Author's Note: Yes, I have finally broken down and started a sequel. Be happy! If you haven't read My Blood on Your Lips, Your Money in My Bra, go check it out. Otherwise, this will make absolutely no sense. But to those of you who know what's happening, enjoy the long-awaited sequel!
I found myself gazing at my own reflection in the glass tabletop of Elyria's apartment. It was strange, being able to see it. Elyria had always liked to keep it dark in here, finding the shadows more comforting than the light that humans always preferred to be surrounded by. Kyrianna, on the other hand, felt much safer in the light. She'd faced too many traumatic events in the dark - the slaughter of her family, an attack by a group of werewolves a couple of weeks ago, a run-in with a vampire when she was a child - and couldn't take it much anymore.
"It's been a month," the necromancer remarked, her voice so soft that she seemed to merely crack the silence instead of fully break it. I turned to her with my usual stoic expression in place, hiding the thoughts that were constantly running through my head, the plans and the pessimism and the feelings. I found her gazing at me with her sad eyes, casting a faint pink light wherever she looked.
We sat at opposite ends of the couch, though that was much closer than we would have been sitting a month ago. Elyria would've been sitting between us, and we would have hated the fact that we weren't alone with her as we'd so often wished we'd been. The competition we'd felt, the hostility between us, had faded after her passing, growing weaker and weaker until we were more friends than enemies.
"I know," I replied at length, my voice holding about as much emotion as the mask of pale flesh that I wore. I turned to the black screen of the TV, vaguely wondering why we didn't have it on to create some sort of white noise, no matter how quiet or irritating. We could've left it on MTV and neither of us would've cared.
"We should do something." She looked down, watching her fingers as they fidgeted on her lap. "We can't just leave her there..."
I couldn't count the number of times we'd had this conversation. Leaving her with James, letting him use her as a tool of the vampires against the werewolves, was painful to both of us, but there was nothing to be done. I couldn't take on a vampire army by myself, and she lacked the experience and the skill that would be required to help me. Sure, she could knock a few of them off, create a bit of a distraction, but ultimately, even that wouldn't do much good. Hale, their werewolf ally, also offered little assistance. While he'd promised Elyria that he would watch over Kyrianna, getting Elyria back from James didn't seem to be the best idea to him. She would have been a great addition to their forces, but the trouble they would have to go through...It just wasn't worth it.
"Would you like to die now or later?" I asked sarcastically, blatantly mocking her helplessness as I always did. It was mean, I knew, but how else could I react to that? There weren't many kind responses available.
She shot me a glare, but it was tinged with too much hurt to be intimidating. Hell, it wasn't even angry. "You're such a dick." She rarely swore, and the vulgar word made it clear just how badly I'd hurt her...as it always did. We'd repeated this cycle just one too many times...
She stood and stalked out of the room as if she were angry, though I could hear her beginning to cry to herself. Elyria's bedroom door slammed shut behind her, leaving me alone in the living room with the cracked silence fully restored.
My eyes rested on the tabletop once more, remembering all the times I'd seen it broken and replaced. I could still hear the sound of her phone when it vibrated against the glass, still see the amethyst glow of her eyes when she leaned over it...
How had I fallen in love with her?
The thought was a sudden one, but not uncommon. I often mulled it over in my overburdened mind, a mind filled with conflicting urges and emotions. I'd come up with only vague answers, though. She'd been a strong woman, stubborn, caring and compassionate in her own distant way. She'd managed to survive more during her childhood and teenage years than anyone else could have. Always, in the end, I decided that this was just how love worked. You didn't need a reason to love someone. You just had to like them more than you hated them.
I stood and ghosted toward the hallway on a vampire's eerily silent feet. I stopped at the end, however, listening to Kyrianna's light, choked sobs and hoping she didn't know that I knew what she was doing. My mind wandered again, beginning to consider her feelings for Elyria. My head tilted to the right the slightest bit, sending a set of copper-colored bangs into my pale green eyes.
She hadn't loved Elyria. She couldn't have. She'd only known the girl for a few weeks, if that. I'd known her for years. But still, it was obvious that there was something there. Probably just a teenaged lesbian's crush. Or maybe she was bisexual...Either way, it was probably just a crush, the same as a girl would feel toward any boy they found attractive. But, then, what did she find attractive about Elyria? Did she find her strong, too? Or was it her physical characteristics that had caught her eye?
"Both," I muttered to myself after a few seconds of thought. The physical had drawn her, but the strength and determination had kept her. This was just a guess, of course, but it was enough to put my thoughts to rest. Now, I was able to focus on what to do next. Did I comfort her? Did I leave her be? Did I push her harder with more mean words, just to make her get over herself?
I chose none of those options. Instead, against my better judgment, I left the end of the hallway, and soon, the apartment altogether. She was right, after all. Something had to be done for Elyria. It had been a month.
Hale's mansion towered over me as I approached it, hands tucked away in the pockets of my coat and head bowed. It had seen some battle, this house. A scar ran the length of the wall to the left side of the door, probably from a large vehicle, as the lawn near it also showed signs of dishevel. I hadn't been here for a while, so I wasn't aware of the details. If it were up to Hale, though, I would likely know soon enough.
I removed my hand from my pocket for just long enough to knock on the door. It opened before I'd even had the chance to fully replace my hand, and I found a tall woman standing before me. She was unfamiliar to me, black-haired and toned as she was, but it seemed that she recognized me.
"Eli, right?" she asked in a voice higher pitched than I'd expected. At my nod, she smiled, the expression even reaching her green-brown eyes. "I've heard a lot about you. Are you here for Hale?"
I nodded again. "Yes. Is he here?" I'd come prepared to leave without even getting to see the man, considering he had a war and an entire pack to deal with. My problems really had nothing to do with him, and I'd accepted that fact.
"You came just in time. He returned from a pack-related matter only a few minutes ago." The woman stepped aside, gesturing for me to enter. I did so with a nod of thanks, and she gestured to the stairs. "He's upstairs, in his study. Do you know where that is?"
"Yes. I think I may have had a part in trashing it a few weeks ago. Thank you." She laughed, then closed the door and went on her way, leaving me alone in the foyer. I headed toward the stairs.
It didn't take long to reach Hale's study, as it wasn't far from the top landing of the stairs. The door was even conveniently open, but I decided to politely knock on it, anyway. Being rude wasn't going to help with my mission here.
"Eli?" the man said questioningly, turning his blue-eyed gaze from a blank page atop his desk to gaze at me between brown bangs streaked with blue. He looked surprised to see me. "What do you need?"
"I'd like to talk about…it again, sir," I said, doing my best to keep my hesitance hidden. Just asking to discuss this was a major request. Actually asking that it be done…well, that was an even bigger one. I couldn't help getting nervous about the topic, but I knew I could at least help how much my nervousness showed.
A frown immediately came over Hale's face. He let the pen fall from his hand, resting his elbows upon his desk and creating a steeple with his fingers. "You have something else in mind? I still have to refuse your previous plans. They're much too risky for such an unsure prize."
"I know," I told him, sighing. And again, "I know." I closed the door and carefully lowered myself into one of the two cushy armchairs before his desk.
"Well, then, what do you have for me this time?" He looked curious, and for that, I was glad. He tended to look displeased more often than intrigued. This would likely make things easier.
"Nothing specific, actually," I admitted. "I was thinking that we could try to come up with something together. You're more experienced with this sort of thing than I am."
He laughed lightly, leaning back in his chair with a soft creak. "All right. We can try to come up with something."
"Where would you start with something like this?" I asked, watching as he crossed his arms over his chest. All of my beginnings had failed before, so why not let the pro handle it?
"Well, first off, what kind of attack are we planning this time?" Hale asked, his expression already becoming thoughtful. "Are we using your usual hack-and-slash, or should we try something a bit subtler?"
If I were the blushing type, I probably would have blushed at that. Hack-and-slash was all I knew, and it never seemed to work, even in theory. "Subtlety might be the best approach this time around."
He chuckled. "I agree. James has too many vampires on his side. It would be foolish to send all of my forces in just to see what would happen. We're in the middle of a war, and that's the one thing we still haven't done." I nodded, but said nothing. He eventually continued. "Well, if we had just one person sneak in, who would we send? You? Kyrianna? Perhaps one of mine?"
"Me," I answered almost instantly. He cocked an eyebrow, and I shrugged. "Kyrianna would be least likely to get caught, but there's no way that she could do what needed to be done to Elyria once she got inside. And a werewolf would likely be a more skillful and experienced choice, but I wouldn't want to risk any of your people for such a selfish mission."
"Selfish?" Hale asked, his eyebrow climbing higher up his forehead. "You believe this mission to be selfish?"
"Somewhat," I answered with a few short, slow nods. "While she would surely be a good addition to the werewolf forces if we could get her back to normal, the only reason I would be attempting this mission is to get her back to me, for myself."
He smiled. "You may be doing it for yourself, but many people would benefit from it. It's not selfish at all." I nodded, but once again, I didn't speak. I waited until he went on with his plan. "Well, then, if we sent you in, how do you think you would go about getting to and obtaining Elyria?"
"I would enter through a window," I told him. "It's obvious and overused, but vampires rarely notice the obvious. Then, I would make my way down to the basement…somehow. I'll just kill whoever gets in my way and try to do so quietly."
"What if she's no longer in the basement?" Hale asked, all seriousness now. "Would you pull out or continue to search the house?"
"I highly doubt they would move her from the basement," I said, glancing down at my hands as I thought it over. "But if they did, she would likely be chained up in James' room, an ode to his sick, twisted mind." I looked back up at Hale. "I would continue the search."
He nodded slowly, thinking my words over himself. "I don't doubt that you're right. Unless they have her somewhere outside of the house, fighting against me or wreaking havoc, she would be in one of those two rooms. James wouldn't have it any other way." He thought for a moment longer, considering other angles. "Now," he began, "once you find her, how will you get her out of her cage or her chains with minimal noise and problems?"
"I would need a key," I answered, already irritated by the thought, "or I would have to break something, which would likely draw too much unnecessary attention. And if I managed to free her, I would still have to knock her unconscious and carry her out without giving her time to try to eat me first."
Once again, Hale nodded. "The hardest part will likely be finding the key or trying to quietly break her free. Unless you have a major problem with hitting her, anyway. Then, the problem's going to be knocking her out in order to carry her to safety."
"I think I can handle that part," I admitted, a hint of a wry smile slipping through.
Hale laughed lightly, leaning forward in his chair to put his elbows upon the desk once more. "Well, then, I think we have a pretty solid plan. The only problem is going to be breaking her free, which I think I can help with."
"How?" I asked, cocking my head slightly to one side.
"Distraction, my vampire friend," Hale answered with a wry smile of his own. "I can send just enough of my men with you to create a diversion at the front of the house. With landmines for added devastation."
"Would you like to add a maniacal laugh to the end of that, Hale?" I asked, smiling fully now.
"Nah. I'm pretty sure the smile was maniacal enough." He stood from his chair, and I did the same. "Shall we go?"
"Right now?" I asked, surprised. Hale was the careful-planning type. It wasn't like him to be ready to attack a vampire's mansion after creating only a rough draft of a plan.
"Why not? It's not like there's ever going to be a better time." He made his way around the desk and brushed past me, starting down the hallway. I followed quickly. "Four werewolves will be enough, I think," he told me thoughtfully. "Any more would be too obvious, any less would be too few in case of emergency. Bethany!" he shouted, and the woman who had answered the door appeared before him at the bottom of the stairs.
"Yes, Hale?" she asked, totally serious now that she was talking to the boss and not alone with me.
"Gather three others, preferably men, and meet me in my study. Eli's going to need some help tonight." The girl nodded and headed down a side hallway, leaving Hale to turn to me. "Head into James' mansion in half an hour. We'll be ready out front."