When secrets are revealed, Tabitha has to put her trust in a vampire shrouded in secrets. Will Tabitha’s heart get broken or is this the first step to a normal life?More info →
Ten years later
Trees flew by me in a blur as I chased after my prey. It was fast, much faster than I was, but I knew I could catch up in the end. I let loose a dagger, hoping to hit my mark. By the ear-piercing yelp that echoed through the woods, I knew it did. It was still moving, but slower now.
I saw the blood on the ground, smeared on leaves. Retrieving my dagger, I continued the chase. A rustle of leaves was all the warning I had as the beast lunged at me. The werewolf hit my chest and sent me crashing to the dirt. It gnashed at my face with its claws and pawed at my black leather bodice. I lashed my dagger upwards, glancing it off the werewolf’s side.
I rolled to my feet, ignoring the throbbing pain in my cheek. The werewolf circled me, looking for a break in my defenses. It would find nothing.
With my sunglasses on, the werewolf had no warning of my rising magic. It wasn’t until I conjured lightning from my fingertips did it realize the danger, but by then it was too late. It lunged then yelped and crashed to the ground, its body convulsing as the electricity surged through it. I only stopped when I felt his life end. The form of a wolf slowly melted away, revealing a man in his early thirties. I knelt down to check for a pulse, pleased when I found none.
This werewolf was responsible for terrorizing humans for the better part of three years. He had killed countless times, even managing to change a couple of them over. The Conclave issued a death warrant and, being their Enforcer, I complied. I didn’t like to kill, but it was the job the Conclave gave me when I turned eighteen.
Sheathing my knife, I pulled out my cell phone to call it in. The Conclave would send in a team to clean the scene up. My stomach lurched. I realized it was obvious that I used magic.
“Dammit,” I muttered, snapping the phone shut. Taking my left pinky finger in my hand, I quickly bent it until I heard the bone snap. I gritted my teeth against the pain and watched as my flesh swelled and bruised. It was the price of my magic.
Ever since that day ten years ago, I had to be careful about my magic use―fake headaches, break a finger, feign memory loss. As an Enforcer I should have no memory of my past. I shouldn’t have been able to remember my father or my mother…or poor Susan…but I did. Susan was killed by a drunk driver when we were eighteen. I was still grieving her death when a bout of magic forced me to “forget” her―but nothing, not even magic, could make me forget my twin.
I never suffered as other witches did when they used even the tiniest bit of magic, and I did my best to hide my ability. To the outside, I looked like I should, but on the inside I was dying.
I walked until the woods thinned out and a road came into view with my car parked along it. As I popped the trunk, a truck pulled up. The headlights blinded me, making it impossible to see who had arrived. I turned back to my car, ignoring them while tucking my knives away in the trunk. I wasn’t stupid enough to put my gun away. I was a shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of girl. If they attacked, I’d blow them away. I heard footsteps on gravel and turned to see who it was.
Chloe Roper, were-panther, was leaning against the hood of her truck, watching me with a predator’s eyes. I hated the bitch. She was the emissary of the were community to the Conclave and worked hard to make sure I was busy. My job was to police the witches, not clean up after were-messes…but the Conclave didn’t see it my way, so here I was.
“They want you to come in,” Chloe growled. Her tousled blonde hair and yellow eyes used to scare me, but now I knew she used them to intimidate. I laughed, knowing she was trying to do that. If she knew everything I did, she’d be cowering in fear.
“A mission. They want you to clean up first, though. Airports tend to frown upon blood stains.”
I grimaced. I hated to travel for the Conclave. They always stuck me in coach, with seats so small you had no choice but to have your thigh pressed up against the stranger beside you. I dug my keys out of my pocket and went to unlock my car, wincing when I jarred my broken finger.
“You used magic,” Chloe said with a smile. “What a price to pay.”
“It was worth it.” I sneered as I climbed into the driver’s seat, cranked the car, and slammed on the gas. The world flew by, trees turning to houses and houses to city life. I didn’t like living in Massachusetts. I hated the cold, and the people drove like maniacs. Recently, I was in South Carolina for a while dealing with a variety of issues, from vampire politics to psychotic sorceresses. I liked the friendly people and easygoing lifestyle. One day I would retire there, buy a lakefront house, and just relax, not having to worry about hiding my magic use.
My apartment was one of the only places where I could be myself. I could allow myself to remember the things and people I had “forgotten.” I could keep pictures of my family in frames on the wall instead of in storage boxes. With only one bedroom, it didn’t offer much in terms of space, but it held the little I had just fine.
I showered quickly and changed into a pair of jeans and a white T-shirt, pulling my wet hair back into a ponytail. Digging out my first-aid kit, I splinted my broken finger before pulling a suitcase out of my closet, packing a bag that would last me a couple of days. It didn’t matter if I was gone longer. That’s what Laundromats were for. I also pulled out a special traveling case for my babies; my guns.
I loved to use guns and looked for any chance to do so. I liked the Five-Seven. I usually kept two of them in a shoulder holster, but since I was traveling I had to pack them and the holsters in the case. I also packed silver throwing knives and a couple of vials of holy water, just in case. I didn’t know what the Conclave was going to have me do, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to be unprepared.
As the sun started to rise, I was on my way to meet with the Conclave. The Conclave was older than dirt and made up of over forty witches, including my father Jonathan Drake. They used to keep an eye on witches, making sure they stayed within their bounds and didn’t expose us. Lately, they combined their efforts with the vampire Council and were-clans to keep their world a secret. I used to wonder if they were working with the Blood Moon Corporation.
The BMC was made up of every supernatural creature in existence and even a couple of humans. Their sole purpose was to police the supernatural world. Whispers among the witches said the BMC was planning to come out to the human world, exposing us all. If the rumors were true, then it was no wonder the Conclave was working with the Council and clans. Some of us wanted to stay hidden.
The Conclave convened in an old castle near Haverhill. As a child I used to love coming here. The rolling hills were fun to play on, no matter the time of year. I could remember Susan and me sledding down these very hills during the winter months. I could remember learning to ice skate on the pond at the base of the hills. I had a lot of memories of this place, all of them good. Now it stood for everything I hated. The gray stones and wrought-iron gates reminded me of a prison.
My father was waiting outside to escort me in. I schooled my expression, keeping an annoyed look on my face. My father smiled at me. I just nodded.
“Jonathan,” I said in way of greeting. It broke my heart to see the pain in his eyes.
“Tabitha, they’re ready for you,” he said as he held the door open for me.
We looked at each other as we entered, and I let a smile flash across my face before I stepped through the doors. He was my father, and I couldn’t stand to treat him like he was nothing to me.
The room was dark. I could sense the witches sitting around me, but there wasn’t enough light to see their faces―like that could keep me from finding out who they were. The Conclave thought if they acted dark and mysterious then we would fear them. All they did was remind me of a child in their parents’ shoes.
Maybe two hundred years ago this situation would have inspired fear, but now it did nothing but irritate me.
I stood in the middle of the room, arms crossed behind me, awaiting their commands.
“Tabitha,” a woman said. I didn’t recognize her voice. This was not a surprise. There were over forty members, and I only knew ten of them outside this room. “The task we give you today is not to be taken lightly.”
I raised an eyebrow but otherwise remained unmoving.
“We’ve received a call from Damian, vampire lord of Charleston, South
Carolina. You’ve met him previously.”
They didn’t say that to jog my memory. I wasn’t supposed to have any memories at all. This was to let me know that we did business before, nothing more.
“He claims there’s a witch living in his territory who is consolidating magic.”
I nodded. Consolidating magic was the stupidest thing a witch could do.
Whatever the witch planned to do with it all, they wouldn’t live through it. The magic would take everything from them until all that was left was a corpse.
The Conclave continued. “We need you to find the Gray-Magic witch and bring her back to us.”
There was said to be a witch who possessed the ability to use dark and light magic, able to end the world with a single thought. Gray magic was absolute, the most powerful of witches’ magic, but that was just a fairy tale…
“Where is she?” I asked. I knew of only one group of witches who lived in Damian’s territory; Crystal Rose Circle. They kept to themselves and never caused any problems. I doubted the witch was one of theirs.
“Unknown. We need you to go there and deem if this witch is a threat. Damian requested you specifically.”
There was something the Conclave wasn’t telling me. If I asked any more questions, it would lead nowhere good. I nodded and clasped my hands together over my heart. “It will be done.”
My father walked over to me, handing me plane tickets and a manila envelope. I took them and left, not opening anything until I was in my car. As I opened the envelope containing the plane tickets, a small post-it note fell to my car floor. I bent to pick it up as I read over the ticket, eyes widening at the first class designation. The Conclave never splurged on me. I scanned over the note, careful to keep my expression clear.
“Tabs, I know you are afraid of enclosed spaces so I upgraded your seat. Love,
I shoved the note into my car’s ashtray and ignited it with a spark of my magic. If anyone saw this…
Flames licked at the paper, turning it to ash within moments.
What was my father thinking, giving me that note? If I had been with anyone else my secret would have been out. I ground my teeth in frustration, but couldn’t be angry at him. He was my father, and he had to pretend I didn’t remember him.
A normal daughter would at least call her father, even going as far as inviting him over for dinner… but I wasn’t normal.
I drove to Logan International Airport, gripping the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white. One day I wouldn’t have to hide anymore. One day I could call my father and tell him how much I loved him and missed him. I just hoped that day would be soon because I didn’t know how much longer I could continue doing this.