Authors: Erica Stevens
Tags: #young adult, #vampire forbidden love action adventure romance suspense mystery thriller
Copyright Heather Cox 2012
Published by Gilmour-Cox Publishing at
“This is the center of town?” Melissa
inquired softly, surprise and disbelief evident in her
Devon stared out at the small buildings
as they drove slowly past. There was a tiny post office with two
mailboxes out front, a barber shop, tailor, feed store, dry
cleaner, a bank, and a rather large general store he suspected
passed as their grocery store too. He turned down a side road,
passing by a Catholic church, a synagogue, and a Lutheran church.
The road came to an end, splitting back toward the woods and back
roads, or back toward the center of town.
Though a few cars lined the roadsides,
they were all in parking spaces. They had not been abandoned but
placed there by their owners. Even the homes they drove by still
had cars waiting expectantly in their driveway, just hoping that
their owners would come out and take them for one final spin. Devon
knew that was not going to happen.
“Go back,” Chris said
Devon turned back toward town, trying
to get a sense of the place, trying to figure out if there were
still people living amongst the small array of buildings. “Do you
sense anything?” he asked softly.
Chris’s hand tightened on the back of
Devon’s seat as he leaned forward. “No,” he whispered. “Nothing.
But a lot of people may not live close to town. Just because there
appears to be no one left in these homes doesn’t mean there still
aren’t people somewhere else.”
“Go further down that way,” Luther
instructed, pointing ahead of Devon.
He kept to the left, heading down a
small road that was lined with woods, but dotted with antique
stores, a couple of bookstores, another dark gas station, and one
log cabin that sold honey. “There’s a school about a mile down, but
I don’t think that will do us any good,” Luther said softly,
watching the GPS. “We’re going to need to find a place to stay
Devon made another left, heading back
toward the main strip. “We can return to the hotel, I don’t think
they would go back there after exhausting their prey, but I don’t
know for sure. Daylight will offer us no protection either, some
Halflings can go out during the day, they are still part human
Melissa shuddered, shaking her head
forcefully as she wrapped her arms around herself. “Absolutely not,
I am not going back to that hotel. That room was awful, just
“Maybe we can find a house to hole up
in,” Liam said softly.
“You mean one of the homes where the
people have either disappeared, or are splattered all over the
walls?” Melissa demanded. Terror constricted her voice as it took
on a note of raw panic.
“We have to stay somewhere,” Liam
responded reasonably. “And we all have to eat
Melissa turned away, her dark eyes
scanning the night as she bit hard on her bottom lip. It was more
than apparent that she didn’t want to stay in this town, but there
was no way that Devon was leaving it. Though he had no proof that
Cassie was here, it was the closest they had come to finding
anything since she had disappeared. He knew that none of them
wanted to be in this godforsaken town, but they would not leave it
until he knew what was going on.
Devon drove back through the main
street, trying hard to get a sense of what was going on, but still
finding nothing. “Did Halflings kill all of these people?” Chris
Devon shook his head as he gripped the
wheel tighter. “No, they couldn’t have. There would have to be at
least a hundred of them to kill all of these people before their
neighbors noticed. I don’t know what is going on here, but no one
would be crazy enough to allow that many Halflings to roam the
earth,” Devon said softly. Though he said the words, he wasn’t
completely convinced of them as they made their way slowly down the
deserted road. This place was far too strange and quiet to rule out
any possibility, even one he didn’t want to think about.
“Do you think something else happened
to them?” Melissa inquired worriedly.
“There’s no way to know that right
now,” Annabelle answered.
They all grew silent for a moment.
“Well if I start trying to eat your brains, you have my permission
to cut my head off,” Chris said softly.
“Excuse me?” Liam asked in
“You know the zombie movies where no
one ever knows how, but all the people start to go crazy and try to
eat everyone else’s brains,” Chris explained patiently.
Liam stared back at him for a moment,
his nearly silver eyes questioning and thoughtful. He finally shook
his head, his shaggy brown hair falling in disarray around his
handsome face. “That is why I don’t watch TV.”
“Seriously?” Chris snorted in
disbelief, looking as if he believed the zombie story more than
“Really,” Liam stated. “I prefer to
read. Remember, I was born in a time before
“Yeah, but things have greatly improved
since then. You need to join the age of technology. I mean, you
drive this big Caddy with a GPS and every new technological device
in it, but you don’t watch TV?”
Liam shrugged again; Chris glanced
toward Annabelle who lifted her dainty shoulders in response. Her
normally lively sea green eyes were dull and flat, exhaustion and
stress had taken their toll on her. “I like the Caddy and
technology,” she told Chris. “Liam still prefers
Chris chuckled softly as he slapped
Liam on the back. “Oh man, I have so many great things to show you!
Once this mess is over I’m gonna introduce you to the wonderful
world of the twenty first century!”
“Yes, and until then, can we leave the
TV talk till later,” Devon growled.
Everyone within the vehicle grew quiet
as he drove down another road, discovering the small firehouse and
police station. A half a mile away from them was an ice cream
stand, boarded up for the winter, and a tiny movie theatre that had
no showings listed. Though they passed a few more houses, Devon
still could not pick up any hint of human life.
“Go back to town Devon. The General
Store will probably be the best place for us to hole up for a bit.
It should have supplies, and maybe even some weapons,” Luther said
Melissa shook her head forcefully, her
dark hair spilled around her as she hugged her knees tight to her
chest. Chris rested a hand lightly on her arm, seeking to comfort
her. Though she had not seen the inside of the manager’s office
with his broken, bloodied body, the vision she had received of it
had shaken her greatly. “Can’t we just stay in the car?” she
“Melissa, we need a place where we can
relax, move about, eat, go to the bathroom, maybe even sleep,”
Annabelle said softly. “And we can’t keep the car running all day,
we don’t know if we can get gas out of the stations.”
“We can siphon it out of other
Annabelle sighed softly as she leaned
forward to grasp hold of Melissa’s arm. “We’ll stay in the car for
a little longer,” she conceded. “But we can’t stay forever, and we
do need to stay in this town for at least another day. There may be
survivors out there that need our help, and we have to know what is
going on here.”
Melissa hesitated for a moment, biting
hard on her bottom lip before nodding slowly. Her shoulders
stiffened as resolve settled over her pretty features.
Devon wound his way back through town.
“I’m not so sure I want to know what is going on here,” Chris
Devon silently agreed, but he wasn’t
leaving this town until he knew for sure that Cassie was not here.
That she was not somehow caught up in the oddity that was this
town. Chris bolted suddenly upright, his hand slammed down on the
back of Devon’s seat. “Stop the car! Stop the car!”
“What the hell!” Melissa
“Is it Cassie?” Devon demanded, jolting
everyone forward as he slammed on the brakes.
Chris was sitting eagerly forward, his
normally bright eyes dark as they scanned the night. “No,” Chris
said softly, his voice tinged with an odd sense of disbelief.
Devon’s hope plummeted; he gripped the wheel tight as he fought the
urge to rip it free of the car. “It’s Julian.”
Devon turned to him in shock, his mouth
dropped as Chris’s words sank in. “What!?” Annabelle gasped in
disbelief. “Are you sure?”
Chris’s forehead furrowed in confusion,
he frowned in perplexity as he shook his head slightly. “I’m sure
it’s him, but it’s different. He feels different.”
“What do you mean?” Devon growled,
unable to believe that Julian was actually here.
It made no sense, what could he
possibly be doing here? What the hell could he be doing in this
strange town? Though Devon didn’t trust him, he knew that Julian
would not have created the monsters that were running loose here.
Julian knew better than to do that, he knew what kind of havoc and
death such creatures could render. And though Julian loved mayhem
and murder more than most, even he would not want to take the risk
of having the vampire population exposed to the outer world.
Vampires liked to keep their secrets, and they liked to keep their
identities safe from terrified humans that would only want to
destroy their race.
Chris shook his head again; he rubbed
the bridge of his nose as he tried to sort through the emotions he
was feeling. The emotions that Julian was emitting. “I don’t know
Devon. It is Julian, I’m certain of that, but he’s not the same.
He’s not as angry or something, he’s not as… he’s not as…” Chris
broke off, at a loss for words as he stared helplessly at Devon.
“He’s not as filled with hatred.”
Devon frowned over Chris’s odd
statement; his confusion was mounting by the second. What was going
on here? “How far is he from here?”
Chris stared out at the dark road, and
then pointed ahead of him. “Ahead of us somewhere. Not far. I don’t
“You don’t think?” Devon
“Devon, just drive slowly,” Annabelle
said gently, soothingly. “We’ll find him.”
Excitement pulsed through Devon; it
thrummed through his skin and electrified his body. His knuckles
were white upon the steering wheel as he began to move slowly
forward once more. Hope filled him, anticipation consumed him. They
had been looking for Cassie, and had somehow managed to stumble
upon the one person that could truly help them find her. He didn’t
linger on thoughts of what Julian could possibly be doing here, he
only thought about finding him. And in turn, finding
“Dani,” Chris whispered.
“Excuse me?” Melissa demanded, anger
filled her onyx eyes as she whipped around to face
“Dani is with him,” Chris said
Fury exploded through Devon, the world
turned into a fiery haze of red. Dani and Julian were together! Had
Julian helped Dani, and The Commission, take Cassie from him? If he
had, Devon was going to rip Julian limb from limb. Beside him,
Luther leaned away, his eyes wide as he studied Devon in horror.
Chris seized hold of his shoulder, his hand clenching tight. “You
have to calm down Devon; I can’t feel them over your anger. I can’t
feel them over your emotions,” he said in a choked
Devon tried to calm himself but the
fiery rage was building inside him, shaking him to the very core of
his being. He needed to compose himself; he had to get a hold of
his emotions. They had to find Julian. It may be the only chance
that they had of finding Cassie, and he could not risk losing it.
If Dani was near, than Cassie had to be also. It was Dani that had
caused this, Dani was the one that had helped to take Cassie from
He shuddered as he tried to keep
himself from completely unraveling, but he had never suspected that
Julian may well be in on all of this too. That Julian may have
helped Dani. That he may have aided in taking Cassie away from him,
that Julian may have hurt her.
The shout, issued from Melissa, caused
him to slam the brakes on again. He jerked against the steering
wheel as Luther slammed off the dash. “What the hell?” Liam
demanded, shoving himself off the back of the passenger