would be too. I just wasn’t able to let my guard down although. I didn’t mean to upset you. It’s what my father meant by solace. As I gazed into the blue pools of his eyes. His hands were warm and strong and soft. Patience is the key. Please trust me. What can I do to make you feel –?” “I don’t want you to do anything.” Evan said.” Evan stated. or that I know that you’re worried?” “About everything being fine. “How can you be so sure?” I asked. He had done this for me before. “Yes.” Evan said. no other Ischero has the capability to see an occurrence from their sub – conscious mind. and enjoyed the oddly familiar touch as Evan continued to rub my feet in his large. Everyone will dine exclusively in their own chambers. I hadn’t wanted it to come out that way. I wanted some control. I want you to trust me. all at the same time. I don’t need you to rescue me. I felt like a prisoner within myself. and watched his expression of recognition.

I crept into bed. I must have fallen asleep or did I dream it all again? No. that tomorrow night would be the end of living in fear. looked like Gerald. It felt perfectly right. The sudden crackling from the fireplace was the only sound in my sitting room. Evan kissed me back. I sat up. I continued to watch Sun Paw. I pulled by hair into a loose bun fastened with a jeweled comb. It just seemed too good to put all of my faith in it. fit for a princess. I got up from the chaise and began turning on several of the oil lamps when a low rap on the door brought in Sun Paw with my dinner. This made sense and no sense at the same time. Oh look!” Bethany exclaimed loudly. now she'll start fussing with me. The gown practically glowed as it basked in the early morning sun’s . It took only a second or two to get my vision into focus. but of course I would. How could this be? I’ve started to believe it. tasted the sweet and saltiness of his lips. I'm definitely jealous. the ominous looking ones. but I couldn’t remember any of them. When I opened my eyes. It had been delivered this morning by Miss Cuttwright. But the gown was as ghastly as it was beautiful. and I wondered if Sun Paw noticed me blushing. Evan broke for air and said. I thought. and placed my dinner plate. I wove my fingers through his thick hair. I had no other choice. I guess that made sense since I had supposedly spent the last two years there. or in my case. I obliged him with the kiss that sealed the deal for me. I hoped that I could pull this thing off. she drew me a bath. The last thing I remember before the kiss was Evan asking me to trust him. My heart raced with the thought. Disturbingly.” Bethany brushed her hand lightly over the luxurious gold fabric as she beamed her sunny smile. Evan had made the first move by taking my face into his toasty hands and forced me to drown deep into the endless abyss of his eyes.” I kept my eyes shut and didn’t want to let go of him. With the flick of his tongue he parted my lips and pushed his lips down on mine. “Good morning. but I dared not to even say it to myself. which I’d been yearning to stroke since seeing him in my dream. had picked out in town just four days ago. Strangely. which had sounded much noisier than I had anticipated. It was just passed eight. The only thing on my mind was what Evan had spoken of. never wanting to be found unless it was in his arms. I hope that I can pull the look off. She was fussing specifically with my ball gown. Cordelia. I love you. Once Sun Paw returned to retrieve my unfinished meal. and I felt the rush of warm blood to my cheeks. yet I felt like I’ve known him forever. A long. as it was the day before. and placed my napkin back on the table. and felt the warmth radiating from his body. Sun Paw let Bethany in. A knock at the door startled me even though I already knew who it was.” “Doesn’t it feel sumptuous?” Bethany asked. “Delia…Delia. it is far more stunning than mine. but honestly I envy you. silk robe. I love you so very… much. I knew that I dreamt some disturbing dreams. I didn't remember him leaving my room or when I got into bed. TwentySeven Voyeur The annoying and familiar racket of Sun Paw bustling around my room woke me the next morning. After a long relaxing soak. Then it was as if I’d known him for a hundred years or more. my room was dimly lit by the setting sun. I wondered who I’ve become and who I’d been all at the same time. I ate only half of my meal braised herb chicken. devoured me with two years’ worth of love. I wanted nothing more but to be kissing Evan this very second. sleep induced yawn made me contemplate throwing the covers over my head to steal a few more Zzz's. the gown looked stunning. I leaned in. She was just always there. and I wondered why and when he had left my room. an empress. and closing my eyes as he rubbed my feet. utensils. roasted potatoes and squash. Actually. and contemplated this. I suddenly felt so alone that I almost asked Sun Paw to join me. “Your gown arrived! I was worried that it wouldn't be ready in time due to all the intricate details. I really wasn’t looking forward to the Masquerade Ball tonight. mint green. not ready to rise out of my warm covers.I did what felt so natural to me at the time. It was as if we were fused together with a magnitude emotions coursing through our veins like electricity. and kissed him. I stretched a little. I didn’t believe that I needed a servant at my every beck and call. not so much the gown but being crowned the Empress of the Ischeros. one not wanting to lose the other. and I was sure that it did. Some of the masks where jovial. Miss Cuttwright must have finished my gown in a hurry then devoted all of her time to yours. I didn’t know how this happened or when exactly. Even through blurred and sleepy eyes. as I ran my hand over the fabrics. well mostly Bethany. who was engrossed with arranging things around the room to notice that I had awakened. “You will look breathtaking in it. and realized that I was loosely covered with a rose colored chenille blanket that I clutched for dear life. and with only one fitting. I’d forgotten that everyone would be dining alone this evening. Sun Paw cleared one of the small tables. Miss Cuttwright constructed the gown in record time. Sun Paw realized that I was indeed awake. besides he and I being chased in the forest. After hearing my roar of a yawn. and wine glass on it. Sun Paw hung the gown on the back of my embroidered dressing screen. I wasn't feeling very hungry. My last memory of the night before was of kissing Evan. while the ones that chased me. Great. We held each other. I sat back in my chair. after getting into my floral embroidered. I’ve started to believe that I may have fallen in love with him. The nightmares that flooded my head that night were of masks and faces in disguise. Bethany thought it perfect to design a gown inspired by the fashions seen in France. the familiarity of his touch and the alluring scent of him were all comforts of a lover. Miss Cuttwright created an amazing work of art out of the luxurious bolts of fabric that Bethany and I. It was real. I never really ever beckoned her. I hoped like my life depended on it. I blinked excessively as I stared at the sumptuous layers of draped and embroidered champagnetoned gold and ivory satin and tulle. I couldn’t remember anything about our relationship in the past. and lost myself somewhere between Evan and the chaise lounge. and I fell asleep before I knew it. I was alone.” “It is beautiful. sprinting in her lavender silk embroidered robe to where my gown hung.

Halloween happens to be our New Year.” I rolled my eyes and nodded. I sat barefooted and anticipated what Bethany would say next.” “Are you kidding? How can I relax? This is way too overwhelming. It will strengthen the one that is already lit within you. For the mortals it's just the grandest.rays cascading through the windows. please give us a moment. when they’ve enjoyed themselves thoroughly. we are nothing. and Bedwyn City.” Bethany noted. and most magnificent Ball. Always remember that without the gods. and me. I had thought that it was for Halloween. “They have?” “Certainly they have. Bethany grabbed my hand. The rays of the warm sun shone on her face making her look angelic.” “Yes. “You shouldn't be afraid.” “Yes.” “Don’t fret. Too much that I know nothing about. The gods love to see how their greatness is glorified.” “What do you mean by ignite?” All I saw was visions of flames. Even the gods have been patiently waiting for this divine day.” “You didn't answer my question. Beth.” “Zeus will simply touch you. Too much is expected of me. “The ceremony must take place on the Ischeros New Year. the elders. We'll all be there with you. allowing a healed lavender silk slipper to dangle off of her slim foot. At first when you had mentioned a Masquerade Ball. Too much that I still can’t recall. I tried to smile.” Sun Paw left the bedroom and exited the sitting room. then why are the town's people invited?” This made no sense to me.” “Right. of course. Miss Bethany. which it will. “I didn't realize the importance of the day.” “And I shouldn't be afraid?” I said.” I tried to accept Bethany’s support but it wasn’t an easy task. arrive an hour earlier than the mortals. most elaborate. The vision was surreal.” Bethany giggled. mere mortals – imperfections. Evan. actually tapping me on the shoulder. imagining the larger than life King of the Gods – my father. “But I don’t remember anything. She cinched her lavender silk robe a little tighter as she crossed her legs. and walked me over to the sofa where we both sat down. We’ll all be there. “No. all the while. What should I expect?” “If all goes as planned. as I held up my hand.” Bethany proclaimed.” “It’s not like I’m going to the prom. How can I reign if I’m not prepared?” “I know that you’re nervous. but it was a sad imitation of the smile that graced Bethany’s face. “Sun Paw. the members. just the aristocracy. confirming my fears. I'll be there – right beside you.” I veered off into another direction in an effort to shut out my negative thinking. Delia.” Bethany gave me a hug and a squeeze. of Nickel City. Of course for obvious reasons they don't know that the celebration is for your crowning and our New Year.” Bethany said. “I’m freakin’ shaking. Then Zeus will ignite you with his bolt. Gold Hill. “We've always tried to blend in with the mortals. I promise. “Now it’s an anointment ceremony and a New Year.” Bethany beamed her brilliant smile. I’m freakin’ out!” “Try to relax Cordelia. and needed some clarifying. all of the members. This celebration is as much theirs as it is ours. The mortals have always accepted the year’s most coveted invitation. The real celebration doesn't begin until every mortal has left. you should not. “Tonight is a very special night. and wouldn't dream of missing the Masquerade Ball. looking as if she wanted to smack me for my stupidity. “Then why am I shaking with the thought of it? Look. “He's not going to set you on fire. “Will everyone be wearing masks?” .” Bethany said. and the new governing goddess must be put in place. and the who's who. You’re crowning means so much to us all. but we haven't invited everyone. my parents. That's usually around two in the morning. I knew it appeared fabricated and fake. “Will I still be crowned even though I don't remember my past?” I asked apprehensively and already knowing the answer. “We. and toast the New Year. I couldn't help basking in her glow. “If the Masquerade Ball is for the New Year of the Ischeros.” I said to Bethany. Nikolas. you will be summoned at midnight by Athena.

“This is called the Grand March. “Once an invited guest enters Harper's Hall. which I once thought was fancy with way to many woven ribbons and bows.. their name will be checked off by Ischeros guardsmen. unless I had already accepted that of another.. “You will enjoy yourself. and there he was at the top of the stairway looking so incredibly handsome. much?” My apprehension could be heard a mile away. yet I still didn’t look forward to the soiree. but not anymore after seeing my ball gown. I really didn't want to ruin this for her. pondering that I had just a few hours to sike myself up for the charade. and I nodded although.” This bit of info calmed me considerably. or my fear of being crowned and ignited by the highest god of all. and then became real serious. “The actual dance will begin with all the couples lined up in promenade order. I wasn't convinced. furrowed brows and all. I had never danced in a gown. “That’s not going to happen. All it would take is one wrong footstep in the wrong direction. I'd never felt comfortable on a dance floor since I have an acute rhythm deficiency. Rudeness was a no – no. but not totally because Victor had powers to appear without any warning. Then she walked to the door.. And if you haven't fallen out by then. extended by a train.” Bethany explained. and both dance partners would be sent tumbling to the floor. It will be impossible for anyone from Victor's coven to penetrate the security detail. “What time will it begin?” “The ball will begin around sundown. There was no way out of this. being that the dances of this day were choreographed in precise steps. it will be as it was when you remembered how to ride Gypsy. I dressed quickly in one of my day dresses.” Bethany confirmed with a chortle. For the first time I felt somewhat relaxed. Then everyone will commence with the First Waltz and dance and mingle and dance some more until about ten o’clock. it will be back to the dance floor until about two in the morning. Evan will procure a program for you. “No one is allowed to reveal their identity before supper is served at ten o’clock. Bethany further explained the proper way to refuse a dance. That's exactly what I thought of it. I eyed Bethany closely. with the thought of the night’s festivities. Bethany didn’t skip a beat. She wasn't trying to hide her joy and wallow along with me in my misery like a best friend should. I was still apprehensive about actually waltzing across the dance floor with Evan or with any other boy. She said that I couldn’t refuse the invitation of a gentleman to dance. Her silk robe flowed in the back. so I kept the rest of my skeptical thoughts to myself. and galloping like stallions – as Christopher had put it. You were always so graceful in the ballroom.” She said. Trust me. and considered breeching proper etiquette.. around the hall. animatedly. since I would no doubt be the most popular girl in the hall. You've always commanded everyone's attention. “Then we will eat a wonderful meal followed by scrumptious desserts. We'll dine like royalty and dance like –” “Am I expected to dance.” I agreed. of course. She seemed jubilant. “What if Victor decides to crash the party?” I asked. “Yes. I couldn’t help but think of everyone prancing. I loathed dresses. She saw nothing wrong with my lack of memory. My heart literally . and you'll be great. Although. especially gowns made of layers and layers of itchy fabric.” Bethany informed me.” “Oh. Bethany got up and sauntered over to where my gown hung.” I said. a mockery. I understood all of the basics like waiting to be asked to dance. with an airy giggle as she left my room to get dressed. and wash it all down with our drink of choice. We mustn't keep Light Shine waiting. Bethany felt it was necessary to brief me on ballroom etiquette a few more times.” She added. I knew better – I belonged to them. This dance would be that much more arduous than all the modern ones that I’d dodged in the future. with the probable notion that many other couples would go down with them. It’ll be your dance card.“Yes. a charade. almost dreamy. She admired it as she lifted layers upon layers of fabric. I would be guilty of an incivility. I expected by then that the strains of the last symphony would finally echo into the hills and over the highest peak of the Sierras. She expected my dance card to be quite full. and then being escorted to the dance floor. a ridiculous spoof: The crowning of an average girl who they hoped to pass off as an empress. Victor would be grossly out numbered. “Upon entering the ballroom. confidently with her slim neck thrusting her head in the air.” Bethany said. who will place their names on your card for the opportunity to engage in a dance with you.” She assured. I proceeded to head down the stairs. They are familiar with everyone who will be attending this evening. just hopeful that she was right. If I did refuse. She detests it if we are late. so I’ll know who I’m going to dance with by the names on my card?” “Yes. It was to be a long and hopefully uneventful night – for my sake I hoped desperately. anxiously. and despised dances even more. entangled in layers and layers of itchy fabric. “Breakfast is set. yet I was already exhausted by the idea of being obligated to dance with strangers just because a silly card stated so. meaning he will introduce you to the members of the family.” I guess that’s when all the revelers would gladly break for supper. I tried to block out all the ballroom casualties that would indeed prove that I was not their empress although. I sighed in defeat.” “So we have several hours. and thankfully the guests would pack up their buggies and head home.” “Ok. it is a Masquerade Ball.

I couldn't rest. I felt the need to prove that I was as excited about the sacred day as they were. and stabbed his fork into my sausage. “I know. “Delia. “Honestly. Nikolas got up. and started filling his plate immediately.” Evan said. Evan turned and gazed at me with the kind of smile that woke the sleeping butterflies in my stomach. which would be like meeting them for the first time since I couldn't remember them – more than likely. but to surrender to Light Shine’s succulent sausages. all the children under the age of thirteen will be in their respective homes. Bethany smiled at the both of us. A short moment had past. as we entered the brightly. He was talking to Bethany and wasn't looking my way until he heard my doors close shut. I laughed at all of their shocked expressions.” My eyes were closed as I waited for his lips to reach mine. we did try to wait. Thaddeus watched both Evan and I carefully. Being wrong was not an option. Everyone gasped and Nikolas looked deflated.skipped a beat. and prepared to take on the grandest of parties. Tonight. Let's join the rest of the family. on behalf of everyone. which meant that I had to concentrate on my breathing just to be sure that I did breathe. my eyes fluttered open. “I wanted to wish you a Happy New Year. We would all be awakened later that afternoon. redfaced. motioning to Evan and me. I dabbed at the warm juices. “You have quite an appetite this morning. sitting down in the chair Evan pulled out for me. They both ate rapidly as if they expected the banquet of food to disappear at any given moment.” I said.” I followed Evan out of my room. Once they realized that I found the explosion to be amusing. It was me. I walked toward him as he took me in with his eyes.. not to worry.” I said. and lead me back into my room.” The depth of his eyes went on and on. It was a tie! Although they weren't allowed to attend the Masquerade Ball. I've got dibs on your last piece of sausage!” Nikolas' usual deep and crisp voice was gruff due to a mouth full of food. leaned across the table.” I whispered back.” Thaddeus admitted laughing while almost choking with his mouthful. “Happy New Year. I wasn't sure of what to expect but I allowed him to take my hand. Using my linen napkin. If I didn't know where the dining room was. I guess for some unknown reason. Evan said that after tonight everything will be better. I didn't think that I'd ever feel totally safe until I knew for sure that he was. I guess Light Shine would be pissed but I couldn’t care less in the company of such perfection. we managed to save you both a few links. sun lit room. and smiled and watched his eyes reciprocate the smile. “It all looks and smells yummy. scrambled eggs. I wasn't hungry but piled my plate as well. Maybe they were happy that they weren’t attending the ball – I should be so blessed.” Alexandria remarked as she scrutinized my plate. “I was hoping to have a moment alone with you before breakfast. Somehow. I wanted to be the first to do so. I was terrified. they seemed in the highest of spirits. Evan's warm cheek brushed mine as he whispered into my ear. dead. not realizing that I had until it was too late. “My apologies to the love birds. “Happy New Year to you. He held both of my hands in his and feathered a kiss on my forehead. It no longer looked foreign and alien to me. they all relaxed and chuckled as well. He sat beside me. His vision was engraved in my psyche. Once I realized he was watching me and not going to kiss me. and buttermilk biscuits into their mouths. Christopher practically inhaled his food as Phoebe battled to show that she could keep up with her older brother.. I really don't know what an empress does or what they expect. ultimately feeling rejuvenated and ready to begin dressing. Meanwhile. The kids were beaming. and then began talking. . Once we were in my sitting room. Everyone was already seated and heaping forks full of Light Shine’s famous links. I was still worried about the threat of being killed by Victor of course. Light Shine makes the most delicious sausage. Actually. and we walked side by side down the wide stairs. Everyone laughed while they all observed the lonely sausage link on my plate. My mind was whirling with all of the fears that I was consumed with at the moment. I knew for a fact that Christopher was ecstatic at the prospect of staying home. “It's yours Nikolas!” I squealed. I'll be crowned the Empress of the Ischeros tonight. I paused inconspicuously at my portrait. the flow of blood to my cheeks was rapid and impossible to hide. appraising me indulgently. They all appeared thoroughly rested. Everyone finished eating and retired for a quick nap. I could just follow the chatter and laughter as well as the aroma of fried sausages which filled the house. kissed her big brother on the cheek. as I had wrongly anticipated. Even though I’ll be surrounded by the entire empire of members. before quickly stuffing a forkful into my mouth. which had begun to stream my cheek. I was intimidated by the idea of meeting the members. and made her way down the stairs. just above a whisper. and I'm famished. an awkward situation.” I followed his gaze to the heap of eggs on my plate.” Thaddeus said. “I smell sausage. “You don't have to eat that much if you don't want to. I owned up to it. To my chagrin. Evan began. guarded by Ischeros guards. while the adults will be out enjoying the divine festivities. Maybe I was afraid that I wouldn't live up to their standards of what they believed an empress should be. I giggled at my little brothers’ and sisters’ victorious finish. but had no choice. I definitely need a tutorial on that. I dreaded the thought of Evan being wrong. causing it to explode its hot and savory juices into my face through the perforations in the sausage casing made by his fork.

Winston was grinning. and quickly heading toward the double doors anticipating a stealthy exit. Suddenly. Cordelia. my dear. what had taken place last night.” His words didn't sound convincing. Therefore. “Ok so. My eyes darted around the room until they fell upon Winston whom stood casually against the mantle of my fireplace in my sitting room. I closed my eyes. “Last night?” I narrowed my eyes at Winston. at the Hayden twins’ home.” I added. I shouldn't have come here. obviously enjoying his brother's rejection. I hadn't realized that Gerald would be attending the ball. His question was bold but his demeanor didn't exude confidence. I didn't expect him here next to me and I sure didn’t expect an invite to the ball. “Cordelia. He had disappeared the moment Evan had made his unexpected appearance in my room. had been seen through someone else’s eyes.” I said honestly. “I would have liked to… go with you but I already promised –” “Of course. “How did you do it?” I was deeply intrigued with the power this ghost possessed. It was getting colder as he left the sitting room. Evan had been right. You showed me the way.” He said.. I knew that he wasn't confined to just haunting his house because I'd seen him on my veranda. “What are you –” “Shhh. finally feeling tired. I will save a dance for you. Winston was the voyeur which Evan had spoken of. His eyes had saddened immediately once I mouthed the word ‘sorry’. I crossed my eyes to look at his finger as he let it remain on my lips for a moment. I snuck in through the garden.” It was too late to hope that he wasn't hurt. “How did you let me see it all through your eyes?” “Me?” Winston pretended to appear shocked by slapping his chest with the palm of his hand. time. “Are you awake?” I realized then that Gerald was indeed in my room. When I looked passed Gerald to glare at him. I’m an idiot for waiting until now to ask. I really didn't want to go into this party tonight feeling like I’d been blindfolded. “Aren’t you going to thank me for last night?” Winston said.” I lightly prodded. He had promised to tell me everything that he knew.. is it?” My words were caught in a yawn. dumbfounded. I watched Gerald leave my room.” Gerald answered. but my throat shut down.. “I wouldn't miss it. I yanked mine away a little too abruptly as if he had burned me to the touch. I'm already going with Evan.” His eyes were opened wide and beckoned me to answer. Cor –” I must be dreaming I thought. A wicked smile swept across his face displaying his barely hidden amusement. and once I found the kitchen. “What are you doing here? How did you get in here? Does anyone know that you're here?” I was louder than I had wanted to sound. until now. and quietly close the doors. and I could smell his sweet breath. Winston must be wondering if I was going to live up to my end of the bargain.. with the others... and approached my bed. the icy chill embraced me. I didn't think you would visit me if I sent you an invitation. I was unable to speak.I had hoped that Winston would've tried to make contact with me by now. and his caramel toned eyes appeared unsure. He spoke in a whisper. I was a gentleman. “A quarter past three. I waited as everyone retreated to their rooms. “I'm sorry. I heard Winston snicker. “Would you do me the honor.” Gerald placed his index finger gently against my lips. and ignoring Winston was proving to be difficult since my teeth were already beginning to chatter from his frigid presence. behind the hill. “I followed your lead. I hadn’t seen him since the night he took me into the mine.. slightly above a whisper as he rubbed my shoulder. I might as well let him get to it. and obliged. I understand. The house was quiet.. I made sure it. and that I had finally fallen asleep. still recovering from the shock of Gerald kneeling beside me. “I hope my answer won't prevent you from attending.. I hid in the pantry until I knew it was safe to come out. but I can't accept. I could tell from his change of expression which went from eager puppy to shock and confusion that he was stressed out about something. triumphantly. as I heard my name being called over and over again in a faint whisper. Then I pushed myself up against my head board. and it was still the day of the Masquerade Ball. “I wanted and needed to speak with you.” . Gerald inched his face an inch or two closer to mine. He had made it seem like there was something imperative that I needed to know. “Who couldn’t detect you? What are you talking about?” I asked.” I blurted out. and I was in no mood for any more. Instead his face looked timid. Then it dawned on me. don’t you recall?” Now it was all coming together in my mind. “They couldn’t detect me this time. “What. It had to be a dream if Gerald was kneeling at my bedside right now.” He placed his hand over mine. Forgive me if I have bothered you in any way. and tried to take a nap. Winston spoke in riddles. What was Gerald doing in my room? “Cordelia –” Gerald said. Gerald was already on his feet. Impulsively. entered my bedroom.. I guess for the obvious reason. Everyone must still be enjoying their afternoon naps. I tried to focus on Gerald. and allow me to escort you to the Masquerade Ball this evening. He cleared his throat. Then he disappeared and I hadn't heard from him since. “Last night. I had witnessed the abduction vicariously through Winston’s eyes. “I hope to see you there.

All I was thinking at the time was. “Although you were asleep. “So now you’re pretending to be concerned about your brother's feelings? You were mean to him before you ki – before you died. you could make the correct assumption that he wasn’t lost.” I shook my head from left to right.” Winston chuckled lightly. How dare he judge me? How dare he question my choices? He was no one.” I prodded anxiously with the notion of my out of body experience. especially while I’m asleep.” “Go on. You spoke to me and said that you needed my eyes. Madame Clairy’s secret was spilled in my mind. You could imagine my surprise.” And just like that. I'm here for a less complicated matter. if a man was caught in a place as sordid as Madame Clairy’s. squandering away their week’s stipend. no one you knew of course. haven’t you?” I remembered the place well. overseeing the abduction.” Winston confirmed with an impish smile. actually. It was located next door to the Bucket o’ Blood saloon. in what I would expect to be the waiting room. Madame Clairy’s Secret.” His words were crisp and concise. a dead reflection of a guy who had spent the latter part of his life indulging in selfdestruction. even though he’s been wearing it for the past three years. as if the cigars were never put out and burned infinitely. I could visualize the interiors of it.” “Fine. I don’t remember being there. as if my secret of brothel hopping was safe with him. unable to grasp the idea of communication with Winston telepathically. The place was barely lit with dimmed oil lamps.” “I – I can’t believe that I’m capable of doing something like that. You blocked their senses. You were very persuasive. The ladies of the night hung onto the clientele as if the men needed coaxing. No need for a ghost to worry about ruining a suit. the dark wood paneled walls to the shoddy furnishings. how you don’t have any feelings for him nor do you find enjoyment in his pining for you?” Winston spoke in a bored and sleepy voice. you and I were at the Hayden’s mansion. As I looked at him I felt nothing but pity for him. what was a divine goddess doing in such an undivine place as this?” “You saw me at the brothel?” “You made your presence known only to me. It has been a while since I’d seen you at work. Winston laid back on the edge of my bed. She wasn’t in the business of fortune telling after all. one of the town’s seediest brothels. “I never said that I saw you. I think I might have noticed the place when I went into town.” I said.” “It’s incredible.” “On the chaise.” Winston sat at the edge of my bed looking up at me. not caring how he hurt himself or his loving younger brother. You’ve seen it. As I walked through the foul fog. how did I communicate with you? What did I say?” “Whoa – one question at a time. of course I care about him. How did I know what was taking place at the Hayden’s mansion last night?” “Your subconscious seems to be aware of quite a bit. Madame Clairy’s women came into view in various ages – there were girls who looked to be around my age. here in your bed. I had no idea that it was a sleazy brothel.” “How did we get there? Was it like when we travelled to the mines?” “Somewhat. Clearly. The women were of all walks of life. well I was observing some old friends of mine. and maybe their months’ worth. I can’t even imagine doing it while I’m awake. once again thoroughly annoyed with him. on cheap harlots when I felt you enter the brothel. So that was Madame Clairy’s Secret. and before I knew it. The scene of the brothel became very vivid. “Yes. “Indeed. and that you weren’t ready to do it on your own yet.” “Good. I was more than pleased to accommodate although.” Winston agreed. “I had been spending some quality time in one of my favorite locales.“What? Me? But how?” I was up and out of my bed now. and entire family. “And no one knew you were there?” “No one knew either of us was there. “You failed to tell my smitten brother the truth. After a long sigh. “That’s just crazy.” Winston paused. You’re just unable to tap into what you already know while you’re awake I suppose because your memory is on a hiatus. “Actually your right. you were asleep on the chaise. I felt your presence when you began communicating with me. and scantily dressed in provocative attire – barely there lace negligees and fishnet stockings. . “I’m his older brother. I believe you chose me only because no one living could have crashed that party. it seemed more like fortune taking. “What did I do exactly? I mean. The front room was filled with the pungent odor of rank and copious cigar smoke. I was rather impressed.

would cause his family too much harm. One: You must have more respect for life. I cleared my throat and continued ruling the world. After a deep breath. thoroughly enjoying the rose scented water. since I was able to manage my petticoat on my own. A loud thump on the door startled me. and all too well. She breezed in smelling of roses. a zombie even. god given power – or so I hoped it was given by a god – on someone who didn't deserve it.” I added.” “I'm dead. I’m here to confirm that payment will be made on your end of our deal. “Then you’re doing a superb job. The excitement in Bethany’s voice was infectious but I had the antidote – no memory. Winston had ended his life because he had such little respect for it.” “Do we still have a deal?” His tone was now a serious one. I was stunned by Winston’s abrupt departure. and felt a little queasy about the dancing. and somehow the exuberant scent made me feel alluring and seductive. I soaked for a while. and forced to watch everyone continue living from another planet which was void of any life at all. Once you are finished bathing. “Do you mind? You're hovering and it's a bit creepy.” I said as I walked past him. It was lonely being dead. He wouldn't survive it. but there are conditions. she sat me down at my vanity table. Her expression was joyous as it had been earlier this morning. I answered the door. “Yes. “Conditions? What conditions?” We were now face to face. I had felt a loneliness that I had never known before. I will grant you a second chance at life. I don't need any time to think it over. as if he were able to breathe. I'm supposed to be creepy. When it was time for Bethany to do my hair.” I nodded.” He was up and hovering over me as I slipped my shoes on. I was playing God.” He looked as if the idea had never crossed his mind. With his bleak eyes. Winston got to the point. or Bedwyn City. I knew that feeling first hand.” I instructed as Winston appeared to be faint. I've never wanted anything as much as I want to live and breathe. thanks to a vase full of it given to me by Sun Paw. and I still hadn’t warmed to the whole idea of the ball and all it represented.” “Respect for life? That's easy. and then lowered his eyes to the ornate rug. He was actually seeing the reality of his predicament for the very first time. “And second: You must never return to Nickel City. He looked angry. and took on his human form again. His returning would be inconceivable.This time. His family had buried him. once I regain my powers. The entire aristocracy of this town had attended his funeral as well as gossiped about the circumstances of his death. not anyone in any of these towns can ever see you alive. I was slowly getting used to these undergarments – very slowly. Gold Hill.” Winston said. “Take all the time you need to think this over. “As promised. Sun Paw began to assist me in putting on my corset and bustle. He obviously had not thought this through. It was as if I had been ripped out from the planet. I was still uncertain about the crowning. Unexpectedly Winston vaporized in front of me. but turned me away from the mirror as if she didn't want me to witness the steps taken. “I am aware of your unfortunate status. I guess the truth was shattering for the deceased as well as the living. . Everyone in this town would think he was a ghost. “Mainly yours.” Winston chuckled lightly. I praised Demeter and Persephone. to the Masquerade Ball. but a couple feet apart. Sun Paw will help you into your gown. The persecution to destroy him. as instructed by Bethany. He glared at me. solemnly. “I told Sun Paw to prepare your bath. He was silent. Winston appeared to be thinking this through for the first time.” I said. You can't have any contact with anyone who might have known you before you died. feeling that it may be premature.” He turned away from me. I will help you groom. Why would I waste this godly. and Winston was no exception.” I paused at the weight of my words. I will grant you a second chance at life. whatever they believed he was. and disappeared through the wall. An abundance of rose petals had been slowly boiled in water the day before and allowed to cool so that I could make use of it today as my perfume. grandmother. even when I would be whisked away. Not nearly as bad as Gerald had by appearing at my bedside unannounced the way he did. walking into my sitting room. I expected to feel uneasy for most of the day. like a princess. or finally acting like one. he challenged me to name them. “I’m still powerless Winston. “I will do this under two conditions. smiling his customary wicked smile that I was getting used to. It was Bethany. He nodded and sniffed. Then she applied my makeup which was minimal and consisted only of some foundation powder made in France and beet juice for my lips. It was a feeling I had never known. holding his stare as he held mine. It smelled wonderful. “No. I would never have survived being unable to feel another person’s touch. which she applied with a painter’s brush. Your brother.

so I wondered why she had fussed with the powder at all. once I was on the first floor. he was perfection. while Bethany and Nikolas rode in the last buggy as the caboose to the train we formed heading to Harper’s Hall. I tend not to focus on that part. and I found myself pacing my breathing as I gazed at him. crystal.” he said. The golden colored tulle bodice had a sweetheart cut. I looked so different.” I continued to admire my new look. They each wore a sash across their vests which made me think of a royal family – rulers of a monarchy. and looked like it took hours to create. the gown was unforgettably gorgeous. “Why is Nikolas’ sash in a different color than Evan’s and your father’s?” I whispered to Bethany. My look was complete once I had my accessories. was tight in the bodice all the way through to my hip and was symbolic to how repressed women were in this day and society. Evan’s eyes widened as he took the vision of me coming toward him in. My brother will fall in love with you all over again. Bethany stood beside her mother.” Evan stated. which I was used to seeing at the edge of curtains. and realized that already knew the answer. I was astounded by my striking transformation. “We will be arriving momentarily. What part do you think of?” I asked. The girl had a hidden talent. absolutely beautiful. The night seemed magical until the cool night air was shattered by an occasional high pitched howl. “Which color does my family wear?” I asked while I looked over my gold and ivory hued dress. “Alright. I was ready to go. I have never seen him look more dazzling. Cordelia.” Bethany explained.” “Moon Rose. It had a train in the back hem that swept across the floor.” “I can’t seem to think of anything else but the wolves chasing us and biting you. The gown finally loosened slightly around my hips where the fabric ballooned out into a full skirt of layers upon layers of more of the gold. and my lips were slightly rosy. that his usually loose wavy hair was slicked back behind his ears. Beth. Evan and I followed. The champagne hued gown which was hand embroidered with sparkly gold. and thin white bow ties. taking my satin gloved hand into his pale white gloved one. I decided not to put the mask on until we arrived at the hall. The bodice was laced up in the back with a thick ribbon of the same satin fabric of the dress. and squeezed my hand. “Isn’t it obvious? Zeus prefers shimmering gold and the purity of ivory. Bethany made spirals out of my hair which she pinned into the triple bun she originally pinned up. exposing their vests and stark white shirts which were accented with diamond or pearl buttons. My hair looked elegant. somewhat calmer now that Evan held my hand. I stiffened like a statue.” Bethany said. “Each god has their favorite hue. and let his eyes rest on my slightly parted lips. Nikolas’ was burgundy edged with gold. I was allowed to check myself out in the mirror. I’m going to get dressed. I tried to shut out the incessant cries of wolves but after the third or fourth howl. I locked eyes with the most beautiful male of the group. like true royalty. Alexandria wore a slate colored gown accented with turquoise and teal embroidered beads and delicate feathers. which made the corset thrust my breasts out further than I would have liked. His perfect smile mirrored the brightness of any afternoon sun. His eyes spoke volumes of his love for me as well as his attraction to me. I feel beautiful. Evan’s and Thaddeus’ sashes were the same color combination. “Thank you. as Evan was putting on his top hat and cloak. my work here is done. I was taken aback by my reflection. yet Evan stood out and looked beyond my expectations. I noticed. I made my way down the stairs – carefully – balancing each step. with admiration. teal edged with silver. “But. Sun Paw helped me get into my exquisite champagne gold and ivory beaded gown. Once I had my ivory hand fan and beaded drawstring purse in hand. “The howls remind me of when we were being chased. the full moon provided just enough luminosity to guide us into town.At last. Sun Paw helped me with my beaded shawl as I looked myself over in the full length mirror. TwentyEight Divinity Shimmering like a pearl in the navy starless sky. Evan paused a minute before answering. and ivory colored spangles. My elbow length ivory satin gloves were edged with crystal and ivory beads which matched perfectly with the elaborate beaded and jeweled gold satin mask. Dangling from each of their vests were glistening gold watch chains. Their waistcoats were low in the front. and gown. The gown was dramatically longer than all of the other dresses I’d worn this week. Somehow the fringe made the dress look even more glamorous.” We rode in three separate open top carriages with Evan’s parents leading the way. and Evan swayed beside me and immediately noticed my discomfort. a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly. so that the full skirt of my gown wouldn't cause me to topple over and plummet down the stairs. for the annual Halloween Masquerade Ball. All three looked devastatingly handsome in their own way. Since each family originates from a particular god. as was Nikolas and Thaddeus. . and ivory combination of hand sewn beads. Bethany’s gown was a teal and silver floral pattern draped and edged in silver tulle and fringe. hands clenching the delicate satin of my dress. “I remember that night. Evan was immaculately dressed in a black tuxedo with tales. we celebrate our divine god’s preference of color. and pinned with a delicate diamond and gold comb. “You’re beautiful. My heart began to race and I trembled a little with every set of eyes appraising me. The carriage rolled forward. My hair was piled high on my head. My descent was difficult due to everyone watching me from the first floor. Moon Rose” Bethany bellowed as she walked out of my room. All in all. crystal. Both she and Alexandria wore stunning gowns which were as elaborate as my own. My face was my natural tan. unable to feel free and say what we feel and express ourselves or feel relaxed.” I said. So refined.

I forgot all about the wolves both in the dream and howling in the distance. What I felt for Evan was true love at its purist. As we basked in the soaring emotions we were both feeling. and Patrick. The piercing look of Evan’s oceanic eyes pulled me deep into them. It’s a customary tradition with the mortals. shimmering gold table carved in a leaf motif. As they did this.“The taste of your kiss. The foyer was brilliantly lit with gilded chandeliers that were suspended from the ceiling and dripping with huge crystal prisms that looked like falling rain drops. When the three brothers returned.” I realized then that Heracio was the one which Nikolas had spoken of when he mentioned me strength training as a kid.” A gruff voice called from behind. one of them.” The three said in unison. It was alive and full of life. top hats. and fan myself due to the heat ignited in me by Evan’s penetrating stare. understandably oblivious now to the howls that seemed to roll over the hill and through the forest behind us. Tonight. we were met by three burly young men that looked indisputably like the other. and cotillions that had once been held here. they each eyed me with what I took as admiration and curiosity. and you finally have. I could easily make out the hall which lit up the main street like a Christmas tree.” he said. this is Heracio. I had never seen Harper’s Hall look as glorious and as majestic as it did this evening. It was not caring that the world has stopped turning. and Nikolas. as they bowed gracefully.” I tried to disguise the heat that began to rise in my cheeks but I was unsuccessful. and Thaddeus did. The epiphany of desire leapt out of my heart. “Why did you bring so many pairs?” I whispered to Evan. Above each stack was a small cream colored card with a name engraved on it. “That night was dangerous but I’d be willing to fight off Victor’s pack a thousand times if it guaranteed an opportunity to kiss you again. “The honor is ours. not knowing what else to do or say. The three sons of Hercules took our shawls. or related in some way. I wasn’t afraid anymore with my knight in dapper tux sitting closely beside me. It felt a little strange with them calling me ‘empress’ when I hadn’t been crowned yet. “I need you too. They carried the accessories and outerwear off to a nearby cloak room that was just a few feet away. He lingered against my cheek for a brief moment. yet I held this power. but they had to be brothers. the hall was in its prime. I wondered what it would cost to keep it.” I admitted.” I said. they each took my gloved hand. an Ischeros guardsman.” . cream colored oak panels and adorned with gilt oil lamps and gilt framed mirrors large enough to step through. and certainly couldn’t fathom possessing the strength it would take to flip either of these beefy guys today. stood magnificently. led us passed the cloak room to a huge and beautiful. I couldn’t imagine throwing a child around. Evan appeared stunned by my admission. “Cordelia. I can roll over and die now… but I won’t. When our carriages pulled up in front of the hall. If only I could remember. I combed my tightly gloved fingers through his thick hair.” he whispered. There were also empty spaces where name cards stood alone. adjacent to Whitney's Opera House. I leaned over and gazed deeper into Evan’s eyes then lowered my eyes to his slightly opened mouth and pressed my eager lips against his. We were quiet for the rest of the way. or that no one else existed but the two of us.” “Simply glorious. so sweet and addictive. “It’s amazing. I felt like I could drown in his pupils as if I was being dragged underwater at sea. a moment that I knew I would treasure just as enthusiastically as the moment we just shared as we kissed.” I wanted to open my hand fan.” Bethany said. which turned out to be the receiving room. offering my hand the way Bethany had taught me to. I was aware of his desire to kiss me again. and kissed me soothingly on my cheek. and Thaddeus’ gold tipped cane.” Evan said. and held hands. Finally I knew it at the precise moment when I slowly pulled away even though. is what I remember most. struck me through my bones. I needed him like a flower needed rain. The profound connection I felt with Evan was worth what I’d gone through this past week. Evan and I were escorted in first. “Good evening. “Pleased to meet you. Harper's Hall. They are the descendants of Hercules. The walls were of carved and gilded. handed their gloves to Heracio. “We must change our gloves with each lady we dance with. “Perhaps. with a nervous chuckle. and wore sashes just as Evan. “My. and the hall’s euphoric glow nearly knocked me off my feet. Evan. all the while his expression was the most jovial I remember ever seeing it. They weren’t identical triplets. Evan raised a fist in the air as if to let Nikolas know that he would deck him. Dimitri. Empress Cordelia. the grandest and only ball room in Nickel City. “I’m glad that you won’t. This was far from the cracked. and rocked deep into my soul. On the table were numerous small stacks of white gloves. Finally. because I need you. my. “I’ve been waiting a long time for you to come back to me. In the foyer. breathlessly behind me. Their sashes were in the combination of emerald green edged with canary yellow. They were eloquently dressed in tuxedos. Evan didn’t try to disguise his as he blushed openly staring at me with an alluring smile. The elegant interior reminded me of the colorful and glamorous stories I had heard surrounding the festive holiday parties. at any age. Nikolas. our footman. “The ceiling rises to fortyfive feet. the brother who had led us to the table. Thaddeus. peeling paint and weak foundation that could be seen easily from the exterior and boarded up windows that I recalled from the future. and kissed it as they bowed saying. as we descended the hill. sophisticated balls. cloaks. as I finally lowered my gaze from the carved and gilded patterned paneling on the ceiling.” I nodded. One after the other. a quick stopover at the local inn for you two love birds?” Both Evan and I turned around to see and hear Nikolas guffawing along with a radiant Bethany in giggles. everyone. speedily ushered us in. He placed each set below their respective name card.

excited.” Felicity said. heartshaped faces.” I said.” They spoke again in unison. “It is a pleasure to meet you both. “Good Evening. Balthazar” Evan said. velvet sofas were arranged against the walls of the massive room.” Ophelia led us back down the hall where we met up with Felicity and the boys. Empress Cordelia. Each staircase led up to the second floor balcony where the salon. Bethany. Everyone here is in awe of you and is here for you. mostly everyone has arrived. either embellished in sparkling beads.” Felicity said. in a black tuxedo and a shiny rust colored sash standing in front of two huge ornately carved and gilded paneled double doors. They literally caught and held every man’s attention for at least one enamored moment. Three four piece velvet round sofas sat in the center of the marble floor. “Ophelia. or something. equally awestruck by their extraordinarily good looks. Several dozen beautifully carved chairs and a half a dozen mini gold painted tables were strategically placed in between the sofas. confidently as he opened the doors to the salon.” I said graciously. I stood stiff – not moving. Balthazar.” Thaddeus said. who I guessed to be around my age. “Gentle man. Evan held out his muscular arm for me and smiled that mesmerizing smile that always made my knees tremble.” Balthazar said. “Good evening. until now. and dining room were located. rubbed my hand as I continued to furiously grip his arm. and smiled at me. Everyone found a place to set their champagne glasses. Sire. We were then greeted by two exceptionally beautiful young women.Evan’s devotion of blending in with the world of the mortals. the men were led to a room down the hall on the left where cigar smoke escaped every time the door opened. the descendants of Aphrodite.” Ophelia said. They all seemed to be having an enjoyable time. my former world. Everyone was dressed as glamorously as we were. At that moment. We were the highest ranking members. and sparkling goldish green kaleidoscope eyes drew each of us in with the power of magnetism. A couple chandeliers dripped from the ceiling and gilt framed mirrors adorned the cream toned gilt paneled walls. Alexandria said in an authoritative tone that I didn’t really care for.” he answered. The two stunners bowed to us with their greetings. Try to relax. ”Lord and Lady Capius. Ophelia escorted us to a room at the end of the hallway on the right. “Good evening. Their flawless brown skin. I was immediately blown away by the brilliant luminosity of the luxurious and spacious room. ribbons. reassuringly. we are ready to be escorted to the salon now. “We are honored. jewel tone stones. Once we were all on the second floor. in unison. There wasn't a hand that didn't have a filled champagne glass attached to it. as he beamed at the two girls. a round shaped sectional sofa.” They said. After looking ourselves over in the huge mirrors. everyone. I wove my arm through his and smiled back. Delia. Nikolas. and I followed Ophelia up the stairway on the right.” The tall boy said. Upon entering the salon of high pitched laughter. In the rear of the room was a smaller room which housed the toilet and sink. He waited as everyone nodded and greeted him. and anticipating a long night of entertainment. graciously. I heard a crowd of people entering the foyer below us. We will escort you to the salon. or a combination of all three. “Don’t be nervous. as if I were royalty. I will presume that everyone has arrived. I’m honored to serve you. the two daughters of Aphrodite excused themselves then gracefully walked back down the stairs in such a way that they appeared to be floating. and several gilt framed chairs. was a means of survival. and held Evan's arm firmly.” The boy took my gloved hand and kissed it. They each wore coral satin gowns. He seemed to be conscious of my nervousness and tenderly. Several enormous crystal chandeliers were scattered throughout the room. the members of the empire turned and stared in my direction. Of course they knew who we were. As we entered the shimmering room. giggles. The room turned out to be a powder room large enough for a couple plush sofas. “Ladies. The elegantly dressed mob appeared to be impatient. nodding and bowing. “Please. and clinking glasses. and the greeting was fit for royalty. Bethany. follow us. As I basked in Evan’s smile. almost as if he didn’t appreciate his son being addressed like a king and he being ignored. “Yes. I had almost forgotten that all of the members were expected to be here before the who’s who of the town arrived. I didn’t notice the tall and handsome. leading the men to the left stairway. “Good evening. The two girls bowed. Alexandria. I had never seen such an elegant room. and commenced in clapping adoringly. “Good evening. ballroom. “Cordelia. “Good evening to you. if you please. A dozen or so gold hued. olive skinned boy. the women in beautiful gowns of sumptuous fabrics and the men in tailored tuxedos and sashes in an array of colors. a strategic play. The tall boy bowed in front of me. bowing to Evan. and thank you. this is Ophelia and Felicity.” Evan whispered into my ear. smiling broadly. .” Thaddeus said authoritatively. We all followed the daughters of Aphrodite down the long corridor that led to a large mezzanine with two twisted marble staircases on either side. please follow me. I turned to see a large group chatting enthusiastically and laughing boisterously.

while quickly grabbing another while the waiter passed by. I got a strange jolt – something eerie. I wished that I had been prepped for this part of the party. His voice thundered.” Evan whispered and patted my hand again. one who is not used to a spectacle being made in her honor. my empress. There was something startlingly common about all the faces that were poised and staring at me. He actually appeared to have tears in his eyes. Thaddeus continued. I searched the sea of a little over a hundred or so faces. Some of the striking faces seemed familiar.” He held up his glass in my direction. I took in all of the admiring gazes. I understand that this is very overwhelming and… I want to comfort you. and call me out and I would be sent back to the future. Nikolas had already downed a glass. They were all strangers claiming to be family. sons and daughters of the mighty Olympians. all of the family members started lining up to greet me. Father was wonderful.” She added almost as if she dared . They did so by revealing their name and bowing courteously to me. “You should feel honored. As we do. He then whispered. “The Divine One. probably guarding it in case I tried to escape. He reminded me of a handsome prince. “You belong to us. Of course. they must realize. and soon we were all holding one. but at a normal speed. He was half way across the room by the entrance. talking to members. sister. and some who appeared to be as old as the earth. He waited as everyone piped down before he continued. and quieted the room of demigods. our Empress of Ischera. It was pretty pathetic and unfortunate for the members to have such a sad excuse for an empress. I guess one in my position would treasure the moment when her disciples showed their devotion to her. not yet accepting my new role as the leader of this sacred coven. Thaddeus’ glass was back in his hand.” “Thank you. gallant with every stride he took towards me. but I. I nodded numbly as each member stepped forward and hoped that they couldn’t see the anxiety in my eyes. our empress. and I whispered so that only she would hear the nervousness in my voice. The introduction of over a hundred or so people would have taken over an hour for mortals.” he said. and true leader. Every member was a stranger to me. and then paused while everyone nodded in agreement. and walked towards me as everyone else held up their glasses in waiting. “We Ischeros gather here tonight on this sacred and glorious day. Each member’s unwavering attention to me was tortuous. I felt out of place. So there I stood. With his final bow I was allowed to breathe again. They must be aware of how incredulous it is too have an amnesiac lead their family. There was no need for a microphone.” For some strange reason that I couldn't pin point at that moment.” Everyone erupted in ecstatic cheers as Thaddeus nodded approvingly. scanning for one with a look of contempt and came up short. Although they didn’t seem to. The familiar faces were of the warriors who had abducted the Hayden twins.” “I apologize. I watched the members take their places around the large room. I dug into my soul with every fiber of my being for the strength to continue to stand in the middle of that huge glittering room while member after member acknowledged me as their savior.“I wish it were that easy. Some as young as I. and finally took a sip from my full glass. my love. “On this very significant night we welcome our most precious and beloved daughter. Thaddeus walked to the center of the room just as someone passed him a sparkling crystal glass. Then to my dismay. and spotted Nikolas walking over to me. but only briefly to the array of mirrors which covered most of the walls. As they walked away from me one by one. trying to be gracious and cordial.” Thaddeus said. Instead. The reflection of the line of members was moving so fast that it looked like someone was pressing the fastforward button. I absorbed the swiftness of every demigod bowing and speaking hurriedly. I allowed my eyes to wander. I stood still. and took my face in his hands and kissed me on either side of my face. “That felt like an ambush. “We are looking forward to our eternal future. surely as they bowed to me. The gorgeous Hedea. but had the feeling that it would insult them. was seriously considering the quickest getaway. and everyone lifted their glasses higher as he toasted. His genial smile was like a ray of sunshine breaking through storm clouds. I was overwhelmed by it all. the lovely Olympia. We’re all genuinely fortunate for the blessing of your presence before us tonight. and the huskily handsome Bertrand. like an imposter as if in a moment. I tried to brush it off but it took some doing to shake the unnerving feeling. with the daughters of Aphrodite leading the pack. our seventeen hundredth and fifth New Year. Cordelia Tieron. They all looked at him with respect and the highest regard. My mind raced with exit strategies. I desperately wanted them to stop. Thaddeus stood in front of me. her brother. More bubbling champagne was poured as glasses were quickly passed around. and then told me what an honor it will be to serve me. Every single face was extremely attractive. we shall never forget those who have perished before us. “My beloved brothers and sisters. while others were as foreign as an extra terrestrial. and make you feel at ease.” Bethany gushed. and nodded after each member lowered their head. Nikolas and Bethany mingled around the luxurious room embracing the other members – family. and I was earnestly contemplating hurling Alexandria to the floor. but took only a few minutes for us mighty Ischeros. Nikolas took my hand and bowed cordially. I couldn’t find an unattractive face amongst any of them. and everyone is delighted. the towering and handsome Julius.” I nodded and smiled. and not one person seemed familiar in any capacity. Everyone repeated his words and sipped their champagne. were sprinkled throughout the crowd. Bethany was in front of me now.” He proclaimed in a booming voice as he raised his glass high. as a distraction while I fled out the double doors. The room was filled with people of all ages of adulthood. “We’ve all been waiting two long years for this moment. the real Cordelia Tieron would burst into the room. Alexandria and Thaddeus stood beside me as guardians. Nikolas.” “It was perfect. My eyes search earnestly for Evan. They gave me their name. handed Evan his glass.

Suddenly the breathtaking Ophelia appeared. and marched him right up to Bethany who was enraptured with squeals of delight. and welcome the love and praise. but I didn’t hear her because I was busily staring at Evan.” Evan wore his mask and the idea of him hiding any portion of his perfect face was the real injustice. it's still our secret. Evan stepped back and stood next to me. so my nerves stayed frazzled for a moment longer. Flabbergasted maybe” “Try to relax.” He added. Once my mask was in place. Their expressions couldn’t be confused with anything other than genuine exhilaration. She wedged herself between the two fighters. but overwhelmed. He was bringing someone with him. Tonight was Nickel City's greatest night of the year. “I’ll take on the winner. yet I didn't allow anyone to be privy to the bees that swarmed angrily in my belly. Unfortunately. Recalling my growth and learning of my kind was essential. and some had jewels and tassels on them. “Your mask is lovely. Nikolas stretched out a hand to his fellow gargantuan and they partially embraced exchanging brotherly terms of endearment. She gave Julius a look that was seductive as it was loving. and his hair was tight black curls. “I’m grateful that it’s only a partial mask. Then I looked at Alexandria. it has been worth the wait for your return. but didn’t look awkward and disproportioned. You are amongst your disciples. Unconsciously I started biting my lower lip. I ask that everyone place their masks on at this time. It was obvious that they were romantically involved. but we spent many summers playing in the gardens. “Thank you. Actually overwhelmed is an understatement.. and were ushered into the lounge by the sons of Hercules. we breathed in unison Ophelia gazed up at Julius. beaming at the stunning darkskinned warrior. I remembered her birthday party like it was yesterday. “The mortals are arriving.me to feel otherwise. slipping his hand into mine. Suddenly it came rushing back to me like a tidal wave. “Cordelia. and took Julius’ hand. protect them. If only I had some background. whom I had seen for the first time in the vision I saw through Winston’s eyes. Evan held out his arm and we made our way in. He was the most beautiful thing in the room. and being trapped in a room small enough for just yourself had passed as quick as the feeling had surfaced. their divine savior.” I said. The boy walking beside Evan was enormous in height.. I was not. With the mask. and I could feel the goose bumps rise on my shoulders and arms. and stepped beside Julius who was still play boxing with Evan. I felt a wave of claustrophobia go through me as I looked through the mask. As Evan and Julius came closer. My stash of silver’s on the dragon. Evan was walking toward me. I felt my cheeks flush for the hundredth time this evening. ponds. Ophelia mumbled a few words. others were Venetian styled in a reflective metallic to look like wings. and the revelers were ready to party until the wee hours of the night. My gloved hand went for the medallion which hung low between my breasts and hidden from everyone. I fought to expunge the urge to explode right here in this majestic room full of exuberant people whose joyous spirit flowed toward me from somewhere deep within their hearts. Julius is one of your most favored confidants. Void of the ability to recollect my past made it incomprehensible. you lost partial of your peripheral vision which forced you to turn your head completely to the left or right of you to view what was there. I looked at Bethany. leaning close to me. a colt at the time. and his response was pure devotion. her hand still in his. Julius was up as quickly as he had knelt down. Julius immediately halted and was entranced with her beauty which could only be rivaled by maybe her sister. the two sets of double doors leading into the gleaming breathtaking ballroom were finally opened.” Evan said. Then she turned around. As a hundred or so of the town’s people arrived. yet I must admit that I already miss your beautiful face. Everyone's mask was elaborate in design and unlike any other. Bethany did get a pony for her eighth birthday. My purpose was to govern them.” She assured. It was Julius Hepolis.. I’m at your service eternally. Julius was easily the tallest person in the room. Ophelia faced everyone and said. Thaddeus wore a silver mask with teal piping while Nikolas’ mask was silver with burgundy piping.” I said gazing up at his flawless and creamy skin. His eyes were as black as onyx. “I’m flattered. walked across the glass like marble floors and lined up against the gilt paneled ivory walls which were ornamented by numerous enormous gilt framed mirrors beneath spiraling crystal chandeliers. I was about to be crowned. The boy’s masks matched their sashes. Suddenly. and that of the members of the family. beaming from ear to ear like a little girl who just got the gift of a pony for her birthday. whose mask hid the little crow’s feet that were beginning to creep around her eyes. a genuine memory. Finally a tangible chunk of memory had surfaced as it had with Gypsy when I rode her for the first time after my return. They had me up on a pedestal. “Hey that’s my fiancé you’re talking too. I remembered how Thaddeus had brought Topaz. and tasted the salty blood.” Nikolas said. “It’s not that I don’t feel honored. you may or may not remember this fine gentleman. guide them. He towered over Nikolas whom I regarded as a giant in his own right. I watched the faces of the town’s people. out from the barn. It was all very clear and there was no going back. Even kneeling he was still at least five and a half feet tall. Evan moved close enough to kiss me but instead whispered. “Empress Cordelia. You look especially beautiful this evening. and teach them. and chuckling. and I recognized him immediately.. I couldn’t sense its cool calming factor. He had me laughing along with him. I checked myself out in one of the many mirrors.” Evan said. I stood rigid as the Grecian inspired columns standing at each . Some were adorned with colorful feathers from exotic birds. and the mines. and bowed on one knee as if he was about to propose. shh. Everyone entered the immense ballroom. With our fingers intertwined. due to the glove I wore. pretending to box with Julius. I hadn't realized what this really meant to the coven. Thankfully the sudden sense of claustrophobia.” Evan turned to face me again and assisted me with my mask. I exhaled in relief. whose exquisite mask made her look like she had eyes of a feline.” Julius took my hands in his. your family. Without me – there was no coven. Evan’s was a simple shimmery black mask trimmed with teal piping. hesitantly. revealing the slim and elegant neck of a swan.

as I followed his intense gaze to the reflection in the mirrors of what looked like to accomplished ballroom dancers. “You looked a bit uncomfortable with my father. were some of the women of Nickel City’s aristocracy mixed in with the female members of the Ischeros. and eyed the guests who began to line up in promenade order preparing for the First Waltz. staring me straight in the eyes. Actually it was nice.” Evan whispered and his sweet breath warmed the curve of my neck. from guests who were lined up to dance and those who were lined up against the walls. and although it’s been painstakingly sluggish. it was nothing. gliding and following Evan’s lead. and I felt like I was floating above the marble floor as if my feet weren’t actually controlled by my mind. I felt so free in Evan’s arms. The steps came naturally. “Stay where you are.” Evan beamed. yet you will need the guidance of your elders. I couldn’t be wrong about the look in Thaddeus’ eyes. and he danced as if he was the weight of a feather while leading me in full command. It was as if the air around us lifted us up. “It was? What did the old man have to say?” . everyone wanted to dance. and then walked away from me. I fought to stop reading his mind as to not allow this powerless old man the opportunity to corrupt my evening. and standing opposite me. hesitantly before I could while relinquishing his hold on me. “May I?” Evan said. but I gave him a reassuring smile and accepted the offer to dance with Thaddeus. I being the prize of course. It was instantaneous with my first step as Evan led me around the ballroom floor. the harmonious sounds of violins. adoringly. All I wanted to do was listen to the beautiful symphony. Even if he was right. It’s as if you’ve never left. “I don’t know how it’s happening. as if he dared me to object. but I didn’t. Just beyond Alexandria. cellos and harpsichords floated through the air.” Thaddeus answered.” “No. I mean just look at us. especially after hearing his thoughts. of course. “Are you enjoying yourself?” Evan asked. I was still in shock of how naturally I was able to move across the floor. “Yes of course.” Evan whispered. but I’m grateful to whatever magic it is that’s responsible. It was as if the symphony of musical notes waltzed around the ballroom floor alongside the dancers. since they were demigods. but like magic it happened. the men stepped forward appearing chivalrous as princes which many were. “You must believe. was perfect timing. Evan smiled knowingly. and held it up. My expression must have read as apprehensive. It was almost as if he wanted me more than his son did. “I will do my best to be an empress that will make my parents proud. “They are just as nervous to dance with the new empress as you are to dance with them. “Simply splendid.” I said.” I said relieved.” Evan said.” Thaddeus promised. as he we began to waltz again. All the while we continued to dance. just as Bethany had promised. Just as he did. and couldn’t be pacified. this time with an authoritative tone to his voice.corner of the room. “Amazing. Don’t you dare challenge me. It was time to change partners once the music paused for a brief moment. letting him know that I didn’t think of both he and his wife as my guardians.” I lied because I didn’t want to ruin Evan’s evening. and thanked their partner for the dance. “I would love to dance with you again Evan.” I said.” “I’m beginning to believe that. On either side of me was Bethany and Alexandria. “You’ve always been a delightful dancer. “It’s not magic. I tried to hide my true feelings of not wanting him around me with a sheepish smile and kind words. Without me you cannot rule. I felt trapped in his grip as he spun me around the ballroom.” I said. I’ve waited a long time for this night. I will guide you through the quadrille.” I agreed but said nothing as I stared at our radiant reflection and sighed. girl. dance and bask beneath the warm glow of the chandeliers above. and was positive that I must be dreaming to have such good fortune.” Evan said. You best respect your elders. I wasn't prepared for what came next. my love. I still felt quite uneasy. I bore through them and read his mind. It was as if he knew that I was listening in on what he was thinking because it sounded more like a message than just random thoughts. He stopped once he was about six or seven feet away. It felt incredible to move with such fluidity like a swan making delicate ripples in a pond. A genuine smile was smeared across my face as Evan and I walked away. both Alexandria and I will take you under our wings. I waltzed effortlessly as someone who has ballroom danced for years.” He declared. taking my hand. You will rule with the guidance of your guardians. They were the look of possessiveness. I promised that it would all come back. “Darling Cordelia. Our eyes were locked for a long moment as we twirled around the ballroom. Suddenly. The buzz of excitement throughout the room. In the center of the ballroom nearly a quarter of the guests were lined up in promenade order. The ladies curtsied as the men bowed. “Yes. Evan took my hand. I suddenly had the need to escape his intense gaze. was electric. breathlessly. His asking permission to steal me away from his father as a different piece of music was introduced. The women were on one side and the men were lined up opposite them. Alexandria and I will be with you every step of the way. what you know is surfacing. Opposite them were Nikolas and Thaddeus. Instead. I was prepared to dance the entire night. girl.

” “Yeah.” “What is nothing to trouble me about?” “Cordelia. and not a teenager like him and I. I just wish that we were past all this. and that can sometimes fuel the arrogant and impatient beast in him. and nowhere else. not to worry. I don’t know. and then walked away.” “That’s ok. was uncharacteristic and I couldn’t make any sense of how I was consumed by him. Evan bowed and thanked me for the dance. and whirled me passed a couple who looked like they were moving way too fast for the music. “And no because I know that we will eventually apprehend him. “I shouldn’t be hogging you all to myself since you haven’t had a chance to dance with anyone other than my father and I.” Evan said. Evan looked like a soldier.” No mask could disguise the voice and yet something was different about Gerald when I looked into his eyes. thinking about the reality of the situation.” “Evan. I couldn't put my finger on it. “Please. I made my way through the sea of twirling couples. and then with several other boys though out the evening. just one dance. “I'd know you anywhere. For some reason I was grasping for air and drawn to him in an animalistic way. it’s nothing to trouble you about. “I’m sorry. He obviously knew of his father’s pushiness better than most. I lacked control.” “Oh. Gerald led me back onto the dance floor. “May I have this dance?” He asked. My father’s been acting kind of strange lately. his head held high and his shoulders squared.” Gerald said.” “For what?” Evan asked. “Yes. He walked over to another girl. “Yeah. There was something in them that I didn’t recall ever seeing in them before. His blond hair shone in the glow of the prisms in the chandeliers. She was beyond beautiful and when she turned in my direction.” I said. Yes because I would hate for you to begin your reign with him still on the loose. Tell me. and father is furious about it. and switched hands and took Nikolas’ as I released Evans. waiting patiently for my answer.” I smiled with a curtsy. “Are you worried that we may not find him?” “Well… yes and no. and prayed this dance would last . recognizing me through my elaborate gold mask. shamelessly in front of Evan. “Thank you. I looked up to watch Evan’s reaction to my next question. Evan. and the pained look she was sending from across the ballroom floor didn’t matter a bit. and didn’t care to scan the crowded ballroom for Evan. I was in a trancelike state. “For confiding in me. All I wanted. and thoroughly wore me out. In fact. “I hate not knowing who’s who. I recognized her as Felicity. Just over his shoulder I observed Evan dancing with his mother as she talked his ear off. and was pleasantly surprised. “Empress. I danced with Nikolas. Gerald was undoubtedly handsome as always and even more so in his tuxedo and tails. I fought the overpowering urge to throw my arms around his neck. me too. It wasn't desperation. the genuine reason for this gala. was to be with Gerald. It was Nikolas.” I turned to see who Evan was staring at behind us. and asked her to dance. I was actually beginning to perspire with of sweat pooling in my corset. Why the third degree?” I asked. They all wished me a sincere welcome.” I sighed. I was with Gerald. I’m having difficulty keeping track of all the masks since no one is allowed to remove their masks until supper is served.” “Hmm… is that all?” Evan asked. wondering what Evan meant. as if he were referring to Victor as a wild animal who escaped the zoo. and my heart was racing a mile a millisecond.” And no one did or seemed to even remember that they were wearing one. it’s nothing. if I’m going to be the Empress then I want to know what’s going on. and needed as badly as oxygen.“Oh he was just congratulating me on being crowned and stuff. I didn’t give a damn that Evan hadn’t noticed that I was being propositioned by the boy who once may have stood in the way of our union.” “Here comes someone now. I see. Deciding to take a seat in the salon for a little while. “Well I was about to take a little break in the lounge. and the aristocratic mortals of Nickel City. I didn’t think he would attend after what happened earlier. may I have this dance?” Nikolas asked as he bowed. and with no one else.” Evan smiled. and devour him in a kiss. My unexpected emotions for Gerald. someone stepped into my path and took my hand.” I accepted his offer. Look. “We haven’t been able to locate Victor is all.” I tried to answer but was cut off by Gerald’s impatience. I thought maybe he might have said something. Evan paused for a moment as he looked me in the eyes. Cordelia. “I’d be delighted. I did catch Bethany's gaze passed all of the other masked faces. Just as I was about to leave the crowded ballroom. I want to begin our lives together. He’s had a few glasses of champagne.” My demand caught Evan by surprise as well as the sternness in my voice. all the members of my family.

The cloak room was packed so tight with tagged outerwear that Gerald and I were practically sandwiched together. as the oil in the lamps began to blaze. “But. The thud of my body rang in my ears until I could hear and see nothing at all. I was already heading out the rear doors of the ballroom. Victor leaned his face into mine. the floor opened up to opaque darkness with nothing but blackness enveloping us. but only momentarily. leaning even closer so that I could feel his blazing breath on my cheek. You certainly can’t get that passion from Poseidon’s boy. I didn’t want to fight him. Bethany.” he said. I couldn't see anything. Without even a quick scan of the ballroom. I tried to back away again. and tried like hell to wriggle my arms and legs as I continued to fall.” Victor said.” he said. All the while. The eyes were familiar and I knew I had looked into them before. “Ok. and shocked me by clenching me close against him and kissing me instead. . His chestnut brown eyes took on the shimmering color of steel. Then the changes sped up drastically tragic.. and it's much too noisy in here. Victor had me and no one knew it. “What is it that you wanted to tell me?” My hands began to shake. “Gerald. smiling and lightly tugging at my gloved hand. The oil lamps on the walls dimmed on their own giving of a soft glow as if romantic music would follow and complete the setting. once his face was revealed. Although I knew that this would be frowned upon by Evan. whispering into my ear. “Come with me. we meet again. but there was no way to flee. The kiss coursed through my body like a rocket from the tip of my head to my toes. The pull downward was intense and impossible to fight against. “I have something I would like to tell you.” “Get away from me!” I hissed. “And might I add. and he had used the gift again. “We’re almost there. Suddenly. remembering what Bethany had explained to me about Victor’s newly acquired gift.” I said. and no longer felt Victor’s fierce grip on my arms. Instantaneously. After passing several sets of double doors. he grabbed both my arms and jerked me harshly downward. “You beast!” “Call me what you wish. “No!” I screamed smacking away at Victor’s tongue.” he demanded. as I was convinced that my eyes were playing tricks on me. “Aren’t you excited to see me. he should be meeting up with his brother as we speak. Gerald pulled away from me. leaving the saliva in my mouth tasting like blood. and down a long brightly lit corridor lined with more gilded framed paintings and mirrors. You can’t believe that you were kissing that mortal. he stopped in front of the only single door in the hallway. “Oh that poor mortal. the air in my chest was practically sucked out of me. Things began to change. Gerald didn’t answer me. It was breathtaking and the closest connection I had ever felt to another person. The light blinded me. and Gerald was gone. you smell even more delicious than you look my soon to be departed empress. but it doesn’t have to be our last. I know you enjoyed our kiss. That he is only able to transform into another person if he has wounded them. Gerald looked me in the eye and said.. I didn’t like the lack of peripheral vision so I let go of Gerald’s hand and removed my mask as I waited for him to open the door. Suddenly snapping me back to attention. again.” He carefully removed his mask and the hairs on the back of my neck stood as tall as the pine trees in the forest. “What have you done to Gerald?” I snapped. as if we were lost. Gerald stopped leading and stopped dancing altogether. and my body went numb – corpse like –frozen with fear. I clasped Gerald’s hand as if for dear life. and tried to back away from him.” Victor panted as I felt something blistering hot and moist flicking my ear. I agreed with a discreet nod. You seemed thoroughly enthralled only a few seconds ago. and the temperature in the room rose to an astronomical level. and facing each other. I was kissing him back.” he assured. I’m with you. yet it felt exhilarating. I was falling at an accelerated speed down a pitch black hole. With his face just an inch from my own. I’m afraid you’ll get greedy and we don’t have time. My only thought was that I was going to die. “I want to kiss you again. lightly. slowly at first. A second chance at an existence was about to end – badly. anxiously waiting to hear what Gerald had to say. Victor had the gift of the chameleon just as Bethany had known all too well. and led me into a small cloak room which was exquisitely decorated to look as elegant as the lounge. I was suddenly feeling nervous now that we were enclosed inside the vibrantly lit room. It was the wrong face – terribly wrong. my sweet. I finally landed – hard on an ice cold and flat surface. Those who witnessed me leaving the ballroom saw me exit with Gerald Bergnum. I couldn’t think straight imagining Gerald being dead.” I didn’t know what to do. One thing was certain at this very moment.” The razor edge of Victor’s words cut into me. and their parents. what’s happening to you? What’s going on?” I gasped. I couldn’t get further enough as the garments barred the walls and seemed to push me against him. Before I could get a good hysterical scream out. The feel of his warm lips pressed against mine caused a spark to ignite. A wicked smile spread across Victor’s devilishly gorgeous face just as a snarl escaped his lips. That was all me. chuckling. Gerald and I glided around the ballroom for a moment in silence only half listening to the music and somehow keeping in step to it. I’ve never been kissed like that before and wanted more and more. and before I knew it. Gerald's honey gold hair began to darken until it was jet black as asphalt. I felt the tears brimming with the reality of poor Gerald being hurt because me.” He instructed. “Come inside. “Finally. It was as if the room’s décor had to parallel the haute couture of cloaks and capes which hung in there. and I couldn't breathe or think.forever.

The exhaustion of trying to move was debilitating. let’s see you crack those shackles or call upon the many gods that fortify you. as I sluggishly tried to wake up. He thundered distinct orders to someone that I couldn't see.. and the more I tried to figure out what they were saying the more they became mangled and indistinct. fuzzy. huh?” “Yeah. Out of the corner of my eyes I could see marble pillars with gilt bases to the left and right of me. “Calm down Sacha. but couldn't be sure. she’s nothing. Some of the other faces were also familiar. You can admire her rare beauty while I rip out her heart. almost inaudible. Ha!” “Dead… again. It was obvious that Victor wasn’t taking any chances and had bolted me to this altar with no way of escaping. divine one? Still can’t remember anything?” Sacha’s vibrant hazel eyes proved her hatred for me. They wouldn’t be able to feed off of the devout worship from their descendants if they allowed the fallen demigod of Iptian. I thought. Since Sacha was present and accounted for. “Oh that’s right.. and will return momentarily. The shadows were now very visible and stood guard all around the perimeters of the huge room. She was acting cagey and paced the floor. My vision finally began to clear. marble thrones. and I decided to stop trying for now. crystalized balls that danced interlocked like the five Olympic rings. I also wondered why the Olympians wouldn’t interfere and stop this. “But wait. “Look at her my. The other throne was empty. and the loud thud was all I could remember. I tried to wriggle my arms. “I will make certain that she is not touched. instead of being chained like the animal that she was. As she eyed me like a ravenous animal that hadn’t eaten in a week. knowingly. To my surprise.” A gruff and familiar male voice said. and I could see that the fuzzy crystal balls were actually lit candles hanging from chandeliers high above everything in the gray toned room. “Secure the room. I realized that I was still in my ball gown.TwentyNine Bound I must have passed out.” The voiced hissed provocatively. If you’re so powerful. Empress. My ankles were also bound by irons. Although I could barely raise my head. I expected Lucas to pop his head in soon enough since they always seemed to be together. “Lucas. Then everything came rushing back once I heard a familiar voice – Victor's voice. jumping off the throne. You haven’t been crowned. not alive anyway. I had the strange inclination that I had been here before. or these twin felines to kill me. They were the disciples that had Sacha’s back when Bethany and I had gone into town. barring her. Sacha sat in one of two identical majestic gold detailed. tough boyfriend.” The back of my head was throbbing while I tried to make out the other voices I heard.” Lucas sneered.” Lucas ordered.” Lucas remarked. I hoped that Evan would come busting through a door or wall. but I was restricted by more cold metal cuffs on my wrists. without tearing his eyes away from me to look at her. cautiously throwing his arm in front of his sister. Where are your powers. deep in the mines along with her brother. or the conviction in them. and rescue me.” I wasn’t shocked by the horror of Sacha’s words. My vision was distorted as if my sight was actually impaired. As if on cue. as I tried to wriggle free. Unfortunately the numerous flames didn’t warm up the frigid room and I could see my own breath. she can't even move. I guess that was to be expected. o’divine one. Suddenly Sacha lunged forward. “And they consider themselves to be gods. and laughing and rattling the chains that were hooked onto the cuffs. now. “Don’t you mean Empress?” Sacha’s chuckle was laced with pure venom. “Yes. and paced around the altar which felt more like an ice cold slab of rock.. your highness?” I could tell by Lucas’ aggravated expression and sarcasm that he was still sore about being chained up.” Lucas joined in on the laughter as cackles and hisses filled the room. where is Evander and his even tougher little sister? I bet they’ll never find you…. His voice was muffled. A few feet above me were dimmed lights that looked like huge. Lucas appeared beside me. I’m preparing. “Yeah let’s see you break out of these?” Lucas roared in amusement. my lord. yet still identifiable. which were stretched out at arm’s length. my lord. . “Let's just kill her. I could barely turn my head due to the frigid metal choker that prevented me from lifting my head. That voice was followed by a soft woman’s voice. “Are you comfortable. have you? Where is your almighty Zeus now?” I didn’t bother answering Sacha while she stared down at me with nothing but thoughts of my death running through her head. “And you think that we’re pathetic?” “She is quite beautiful though. “Where’s your big.” Sacha said. I blinked incessantly and noticed fast moving shadows circling me. and spoke in his usual rough tone. More whispers were emerging further away from where I lay. They stood gaping at me in bright ivory cloak like robes. darling brother. There is nothing divine about her. you’re not an Empress are you. as he eyed me with a new found interest. I had no idea where I was. Victor’s girlfriend eyed me as if I was a repulsive slug. She is not to be harmed or touched. and was beside me. The museum like room was of marble walls that climbed to the high ceiling.” Sacha said.

” She promised with a wink. I listened intently as Sacha’s breathing decelerated. you’ll die soon enough. The gods will never allow it. She didn’t like me baiting her. I can't remember the last time I saw such a scared little rabbit.” Sacha declared. sis. Her wicked laugh echoed throughout the frosty room in ripples that sent shivers up and down my spine. Her powers. yet I don’t think he was trying to be mean. As a matter of fact. in an annoyed whisper.” I couldn’t understand why the gods were letting this take place – me being murdered again. Then it stopped. When will you stand up for yourself. but closed in on me a bit. Your beloved Ischeros clan won't come to your rescue now. unfazed. be still. bound like a prisoner. “Victor is taking too long. I was compelled to set her straight.” Sacha noted.” Sacha said. You may be feared.” Sacha said. standing guard. they were worried. as if I might suddenly garner the power to crack these shackles. I silently thanked Lucas for saving me from his twin. “I know you’re afraid of me. and he said so himself. “You'll never be a true empress. murder. “Kill me already. “Look at you. but you’ll never be loved. “Time is of the essence. and fought like a caged animal to break free of the fetters.” The daring words spilled out like water from a fountain spout while I thrashed. in the forest. Using my peripheral vision. I was forced to take in her exotic scent – jasmine. “You looked pretty scared yourself that day when the shadows nearly scarfed you up whole. and headed toward the buttresses in the far corner.. and she seemed to calm down with Lucas' intervention. “Sis. Better a butterfly than a roaring panther. Suddenly Sacha jumped out of her seat and pounced. or so they thought. . The other disciples stood still. if that’s what you plan to do. she should already be dead. Sacha sat in one of the thrones again. “You’re as scared as a little bunny rabbit about to be scarfed down by a panther. “Victor will kill you. I might just dissolve into the air. I saw that they were far enough to not be heard. that was delicious. she had explicit orders which prevented her of even touching me. walking away triumphantly with her arms waving about as if she had metamorphosed into a butterfly. “That's not going to matter is it?” Lucas thundered stepping in front of Sacha like a barricade as she seemed to dash for my throat. Suddenly I heard my name being called. She had only one thing on her mind.” “I think that when Victor returns. Remember? The appetizer. but I was sure I had heard my name called over and over for a few seconds. I will be empress and be loved by all..It was as if he believed that if he did steer his vigilant gaze away from me for even a second. He smiled at me in an evil way.” “Yes.” Lucas demanded. but Sacha didn’t hear him. what little she had.” I asserted. were granted by Victor.” Lucas agreed. Cor delia. of course. you guys are all the same. “Oh don’t worry pretty girl. especially since she knew that I was well aware of Victor’s orders not to kill me. and makes her his wife. I shuddered uncontrollably realizing that they may actually disobey Victor and not follow his orders. He’s right though. Whether Sacha’s loved or hated isn’t going to matter if Victor takes over.” “Last night. but I was thinking back to that day in town when she hid behind Goldilocks. The new Divinity must be crowned tonight. And from what they were saying. and her ancient bloodline of felines which could all be relieved by me if I could only regain my own power. Noticeably flinching. and disappear. so easily reduced to little boys whenever a pretty gal comes along. I know. and her desire to slaughter me was clouding her brain.” I wondered if she could hear my heart beating rapidly beneath the corset and bodice of my ball gown. For a moment Sacha didn't say a word and just growled. “If any more time is wasted. and he will hold the greatest power in the world and I will be at his side. leaning over me. I watched Sacha circle me like a voracious predator that has finally trapped its prey. I glanced away from Sacha’s icy glower for a second to witness the look on Lucas' face go from interest to menacing. looking over at me with smoldering eyes. It was as If they were whispering right into my ears.” “Yes.” Sacha drawled. for goodness sake. leading one to wonder if I had ever been here at all. The scent of the delicate flower didn’t suit the iniquitous girl who glared at me with derision. My attention was drawn back to Sacha. attempting to come off as threatening and the least bit daunted as anyone could be. Surely they can’t allow mere shape – shifters to kill me – the daughter of Zeus. It was faint and barely audible. “I’d like to get this over and done with. he just had a mean look to him. Sacha’s face was livid as her bright hazel eyes scanned my face. Suddenly the twins walked away. little rabbit. But they were wrong if they believed that their whispers couldn’t be heard by me. Cordelia?” “I’m not afraid of you. as you very well should be. “Oh. Evan and the others may have time to track her.” Lucas said. seething. The fact that Sacha wasn't a pure Ischeros made that statement fallacious. I thought.” She said. as if they were weary of what Sacha may be able to achieve.

As the sound arose. Her antics were beginning to rattle him. due to his recent and unexpected stint with death. you worthless. held his arms out to them and levitated them almost to the height of the ceiling. and came closer. My time was up.” Sacha instructed. Victor held them in the air as they screamed in excruciating pain. “Ugh! I hate this – this waiting.” And with a wave of Victor’s hand.” Sacha prodded. Well you’re dynamic duo here. as if every bone of their skeletal frame ached. Then the shadow shifted into a person cloaked in a cape. She then threw her black suede Stetson down onto the marble floor like a spoiled child. I began to panic. and I won’t go there again. “We can't and we won’t. and then started gaining consciousness. Victor’s gaze automatically fell on me. “I wasn’t thinking.” “I hadn’t thought of that. I would guess that perhaps Lucas had a little taste of Hell.” “It's a risk. Lucas was afraid. and these immortals. overzealous fools. I tried not to move as his tormenting stare shifted to the twins while he glided passed them. regrettably. neck.” Sacha brushed her brother’s cheek with the palm of her hand. The person removed the hood and it was Victor. the gliding figure of a dragon. had Lucas had the misfortune of meeting Hades. shaking her head from left to right. I wasn’t surprised that she hadn’t considered the consequences. give or take an inch. or perhaps a glimpse of Hades himself. Sacha’s and Lucas’ looks of panic could not be masked.” Sacha stomped her boot. I would’ve let out a satisfying chuckle due to the twins’ quick change of disposition. and I held my breath unconsciously.” Being there once myself I knew the feeling. “You lying bitch!” Sacha screamed. Just rip her heart out. sounding dejected and hoarse. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a grotesque shadow. directing my eyes to Lucas and Sacha. resembling statues of racing sprinters. “NO!” Lucas yelped. my sweet tabby. both Sacha and her brother were paralyzed in mid step. The wicked game of power had changed hands. and I know how badly you want to feel secure. Victor once told me that a ceremony must be performed to solidify his reign and to guarantee her death. the gods will damn us and we will be doomed to burn before Hades.” Sacha said. and their ceremonies. as they had referred to him earlier. yanking his arm away and stepping away from his excitable sister. they were the scared little rabbits now. and serpent like with an elongated tail.” Sacha said. Victor stood just a couple of feet from the stone altar. I was astonished at the power he wielded over his devotees.” Surprisingly I didn’t stammer. The echo of footsteps also halted the movements of the other disciples who guarded me. The irons cut into my wrists. “I should kill you both. This lasted over a minute. He was back. but I think we should take it. and never seemed to think anything through. They were knocked out for a few seconds. Both Sacha and Lucas looked at me with identical stunned caramel hazel eyes. which was far above everyone in the room’s heads. ultimately answering her own question. after all the work I’ve put into my ascension. His eyes didn’t attempt to conceal the evil that ran through his veins.” I said. She was just too impatient and wound up to let Lucas answer it. as expected. “I don’t think that’s a wise idea. in a shrill voice that sounded far above a whisper. The pain made me wince as I felt my wounds heal as quickly as they appeared. . “Almost killed me. “It’s all right. “Where is Victor anyway? What is more important than killing her right now? Nothing. making a thudding boom once their bodies slammed into the glossy marble floor. “If we kill her.” Lucas explained.” Victor moved like static as the temperature of the room became scalding hot. They had to be wondering how it is that I heard there whispers from across the room. Hades was greedy. “No. If I wasn't so damn scared right now. It was obvious that I was the only one in the room who heard them. “She’s lying!” Sacha said desperately to Victor. I wondered for the first time what he had seen while being one of the departed. “I’m about to be the Emperor and you both thought to rob me of that right. a couple feet away. She was a blistering hot head. as she began pulling on Lucas' huge forearm. and quick stepped toward me just as her brother charged forward in the same direction.” Lucas considered. What if the gods banish us to the Underworld for killing her? She is their chosen one – their purist descendant. she is not. “Victor may not be the one to kill us. All of a sudden I heard the echo of footsteps clicking in the distance. he wouldn’t be here now. sweeping across the shimmering stone walls. Sacha and Lucas fell. Their lord.” Victor bellowed. I twisted and wriggled slightly but it was pointless. I've been dead. creating a nerve frenzying sound when her silver spur scraped against the marble floor.“We should do it. I know your nature. He appeared to be trying to stop her once again. I suppose his parents would be proud of their son for seeking vengeance in their honor. but we must act wisely and that is to practice some patience. But then again. long. The look seemed to leave them both practically paralyzed with dread. I observed his other disciples who reacted to his hollering by staring straight ahead as if hoping not to summon his attention. Lucas and Sacha immediately ended their heated conversation. yet somehow I was able to speak. The room was instantaneously darkened as if his dark and evil soul eclipsed every flame in the room. and ankles with every move I made. and ridiculous rules. I saw that Victor was now positioned right in front of them. I just want this to be all over too. and robbed you the honor. For a moment I expected the Apolluon. Their wide eyes stared nervously at Victor who had a knowing smile smeared across his face. “Besides. “Enough!” Lucas demanded harshly. I couldn’t see the face because it was shadowed by the hood of the cape. He knew that his sister was going off the deep end.” Sacha said. From the corner of my eye. slowly. “So you want to be Emperor. I would think that my oldest and most trusted disciples would understand the importance of this night to me. Then he relinquished his hold on them and gravity won. and would never allow a soul to escape. “Oh Luc… I’m so sorry.” I was astonished by Lucas’ level – headed behavior.

Everyone stared down at the floor.” “And?” Evan prodded. Victor was still Gerald then.” Bethany said.” Bethany took a deep breath and collected herself. it was obvious that they had no idea to where.” Bethany asked herself. “Ugh!” Bethany shrieked and shuddered as she watched the black hole in the floor of the cloak room close up before her eyes. By their expressions of horror. Every member of the Ischeros family heard Bethany’s shriek over the jovial laughter and orchestra. I couldn’t hear anything yet I could feel Cordelia’s presence behind the door. anxiously. Surely the family must have realized that I was missing by now. Patience was a virtue that Bethany’s didn’t possess so after only a few moments she stepped back a few feet. and don’t leave anything out. I still blamed myself. as she stared at Evan. and then to my hands.” “When did you know this?” Evan asked. the family moved rather slower than they would have had the guests not been there at all. They all were on alert as every pair of eyes darted in every direction to try and place me in the ballroom or lounge.” Bethany whimpered. I had no idea of how long I'd been in this frigid room. slightly.” Bethany cried. My powers should have kicked in or at least my intuition. She knew the moment the murky abyss dissolved into marble that it wasn't Gerald at all who had danced me.” Bethany answered.” Thaddeus said. “Are you sure?” Alexandria asked in a shocked voice. once he has wounded them. all I knew and felt when I looked into Gerald’s eyes was an unexplainable lure and desire for him. “Alright. and flung the door wide open. but it was odd. the look in his eyes had been gentle and honest. Without warning a vision came to me. Bethany slid up to it but stood about a foot away from it to eavesdrop. as he held up his hand. A minute after Gerald shut the cloak room door. and instinctive. and the alarm in her pastel blue irises spoke volumes to him. as well as his parents. but I fought not to look into the malicious oasis – the door to his hardened soul. “We don’t have much time. if anything at all. She was moving slowly and lingered back to spy on us. “It wasn’t Gerald. I hated myself at that moment for being fooled by Victor when he Chameleoned Gerald. “I followed them. Bethany.” How could he get in here?” “Did you actually see him?” One of the elders asked Bethany. sternly. “Who?” Thaddeus asked. I had no clue of what had been brewing behind those fake brown eyes. “You thought it was him?” Evan asked. while she tapped her satin shoe on the marble. I know it was him. When Gerald had asked me to the dance in my room earlier. narrowed her eyes. “Why can’t I hear through this door? It’s only made of oak. or so I thought it was him.” Alexandria added.” Bethany rambled.Victor turned around and seemed to direct his attention to the cuffs at my ankles. “I saw her dancing with Gerald.” Thaddeus said. startling quite a few guests as they rudely brushed passed them although. impatiently when Bethany paused. His eyes beckoned to me. myself. no matter how unimportant you believe it to be. and then to the choker that restricted me from turning my neck. As Victor glided toward me.” Nikolas confirmed. sadly.” “I wish we had known of Victor’s ascension sooner. as Ares bestowed onto his son. I opened the door and that’s when I realized that there wasn't a floor. But at the dance. I knew that I shouldn't torture myself but at this moment I couldn't help it. It was a bottomless pitch black hole that quickly reverted back into this marble floor. that he can transform into anyone. and it had been animalistic. . “I tried to listen to what was being said. They were all assembled outside of the cloak room door listening intently as Bethany explained what she had just observed. I watched myself hurrying through the corridors of Harper’s Hall with Gerald. I closed my eyes. and that's how I knew what direction they had taken. Bethany was alone in the hallway. Then I saw Bethany floating down the same hallway that Gerald and I had just walked through. Evan. It was a feeling I have never felt with Gerald before. “Victor has acquired the rare gift of the Chameleon. an Ischeros or a mortal. Nikolas and twenty elders frantically made their way to Bethany. The Iptian’s son of Ares possesses a power that only the highest divinities hold. “I didn’t have to. start from the beginning. “I…” “How could Victor be Gerald Bergnum?” Nikolas wailed cutting Bethany off. and wondered what was being done to save me. “This means. “I heard the cloak room door shut. I don’t know why but I – I didn't like the idea of them being alone together. so utilizing her power to move at an accelerated speed to find her brother and Nikolas went unnoticed. They all came to the conclusion that Victor was able to teleport me. Upon entering the ballroom she caught Evan's eye. He glided toward me as if he were surfing on air. “It was Victor. “Cordelia and Gerald Bergnum.

“Cordelia. and Julius walked up to the group and delivered the news that no one seemed the least bit surprised to hear. “I’d say we have approximately three – quarters of an hour left. “Yes. Dimitri. Then she called out again. and Patrick dispatch several warriors to guard Victors hide – outs. “Lucas and Sacha have escaped. Her eyes were closed but her eyelids fluttered like the wings of a beetle.” Nikolas nodded. but what shall we tell them?” Alexandria asked.” Bethany explained. you have the strength to feel her aura.” Bethany said. “Uh… she’s surrounded by marble pillars.” “I’ve been trying to.” “Bethany and I will search underwater for her. take your sister. “Mother. Lord Evander?” asked one of the elders. Evander. “Bethany. everyone in that hallway had removed their masks.” Evan said. oblivious to what had happened as well as to the pixie like dust floating around them.” Bethany recalled. “Yes.” Bethany threw her head back as a blinding stream of iridescent light shot out from her forehead. “Fix this once and for all. take Olympia and Bertrand and search on land. Everyone stood perfectly still as they waited for Bethany to make some kind of contact with me.” Bethany replied. “Nikolas.“Surely Victor will begin the ritual of removing the empress’ heart immediately.” The other members of the Ischeros left the mortals in the ball room. but said nothing. and search from above. “Julius.” “As you wish. I’m guessing his disciples. “But you can never be too sure. Cordeliaaaaaa. and she’s lying on a stone altar but that is all I saw. and quickly headed toward the lounge to fetch his sister. Evan glared at his father. “No! She will not die.” “We must act expeditiously or she may die.” Bethany exclaimed.” Bethany called out in a whisper trying to make contact with me.” Julius nodded. “I don’t think so. as he grabbed Evan’s arm.” Thaddeus said. hastily. “And it’s brightly lit yet over cast by shadows. “I saw her. . By now. “No. Cordelia.” “Should we end the festivities and send the mortals home. Bethany looked at Evan with tears in her eyes. just the shadows. Tiny starbursts floated around everyone like glittery dust then swirled upward and throughout the entire hall.” “The Apolluon?” There was gravity in Thaddeus’ question because it was obvious that they were all thinking the same thing – was I being smothered by hideous shadows and dragged to the Underworld to be held prisoner by Hades for an eternity. She’s alive! She is bound in irons. Suddenly the light was extinguished and all the starburst disappeared.” Evan shouted. but unfortunately not very much.” “I didn’t see them.” Evan said. and I’ll try again. the shadows seemed to be guarding her. The mortals continued dancing. “Do you think that he’ll go to any of them?” Bethany asked referring to the hideouts. and began congregating in the lounge. “Both you and Hedea should be able to cover quite a bit of ground from the sky.” Another elder said. “No. “Did you see Victor?” Nikolas asked anxiously. “Cordelia. as he pulled out a blue diamond encrusted gold watch from his vest pocket. Cordelia. breathlessly. and disappeared. They were shadows that resembled people.” Evan answered.” said an elder with a thick copper colored beard. grimly. shook off his hold. “Victor may use the mortals as leverage against us. “The ritual requires some time. “I’ll have Heracio. Cordelia.” “Is she hurt? Alexandria anxiously asked.” Thaddeus answered for Evan. Sire.” Evan ordered.” The doors of the ballroom flew open. please.” said another elder who had yet to remove his mask. “No.” “I agree. Everyone nodded. “Can you describe what you saw around her? Evan demanded.” Thaddeus practically growled. angrily. “But they’re the least of our problems. “The ritual can be performed in under an hour. Sire.

Your death will guarantee my reign. “The bolt may belong to Zeus. and hoped he would reconsider his plan to murder me. please have the guest leave as soon as possible. Cordelia. “Mother. Bethany was shocked and wondered. if we don’t prepare for the worst therefore. Still. and continued as Sacha stewed. Instead.” “Is it?” “Evan is my –” “You are destined to be my wife. and not expect that one day I would claim what is rightfully mine. “I don’t have one of these. You still have to die. “Don’t look so appalled. Ares was named second in power when Poseidon quarreled with Zeus for the umpteenth time.” I was confused and shocked. I’m destined to be.” “That’s so unfair. has you believing that you and Evan are betrothed when in fact it is you and I.” I said. yet thankful that the family was searching for me. in a menacing roar. All the while the dumbfounding attraction to him started to surface again. My family was second in line. “Evander aims to please. I guess they figured their time had finally come. “Please. “I'm no one's lap dog. I AM THE DIVINE ONE. Victor snatched the Eye of the Ischeros medallion from my neck with one swift movement. looking complacent. I know I haven’t forgotten what was done to mine. but Ares has gained Zeus’ trust.” I hissed at Victor. I don't need them to. “You didn't really believe that I could just be cast aside. “What you want. if her mother could possibly be pondering the miniscule dilemma of how fast the gossip of the Masquerade Ball ending before the guests were served dinner would spread through town. but that doesn’t matter. and has been placed at the right of his throne. Victor leaned in.” “Paid to whom?” “To my family. Both Sacha and Lucas were now standing just a few steps behind him. “And since you’re not willing to give me your heart.” Alexandria protested. “The gods have nothing to do with what the family has committed. without a trace of remorse.” Evan said. One never forgets family no matter how much time has lapsed. I will not look like a fool in this community.” he said. or don’t want is of no concern of mine.” Victor laughed. “I’ve woken up to and fallen asleep to the vision of your beating heart in my hand.” he proclaimed. we may no longer exist in any community after this night. “What I have done.“Bethany.” Victor professed. Nothing you say will prevent me from killing you.” “You have no right to that.” “Yes they are descendants of Poseidon. nonchalantly. “You and I? That’s ridiculous. crisply.” Victor scrutinized the diamonds on the pendant. It has always been you and I. but I will soon wield it.” “The gods will never honor you as emperor. Her somber expression had him believing that he and Bethany had been too harsh. You're prolonged lack of memory is puzzling. therefore you can stop this pathetic attempt to stall me. your devoted disciples. “It doesn’t matter.” Bethany shouted. you know that. my love. I don’t want to be the empress. Glamour them if you have to. he placed my medallion around his own neck and winked. “I will be emperor. “You don’t have to kill me. Just get them out of here. scolding his mother. “What matters is what is dear to them – your family.” . as my face went sour. All of this was established ages ago. and that is you.” With that Evan and Bethany disappeared.” Victor bellowed.” “I had nothing to do with that. I cringed knowing that he meant that in the literal sense. of course.” With that being said. “True again. and I was back to feeling frozen on the altar.” Victor said.” I tried to yell but my throat was sore from the neck cuff grinding into it.” He declared. I could hear the disciples snickering and chuckling with delight at my despair. not the Capius family. trying to stall him in hopes that Evan and the others would gain some time to locate me. just like a faithful hound. I will punish all the rest. just do what you must. realizing that playing nice wasn't going to prevent my death. and then paused realizing that she may be frightened of what may happen to them all. with the Ischeros being in peril and all. and I wasn’t sure if I should believe him. I'll take it by force. leaning over me while eyeing me curiously. and she may be using the ball as a distraction. “How could your family be next in line? The Capius’ are descendants of Poseidon. I've waited a long time for this. and I hated it. Behind them were several other disciples wearing the same smug expressions.” Victor announced.” I said. Once I am emperor. but why should I care? No one ever gave a damn about me. and what I'm about to do is within my right. you know. You can be emperor if you want. Victor’s voice jolted me out of the safety of the vision. he didn’t find me threatening at all. that is the price to be paid.” Victor said. But the family.” “True. and has been beneficial for me.

“How intriguing. and I couldn’t understand where it was originating from. I loathed him. There is no doubt of that since kissing you.” “I guess amnesia has its perks. It was as though he’d been waiting to hear those words all his life.” he commented. “Ultimate power is too much for a mere girl like you. It couldn’t be true since Evan was no doubt my match. “Please. I fought the unexplainable urges as he watched me try to turn away from him. This is pathetic.” I challenged. “Victor –” Sacha shrieked angrily. “Don't be afraid. “I…” It was as if two different people were fighting inside of my head. I went for the sympathy tactic instead. “So it’s that simple?” “Yes and I expect to do it immediately. “You would? Do you mean you would give yourself to me willingly?” Every one of his disciples quieted with the new direction of our conversation. and pleaded with the gods to send him away while the other had already succumbed to him.” “I will destroy the Apolluon. The Apolluon will finally know who rules this world. “Yes. My body wanted more but my mind couldn’t accept him. I do wonder if you could pleasure me as well as Bethany had. He seemed a little surprised that I didn’t react to it. Not this way. Not in anyway. Her beau was preparing to kiss the girl who she wanted dead. I was almost hopeful for a full minute. in a deeply rich and venomous tone while he never took his empty eyes off me. in a dreamy sort of trance inducing way as If he were trying to put me under a spell. the Cordelia I used to know would never beg. and I couldn’t deny that there was definitely something there. “I’ll marry you if that’s what you want.” I barely whispered. What did he expect? Jealousy? Sacha had that department on lock.” Victor’s triumphant laugh echoed throughout the dreary room. “Please let me go. Sacha appeared outraged. “Silence. lowering his face until it was just an inch above mine then stroked my hair and cheek tenderly. Your lips have always been mine to taste eternally. I knew it in my heart. You are delicious now. This boy wanted to kill me in the most savage way. . I guarantee that. I beg you. “I wish you had told me that sooner. with a wave of his free hand. “I don’t know who that is. a part of me that could never get enough.” Victor purred. The Ischeros will finally kneel to me.” I said.” “And you won’t have an empire to rule over once the Apolluon carry all of the members off to the Underworld.” he proclaimed.” Victor said. “You felt that didn’t you?” I couldn’t reply because I couldn’t deny what I had just felt. not even with Evan. and here I was consumed by him. “And lure more of the Apolluon to Nickel City.” he muttered. I could have my way with you since the search party that’s been dispatched to find you will never succeed in finding you here. yet I couldn’t help wondering why Victor would need to lie about something like that when he intends to kill me anyway. I will taste your lips. Don’t get me wrong Cordelia. “So your plan is to abuse it. I didn't want to die… again. hoarsely as I tried like hell not to cry. Victor’s lips on mine were smoldering and opened up something inside of me. The kiss had been intoxicating.” It came out so fast that I wanted to gobble up the words the moment I heard them spill out like cereal. I do want you.I was blown away by what Victor explained.” I ignored the last part about Bethany. Sacha looked painfully hurt as well.” “Too late… they’re already here. Victor paused to stroke my hair. I now had a reason to believe what he had said about he and I being betrothed.” I whispered. but stood guard. I plan to unleash it. I could barely turn my neck beneath the vice as Victor smiled maliciously at my discomfort. and looked me in the eyes. devoted to the end.” I pleaded. It was a frightening feeling. Power would be wasted with you. “Please. and was breathing in rapid heaves. but first my beautiful lovely. It’s not like he’s planning to run away with me. lowering his face closer to mine as I cringed on the outside. One wanted to spit into his face. and fought the incomprehensible desire I felt on the inside. It was something that I had never felt before. and I felt the uncontrollable urge to kiss him again. “But only out of desperation. once more. is that right? I must say. jealous no doubt. but the old Cordelia showed true potential of being a supreme empress unlike you. but leaned in for a better look. Maybe he would consider keeping me alive for a little longer. Victor raised his face.” Victor said adamantly. You will do whatever I want. I will do whatever you want. to kiss him. You will do nothing but shield it from everyone. and grimaced.” Victor said. I was immediately saddened by that realization as unexpected tears filled my eyes. breathlessly. again. “That’s where you’re wrong. Sacha couldn't help herself.

wickedly. and keep them at a higher level of control over the empire. but only because killing you will end this wretched empire.” “Mad scientist?” I asked. He seemed at a loss for words. and decided not to wait for one. “Lies? I only thought you deserved to die knowing the truth.” he said. The room of brightly cloaked disciples waited with baited breath.It's as if you've been the victim of a lobotomy. Victor appeared to ponder this for a moment before saying anything. finally. “Why are you telling me this? These lies. and only able to turn my head. and took in his cold glare. although I was only seven. he unlocked the brace on my neck. “Liar!” I didn’t get why he couldn’t admit to his evil deeds. although she was used to his cruelty. and just a way to try and hurt and confuse me.” . walking away from me. and wouldn't insult her host. Sacha’s face turned crimson from embarrassment.” Victor countered. It couldn't have had anything to do with Gerald. he was easily out numbered. She is too foolish to believe you. This made no sense to me. I tried not to waver. He was arrogant enough to know that none of them would ever try to attack him although. They are as heartless as your parents at this moment. and now you plan on killing me. I wanted him to own up to it.” he chuckled. “You have Bethany. “You've returned to me like a frightened little child which is fine for me. surely a bright young lady such as yourself. the poor fellow I used as my Masquerade mask. my love. How's that for manners?” I screamed. does possess the proper manners. “Step away from me. This information was fictitious. this evening. “Now there's a glimpse of the old Cordelia I once pined for. and stared back.” “I know the truth. “Yes. What puzzles me is your distorted information. You seem to be under the impression that I murdered your mommy and daddy. Surely their powers combined could overpower him. I guessed that he was surprised that I would speak to him so matter of factly as I did.” “You're lying. but there are other’s in this empire that love it more. “Your new guardians need you more than they let on. being tied down. This has nothing to do with you. yet appearing ominous. well I am not to blame. that's right. with such a fortunate upbringing.” I raised my head. I swallowed hard. I wanted him to admit that he had killed my parents.” “Well of course I did. They were also aware of your love for the mortal who lives across the street from your former estate. He was a cold blooded murderer who was now playing it like he wasn't guilty of the unfathomable crimes. “You are a LIAR and a MURDERER. Your union to their son will ultimately complete his level of ascension of power. They knew you wanted me dead. The noise was earsplitting. I do love power. “Without her constant urging regarding your blooming relationship with that mortal. Sacha shrunk away somewhere out of my view. Your parents’ death wasn’t my idea. but that is not the reason they kept you away as your parents were being buried in a tomb. My neck was sore from the pressure from the edges of the metal cuff.” Victor nodded. I was sent to the future because of you. and yelled. but must be rather disappointing for the fools who sent you away in the first place. and I was finally able to turn my head. I have to admit it was a little strange watching him. “Cordelia… Cordelia. either to see if I indeed possessed the power to free myself of these chains. I knew that the Capius’ had sent me away to safeguard me from Victor. coyly.” Sacha whispered in Victor's ear knowing that she intended for everyone in that room to hear her. And you have no idea who the mad scientist is. He knew this. Victor stopped walking and spun around. I do plan to kill you. I shook my arms and legs causing the chains attached to the cuffs to slam against the marble of the altar. which took all of my strength. your new guardians would never have known. and you killed my parents in order to get it. “And yes. throwing a disgusted look at her.” I stated as angrily as I could muster. I didn't say a word. I was surprised by the question and didn't know how to answer it. your closest friend to thank for that morsel of information. They already led the council. pardon the pun. Shockingly.” I was tired of the game and was willing to die if it meant that I wouldn't have to listen to any more of his lies. or to witness Victor finally kill me. far more. or them needing me for power. and that is my only desire tonight. Your death will end them. As for your parents.” I asked.” Victor said.” I heard Sacha snicker in the background. His eyes pierced through me. “Kill her now. and I clearly had everyone's attention. “Well you have two out of three right. unsure of what he was insinuating. “You are hungry for power. Don’t you ever wonder why they really sent you away?” Victor quizzed animatedly moving his hands as he spoke reminding me of a magician preparing to reveal the climax of his clever trick. I suppose they didn't expect your memory and powers to take a complete leave of absence. Victor's eyes were now on me with his back to his coven of disciples.

I could feel my heart beating through the bodice of my gown as it fell into rhythm with theirs. and the other took over. my mother and father were asking me to remember what they had told me the very last time we spoke. turning away from me. Something oddly shaped sat on the altar and was covered with a matte purple fabric. it’s your fifteenth birthday and we’re so very proud of you. but they were already dead when I found them. “Secondly I didn't have the honor or the pleasure of doing the unforgivable deed. In the meantime. it may seem out of reach. and still freezing from the icy temperature of the room now that Victor stood a distance away from me. to sorrow. and please stop weeping. allowing several wispy strands to escape her tight bun. where you can be compromised. We were in our home.” My back stiffened with the new direction of the conversation in the vision. I stared at the objects. Remember this. calming. I was sure I could hear voices. why are you telling me all of this. That voice was familiar as well but it wasn’t my parents.” I demanded. we’re only beginning to prepare you. and just to the right of the one I lay on. At first I couldn't make out what was inside the first two domes. I couldn't make out when one ended. once again. I.” I nodded.. “Delia darling.“You killed my parents. sorry. You’ve become a beautiful young lady. Unexpectedly dizzy. “You’re scaring me. now?” I asked. The hearts were suspended within the domes. Has there been another threat from The Underworld? Is it the Apolluon?” I couldn’t conceal my fears. curiously as I shivered. Their eyes bounced to and from Victor and I. Right now.” Daddy said. “No need to worry my dearest. and you’ll never witness a moment. “We wish to speak with you before our guests arrive and the party commences. “Delia. There will come a day when we no longer walk this earth with you. I was starting to believe that he may just be.” Father said. our guiding light in a world that can be so dark at pivotal times. you may believe what you wish. The last dome was empty. and will someday be the governing force of the family. It was my parents. . sit for a moment.” Daddy gushed. as another tear streamed down mother’s perfectly chiseled cheek bone. I didn’t want to disrespect him in anyway yet this seemed a little premature since I wouldn’t be crowned empress for another three years. Mother was radiant in a blush rose and gold gown. “Tomorrow and every day following this day. I owe you nothing. but the changes were significant. Victor had never struck me for being the humble type. and almost therapeutic. and the warm sun was baking us from the partially draped front window. Perhaps you wish to stall my preparations in hopes that your followers will save you in time. and I lovingly wiped it away. Never forget that our connection is unbreakable even if our breath no longer mingles with the sweet air of the living. words whispering to me. and you owe it to me to admit it.” Daddy's words frightened me. let go of my mother's hand. half a foot wide in circumference with gilded bases. and it reminding me of spectators at a Wimbledon tournament. I glanced at the others in the frigid room. wondering why my mother was crying. to both Daddy and I. motioning to the sofa. It didn't take a genius to figure out that the last dome was where Victor would house my beating heart. I tried to. and not the other way around. Their hearts beat in unison. but it is as I stated. “My time is not to be wasted on childish bickering. and above golden platforms.” Mother said. to fear. Tell the truth. know to the depths of your soul that your power is always beckoning for its master although. don't know what's gotten into me. “Mother. and I knew their voices like I knew my own. I watched him glide over to another marble altar that was slightly behind. His words sounded final. you could detect that they were actually beating.. and gasped in shock when I realized what I was looking at. The organs appeared to be crystalized.” Daddy said.” “COWARD. I would have loved too. You’ve made us incredibly proud with your progress as you come of age. and finally despair. It seemed that if he had indeed murdered my parents. Her glorious chestnut hair was brushed back smoothly. “Daddy. although. It appeared to be human hearts. in an hour of any day. “First of all my divine one. Now I could hear the hearts beating and as I did. a playful smile curled up at the left corner of his mouth beneath a thick mustache that curled upward at the ends. smiling cautiously. “Delia. I didn't kill your parents. You're going to worry Cordelia without reason. “On this birthday my love.. precise. I hadn't noticed it before due to the restriction of the neck brace.” Victor said. Victor held his arms up at his side as the fabric disappeared. If you stared deep within the prisms. I remembered feeling honored and frightened at the idea of being the next empress. have a seat. they were entranced as if under hypnosis with the exchange being played out between their leader and the girl they had sought for so long. in the parlor. he would be more than ecstatic to shout it from the highest peak of the Sierras. a little. and did as I was told. Daddy stood behind her in a tuxedo jacket with tails.. and I couldn’t feel the stifling heat that radiated from him. You are its master. Whatever it was appeared to glow in a shimmering red haze. As the heir to the Ischeros you will find no limit to the power you are fostered with. A tear rolled down her cheek. They ranged from outrage.” Daddy demanded.” I demanded. Had it been there voiced I heard just minutes ago? No. we shall guide you through various extraordinary changes. revealing three medium sized glass domes about a foot tall. They will never find you. I came to the painful conclusion that the two beating hearts belonged to my departed parents. you are our oldest child. Not in time anyway. without conviction..” Victor's tone took on an even nastier edge. I was consumed with a plethora of emotions.. I watched in a blur as he began removing the glass dome covers from each encased heart. “I'm. Forgive me my darlings. I thought I heard voices coming from them as well.

” I blubbered. I was fourteen and he was fifteen. “Delia. After a few seconds he reappeared. He had disappeared for a few moments causing the flames in the oil lanterns to flicker magically.” Victor shouted. would be spending the night at her house with her family. but this time. I thought this strange at first. since we’ve never spent the night at her home before. I recalled having a bit of an enamored crush on him when we were the tender age of six or maybe seven. I had planned to wait up for him. But he was back now and the reunion wasn’t what I would have expected then. and I will reign as I am the true royalty!” . and there was no turning back. and never grieving a single moment for them. “Join me now. literally. Evan and I wouldn't have to sneak to our forest to kiss under the engaging moonlight. practicing our invisibility powers. Then. On one knee. we will rule this earth. a bell chimed in the distance. He levitated and opened his arms out wide. which were one in the same. I recalled the anxiety that enveloped with the idea of sleeping under the same roof as Evan. She only explained that my parents would come by in the morning to fetch us. and I was in turmoil as I could actually feel their hearts beat rapidly. The first thought in my mind was of the first time Evan had told me that he loved me. supposedly kept from me to protect me. Thirty Exiled My parents had died the night of my fifteenth birthday. I didn’t wake up disappointed or sad. Now that the domes were removed. The concept was unladylike. and we will never know fear. I waited up. Oh yes Evan. as if he thought for a moment that I wouldn’t accept. how nervous he had appeared. and our guests had left.” “Oh… Evan…” I said as he took my trembling hand and placed a breathtaking blue diamond ring on my finger. and proceeded to begin the day as a freshman in the same town. I remembered everything.Before I could say a word or shed a tear. Alexandria came for me. When I asked Alexandria why. My heart raced as I wondered if the love of my life would be so bold as to pay me a visit with his parents sleeping nearby. I remembered him. and that no questions need to be asked. Victor had always been the bashful one amongst the other boys. I remembered when we were children. wished a new mother a good morning. and you will have power that is without limitations! Join me now. totally oblivious to the fact that it was now over a century into the future. but had fallen asleep at some point during the earliest hours of the morning. We were at the center of the Capius mines. I had wished he would return someday wanting my heart. I'm not sure what I’m capable of at this moment but I remember everything that has ever happened in the life I was meant to live. It wasn't until after the party had ended. and would guarantee punishment for us both if anyone ever made such a discovery. too. He was nothing short of a monster. and the life I was unknowingly thrust into. I awakened refreshed to my perfect view of the Sierras from my bay window. We all stood up. and then Evan slowly took my face in his hands and gently pressed his soft full lips into mine. In fact.” Evan said lowering himself to one knee. and I had gone on living. I remembered our first kiss. All these secrets. she said that it was what my parents had intended. his disciples slowly rose up almost as high as he floated. I also remembered when he and his sister left and never returned. and shall have full ownership of it! Join me now. Even though I’d been thoroughly exhausted from the party. Neither of us had uttered a word. that I realized that my parents weren't in the house. I knew then that I could finally begin to show him how much I loved him too. “I want your permission to be your husband and to prove everyday how much I love you and cannot live without you. which had looked particularly lovely that afternoon. and began speaking to them. I knew that I would love him for a life time and longer. Then I headed down the stairs of a modern house. not knowing what had really happened when everyone else had known. and you will have all the riches you desire! Join me now. unattainable realm of ultimate power – my ultimate power. along with Christopher and Phoebe. but Evan never came to me that night. It was the first of the many guest invited to help in celebrating my birthday. less than two inches away. but still a joy to be around. I remembered when Evan proposed to me. playing in the garden. and we will kill the Ischeros one by one. I had felt a slow tremble run through my body when he stared into my eyes. I had to keep my tears in check. the moment has come that will catapult us into an untouchable. I remembered the incredible sadness and emptiness I had felt. “I need you to know that my heart is about to burst right now. Victor glided out from behind the altar and floated toward his disciples. I let no one know the frenzy of butterflies in my stomach. “My coven of devoted followers. Every memory. He wasn’t that shy little boy anymore. I didn't even know where my parents were buried. will you marry me?” “Yes. It would be our secret to add to so many others tucked away deep in our memories. The notion both scared me and excited me although. not even Bethany. He stood over the domes which housed my parent's hearts. because Victor did want my heart. Everything was rushing back. in the rose entwined gazebo in his garden. as if someone had taken my heart and drained it. I felt like a fool. right in front of me. I felt the tears now as I continued to watch my old playmate and present nemesis. but I was beside myself with delight. Evan asked me the question I’d been hoping for. She said that I. At Victors command. It had been so such a sweet and profound moment. I guess you really have to be cautious in what you wish for.

an army comparable to the Ischeros. stone walls. but I was drawn to the translucent light like a moth to a blaze. To my horror. “No. please. his two favored disciples stared at me lying on the altar as I writhed about helpless. He started ripping open the bodice of my gold gown with his bare hands. The crashing and booming sounds were getting louder. which would soon be thrust into my chest. and there was still no sign of Evan and the other members of the family coming to my rescue. My body felt weightless when just a minute before it had felt like it was beginning to stiffen into the marble of the altar. ignoring me. As he chanted the compelling words. swerved their eyes in all directions. leaving only Lucas and Sacha at his side. Something about them was different. He was now at my alter chanting in the ancient language of Ischera. His demonic ruby eyes bulged as he stepped back. But it wasn't the pain that had made me scream. with each line of light leading to either of my parent’s hearts. and Victor stopped chanting instantly.” I pleaded. He obviously knew that this wasn’t what was supposed to happen. The evil pair was eager to finally witness my demise. shamelessly. he raised it high above his head. and hoped that I would see Evan again. as the excruciating pain began and ended almost immediately. and continued chanting wildly. Victor quickly dispatched his disciples to investigate. Please!” I begged. ravenous and greedy for power. Sacha gasped just as her brother grabbed her and pulled her near him. Tiny particles of stone and dust were falling like snowflakes. picking up the light of the flickering candles in the chandeliers that hung just above the altar. I knew that my powers still hadn’t surfaced. He had built a very powerful army. “Nooo!” I cried out. anxiously. speechless and stunned. The robes worn by each of his disciples flickered and blew about with the whirlpool of wind that was beneath Victor’s levitated body. but Victor continued. they would surely be in for a battle. whore!” Bethany bellowed. I was enraged that no one had come to my rescue. “Bestow the forces of the fallen unto thyself!” Victor continued to bellow as if he were possessed. you’re in the way. “No” I screamed. The room was no longer frigid. and the ceiling was beginning to crack. I watched Victor and his battalion closing in on me just as crumbling and ear drum shattering crashing reverberated throughout the room. The dagger gleamed brightly. So much speed that they became an ivory blur of satin spinning and chanting. If Evan and the other members ever showed up. I watched in amazement as the beams of light engulfed their hearts. The disciples’ eyes were blood red and glowing. I could see genuine fear in his eyes. I looked into Victor’s enraged crimson pupils. and his eyes became blood red. and observed the stream of light as it continued to flow from my chest. The point seemed as sharp as a hunting knife. It was warming up like a sauna. as well as Victor. They had an unquestionable arrogance that I could smell from where I still lay. “Once again. The entire room was vibrating. . Just then I realized that the wrecking ball sounds had died down to a complete stop. Victor stood in awe of the bright beaming hearts. and so did he. No one said a word. His blood red eyes exuded an insufferable heat. Every pair of eyes was on me.Victor’s thunderous voice literally shook the gray. The roar of his tone had not wavered as the walls began to crack in leafless tree patterns. He had made an incision as if he were going to surgically remove my heart. and then veer over to the other alter where my parent’s hearts were on display. and with both hands clutching the dagger. Victor was facing me now. “What’s happening?” Sacha asked. Victor appeared oblivious to my wasted attempts at liberating myself. and I wasn’t sure if it was the crashing sounds or Victor’s words that was causing it. marble. Fear that I couldn't possibly express in words engulfed me as I watched Victor slowly lower the dagger. I understood every word that rumbled from Victor's lips. or the reality of having to die again. Every disciple. Victor had brought them to his level of power since he was about to possess my power. His booming roar was deafening. I thought. revealing the vise like corset which helped accentuate my breasts as well as conceal them. Then the walls came crashing and plummeting down at once and a blinding light encircled the entire floor of the room and rose up to the ceiling. I didn’t want to die without telling him how much I still loved him. The dazzling white light split into two columns like a fork in a road. He descended as did his disciples. It sprung upward. It sounded like a wrecking ball was demolishing the outer structure of this room. I felt the searing hot blade of the dagger slightly pierce into the flesh of my chest and run a straight line from just below my collar bone to my ribs. The other disciples hadn’t returned. “Bestow the forces of the fallen unto thyself!” Victor chanted in a high pitched voice. and then steadily picking up momentum. “Please don’t kill me. I was afraid of turning my gaze away from Victor or his dagger. The room was consumed by silence and it was deafening. he produced a large foot long crystal prism that looked more like a dagger from somewhere beneath his robe. The disciples began chanting “Yes Sire” in unison as they circled him slowly at first. I wriggled my body vigorously. “Bestow the forces of the fallen unto thyself!” Victor wailed. Still it was only the four of us in the room. Suddenly a shimmering white light began to flow from the incision Victor had made in my chest. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the sparkling dagger. He was doing it! He was really going to kill me! Crimson rays radiated from my parents hearts as they appeared to be beating faster. over and over. but the efforts were proving to be useless. His cloak swirled and spiraled into a point at the center of the whirlpool. ancient Greek. He spoke quickly as his time was running out. It had to be Evan and the others breaking in.

” Bethany ordered. Lucas was one step ahead. Out of the blue. All of my strength seemed out of my reach. and was as free as a bird and could sail out of this dungeon if it was what I wished at this very moment. He was engulfed in a blaze. They were equals in power. Evan shifted back into his human form and looked up at me as I stood on the altar.” I demanded in an even tone.. The mighty centaur unleashed perfectly aimed arrows at Victor. Victor appeared stronger than the three of them combined. “Back off Victor. You have the strength were you lack the aspiration…. like a geyser as icy as a glacier. The light continued to radiate from me as I understood what Evan had said. I needed to forget the future and live in the past. The dragon roared in pain. yet he didn’t try to save them. referring to the light that was still coursing out of the score Victor had cut into my chest. “You are one with me. water won. or inevitably be torched. as if it were locked away in a room which I didn’t possess the key to. and I am one with you. Victor’s fire power was stronger. He knew that I had all the facets of my abilities. It happened incredibly fast. I traced the laceration with my finger tip and it was gone. leaping at Julius. That’s was the problem. and then I slipped my hands and feet out of them. though he quickly masked it. who was trying to extinguish Victor’s flames. He smiled wickedly at Evan and I. But he was relentless as was his sister and they circled Julius both taking turns lunging theirs claws deep into the reptilian skin of the back of the dragon. and whipped its long scaled tale back and forth knocking the panthers on their backs repeatedly then finally torching them both into ashes. in human form. He held the dagger over his head once again and roared the chant.. Evan appeared to be preparing to deliver a deadly blow when I held my hand up and said the words that practically immobilized him. Victor turned his attention back to me. In fact. I couldn’t allow it to leave my body or I would be drained of my power. Victor's arms seemed frozen in midair. Evan stepped up to the altar. I had to blink a few times when I saw Sacha shift into a black panther and land on her feet in a pouncing position. The anger in Evan’s crimson pupils melted somewhat to be replaced with confusion. now back to her water form. I opened my eyes. and saw the battle that ensued. I wanted to be sent back to the future. I knew this now as I’ve always known it but wouldn’t allow myself to believe. “Cordelia. The moment our eyes met. She. He was my angel. and was trying to set them all ablaze. He had a glazed look on his face. Victor had shape shifted into a larger dragon than Julius. and burned higher and hotter. Evan took a step back. but more so. but he set fire to them before they made their mark. It is within yourself that you will find the answers… It was as my father had said. This change didn't faze Bethany who transformed into a water form of herself. Suddenly Lucas flew backward roaring in pain. He certainly wasn’t about to take orders from me as well. “You’re out of time. as Victor was all set to plunge the dagger but stopped. Finally with an eruption. He had come to save me. His face was angelic. the panthers were no match for a fire spewing dragon. It all came full circle as her words played in my mind again like my favorite song synced to my mp3 player. I am the master of my power. Victor lurched through the wall of fire. “Bestow the forces of the fallen unto thyself!” Julius spewed crackling flames at the large feline. I touched the shredded luxurious fabric of my bodice and it wove into a forgotten memory. Victor seemed unsure of what to do next. I could very well spread my wings as far and as wide as I needed and fly out into the horizon. Her words were simple and brought me clarity. I wanted to remember who I was. and to my relief. Victor saw what happened to his girlfriend and most trusted confidant. as well as Nikolas and Julius were held at bay behind the wall trapping both Evan and I within it. you must take the light back in. Then it was replaced again with elation. Julius retaliated with more sky high flames. When Athena had first spoken them I didn’t understand the part about having strength where I lacked aspiration. All this time. and stared down at me. now a full grown panther. At that moment in my bedroom I wanted to remember who I was more than anything in the world. preventing a fall. I could barely keep up. Bethany.” My words caused the shimmering light to crackle crisply into a blinding lightning bolt being sucked back into my chest. thy light of thy father. And just like that I had solved the riddle. I let out a sigh of relief before I passed out thinking of the words the Goddess Athena had spoken to me. They had foolishly given their lives for him.Sacha gasped as Bethany flew above her sending Sacha flying away from her brother. took the shape of a shield carried by Nikolas. “Don’t touch him. Victor wasn’t wasting any time watching his devotees battle Julius. Julius was no match for Victor. and his tuxedo jacket . “Evan!” Bethany screamed as an enormous sphere of fire ignited Evan’s back. Victor had a twenty foot wall of fire wrapped around the altar that Bethany’s whirlpool couldn’t douse or penetrate. He had known that even paired. As quickly as Bethany had shape shifted into water.” Evan instructed. Victor showed no emotion at the loss of his two most faithful disciples. she was transformed back to her original shape dressed in her stunning ball gown. except maybe going back to the future.” “Nooo!” I screamed. I needed the light. Evan was now made up of water with huge patches of flames that fought to take over his body. I looked at my shackles and willed the iron pins in them to slide out. Julius shape shifted into a gigantic weredragon of over ten feet with webbed wings which spanned out fifteen feet wide on either side. Free yourself from what you know.

. disappearing somewhere beyond the fortress of pines. a mere mortal amongst his former peers. “You must believe me Cor – Cordelia. was a dark and densely wooded fortress of evergreen pines which surrounded the dungeon. revealing the shocked faces of Bethany. I won’t be discarded. ears. that his death would come sooner than later. live. and Nikolas. and the recently crumbled marble walls. and eyed me cautiously. They were a seamless wall that only a shadow could creep through. finger tips and chest. “Where are they buried Victor?” I demanded. Behind Bethany. and then at Julius. Everyone’s eyes were back on Victor as he inched backward.” Victor let his words hang in the air as everyone looked perplexed at hearing the statement. “Let me. Julius. but didn't. but just for that long. I could read their thoughts of jubilation. and I couldn’t wield the power of the bolt to strike it so I thought to rise up above it. We locked eyes. giving me a perfect opening of the sky which was the beautiful shade of violet clouds.” Bethany hissed. The potent aroma of the evergreens mixed with the smell of the burning candles in the chandeliers. Bethany walked over to him. your parents. I asked the question again. as if contemplating an escape.... just the.” Victor chuckled. and was about to descend from the altar when the shadows took the form of a nine foot man wearing a cape. I was able to read his mind. and took a step closer to the altar. Victor was rendered powerless. This is only to be worn by a child of Zeus. Even Victor knew to stay still. he was telling the truth. and just beyond the Apolluon. and spun around like a flying saucer. allowing him to plunge to the floor. “Did you kill my parents? Answer me. I wasn’t outside. Everyone relaxed for a split second. but I did.. The gods wouldn’t interfere. besides you ceased to be an Ischeros a long time ago. a former demigod. with satisfaction..was slightly scorched by the towering flames.. The bolts withdrew slowly back into my body to their home in my center. keeper of their..” I knew that he didn't know the answer to the question. but he knew better. “I haven't forgotten that you killed me. who then looked at Evan. that sunny afternoon.” Victor yelled breathlessly.” Bethany said. I figured he wanted to play this out the hard way. Ares would have to accept that. “Then who killed them?” I asked patiently. I had yet to make an honest man out of him. The Apolluon were a minor distraction from the real evil we faced. The towering shadow lunged in my direction. kill. “You have no need for this. I would thank Evan later. no dice Victor. Victor yelled and suffered in agony. He must have known deep within that hateful cancerous core of his soul that he was in no position to lie.. but wouldn't succumb to it. Victor stood up. “Now tell me Victor. Each bolt crackled loudly like static in the direction of the shadows that circled my disciples. cornered and on the verge of being smothered. I had nowhere to go but down. I relinquished my hold on him. You literally couldn’t walk through the pines. He trembled violently. It was obvious that they didn't believe him.” Bethany looked at Nikolas.” He confessed. did you kill my parents?” The question seemed to intrigue the members as they all looked up at me. as Zeus would not object. and his suddenly bulged. It was remarkable how the marble ceiling hung in place without the walls to hold it up. his muscular build protesting then finally succumbed. or they’d be smothered. “Think…empress. I saw the panicked look on everyone’s face as they saw my dilemma. the ceiling shook violently then flipped upward. Evan must have anticipated that he would. I raised my arms. “I am a son of Ares. Julius. I lowered my hand and the wall of flames disappeared into the floor. Sorry.” We both were aware of the event playing out. but didn’t say a word. furiously. I suddenly remembered why I couldn’t summon the bolt. and Nikolas who were surrounded by the Apolluon shadows. I needed to draw the energy from the sky and Zeus himself. and that he would soon be residing with Hades. He answered the question in a riddle that only I could hear. They all revealed the same bewildered expression. and I will tell you!” He shouted.. you should already know. Again. hearts. and it went right through me. “Liar. while I was on my lunch break. He knew that his time had run out. This time he spoke up. With an earsplitting screech the Apolluon recoiled.. “Your family stole from mine. He collapsed with exhaustion like a heap of laundry. “Don’t move an inch” I said telepathically to the three of them and Evan who just noticed what was going on. The Apolluon would stay calm if it couldn’t detect any more activity. since I’m . A glint of light flickered off of the diamond bolt center. Victor tried to blast a flame across the room but it was as if someone had blown out a match – a wisp of a cloud of smoke curled through the air and blew away. I began cutting his flesh revealing painful lacerations. “I’m. With his back to Evan and the others.. She reached down and yanked my Eye of the Ischero medallion from around his neck. and said nothing.” Victor said trying to get up. but the shadow rose taller and met my height. Suddenly. The Apolluon detected supernatural activity and followed it to the source. Of course I knew this as well. Ares to bestow more power unto him. He stared. The others knew it too. They were being closed into a malignant looking smoke circle and they were helpless. and then at Victor for a response. They knew that I was still in the room but they couldn’t risk moving an inch. “Let you live?” I almost laughed. who in turn looked at me. It looked exactly the same with a cape that whipped around violently like bats flying out of a hell hole into a wind storm. and that he was no match for me after what he just witnessed. Branch shaped lightning bolts shot out from my eyes. with my eyes. reminding me very much of that night in the storm when they had approach me. eyes darting above as if expecting his warrior father. “Welcome back. unsuccessfully. I was wrong.. “I didn't. I reached upward as if I was reaching for the sky and the heat within me rose.” I demanded. He was motionless for a moment.. The Apolluon lunged forward to smother me and I rendered myself invisible.

I needed Athena’s help. I won’t allow a murderer to get away with killing my parents. and the cool calming feeling it once exuded was now replaced with the feeling of empowerment.. I required a moment alone. I did my best to mask the pain in front of Evan and the others. The sadness in their eyes was noted.. There was only one thing left to say. can presume who that may be. This tragedy would require something of a higher magnitude then the power of my lover’s smile. how much I loved them. Only you.” I said. without an utterance of any kind. and knew the truth as I’d known it deep within. and would allow the offender to devise a plan. and fought the tears that brimmed beneath my lashes. That would take a considerable amount of time. She sauntered over to where I stood next to the altar that I had been shackled to. … to guard you …Your enemies surround you. It has been two years that felt like a lifetime. but was that all they needed and wanted from me? I turned around and faced them now. It could be any member of the family. We stood totally removed from everyone and everything in the universe. ‘Perhaps you should ask those who had you banished in the first place. but now I was sure. always. Perhaps I should render the entire family powerless in order to weed out the culprit. Your enemies surround you like wolves pretending to safeguard you but they are waiting for the first chance to eat you alive. He disappeared to a place where only I would know of. My love for him was immeasurable at that particular moment. but unfortunately it wasn’t for me. What amount of power would it take to dispel the . and gave me the smile that usually made all that was miserable and blistering disappear.. that I flinched when I heard Evan's sweet and soothing voice. Someone would pay. though sadly – only through words. I couldn't really be sure but it seemed that no one wanted to move or say anything in fear that if we were indeed dreaming. I know that you’re not ready to leave this place. Victor's last words were the truth. but I realized that they would never intervene. I wasn’t so sure that the corners of my mouth would ever turn upward again. and I knew that they were pleased. and handed over the diamond medallion – my bolt. I was so caught up in the emotions I was harboring. He would never return. My emotions were at an incredible high and I had to collect myself. ThirtyOne A Promise is a Promise I watched the corners of my disciples mouths curl upward although. and the five of us stared at each other for a very long time. I just wasn't sure who. I turned away from my disciples.the only one who could listen to his thoughts.” I didn't reply.’ With that being said – well thought.” He pulled me close in an embrace and our foreheads touched. and needed their guidance. I couldn't afford to make any mistakes. I could hear them calling out to me. hopefully my friends. I held out my hand. all along. “I don't need to ask. If you don't then you will be the next to fall as I. and every bit of strength of my being to make this right. My disciples followed my eyes. It may be over for them. Not ever. Victor vanished subsequently as I mouthed the words that sentenced him. He would live in a place that was inescapable. I had a feeling that my persecutors may be a part of the Ischeros family. but looked at him. The hurt I endured plummeted to my core. I slowly pulled away from Evan as he tried to hold on a little longer. empress. I looked Victor in the eyes. They are the ones who should burn before Hades. I bit my bottom lip. I wanted to gather my thoughts before I faced them. every resource. and they were as silent as mice. This matter was of the human world. It had been two years since I had spoken to either of my parents. I won't tell you who fore I’m certain that you have an inkling. They waited patiently for me. and betraying the family. They were expecting a leader. …your enemies surround you … like wolves… pretending. then this horrid nightmare had not finally ended. and they left an incredibly vile taste in my mouth. I will have to use every opportunity. officially exiled. as Victor had declared earlier. “I’m not. but the suffrage was unbearable. the true symbol of the power vested in me by Zeus himself. I stared into the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen. I fingered the dime sized diamond bolt. I had to express. missed them. and Bethany knew what I wanted.. only slightly. Therefore. I had my back to the four of them. the entire life time of another teenager – a betrayed teenager. and stared at the altar that Mother’s and Daddy's hearts floated above. in a time where he would have to learn to adjust. beating in unison. … they are waiting for the first chance to eat you alive. “This is the price to be paid. only aspiring to avenge my parent's demise. My darling. Evan loved me with every fiber of his being. I gazed into the eyes and soul of someone that I could trust with my life. but it had to get in line behind all the other indistinguishable emotions I was feeling. Your enemies surround you … The words rattled in my head over and over. I wanted to call on the gods.

but it was too late. and we were one. but his words were only meant for me to hear. bound in shackles. but healed quickly.” Evan admitted. She wanted the nittygritty.” I sighed.anguish that coursed through me? “I'm adjusting. “It was as you had said. I dreaded it none the less. I closed my eyes and paced my heartbeat to his. and only found encouragement to go on. breathlessly then took a deep breath.. Not a word was said as the mornings earliest light began to filter in from somewhere above the dungeon. I sighed. “I was about to leave the ballroom to take a short break in the lounge. Empress?” Nikolas asked in that gruff. nodding. “I’m sorry. “I knew that I had made a major mistake. Gerald. but the expression he wore now was perplexed. every pair of eyes was reassuring as I explained one of the most unforgettable moments of the night. Before I could answer her. after I recalled the last conversation I had with my parents. I didn't mean for it to sound that way. the night they were murdered. I had to think. As I stated. A minute or two after we began dancing.” I felt no need to include the part about the kiss although. My little audience waited patiently for me to continue. “I believe I regained my powers the moment I understood Athena’s riddle. “What did your father say?” Evan asked. It was incredible.” I gulped and they all gaped at me. I thought it was Gerald. “I can't imagine how scared you must have been to have that monster – ” Evan’s emotion’s got the best of him and he choked up for a moment then collected himself. Evan seemed a little wounded. and then winked. On my way there. Then finally the question I had been waiting for was asked. before and after being sent to the future.” I sighed. as Evan lifted my hand to his lips and kissed the back of it. In their facial expressions they also shared something else. a friend.” “That’s remarkable. To my chagrin. In fact.” I had to stop for a moment to gain my composure.. I wanted to protect everything about my parents right now.” It was my turn to make an admission. The next part was still quite traumatic.” Evan beamed although he also spoke in a whisper. Possibly relief. I knew that I would have to tell the disturbing tale at some point. “I'm so sorry that I took so long. baby. but I couldn't let my emotions get the best of me. “I didn't realize what was happening until it happened. I wanted to pour all of my emotions out like a pale of water. Athena. “Somehow. the floor beneath my feet opened up from under me.” “Riddle?” Bethany queried. But I couldn't worry about that right now. and before I could think another thought I was falling into pitch blackness. . “Can you tell us exactly what happened. as always – my sometimes overbearing best friend. She never hid the fact that she loathed him. and everything that had ever happened to me. It was the night of my fifteenth birthday. and lastly.” I said. She looked at him with moist eyes.” Evan grabbed my hand and held it to his chest. it came from Bethany. He then led me into one of the cloak rooms. Gerald shifted back into Victor. “I’m sorry. “Where did you send the evil turd?” Bethany was not hiding her excitement over Victor's departure. Not surprisingly.” I whispered. meaning what I have always known of my life with my parents is all that I needed to remember. puzzled as I was when Athena had stunned me with her presence. was I?” I was sure that Nikolas. and then I was here. always. laying on the altar. “She also told me that it is within myself that I would find the answers. “My sister. advised me that I must free myself from what I know. He took her hand in his. softly and bowed his head. anxiously. It was imperative that I focus. that I have the strength were I lack the aspiration.” I sounded a bit hostile – protective. meaning liberating my mind of everything of the life I led in the future.” “When did you regain your powers?” Bethany inquired. and they all seemed to wait with baited breath. Just then. I’m still unfulfilled. and that it was too noisy in the ballroom. the immeasurable intensity of the kiss. I never had a doubt. Bethany.” Nikolas argued. well Victor approached me. but I was never the most patient person.. “You did well. I would never forget the power of it. and Julius had heard every word. “I felt like such a fool. He asked me to dance and I accepted. but not from tears. “Empress. as I recalled the moment of realization. without emotion. I didn't realize what had happened to you until Bethany informed me. They all seemed entranced as they listened. he was Gerald. and smiled ever so slightly. and smiled. I glanced at Nikolas standing close to Bethany. my love. That information could never be divulged. His eyes glistened. Gerald told me that he had something to tell me. My father had told me something specific.” I searched Evan’s eyes for a glimpse of anger or jealousy. meaning that the power resides in me if I’m willing to call upon it. I just didn't feel that they should pry into something that was private. appearing to be in a trancelike state. It's all familiar now.” Evan said. “I didn't feel any danger..” I paused while my disciples let it sink in. “I remembered who I was. I had expected all of my questions to be answered at this point. giving in to curiosity. looking back at Evan who held my gaze. “Delia. “Once we were in the cloak room. yet comforting voice that always put me at ease. possibly victory.

She lowered the flame in them a notch after looking into my eyes. “He didn't kill my parents. I wanted answers. the rest were pleased with the fact that Victor was powerless and exiled.” Bethany protested. “This place has to be destroyed. and only the ruler would know where.” Bethany demanded with an edge to her voice. “We should all head back. She had no right to question my sentencing. “It would be the end of an Ischero to betray the family in such a way. They didn't seem to think Bethany's plan of action to be necessary. We should dispatch a tracker. “He's gone.” Nikolas chuckled.” Bethany suggested angrily. I didn't have time to waste feeding Bethany's need to control everything. anxiously and suddenly serious again. “I have considered everything. Bethany seemed taken aback. “He’s not going to easily accept being a powerless mortal.” I said. Only a governing ruler could send a disciple into exile. “A tracker? Let me make sure that I understand your suggestion. stepping into an argument that was getting to the point of no return. She knew better as she always had. You didn't kill him.” Evan challenged. . child of Poseidon. and was now on the defensive.” I said. “How could you know that?” She said loudly. You carry a torch to your father’s volatile tide. as I had been in the future.I didn't feel like pretending that I was satisfied.” I said. “I'll take care of it. we should all be privy to that piece of information.” Evan said to the others.” I fumed.” Nikolas added. All eyes were on Bethany. I didn't think it was necessary.” Bethany warned. Where he is. we should all know his whereabouts at all times. How else are we to stay one step ahead?” Bethany said in an octave that I didn’t much care for. knowing that I needed to finally be alone with my parents. Bethany reluctantly backed down. “Yes.” Evan said to Bethany. “Do you really believe that someone in the family would allow him back in after what he has done.” I eyed them all.” Bethany almost yelled. I guess in the last two years I spent damn near lobotomized. “Delia. It wasn’t over. As far as I was concerned. sounding annoyed. The family is concerned and should be notified of the promising developments. They all knew that Bethany could be passionate to the point of being offensive. “Well. and of course he will want to seek an Ischero although. and he doesn't know where they are buried. “Let me worry about that. but it was obvious from the looks she got from Nikolas. Besides. forever cheering me on. It was absurd that everyone in this town believed that they had decided to extend their stay in France. Evan became rigid as did Nikolas and Julius. trackers were only used to track a potential threat or a sequestered member for their own protection. “We must know where he's been exiled. and Julius that she was flirting with her own banishment. stepping closer to me. I couldn’t believe that she was probing the issue. but she knew the rules.” I replied. “No Ischero will acknowledge him and go against an empress’ wishes. “He’s not a threat to the family or to anyone else. “I beg your pardon?” “You will soon be begging for my forgiveness. I was as delicate as a rose petal when he was near me. I could use a celebratory drink. He touched my bare arm. she had forgotten her place in the chain of command. Ebb your tide. take all the time you need. except mine. he can hurt no one. “I’ve just made that a certainty. in a slightly subdued tone. or perhaps there is something else that you’re concerned about?” I challenged Bethany. the matter had concluded. he will discover that if he does it will be a futile task. I didn't want this tension. Nikolas nodded and smiled. with my gaze focusing on my best friend. Cordelia. calmly. Not a powerless mortal. They were anticipating her next choice of words. As far as I could tell. I never had the opportunity to grieve them. “Gone? He's not gone Cordelia. “I'm thinking of the family's protection and preservation. Bethany.” “We don't know that no one would help him therefore. He will seek another Ischeros family to gain his powers back. I was outraged.' I said preparing to silence Bethany for the duration of this forum and preparing myself to lose a friendship.” I replied coldly.” Evan said. Evan. Her eyes glared in my direction. His touch had a profound effect on me. “Victor is powerless. He had been quiet for the strained exchange between Bethany and I. My mind was overwhelmed and preoccupied with the fact that my parents were dead. never to push me too far. You want to dispatch a tracker whose sole purpose is to trace the footsteps of an exiled and powerless mortal. Her fist which had at some point become clenched – now loosened at her sides.” I countered.

I smiled up at Evan. saying that wielding my power should never circumvent the proper behavior of a lady. Daddy although an Emperor. She had the most mesmerizing and calming brown eyes.. He pulled away. I understand” Evan bowed his face. all moments that my parents were a very large part of. kissing him tenderly on the chin. although I had rescued myself tonight.. I could feel his heartbeat quicken tentatively as mine followed the pace he set. and pressed his warm lips against mine. pacing the floor. I didn’t even try to suppress my grief. The tears flowed freely as we pressed our cheeks together.” “Of course you can. even when I was learning to use and control my powers. and I wished for one that moment. I was submerged in their love.” Daddy proclaimed. but she would always surrender to our games. Then I finally stood before the altar that held my parents crystalized hearts. completely helpless and weak. my fifth birthday present. I always felt that I was under her spell when I rode her. “If I knew who did this to you. pressing my body into his. I. “You don't understand. I wasn’t afraid of her. strangely felt comforting in a saturating way. “Would you like me to stay with you?” “I want you here. Mommy. and then finally asked me what had been at the tip of his tongue for quite some time. and made sure that I behaved like a lady at all times. I am yours forever.. and I remembered that Evan could be as fragile as a delicate petal as well.” I pleaded. Like when I first learned to ride a horse – Gypsy.” My Mother's voice said sweetly. I picked up a portion of a broken shackle and it crumbled into dust through my fingers. and then turned around and walked away. She taught me to stand up for what I believed in. and parted my lips. always made time to be silly. I needed their guidance in human form..” Daddy's voice was tender. “I love you. Please.. opening up something in me that wanted him more than anything else in the world. I broke down leaning over the altar. darling girl. forgive me. Unfortunately we don’t know where our bodies are buried. This could steer Mother crazy at times. I didn't know what happened to you.” I sobbed uncontrollably. couldn't. then I could find out where you’re buried. He was forever the boy who would never cease to play the rescuer in my life.. I have to know. harshly. I pursed my lips together and blew away the sand in the breeze I created. I had no experience ruling an empire.. I hated breaking down like this.. of course not. “Revenge will not bring us back. You must prepare to reign.” Evan spoke in Greek. Please. We’re here to guide you. “And we’ve missed you all the while. he pulled away and looked into my eyes as if he wanted to fall into them.” Daddy assured. “Where are you? I want to bring you back.. You must?” Daddy demanded. Daddy. but my darling. remember you and I didn't understand. You've shown great strength. hence the name Gypsy.” “Reign? Reign! I can't do that without you!” I shouted.” I pleaded. their crystal hearts began to glow with an intense luminosity that spiraled around me. You must move on. but we roam in the paths which you make. but that I knew had to. He seemed worried and cagey. You understand don’t you?” I smoothed the softness of his cheek with the back of my hand. He sauntered gracefully turning back only once to look at me before disappearing into the beckoning horizon. We’re very proud of you. “I'm so sorry. no longer fortified by Victor’s plot for vengeance. “No. please tell me. “Yes. in between sobs... My parents were strict with me as well. he would be abandoning me. shaking with sobs..?” I waited a second and hoped to hear their voices again. utterly confused. you must let go of the anger and the rage. kissing him back... My mind went to some of the most memorable moments in my life. I had been so excited when my dad had brought her out of the barn for the first time.Evan must have felt that by leaving. We held each other for another moment that I didn’t want to end. “Who did this to you? Please. Staring at their hearts – the loving symbols of the two most valuable people in the entire universe to me. My lower lip trembled as I repeated Evans’ profound words back to him.. but not before he planted the most endearing kiss on my forehead. Don't you see?” I threw my arms up. I stood by the altar where I once lay bound and paused. “Óå áãáðw ãéá ðaíôá. “I miss you both. My memories were clear now.” My heart wrenched to have him stay with me. Mother especially. Our death is through no fault of yours. comforting as his bear hugs had always been. “Our souls are in the Underworld. so uncharacteristic for a new empress but I couldn't help it. pulling me close as he wrapped his arms around my waist and pressed his hands into the small of my back. The tears that moistened my face weren’t just my own. “Am I shutting you out?” I asked. Suddenly. “You've done nothing wrong. meaning every syllable. After a few languid moments. Then the entire altar crumpled and left a pyramid of sand on the marble floor. although the gorgeous mare was larger than life and whinnying uncontrollably. She had only been an empress because my father was the Emperor.. . I can't do this without you.. I threw my arms around his neck. but I need to be alone with them. but not to his lack of effort.

You can’t terminate them.” “I promise that I won’t terminate anyone. we were terribly wrong. Evidently.” Daddy explained. It was sinking in and so was I. second in power. but it takes longer to lose it once your offspring acquires more. It’s not possible.” “Victor was believed to be dead along with his family who were banished by my mother. my child.” “Victor survived and sought revenge. and forgot about his twisted gargoyle guise and demonic words. demigods. the Capius family ascended in the blood line. sternly. Thaddeus left the task of terminating Victor to Evander. as well as his immediate family’s end. sadly. “I see. weren’t offing each other.” Nikolas spent his teenage years believing that Victor’s family had murdered his parents. my divine guardians.” I grunted. and then my heart began to pound. Poor Nikolas must know the truth. and he was aware of what they needed most of all. and ultimately brought on the constant attention of the Apolluon. stunned. far more powerful than Evander. “His parents must have relinquished their hold on him. “It’s true?” I asked. “But Evan – he’s innocent right? He would never go along with this. They bound their own children to their sides and accepted the sentence. but I wasn't sure how. not my love. Their parents felt that they were wrongly accused and no longer had faith in the family. indefinite exile – death.” I sighed. but of course as you know. the third families first born son is next in line as your suitor. You must inform him. Victor and his steadily growing army eluded his hunters. You were betrothed to the next in line of power. “He’s a pawn in their strategic play to become the first and most powerful family. robbed him and his sister of a life. possessing lesser forms of power. “It’s a mystery that we’ll never know.” “It was no secret that you would be the most powerful ruler and the giver of immortality. The Capius’ were the real threat originated. “With Victor’s death. When this all took place. “Yes indeed it’s devastating that they committed such horrible offenses. while I held onto the altar for support. practically a baby. It will only bring enormous pain to the other members.” Mother said.” Daddy said. Clearly.” I gasped realizing that this was what Winston wanted to tell me. he was residing with the killers. but not his sister. as we never foreseen. “Evander is unaware of his parents’ schemes.” I pleaded with Daddy to confirm what I believed in my heart. therefore they wouldn’t allow their children to be raised by an Ischero. Victor and Evangelia were just children when their entire world came to an end. You see. my head swirling. the Iptian’s. because Evan's efforts are commendable. I remembered my forgotten playmate.” “Like a game of chess. Power was so beguiling. was second in the bloodline. “Victor also knew that if he killed you. His own parents had been robbed and in turn. although I already knew the answer. they’ve murdered many. when in fact. I thought of Victor. elders lose a considerable amount of power as they age. including Nikolas’ parents. I was incapable of grasping my thoughts. “Yes. We are of the human world. who was originally betrothed to Evangelia. in a pit of rage. the reigning empress at the time. Victor had not been lying after all. Interfering is against their laws. please not him. For the love of the gods! “Poor Nikolas. but why would the gods allow this?” I asked almost belligerent. “Ugh!” I felt sick as my stomach twisted into knots.” “Even the elders?” “Indeed. whom will have great ascension of abilities. it’s inconceivable that Evan would be involved. It’s not for lack of effort.” I listened to Daddy’s voice echo throughout what was left of the dungeon. I suppose.” “How did Victor survive?” Suddenly a strange feeling of compassion came over me. and it won't make a difference. he didn’t see it that way. relieved. He looks down upon us and surveys. a deliberate scheme of betrayal by the patriarch and matriarch of the Capius family.“Don’t you know who did this to you?” “Yes. He knew what the Capius’ had done. It is what Zeus intended in our creation. he was a child too. “The Iptians were made to look like murdering thieves. the next family automatically rises and strengthens in power. I was astounded that the other families. “You know all too well. “Your union to Evander. He is never safe with the Capius’” “I will. His family.” I winced hearing that Evan could belong to someone . What about Evan? Oh my dear Gods.” Daddy explained. “The Iptian family was banished many years ago when you were a child.” I gulped back a sob.” I promised. but they have. Once one family is exiled by the governing Ischeros. the gods will only advise if and when called upon. they feared the wraths of the gods – in the end.” That explained a lot. the entire empire would succumb being that he would be the most powerful Ischero. both he and Bethany. therefore the next family in line.” Mother added. Victor. “Show some respect for our creators. You have my word.

I need you to look at what rage did to Victor.” “We tried countless times to try to reach you. “Does anyone else know about this? Any of the other elders?” “No. “Are you sure?” I had to be one hundred percent sure to go with my plan of action. don’t do that.” Mother acknowledged.” “What I must do. and then cracked. my death is no fault of yours. “Daddy. not as the punishment. although I didn’t inform them of the reason for the meeting.” I declared in a clear and mature voice. And then he one night he came to me. They’d been so kind.” Mother said.” “No. “So. Somehow Thaddeus was informed of my discovery.” Daddy added. I was at the point of screaming. chaos erupted. He said that he wouldn’t start a war if the Ischero made everything right.” Daddy paused. please don’t be angry with me. “So what happened?” I was beyond anxious. he hid. I suppose Victor didn’t know whom to believe and soon devised his own plan to hunt you. “Cordelia. “I feel your emotions. but you must be sensible. But I thought wrong. and we ran out of time. and lastly for robbing Victor of a family and destroying his life. When Victor returned.” Daddy’s voice was deep and his crystalized heart went from a goldish red to a deep shade of burgundy. He was tormented.” “I intend to make this right. I planned a meeting with the council of elders.” “Thaddeus sent me away to another time. hence seeing nothing else but the rage.” Mother clarified. compels you to take. Shortly after that. therefore putting an end to the Capius family. But I guess that was their plan. It all made sense.” Daddy said solemnly. betraying the empire. the evening following your fifteenth birthday. Have me believe them to be devoted guardians. It controls every thought you have. and told Victor that his parent’s demise was set up by us. I would never have known Victor’s genuine motivation to kill me.” I never would have suspected Thaddeus and Alexandria of such an unforgivable betrayal for greed and status. We were all silent for a long moment while I digested everything. but I knew that he could only do that if he was in the physical form. as well as Nikolas’.” “You may wish to use them as examples. away from everything I knew and everyone I loved. the empire would be his to control. generous. They definitely worked alone. I was dedicated from that moment on to making things right by Victor. is avenge you. but he found me in the future and killed me there. ultimately avenging his family. I know who is to blame. and to sometimes take with brutality. The wrath didn't allow him to breath and be .” The angry heat was manifesting itself within in me. putting your mother and I to sleep. you’re young and you don't fully understand the burden of greed and rage. Cordelia. “That’s not how you want your reign to begin.” At first I thought Daddy was making a suggestion. “Did the elders not believe him?” “We never got as far as the meeting. as her voice wavered. “So much happened within twentyfour hours.” I nodded. “We tried to make some kind of contact with you in the future but your memory was wiped clear as a piece of crystal. Not the voice my parents had been used to. He couldn’t trust another Ischero to do the deed so he did it on his own. Thaddeus and Alexandria were going to get what they deserved for defying the gods. “Now that we're members of the non living.” “Indeed. “That makes a lot of sense.” “I couldn’t be angry with you. “It guaranteed Thaddeus adequate time to have Victor killed before Victor could kill you. but I was still keeping to my plan. You could imagine my sorrow for him.else. precious. and caring to me. They were extremely careful. it’s not the way. excluding the Capius’. Alexandria and Thaddeus Capius did these things because they could no longer control there greed. “What?” “Yes. “No. “And upon my return. Don’t allow it to consume you. began building his army. having my parents killed. The way of the Ischeros has always been to use death as the last alternative in defense. Thaddeus poisoned us.” Mother said in an even tone.” Once again I asked. My heart bled a little more. but only of the past and the present. boiling over. he told me what his parents had told him. “Thaddeus and Alexandria were masterful at covering up the fact that they had set Victor’s family up to take the fall. they are brutal. “You must let go of the rage. for sending me away to the future where I couldn’t be with Evan.” I said the words but still couldn’t believe how Evans’s parents had fooled everyone. and then killed us.” It was as if Daddy had read my mind. we can see everything crystal clear. “The Capius’ were pretty clever.” Daddy’s voice was composed as he hinted as to why the meeting never happened.

My eyes continued to survey the room that I now realized was in the shape of an octagon. and to rule with fairness. I will conquer any entity that stands in the way of our survival as a whole. the way a mother grasps the golden child she doesn’t ever want to be out of her reach. You must look to yourself to find the strength to go forward. My satin shoes clicked against the glossy marble floors as I came closer to the set of double doors. until it was time to place them back where they belonged.” My eyes darted around the room observing the smiles and additional bows that came in waves. He was preparing to make an announcement to the members whom had formed a semicircle. I took a deep breath. They were on guard. All that remained was the partial ceiling. Evan took my hand and led me away from Bethany. I watched the boy. Constantyn Tieron.” I sobbed. It was as if a ball hadn’t taken place here at all. Don't worry.” The entire ballroom lowered itself into a quiet bow. but I was frustrated with doing what was right. “I’m here now” I tried to smile although. Empress Cordelia Tieron. I didn’t mean to be. to protect the empire with diligence. I thought as he cleared his throat. even if he did intend to kill me. “I love you both. I thought.” My voice was strong. revealing calm emotions. I bit my lower lip to stop it from trembling. whether it be an entity from outside of our ranks. Evan’s unscrupulous parents altered our fates. present me to our disciples as their beloved Empress. as well as the girl I was forced to become in the future. impatiently I might add. I could now see through Victor’s eyes. You may never find yourself. and even as I watched Alexandria take Evan’s hand. I know now that it wasn’t personal. my guise of happiness was sure to wear off soon enough. I immediately felt the heat brimming within me.” I was secretly thankful that I had not killed him. It felt like a knife was piercing through my chest and carving out my heart. I ached like hell to know that we were not meant to be. but I have to go now. “Our Empress has returned. I felt hopeless for the both of us. there wouldn’t be the dramatic reversal of crimson eye color to their natural hue. Please accept my simple words of gratitude to you all for your uncompromised patience. and may have robbed us both of ever being truly happy because everything will be different now. “Will not go unpunished. as it crumbled into mounds of powdery sand. although he was almost successful the second time. With that I sealed their hearts within the glass domes and they disappeared to where I would keep them safe. two and a half walls which were cracked and six others that were completely demolished and exposed the pine tree forge beyond the walls. Why couldn’t they understand that I needed them? I’m so alone and scared. Everyone in this room believed that it was the Iptians that tainted the Ischeros Empire. “I give you our purist example of divinity. when the malignant evil. But am I truly their leader? Or am I just a puppet to be manipulated by two callus monsters who have betrayed my entire empire – all in the name of greed. Perfect. hence the heightened senses. so they presumed. “What took you so long? We’ve been waiting for you. eyeing Thaddeus and Alexandria briefly. Father almost sent Evan to fetch you. an elder and Julius’ and Hedea’s father. or any warm and inviting smiles as I saw before me now.a young man. I was speechless as I devoured the beauty of his spirit which flourished on his face. I loved Evan with every thread of my being as it was and always will be confirmed to my core. “A promise is a promise. If Victor had been successful and ascended to Emperor. We want to be here for you.” “But that’s just the thing. They were all there. watches me now. the man I would forever devote my heart too. not in the eyes of the gods. I will not disappoint you. I won’t stand for treachery. I wanted to do what I know would feel satisfying.” A giggle tumbled out of Bethany lips. I vow. I stood in the center of what was left of the marble room. He didn't know of any other way to repay them for annihilating his whole world. It made him a monster. He was shaking hands vigorously with Stephan Hepolis. I almost lost Evan when Victor killed me. We are one. We had a true emotional connection in a way that made me believe we were almost one entity.” I said. and watched it all disappear into a breeze. But I can’t blame Victor. “They destroyed my family. or the member who rises above the laws of this family in order to tip the scale of power. in the names of your beloved former emperor. Thaddeus and Alexandria knew that I defeated Victor as I stood before them now.” My eyes moistened listening to him. He was cheated. “I am prepared to reign.” Mother demanded. Then I felt safe enough to shut my eyes.” I said. and my presence was a confirmation that they would. who was very much a man in my eyes. and to the center of the room. ThirtyTwo Honor Thy Mother and Father When I opened my eyes. I have found myself. my disciples. My presence at that moment sealed the deal for them. and… “We know that you’re hurting. He… or she. before I flung open the doors to be met by a sea of startled ruby red eyes. I pushed the tears back. and waited as everyone slowly raised their heads before I spoke.” I shouted. Evan slowly opened his arms wide and shouted. and prepared for anything at this point. I prepared to defy them. I wasn't going to let Thaddeus in on the fact that I was privy to all that had transpired just a little over two years ago. “I've learned so much about myself.” Finally.” Mother was as she always was. I listened to the dungeon that poor Victor had built.” . my voice cracking. but cautiously. but I was cross with two people who meant the world to me. or from within our ranks. Thaddeus’ narrow eyes swept over me until Bethany's pretty face blocked his view. my mother Thalia Tieron and lastly my father Zeus. The boy I grew to love more than life is not mine to have. Their very existence and future depended on my survival. and unsure. “Remember you must keep your promise. She drew me into a hug which brought Thaddeus back into my view. encouraging. actually two. It will suffocate you as well. I’m the girl I was before I was thrust into the future. “It's been a long journey. leading into the ballroom. the silence of Harper’s Hall was deafening. assessing the damage. “I remember every single thing that has ever happened to me. the good things and especially the bad.

I held their gaze and they continued to beam – teeth white and glistening. Evan and Bethany stared from me to their parents. The Iptian family. jealousy. I knew that I would be sympathetic to their reaction and feelings. My stature was promising. Killing was just the beginning in acquiring the power possessed by the Iptian's.” The gasps rippled throughout . “Where there is love and power. The joy couldn't be contained in this room. Ah. but soon would. The volume in the room was lowered to silence. Everyone was. Thaddeus’ eyes bulged. yet I couldn’t allow their anguish to distract me and waver in my decisions.” My voice climbed effectively grabbing everyone’s attention. lost. and appeared to be enjoying the tribute. and they all nodded joyously. gracious. Evan’s power would ascend which would guarantee that your power wouldn’t diminish like the other elders would. stronger than I ever remembered it.” I said. Bethany’s blue eyes glistened like perfectly shined silverware and the tears that you would expect to see pouring from a proud mother’s eyes overflowed from hers. “It’s a lie!” Thaddeus roared as Alexandria tried to grab one of his flailing arms. I listened to the accolades of commendation as I swept through their minds.” I informed the members. Was it fair to shatter their empire with tales of blatant deceit? I battled within myself for a split second. Alexandria’s heart rate accelerated slightly. It didn’t matter that Evangelia Iptian was betrothed to your son. The ballroom was quiet besides the shuffling of fine fabric. and Ophelia and her sister Felicity. and then resumed. a successful attempt to corrupt a family name. “You convinced the entire empire that the Iptians’ were a cancer to the family.Roaring cheers and boisterous clapping erupted to my chagrin. including his contemptible parents. “My devoted loved ones.” I glanced at Julius. Bethany inched closer to them. I looked at him with disgust. and then both sorrow and angst when I spoke of Victor and Evangelia. but they thought nothing but admiral thoughts. Damn right it was. I peered over at Evan and he was beaming as were all the members. Have I got it right so far. the scent of betrayal was camouflaged by the scent of victory. the second family of power. I stared at Thaddeus as if I would put him through the marble walls of the ballroom. Thaddeus’ looked prepared to take me on. Not one member had a bitter conception of the Capius’. “But Evangelia wasn't the right match. their long awaited leader. and to their horror. as I read his thoughts. but I won’t.” I searched the crowd. but the couple were stone and couldn’t move as if they were cemented to the marble floor. Olympia. They were as infectious as the plague as every member stepped away from them. but I was seething by now and couldn’t console him and tell him that this fact made no difference as to how much my heart belonged to him. Hedea. That’s correct. I thought to reconsider. as were many of you here tonight. But. In fact a mortician couldn’t put the color back into Alexandria’s cheeks. I gulped to clear my throat. Perhaps my parents were right. Alexandria?” Alexandria looked a second or two away from fainting. My comment had gone right over their heads. cheek to cheek. I didn't want to lose her.” Thaddeus and Alexandria knew that I was referring to them. “No she wasn’t. that I will not let the opportunity pass to personally thank two very extraordinary people. Isn't that right Thaddeus?” My voice rang out high above the crowd. A symphony of gasps from all around the room had subsided. So you had a child murdered because you preferred Evan to marry me. One of our own. and had them sentenced along with their two innocent children. and witnessed their two faces. with both hands clasped together firmly in front of her face as if she was praying. The hatred for unveiling them was evident in Thaddeus eyes. “May the gods have pity on you. “Including. My hope was that she was indeed praying hard. “Indeed a strategic plan was put into play. Heracio and his brothers. I sent him a message that only he could hear. “Our family. My disciples deserved to know.” My eyes went to Evan who returned my gaze with a horrified glare. He couldn’t be sure of what he had just heard. and then to their fellow members who stared back in devastation and incredulity. the Iptian children. My gut was raw with rage. Bertrand. For that reason I was trembling and apprehensive. Greed. the entire ballroom was as quiet as a morgue.” Every demigod’s pair of unwavering eyes was on me. and then narrowed. He didn’t know what was going on. there is always betrayal. fortified by my mother and fathers words. once Bethany and Evan knew the truth. “Lies?” I sneered. following my family in the chain of command. I suddenly felt nervous. when I was just a mere child playing in the pond of the Capius’ garden along with their own children. everyone in turn stared at them. You murdered my mother and father and led everyone to believe that it was Victor by sending him their hearts so that when he killed me. and every set of ears perked up at attention. he could burn them all together and be rid of us once and for all. was immeasurable. and then at my disciples who nodded shocked ‘no’s’ in return. the plan was devised many years ago. and envy equal murder. They looked at each other. guaranteeing my place in this empire as well their children’s. A path opened up as I glided within two feet of them. “I figure since we are all here together now for just a little bit longer. The Capius' were blindsided. she was my sister and had sort of taken on the role of a mother while she watched over me in the future. I held my hands up to quiet everyone down. The crowd also knew that I spoke of the duo.” Everyone’s eyes revealed surprise. She and her husband stared at their daring new leader in disbelief. Denial will get you nowhere old man. The eruption was overwhelming as their devotion to me. “They skillfully put all the pieces into play. as I nodded my head up and down at the Capius’. I thought of my parents. his sister. but she blamed it on too much champagne. “They have done their best to guide me so that I could be here tonight.

and would forgive me someday.” “It’s isn’t true. The greeting was as expected after two years of Victor’s evil plotting. It’s obvious that Victor got to her. He needs the guidance he was robbed of. I ask you all to look into your hearts and for a moment put yourself in Victor's place. knowing better. lied. perhaps. Her eyes were down cast and disapproving. yet I had chosen to divulge their parents’ disloyalty. Both Alexandria and Thaddeus appeared somewhat shaken. They deserved the truth. He’s put these ridiculous notions into her mind. One of the elders from another family. the Empress has made some extreme and grossly troubling accusations. With your permission. Victor's presence in the ballroom sent a turbulent shock wave throughout the entire roster of members. viper like hisses. I hoped that they would understand why this had to be done.” At that moment. I had wanted desperately to spare them the humiliation but they deserved better. Low growls.” With those words. “You have no reason to be afraid or to fear anyone in this room or to be feared by anyone here. Lucien was slightly older than Thaddeus and grayer with a steely disposition. It’s your fault that the Apolluon have found us.” Thaddeus. “Are you calling me a liar? Are you saying that I stood here before my disciples and wove this treacherous and deceitful tale?” I screamed. the Viniturin. We are innocent in the eyes of the gods. She wouldn’t dare to try and manipulate the coven again. They would have all the time they needed. I don’t want to die by the hands of so many. Delia. and it tore the already shredded fragments of my heart into more pieces. including Evan and Bethany. he was also Ophelia’s and Felicity’s father. What the hell could they say? “You killed Nikolas' parents. I felt dreadful but I was determined to expose the betrayal. They must die now. He looked at me. Once fallen. His expression was unreadable but his thoughts weren’t. especially the Capius’ – all of them. His numb gaze was fixed on Thaddeus and Alexandria. We all wait for your answer.the sea of Ischeros disciples once again to lastly fall on the shocked and infuriated eyes of Thaddeus and Alexandria. and I was beside myself.” I stated to him as well as all of my disciples. She wanted to know why. Their eyes pleaded to Lucien. “You you killed my mother and father – a sitting Emperor! “You killed Nikolas’ parents!” “You destroyed the Iptian family. and glowing crimson eyes were like daggers in his direction. My accusations were of colossal proportions. Victor stood next to me. How would you have reacted at his age. He stood still as if without any emotion at all then twisted his head to look me in the eyes. He is our brother. I hope you know what you’re doing. “Thaddeus? Alexandria? It’s been a long evening… and morning. and there were many who couldn’t grasp the idea of forgiving him. and I could feel the shock traveling through her quickly stiffening body. the fool. with an overcast demeanor. Lucien held his hand up. She is my best friend. and who knows how many others. still powerless.” . I wouldn't allow them to escape. still in his tux. not Victors!” My scream shook the mirrors on the walls. Alexandria. and I calmed down long enough to nod sadly. as well as the entire family to believe them over me. he was precise with his question. spoke up. “Go right on ahead and deny it!” I dared. and very vulnerable. Is any of it true?” Lucien probed. “Thaddeus. Lucien’s patience was thin. a close confidant of the Capius’. and I loved her almost as much as I loved Evan. and several cracked in fractured lines. Alexandria gravely shied away from her husband. I felt Bethany's eyes pierce through my soul. Not a word from Nikolas’ lips as his eyes spoke to me. but they said nothing. He looked strangely youthful with his natural steel eyes finally shining through the once pitch black irises that had harbored so much malicious angst. she wouldn’t be in this precarious situation. When he spoke. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a boy version of Nikolas for a split second. “We are your family. “There is one person who should be here to defend himself. Evan wasn't even reacting. But it wasn’t going to be that easy. I refused to look at him. Empress? I granted it because as mine. and apologetically for letting him know like this. “These accusations are an insult to both Alexandria and I. ghostly. Thaddeus cleared his throat. He was stunned speechless. She was enraged at the wrong person at this moment. clearly demanding. I don't know that I wouldn’t have chosen the same reckless path upon knowing my family’s demise was caused by members of this empire. and hurt them in the process. That couple of seconds of pain would be more welcoming than this torment. If only she had acted this way when the plan was being set. which we can’t hold him to blame. by the words of one of their closest family members. with these circumstances?” I made eye contact with nearly every member. I flipped through their minds. You may not think much of your peers but. and random attacks to destroy their empire. I’m delivering this message from the gods. in all the centuries that would come. Evander and Bethany are owed that much. It would have felt better to have knocked his teeth out. and it seemed that everyone in the ballroom waited for a reply from the Capius'. instead succumbing to the harbored feelings of hatred for him.

I would be overruled if I tried to save Evan’s mother. I hoped that he didn’t fall for the act. and pleading for his forgiveness. I was afraid of what he might have to say. I still wasn't good enough. This time wouldn’t be any easier than the last. I betrayed you. dropping to the floor like a wet sack. I've tried to emulate you. Please. She was powerless against… this man's hold. That suited me just fine. and they weren’t budging. Nikolas and Victor. . He was heaving and practically out of breath. and he knew that I had only for his sake.. if you can find it in your hearts. Thaddeus appeared frightened for the first time ever. I feel that he should pay the price for what he has done. although I knew he would. Bethany peered sadly at her father. “Tell them the TRUTH or you WILL SUFFER the WRATHE of the UNDERWORLD!” My screeching voice caused the mirrors that had already cracked to shatter. I only ask that you spare my mother's life.” Then she stopped and looked over at Bethany. as well as I. Aphrodite. Alexandria whimpered then sobbed uncontrollably. Seeing the boy I loved and my closest friend in agony had me wondering if I had made the right decision in confronting their parents without warning either of them first. He refused to admit his crimes. Thaddeus stood with a furious scowl on his face. but I guess it was inevitable that it would go this way. I could understand them hating me. He spoke in an incredibly calm voice. I believe the rest of the elders will agree with me as Alexandria agreed when Andromeda was on trial. in the midst of two more young members. Oh no! I felt week and my heart ached as if a thousand forks had been stabbed into it. “Son –” Evan cut Thaddeus' off knowing it was sure to be a pathetic plea. They both deserted their parents.” Before I could agree. had me fighting back tears. falling to her knees in front of Evan. Evan loved his mother dearly. “I know he made you go along with his deceitful crimes as he has always controlled you. their parents were the first to deserve being taken away. and he sighed. You are nothing but a selfish coward. I forgot that Evan had the rare ability to block his thoughts from being read therefore. and turned away from her mother. Again for the second time in a century. The look in his eyes. distant and vacant. her iridescent gold eyes flashed hatred in Alexandria’s direction.” Alexandria said. because the truth was that I agreed with the council. “I am NOT your son! You are a MURDERER!” Evan's body leaned forward as if he was going to strike his father. please forgive me and let me go. they would do what was asked of them and bar the existence of Thaddeus and Alexandria from their thoughts. “You’ve stolen enough from me!” I knew instantly what he meant. in just above a whisper. “I will not ask that you pardon him. “Evander –” Alexandria cried out to her enraged son. They had to see how their parents had altered their fates. “For as long as I can remember.” Desdemona.” Great. Lucien’s wife. she was his mother. I knew it was wrong and I knew that there would be consequences.” Evan stopped. and then turned away. “Perhaps a lighter sentence?” I offered. Bethany closed her eyes. I eyed the council members. I thought. indefinitely. and wasn’t spared when she begged for a chance. and would never be as strong as you. You will remain in my heart although.” Alexandria rubbed Evan's cheek as she looked lovingly at Bethany who continued to cry into Nikolas’ chest. The crowd began to quickly move away from Thaddeus and Alexandria.” Alexandria wept silently in Evans massive arms. You pushed me to excel at my strengths. and he had her on a pedestal.I lost it then. who followed his sister. and did the same. the members were forced to banish another couple. “Let me go. Lucien stepped forward and blindsided me. Then he looked at me with the saddest most vacant eyes I’ve ever looked into before turning back to his father. though I hoped that they wouldn’t. The Capius’ took a moment. I called on the goddess of love.. After a second of thought I knew the answer to that. and when I did. “It – is – true. I’m so sorry. He knew that I tried. I looked at Evan. Evan walked over to his mother and knelt next to her. had an idea of what Bethany and Evan felt since we had all lost our parents horrifically although. nodded. Evander –. This time. I made my decision to support you father centuries ago. Please forgive me. “Bethany. I don't know if I can save you. Ignoring the cries of his wife. broken and officially abandoned. I won’t survive without his love. “They both must be punished. Only Evan and Bethany stood fixed to the marble floor. and you've always found a way to make me feel as if I was never strong enough. Evan looked his father squarely in the eye and took the floor. but he stopped just short of doing so. Alexandria. Mercy was not a part of the deal. don’t let this happen. and then took Evan's hand which he had held out for her. No one existed but us. I tried to stay out of his head. Evan walked over to me. felt the consequences of her actions for the first time as she stared up at Evan. “She must suffer as Andromeda did. spoke up. They had been abandoned. Evan and Bethany's turmoil could be felt by the members' whose heartbroken expressions dimmed the room. and the room was quiet. Everything is TRUE.

“You are a son of Ares.” Bethany sobbed and buried her head into Evan’s chest as her father looked to her for the very last time. “I made a promise. My body was cooling and I felt the rage begin to vacate my body as I contemplated what I would do next. and the bastard planned take the crucial information with him to the Underworld. I couldn’t let this monster get the best of me even if he did epitomize the evil we dreaded when trying to evade the Apolluon. and I plan keep it. mostly to steady my tears. I was so captivated by Evan that I didn’t notice Bethany standing beside me. I was only able to read Victors thoughts because Evan was blocking his. I guess he understood how Victor felt. and slipped through her fingers like a cool breeze. “I never wanted to leave. Not only would he not tell me.” My words were directed to the fiends in question. There was only one way that I would ever think to save their father. . knowing that I’d read him like an open book.” I couldn’t believe what Bethany was asking of me. He was guarding his sister’s thoughts. and shook it. At that moment. with his hand extended towards Victor. son?” Victor said nothing at first and a few seconds lapsed. including Thaddeus who couldn’t understand how this could have happened to him after all his clever planning. and it was clear of anything to do with my parents. Not a second went by before she was gone. besides the Capius’.” He said with a sneer. Thaddeus was the only person who knew where my parents were improperly laid to rest. He was just surprised and scared since he had no powers although. I may just kill him. and eyed his father. Evan knew me well. The heat was rising in me. It was futile. as well as everyone else. I was losing him. and he knew that I would probably spare his father if I thought Bethany was serious about taking her own life. just transported them to where they wouldn’t remember who they once were. I was really losing. hitting the road blocks in his mind. therefore a son of the Ischeros. Evan watched me from across the room and I held his unwavering gaze. I had only one question to ask Thaddeus and depending on how he answered well maybe… “Where are my parents buried?” I asked Thaddeus. I was losing my heart. and that it’s my parent's fault. I was finally able to listen to his thoughts. she didn’t realize it. Desdemona. His expression was unreadable and I was lost as to what he was feeling and thinking. and I fought the unladylike behavior to spit on him. I banish you as if you had never existed. He was even more devious than I could have imagined. Victor took Lucien’s hand. Then to the eruption of sharp clapping. I looked over at Evan and again he was staring at me. I took a deep breath. but I was losing in a bare knuckle battle with my rage. Victor was overwhelmed. she didn’t possess the power to do that. “Now you need me. The look on Thaddeus’ face was pure fury. Victor took Evan’s hand and shook it. Victor hesitated for a second as Lucien’s hand hung in the air. His jealousy for Evan was elevated but he didn’t hate Evan. Evan released Bethany.” Evan said. Perhaps it was the suicidal look in Bethany’s diffused eyes. I didn’t know what to expect. and even crazier. That’s when I saw Evan look passed Victor.” She cleared her throat. He had expressed great gratitude through his thoughts for the second chance I had granted him.” “No. and now he confirmed my theory. as I got close enough for him to hear me. and handed her over to Nikolas. and relieved all at the same time. Are you offering me a deal. He wouldn’t allow himself to think it. he would perceive that Victor felt totally alone. started greeting Victor. It wasn’t her. I thought of my parents and the only thing that they had asked of me. and extended a hand to Victor. he was still prepared to battle if he had to. I didn’t think that I could bear any more of this. Maybe those were the thoughts that Evan blocked. Empress?” “I don’t make deals?” I combed his mind. he vaporized. You will not have each other to soothe. his answer was poignant and touched every elder in the room. please spare both of them” She saddened me as she eyed her father. “You will never be seen or heard from again. I tried to get into her head but something was blocking it. Victor’s thoughts were erratic. I had kept my promise and had not killed them. Would you like to come home. “He’s very sorry about… everything. I’ll take my punishment now. and deeply sorry. “Welcome back… brother. and he wanted to witness his father’s demise. that was powerless. I watched in amazement as they embraced him the way Ischeros never forget their own. Thaddeus being pardoned was something that Evan wouldn’t permit. I always thought that Evan was probably the kindest person I knew besides my own father. I couldn’t fathom that I was actually contemplating it.” I stopped breathing altogether when Evan walked over to Victor. When he did speak. I wasn’t sure if any of the other members could detect my trembling. but she was disappearing as well with only the wisp of a hand reaching out to her son and the most frantic look in her eyes. If Evan was reading Victor’s thoughts and emotions right now. There was a calm that fell upon the room with the question I asked. He then waited in the lounge until I sent him the message to enter the ballroom.Lucien came forward. Sigh. He didn’t have expectations when I first used my mind to call him when I first left the dungeon. Thaddeus stared at me for a long moment. She was somewhat composed. Thaddeus turned his glare to me then disappeared just as Alexandria tried to grab a hold of him. Everyone watched. I knew that Evan could read Victor’s thoughts now that Victor was the only demigod in the room. “But. “In that case. “I know that you lost your parents.

Everyone. I finally broke the silence. including Evan and Bethany. I didn't want to dwell on the passing of a master mind murderer nor his weak wife. “Thank you. may we. continue to bask in their glory. He was doing his best at being brave.” Lucien said. Either way I welcomed the familiar feeling of comfort. “For the love of the gods! Hail the new Empress. temporarily. “Victor.” Then he left the traditional way. Not our exceptional capabilities. and we owe you our gratitude. please. I hated having to drudge up those painful feelings.” “It wouldn't have hurt any less. I probably would’ve buckled under that kind of pressure. “Thank you Nikolas. Their thoughts revealed their best wishes for me. the Ischeros. I was halted by the excruciating hollowness in my heart. your attention please. “Where is home?” He asked in a whisper as Nikolas stepped back. I’m in awe and forever at your service. and we will work out a new strategy to rid the Apolluon’s persecution forever. I finally let the tears that had been corked inside me flood onto the lapel of his tuxedo jacket. Before I knew it pretty much everyone was gone. “I only ask that you all return to your homes.” Nikolas bowed.” I took his hand in mine.” Nikolas smiled slightly. We feel that you have proven a great injustice on our empire. “I need you to know that I didn't want you to find out the way you did. and began disappearing one by one once they were done exchanging their final pleasantries for the night.” Everyone chanted in agreement. I will summon you all soon. It is the day to day living. most powerful.This night would never be forgotten. and most coveted possession. through the ballroom doors with Lucien and Desdemona. the strength you have shown here this night cannot be paralleled within this universe. But for now. that I couldn't feel my feet beneath me. I’m so very sorry. Nikolas and I were alone now. walking toward us.” I spoke to the entire ballroom. I cried even harder when I felt some of the moist spots where Bethany's tears had not yet dried. this event will be stricken and won’t mark your reign. “Cousin. the Powerful. please go and enjoy what is dear and precious to us all. but everyone else stood still. but I was well aware of the practice of falsifying thoughts when in the presence of a mind reader so I was on my guard. The responsibility to have to tell someone something that devastating is never an easy task.” “He may stay with us. Lucien and a few other elders glided up to me with unreadable expressions. Guard each other as I vow to guard you. and I was deeply saddened with their absence. your gratitude is noted. staring at the spot where the two had stood. “Empress Cordelia. Nikolas must have noticed me wavering or something and drew me into one of his bear hugs. For the love of the gods. and loving that we do without violent and brutal interruption. That alone is our greatest. I’m sorry. with Nikolas holding me close. “Don’t be. I hadn’t realized. We stood that way for what seemed like an eternity and not nearly long enough to heal. rubbing Nikolas’ hand. I was so overwhelmed at that point. and never saying a word. respectfully. It is our greatest possession.” I said. I knew that he was dying inside at the mere mention of his beloved parents. peace. He stared at me for a long time. and wasn’t ready to fully trust anyone. .” “Still. and continue living in the peace that is a gift which I will fight with my every breath to continue to possess. Delia.” “Thank you ladies and gentleman of the council. All hail!” They all bowed in waves. Or maybe he just knew that I needed one or the other way around. I saw Victor in my peripheral and he walked toward me.

.

and Nikolas had been living with my family for a few years. I couldn’t fathom living in the house that my parents’ murderers had called 'home'. which was to secure our place on this earth. My heart rate had quickened. and out the door. and these days. and never would be. It was the speech that very few on this earth would ever get to hear. and admired the not so contoured fit of them. I couldn’t contain the rush of blood pumping in my veins. When I pushed open the rusted gates. I’d rather sleep in these rigid denims than to suffer in the sweat that pooled in my corset. He had snorted facetiously. But how could one be bored with all the gifts that have been . and sun burnt flowers in the front garden. many ways. yet still feminine. when Victor had killed me. The mere idea of a girl in a pair of dungarees was perceived as graceless.Epilogue Reign The tailor must have asked himself just how daring of a young woman I was to consider wearing a pair of dungarees around town. even if only for a week which had felt like a life time had been somewhat comforting. were the small cracks and holes in the bare walls where paintings and photographs had once hung. which I had removed from the ‘For Sale’ list in the Territorial Enterprise. No more of that sidesaddle crap. and perfect for me. Then I layered on the worn leather vest and pulled on my new topstitched cowboy boots. if the occasion called for it. things had changed in many. It looked nowhere near what it had looked like on the day of my fifteenth birthday party. and unfortunately others for the worse. I plunged deeper and deeper in love with Evan. silver spurs and all. They’ll entertain themselves by gossiping about the Tieron girl. The remaining residents still held my heart. whether it be a purpose or love. and only if. skeptically. jeans were worn mostly by dung scooping. I suppose it was partly due to the monotony of life as an average high school senior that had obliterated it all. and to protect the empire. and the death of my high society Victorian fashion sense. but I figured after a few wears they’d be broken in and fit well enough. But could I really blame him? It was 1891. I headed down the wide hallway then down the long. Meanwhile. seeing the interior for the first time during daylight hours since returning. I approved. and the adrenaline soured to my brain. None the less. I wouldn’t mind wearing a luxurious gown from time to time. After the night of the Masquerade Ball. which grew with each day. letting my hair tumble down my back and placed the leather Stetson on my head. It wasn’t home. buttondown. We were honored to be the descendants of the mighty Olympians. long flouncy dresses. cotton blouses into the leather belted waist of my jeans. Therefore when I venture into town today. Being that close to Evan had made me feel secure. the dried vines cracked and snapped nearly distracting me from the patchy brown grass. and I saw myself at the awkward age of thirteen. and wrinkled his brow when I approached him about taking in the pair I donned now a bit at the waist. Before being sent to the future to ‘hide’. and greedy silver miners. as we chased Victor and Evan and a shiny. and my ensemble would be complete. bouncing red ball that the boys refused to allow us to play with. Something in me woke up that day. I wracked my brain to comprehend the eradication of the memory of who I was. and everyone had no choice but to accept it. I had silenced him for the rest of our appointment. With the invigorating light wind came the memories. I tucked one of my delicate. Some things changed for the better. But I have to be honest. cattle ranchers. To be fair. We played together. as well as Christopher's and Phoebe's things had been moved to our home. I tucked my thumbs into the front loops of my jeans. Of course by then Thaddeus’ plan had already been in play. All my of my belongings. and the mounting dangers that would arise with them. leaving a few of the buttons. I followed the infinite laughter and giggles into the flourishing garden where they met up with Nikolas and Victor’s younger sister Evangelia. I couldn’t wait for my powers to ascend. the sacrifices. Living everyday like the ordinary mortals took great control in veiling our power. and that’s really all that mattered. winding staircase. I’d considered returning to the Capius mansion. staying there. We moved back directly across the street from the Bergnum's estate. back to the Tieron Estate. As I began crossing the street. carefree and ignorant to our destinies. The first thing I noticed. unladylike. The fabric felt like burlap against my skin. I’d always felt adequately loved by the family and I knew firsthand about the heart wrenching twinges of falling in love with someone. This was the new me. we were proud of the strengths and talents we possessed. Mother and Daddy were trying to explain the levels and changes that I would begin transitioning through. undone. I’m sure it’ll be quite the scandal with the nosey folks of Nickel City. but that wasn’t enough. Victor and Evangelia had long disappeared. The Grecian architecture was hidden by creepy vines that spread across the exterior like an open fan. I had already been dead from the desperate search of something more in life from this former booming town of ruins. I watched myself as a rambunctious little girl darting through the foyer. Not the whole ‘becoming a woman’ speech. What did he think I was going to do with them? Wear them as a shawl? With one look. “All hail Mr. fought against the fresh air that filtered in from the front door. Only one accessory was needed. and every day following. my eyes were drawn to the Capius Estate. corsets that reminded you of bandage and matching eyelet lace parasols didn’t suit me anymore. In fact. with Bethany not too far behind. I previewed myself in my full length gilt framed mirror. I made a clean break. A thick carpeting of dust adorned the dull marble floors. and was practically my brother. “What are you going to do with those?” He had asked. Since my recent stint in the future. all the petticoats that went under them. My parents explained my purpose on this earth. primarily for air conditioning purposes. The reflection was rough and rugged. It stood gloomily with darkened windows where light had always been present. I twitched my nose as the musty smell. a combination of dampness and mold. I walked back into the parlor. I removed the jeweled comb. even if we had to conceal them. pulling the brim down a little in front. I’d never known the hollow feeling of loneliness. Levi Straus” I sighed. But it was the only way to survive against the evil that plagued us.

but I too was skeptical therefore. He smiled back then turned to Sun Paw. I must first ask my mother and Master Evan for permission.” Sun Paw smiled at Evan then at me. you may regret it. As for you.” Light Shine said. He said he appreciated her asking him for permission but said the decision was up to Light Shine. Evan never failed when it came to diplomacy. sister. Light Shine. And I knew why. I’ve actually considered defying the gods. At first. The battle caused my anointment to be postponed. before bringing my younger brother and sister along. Then I heard Light Shine talking with Evan. There wasn’t anything that would justify changing the date of my anointment. and she is fair. “I’m the first and last word in our family. I was relieved that I’d decided to tour the house alone. I could override there ruling. Second. I still felt like that girl in the future. Zeus was just anal that way. Unfortunately. I kept everything as it was because I knew that I would find them. The distance between is only a heartbeat. my brother. Mother. although. The council said that it was up to me to make it right. but I knew that my beloved parents would never approve of it. She had taken such care in making it look and feel like a loving abode. I wonder what the god’s must have thought as they watched the family dismantle itself in a battle of demons within it. The power of remembrance filled the huge rooms as they used to be – in elegant and tasteful furnishings. and Sun Paw. “Your service to us has been appreciated. if you allow her to leave. I feared it simply because I didn’t have enough time to find my parents. I believed he to be worth it. “The empress is hunted prey. and working with me and my family came through in a wide grin. He looked at me and winked. and Zeus will finally ignite my bolt. lacking. scaring both Moon Rose and Sun Paw. and belonged here now in the physical – guiding me through my early decades of reigning. Of course. Victor needed protection from the Apolluon trackers as a mortal. I had always felt completely fulfilled. Act like one. a glimmer of a smile emerged at the corner of her mouth. I had never looked for anything more in my life. Go my child.” I said. Sun Paw must stay here where we can protect her. as long as he was in the home of an Ischeros he would be safe. Of course Nikolas would be joining us again. while she spoke with them. and her beautiful face was like a good omen. in the eyes of the gods – Zeus to be exact. it has only been a day. Supposed I didn’t oppose the rule? I could never love Victor? I couldn’t. “Sun Paw.” Moon Rose said. The sacred ceremony is set for the first of the year. there is a blanket of throat clogging dust on the floors and the walls. The elders didn’t want the betrayal of the Capius’ to overshadow my reign. The elders barred him from being reinstated as an immortal. I patted Sun Paw on the shoulder. telling Sun Paw that she should be honored with the request. For one. It took only a couple of seconds to make the necessary changes. Only Victor .vested in us by the gods? In all the days that I lived up until that fateful night when the Capius’ took my parents away from me. Therefore. “I expect Sun Paw will do the same. And then there was the newest house guest. trying to make her feel comfortable with the transition. But Moon Rose had her own opinion to divulge. I eagerly anticipated the ceremony and feared it all the same. Yet only I would pay the price. You are not Sun Paw’s mother. if he or she has not yet married and mated. The cob webs were draped in the corners. “I’ll take good care of her. Several minutes went by and I could hear Sun Paw’s mother. in their native tribal dialect. Whatever the price was.” Light Shine slammed her fist on the table. I understand that you are needed elsewhere. The house was almost ready. not yet ready to live in the home his parents had built. and he with me therefore. I had hoped you would ask me. She will protect you as long as you protect her secret as we have all along. Today. Only in the case of death may one marry the next in line or newly appointed match.” Sun Paw nodded with a nervous smile then walked over to me where I stood outside of the entrance gates. I continued to ponder all of this as I continued to roam my house.” I waited for Sun Paw outside of Evan’s house gates. I wasn’t quite ready to put the past behind me. the empress is the purist of their kind. strangely the mortals New Year. Mother had decorated our home in a fanciful manner. I smiled because it came naturally. All of the gods will be present. She practically attacked her mother and Sun Paw in the parlor with her words. along with the desire to kiss him. my parents were out of my reach. and then Sun Paw emerged with Evan. this time in the daylight hours. and bring them home. I’ve considered breaking one of the oldest laws of the Ischeros. I vowed to never stop searching for them. confronting Moon Rose. You are her sister. I would gladly pay it in full. and on the stair railings like heavy curtains. I asked Sun Paw if she would like to come and live with my family. There wasn’t a speck of dust except the motes floating in the sun’s rays filtering in from the windows. They would smell the scent of his aura now that he had been stripped of the shield of immortality. a few more additions were vital. Her thoughts about the move. Now I felt incomplete.” A few more minutes past. I’ve fallen madly and deeply in love with Evan. it was an offense. for now or forever was the question. the Law of Betrothement. Evan nodded and winked. Because Victor was believed to be dead– an unwise and uninvestigated assumption. Besides. and possibly postponing the sacred engagement until I find them. restore their hearts. The law states that one is to marry and mate with their God’s appointed match. Evan had my whole heart and there was no room for another. Victor hadn’t proved himself in the eyes of the council. Evan extended his hand. “Miss Cordelia. “She won’t be safe there. mortal he stayed. until now. Evan and my union would never be blessed by the gods. Evan had been next in line.

and that much harder to resist now. . and they were sinister. I wanted so badly to be Evan's wife – someday. “You had been trying so very hard to hide the crush you had on me when suddenly. For some reason I couldn’t look into Victor’s eyes for a long period of time. needed my protection. about an hour after his parents had been exiled. You can’t expect me to live in your house. You came pretty damn close too.knew the answer to that. focused. not. not for one second. and kept his eyes down cast at first. I felt the blood creeping up in my cheeks. “I remember when we were six years old. I pretended not to hear or see him.” “No. “Always. yet intensely alluring. He meant everything to me. It was something that would grow stronger if I wasn’t careful. Bethany blurted out the top secret information. Quit being difficult. “Once betrothed. and we locked eyes for longer than I wanted to. but knew he couldn't be left alone.” I demanded. I could read his thoughts. I can live in my own house. and I’m deeply regretful. “Of course not. and turned away. probably recalling the last time he’d been here. that I had known the very first time I had seen him as a child. He understood what I did and why I had to do it. and there was always something there. lightly. or what took place in the future. “You hurt a lot of people when you were on your own agenda. but not long enough for him. I’m not afraid. alright?” He nodded. Besides.” “You didn’t have to. I’m not doing this because I feel sorry for you or because I think that you’re afraid. my brother and sister.” “Then transform me. you can’t. “I will prove myself. Delia. Early that fateful morning. and me. right?” Victor maintained a serious expression.” “Perhaps. Give us some time. This intense connection of some extraordinary kind. I tried to focus on the topic at hand. Suppose one of our brothers and sisters. The eyes I looked into now were kind. beautiful. noticeably saddened. and his mind had already been read. and he knew it. I wasn’t thinking while I was killing. and he didn’t turn away. I had looked into his eyes then. and not distributed to a renegade gang of disciples. holding my gaze. I must make things right in every accord. You know that I’m the only one who can protect you. When I first suggested it. “I didn’t say that. for now. Evan had brought me home and protected me from the moment I arrived up until now. but living here with us is necessary. You aren’t safe alone. It was odd now that he. and I tried to stifle it. He walked around the parlor now. Your face had turned as red as a cherry. “Look. who was once my predator. was stronger than anything on this earth. as a mortal. “Cordelia. remembering those simple days all too well. you tried to kill me. It would have to be ignored indefinitely. What I have with Evan is what I need. I don’t need any protection. and his mind clouded with regret. He hasn’t forgotten what happened just a day ago. feels that we are better off without you?” Victor’s eyes became overshadowed. breathing. What a strange twist of fate. you have stay in this beautiful mansion for now. I have every right to a place in this empire as much as all the other members have. so I knew that he spoke from a thawed heart. Evan came to me and told me that he could never hold any harsh feelings towards me. I will also make things right with us. He would have to prove himself before he could truly be accepted by the members of the empire. My heart felt like it could burst from the immeasurable love that I felt for him. Your strength is greater than Evan’s if used properly. Victor had shuffled his feet. Sorry.” I looked him in the eyes. My mind lingered on the moments just before Victor plowed the jeep into me. I was pulsating. Also. yet still intensely alluring. I heard him loud and clear and tried to deflect the rest of his thoughts.” He tried to hide his smirk.” Victor said picking up a picture of me when I was about that age.” “And Evander agrees with your new living arrangement?” Victor raised an eyebrow displaying I small glimpse of his old wicked ways. The thoughts were new intense feelings that were re kindling the old ones. and existing in my rage. I know this now. Evan was truly disgruntled with my move back to the Tieron Estate.” “And this is the same Evander who is aware that we’re betrothed. “I know that you’re genuinely sorry. but I had to.” To my chagrin. You must prove yourself first.” “Don’t you mean the only one willing to?” Victor asked. “I was robbed.” I humored him. this is ridiculous.” Victor eyes never wavered as he spoke. Our eyes met again. vulnerable. and what I deserve. and so I made a lot of mistakes. But he understands. I did my best to ignore him.” I corrected him. I’ve asked everyone to forgive your ‘transgressions’. “The Apolluon will track you in no time. I’m positive that they haven’t forgotten your crimes against them. Understandably. browsing photographs of my parents. “Things have changed since then. but I knew he was smiling beneath the facade. but I knew better. I hadn’t forgotten that afternoon on C Street when I’d been craving ice cream for lunch. My powers fell second to whatever it was between Victor and I. Although. Victor’s crisp voice brought me back to the present. one who doesn’t totally agree with my decision to accept you back into the family.” Victor said. The Ischeros need you.

I had to put a cap on it. I couldn’t look into his eyes without having to gasp. and the risk everyone believed I’ve taken to restore his place within it. We can do the unimaginable. A home where they will remember their mother and father. Evan isn’t worried. Besides Evan would have my head if he so much as thought that I was thinking of you in an impure way. I need it to survive. I had to come down from the high when we stopped kissing. and I trust you.” I smirked raising my eyebrow. referring to the painful fact that we weren’t betrothed in the eyes of our creators. although I know you are doing what you feel is right. to be with you. It’s no longer my father's manor. and that you’ve given him a second chance and a place in our empire. I love you.” I said. “I want to make you my wife. I am making it my home… our home. I knew it would be impossible to stop. “I’m completely devoted to you as I’d been long before this day.” His eyes were moist. You said that you trust me. Victor’s face suddenly took on a solemn look. of every hour. “Delia–” Evan sighed.” he said.” Victor chuckled.” Evan said. Don’t make me look like a fool. I love you. “I have to make a home for my brother and sister. I couldn’t help reading his . stud aren’t I? Let Nikolas know that he can relax. But I knew better. I wanted every part of him. “You live in my heart. ever. Welcome back. nor will whomever I’m living with. I had to stay focused on finding my parents.” he said. needing his kiss as much as the human part of me needed air to breathe. That was one of the things that had changed for the better. I’m willing. there isn’t a more appropriate time. now that Victor was back in the empire.” “I want to stay with you. “You will play nice.” I said.” “And you live in mine. but couldn’t punish him any more then he’d already been.” Evan’s expression sent chills up and down my spine. “If you want me. I wish to express all that comes to me and. and I deserve it. and expect them soon. Once he pulled me close and gently held the nape of my neck. I wish I could be with you every second. in an exhilarating way. “I just want you near me at all times. wickedly.” He pulled me into him. and kissed me. and change things. Evan was a sweet. and I’ll probably voice this quite a bit. Evan.” Victor commented on the new living arrangement. meaning you. My whole body tingled and floated on air although. I must return to the Tieron Estate. “Nikolas will be just down the hall from you. “You’re welcome. and what he believes to be his. my feet where still planted to the ground. Besides. I noted. “This should be interesting. Evan could never get into Victor’s head. I’m prepared to cherish you as my wife. as tears filled his eyes. and it was no surprise to learn that he was dying to kiss me. The love you give.” I whispered. and his voice was slightly hoarse – chafing. but I can’t stay in that house.” I commanded with a slight trace of annoyance in my voice. “Please stay with me.” “It is what is right. “That’s the Victor I remember all too well. He had finally accepted me leaving his house. I don't care that we are not betrothed. my love. touch me. and pressed my lips against his petal soft lips.” Evan said.” I sighed.” Evan said. taking my breath away and when he pulled away. “I love you. It scarred us to know that the gods cursed our union. knowing all too well his position within the empire. “I want you too. but I’ll risk it. I made sure of that. and then I did too. It may make us unforgivable. Here. Victor. “I’ll take the lead. I’ve already made up my mind. and more importantly. “The short distance will not change how I feel for you.” Victor continued to chuckle and the bad boy in him lives on. “Evan. and make it my home… again. “I’m not content with your living arrangement. “I can’t help but not agree with it.” He gazed into my eyes and held them for a short moment. tenderly holding my face in his hands. What could I possibly do? I’m just a harmless mortal. I can’t ignore.” He was getting really good at blocking his thoughts. placing his hand on my heart.” I said. I know that I do. and once again bringing my thoughts back to the present.” I said. I couldn’t allow that yet. Please try to understand.“This is a moment of honesty. My desire for Evan overflowed. The shock of iridescent azure always gripped me. yet compromising distraction. We are meant to be together. It belongs to you. if you wish to say anything. I know that he has to be protected. I faked it so that Victor would take me seriously. Evans’ heart was genuine as I knew it would always be. What more could the god’s want? I’m your first disciple. “Oh come on. Only I knew the secret thoughts that lay there. and of every day. and sighed. have nothing to worry about. serve you as my divine leader. of every minute. softly.” “Good. I was ready to beg him for more. The taste and smell of him kept me enraptured. Why not let him stay at my house?” “I don’t think Bethany would agree. “Thank you Cordelia. or things would start to move at a rapid speed. nodding. Things were definitely a lot different now. “You’ve given me love that I