– “Don’t bother asking me what she was talking about back there, because I have no
clue…and yes, I’m just as worried as you are.”‘ Tristan huffed from the passenger seat, his scowl
directed out the window and towards the impenetrable wall of darkness that filled the forest and the night
Most of his attitude was from the fact that I wouldn’t let him drive, but I needed the distraction since the
fear in Cassidy’s voice continued to increase with each update she gave.
“Purple eyes. What the h**l could that-“
‘Lola, please tell me your close…’ Cassidy’s voice came through the mind-link as a whisper.
I slowed down to take the sharp curve up ahead, narrowing my eyes to peer through the darkness.
Acting quickly, I showed Cassidy a quick mental image of the stretch of road we were on, and visibly
jumped when her hushed whisper tore through my head faster than the shadows that dashed across the
road to flee the cars bright headlights.
‘Turn onto the gravel road and take it to the (very) end. You won’t see me there…but you’ll see him.’
“What? Cassidy, why won’t you be there?” I hadn’t realized I’d asked out loud until Tristan turned to stare
at me, his face strained and skin even paler than usual.
‘I’m hiding.’ Was all Cassidy said, followed by a shaky, “I swear I didn’t want to do it, Lola. You have to
“She did something, she won’t say what.” I told Tristan, grinding my teeth as the gritty crunch of gravel
sounded beneath the tires. “Goddess, I have a bad feeling about this.”
The dirt road Cassidy told us to drive down was narrow and curved in patterns that seemed to have no
purpose other than to send us plunging further into darkness. The deeper we went the more the
sickening feeling in my stomach grew.
The cars headlights only illuminated five or so feet in front of us and were our only source of light. I
stopped just in time to avoid plowing through a chain draped across two poles hammered into the
“Your Goddess isn’t here, Lola…but something is.” Tristan said darkly, narrowing his eyes at the obstacle
blocking our way.
‘Cassidy, there’s a chain and a no trespassing sign here. We can’t go any further.’ I warned her, twisting,
and turning my head for any signs of life or movement. Rolling down the windows increased the feeling
of danger in my gut but gave us the chance to listen for anything within the forest.
‘Get out of the car and follow the trail on foot.’
“You didn’t say anything about a trail.” I replied both out loud and via mind-link, giving Tristan an uneasy
look as I gripped the handle of the car door and slowly pushed it open.
“I don’t like this.” He muttered, getting out of the car, and walking around until he hovered close by. His
eyes scanned the darkness, but I knew he saw nothing when his scowl deepened. “It’s not often I get
creeped out, but this is…concerning.”
“The big bad vampire is afraid…” I chuckled weakly, wincing as the thud of the driver’s side door echoed
A trail of icy fear trickled down my spine, because for once the shadows weren’t fleeing. They stayed
where they were, curious and patient as Tristan and I slid past the rusted chain and willingly ventured
deeper into the forest.
“What are we even looking for?” He asked several moments later, his voice muffled from the intense
ringing in my ears.
The earth crunched beneath our feet, and the air was surprisingly warm as it coated our skin in a thin
layer of sweat. We followed the winding trail until the tree’s began to disperse and a small clearing came
into view. The canopy of tree’s overhead was thick, blocking most of the moonlight from streaming
through. The only light available was that of the tiny window in Lars’s camper and the two tiki torches
protruding from the ground on either side of the front door.
There was a foul stench radiating from the camper, seeping from its slatted walls of sky-blue paint until
the air was dank with the stench of d***h and rot.
“Do you smell that?” Tristan whispered, his entire body going tense.
I nodded ever so slightly. “That smell…it’s a d**d body.”
“One that’s been here for a while.” He murmured, eyes trained on the front door and the light flickering
through the window.
Tristan went to move forward, motioning for me to stay close. Together we approached the front door,
both of us holding our breaths as the k**b squeaked and hinges squealed upon opening.
At the last second I heard Cassidy’s gasp through the mind-link.
‘Lola, don’t open that!’
I gagged as a gust of the putrid scent blasted me in the face and had to s*****w back chunks of my
dinner when the bloated and misshapen face of Lars appeared from the cushion of an antique looking
He was lying on his back, his head twisted at an awkward angle so that his eyes were looking in the
direction of the front door, the same one Tristan and I had just come through.
There were two blades protruding from his body, both coated in blood so dark it looked fake. One was a
thin pocketknife, lodged just below his eye still within his orbital socket, while the second was where I
assumed his heart rested.
“Where is your friend?” Tristan hissed under his breath and turned to look me in the face. His eyes were
wider than I’d ever seen them, flecked with worry so strong panic seized in my chest.
I stammered. “She’s here, she can see us. She’s saying…”
Cassidy’s whimper filled my head. ‘Lola? Lola…you need to get out of the camper…now.’
“She said we need to get out of the camper”‘ I repeated, my voice grave and eyes sliding from Tristan’s
face to that of Lars. Bile churned in my stomach as I added, “…now.”
“Why?” Tristan demanded, pivoting to survey the entirety of the camper. Apart from the rotted body lying
on the couch, much more decomposed than he should’ve been, we were utterly alone. “Ask her!” He
‘Why do we need to get out of the camper, Cass? What happened here?’
‘I k****d him, but-but he was already d**d.’ I swore I heard her sob.
‘Why do we need to get out of here?’ I repeated myself, this time hardening my tone until it bordered on
‘…because he moved, Lola.’
A sickening crack filled the small camper, followed by a crunch that made both Tristan and I lock eyes.
Despite the fact that the mark on my neck and the connection between a Vampire and it’s Queen weren’t
quite like a mind-link or mate bond, a sort of understanding passed between the two of us.
Before I could turn that flash of understanding into words, our eyes slid to Lars’s corpse, which was now
sitting upright on the sofa.
‘Cassidy, I’m going to need you to come out from where you’re hiding.’ I instructed her, swallowing a
scream when Lars turned his head to stare into my face, the bones in his neck cracking and crunching
from the movement while the knife below his eye remained rooted in place. ‘…when you see Tristan and
I run, you ( have) to follow. Do you understand me?’
‘Yes, I understand.’ Her reply was instant.
Slowly, like prey cornered by a hungry predator, I wrapped my hand around Tristan’s wrist and took a
small step backwards, towards the open door.
“We can’t k**l something that’s already d**d.” I told him, the haunting tone in my voice evident no matter
how quietly I spoke.
He didn’t dare break his stare from Lars to look back at me, but I could see the slight nod of his head and
knew he was on board with whatever last ditch plan I concocted.
Together we took a step backwards, and then another. On the third Lars’s corpse stood, it’s spine ramrod
straight despite the bulge of crushed bone and tendons in his neck.
His eyes never once left my face.
Each step we took led us closer to the front door, but quickly Lars began matching our steps, taking one
each time we did until Tristan, and I stood on solid ground, and Lars within the doorway of his camper.
A split second with our feet on fresh soil and I heard a scrambling sound from beneath the camper,
followed by a flash of knotted golden hair when Cassidy rolled from beneath the thing and army crawled
to our sides.
She was shaking like a leaf and coated in that dark, foul-smelling blood, but still managed to look
murderous in her form fitting dress and b**e feet.
“I don’t know what kind of magic this is, but it’s evil-it’s pure evil.” She stammered, lips trembling even
though her stance was one we’d learned in training.
There was only one form of magic that came to mind, one that could’ve easily been capable of causing
“If this is blood magic…that means the witch orchestrating all of this is nearby.” I swallowed heavily,
refusing to shrink under Lars’s empty stare.
Tristan tensed beside me, undoubtedly thinking the same thing I was.
Holly’s mother was within our pack’s borders, she had to be.
There was a small flicker of movement to my left, one fast enough to catch my eye. Two specks of purple
appeared from deep within the trees, glowing softly within the darkness. I could hear the distant rumble
of a car’s engine along with the roar of a tricked-out exhaust and knew that what I was seeing were the
headlights of someone’s modified car.
It was the way they moved in tandem with one another, gliding through the trees all the way from the
main road we’d turned off of, that looked eerily similar to a set of eyes.
“Tristan…” I hissed, jabbing my elbow into his ribcage hard enough to garner his attention. His eyes
flickered in the direction of the lights and understanding filled their depths. “…what do those look like to
“Purple eyes.” He confirmed, and not a moment later the brush surrounding us began to tremble.
As the sickly-sweet scent of Vampire’s filled the clearing, Lars lunged from where he stood in the
“Run.” I issued the one worded command and turned on my heel in time to see not one, not two, but six
figures break through the tree line.