My great-great-grandaunt gave me a chilling smile for the first time I knew her. It sent goosebumps right on my skin and an icy thing snaked down my spine.
“Is it time for me to take back the powers I let you borrow, hmm, Avabella?”
Diego sniggered while Iago grinned at his wife, touching her cheek lovingly and kissed her temple. I swear I could almost hear their “mind conversation” right now.
“Good job, mi amor. I’m so proud of you. Take them back. Avabella doesn’t deserve your powers even though it’s just a fraction of it.”
“Oh, Iago, I want to give Avabella a lesson. This selfish brat will definitely learn!”
I blinked fast; jaw hung open. I tried to think fast. ‘No hay tutía,’ I thought. ‘There’s no other solution.’ I had to pacify my great-great-grandaunt! I didn’t want to be without powers. I was already used to having them. I didn’t think I could ever be the same without Maria Adriana’s powers anymore. They were part of me. Besides, I felt safer with these powers within me. Who wouldn’t?
I held out my hand in front of me. “No! There’s no way there’ll ever be time to take them back.” I grinned sweetly, with puppy eyes. “I… uh… I was just asking why you’re sending me, too. Of course, I…” I stuttered. “I am confident Iago could take anyone on. He’s the Alpha Wolf King who also has your powers after all! So…” I shrugged.
Maria Adriana gave me a fake smile. “Ahuh. Right.” Her eyes suddenly flashed red. “If I tell you to do your duty using my powers, you do it, Avabella. No questions asked! You just obey, alright?”
I shivered. I could feel the cold inside my body. Was it her doing? Most probably.
I cowered. “Okay! Okay! No need to make me feel cold! It’s like I’m going to turn into a bloodsucker popsicle any second now!” I said, rubbing my arms. The goosebumps were still there. I had never felt such coldness since I was turned. Just now. ¡Dios mío! She was really serious.
“I’m not giving you these powers just for your own good. You have to use them for the good of all. Don’t be selfish, Avabella. I’m warning you!”
I looked down. Of course, I knew that. Then I looked up, eyes twinkling. “Y-you’re giving me them? Not just letting me borrow them for an indefinite time? For real?”
She was right in front of me, cupping my face and looking up at me. “Please, prove to me I didn’t make the mistake of giving them to you, Avabella. Please! They’re a part of me.” Her eyes dark brown eyes searched my light brown ones, looking soulful. It was like she was reading my very soul, which gave me another shiver. But it was not because of the cold. I felt fine now than earlier. This one was different, which was inexplicable. She seemed to touch me from deep within. Maybe from my soul.
I barely noticed that my tears slowly ran down my face. My gaze dropped to her face. She reminded me of my Mama. She used to scold me for being a hard-headed bitch. It was true that I was sometimes selfish.
“I’m sorry, Maria Adriana. I just…” I trailed off. I didn’t know if I could say it. I was suddenly at a loss for words.
She nodded in understanding. “It’s alright. It’s alright. I understand. You and I are going to talk. Later. Just protect everyone you have to protect using my powers, especially our family and friends. That’s all I ask of you. I’m not saying you can do it perfectly because we don’t know who or what’s out there. But you won’t be there naked. You’re always armed with my love and my powers, Avabella. Always think of it this way. Okay?”
I sniffled and she dried my tears with her thumbs. “Go now. I’ll send you where the battle is.”
Using her teleportation power, which I didn’t have actually, we were all transported in the middle of a dark forest in just a blink of an eye.
¡Dios mío! I was not prepared but my companions were. It was impressive. Diego met a wolf leaping into the air to attack us with his spinning hook kick. Iago transformed into his striking red wolf form. He was definitely a knockout! No wonder Maria Adriana loved to “ride” this shifter.
“What are you doing? It’s not the time to space out, Avabella!” Nianzu demanded, gritting his teeth while groaning as a black-coated rogue buried its canine fangs in the flesh of his forearm while his other hand’s thumb buried in its eye.
‘¡Maldición!’ I cursed in my head, watching Nianzu try to shake the wolf off from him. He tackled the rogue down to the ground instead and punched him hard in the side. The sound of breaking bones was too clear for my heightened hearing. Seeing the wolf die, I was relieved that Nianzu overcame it. Gracious God!
A second or two later, I caught sight of the midnight blue wolf swarmed with rogues. I knew that scent very well. It was him. I swallowed, eyes glowering red. I extended a hand toward Elias’ enemies.
Flames instantaneously licked the rogues’ bodies, making them whimper and disperse, leaving the Alpha alone and staring at me with eyes I didn’t bother to read. The fire crawled all over the rogues’ bodies. It just won’t die even though they rolled over on the snowy ground. They cried in pain like they were tortured.
Good for them. I was pissed! I was supposed to enjoy this birthday party for my little cousin and had a relaxing chat with my family but they chose to appear and do something nasty!
I turned my back to Elias, blazing some more other rogues into crispy wolves. The smoke and soot mixed the blood scent in the cool air in the dark forest. More vampires from our clan arrived, chasing the rogues that got away. I was sure they were going to take care of them perfectly.
But I noticed something weird. These rogues were faster than normal ones. They moved in a blur like normal vampire speed. From what I knew, vampires were faster than wolves, although I did take it for granted with Elias’ pack. I heard his was pretty special. But I didn’t get to know the details. Iago and I were not particularly close despite the fact that he was my great-great-grandaunt’s beloved husband. I knew he hated my gut, so we hadn’t had the chance to discuss any topic at all. Well, I couldn’t blame him. I quite made a bad impression on him since we met the first time at my great grandpa’s mansion. I knew I was selfish for wanting to be a vampire like his beloved wife.
I took note of this odd fact with the rogues. Perhaps it was important to report this to Maria Adriana later when we get back to the castle. Although the ex-Vampire King and his wife were already imprisoned for eternity, another face of unknown enemy was hiding behind these rogues. I wondered what their agenda was. And why did it have to be Elias’ pack that got to face them? Was it because of him or his pack or someone in his circle?
And yet, I didn’t want to ask him all these questions. It would require me a lot of energy just to face him, considering that I wanted to protect myself from his sexual advances. Mate his ass! Why were wolves so adamant about their mates? I thought it was tiresome. Really. And to think I was only pursued just today, how much more if it went on?
“You came with Iago,” Elias stated in a husky voice, transforming into his human form since the battle was already over. He was naked for a moment, which I didn’t really gaze at or I’d see “something” in particular that I didn’t want to. But it was amazing that he conjured his clothing in just a blink of an eye. It was the same for his pack members, I noticed. I couldn’t help but be awed by this. Iago and his pack members hadn’t had this particular ability. They would stay naked after shifting in their human form until they would literally get clothes from their wardrobe or that someone would give them something to wear.
I raised a hand right in front of his face and gave him a bitchy face. “It was not that I wanted to. I was forced to come here out of duty, so… no need to thank me.” I was about to leave him to go to Diego and Nianzu, whereas Iago was not far away from them, giving orders to his own pack to sweep the entire forest.
I momentarily wondered how many there were before we arrived because Elias and his pack were definitely outnumbered. Maybe with the ratio of six or more to one. I glanced at him. He was lucky he wasn’t badly injured except for a few wounds in his arms, hands and the side of his neck. All of them were healing as we faced each other. They were not really deep but they needed enough time to heal, like some minutes.
I don’t know but I suddenly had the urge to check the rest of his body if he was really fine. What if he had major injuries, which I couldn’t see because they were covered by his clothing?
I mentally shook my head. Why would I care? I wanted to kick myself for being curious. The shifter could very well take care of himself, so there was no need to be worried about.
“I had no intention of thanking you,” he said with amusement in his dark eyes. “But I’m glad you came even though you were forced to, out of duty.”
I stared at him for a moment or two before I averted my eyes. “Why were there rogues here?” Okay, I couldn’t suppress my curiosity anymore. I unthinkingly kicked a protruding stone on the ground, sending it somewhere far, almost hitting Diego in the face. Oops! He was fast to dodge it though, turning his face and giving me a glare but I ignored him.
“They’re after me,” Elias replied.
My head jerked in his direction, to my right. His eyes were intently gazing at my face, wiping off the soot from my cheek with his gentle thumb. Heat spread throughout my face. I hoped the darkness of the forest camouflaged it. But who was I kidding? He had heightened eyesight just like us vampires.
“I see. You must have acquired enemies throughout the centuries.” I moved away from him but he followed me with his long strides. Darn it! I couldn’t help but glance at those muscular thighs and legs.
I tried to read his face. He looked serious. He extended a hand to Iago to shake it but there were no words between them. Just some kind of mutual understanding like they were brothers. Right. They’d been close friends for centuries, I heard.
Iago clapped his shoulder. “Shall we go back to the castle now?” he asked Elias but I knew it goes the same for us. “We have to run back though. Avabella and I don’t have Adriana’s teleportation power.”
“I don’t mind,” Elias murmured, looking at me.
I cleared my throat. “We can use the wind to take us back. It’ll be faster,” I informed them.
“Hmm. Not in the mood to run, Avabella?” Iago teased.
I shrugged. “You can say that,” I said evenly and gave him a bitch face.
I summoned the elemental power to use the wind after moving my hand in a circle. It gathered everyone in the forest. Some were startled. Some were awed, looking at me. I just crossed my arms while the warm wind took us back to the castle. It was like we were riding a cable car but far faster than that machine.
We were all quite, watching the beautiful cityscape of Paris that night. The Eiffel Tower was dramatically stunning with its gold-colored lights. It looked really grand. The rest of the city mainly glimmered in orange and gold tint, with a shade of blues and grays, which were the buildings. I could also see the Supreme Castle not far away. It looked beautiful with its bright white lights. I was sure that the party had started. I could see movements in the courtyard and the garden, in the back.
I gently put us down, away from the courtyard.
“That was quite an experience. Well done, Avabella!” Iago said to me with a grin.
“Did you just compliment me?” I raised an eyebrow as we walked toward the interior of the castle.
“No. In fact, I insulted you,” Iago teased me.
I snorted at that. Seriously, he never complimented me before. It was a first. I couldn’t help but feel happy about it. And of course, be proud of myself. It was known that his compliments were only limited to his mate and maybe their offspring. Duh!
“Let’s enjoy the party for now. Later, we’ll deal with your captive,” Iago told Elias, who just nodded. He left us, with Valko on his heels.
“Of course. It’s my godson’s night,” he said to the Alpha Wolf King.
“I have to change my clothes,” Diego sighed, looking down at his soiled clothes before he glanced at me. He gave me a wink and rushed upstairs in his vampire speed.
“Me, too,” Nianzu quietly seconded. He rushed after Diego, which left me with Elias.
Gosh! Those three seemed to deliberately throw me in this Alpha’s company. All alone. But I did need a change of clothes, too!