Blood Moon 007: The Veil (Original Draft)

Blood Moon 007: The Veil (Original Draft)

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Julian sucked in a sudden deep breath and… nothing. Nothing was happening.

Weird. Weird but nice. The shadows were hanging out as always, curiously spying instead of looming in and being obnoxious, and she had the same kind of dreams she always did. The normal sort of nonsense everyone had, mixed in with stuff she knew was definitely not. But even when she didn’t have those heart pounding DEATH dreams or had shadows sitting on her, there was still always something that’d have her jumping up in the middle of the night.

Well, except when she was exhausted and too damn tired to wake. Julian supposed this might count as one of those nights. She remembered arguing with Leo about her preference of cereal as dinner food because it was fast and easy (which spun off in to other fast and easy quips by Leo she didn’t want to admit laughing at) but was inevitably futile as vampires didn’t need to keep milk in the fridge. After that was pretty much a sleepy haze. Julian had a vague recollection of heading back upstairs, but she was pretty sure she was too tired to care about where they ended up and probably passed out the second she landed on a bed.

That’d explain why she still had her dumb clothes on. Jeans were the absolute worst to sleep in.

Julian shifted just slightly under the weight of Leo’s arm to turn and take a peek. She wasn’t sure if he’d still be there when she woke up. The instant she saw him she grinned, and immediately tried to wipe the dumb look off her face and kill all her goofy, silly, dumb girl impulses. The ones involving kissing and snuggles and ridiculous things because she had a weakness for reading cheesy romance novels.

Okay, she couldn’t stomp out every urge. For as long as she was allowed to touch, she was going to touch. The world at large (or in this case, Leo) would have to deal with it. Julian rolled, curling her arm up around him and resting her head on his shoulder.

Now that she had a slightly better position, she gave a curious glance around the room. This was probably his. Julian wondered if he really did keep a diary and where an asshole vampire might hide it.

It had to have been light outside, Julian could be sure, but if it hadn’t been for a lamp on the bedside table, the room would have been dark as the dead of night thanks to the blackout curtains on the windows. That was probably a safety precaution rather than a stylistic choice, because while Leo’s room was a stark contrast to Michael’s- which probably wouldn’t surprise anyone who’d ever talked to them for five minutes- it wasn’t the angsty rocker kid lair that most people would likely have anticipated.

Whereas Michael’s room was all neutral tones and light metallic touches, all shiny and polished like something out of a magazine, Leo’s room was crowded and full of color. The walls were a deep, rich blue that contrasted nicely with the dark cherry stain of the hardwood floor. The bed had a canopy, with several overlapping layers of ghostly-pale sheer drapes lazily drawn halfway around and obscuring part of the room. What Julian could see outside of the hideaway were piles and piles of boxes. Some cardboard packing boxes, some wooden trunks or suitcases or metal lockboxes. Many of them were open with the contents partially spilling out. It looked a lot like someone had moved into a new house and hadn’t had the chance to unpack. There was an old vinyl record player sitting on top of a stack of books. If Julian wasn’t mistaken, there was also a jukebox crammed into the corner under Leo’s jacket.

A poster was tacked up on the wall, but two of the corners had come loose and curled so badly that Julian couldn’t even see what was on it.

Even if there was a diary somewhere in here, finding it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

There were so many things scattered around. Of course her first desire was to get her hands on all of it. Even without the whole psychic vibe stuff, you could learn a lot about someone by what they owned. Just at a glance, she was kind of amused at how similar it felt to Angela’s organized chaos. No wonder it was so easy for them to bounce things back and forth. They lived on the same wavelength.

Apparently she wasn’t the only one wanting to snoop.

Julian sat up as quickly as she could without jostling Leo, which turned out to be pretty difficult when limbs were tangled everywhere. She shot Francis a scathing glare and pointed at the first shadow she spotted. The one trying to squeeze it’s way in to one of the trunks.

Stop it! she mouthed, not daring to even whisper.

They didn’t want to listen though. She was curious, now they were curious. Diving in to boxes, rolling in to dressers. The record player turned when one decided to explore it, and thank goodness there wasn’t already a record on it. Julian didn’t want to shout at them and wake Leo, which left her making very silly gestures and threatening faces.

So much for her waking up normally.

Nonono.” she hissed softly when her favorite Francis (or least favorite Francis, considering) tried to shove a book off a shelf. It reached almost to the edge when something else fell on the other side of the room. Julian and every single shadow froze. The sound was soft and barely noticeable, so whatever it was it couldn’t have been very large.

Julian sighed rubbing her hands against her cheeks as she gave the ceiling a frustrated glare. She really needed to get this shadow mess under control.

The moment she looked up, it became obvious that one attempt at decorating the room had been made after all.

The soft blueish glow was very dim in the light of the lamp, but she could still see the field of glow-in-the-dark dots in various shapes and sizes that had been pressed all across the ceiling. It almost looked like a real night sky. Some of the shapes and groupings of dots seemed familiar, like she’d seen them somewhere before in a book. In fact the more she looked at it, the more it became obvious that the scene had been meticulously planned. It seemed to end just past where you’d be able to see if you were lying on your back and looking up from the bed, but that still meant it stretched fairly far across the room.

It had to have taken hours.

She could see his soul reflected in the stars. …and here it was again. Although, in a different sort of way. Julian used to have something like this. Little green plastic glowing star shapes and glittery butterflies just haphazardly stuck all over the place. But that was so long ago that they’d long since fallen down. It sure as hell didn’t look like this. This was incredible. She may as well have been looking at the actual sky.

“What do you see?”

“The universe.”

“Okay, smartass. I’m talking about the constellations.”

Julian huffed, turned her head to give him a serious-faced scowl. They were laying down out in the backyard, her science book spread open beside her, while a rumpled looking star map laid pinned by a rock next to her dad.

“They’re hard to see. All the other stuff is in the way.”

“Yeah? What kind of stuff?”

“I don’t know, it’s like… just stuff.” she paused to lift her hand and point a finger towards a cluster of stars. “That’s a big life altering change. And that one over there is wolves fighting over a girl.”

“You’re going to fail this test, you know.”


Julian blinked once the pale blue dots came in to focus. Curiously she stole another glance at Leo. Did he know he mapped his life all over his ceiling? Probably not. Like always she tended to see stuff that wasn’t actually there.

Overhead, the sky was a black sea of shining stars with the full, white moon looming large in the foreground. It was so bright it almost hurt his eyes. He touched a hand to his face, dabbing with his thumb and pulling it away only to blink at the smear of thick, tacky blood on his fingers.

“Fuck,” he gasped. “What the fuck have I done?

The world was teetering and spinning on its axis, the pavement under his feet tossing like the tide. Leo barely had time to get his bearings before he felt bile rise in the back of his throat. The next thing he knew he was emptying his guts at the side of the road, doubled-over and clutching his stomach.


He didn’t want to look up. He knew what he’d see, and that wasn’t something he wanted etched into his memory. He couldn’t keep bearing witness to shit like this.

There were only so many times your heart could break.

“This is who you are. Don’t you see that? This was always your fate. Written in the stars.”

“Fuck you,” he coughed.

“Oh, Leo. It’s alright. You’re only just beginning to learn who you are. What you are.”

A sick, wet noise left Leo shuddering as his stomach roiled.

“It’s time for you to see.”

Leo’s eyes snapped open as he let out a soft hiss from between his clenched teeth. The dark street and moonlit sky were gone. He was lying in bed in “his room” for the first time in over a month, and Julian was still halfway trapped underneath him. She was awake, peering at him with those big hazel doe eyes of hers.

It took him a minute to realize he had her slim wrist in a death grip. He dropped it like she’d burned him, running his tongue over the back of his teeth to try and curb some of the taste of blood.

Julian had never been on the outside looking in before. She wasn’t sure when he started dreaming, or if he had been the whole time. But she knew when it hit that point. The scary one where your heart started beating and everything was eerie. Before she could reach out a hand to brush through his hair, his arm went tense around her and he woke himself up.

“I didn’t do that, did I?” she asked, just barely above a whisper. It was a fair question. For all she knew, she was giving him nightmares now, just because he spent too much time around her. She shot a quick glance around the room, to see what her shadows were up to. Or more likely to see if they responded to Leo the way they did to her. A few clustered nearby just out of curiosity, but they weren’t looming or freaking out. That really could have meant anything, though.

Her mouth twist to the side as she looked back at Leo. It took all of three seconds to slide her arms back around him and nuzzle against his cheek. Maybe she couldn’t solve Michael’s stupid problems with hugs, but this was definitely an applicable moment. The best part about sharing a bed with someone was post-nightmare cuddles. If Leo didn’t like it, he shouldn’t have set the precedence by carrying her over his shoulder all over her damn house.

He didn’t know the answer to her question. So far, all of his little flashes and dreams had been tied to Julian… to the point where he was starting to have trouble telling what was just a normal nightmare or intuition and what was something more, if he were honest. He shook his head slowly as he backtracked through the most obvious ones in his head.

“I don’t think so,” he answered, though there was just a little room for doubt. “Not everything’s about you, Jules, come on. I didn’t see you.”

Though so far, everything had been. And Leo hadn’t looked.

When she cuddled up with her face pressed to his, Leo had to bite down on the inside of his cheek to keep himself from pulling away; that wasn’t the signal he wanted to be sending right now. For a minute his still-fuzzy-from-sleep brain thought maybe he’d bitten too hard, because it was dawning on him that the metallic aftertaste in his mouth was real; then he realized he had a wound on the tip of his tongue that had yet to finish closing up. He must have bitten it in his sleep.

“Might’ve just been a weird dream,” he told her. It was bullshit, but he said it anyway, because it wasn’t going to help anything to dwell too long on the fact it lined up a little too neatly with Julian’s newest death vision.

“Is this the part where I’m supposed to believe it’s just a weird dream?” she asked, almost sounding kind of amused. “Caaaause, I’m pretty sure we have a long running track record of things never being that simple.”

This was definitely strange, being on the opposite side. He wasn’t trying to run, or bolt, or push her away. He wasn’t even all tensed up and ready to spring in to god-knew-what sort of action. But there was still that impression. The eerie feeling she knew all too well. Of being unsettled and off-kilter. Julian hated it. Didn’t he have enough bullshit going on without having to add feeling crazy on top of it?

She shifted just enough so she could look at him, twisting up her mouth in various thoughtful positions. They really were going to make her Fix-It plans as challenging as possible, weren’t they. Julian finally just sighed, taking the opportunity to run her fingers softly through his hair and just kiss him. A soft and simple lingering kiss.

“You could tell me.” she offered first with a breath. “Or you can just sit here with me for an hour or two and look at pretty stars and stupid shadows, then have a blue-eyed genius meeting with Angela who – oh holy crap we didn’t go to school.” Julian dropped her head to his shoulder with a soft groan. “She’s going to kill us both.”

“She’ll get over you playing hooky. Just text her or something, because I’m pretty positive Michael didn’t go either and she might think we’re all dead.” Leo slipped free of her hold and rolled onto his back, staring up at the dots on his ceiling. Judging by Julian’s comment about stars, she’d seen them already. He was pretty sure this was the first time anyone had seen them, since he and Michael had long since come to an agreement about invading Leo’s private space… and anyhow, Leo wasn’t even ever here anymore. It felt sort of fucking weird, to be honest. She was probably using her silly teenage psychic brain to whisk together some kind of ridiculous conclusions about what the cheapass glow-in-the-dark wall stickers said about him.

“Stars,” he muttered, folding his hands behind his head. “Night. Full moon. Next full moon is the first weekend in December, so that gives us a time frame I guess.”

“It’s exactly what she thinks. And I’m surprised she hasn’t tracked us down and come kicking in doors looking for us. Or sending Caleb to do it.” Julian sat up quickly, pawing at her pockets for her phone, then trying to remember where she left her jacket. She was pretty sure she yanked it off as soon as they got in the house, so she probably left it tossed somewhere in the downstairs hall. She was going to have to-


Okay, that wasn’t downstairs.

Furrowing her brows, she climbed over Leo to escape the bed. (It was completely unnecessary, but at least fun for her.) Julian crossed the room on the tail end of a leading shadow until it squeezed itself under the door. On swinging it open, there was her phone just lying there on the floor and buzzing again with another sent message.

They were getting good at this stuff. Scary, kind of freaking her out a little, GOOD at it. Helpful or not.

Julian bent over to pick up the phone and her pendant swung in to view. She caught it in her palm, straightening slowly. When she eased back in to the room and shut the door softly, she leaned against it, now glancing wide-eyed and baffled at shadows around the room.

Did it HELP with these or was it making it worse? That was crazy.

“Um,” Julian shook her head as she tried to get back to the current conversation. With one hand she thumbed through the one hundred and six messages from Angela. In the other she curled and uncurled her fingers around the pendant. “My dreams have been more sunshiney, but I guess if we’re having to worry about vampires and witchy things, a full moon makes a lot more sense.”

Angela was apparently at her house already pitching a goddamned fit. Julian sent out a reply as quickly as she could type it out. By the time she made it back to the bed, she pulled off the necklace and then let the pendant drop to dangle over Leo’s face.

“And I forgot to tell you about this yesterday. …and kind of the day before. In my defense, you are distracting in every possible way an asshole can be distracting.” she defended, before plopping down on the mattress beside him. “I found it in my mailbox.”

“Of course you did,” said Leo. His fingers closed around the pendant so tightly that the ridges dug into his skin. “Because this is fucking Silent Pines, where shit is too weird even for weirdos to deal with.”

He rocked upward into a sitting position, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and turning his back to her. He gave the room a quick glance, but… nothing. If Julian’s little buddies were around, he couldn’t tell.

“At least I’m not seeing shadows yet,” he continued. “Just having dreams and feeling like my leash is being yanked on now and then. Not like that’s new. Too bad, maybe they could find my shoes and keys like they found your phone.”

Julian knew this feeling too. She was pretty much right there last night when she practically went all Carrie in the hallway. And there was no way she could say well, it can’t get any worse, because she knew that wasn’t true. Things were going to get worse. They would get A LOT worse. It was waiting out there on the edges of the dark, hidden by stupid buried memories she hadn’t yet uncovered.

But. BUT. Julian knew it would get better too. She didn’t go through all of the bullshit of spitting in the face of a pissed ancestor and wrenching symbolic sunshine out of who-the-fuck-knew-what’s creepy black tendrils for nothing. And if Leo was having these freaky dreams too, that pretty much cinched it.

They just needed to live long enough to succeed and not go nuts in the process. Leo wouldn’t let HER meltdown, she wasn’t going to let him either.

Julian rest her chin in the palm of her hand and cast his back a thoughtful look. He couldn’t think like this. After a moment of silence, she lift her arm up to point at the ceiling, despite the fact his back was still turned to her.

“I like those. I’d say something all psychicy and profound, but I kinda just want to ask you if we can put them on the ceiling in every room of my house. Then if you DO start seeing shadows, at least we’ll have stars too.”

Leo laughed, pressing a hand over his eyes. He dropped Julian’s necklace onto the bedside table.

“Yeah, okay,” he said. “We can start with your room. Maybe then you’ll actually sleep in it.”

He glanced at her over his shoulder, his fingers falling loosely next to him on the bedspread, and looked at her. Just… looked at her, lying there on his bed being all stupidly beautiful, and it pissed him off that she could be so beautiful and calm right now. Which just pissed him off more, because really, what kind of fuckhead thought like that.

What kind of fuckhead had dreams about killing the girl he loved?

“This is bullshit,” he told her. “I’m not going to just sit around and wait for whatever is coming to fall in my lap.”

Leo earned the widest grin she could muster. The look would’ve just seemed like pure innocent mischief, the kind some kid would be giving their co-conspirators in a super secret club house, if it weren’t for the fact she sat up quickly and scooted closer to sling one leg over his lap and then the other behind his back. That left her resting her chin on his shoulder and pretty much mumbling her plots in to his ear.

“Exactly. We have a deadline, after all.” Without moving her chin, she tugged gently at the bottom hem of his shirt with one hand, then gestured with her thumb at the table. “I’ll worry about that thing. I can hunt down Walter later and annoy him in to talking to me. And since I’m already here, I might as well work on David to see if I can at least get an idea about the Michael drama.”

“Meeeaaanwhiiiile,” she glanced up at the stars again. “If you’re gonna be all psychic too, maybe you and Angela should go snooping about psychic stuff or former witches turned vampire stuff. Or family history would be even better. If everyone keeps talking about the SIx and all their witchy, powerful glory, maybe it’s time we dug up those old family secrets and see who they actually were.”

“…I think Michael knows more than he’s telling about that,” he replied. It was stupid that it felt weird to share Michael’s secrets. Just because he hadn’t been able to for years didn’t mean that he shouldn’t. He sure as hell didn’t owe Michael any loyalty. “I’m pretty sure David wasn’t wrong when he told you that Michael wanted to be a vampire in the first place. I don’t know how the fuck David knows that. I’ve only had my own theories about what happened on his birthday; he’s never told me the truth.”

He turned his face towards hers, shifting his hand to drag it up and over her leg.

“I don’t know if I want to talk to Angela about my psychic stuff,” he told her, grimacing. “She’s way worse than you are.”

His thumb brushed along the inside of her thigh.

“We could just not ever leave the house again, you know. I can think of some ways to keep us busy.” He wasn’t even really in the mood, but the idea of distraction was tempting.

Julian’s goofy grinning melted in to a warm smile, and her expression melted along with it. Right down to the fluttering of eyelashes when she tilted close enough to brush her nose against his. She wondered if he knew he was the only reason she knew she could get through all this. He had been since the beginning, with his stupid snark and the way he slowed the world down so she could actually breathe.

This touching, though, just made it all the better. Like there was something special to look forward to when she made it through a day.

“Angela is the third smartest person I know. She’ll annoy you, but you bounce stuff off each other really well right? As for David and Michael, we’ll get them worn down bit by bit. No one can lie to me forever.” she said first wiggling her fingers at her head, while her other hand ended it’s fussing with his shirt in favor of sneaking underneath the fabric and grazing her fingers against warm skin.

“Or we could never leave this house.” Julian leaned even closer so when she spoke her mouth brushed softly over his lips. “But you said you’d give me stars. I’m going to hold you to that.”

Angela Mercy was officially the most pissed off person on the planet.

Like seriously, this stupid girl goes out with her psycho vampire ex on an ADVENTURE, totally fails to let her bestie know she got home alive, doesn’t show up for school along with said ex AND her current boo, and then like the biggest asshole on the planet FINALLY sends a text with vague bullshit that didn’t explain anything.

Angela had to wait an HOUR before Julian actually explained the rest and gave her the heads up that Leo was heading home. That’s why when Leo stepped through the Hollinger House door a couch pillow came flying at him, like she was some sort of deranged angry housewife.

“You ASSMONKEY! I get that SHE doesn’t text, because the little dumbass just SPACES OUT like a goddamn pageant queen in a shop full of diamond tiaras, but your STUPID FACE could have at least told me she was still alive! What the fuck am I supposed to think when NONE of your asses show up for school without so much as a Sorry babe, we’re having another thank-god-you’re-still-alive fuckathon, no school today message on my fucking voice mail.”

She cast him a scathing look. “Which by the way, you so owe me details. UGH! INCONSIDERATE! You’re so grounded!”

“Don’t want your crap right now, Mercy,” he snapped back, scowling as he caught the pillow an inch from his face. “If I’d actually gotten laid, maybe I’d let you get away with that. Though you probably shouldn’t touch those couch cushions.”

He slammed the door behind him and dropped the pillow on the floor, stepping on it as he walked inside. He was being shitty, but Leo’s capacity for being nice was being stretched to its limits lately. Since when did his life revolve around babysitting all these people anyway? Wasn’t he supposed to be a fucking vampire?

He shut his eyes and took a deep breath, running a hand over his face.

“Look,” he said. “I didn’t think about it. Michael was puking up blood and assaulting his car, Julian nearly summoned the gate to hell or something in Michael’s house, and everyone was tired as fuck. And I didn’t exactly get a good night’s sleep, okay? School was the last thing on my mind.”

“Ew, what?” Angela leapt off the couch like it burned her and then she had to try and play it off like she’d done it for totally different reasons. She tugged her silvery sequined top over her hips to straighten out the fabric as she circled around the couch. (It was actually one of Julian’s shirts, it was now property of Angel Mercy as collateral damages.)

“FINE, I get it. Shitty night. But can you guys at least TRY not to forget about me? This crap is a team effort. Not Leo versus the World, Julian versus the Shadow Realm, or Michael versus Fashion. We’re team… Psychic-Vampire apparently.”

Angela stopped to lean against the stair banisters, crossing her arms and gesturing at him with her chin in the same moment. “You didn’t say anything about psychic powers in vampires, so what the hell is up with that? You know you’re gonna have to give me the full vision rundown.”

“Wait. Summoning a hell gate was a joke, right?”

“I have no idea,” he said flatly. “In either case. I’m not supposed to be psychic, Angela. I wasn’t even psychic before I was a vampire. None of this shit happened until I came back here. Sometimes vampires get powers when they’re older, but that’s all special effects crap. I’ve never heard of anything like this.”

He leaned back against the wall, staring up at the ceiling and trying to wrap his brain around it. No matter how many times he tried, he couldn’t come up with any answers that he liked.

“I don’t know what she was doing,” admitted Leo, “But she took five minutes trying to stop all the ‘Francises’ from doing something bad when she found out about Michael.”

He didn’t know how much Angela had been filled in about that. Leo eyed her warily.

“…Stairs aren’t safe either,” he added.

“Ugh, okay. Psychic 101 has got to be our big project, then. If Julian isn’t the run of the mill psychic diva, we need to know why and what else we can expect. Because if she fucking Silent Hills our asses I am so done with all of you.”

She cast a dull look to the side at the banister and the stairs. “With you getting vibes too the second you hit town, this psychic crap is a thing. Julian is like, the obvious cause, but there’s an equal chance David set some crazy witch shit up long before you guys got here.”

That’s when she realized what he meant by the stairs not being ‘safe’ too. Angela’s mouth dropped wide open and she looked a cross between horrified and intrigued.

“Okay, screw this supernatural shit for a second, WHAT THE HELL. Did you guys actually literally fuck your away across the house? Is there anywhere ELSE I need to scour with a sponge?” she scoffed and subtly eased her way off the banister.

“…but seriously, what WAS that like? All she’s told me was STICKY. And that’s pretty much the most unimpressive description EVER.”

“Sticky,” repeated Leo, his mouth pressing into a tight line while he tried to decide if he was going to laugh.

“…Kind of,” he said, and now he was definitely sort of grinning. “First we tried a little bit of everything in Caleb’s guest bedroom. But later when we were back here we hit the couch, then worked our way upstairs. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want you knowing any more than that if she didn’t tell you herself.”

The grin didn’t last long, though, when he went back to dwelling on his newfound “powers”. There were a couple of other ideas that had occurred to him, too.

“It could be because of my family,” he said, “unlikely as it is given the century gap without so much as a flash. That was Julian’s guess, that it’s a bloodline thing. I’m not sure. It could also be something to do with me being here, or the stars aligning just right, or who the hell knows whatever else of a million other arbitrary because-Silent-Pines things. What we know about the Big Six is that they were into some kind of witchy cult stuff. Michael’s family in particular makes a lot more sense now that I know that, really.”

Leo was just as useless as Julian. Clearly she was going to have to weasel this out of one or both of them while they were piss-faced drunk. Angela filed that plan away for later to focus on more pressing things.

“Bloodlines, stars aligning, AND being here. That’s what makes the most sense. It’s the first time in what, butt-fuck forever that someone from all six families is in town, right? I mean, there’s probably been other moments in time that you guys have visited the old family home, so why not then? David was working on that shit for YEARS to set it up. It had to be now.”

Angela wrinkled up her nose and jerked her head in the direction of the hall. She pushed away from the banister to lead the way, where she stopped next to a table and dug around in to a bowl of potpourri. “Hell, it might not be all six families that matter, which kinda narrows it down. Walter did say it was just the three. Hightowers, Laniers, and Whelans. Jack shit has happened to the Polks and Berkshires that we know of. But then we DO have Julian whose Mom and Dad are gone, and she’s been the center piece of crazy witch-shit related visions not just from her own kooky head, but for YOU too.”

Once she retrieved the key she was looking for, she shoved it in to the lock of the nearest door. Angela pushed in to the room with a flourish, gesturing at the den like she was a retail model.

“Welcome to the Hollinger man cave. I’ve been in here snooping for psychic crap already, but didn’t really find much outside of interesting stuff. Julian’s dad had to be big on the astrology shit, because there’s fucking maps and charts stuffed everywhere. Or maps in general, I don’t know, he’s got three different globes in here.”

She moved straight for the desk and plopped in to the big chair. “There might be some Silent Pines history junk in here somewhere, though. He’s got this whole shelf of books. You might see something I missed. And if THAT doesn’t work, I DO know of this badass secret room at the library that has a TON of crazyass old books in it.”

“I get the feeling something’s missing,” Leo told Angela some time later, tossing the last of the books from the shelf onto the monumental pile he’d accumulated on the floor at his feet. He was sitting on the side of Jeremy Hollinger’s desk, within arm’s reach of the bookcase if he leaned forward. “Everything here is about normal history, genealogy and crap. I think maybe someone took it.”

He pointed to the third shelf, now bare.

“I wasn’t sure until now, but. This one felt loose,” he went on. “Even though the next row was crammed. Like there used to be more books on it at some point.”

“I didn’t take any.” she responded immediately, her voice sounding a bit muffled. The blonde slid out from under the narrow bottom of a display case – or at least tried to. She hissed a curse word under her breath when her hair got caught on a loose nail underneath it. Her feet kicked back and forth as a reflection of irritation as she continued speaking.

“…at least not any that didn’t put back. Julian’s not gonna like the idea of someone sneaking around her house.” There was a relieved sound when she finally got free and she shuffled up to her knees. In her hands was a little plastic baggy of contraband. While Leo gave the room a perusal with fresh eyes and a new perspective, Angela hunted for the sort of hidey-spots you just can’t go snooping around for when there was a risk of getting caught.

She was surprisingly good at finding nooks and crannies. In the time it took Leo go through the entire shelf of books, Angela found a rolled up wad of cash, a wrapped gift that was probably going to be an anniversary present for Mrs. Hollinger, a dusty old stack of 1970s porn, and now somebody’s stash.

“Aside from me getting my hands on shit there IS Julian’s Social Worker. She’s gotta do that whole house inspection stuff once a month or something, and you DID say she was a witch, right?”

Angela opened up the plastic baggy to take a sniff then pulling out a rolled up note. When she couldn’t read the scribbled handwriting, she had to dig in her back pockets to pull out her stupid glasses and slide them on. Her nose wrinkled up and she scoffed.

“This fucking asshole.”

“It’s entirely possible the social worker took them. Here’s hoping, because the other possibility is we have an unknown person with access to Julian’s house. Or… Well. What if her dad took them? We don’t know how long the books have been gone, do we?” Leo’s eyebrows furrowed. He tapped his fingers against the edge of the desk.

He glanced over at her, and then smirked wide.

“Nice glasses,” he told her innocently.

“Don’t EVEN start.” Angela snatched her glasses off and promptly shoved them in her back pocket. A scathing glare was the only other comment she made about it.

“Let’s say he DID take them. I’m pretty sure her dad was definitely one of Silent Pines’ gifted. He wasn’t all mystical lala how Julian gets, though. I thought he was just a genius or some shit because he knew everything we got in to. Julian’s a blabber mouth, but she’s not a tattle tale. Sneaking something past him was like winning the Olympics.”

The little snippet of paper was the perfect example. She passed it to Leo while the plastic baggy got folded up and stuffed in to her bra.

Get out of my office, Bambi. You’ll have more fun in your own attic.
p.s. Don’t roofie my kid without her permission. And backup.

“See? He could have taken stuff out. …But then you have to wonder when, why, and where it went. You’d think he’d want Julian to have the whole psychic user’s manual. But then, he probably didn’t expect to just up and vanish over night either.” Angela glanced around the room, but she didn’t see anything else out that stood out. “We could check the cars. That’s the only thing I HAVEN’T snooped through.”

“I doubt there’s anything there.” He stared at the note for a moment, not really sure what he was looking for. If he was supposed to have psychic powers now, though, you’d think maybe he could do something useful with them, like figure out where the fuck those books had gone to or who took them and why.

Or find out where the fuck Julian’s parents were, for that matter.

He stuffed the note in his pocket and slid down from his perch. He turned in a circle, staring at the room and looking for something, anything that might be useful.

To be honest, Leo felt sort of weird being in this room. Maybe it was just because this was the office of the guy whose daughter he had recently de-virginized. Maybe it was something else. He wasn’t sure.

“…You know,” he said, reaching for something to distract himself from the uncanny vibe, “I’m surprised you haven’t had more to say about Michael. Would’ve thought you’d have a lot to say after learning the reason behind his sparkling personality.”

“Please. Knowing Michael’s had his human feels turned off pretty much explains EVERYTHING about Michael and why he sucks ass.” Angela rolled her eyes, stalking over to the corner where a bunch of photo albums were barely shoved back in the right places. That was clearly Julian’s doing. The blonde snatched up the one nearly falling off the shelf, then flipped through the pages.

“What I’M surprised about is that Julian didn’t seem to notice. He’s been around since September and it took you actually telling her before that clicked in to place. Sure, he’s been that way the whole time so it’s not like she had a frame of reference, but she’s usually way more perceptive than that. Between visions and vibes she should’ve figured it out.”

Peeling back a piece of plastic from one of the pages, she tugged out a photo and handed it over. “Pendant. It’s not in any pictures after that. Neither is SHE for that matter. Dunno who the fuck that is.”

Angela turned another page to keep looking. “…With Michael she’s just… weird. Not like, in love with him weird, because pretty sure that’s been YOU ever since the whole blood moon bullshit, but more… Fuck, I don’t know. They have a thing. I guess maybe in Julianland she sees something that we don’t.”

She hesitated, tapping her fingers at the edges of the album before she finally just grimaced and slammed it shut. “The fucked up part is that I kind of believe her now. He’s a Grade A asshole about everyone and everything and he treats Julian like she’s a piece of jewelry, but then he’s weird about her too, you know?”

“I do know,” Leo admitted, hating to say it aloud. “He’s a bit like that with people. He finds someone he deems special and then he doesn’t let them go no matter what, because they’re his. But it’s weirder than normal with Jules. It’s almost like he gives a shit. Jesus fuck, he basically threatened to hurt her if I didn’t stay away from her when he figured out I wasn’t ‘immune to her charms’, but look how that turned out in the end. He didn’t so much as scratch her when he apparently lost his fucking mind yesterday. He fucked up his car instead.”

He glanced at the photo. The woman looked oddly familiar, but Leo was pretty sure that was just because she looked an awful lot like an older version of Julian. Almost to the point that it was creepy. Leo stuffed it into the same pocket as Jeremy Hollinger’s note.

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s some psychic bullshit. I know part of this whole deal is because he’s off the wagon and it’s making it harder for him to control anything he’s doing right now, and I’m betting mashing down on that button this whole time has resulted in some wear and tear over the years. It’s intended for vampires to use to hunt and feed, not to use 24/7, and most vampires don’t start off with the levels of emotional disturbance Michael has. Maybe that’s all it is, but… he certainly never gave a fuck about my feelings, even when he fucked up with his stupidass diet before.”

Angela went silent for a moment, but she definitely wasn’t still. She didn’t have thinking face, she had thinking body, in that way that she couldn’t think unless she was moving around or getting her hands on something. That was probably why her bedroom was covered in notes.

The photobook got shoved back in to it’s place on the shelf, then she turned to stare around at the room. Angela rubbed her hands together as she voiced her thoughts out loud.

“So… Maybe it IS psychic bullshit going on with Michael. Julian God Tier Psychic bullshit. What if she can crawl under his radar and no one has noticed because he’s such a dickbag? I mean, she legit kinda does that with people anyway. She could be immune to your stupid switch and bypasses the whole thing.”

Angela ran both hands through her hair, getting herself stuck walking circles on a rug. “All of Julian’s visions have been about more than her dying. They’ve been about you guys. Things that happened to you and are going to happen to you. You’re having these Julian related flashes of your own now, that definitely proves that her staying alive matters. For all we know Michael is supposed to be getting psychic vibes too, but he’s too broken.”

She dropped her hands and groaned at the ceiling. “Ugh. That’s one theory though. He could just flat out LIKE her and we’re over complicating shit because everything else is fucking complicated, so why the fuck not.”

“…I don’t know if they’re all related to Jules,” said Leo. “The one I had last night was… I couldn’t really see anybody or tell who was talking to me. I don’t know if she was there.”

He didn’t know which of them he was trying to convince.

“I don’t know if this is because of David, either,” he went on. “I could be wrong, but he seemed as surprised as the rest of us that Jules could do some of her crazy bullshit. I feel like-”

His eyes went back to the bookshelf, lingering on the faint dust marks. He reached out to brush his fingers over the edge.

“Like something’s missing.” He tilted his head. “There’s a key piece of info we don’t have. That’s why none of this makes any goddamn sense. It’s like we’re trying to put together a jigsaw when we don’t know what picture is on it and half of the pieces have been removed. I don’t know what it is, but that’s our problem. And it has something to do with whatever was in those books. Something to do with bloodlines.”

He stooped to grab one book out of the pile on the floor and shoved it into Angela’s hands.

“Here, this was the book that goes back the furthest with Big Six genealogy. Maybe there’s something useful in it. Meanwhile we should pick the rest of these up and head to the library. We might have better luck there.”

Angela had a lot to ask and a lot to say. But her little wheels were working faster than her mouth could catch up. This was why she liked notebooks, sticky notes, dry erase boards, random napkins… anything she could doodle down her thoughts on to so she could sort them out and put them in order.

It was also why on the ride to the library she was uncharacteristically silent. Her bookbag lie on the floorboard between her feet and in her lap was one of her notebooks, where she furiously scribbled things down with a surprising amount of skill considering Leo drove like a maniac. A maniac by Julian’s standards, anyway. Angela would’ve had a ball if weren’t for the fact every time he had to made a sudden stop her stupid glasses would slide down her nose.

“Okay, bloodlines.” she finally announced out loud, just as Leo was pulling in to the library parking lot. “I got our six down and with what we already know. Everybody was witches save for Hollinger psychics, and Whelans had their whole wolf thing going too. We got our three cults for three families, Sun, Moon, and Star. Toss in Michael’s vampire fuckup, your new psychic voodoo, and Julian being god tier psychic. We might as well throw in the Whelan werewolf bullshit, cause I doubt it’s a coincidence that’s going on at the same time as this other crap.”

Angela closed the notebook, tucking it under her arm as she leaned down to drag all her schoolbooks out of her bag. They got tossed in the backseat while her notebook and the Genealogy book were shoved in the bag in their place.

“You’re gonna tell me about every single moment you had a flash, vision, dream or fuck… even just weird vibes or something. Little shit makes a difference. Uh…” she paused after pushing open the passenger door.

“…also I should probably mention I am kind of banned, soooo do I get to see you do some cool vampire shit?” Angela grinned wide with a flash of teeth.

“Jesus. I can’t take you anywhere.” Leo hopped out and rested his hip against the side of the Mustang, smoothing his hand along the hood distractedly. “Alright. Not the first time I’ve had to thrall a librarian. This should be fun.”

Without waiting, he forged ahead, making a beeline for the library doors. He didn’t bother talking to Angela on the way; he’d leave that for once they got settled in and he could go over everything uninterrupted. Besides, he was going to have to comb through the past couple months to give a comprehensive list of every incident. Yep, that was why.

“Hi,” he said brightly when he reached the front desk, propping his elbows and leaning over to invade the work space of the woman seated behind it. He smiled the very same smile he’d used on Julian’s social worker. “I’m here to do some research and my friend needs to come in with me. That’s okay, right?”

The moment she looked up, the pupils of his eyes contracted and then expanded within their field of blue. Thrall, Leo had found over the years, was equal parts charm, willpower, and hypnotism… but eye contact was the most important factor. Having a striking eye color gave him an edge that he was not in the slightest ashamed to abuse.

It wasn’t his fault he was born pretty.

“I promise she’ll behave and we’ll leave everything nice and neat,” he continued, as the librarian’s own eyes went glassy and dim. She dropped her pen; Leo listened to it clatter and roll across the polished floor. “You won’t even know we’re here. We’ll just slip right back to the… Where is it again, Angela?”

Angela with all her sixteen-going-on-seventeen years of maturity had to fight the urge to dance and flip that uppity bitch the finger. Lucky for the older woman, Angela was way more interested in seeing how this whole thralling business happened.

After all, if any more sexy fanged bastards tried to get up in her business and pull the magic-eyes, she really wanted to know what to expect and how to avoid it. Apparently it was super easy to thrall somebody and that was fucking scary. Suddenly, this didn’t seem so amusing anymore.

“Waaaay in the back.” Hoping up on her toes so she could lean over the counter, Angela snapped up a tiny ring of keys. She very quickly led the way through rows of books, past a seating arrangement of comfy chairs and then past even more shelves. Nestled in the back was a short hallway leading to a door marked simply with a FACULTY ONLY sign.

She flipped through the key-ring already knowing exactly which one was needed. Once they were safely squared away inside, she locked the door behind them.

“…so.” she stated before anything else. “How fucked up do you get with rose things? I know hitting the bloodstream is poison and ingesting it is bad news. But what about skin contact? And what if I decided I was going to start wearing a really badass designer rose perfume. How badly would that fuck with the whole day to day hangouts?”

Angela didn’t even bother to be subtle or casual about it. Leo wasn’t dumb.

Leo gave her the look. The I-told-you-so look.

“Skin contact could give me a rash, depending on how much of it got on me. As for perfume, it’d basically make you smell like poison and give me a headache. It’d also fuck with me being able to smell anything else, which could be bad news for you if something worse than me is hanging around.”

He glanced around the “forbidden library”. For something that was built up as such a big secret, it sure didn’t look like much. There were rows upon rows of file cabinets along one wall, and the rest were those clunky metal shelves that had been popular for government buildings in the 80’s and 90’s. A single table sat in the middle of the room, with a pair of uncomfortable-looking folding chairs pulled up to either side.

Leo decided to forego the chairs entirely and hopped up on the table, sitting cross-legged.

“Scared?” he taunted, without a trace of sympathy in his voice. “You should be. It’s about time someone in this whole nonsensical adventure remembered that vampires are monsters.”

“Fuck yeah, I’m scared! I’m basically CANDY surrounded by dozens of people that want to eat me. Luckily I’ve got a good idea on how to use the stuff already thanks to Julian’s weird talent for turning things in to weapons. I guess I’m gonna have to start drinking rose tea or some shit, though. Ugh. I hate tea…” Angela tossed her bag up on to the table next to him. Her mild frustrated was taken out on the zipper as she ripped it open and dug her notebooks back out.

“Even Julian is starting to freak me out a little.” she admitted with a sigh. Then she gave a narrowed eyed glare at Leo. “Don’t tell her that, though. She’s so afraid she’s gonna go that one step too far and scare everyone off. And now that she’s zoning out in to Julianland and apparently commanding shadows like they’re a pack of rabid pit bulls she’s extra worried about it, and fuuuuuck. It IS scary. I don’t want to tell her.”

Angela eyed him, resting one of her hands on her hips, making a little jangle of her bracelets as she did. “Get your ass off that table.”

She lift her other hand to gesture towards the different shelves and cabinets in the room. “They’re not organized well, but there’s kind of a method to the mess. The more local history shit is over there.” she shifted to point at another shelf. “WEIRD shit is off on those, though. Like cool weird shit.”

“You do the searching and start talking about those visions. I’ll be doing my totally awesome Angela magic. So when is like… the very first time you had one of those psychic moments?”

“…I’m not sure. I’ve always had really vivid dreams,” he answered. “They might have been going on for a while. The first one that I’m sure of, I didn’t even realize it was a psychic whatever until they started amping up to eleven.”

He made a face at Angela, but he obliged her request and hopped back down. He went straight for the local history section, as tempting as the weird shit might have been. Maybe another time.

“I was dreaming about her, and she told me I needed to wake up. So I did, and then I caught her crying in her parents’ room.” There were a lot more details in there, but that’d be getting a little too personal on both his and Julian’s account for Leo’s comfort. “There was another time before that I kind of suspect too, on the morning after the blood moon bullshit, but that one might’ve just been my subconscious being shitty. Can’t tell. The other ones get more obvious.”

He explained the way he’d known Julian had been about to fall before she’d collapsed at school, and the dream he’d had by the lake. The way he’d known exactly where to find her on All Saint’s Day when she’d been trapped behind the lockers. A few other times he’d found himself apparently right where Julian needed him to be. It was actually all a little uncanny when he listened to himself rattle it off.

“And then we get to last night, which wasn’t my usual metaphorical fever dream nonsense and felt a whole lot like I was getting a glimpse of something that hasn’t happened yet,” he finished, flatly. “Blood on my face, no idea how I’d gotten where I was, only knew I’d done something bad. And someone was telling me all about how it was fated because that was who I am.”

Leo still thought predestination was bullshit, but… something about dreaming this shit was starting to rattle his preconceptions on that note.

Angela kept her smug smirky-face to herself. If anything proved her theories about their little trio having a connected destiny, this was it. God damn she was amazing. If only she had witchy powers, SHE could be the Overlord of Silent Pines.

…naw. These assholes were giving her nightmares as it was. Angela was pretty content with being Sexy Giles and staying out of the fire.

“The obvious assumption is that you’re the one that’s going to chow down on Jules. It makes sense with the context of her dream too.” She didn’t want it to be true, and she didn’t want to say it, but that was the grim facts. Angela scribbled a few things down on her newest thought bubbles. “Mostly because you don’t think the person talking to you and telling you about your destiny is Julian.”

Angela shuffled through a few pages of her notebook. She didn’t have ALL her notes. After all, the majority were pinned up all over her bedroom walls. Something was nagging at the back of her mind, a little piece she was forgetting. She was missing an important detail. His psychic bullshit followed a similar kind of logic to Julian’s. There were reoccurring elements. Obviously the big one across the whole board was being there for Julian. This latest dream kind of contradicted that, but only on the surface. They already knew that the psychic crap was a little more complicated than what looked obvious.

Her pen bounced between her fingers as she glared down at her notes. What else did he dream about? This unknown person in his dream. Probably Mystery Girl or Crow Silhouette. If it was going to mirror Julian’s it’d be one of those.

Wait. Holy shit. She was missing something.

“All of Julian’s little tidbits about the past have been directly related to YOU. She said sometimes you dream about Sadie. Do you ever see or hear Sadie these visions?”

Leo’s stomach plummeted to the floor.

“Sadie has nothing to do with it,” he answered, grabbing a book off the shelf at random and shaking it open. “She’s dead.”

He scanned the pages on which the book had fallen, skimming over what seemed to be a paragraph on the early history of the Big Six. He turned another page or two, watching for key words, and then sent the rest flipping by with a stroke of his thumb. Nothing popped out at him. Scoffing, he shoved it back into place and grabbed a nearby volume instead.

“Since when does someone being DEAD stop them from doing weird shit in our little supernatural soap opera?”

Okay, seriously, Leo was fantastic at keeping closed off ninety-nine percent of the time. This was not one of those times. Angela spent enough time with the asshole to know this wasn’t the typical Leo brush off. He couldn’t have been more obvious even if he held a sign over his head and sang YOU NAILED IT.

“I’ll take that as a YES.” Sadie. Angela scribbled the name down under Mystery Girl.

“Sadie makes sense.” she muttered, now talking out loud as she placed the potential of it being Sadie related in to context. “Sadie is ancient history, your history. If goes along the same patterns as Julian’s first visions then something about Sadie is what’s going to kick-off Julian doomsday. Kind of like the school and your old house stuff ending up being the final destination. …shit.”

Her brows furrowed as she waggled her pen again. What she knew about Sadie was pretty grim. She ran with her thoughts out loud again.

“Between your drunken confessions about Sadie and Julian’s intel, I already know that shit ended badly. You loved her, turned her, and then it went south. Michael killed her. And I know you’re not stupid and you know you’re eerily close to repeating the scenario here. You LOVE Julian, don’t even try to bullshit me that you don’t.” She rapped her knuckles on the table, staring down at her notes with a scowl.

“Michael doesn’t have the feels, never did, and now he’s off his rocker. He’s threatened you about Julian before, so that’s a good reason to be scared as fuck. But, BUT… he’s not hurting Julian even after the relationship drama. He’s actually gone out of his way NOT to.” That part was throwing her off. Because if this was going to match up with the past, it seemed like the natural progression would be Michael dishing out the cold-hearted fist of justice towards both of them. Angela went with the guess that his vamp-switch being all wacky was making things complicated.

“Then there’s Julian. She might not be an out of control vampire, but she is going all psychic meltdown. Minus a few differences, it’s mirroring the situation. Which means the shit that happened with Sadie is important now. Something about it is one of our missing pieces. If history repeats, Michael would kill Julian. But this last vision of yours is trying to suggest you do. And that’s SO TOTALLY CONTRADICTORY to every thing ELSE you’ve been feeling AND how Michael has been behaving.”

“UGH!” Angela dropped her pen to dig her hands through her hair. Even blabbering it all out hadn’t really help her come to a satisfying answer. “It all makes sense until right there. What the fuck am I not getting. I mean, I guess YOU could get kidnapped by a crazy witch cult and drained until you’re all bloodthirsty and crazy, but who is going to do that twice and how the fuck does that even relate?”

Slowly, Leo turned, shutting the book in his hands with a soft, papery thud.

“…Jules didn’t tell you the whole story, huh?” He stared at her, face impassive. “And of course Michael wouldn’t volunteer to make himself look bad in front of you, since for some reason your opinion seems to especially bother him. Michael didn’t just kill Sadie. He made me help him.

He walked back over to snatch up her notebook and pick her pen up off the floor. With a flourish, he wrote two words in big swooping letters next to the bubble with Michael’s name, then added his own name beside it and scratched out thick lines to link everything together.

He shoved the notebook back under her nose.

Sire Thrall

“See,” he continued, in that voice he used sometimes when he was dripping sweetness but whatever he was saying was always awful, as he bent over to stare Angela in the eyes, “Vampires have to do what their sires tell them, especially newer vampires. That trick you saw me pull on the librarian back there? Mikey can do that to me. And Sadie… I could do that to her. And Michael, in his brilliance, figured out a way to take advantage of the chain of command. But you know, he could have just had me hypnotized if he just wanted to hold her still long enough. Do you know what he did instead?”

He placed the pen on the table next to Angela.

“He gave me just enough control to watch.”

“Ah, honey… that’s messed up.”

Holy shit, how could she miss that detail. She had known, hadn’t she? Julian told her about the sire thralling. Julian knew this was a possibility. Hell, ANGELA knew it could happen, she just didn’t want to believe it. That little detail must’ve gotten lost somewhere in the huge pile of shit Angela was trying to work through.

Which really made this Sadie dream thing a million times worse.

“Jesus Christ.” she breathed out, her hands moving out of her hair to rub her temples. “What a fucking asshole.” He obviously wanted Leo to hurt, to learn a lesson, or whatever. But if she went with Julian’s sparkling rainbows and unicorns way of thinking, that was No-Feels Michael at work, not deep down Real Michael. Angela didn’t know if that made it any better though. It was fucked up.

“Alright. …Let’s assume this is how it’s gonna roll. Michael is going to sire thrall you to hurt Julian. How? When? Why? If I were a jilted douchebag finding out my precious treasure pet just made out with my cousin, I woulda jumped on that shit IMMEDIATELY. He didn’t. He avoided her for awhile, but that’s it. And he still demanded your attention all the time with David too. He must’ve decided it wasn’t worth it.”

Then she grimaced, dropping her hands to the table to tap over her notebook. “You and Julian hooking up though… If that’s what he flipped his shit about last night, and then you had that dream… That’s bad. Especially since we can’t tell if him not hurting her is because he actually cares or if it’s because he just wants YOU to do it for extra sadistic douchebaggery.”

Angela leaned back in her chair, tilting her head back and letting out a slow annoyed sigh. “You’re not going to be able to avoid him. Not if he’s sneaking around chewing on people and being all unpredictable. Julian will try to handle Michael all by herself, and she’s a freaky little badass but she also trusts him too much. And fuck, I’m barely keeping shit together just worrying about Julian walking herself right in to Julesland and an early grave just by ACCIDENT.”

“…How do we keep Michael from thralling YOU to kill Julian but still have you here to make sure no one ELSE does too? This is so fucking stupid.”

He could have told her.

But Leo wanted that secret, the one where he could resist Michael sometimes, to stay between him and Julian. At least for now. Michael didn’t know, and Leo couldn’t be totally sure that Michael wouldn’t use thrall on Angela to check up on him. Who the fuck knew what Michael would do right now. Julian wasn’t immune to thrall entirely, but she at least could resist unless…

“Ah hell, I’m fucking stupid,” he muttered. He’d fed Julian his blood. He hadn’t had a choice, but one door shut on Julian’s death was another door swung wide open.

Leo could probably thrall Julian any time he wanted. He hadn’t tested it yet because why the fuck would he, but that’s generally how that worked.

“I hope Julian’s psychic bullshit is atypical in more than one way, because I just realized I messed up.” He smoothed a hand over his face and stomped back over to the shelves. “So. Let’s stop trying to worry about things out of our control, and hope we find something really useful in these archives, because otherwise we’re fucked.”

When she asked what the hell he messed up, Angela didn’t like the answer.

She was increasingly not liking the answers these days.

They were making progress, though, and she couldn’t feel bad for that. Even if all they had now was a tiny bit more information, that was a million times better than trying to go at all this shit blind. Which was definitely what Angela wanted to help Julian avoid. Julian tended to make up for the rest with her weird gift of improvisation.

With fresh notes out of the way, Angela got to work helping Leo scour over the books. While he kept digging in his designated area, she put her sticky fingers on the more interesting sections. The last time she was in here, she had the assistance of Knucker Polk. They distracted the librarian long enough to steal the keys and just barely managed to get their hands on a couple books that stood out on a first glance before they nearly got their asses caught.

Angela’s pilfered booty had been an interesting read on the theory of witchcraft, but offered very little in the ways psychic mojo or vampires. Both of which would have been more useful, considering the only witch at their disposal was Walter. Angela had a total girlboner for the guy, but she doubted he was going to give a fuck about teen vampire drama.

While thumbing through an old leather-bound sketchbook fill with creepy as fuck etched out drawings of what she assumed was mythical monsters (in what she hoped was a made up hellscape no less), she shot a glance over her shoulder at Leo.

“Hey, why do old drawings always look so fuck-ass creepy? This sonofabitch doesn’t even have a FACE.”

“Neat,” answered Leo. He wasn’t really listening; he’d found a tome that looked promising and was rifling through it for anything that jumped out.

Halfway through turning a page, he faltered.

“…Huh. Well look at that.” He slid into one of the chairs at the table and set the book down, jabbing a finger down onto the page.

His fingertip traced along the edges of a very familiar symbol which had been drawn in black ink.

The Golden Sun is the most mysterious sect of the Order of Three,” Leo read aloud, glancing up at Angela across the room. “Traditionally the High Priest is appointed from the male Hightower line. While the Hightowers might appear to be powerless, this is far from true; they are meant to be a counterbalance, a warder of the veil who keeps the doorway sealed tight. What the actual Christ?”

Angela shoved the sketchbook back on the shelf and made a beeline for Leo. She propped her elbows on his shoulder to look down over his head and read the open page.

“So all that cult bullshit is for real?” she asked curiously. It’s not like she didn’t have suspicions about the whole weirdo group dynamic considering Walter’s vague and totally unhelpful contributions. But actual cults seemed out there.

Who was she kidding, this was the new normal.

“Counterbalance and warder to what?” She reached a hand down to line her fingernail under a few sentences.

Angela pushed away from just long enough to jump up and sit on the table, reaching for her notebook to toss through a few pages. “Julian said Walter mentioned something about a veil being open too long when David pulled all of his shit. That’s why there was ghosts all over the damn place. And we know David did all that crap because Michael fucked it all up the first time, I think? Fuck, I don’t have it in here.”

“Does it say what the veil actually is? Please say it’s just Ghost Purgatory. Or shit, I’d be cool if it’s Julian’s creepy little shadow realm. Those seem like nice harmless options, compared to something like HELL. Because there is this whackadoodle with a blog that thinks the entire Big Six are Satanists and we are SO not qualified to handle Satan.”

“Satan’s not real, don’t be stupid,” Leo told her, eyes still glued to the text. “…It’s not going into specifics about the veil. Yet. But listen to this: The initiation of the High Priest is conducted when the new heir reaches manhood. The rites are closely-guarded secrets of the priests themselves and not shared even among the other leaders of the Order, but what is known is that the Hightowers know the hidden pathways to and from the door of death. The choice of their symbol is a reflection of their decision to forego the light and walk forever in shadow. They hold the secrets to immortality, but may never themselves partake of it or share it.”

He sat back in his seat, tapping his fingers against the edge of the page. He’d have to be an idiot not to put two and two together.

“…I always wondered. I thought Michael might have gotten turned on purpose, but where did he find a vampire in the first place? None of the stuff he ever showed me mentioned anything like this, or anything in the vein of Fangbanger 101. There must have been something, though, that told him all about vampires. Maybe he got it from home.”

She made a face at him, all twitched nose and snottiness, because fuck him. HE was real, who said Satan couldn’t be too? Angela was now open to any and all possibilities.

The look faded quick though, back to her spinning of the wheels as she fanned herself with the edge of her notebook.

“So he used family knowledge to go all vampy – apparently against the family rules from the sounds of it.” Way to go, asshole. Just when I start to feel sorry for you, this shit pops up.

“What I want to know is WHY. Why would Michael choose being a vampire and turn his back on what sounded like a pretty important family legacy? Was life really that shit ass awful that being a vampire was actually a BETTER option?” she asked in earnest. This was probably one of the few questions Leo could actually answer and have insight in to.

Suddenly she cursed under her breath. “Shit. Y’know the book David had in that one vision kid-Julian saw him with? It’s Michael’s Dad’s. I didn’t realize it until I raided his library with him the other day trying to find the vision book and I saw it there again. Cause I kinda saw it once before and- Nevermind, that’s not important. He still wouldn’t let me get my hands on it though.”

“…he said he was going to look through it, I bet that sonofabitch lied right to my face.”

“His dad’s, huh.” Leo went quiet for a long moment.

“…You know how I feel about Michael. He’s a bastard,” he finally started up again, shutting the book and standing up from his chair, “but Michael had nothing on William Hightower. All these years I really thought Michael killed him, and you know what? I didn’t even blame him for that.”

He looked away, then hiked the book up under his arm.

“I’ll read over this some more, see what other goodies it has about Hightowers or the other families. Meanwhile… you think you could manage to get your hands on his dad’s journal? I know he won’t let Jules or me get within spitting distance, but you might just have a chance.”

“Are you suggesting I try my hand at a little crime?” He didn’t even have to try and convince her, that alone was alluring enough. Angela loved a challenge, and few things were as challenging as stealing things right out from under people’s noses.

God, she’d probably be in jail somewhere by now, tooted as the local super villain if she didn’t have Julian always fussing at her. That thought was a bit sobering. This crime wasn’t for fun, this was to save her bestie. The one person on the planet who got her while still managing to be a weird little living conscience. Who would she have without Julian? Margrit? Fuck that!

“And I AM going to have to steal it, because I might be the hottest girl in Silent Pines, but he is not even the least bit distracted by all thiiiis.” she made a dramatic gesture to all her good bits as she slid off the table. “Which sucks, because I am totes awesome at the seduce-and-switch.”

Angela grabbed her bag and shoved her notebook back in it’s place. “But if it’s right where we left it, I can get it piece of cake. Otherwise, it might be a little tricky. He hates me less now, which is probably thanks in due part to Julian and that switch problem. But I’m not sure we’re at let me see your asshole dad’s book so I can save everyone’s dumb life level yet.”

It was one thing to claim you were a badass and that you were prepared to take on the world to achieve your goals.

That didn’t mean it was true.

As soon as Leo left, Julian wished she took him up on that bedroom distraction. If only they really COULD just lock themselves away somewhere and forget about everything and everyone. But Julian knew neither one of them would feel right doing that for long.

Julian couldn’t seem to bring herself to tackling David first thing, and needing to eat was a good excuse. She was starting to realize the more she did all these weird things the more she needed in recoup time. Real sleep, real food, real rest. Not just cramming a banana in her mouth and sneaking a nap at school, then forgetting all about dinner and drinking coffee all night to avoid creepy nightmares. Not running full speed ahead in to every disaster without also taking time to relax her brain. Margrit’s lectures about taking care of herself were starting to sink in.

Now if she could just get through today. Maybe she could talk everyone in to something that DIDN’T involve vampires and witches and murder.

She spent an hour in the kitchen mulling over a bowl of canned soup. Sipping a cup of tea in silence while rolling her pendant in her hand, and trying to bolster herself up. David was a person. Bad things happened to him and he got lost and broken along the way. There was no reason to be scared of him. He should be scared of her. She was a shadow-talking psychic and he almost killed everybody she cared about. He WOULD talk to her.

And maybe she could help him too.

Julian played the mantra on repeat until she finally made it upstairs. She knew which room was David’s thanks to Michael giving her a casual tour of the house, but when she got to the door her hand hesitated to knock.

You have to. They need this.

She sucked in a quick breath and rapped sharply on the door.

“David? It’s Julian. Just Julian.”

There was a long stretch of silence as she hovered outside of his bedroom. She might have thought he wasn’t in there at all, if she couldn’t feel him. Now that David was a vampire, he no longer gave her that buzzing-bee sensation; instead he felt closer to Leo or Michael. Maybe somewhere in between.

One of the Francises skittered between Julian’s feet and gave a hard shove against the wooden panels just as she reached forward to knock again. With a creak, the door swung inward hard enough for the knob to slam against the wall, announcing her entrance.

“It’s rude to enter without permission,” David’s voice cut straight through her like a lick of icy flame. “That’s something I have to be concerned about these days, you know.”

The room was dim, so she didn’t immediately see him. Her eyes finally found him sitting in an armchair, his back to her and his feet propped up on an ottoman. His hands were gripping the arms of the chair just a little too tight for her to believe he was as relaxed as the rest of his posture seemed to indicate.

“You shouldn’t be in here, Julian,” he continued. “You’re lucky that Leo is so thorough in his instructions. Don’t worry, though, I’ll find a loophole eventually.”

Francis, you asshole!

Julian stood there for a moment, like a wide, hazel-eyed deer caught in the headlights of a big truck. Between shadows that were a little TOO helpful, and that cold tone of David’s voice, Julian just… wasn’t prepared for this. The last time she saw him, she watched him murder someone, wreck Leo, and nearly start some sort of ghost apocalypse. He was legitimately the scariest person she knew.

But there was that one moment, too. The silently mouthed I’m sorry and a glimmer of who he used to be.

That was probably the weakest justification, but it was enough to get Julian steeling her nerves and crossing the threshold in to David’s room. Still not quite having the courage to look directly at him, she glanced around for a light switch or a lamp.

“I shouldn’t be a lot of things, but that’s never really stopped me before.” she said softly at first, following it up with a deep breath and a fleeting glare towards her annoying little shadow friends. “And anyway, I came here to apologize and try to help you. So you should be a little less creepy.”

“Apologize? …Help me? It’s a little fucking late for that.” He turned in his seat, his feet slipping down to the floor and landing on the carpet with a soft thud. “What are you even apologizing for? Damning the entire town, or making me your boyfriend’s new bitch?”

From what she could make out in the dark, David didn’t look too hot. His face was several shades paler than it had been last she’d seen him, and his brown eyes were several shades darker. He stared at Julian, a muscle twitching at the square edge of his jaw. There was an unnerving light in his gaze.

“If you wanted to help me, you should have let me die,” he told her, just as Julian found the light switch on the wall.

“Yes, apologize.” The light flickered on and it didn’t much change the atmosphere of the room, nor did it help make David feel less eerie. Dozens of little Francises were collecting and… waiting. Weirdly curious but wary. They were distracting and she was so worried they’d slip out of her grasp and go doing something weird.

Maybe distractions were good, because when she finally turned to actually face David and give a once over she was awash with the sense failure and guilt. He was trapped like this because of her. The hows and whys, rights and wrongs really didn’t matter. She made the choices the ended with his spell getting botched and his life becoming one big box of crap.

“I didn’t understand what was going on.” she admitted. “I still don’t. All I saw was you kidnapping and killing people. You believe you were doing the right thing, but I don’t believe the right thing involves killing somebody.”

Her expression went sheepish immediately as she shoved her hands in to her jean pockets. “…and no, the irony of us having to kill and turn you isn’t lost on me. It’s kind of messed up and I really, really wish it didn’t have to go that way. What else were we supposed to do, though?”

A crinkling noise in her pocket had her fingers curling around a piece of candy. She pulled it out, giving it a twisted mouth stare before stepping a few feet closer and offering it to him.

“I don’t think it’s too late. I want to help. But you’ve got to tell me what you were trying to do.”

“Sounds to me more like you’re fishing for information, Julian.”

David got up from his chair, planting his hands on the back and leaning forward to look at her.

“I don’t know what you expected. If you want me to talk, you’ll have to force me, because I sure as hell am not going to volunteer. I wonder why Leo hasn’t just ordered me to. Your influence, I’m guessing.”

His eyes dropped to the candy in her hand. She could see it flicker across his face, the smallest flash of recognition; she could see him remember that time they’d met when they were younger. A decade ago. More like a lifetime, is how it felt to David. He hadn’t known then that Julian was anything special, that he’d end up having his fate decided by this little girl-

Stop.” He jerked backwards, letting go of the chair and taking a few steps back. His voice climbed an octave. “Whatever you’re doing, don’t.”

“I’m not trying to do anything. And of course I’m fishing for information. How else am I supposed to help you?” she responded, her expression going from sheepish to incredibly confused. Something was strange here, because he almost seemed kind of afraid of her, and that was just CRAZY. David could probably kill her in ten different ways before she even realized she was dead. If anyone should be terrified it should be HER. She wasn’t-

Oh. Oh. Maybe she was after all. Drawing things from people just seemed to happen; Julian just knew what she knew and felt what she felt. He might as well had said it all out loud and she wouldn’t have known the difference.

What she didn’t understand was how he knew she was doing it. It’s not like she blurted out something weird again, did she? Julian turned her head just a bit, casting him a squinty, dubious stare. She took a few tentative steps to the side, easing herself a little closer.

“I’m not going to force you to talk to me, I was just hoping maybe you’d explain what you were trying to do. If you’re really trying to protect the town, wouldn’t it be better to have the help?” She paused suddenly, paling as she squeezed her eyes shut. “Besides crazy bitches in creepy robes who cut faces off people, or asshole Geometry teachers that try to murder ill-prepared teenage girls.”

“I want to understand why you thought all that bad stuff was worth it. How you could go from showing a weird little girl some magic to killing people.”

“People like Buchanan? You should ask your friend Walter why he was kicked out of the club before you go mourning his loss.” David circled around from behind the chair, glancing up at the overhead light and wincing. He took another step toward Julian only to come to a sudden halt, as if he’d run into an invisible wall. He grimaced.

“How can they stand being around you?” muttered David, almost as if talking to himself. His hand dropped to his stomach, the heel of his palm pressing hard against his belly. His nose wrinkled.

“What would you do to save your parents?” he asked, louder. His eyes lingered at Julian’s neck. “You were willing to let me be turned into a monster to save Leo and Michael. Walter killed Tasha. Leo killed Cragg. And yet I’m somehow the bad guy here. How far would you go for Jeremy and Sandra?”

Her brief offense over why he didn’t understand how her two stupid vampire boyfriends could stand be around her vanished in the split second she realized David was almost eyeballing her like a snack. Was she really that noticeable?

But all questions died on her lips the moment he brought up her parents.

“We’re going to finish that ritual tonight, Julian, because every year someone’s parent is taken to make up for Michael’s sins. To appease something very, very angry about what happened. My parents are Michael’s victims. Your friends the Whelans can thank him as well.”

“You should be helping me, Julian. You have a stake in this,” said David. Julian could feel how tight his breathing was. Blood was soaking into her jacket as it dripped out of his sleeve. “After all. Your parents were taken too.”

Suddenly, she didn’t feel so tentative anymore. Suddenly, she was pretty damn tired of people dropping these hints of things at her feet; Vague information and half truths, all of it confusing and none of it useful. Suddenly, she was wondering why she was always so hellbent on doing things the right way when no one else ever did.

“That’s a good question, David.” she answered, narrowing her eyes at him. “People do bad things for good reasons, so why aren’t I doing it too.” The piece of candy rolled between her fingers before disappearing in to her pocket. Dropping her hands to her side with fingers splayed, she crept forward.

“Why am I not taking exactly what I want to know…”

The light flickered and Julian stopped, blinking down at the floor where shadows were waiting at her feet.

Oh damn.

“To the edge of the dark and not any farther.” she whispered. “…I didn’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to hurt anyone. Even if that means I’ll lose.”

When she glanced back up, she was pleading. Her fingers curled tight enough to dig her nails in to her palms.

“Why can’t you just tell me? What is it going to hurt to just TELL me and let me help. You’re just as uncooperative as Michael, and it’s stupid.”

“I am nothing like Michael,” snarled David, and faster than she could blink, he’d picked up the heavy chair like it weighed nothing. With a heave of his shoulders, he sent it hurtling towards the wall, where it dashed into pieces and scattered across the floor. “I’m going to kill that bastard the first chance I get, do you understand?”

He ran his fingers through his hair, making a pained sound, and turned away from her. Julian saw just a flash of fangs before his face was out of her line of sight.

“You’re an idiot, Julian,” he told her. It sounded like he was talking from between his teeth. “You think everyone can be saved if you just try hard enough. One day they’re all going to disappoint you. If you’re lucky it’ll be before they get you or someone you love killed.”

The seconds ticked by as he stood there, not breathing- oh wow, he totally wasn’t breathing- and not moving so much as a muscle. At length, he let his hands fall to his sides, fingers curling.

“Michael is hiding from you because he’s a coward,” David said. “Me, I’m just not seeing any benefit gained by cooperating with the people who ruined my life.”

At least this time Julian didn’t scream like a dumb girl. She only cringed when bits of chair clattered to the floor. Where he wasn’t breathing, hers was quick and shallow. Wide eyes blinked at his back, but before long the moment of sudden shock shifted to something else entirely.

“Well. …you’re being an asshole, David!”

That wasn’t quite eloquent and insulting the crazy ex-witch vampire was a terrible idea, but Julian was real tired of always being called an idiot.

“You’re ALL stupid assholes! What kind of messed world do you jerks live in?! Bad things happen. Bad, horrible, terrible, tragic things. But that’s not your ENTIRE LIFE. You’re choosing to make your own dumb life even more difficult. You chose to do crazy spell ritual that involved kidnapping and killing. You CHOSE to not trust people. You’d rather believe your whole life is ruined forever and play the part of a dramatic ass bucket because apparently HOPE is too difficult for you.”

She was so frustrated she was using her whole body to accent the words. From the gesticulating with her hands, to the childish stomping of her foot to end a sentence. Julian was nearly tempted to just kick one of her blasted shadows at his head.

“And you know what, fuck you for calling me an idiot just because I have the balls to keep trying. I choose sunshine for my future. I choose not to let my life get ruined by murder witches, and shadows, and death dreams, and stubborn assholes. I choose to believe people can be more. Michael can be more. You can be more. If you want to be.”

“…and if that’s still too hard for you, your stupid face could just blackmail or bribe your way to benefits! You’ve had plenty enough practice manipulating things to your advantage, no reason to stop being a psycho now!”

“Get the fuck out.” David turned around, and this was possibly the first time Julian had gotten a straight look at a vampire with fangs drawn. It might’ve been comical, if she hadn’t seen what those fangs could do. And if David hadn’t murdered people before his mouth became weaponized.

Get out of my room, Julian,” he repeated. Dark frustration was twisting his features as he hovered there, scarcely two feet away from her. “I’m not in the mood for this.”

At this point all she needed was a stick to start jabbing him with, because she couldn’t stop. He was all fangy now, and any person with sense would be freaked out and bolting for the door. Julian was just as frustrated as he was, though. Maybe she was feeding off him, she didn’t know. They were always turning her in circles or throwing up brick walls, leaving her stuck in that same place she started. No answers, just more questions. No resolutions, just an ever growing mountain of new problems she didn’t know how to deal with.

Julian made a soft sound under her breath and moved to stalk away, but she only got three steps before she paused and spun around.

“You know what, no. No! I don’t care if you’re not in the mood for this! I wasn’t in the mood for all the crap YOU pulled. I sure as hell don’t want to be here now. So until you tell me useful or I get mad enough to MAKE you, I’m going to be your annoying new roommate. And just so you know, I’m really good at staring in creepy silence.”

“Annoying is the right word,” growled David, his fingers clenching and unclenching as he glared at her. He still wasn’t breathing, and it struck her that maybe she’d made him so mad that he was forgetting to.

“What exactly do you want to know?” he asked. “What are you even looking for? I’ve already told you more than I ever planned to.”


Now she just had to calm down so she could actually think beyond wondering how fast she’d have to run if she stomped over there and punched him. Julian closed her eyes and took in a few slow deep breaths, until her heart wasn’t pounding so hard and some of that coiled tension eased.

“Everything.” she said first, with a rush of breath. Then she sighed, lifting a hand to rub the heel of her palm against her cheek. “But I’ll settle for knowing what Michael what messed up. What were you trying to fix with that spell? You opened up something that shouldn’t have been opened, I know that much. Why?”

For a moment, David stared at her, eyes dark and probing. It felt a little like David was trying to see her insides, and maybe that was true in more than one way. He obviously wanted her blood, and it seemed Julian was also some kind of aggravating puzzle he was attempting to put together.

Then he laughed, his fangs withdrawing.

“I didn’t open anything,” he told Julian. “The door was already open. Michael was supposed to help keep it shut.”

He crossed the room to place his hand on one of the rails of his four-poster bed, his fingers stroking a worn patch of the otherwise well-polished oak. He glanced at her over his shoulder.

“When you put a key into a lock, it forces it just a little wider until the mechanism clicks. Shove the wrong key in, well, that can damage the lock.”

She was SO glad he thought this was funny. Really. Sarcastic thoughts aside, it did feel a lot better now that he didn’t have his murder-face on. Julian brushed her hair behind her ears before she folded her arms over his chest.

The door was already open. Michael was supposed to keep it shut.

Chewing in to her cheek, she tried to put the pieces together with what she already knew. Which unfortunately was not nearly enough.

“Is that what he broke when he became a vampire?” she asked, already knowing the answer. It probably had something to do with the families of that day all being witches. Michael choosing to become a vampire was him shirking his family responsibility? That felt close. Almost. David believed Michael was a spoiled child who wanted power and he did it just to spite his father. But somehow that didn’t fully match the glimpses she caught of Michael’s past. She didn’t feel Michael did it for the spite or power. Maybe it was part of it, but that wasn’t the whole story.

Of course, she found herself wrong often enough that there was the lingering doubt too.

“The door. What is it a door to? Is it the place all of the ghosts live?” A flicker of movement caught her eye and she watched as a shadow darted towards a waiting cluster of the damn things. Or the place where her shadows lived. They had to live SOME where when they weren’t all in her business.

“…Yes, that’s where ghosts come from,” he answered slowly. “Among other things.”

He rested his forehead against the bedpost and shut his eyes. For a moment, he almost looked like the boy she’d met ten years ago.

“The door leads to the other side of the veil. The hidden town. The place where all the dark things dwell. Things our ancestors feared… and things they worshipped.

“I told you before, Julian, there are stronger supernatural forces at work in this town. Forces that are dangerous to toy with and even more dangerous to piss off.”

A lump had formed in the center, pulsing and churning.


“Something bad is coming. Even the shadows are terrified.”

The dark comes for you now.

Okay. Okay, she was about to pass out. Julian expected to hear the story of someone lost and crazy. Accusations that were made sharp and bitter over time, or maybe a conspiracy of cult witches and their long standing traditions of being shitty. Not this. Something she knew was true because bits and pieces of it were trying to claw it’s way through her subconscious from where ever it was forcefully buried. Sharp and painful, threatening to send her splattering to the floor in the wake of overwhelming flashes of things she couldn’t put word or image to.

By reflex her hand shot up to brush under her nose and make sure there wasn’t a hit of blood.

“How do I make sure that stays closed..?” Julian asked softly, her eyes having gone wide a she wrapped both her hands around her pendant. A split second later she blinked and frowned. “Don’t tell me ritualistic sacrifice. I know you put a lot of planning in to that whole… mess of crap, but it doesn’t- …it doesn’t feel right.”

“That was the only way I knew how,” David answered, turning back to face her once more with a scowl. “Don’t you get it? It had to be me or him. I found that ritual and I tried it because I didn’t know what else to do. Now… Now I don’t know what’s going to happen. There are no more living Hightowers in Silent Pines. The Golden Sun is dead.”

He looked at her for a moment, pressing his lips into a grim line.

“So… you tell me. Got any bright ideas?”

Julian shook her head, almost mirroring his grim look. “I’m not the one who usually gets the bright ideas. I’m accidentally stumble in to the answer while looking for something completely different girl.”

That was her track record so far. Julian would just continue doing that thing she does and hope that Angela and Leo could work around it.

Speaking of the things she did.

“Are we friends now?” she asked, knowing that she sounded like an earnest six year old and he was probably going to call her an idiot. AGAIN. Her eyes rose to stare at a spot on the ceiling, while she shifted on her feet. “At the very least, could you hold off on trying to kill any of us until I figure things out? I want to help, and I know I can. But I kinda don’t want to worry about you trying to stab people and making things worse before I do.”

“I make no promises,” David answered. He sat down on the edge of his bed, smoothing his hands across the comforter to either side of him. “Michael deserves to die. You’ll see for yourself.”

She could feel his eyes on her, sizing her up.

“And frankly, I don’t trust you, no matter how altruistic you might seem to be,” he went on. “You’re not a psychic, Julian Hollinger. I don’t know what you are, but I know that much. And I know you’re nothing good.”


Julian was okay with him not trusting her. Trust was something that needed to be built, and David had been lost and alone for a very long time. What threw her for a loop was this not a psychic thing.

And I know you’re nothing good.”

Why did that suddenly twist up her stomach.

Julian’s gaze fell to the shadows that littered the room. Curiously watching in corners or peeping out from under the bed. Momentarily calm and harmless.

…but not really so harmless.

Her teeth dug in to her bottom lip as she slipped her hand in to her pocket to retrieve that piece of candy. Julian eased closed enough to set it down on the edge of the bed within his arm’s reach.

“I am what I want to be.” she mumbled, now not sounding so sure of herself. “And I choose good.”

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