Days passed, and we still hadn't killed Lucas. I was beginning to wonder if we ever would. Whenever I asked anyone, they said that they were waiting for the perfect time. The day-to-day monotony that came from doing nothing was wearing on me. More than once, I'd considered sneaking out at night to hunt some vampires just to work off all of my pent up energy, but I knew it was a bad idea. If any hunters caught me, I'd be dead. Even if I ever did work up the nerve to sneak out, there was no way it would be possible.
Emily, Ethan, and my sisters came to the beach house to visit me often. I was suspicious that all the sporadic, unannounced visits were to make sure that I was staying in the house, but I didn't bring it up to anyone. The last thing I wanted was to get into another fight about how they all didn't trust me.
I refused to talk to Anthony. He didn't seem too interested in talking to me either because I got no word from since I told him I wanted to break up. The rational part of my brain told me that he was just going along with what I wanted. But the more emotional part was hurt that he wasn't trying to talk to me.
Emily and Ethan kept me up to date with what was going on with the vampires. The Carsons were keeping tabs on Lucas. They weren't actively stalking him, but the made a point to see where he was every few hours. I was too proud to ask, but thankfully, Emily seemed to know that I'd be curious about Anthony.
"He hasn't been talking much to anyone," she'd told me two days after our break up. "He's around when we talk about Lucas, and whenever anyone from the Administratio stops by – which by the way is often – you can just tell they don't trust us. I don't know what they expect to find, though. They can't possibly think they're going to just drop in one day, and find us sucking some humans dry. And they don't even knock! They just teleport in like they own the place. It's so rude…"
Everything she was saying about the Administratio came as no shock to me. Of course they wouldn't respect vampires' boundaries. She really had been away from the hunters for a long time. My expression must have given away my impatience with her rant because she quickly got back to what I was really interested in.
"Anyway, Anthony's been looking pretty messed up these past couple days. I think he misses you. I asked him how he was feeling the last time you guys…argued, but he just shook his head and walked away from me. I think he misses you, Evy."
She looked at me expectantly. I knew she was waiting for me to say that I missed him too. I did miss him, but I was confused and angry from the last fight we'd had. We'd more or less had the same fight Olivia and I'd had that day. He thought that I was selfish just like Olivia. That alone confused me. I'd never thought I'd see the day when Anthony and Olivia saw eye to eye. And what was worse was that they were agreeing that I was selfish.
I didn't think it was selfish to help Ethan or to not want him to die. There was no way it could be okay to help Emily but not Ethan. But no, they all thought it was awful. As far as they were concerned, I just disappeared because I was a selfish brat who just did whatever she wanted.
The reason it was eating away at me, though, was that I wondered if they were right. Not about me helping Ethan, but seeing Anthony. That was probably the most selfish thing I'd done in my life. I'd known from the beginning that if the Administratio found out about him and me it would be a death sentence for him. And that put his brothers in danger. And now my sisters were involved. Somehow, all these people had fallen into the hole I'd dug for myself and now we were stuck in it with these huge problems, and it was entirely my fault.
"Evelyn?" Nicole called out from the kitchen of the beach house. "I brought you dinner."
I walked into the room to see her holding a bag of Chinese food. I was starving. I snatched the food from her and dug in. No one had come to visit me today, and I hadn't eaten. I was grateful for both the food and her company.
"So, I have some news," Nicole said as she watched me devour the food.
"What?" The word was garbled as I spoke with food in my mouth.
"Mom's missing," she said. "I don't know much. Rick and Priya were over at the house trying to reason with her. She thinks Lucas has something to do with you missing. She wanted to go after him. I haven't seen her since last night, and Cheryl and Olivia don't know where she is either. Cheryl asked the Administratio, but they just told her not to worry. They wouldn't say anything else about it."
I frowned and stopped eating. "But that means she's okay though, right?"
Nicole hesitated. "The Administratio wants Lucas out of the way, and they're willing to go along with our plan to make that happen. But they don't want anyone to know that they made a deal with vampires. If something happened with Mom and Lucas, the Administratio could just be keeping it under wraps till Lucas is out of the picture. If people start asking questions, it might lead them back to the Carsons and also you. Very few hunters know that you're missing."
"So you're saying that they're keeping this all a secret because they're worried about their reputations?" My voice became shriller with each word.
"Calm down, Evelyn," she warned me. "It's more complicated than that. If the other hunters turn against the Administratio, they won't have any power to call the shots. That means the deal they made with Carsons will be moot. And if a new Administratio is voted into power, Mom won't be on the panel to make sure they go easy on you. People are already saying that they've given you way too many chances as it is."
"Okay, fine, I understand all of that." It was a lie. I'd barely wrapped my head around how the political structure could affect my life. "But what are they planning to do if Mom is missing? They can't just want to sit around and do nothing."
Nicole took a deep breath. "Don't start to panic yet, Evy. I'm just telling you what Olivia and I are thinking. Mom's disappearance could have nothing to do with you or Lucas. I'm keeping you in the loop. That's what you want, right?"
"Yes, but it sucks having to sit here all day and not be able to do anything about anything," I complained.
At that moment, as if on cue, Olivia walked through the door with Anthony. I would've commented on how strange it was that they were together and not arguing, but the worried looks on their faces had me anxious.
"We need to get out of here now," Olivia said.
"What? Why?" I asked.
"There's no time," Olivia said. "Evelyn, you need to make sure you get all the evidence that you've been staying here. Clothes, shoes, food, everything – we have to get rid of it."
I opened the fridge to start clearing out the food. "My clothes are upstairs," I said.
"I'll get them," Nicole said.
"I'll check the rest of the house to make sure we don't miss anything," Anthony said, following Nicole out of the room.
I was so confused by what was happening that I didn't even have time to register the fact that this was the first time I'd seen Anthony since our break up. He didn't seem to have a particularly emotional response to seeing me either. In fact, he'd barely seemed to register my existence at all.
Olivia silently helped me clear out the garbage bags. She seemed a little frantic as she around the kitchen making sure we didn't miss anything.
"I don't suppose you're going to tell me what's going on," I said.
"Evelyn, just don't, okay? There's no time for questions. We just all need to get out of here as soon as possible."
I didn't say anything else. I had my suspicions that this had to do with my mom, but since I didn't have any details, I followed Olivia's lead until Anthony and Nicole met us back in the kitchen.
Olivia didn't explain anything. She grabbed Anthony's arm and said, "Follow me," before teleporting away.
Nicole and I exchanged a confused look, and then teleported out after her. We ended up in a hotel room. It wasn't particularly large and everything about it was fairly plain. There were two full sized beds with a nightstand between them and a mini fridge with microwave opposite the beds. Off to the side of the room, there was a door that led to a small bathroom.
Olivia and Anthony were still standing next to each looking every bit as tense as they were when they'd come to get Nicole and me. Ethan was leaning against the wall, arms crossed. He had a piercing look in his eye that I only remember seeing when we went hunting together. Emily sat crossed legged on one of the beds. Her eyes were red and puffy. She'd obviously been crying. She wasn't looking directly at anything or anyone, and her face was fixed in a permanent frown. The last time I'd seen that expression on her face had been when she'd been depressed after turning into a vampire.
"Anybody planning on telling us what's going on?" I asked.
"Mom's missing," Olivia started.
"Nicole just told me that," I said. "Did the Administratio confirm anything new?"
"The Administratio doesn't trust us anymore," Olivia said. "Not that they trusted us that much to begin with…"
"I'm confused," Nicole said. "I just talked to you an hour ago, and you said nothing changed. What happened?"
"Mom isn't the only one missing. No one knows where Rick and Priya are either," Olivia said.
Three members of the Administratio missing? That was unheard of.
"The disappearances have to be connected, right?" Nicole asked. "It's too much of a coincidence for them not to be."
"It was Lucas," Anthony said.
"How do you know?" I asked. I think my voice was harsher than I wanted it to be.
Anthony barely spared me a glance. "He called me and told me that he captured three members of the Administratio."
"There's no way Lucas could capture three members of the Administratio by himself," Nicole said.
"He had help," Emily said bitterly. "He hypnotized Eric and Mark. They're with him now."
I felt the panic begin to settle into my body. A million questions popped into my head all at once. I didn't even know what to say first.
"Wait, so Lucas hypnotized Eric and Mark into helping him capture Mom and Rick and Priya?" Nicole asked. "Where were you guys?"
"I was with Anthony," Emily said. "We'd gone out trying to track him to see where he was. Never expected him to just show up at the house."
"I was there," Ethan said, speaking for the first time. "He hypnotized Eric and Mark and he tried to get me, but it didn't work. I tried to fight him off, but with Eric and Mark on his side and with the super speed he stole from me, let's just say I got knocked faster than I'd like to admit."
"Why wasn't he able to hypnotize you?" Anthony asked. "He turned you, just like he turned us."
"Hunters train their minds against vampire mind control from a young age," Nicole explained. "Some of us are better than others."
"Okay, fine," I said. "Lucas caught us by surprise, and that's bad. Why did you guys rush to get me out of the beach house?"
"The Administratio looked into all the property that the Carsons own," Olivia told me. "They're planning on searching them to try and find you. And we think they know that Eric and Mark were involved with kidnapping Mom, Rick, and Priya…so let's just say they're really not to keen on trusting the Carsons anymore."
"But they were hypnotized," I said, outraged, but not particularly surprised. "We told them that Lucas could hypnotize them because he turned them."
"I know, and now that they've seen what he can do, they're considering the Carsons and Emily and Ethan liabilities," Olivia said.
"So what now?" Nicole asked.
"We have to follow through with the original plan," Emily said. "Right? I have to get Eric back."
"It's complicated," Olivia said. "Since the Administratio doesn't want to work the vampires anymore, they could be planning an attack on Lucas right now, which could only get in the way. It wouldn't be smart to attack full on right now."
Emily did not seem pleased with Olivia's answer. "What do you think, Evy?"
The more I thought about it, the clearer it became how this turn of events put a serious hole in our plans. Sure, we still had my power on our side, but now we wouldn't just be going up against Lucas. We'd have to worry about Eric and Mark too.
I knew I'd have to choose my words carefully to answer Emily. "We should work on a plan to get Eric and Mark back. There's no way anyone is going to take down Lucas if he has help. But…we can't just charge in with our first plan. We don't know what Lucas is going to do."
"Then let's come up with a new plan," Emily said, jumping off the bed. "We can't sit around this hotel room and just twiddle our thumbs. Let's do something."
"We will, Emily," I said. "Maybe we should let the Administratio get my mom and Rick and Priya back before we go charging in there."
"The Administratio doesn't care about Eric and Mark, Evelyn! I guess now that you're not dating Anthony you don't care about the vampires anymore? It won't be long before you run back to your Administratio and go back to being their perfect little huntress who does whatever they say."
My mouth dropped as Emily spat the words at me. "How can you think that? Of course I don't want anything to happen to Eric and Mark, but Lucas has my mother, Emily. I have to think about that too."
"Okay, everyone calm down," Olivia ordered. "Emily, we're going to figure something out. I promise Evelyn will still love you even though she completely kicked Anthony to the curb. And in what universe was Evelyn ever a perfect huntress? She never does what the Administratio expects of her. She never does what anyone expects of her."
I was about to interject into Olivia's glowing review of my hunting, but then it occurred to me that she was right. I never did what anyone expected me to do.
"I think we're going about this wrong," I said.
The entire room looked at me. I knew it would take some convincing for them to go along with my plan, but on the other hand, it's not like we had very many plans to go with in the first place.
"Everyone expects me to stay into hiding. Lucas probably thinks we're going to take some time to regroup. So let's take them by surprise. I can face the Administratio. That'll distract them from going after Eric and Mark. And then we should go up against Lucas, he won't see it coming."
The skeptical looks on everyone's faces were not encouraging, but I was determined to follow through with what I had to say.
"We don't know for sure what Lucas wants to do with the members of the Administratio he kidnapped, but I have a hunch. We know for sure that he wants my power, but mine can't be the only one he wants. What if he wants to turn them?"
It was like a light bulb went off over Olivia's head. "Then he'd have more powers for himself and more vampires he could hypnotize and use against us."
"That is not good," Nicole said. "If that's what he wants to do, who's to say he hasn't already done it?"
"I doubt it," Ethan said. "It's much harder for a vampire to change a hunter. I don't remember it very clearly. It was painful, but I remember Lucas being annoyed that it was taking so long. It was taking a lot of energy out of him too."
"That makes sense," Nicole said. "Hunters' bodies generally reject everything that has to do with vampires – that's why it's painful when they bite us."
"Was it difficult when you were being turned?" Ethan asked Emily.
Her face scrunched up as she tried to concentrate on the memory. "I barely remember what it was like when Juana turned me. She'd hypnotized me right after she turned me, and she kept messing with my mind for a while after I was turned to make sure I wouldn't remember it was her. Sometimes when I really think about it I get flashes of what happened, but I don't like to. All I know is that it really hurt."
Olivia frowned. "Can vampires really hypnotize people long term like that?"
"There are lots of different ways to do it," Anthony said. "If you keep going into someone's mind over a long period of time, it gets easier to alter their thoughts and break down any mental walls they have put up. It can even make the thoughts you put into their mind permanent, but is this really important right now?"
"Uh, if your brothers are currently under Lucas's mind control, they yeah, I'd say it's important to know as much as possible," I said.
I was annoyed by the way Anthony had been ignoring me ever since he'd shown up with Olivia to get me. I wasn't sure what kind of reaction I wanted from him, but I'd thought maybe he'd at least look me in the eye.
"I meant is talking about the finer details of hypnosis more important than discussing the crazy plan you were just suggesting," he retorted.
"It's not crazy," I said.
"It's a little crazy," Nicole told me gently. "You can't go face the Administratio. They'd lock you up and take away your powers. And there'd be no chance for me or Olivia to break you out again. They'd have someone guarding you round the clock to make sure you don't escape again."
"But we have a little leverage," I said. "The Administratio has been keeping all this business with Lucas quiet. They don't want the rest of the hunters to know that they've been working with vampires."
"You want to blackmail the Administratio?" Nicole said, her eyes widening.
"It sounds so awful when you say it like that."
"That's because it is awful," Nicole said. "And it'd be your word against theirs."
"I like Evelyn's plan," Olivia said.
Nicole turned to her, mouth hanging open. "You can't be serious."
"The way I see it," Olivia began, "We have two problems – the Administratio and Lucas. We just need to confuse both sides so that we can make a move before one gets in the way of the other. Evelyn doesn't need to stick around long enough for the Administratio to get to her. They just need to be distracted by her. And Lucas is expecting the Administratio to come after him, so if we get to him before they do, he won't be prepared for us."
"But it'd be too risky for Evelyn to expect to get away from the Administratio safely by herself, and you and I can't go with her because that's just asking for more trouble," Nicole told Olivia.
"Let's cause some trouble," Olivia said. "The more chaos, the better."
"Wait, stop," I said. "Have you not been paying attention to what's happening to me? If the Administratio finds out that you guys have been helping me, you'll be in just as much trouble."
"They don't need to know everything," Olivia started.
"Hang on," Ethan said, before Olivia could continue. "Who says Evelyn needs to actually go to the Administratio. All she needs is for someone close to the Administratio to see her and tell them."
"Like Cheryl," Nicole said.
"Even better, my mother," Ethan said. "If I show up to my house with Evelyn, she's guaranteed to cause a scene in front of the Administratio as soon as possible."
"Okay this is good. This could work," Olivia said.
"Wait," I said. Panic was beginning to settle over me. "Are seriously going to do this right this second? Because the only window of opportunity we're going to have to face Lucas is while the Administratio is distracted by trying to find me. Are we ready?"
"Are you?" Nicole asked. "It's your power that we're counting on. Whether or not this works all depends on you."
"So no pressure," Olivia said.
I took a deep breath. I was as ready as I was ever going to be.
"Okay fine, I can do this," I said. "But what's everyone else going to do while I go with Ethan to face his mom?"
"We're going to need knives," Nicole said. "Brand new ones, with the sharpest blades and coated with the strongest poison we can get our hands on. I'll take care of that."
"You should probably get two for each of us. Just to be on the safe side," Olivia told her. "I'll go find out what I can from Cheryl. The Administratio's been keeping her in the loop about Mom disappearing and everything."
"Emily and I will track down Lucas," Anthony said. "We'll keep a safe distance, but hopefully we'll get some good information on him. If we're lucky we might see if Mark and Eric are with him and where they're keeping the hunters."
"Great," Olivia said. "Everyone has their jobs. We can meet back here in two hours to go over one last time how we're gonna strike at Lucas. Everybody better keep their cell phones handy."
Nicole gave me a gentle half hug and squeezed my shoulder before she teleported out. Olivia left without even looking in anyone's direction.
Emily walked toward me. "Evelyn, about what I said, I shouldn't have –"
I held up my hand to stop her. I was hurt by what she'd said about me not caring because I wasn't with Anthony anymore, but I just didn't have it in me to get into it with her at that moment. Especially not as I was about to face Caroline.
"Don't worry about it."
She nodded and backed away from me awkwardly before walking out the door that Anthony was holding open for her. He left the room without even looking at me. That hurt.
When we were alone, Ethan came up to me. "So, are you ready to see my mother?"
"Not even a little," I said.
I grabbed his arm and teleported out.