Chapter 108

“Glad to see you’re awake. Would you like some water, champagne, wine, beer? We have just about everything back here.”

I had been pretending I was still asleep, trying to hear anything about my surroundings. I don’t recognize the voice and when it greets me, I open my eyes. I don’t recognize the person in front of me any more than the voice. A brunette woman with almost ghostly white hands, but her face is a much smoother _____ color, hair tied back in a ponytail, with a smile that shows just enough of her teeth to notice the fangs. She's wearing a maroon power suit, but also enough jewelry to open a store. We’re in the back of a limousine, the windows are tinted too dark for me to see through. On my left is a bald man big enough to be a body builder, less pale, but even with his scowl I can tell he’s a vampire too. Probably a bodyguard or something.

I don’t know enough vampires that I’m the target. Probably someone looking for Destiny, no, I’m sure of it. My mind runs down the options quickly and it comes to me right away. This is Chloe. This is who Destiny has been looking for.

“Figured it out,” she asks with a smile and charming tone.

“Chloe Marson.”

“Chloe, but I’m not a Marson until after the wedding. You can just call me Chloe.”

“What did you do to Destiny,” as if I’m not in danger.

“Nothing at all. This is all about you.”

“I’ve got nothing to say to you,” the body guard doesn’t take kindly to my words and glares at me.

“Relax Erik, he’s harmless,” Chloe waves her hand.

“He has killed several of our people,” Erik speaks in a surprisingly alto voice.

“Look at him. Are you afraid of him,” Erik looks me up and down. “No offense, but I've seen some nasty customers and you aren’t one,” Chloe speaks to me now.

“Why am I here?”

“I just want you to see we aren’t the monsters you’ve been told about. Show you a different perspective than Destiny’s warped memories.”

She’s not the mean demon I was expecting, but I still get a bad vibe from her. She’s got an ulterior motive and even if she isn’t attacking, I know it won’t last long. I’m pretty sure she brought the body guard just so she seemed like she was less threatening. The two of them have mild discussion about different places they like to visit. I avoid joining in until the vehicle comes to a stop. I grab the door handle, but it’s locked.

“Don’t rush,” Chloe mocks me. “We’ve got a lot to see.”

The door opens and yet another obvious vampire. This one dressed like a stereotypical vehicle chauffeur, white gloves, hat and all. We’re outside of a plain looking building surrounded by trees that look haunted and flowers that are probably much more colorful during the day, but look like dripping blood at night. A playground is visible behind the building. The whole thing looks like an elementary school if it were haunted by Casper the Twisted Ghost. It doesn’t exactly conjure up wonderful thoughts of learning and imagination.

“Welcome to the Marson Home for Lost Youth,” a personal project of my own.

“What is this place?”

“Follow me,” Chloe leads expecting me to follow.

I don’t follow, instead I try to gather my surroundings and look for an escape route if I wanted to take off and run. Erik gives me a nudge from behind and quickly ends any hopes of that. I follow Chloe inside, and despite the dreary outside appearance, the inside doesn’t look any stranger than a normal daycare. I don’t frequent a lot of daycares, but I imagine they all have bright colors and patterns decorating the walls. Maybe a cartoon character here or there. The difference is its almost pitch-black outside and there are kids running around inside.

Actually, there’s another difference. Some of these kids, most of them, don’t look human at all. A few of them have fangs, one has tusks, another has scales and yet another has red eyes with no pupils. There’re human children mixed in as well but they don’t seem bothered by the appearances of the other children, in fact I seem to be the only person who feels out of place here. Chloe drops to her knees and hugs some of the children while Erik flexes with some of the others.

“Who are you,” one of the kids asks me.

“He’s a very special friend of mine,” Chloe answers before I can.

“Is he going to come back and play with us?”

“Maybe he will,” Chloe smiles as the kid runs off.

“What is this place,” I ask.

“Follow me,” Chloe asks, this time I don’t hesitate.

A few of the children tag along, like her little bodyguards. We visit the kitchen where meals are prepared. Inside they’re working with ingredients I’d never use; blood, rotting fish, and fermented fruits are on the menu. It makes sense that all of these kids would have different dietary needs. We visit a few of the classrooms where the children get educated. The sleeping quarters use the same kind of magic as the Grand Library, dozens of rooms tucked away behind a single door with no logical explanation of how they all fit. Despite the tour she doesn’t tell me what the place is until all of the children have gone to have dinner, or is it lunch for them?

“This is an orphanage of sorts. We provide a home for children who have been abandoned. Some are born vampires, the true primes who will lead us into the future. Others are part troll or Orc, left to die by parents who viewed them as disfigured. A few are the children of dead thralls, who died in pointless fights” she lets that hang as if I’m responsible.

“I don’t need you to join my guilt trip. I do just fine on my own.”

“I sincerely apologize if you felt I was trying to insult you.” Chloe covers her heart with her hand and seems sincere, almost.

“Can I go home now?”

“I’d like to show you something else, but it is on the way to your home,” Chloe almost floats out of the room.

We stop so she can say goodbye to the children, who do seem to genuinely like her, and Erik. Part of me can’t help but wonder how many of these children were orphaned by the Marson family. I’ve got everything Destiny has told me, and I’ve got my research. How many of these children will be sent away to be sold as property. Are they treated well because of the future’s they’ll have or is this all a genuine facility hoping to help some kids with nowhere else to go?

The ride to our next location is much more talkative, from Chloe’s side at least. She rants and raves about some of her favorites. How she was surprised when they approved the opening of the orphanage. Erik even gloats about how the kids have been following the exercise routines he laid out for them. I can’t tell how much of this is them trying to convince me they’re good and how much is legit. Maybe they do like those kids, and are proud of their growth, but they still used them. If not to take over the world or whatever in the future, then to at least change my mind about them. What did they call it during the Vietnam War? Minds and Souls, no Hearts and Minds, where they try to win over the people as a way to win the war. They think they’re going to win me over and change things, but there is no war to win.

“We’re here,” Chloe says as the car comes to a stop and she gazes out the window.

I still can’t see out the windows like they can, is it some kind of vampire power? Outside I instantly recognize this as a blood bank. Not the one Destiny likes, but a blood bank none the less, although this is much bigger than the one, I’ve been to. I don’t wait for a push this time, and just follow Chloe. I’m eager to get this all wrapped up and behind me.

“I’ve been to a blood bank before. Are we done,” I’m tired and my patience is wearing thin.

“Maybe, but this is special,” she swipes her card at a door and leads us through the halls.

So far, there’s nothing special about this place, people giving blood, some tests being run. Seeing how different snacks and beverages is interesting, but I’m not impressed. This doesn’t show me anything good about the Marson family other than all of their businesses don’t operate on slave labor.

“Can you just tell me the special magic behind this place already,” I ask after the third different kind of cookie.

“Oh, you’re no fun,” Chloe pouts as if she’s trying to be cute.

I always dislike women like that. Women who think being childlike makes them attractive. The baby voices, the pouting, crossed arms and pouting faces. What’s the deal with all that? I know she’s an immortal vampire but she looks to be at least thirty-five. She can’t just act like an adult? She has to be Charlie and The Blood Factory? Actually, she’d be Willy Wonka, and I’d be Charlie. Either way, I’m tired and I’m ready to go home.

“The secret here is we don’t charge for the blood. Vampires who don’t belong to a family or have other lucrative careers sometimes can’t afford to drink. They can sometimes become violent when blood starved, this is an alternative. It keeps them from feeding on innocent civilians,” I hate the word civilians coming out of her mouth as if it is a dirty thing. “The other secret is most of our donors are addicts and with a little magic, the drugs are flushed out of their system much faster and easier than going through withdrawals.”

“You have some really noble causes,” that comes out more sarcastic than I meant it too. “Sorry, I didn’t mean for it to come out that way.”

“No harm done. I know this isn’t what you expected of us, but we all had lives before this one. I was once an orphan, and I’ve been addict as well.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Destiny hadn’t mentioned it.”

“No worries, I hadn’t expected her to tell you the details of my life.”

The ride back wasn’t super quiet. Chloe was going on and on about the good times that she and Destiny had when they were friends. I get the feeling that they were more than friends. From what Chloe told me she had run away from home as a child and gotten hooked on drugs, but was rescued by a vampire. Eventually that vampire died and Chloe was left alone, eventually meeting Destiny. I don’t know how much of it was true, I’m not great at reading people, especially people I don’t know well. Chloe might really be a nice person, but I’ve seen cracks in the fa├žade tonight. We stop outside of Destiny’s apartment building. I forgot I was leaving there when they grabbed me. Maybe they don’t know where I live, or think we live together. Maybe that’s good.

“Before you leave, I’d like to suggest you cut Destiny loose. You seem like a good man, and staying around her will only end up poorly for you,” Chloe stops me from exiting the vehicle.

“I think I’ll be able to handle whatever comes my way,” Erik chuckles at my statement.

“I have no doubt about that. But, you don’t have to have anything come your way. If you wish to learn more about the underworld or the arcane, we have people for that. It can be a painless process, and transition for you. None of this broken by werewolves, one foot out and one foot in nonsense,” I can read her now, this is condescending, not caring.

“You know, you all aren’t the monsters Destiny said you were. The thing is, you are who you are when nobody is looking. I’ve seen the things you all do, not just the good, but the bad. You sent people to kill me and a bunch of my friends not too long ago. There’s no war, we’re just two people trying to live our lives. If you just left us alone, I could convince her to ignore you all as well. But you just keep poking at us. You didn’t have to abduct me tonight, I would have come with you willingly. Even this little tour was an exercise in power. I get it, you’re rich and powerful and you could end us any time you want. Just leave us alone,” I’m understanding Destiny’s hate for Chloe and her family now.

“I see why she likes you; the same reason she liked me. You’re easy to get fired up, but in the end you’re meek and easy to control. You’re weak, with no intentions of grasping for the power that rests at your fingertips. I grasped took all the power waiting on me. Destiny would have done it too, but she’s too good for that, in her mind anyway. You’re going to drown in this world, because you think power is corruption. In reality, power is freedom.”

“I think she liked you because you were probably a good person at one point. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, I’m sure you’ve heard that before. You showed me a lot of nice things tonight, how good you are to people. But it’s all fake, just you trying to remember when you were good,” I smile, not because I’ve gotten her, but out of nervousness. What am I saying?

“You humans, should know your place and understand how fragile you are,” she reaches over and places a hand on my knee and begins to squeeze.

“You were human once, you know how it goes. We’re just all trying to find our balance,” I summon my nightmares.

I don’t want a fight here. I couldn’t win one against two vampires that are probably incredible strong, in the back of a limo. I just need them to think I’m not afraid despite the fact that I’m ready to pee on myself right now.

“You surprise me,” Chloe releases my leg and knocks on the window for the driver to open the door. “Have a good night Mr. Nielson,” she addresses me by name for the first time tonight.

Chapter 107 - M.

I thought Destiny was just trying to work some things out, until she left town. It’s been almost a month since I last saw her, held her, or she held me. She didn’t even wait for me to heal up completely. She left me at her apartment so Elias wouldn’t be suspicious of how I got hurt, or worry too much. I woke up one morning and she was gone. All she left me was a text message apologizing for leaving so suddenly. She claimed there was family business she had to take care of; she just doesn’t know I heard her in the car.

I play along with it, say how much I miss her. I do miss her, but I understand why she’s going away. I complain, never enough to make her feel bad, but enough that she knows I care. I don’t ask any questions about where she’s gone or if she is with anyone else, I trust her. I just hope she comes back soon, because I don’t expect them to leave us alone.

I spent the first two weeks recovering, a few magical ointments and potions she left behind sped the process up. Real life health potions, my inner nerd went insane until I tasted them. They worked, but they tasted like sparkling water that someone dipped a watermelon into; not enough flavor to be enjoyable but just enough to make me hate the taste. The creams made sure I wasn’t left with any lasting scars. I was kind of hoping I’d have a cool scar to tell stories about, but it isn’t a story that I could really tell people.

I haven’t just sat idle during my time without Destiny. I’ve worked hard to be a better man. I want to be more useful to her, the people around me and the world in general. I’ve spent a lot of time in the library on the occult web looking for ways I can be useful. My magic ability isn’t super strong, but I’ve studied ways to expand my pool of magic but haven’t seen many results. I’ve gotten faster with opening and closing my pocket but there’s nothing else. I still can’t throw fireballs or anything like that. The one thing I think I might have some success with is learning to read and write runes.

They aren’t very practical for fighting directly, but they’re useful for laying traps and making everyday objects extraordinary which can give you an edge when needed. Knowledge on them is sparse and there’s different ways to create runes but I’ve got enough of the basic principles. Some people use their own magic to draw the symbols and give them power. I don’t have enough magic for that so I’ll have to engrave the runes physically and then draw power from the surrounding area. The part I’m stuck on is trying to learn the symbols required. Runes are pretty old school, one of the earliest magics so they’ve been phased out, but they’re great for people who don’t have a lit of magic available to them, like me. I’ve been searching for someone to teach me, but often they seem more like traps for some serial killer or they price is too steep. The price is never just cash, but something like a portion of my soul or liver. The forums I looked at had a running joke about rune mages being creepy, and I understand it.

I’ve also been looking for more information on various vampire houses, perhaps finding some allies. The ruling houses don’t like going to war and they have a yearly meeting where they can make or break houses that go against the others. Right now in the United States there are thirty-three different houses that each have control of different regions. The Marson family mostly works in the deep south, but have been making moves into the heartlands and Great Lakes territories. Both houses that control the areas are week. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan are up for the taking. Rumors have spread about the two houses controlling the are merging, but they could also be wiped out and taken. The Marson family is probably aiming to take those territories and from what I’ve seen on the web, nobody is trying to stop them. The reason being is House Marson’s profitability. Their profit mostly comes from capturing and selling rare magical creatures as well as a black market. Some say that they may traffic humans for the blood, but nobody has been able to prove it. Either, way I don’t feel the need to keep digging.

Today, I’m just out for a nice walk, trying to keep my body ready in case I need to fight. I’ve applied for my license huntsmen and listed the work I did with Destiny, hopefully they get back to me before she comes home. Becoming a hunter will let me access more resources that were previously unavailable to me.

“Excuse me,” an old lady calls to me. “Could you help with my bag, it’s going to tear.”

I don’t hesitate to grab the paper bag from her, and follow as she leads me across the street. I would have been a great boy scout, but I understand why the bag might rip. I glance down to see what might be making the bag so heavy. None of this stuff actually looks like groceries, what is this stuff?

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to look at an old lady’s unmentionables,” the old woman’s voice is suddenly less raspy.

I turn to look at her only to have my eyes filled with blue mist once again. I try to fight the oncoming sleep and wipe my eyes clear but I feel my knees buckle. I’m starting to understand why Destiny hates these people.

“Don’t worry, we won’t hurt you. Sleep tight.”

Chapter 106 - M.

I summon the echoes back to my hands and push up from my stomach. I scan the are for Lizbeth, ready to get back into the fight. A hand on the back of my head forces me back down. Only as I struggle do I realize this isn’t Lizbeth, and I’m not in alley somewhere. This is a bed, in what seems like a cross between a run down 1970s bedroom, laboratory and hospital.

“Down child. You’ll re-open the wounds on your back,” a stern, strong, yet calming voice speaks.

“Where am I,” I stop resisting.

“Doesn’t matter. Just know the one called Destiny has left you in my care. You will be safe here.”

“Well, who are you?”

“I am Maximus, The Red Wolf of Honor,” he speaks with pride now.

“Well Maximus, how did I get here?”

“She said that you would not remember the ordeal that you had gone through. Very well, I shall tell you how you came to be in my care. I shall gather some libations for us to thank the gods for your survival as well as keep us warm through your story.”

I’m sure this guy saved me, but If he keeps talking like a character from some cheese movie based in Ancient Rome or Greece, I’m going to kill myself. Why did Destiny bring me here, and where is she now? I need answers, not libations. Maximus returns and drags a stool next to the bed before dropping a straw into a glass of what looks like whiskey.

“Drink,” he says before drinking straight from a bottle of Jack Daniels.  

“Thanks,” I grimace as the taste lingers, still not a big drinker. “What happened?”

“You tangled with a werewolf, a young one,” he chuckles.

“I remember that.”

“Tell me then, the last thing you remember. Perhaps we can skip some of the story.”

“I got smacked into a wall and the back of my head busted open.”

“This one is a fighter. She has chosen a man who fights even as the ghosts weild control of his body.”

“I’m sorry, what does that even mean?”

“You managed to slice the wolf’s face after that. Even as you were knocked to the ground you continued to swing at the feet. You are a vicious creature when cornered. A human with the spirit of a Lycan. It is good. It has kept you from becoming a Lycan, with an aid from myself.”


“During the fight you were struck with a deadly claw that filled you with the blessings of lycanthropy, or illness as those without knowledge would claim. That is why you were brought to me. I performed a transfusion and exorcism to remove the wolf spirit from your body.”

“Thanks, Maximus. You sure know a lot about wolves.”

“The Red Wolf of Honor is not an exaggeration. It is an epithet I earned through over fifty years as leader of my pack.”  

“Is this where your pack lives?”

“My pack is no more. I lost my position to a younger stronger wolf,” he drops the theatrics. “That is the way. I tried to live with one of the stationary packs for a while but could not. There was no honor, only a lust for power. The Alpha had an ongoing affair with a were cat despite his mate’s undying love for him. I came here to walk the path of solitude. Now drink your medicine.”

I’m left to lie on my stomach, drink way too much whiskey and stare out of the window. I asked Maximus what happened and he told me more about his past than my last few hours, maybe even days. I’m relieved as I notice Destiny arrive outside the window. I can get some answers now. I eagerly wait for her to come through the door. Her face doesn’t look excited as she enters.

“Something bad happen,” I ask.

“You almost died, and Maximus has been drinking. Can you walk?”

“I haven’t been allowed to try.”

“Please try to stand up before he has anymore to drink. From what I’ve heard he’s a real monster when he drinks.”

“You don’t know him that well? He speaks like you’re longtime friends.”

“I brought him booze because he was the only one who could stop you from becoming a werewolf. That made us friends in his book.”

I struggle to my feet as Destiny gathers my things. I don’t bother with my shirt, it’s been torn to shreds. She helps with my pants and shoes; the wounds on my back limit how well I can move right now. A large thud followed by a howl outside let me know we’re in trouble.

“We need to move fast. Sorry if this hurts,” Destiny kisses me on the cheek.

At first I thought she was talking about the kiss, and I haven’t had a painful kiss from her yet. Before I realized it, she had lifted me into her arms and carried me outside. She tosses a towel over the front seat of her car so the blood from my bandages doesn’t stain the seats. Soon we’re driving away from the cabin at the end of the dirt road as I witness another tree collapse. Maximus really has some issues to work on.

“Werewolves are big and strong. But their rage is uncontrollable. The ones who can tame that rage are the scary ones, they can think when they fight. They can even make a smooth and painless transition at will, even saving their clothes sometimes. Only if they can control themselves, otherwise they just become big brutes. Maximus was once the leader of the largest pack in the midwest. He feels it was taken from him through trickery. He’s a doctor, a man who knows a great deal of magic, and since that day, he’s a drunk,” Destiny speaks as we drive, knowing I had questions.  

“Did you know all of that when you left me with him?”

“Yeah, and I knew he was the only one nearby that could keep you from turning before the next full moon.”

“When’s the next full moon?”

“Do I look like a farmer's almanac? Just make sure doggy didn’t try to chase the car. I don’t have enough to fight him tonight,” she speeds up as we make it to asphalt.

“Did you catch Lizbeth?”

“Yeah, had a little help.”

"Who,” I don’t really know any of other friends.

“Well, some of those Marson guys had been following me, Lizbeth just smelled vampire. Went after them. They softened her up before she finished them off. I took her out before she could recuperate. The Marsons have loyalty, and numbers, but they’re weak. She barely got past me and you, but two vampires were a walk in the park,” she chuckles. “They really are useless when they are manipulating people or ambushing people.”

I just close my eyes and try to rest, even if the pain won’t let me sleep. I know this thing with the Marsons isn’t over. They’re tracking both of us, probably known associates too. I’m not an expert, but that’s what I would do if I were in their shoes. Sooner or later, they’re going to make their move. Hopefully they don’t make it until I’ve got some cool scars instead of a debilitating back injury. I hope my scars are cool.

“Shit, this is too much. I’m going to get you killed at this point,” Destiny starts to talk.

Does she think I’m asleep right now? She must not know how much pian I’m in, or how drunk I am. I’ll just let her keep talking and figure things out on her own. I don’t have any real input to provide at the moment. I’m not even sober enough to be a good listener.

“I need to get out of town for a moment. Throw them off my tracks, but I can’t leave him here in this condition. No, I have to. It’ll give him time to heal up.”

I don’t want her to leave me, but I understand, as long as she’s going to come back for me. I just need to do my best to heal up and elevate my skills so this never happens again. If anything, I’m the one who let her down. I couldn’t do anything against Lizbeth except get knocked out, and not remember half of the fight. What good is that? Even if she’s only gone for two weeks, I’ll be stronger when she comes back. That way she never has to worry about me again. 

Chapter 105 - M.

I was hoping Destiny and I could go on a date, see a movie or something. Instead, she wants to put my skills to the test. We’re chasing Lizbeth Morgane, a twenty-three year old woman from the state of Washington. Supposedly she’s a werewolf on the run for murdering one of her pack. We’re tracking her down, bringing her in alive. Simple enough, except that whole werewolf part, that’s kind of complicated.

“If she attacks, watch for her bite. If it doesn’t kill you, it’ll turn you. The claws won’t always turn you, but there’s a chance,” Destiny gives pointers over the phone.

“While I’m walking through alleys avoiding people pissing behind nightclubs, what are you doing?”

“I’m getting a birds eye view. Unless you’re confident enough to go jumping between rooftops, I don’t think we should switch positions.”

“What do I do if I find her?”

“Follow her, call her name if she notices you.”

“What if she transforms?”

“Give that bitch a nightmare,” Destiny cackles before hanging up.

Why would a werewolf on the run go out to the club anyway? Maybe she just likes clubs you idiot. I don’t like them, but there are people that go every weekend, and she’s young. I stare at the picture, hazel-colored eyes, button nose, shoulder length blonde hair and a sweet smile. She’s not hard to look at, if I was a pretty woman like her I’d probably go out a lot more often too. But what kind of club does she go to? All we’ve got to go on is an old photograph. She could be into death metal for all we know. Hobbies would be a really good thing to have right now.  

I’ve checked three different clubs and two bars tonight, not a single sign of her. Nobody knows who she is and I look suspicious asking about this woman’s whereabouts without a badge or something. Destiny isn’t having much luck either. I don’t know why we can’t just ask around different hotels and motels. It would be just as effective as wandering into random clubs and stalking rooftops. Actually, I think I might have just found her. I follow her out of the club and phone Destiny.

“I got her.”

“Cool, how did you catch her?”

“I didn’t catch her, I just found her.”

“Then why are you calling me.”

“How am I supposed to snatch a woman on a crowded street without going to jail?”

“Herd her.”

“Like a sheep?”

“Yes, exactly,” she sighs. “What street you on?”

“Clark, heading away from the stadium.”

Destiny hangs up the phone without saying anything else. I just keep following Lizbeth, waiting on her to do something suspicious to prove I’ve got the right person. Then again, she’s not going to turn into a werewolf in a crowd. There’re fees for stuff like that. I heard the Marson family got stuck with the bill for the mall fight. Probably another reason they’re pissed at us, but they got money to spare. Crap, I lost track of Lizbeth. Where is she?

“What’s up Lizbitch," I hear Destiny shout to my left.

Lizbeth takes off running down an alley. I give chase and Destiny speeds ahead with the whole vampire speed thing again. It doesn't take long before we have her alone and cornered away from view. A few months ago I’d be holding my knees, gasping for air while dry heaving. Now, this is light practice. I suppose Destiny’s training technique worked. My body has changed a lot since I met her, I actually have abs now, well I can see them sometimes.  

“Just surrender, make this easy,” Destiny offers.

“Never tasted vampire meat before,” Lizbeth responds, her voice is almost like a growl.

“I’m a human,” I try to get in on the banter.

“You’re dead,” Lizbeth responds.

I expect a werewolf to just sort of quickly morph from human to wolf, painlessly, I also thought it was only possible on a full moon. That means I’m wrong on all three counts. Lizbeth’s clothes start to rip as her body rapidly begins to bulk and become more muscular as her skin turns grey, she rips at her flesh. It stretches and bruises but isn’t visible long. A dark brown fur begins to spout on her body as her face becomes more and more wolf like. Short quick grunts and growls indicate the transformation is painful.

Destiny rushes before the transformation is complete and is smacked away. A werewolf’s strength is truly frightening if it could do that to Destiny. I summon the echoes and launch an attack. That’s all I can do. The air that comes from her missed swings is enough to make me afraid. The smell, she didn’t smell like this a few minutes ago. It’s the breath, I nearly faint dodging a bite. I’m cutting her, it’s doing nothing.  

Electricity flows through my back and I drop to my knees. I know she’s got me with her claws. I try to focus as Destiny comes back into view but my vision isn’t holding. I’ve never been in so much pain before, all this from one claw? I swing out my right leg and use it to push myself back to my feet. My vision steadies enough for me to move forward and slash. This time I’m met with fist that deflates me and sends me flying into a wall. There’s a slight popping sound and my ears begin to ring. I touch the back of my head feel the blood.

I push against the wall and use it to bring myself up again. Patient, I need to wait for the right moment to strike. A moment when Destiny has backed off to give her some distance. Lizbeth swings and Destiny leaps backwards to avoid the claw. I rush in from behind and swing the blade at her throat. I miss, too high, too groggy to aim. I feel two fists come down on my back, then I feel the pavement. 

Chapter 104 - M.


“That’s not sex bro,” Elias laughs.

“It was a sex act.”

“There was no penetration, not even oral.”

“Not everyone penetrates when they have sex.”

“I guess that’s true, but don’t go moving the goalposts,” Elias joked.

I don’t know if this is strange. I’ve never had a sex life outside of the internet, do people just discuss it openly? Then again, Elias knows everything about me. Do other guys do this? This is all so new to me. I’m excited, but I also don’t think this is anyone’s business. It isn’t like we recorded this and put it on the internet or anything like that.

“So, how was it.”

“Surprisingly warm and not in the spot I expected it. Like, it’s a lot lower.”

“No you idiot,” Elias smacks in the back of the head.

“I just answered the question.”

“Never, ever, talk about your dance partner’s shoes.”

“What,” again with the metaphors.

“Don’t got telling people about Destiny’s private parts. That’s supposed to be private information and she just happened to share it with you.”

“Then why did you ask how it was?”

“I meant you. Did you enjoy it? Was there anything you liked or didn’t like?”

“Oh, I liked it. It was pretty fast, but I really enjoyed it. I wish it lasted longer.”

“The old space shuttle takeoff. At least there wasn’t a false start. I had a false start, didn’t even get it out all the way. She touched it, and boom! Looked like I spilled milk all over myself.”

“I didn’t need that image in my head.”

“I could have painted a picture,” he shrugs.

“Do you have no shame?”

“None, because you got it all,” Elias laughs.

He’s right, I had a lot of fun with Destiny last night, and I’ve thought about us as the sun sets a thousand times since. The softness of her touch, the warmth of her body. I loved every moment of it, and will probably replay it for a long time. Still, I don’t feel shame, but not necessarily proud either. Something I had waited on for so long, came and went in just a few minutes. The moment was everything I thought it would be and somehow it didn’t live up to my expectations at all.

I hadn’t even given any thought to our future afterwards either. I had always assumed I’d be with just one woman and have a story book marriage. No picket fence, but two kids is something I’ve always thought about. I want sons, but I’d still love daughters. Can vampires have kids? I don’t remember if I ever asked Destiny before. I’m pretty sure she told me that they would adopt children, but I can’t remember. I’m just wondering what she thought about the whole thing?

Why didn’t we go further? Did I hesitate or was it her? No matter how many times I think about it, I can’t remember. I just think about the two of us laughing in the grass when it was all done. I need to call her, why hasn’t she called me. Does this change our relationship? Did we move too fast? Was this overdue? How long does the average couple wait before having sex? We aren’t even average so that doesn’t matter.

“You good over there,” Elias tosses a pillow at me.

“Why hasn’t she called me?”


“Destiny,” I throw the pillow back.

“Do you two even talk like that? You’ve been with her for a while now and I haven’t heard you up late chatting on the phone a single night. What do you two do when you’re hanging out?”

“We kind of just watch movies together.”

“Neither of you are big talkers. You probably have hour long inner monologues but you don’t talk to people. She’s probably the same way which is why you to get along so well. At least she didn’t call and break up with you.”

“What if she is breaking up with me? What if she’s just going to ignore me until I get the message.”

“Dude, you need to stop over thinking things. You’re killing my mood.”

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. This is a big moment in any relationship.”

“Do you want some pot?”


“Yeah, you need to calm down.”

“I don’t do that stuff.”

“Since when? You don’t do it every day but I’ve gotten you at least once a month, and you’re overdue.”

Elias almost skips out the living room and towards his bedroom. I know what he’s going to get, and I don’t even try to run. He’s probably right about this; his advice hasn’t let me down before. Still, I need to hear from her. I send a text asking if she wants to see a movie this weekend.

“Pick out a good movie while I roll up, something funny please. I don’t need you blowing my high before I even blow the trees,” Elias pops down on the couch with a rolling tray.

“What about National Security?”


Chapter 103 - M.

I told Destiny about the attack and her response was that I needed to train more. Not just with my weapons, but with actual fists. I can’t recall ever being in a fist fight, at least a fair one when we’re on equal footing, or Elias hasn’t already beat the guy up. Now I’m out here in the middle of nowhere and I’m supposed to get into a fist fight with my girlfriend. This sounds like the plot to a horror movie. When does Candyman jump out of the trees, or I guess that would be a Jason Vorhees thing.

“Alright, make a fist,” Destiny commands. “That’s pathetic,” she laughs.


“Give me your hand,” she reaches out.

“In marriage? It’s all so sudden.”

She punches me in the shoulder. “No, I’m going to teach you to make a fist.”

“I know how.”

“You know how to hurt yourself.” She grabs my hand. “Look you’ve got your thumb tucked under your fingers. You’ll dislocate it, maybe even break it. You want to strike with your knuckles, not the whole fist.”

When Destiny said we were coming out here to train I thought she was going to teach me some martial arts or something. Instead, we’re just fist fighting. We could have at least gone to a boxing ring. Instead, she’s got me learning to throw dirt in people’s eyes because there isn’t enough time to make me a real fighter. I’m not becoming a dirty fighter either. She’s been beating me long enough that the sun has started to set and the occasional lightning bug appears. She keeps complaining I’m sluggish but one of us isn’t gifted with vampire healing abilities and near unlimited stamina.

At this point I’m just trying not to fall over and die. She’s not giving me a chance to take a break or breathe. Her excuse is that there’s no breaks in fighting, but this isn’t a real fight. No matter how many fights I get into, weapons or fists, I can never prepare for some kind of mist being spat in my face. For the umpteenth time Destiny knocks me on my ass and stares at me with disappointment. She doesn’t offer a hand getting up, so I just stare at her from the ground.

“You’re not getting it. Fighting is like sex,” Destiny looks down at me.

“Fighting is nothing like sex. Fighting is between two people who have a disagreement and sex is between two people that love each other. Or have a monetary exchange, sometimes just bored. Whatever, they aren’t anything alike.”

“You’ve never had sex before so you don’t get it.”

“I know enough to know that if sex is anything like getting beat up, I don’t want any.”

She takes a seat in the grass next to me. “Sex and fighting require that you’ve chosen a good partner.”

“You usually don’t choose your partner in a fight.”

“Oh, but you totally do. See, with sex you should know you can’t just take it whenever, same way you can’t just start a fight whenever. You should also avoid having sex with most people, even if they offer it to you. Same with a fight, you don’t need to fight every person around you, even if you’re challenged. You have to match your opponent's passion and rhythm otherwise you come up short.”

“You’ve really thought about this a lot.”

“Of course.”

“How do I know I’ve found the right partner?”

“You don’t. You just have to open up and trust your heart. Even if everything else tells you to pull away, follow your heart. Sometimes you’ll lose, but f you trust your heart, you win more than you lose eventually. Then you come to the last fight that you ever want or need.”

“Just trust my heart?”

“That’s all you have to do.”

"This is so stupid,” I sigh.

“Do you have a better answer?”

“Yes, let’s drop all the metaphors and just go for it.”

I don’t give her a chance to respond, I close my eyes and lean in for a kiss. Her lips mee mine and for a moment all of the metaphors and fist fighting are finished. I like this, moments of peace and passion between the two of us. I wish it could be this way forever.

“You’re still not a good kisser, but you kiss better than you fight,” Destiny leans back and lies across the grass. “There’s just one problem.”

“What’s that?”

“If you kiss one set of lips, you better kiss the other too.”

“Right now?”

“Right now.”

“We’re out in the middle of nowhere.”


“What if someone comes.”

“What if they do?”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I told you, follow through on your attacks. Stop pulling punches.”

“Drop the metaphors.”

“Alright,” Destiny shrugs.

Not a moment later she’s tossed me back and is straddling my chest. I don’t know why I’m so afraid all of a sudden. I’m anxious even if I’ve thought about this moment so many times before. It’s played out in my head thousands of different ways, and none of them were like this. This time her kiss doesn’t calm me, it makes my heart beat faster. I know what’s to come, I’m not ready. No, I’m ready. I trust my heart. I want this.

“Well, I guess it does get bigger,” Destiny smirks before planting a kiss on my neck this time.

Chapter 102 - M.

I’ve been checking out shops I found online all day. I’m looking for a nice gift for Destiny, but I don’t really know what she likes, besides shoes and fashion. I know what kind of music she likes, but we can go to a concert whenever. I’d like to get her something to use on the regular basis, that way she’d always think of me when she used it. So far, I’ve only managed to get things for me.

An animated book that has information on different magical creatures and beings so I can stop guessing and being accidentally racist to Orcs. I got a mirror that will give me compliments every day. A mood ring, that can actually make me happy if I’m feeling sad. And, a wallet that won’t open for anyone except the owner. A great day of shopping. Still, I got nothing for Destiny. Then again, they say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and there’s a jewelry store people talk about often.

The Lunar Favor, a small jewelry store tucked into the corner spot of a strip mall. Inside looks more like they sell trinkets than jewelry. The Dark Elf at the counter waves gleefully as I make my way inside and star to look around. Whatever he’s eating smells of chicken and some kind of strong spices that are probably packing a lot of heat. A square shaped pendent catches my eye after some browsing. It seems to be made of some kind of black stone with pieces of gold shining through and a cloudy diamond in the center.

“Ahh, that is a good choice. Do you have an unfaithful lady in your life,” he asks?

“No,” I answer as I twirl the pendent in my hands.

“Well you don’t need that,” he laughs.

“Why? What does it do?”

“Whoever you gift it to will fall madly in love with you, as long as they don’t take it off.”

“That’s kind of creepy.”

“Tell me about it.”

Two more men enter and he greats them. I recognize these men. I saw them a few different times today in each store I visited. This area has a lot of magic stores, and they could be touring the shops, the same way I am. Except, they’re hitting every shop at the same time. I even tried to switch up my route earlier, but they followed. I’ve been ignoring them. Pretending I didn’t see them. I’m not sure who they are, or why they’re following me, but I can’t help but feel I need to shake them.

“What do you suggest I get,” I ask the shopkeeper, trying not to act strange.

“Well, who are you shopping for?”

“My girlfriend,” it still feels good being able to say that.

“Really? Just give her the money. Women be shopping, women be shopping,” he jokes.

“I see you’re a fan of Chris Rock too,” I laugh.

“No Reggie, but he hasn’t been the same since Buddy Love,” he laughs harder.

“Alright, alright. Enough pop culture references. What do you suggest?”

“Give me just a moment,” he steps from behind the counter and makes his way behind a curtain.

He hands me a gold necklace with a jagged rainbow-colored stone wrapped in gold. I notice some runes etched into the gold parts that hold the stone into the pendant and it lets me know that the pendent is indeed magical, but that’s why I came to the shop in the first place. They aren’t as detailed or as many as the ones on the echoes Destiny gifted me.

“What does it do,” I ask.

“It’s a very simple enchantment. It simply allows the wearer to stop second guessing themselves. They follow their heart. If this girlfriend truly loves you, don’t worry. But, if she has eyes for another perhaps I can sell you a ring that fends off temptation,” he raises and eyebrow.

“No, I think this will be perfect. Do you have a case for it?”

“Of course.”

The price is pretty fair considering the reviews said he over charged for items. I’m thinking he charges whatever he wants depending on the vibe he gets from a person. There’re no price tags on anything so he can do whatever he wants I guess.

Outside I place the necklace in my car, then keep walking. I’m curious if the men will follow me, and they do. I would be running from these guys not to longer ago. A little while less, and I would have been terrified that I might kill another person again. Now I recognize I’ve been put into a world where sometimes people die, and it’s okay to feel bad, but if you don’t kill you might die.

I make my way into a random alleyway and duck behind a dumpster, sure enough my new friends head down the alley as well. I wait until they pass me to step out behind them and catch them by surprise.

“Why are you stalking me,” my question startles them forcing them to turn around.

I expect an answer, I just didn’t expect it to be a roundhouse kick to my face. I’ve been hit in the face before, but never kicked before, and a kick hurts more, new lessons. I drop to a knee just to recover but they don’t waste any time. Doesn’t take long before I’m on the ground in fetal position being punched and kicked.

Elias isn’t coming to save me like when we were kids. There’s no wererats around to lend me a hand either. I can yell Destiny’s name all I want, and it won’t mean a thing. For the first time ever, I think I have to save myself. The echoes come to me almost immediately, like they were meant for me. I swing out my arms hoping to hit anything and clip something, enough to let me stand.

“I don’t know karate or anything, but I do know how to use these,” I try to sound cool.

They say a fight is over in decided in the first thirty seconds, well this is the second round. I swing with precision trying to keep them back. I make contact and the echo in my left hand doesn’t stick into the man’s flesh. It cuts through his shirt and leaves and blood quickly appears on his torso. Not enough to disembowel him but enough cuts like that, and he won’t last long. Destiny was right, these are better for me. They aren’t as heavy and I can counter almost every time I get hit. Each swing seems to cut it’s perfect. One of the men pauses, that’s it the nightmares. I take the moment to take some big swings at his chest putting him down. The second spits some kind of blue mist in my face and grabs his fallen partner.

When I open my eyes, the sun has set and the men are gone. Did that blue mist put me to sleep?