Chapter Seven

“Well, this is it,” Nathaniel said as he gestured around the small room just off the side of the kitchen. “It used to be the servants quarters but since we built the cottages out back, the room had sat empty.”

Mia looked around the cozy little room. It was about the size of her bedroom in the apartment above the bookstore. It wasn’t very big but it was comfortable. There was an armchair near the one window in the room that looked out at the back yard where Nathaniel had even more trees decorated and lit up for the season. There was an antique armoire on the other side of the window across from the armchair. And there was a full size bed up against the wall that backed against the kitchen where Mia sat at the moment.

“Sorry, I know it’s not much, but I thought you might like this place best of all the rooms I have in the house,” Nathaniel offered.

“It’s perfect,” Mia said honestly with a smile and she meant it. As sparse as the room was there were signs of love all around it. A handmade quilt on the bed, an knitted afghan hanging on the back of the armchair, even a lovely painting of the surrounding woods hanging above the bed just gave everything loving touch.

What Mia also liked was that the room was nice and toasty. After waking up in a freezing cold bedroom for the last month, she liked being in a room that was a decent temperature.

“That’s good,” Nathaniel nodded, “I thought you might like it hear best because the wall of this room backs up against the hearth. I thought you would heal better being this close to magic. If not for that, I would have put you in one of the guestrooms like Sarah. They more luxuriously decorated and closer the main part of the house.”

“I also thought you might like some peace and quiet,” Nathaniel added with a wink. “There’s nothing better for healing then rest and relaxation. Back here, you can forget about the outside world. My late wife actually liked this room a lot and had turned in to a sewing room during her time. I would find her just sitting there staring of the window, the fabric and needle forgotten in her hands.”

“I can understand why she enjoyed it so much.”

“I think she would have liked your very much. You were very much alike,” Nathaniel said with brought a smirk to Mia’s face.

“There aren’t many people like me.”

“No, not just like you, but very similar. She seemed to be lost in a world she didn’t understand either. “Like myself, my wife lost her entire family. She was much younger though and grew up in an orphanage until she was old enough to get and job and live on her own. She had a tough childhood and had a very hard shell around her heart. She didn’t trust anyone and relied only on herself.” Nathaniel told her as he strolled over to the window.

“I found her one day sitting on a bench crying. She had lost another job because her boss had wanted something from her she didn’t want to give. She had received notice a day before that she was being evicted because she couldn’t pay her rent, she could barely feed herself much less afford a roof over her head. She was at the end of her rope. I just happened to be walking by on my way to my favorite bookstore. I saw her and was immediately drawn to her. It had been so long since I had lost my Anna and so long since any woman had attracted my attention, but here was this beautiful young woman crying her heart out in sitting on a park bench in the middle of winter.”

“I walked over to her and asked if she was okay,” Nathaniel said with a laugh and a lost look in his eyes, “She bit my head off for daring to ask. She told me to mind my own business and leave her in peace. Part of me felt like I should leave her be. It was obvious something was wrong but she didn’t want me help. It would just anger her more if I were to remain, yet no matter how much I told myself I should just get up and leave her be, I could. So instead I just sat there while she cried.”

“It was a long time before her tears stopped by finally she had no more to cry. I passed her my handkerchief and she took it without a word. We sat there for a long moment in silence and then suddenly just she started talking. She told me everything, from the death of her parents, to her latest woes. It had been such a long time since she had been able to confide in anyone and she figured this would be the only time she would see me so why not get it all off her chest.”

“But that wasn’t the last time you saw her,” Mia said with a smile, he just turned to her and nodded.

“I told her my family cook had quit a month ago so that she could spend more time with her precious grandchildren and that I was looking for someone who could do the cooking around my house. I had learned from her story that she loved cooking and it was her dream to one day open a restaurant of her own. But until then, she waited tables to make ends meet. I told her I would pay her just as much as she made at her last job and provide her with a place to live.”

“Of course she was wary, but she must have sensed something in me. It might have also been the fact that she had nowhere else to go unless she wanted to live on the streets. She decided she had a better chance with me then she did on the streets in the middle of winter. She warned me though that if I tried anything funny, she was very handy with a cooking knife.”

“It only took her one glance to fall in love with my house, but it took her months to warm up to me. But then she had begun to notice that I was different from other men. She couldn’t pin point it but she knew that something was off. She eventually told me that the reason she never confronted me about it earlier was because she had fallen in love with my kitchen and didn’t want to leave it.”

“So when did find out about you?” Mia asked curiously as she sat back on the bed, to get more comfortable.

“I made the mistake of scaring her one day while she held a kitchen knife in her hands. She was so fast I didn’t even see her. She stuck me right here,” He told her as he pointed to his heart. “She was screaming bloody murder because she thought she had killed me. While she was freaking out, I carefully removed the knife and set it down in the kitchen sink so we would avoid any further accidents.”

“When she finally calmed down and saw I was still very much alive she started off again about me being some kind of immortal demon and how I had come to steal her soul. When I was finally able to calm her down I told her my story. She didn’t believe me at first and actually tried to stab me again, luckily I was able to deflect the blade in time. I told her I was immortal but I could still feel pain and kindly refrain from sticking any more sharp objects in me.”

“I honestly thought she was going to leave after that night. I woke up the next morning think I was all alone again. I had gotten use to her company and more importantly her friendship. It had been such a like time since I’d had a companion for so long. Usually I had to keep away from people, least they realize that something was wrong with me. But I had hoped with her it would be different. I thought that just maybe she would be someone that could accept me. But I decided I must have been wrong.”

“I stumbled in to my empty kitchen, prepared to sake my misery with my best sherry only to find her standing at the stove preparing breakfast. I was so stunned that I just stood there staring at her, wondering if I had crazy and was just imaging her. She told me then that she had thought long and hard about it all night. She has sat on her bed, her suitcase all packed ready to flee, but the longer she sat there the more she realized that I wasn’t a bad person. In all the times she had lived with me, I had never once made an advance or her, I had always been kind and caring and had never once demanded anything of her that she wasn’t prepared to give. She decided if I really was an evil monster, I would have killed her by now so I must be okay. Besides that, she really, really loved my kitchen and just couldn’t force herself to part with it.”

“When did you realize you were in love with her?” Mia asked hesitantly.

“The moment I watched her cry without abandon on a park bench in the middle of winter,” Nathaniel said wistfully.

“And when did she realize she loved you?”

“Not for a long, long time. It took her a while to put me above my kitchen, but I didn’t mind the wait, after all, I knew I had forever.”

Mia could hear the sadness beneath his words and understood his meaning. She like Nathaniel would live a very, very long time. She was already a hundred and fifty years old. Compared to Sarah, Ronan, and Nick, she was ancient. They would grow old and eventually die while Mia still remained young and untouched by time. She hadn’t thought about that much, mainly because she had always been surrounded by people like her and because she had never really cared for anybody before.

“Love is fleeting. Time passes by so quickly for those us who live outside of it,” Nathaniel said as if he read her mind. She turned to look at him to find him staring at her with those deep penetrating eyes, “Don’t let you own fears and prejudices hold you back from find thing in the life that makes it worth living.”

Mia frowned at his words, not quite understanding them. What was he talking about? Who was he talking about? Surely, it couldn’t be Nick. It was obvious he didn’t care for her. Why was she the only one who could see it? She opened her mouth to ask him but the words never came out.

“Rest for tonight and I will see you in the morning,” He gave her a gentle smile and patted her shoulder on the way out. He closed the door softly behind him and Mia was left to herself.

She lay back on the soft bed and closed her eyes. The pain was minimal so close to the warmth of the hearth. She let the heat of the fire wash over her and burn away all her fears and insecurities and willing fell in to the arms of Morpheus as he came to claim her.

 

Mia awoke the next morning feeling refreshed. She sat up slowly; surprised when the quilt she knew she had been lying on, fell off of her shoulders. She stared down at the blanket for a moment wondering how it had gotten on her. The last thing she remembered was closing her eyes and falling asleep.

She realized it was probably Sarah coming to check on her before going to sleep herself. But, she thought with a frown, how had Sarah gotten the blanket out from under her without waking her up. She was pretty sure even as tired as she was, she wouldn’t sleep through Sarah struggled the pull the blanket out from under her dead weight. But there were no other options, it had to be Sarah.

Nathaniel had already say good night and there would have been no reason for him to check on her in the middle of the night. She couldn’t imagine him sneaking in to a young woman’s room no matter what. With a shrug she figured she would ask Sarah about it later. She had more important things to think about, like a nice hot shower and then a warm hearty breakfast.

She jumped to her feet, without worrying about her wounds at all and bent over to grab her duffel from the foot of the bed where she had left it last night. Only when she tossed it on the edge of the bed did she realize that she wasn’t in pain.

She wiggled her toes, bent her knee, shaking her leg back and forth. But there was nothing, no pain, no twinge, no tightness. It was like it had never been injured at all. She stared down in wonder. Sure she healed quickly, but this was something else. She had never healed a broken bone overnight, never.

She wondered if maybe they had been mistaken and instead she had just strained the muscle or maybe bruised the bone. After all, none of them were truly healers. Who’s to say just how badly her wounds had been. That’s what it had to be.

With that matter settled, she grabbed a set of clothes and dashed off to her private bathroom for some private time with her new shower. Nothing felt better to her than a hot shower first thing in the morning in the cold of winter.

When she was done she got dressed and towel dried her hair. She didn’t bring a hair dryer with her so she would have to get as much moisture out with her towel and then hope it was warm enough in the house so that she didn’t catch a cold.

Hanging the wet towel up, Mia left opened the bathroom door and walked back in to her new bedroom. Like the night before and this morning, the room was comfortably warm. She had gotten so used the cold back in her previous apartment that she had forgotten was warmth was. She usually had to walk around with sock, jeans, a long sleeve shirt and her hoodie when she was at home. This felt nice.

Deciding she wasn’t quite ready to leave her room just yet, she decided she would unpack he back. Opening the old armoire, she found a set of wooden hangers on a wooden pole at the top, and two drawers at the bottom of the armoire. She quickly put her jeans and her underwear in the bottom drawers and hung up the shirts and sweatshirts that Ada had packed for her.

Even after purchasing multiple new sets of clothes, she still didn’t seem to own much. The closest was only half full of clothes. But clothes had never really mattered to her so she only bought enough to last her between washes.

With a frown, she folded the duffel bag nicely, and set it on top of the drawers in the armoire. When had she started to care what she looked like, much less what she wore? She hadn’t cared before. If she had, she wouldn’t have worn jeans and a gray hoodie every day.

Frustrated with this new change in herself, she shut the armoire doors a little too forcefully and the banging sound of wood meeting wood echoed in her tiny room. Thank goodness that thing was an antique and built to last, otherwise she might have done some damage.

There was a soft knock on her door followed by, “Mia, are you all right in there?”

“I’m fine,” Mia called back, “Just shut the armoire doors a little too hard.”

“Oh, okay,” Sarah muffled voice came through the thick bedroom door, “Did you need me to help you with anything? Do you need to go to the bathroom or get ready? I can help you if you need me to. It’s not like you have to worry about me seeing anything you don’t want me to see.”

Her soft laughter filtered through the door, Mia just shook her head at her friend’s stale joke. She knew Sarah wasn’t referring to her being naked, but more to do with her scars at the tattoo across her back and shoulders. Mia didn’t like for people to see those things. It wasn’t that she was ashamed of her body so much, it was just a reminder of the person she had been and that was something she didn’t want to be reminded about.

“I’m good. Just give me a moment and I’ll be right out,” Mia said as she opened the armoire door more gently this time and pulled out one of the hooded sweaters she had just unpacked. She wasn’t sure how cold it would be in the rest of the house so early in the morning, so she figured better to be safe rather than sorry.

“Are you sure you’re okay. I don’t want you to strain anything or hurt yourself more,” Sarah asked worried.

“I’m good Sarah, just give me a moment,” Mia said, her voice slightly muffled as she lifted the sweater over her head and pulled it on. If she could have, she would have hidden out in her little room all day, curled up in the armchair sipping a nice hot cup of coffee. But she knew that was not going to happen. Not with Sarah. If Mia didn’t open the door soon, she knew Sarah would barge right on her. She was actually surprised that Sarah hadn’t done so already.

“Are you sure you’re okay? Because I have no problem helping you. Really Mia, you shouldn’t strain yourself. You don’t want to hurt yourself even worse,” Sarah was saying as Mia through open the door to find her friend hovering in the doorway.

“If you wanted to see me naked, all you had to do was ask,” Mia said with a smirk. She blinked at her a couple of times, as if trying to clear her vision. Then she looked her over from top to bottom as if she was looking for some injury that Mia knew for a fact she couldn’t see.

“How did you do that?” Sarah asked, as she squinted her eyes, looking at something only she could see. “I don’t see any pain in you, and you’re walking. You shouldn’t be walking, not on a broken leg. At least I thought it was broken.”

“It seems we were wrong. I woke up this morning and everything was better. It must have just been a bruise or some bad swelling. Like Ada said, my body was just burnt out and needed time to recover. Now that it did, I feel as good as new.” Mia said with a smile.

“But you should be,” Sarah said still frowning.

“Are you really going to complain that I’m healed?” Mia asked with a snort, “If you keep this up, I’m going to think you actually wanted to be the one to help me use the bathroom. I know for one, that I definitely wasn’t looking forward to it. You can only ask a friend to do so much and that definitely was not on my list of things.”

“That’s not it,” Sarah said shaking her head, “But I saw you yesterday and your body was filled with pain. You shouldn’t have been able to heal yourself so quickly from your wounds. You shouldn’t have even been able to use your magic to heal yourself. I don’t understand how you did it when it should have been impossible. There was no way at all yesterday that your body could have taken even a drop of magic. I don’t see how you this is even possible.”

“I thought you of all be would be capable of believing in the impossible,” Mia smirked.

“Impossible, yes, miraculous, no. Because that’s what it has to be to have you heal you so quickly. I would accuse you of using your magic when you shouldn’t have, but I saw you yesterday. You were completely burnt out. You couldn’t even call on your magic,” Sarah said shaking her head.

“Okay, I get it. I should be still stuck in bed moaning and groaning about the pain and being a complete and utter bitch to anyone who dares look in on me because I can’t deal with it, it so bad,” Mia remarked sarcastically.

“Well you should.”

“Sarah, do you really want to be standing here arguing about how I was miraculously healed, or would you like to turn around and see if we can find ourselves something to it,” Mia said as she grabbed her friend gently by the shoulders and turned her around and back towards the kitchen.

“Fine, we’ll find something to eat. But after that I want to take a better look at you. I just don’t understand how you were able to heal yourself so quickly, it just shouldn’t have been possible,” Sarah shook her head but walked forward with the gentlest of pressure from Mia’s hands.

“Fine, we can play doctor after we find something to eat because I just realized I’m starving,” Mia nodded as she guided Sarah down the short hall and back to the kitchen.

“Are you sure you’re completely fine?” Sarah continued on as Mia rolled her eyes as push her friend a little faster.

“Would I be walking if I weren’t? Even I’m not a complete idiot,” Mia assured her.

“Well, you do seem to push yourself sometimes when you shouldn’t,” she was reminded.

“Well, this isn’t one of those times so stop worrying.”

“I don’t know, maybe we should see if there is a healer who wouldn’t mind coming to take a look at you. We don’t have to tell her about your injuries but just see if she can see anything?” Sarah offered as they finally made it into the kitchen. It was like ten feet from the bedroom door to the kitchen and yet it had felt so much long with Sarah harping at her.

“Sarah, please believe me when I say I’m fine, I am perfectly fine. Now let’s ignore the healed injuries and find something to eat because if I don’t get something soon, I will be very grouchy.”

A chuckle surprised them both. Mia looked up to find Nathaniel sitting at the old wooden table by the hearth, a cup of coffee in hand.

“Nathaniel, help me convince her that she needs to see a healer,” Sarah said, seeking an ally as she turned to the older man.

“I am perfectly all right,” Mia said threw gritted teeth. She really would get grouchy if both of them turned on her.

“Sarah dear, what is it exactly that is keeping you from believing that Mia is truly healed?” Nathaniel asked with an amused smile on his face as he winked at Mia who let out a sigh of relief. Finally, someone who was on her side.

“I can’t believe it because it should be,” Sarah said with a frown, “Healing isn’t done like this. Maybe if she had gone to see an A-level healer, then I could believe that her wounds were healed. But that would be because someone had healed her, not because she healed on her own. Unless she has some third magic she’s not telling us about, I have a hard time believe she miraculously healed herself completely overnight.”

“Third magic?” Nathaniel said with a frown, “I had not realized you had a second magic, my dear.”

“That’s because it’s supposed to be a secret,” Mia glowered at her friend.

“Really? I thought because you told us, it was no longer a secret,” Sarah said innocently.

“Well, now it’s not,” Mia said with a sigh.

“Why does it need to remain a secret? We’re your friends, you should be able to trust us to tell us this kind of information,” Sarah said, crossing her arms over her chest as she stared at Mia with her unsettling amethyst eyes as if she were trying to stare right in to Mia’s soul, “We are friends, aren’t we?”

“It’s a secret because I can’t control it yet. I taught myself enough to do minor things, but I don’t have the strength or skill to be proficient in it, and if word go out, then I would be in trouble if someone came after me thinking I could control both magics, when obviously I can’t, since William proved that point quite thoroughly to me.”

“Seriously? If that’s all you’re worried about why can’t we just have someone train you? I’m sure Nick or even Nathaniel would be able to teach you,” Sarah said waving off her explanation.

“I’m sorry my dear, but what exactly is your secondary magic that Nick or myself may be able to train you in?” Nathaniel asked curiously as he sipped from his steaming mug.

“Her secondary magic is electricity,” Sarah said before Mia could open her mouth. Nathaniel said nothing but his brows rose as he stared at Mia who could feel her cheeks warming. She really hated to be the center of attention and had enjoyed that anonymity her old life before she had been discovered had given her.

“Secondary magics have become more common over the years with different types magic users marrying and having children,” Sarah said with a shrug.

“Yes, it is, but not usually among A-Level magic users. I believe the last time I did a presentation on the diversity of magic users, only about 5% of A-level magic users had a secondary power. It was usually the C or D-level magic users who most commonly had secondary magics. And usually neither magic was very strong.”

“You give presentations?” Sarah asked curiously as she sat down at the table across from Nathaniel.

“Of course,” He said with a smile, “Has your father not told you about what I do for the Guild?”

Sarah shook her head.

“I guess that would be no surprise. Because of his line of work, your father probably didn’t speak much about his job. But he and I met because I’m actually a consultant for the guild. Or my many years, I have studied the evolution of magic and of magic users. I have travelled the world, studying the different types of magic and its influence on the peoples in different locations and how different placed influence the magic user.”

“My main area of study is blood magic for obvious reasons,” he said gesturing to himself, “but over my course of study I have noticed the evolution of magic in people around the world.”

“How were you able to study blood magic? Wouldn’t it be dangerous to approach the five clans?” Sarah asked, wonder in her face.

“I didn’t approach the five clans directly. I started off small, with some of the minor clans. They spoke to me and helped me find connections with other clans. They were able to sense what I was enough stories had gone around that they could figure out who I was. There weren’t many fans of the Blood Queen and many who like to see her fall. They were hesitant and first to speak to me, but when they realized I was harmless, they saw me more as an eccentricity that entertained them.”

“Many had heard of the curse cast on me but have never seen that degree of magic skill. In exchange for information, they wished to examine the spell wrapped around me,” Nathaniel explained.

“And you weren’t afraid that they would take that magic and use it again?” Sarah asked with a frown.

“They wouldn’t have been able to,” Mia said with a sigh as she took a seat besides Sarah. “Only an Omega could contain the amount of magic needed to cast that curse. Even if they killed the equivalent amount of people and had multiple A-level magic users working together to cast that spell, they would still fail. The magic needs to be absorbed and molded and if the magic slips for even a moment, the spell will shattered in upon itself and the backlash of that much power being released would be the equivalent of an atomic bomb being dropped. It would create a magic null for in at least a hundred mile radius.”

“Do I want to know who you know that?” Sarah asked.

“I was the heir to the Dragos Clan. There were some things that Theodora actually did teach me. That curse was one of them.”

“So it could be done again?” Sarah asked, the horror evident in her voice. “Wasn’t once bad enough? Exactly how many lives does it take to power that kind of spell?”

“My village contained five hundred and sixty-nine people when Theodora arrived, when she left, all that remained was one,” Nathaniel said bleakly.

“Five hundred and sixty-eight lives?” Sarah asked in horror.

“The total needed is actually higher than that. You probably didn’t hear about because of sheer fact that an entire village had been massacred by the Blood Queen, but Theodora actually travelled through many villages to reach yours. As she travelled she gathered power so that your village would just be the final touch she needed,” Mia told them.

“How many lives did it take?” Sarah’s voice was bleak as she clenched her fists on the table in front of her.

“One thousand lives are needed to fuel a spell that strong,” Mia told them flatly.

“One thousand?” Sarah repeated, “One thousand lives?”

“Per Theodora, to cast that spell it takes one thousand lives or a single soul,” Mia said.

“A soul? What does that mean?” Sarah asked, her head coming up sharply as she looked at her friend.

“Among blood magic users, there are two levels of magic,” Nathaniel replied before Mia could, much to her surprise. He held her eye on his continued on with his explanation, “There is blood magic that uses the magic created from a blood sacrifice. The strength of the magic gained from the use of a blood sacrifice is dependent on the magic user and the blood donor. Usually the stronger the blood donor, the stronger the magic that is attained from their blood. It is also the same to say that the stronger the blood magic user, the stronger magic they can create from the blood. This is the blood magic that most people know about. The magic that was used to curse me.”

“But there is a secondary level of blood magic that no one but blood magic users know about, it’s called soul magic. It’s considered a taboo even among blood magic users, but there had been records of its use. Where in blood magic, there is a sacrifice of blood, in soul magic, one must sacrifice a soul. The amount of magic that can be gathered from a single soul is like Mia said, at least equivalent to one thousand lives.”

“Please tell me this isn’t real. Please tell me people’s souls aren’t really sacrificed for magic?” Sarah said, shaking her head as her gaze darted back and forth between Nathaniel and Mia who had yet to take their eyes away from each other.

“It’s real,” Mia said, her voice soft and empty. No longer able to hold Nathaniel’s gaze she instead looked down at the table in front of her, before adding, “Theodora used soul magic. She used it at least four times that I know of.”

“Four times?” Sarah screeched. “What the hell did she need to sacrifice four souls for?”

Mia stood up from her table and pulled off her sweater, throwing it on the table, and lifting the back of her long shirt up completely to expose the black letters scrawled across her back, shoulders and the tops of her arms.

“To pull a soul back from the Void you need to make a great sacrifice. A thousand souls wouldn’t have been enough to draw a soul back. You would need to make a sacrifice equivalent to your desire. A soul for a soul.”

“Those marks? That’s what they are?” Sarah asked.

“Let the soul of the dead guide the way to the world of the living, those are the words carved in to my back,” Mia said as she pulled the back of her shirt back down and pulled her sweater on again before sitting down once more. “I think it was a joke to Theodore as she had those words etched in to my skin. A reminder to all of exactly who and what I was. It’s the reason I can use magic without making a sacrifice, because a big enough sacrifice has already been made that I need never make one again.”

“That’s horrible,” Sarah choked on the words, her face pale, her hands shaking.

“Marco once told me that I shouldn’t feel sorry for the soul that inhabited this body before I did. That she was an evil monster who actually enjoyed killing and drinking the blood of her victims even at the ripe old age of ten.”

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Sarah said, her hands coming up to cover her mouth. Tears began to gather in her eyes and slowly stream down her cheeks. “How? How could she do something so horrible? How could she sacrifice four souls, no matter how horrible they might have been?”

“People are capable of just about anything to attain their deepest desires,” Nathaniel said.

“But what was the purpose of sacrificing four souls for? Why would she do it? What was so important about bringing the Omegas back that would do something as taboo as soul magic? You said it yourself, when she cursed Nathaniel, she didn’t sacrifice a single soul even though she could have. It would have been a whole lot easier, and she could have used some one important to him, it would have hurt him even more. So why didn’t she? Why did she instead sacrifice a thousand lives? What happened between them and the rebirth of the first Omega? What did she learn that made it worth sacrificing four souls for?”

Mia’s hands clenched in her lap as Sarah’s words hit her. She remembered her conversation with William all to well. Her grandmother, as cold and evil as she appeared to all, even Mia, had been trying to do one thing, she had been trying to save the world. Would Mia not have made the same sacrifices if it meant the difference between life and death for all those she loved? To save the world, wouldn’t a single soul be worth it?

As much as Mia wanted to say that no, it was never worth it, deep down she understood why her grandmother did what she did. She even understood why she did what she did to Nathaniel. It was her grandmother’s own sick way of trying to protect the man she loved. He was now immortal, nothing could kill him, if the end did come, he would still survive.

Four hundred years ago, Theodora had known what was coming. If she had seen Nathaniel on the streets in a crowded market place and recognized him for what he was, a soul that called to her own, she would have done everything in her power to protect him.

Marriage would have just been a cover, with him at her side, she could protect him. Marriage among her clan was nothing more than alliance of two families, there was no love there. But marriage also offered protection just like a blood bond did. She would have wanted to keep Nathaniel safe, so she had offered him marriage. But when he turned her down and then fled, she must have been out of her mind with worry. She had no idea when the originator would wake. He could awake the very next day. She knew she had to do something to protect him. Something to ensure his survival. So she had done the only thing she could think of to keep him safe if she could not keep him at her side.

She hadn’t been ready then to make that final step in to the darkest heart of blood magic. So instead of sacrificing a single soul, she had sacrificed a thousand lives. She had done everything she could to protect the one soul that she felt belong to her. She didn’t care that he would probably hate her for the rest of his long life, all that matter what that she would protect him, that he would be safe.

Mia finally understood, and that’s what tore her apart the most. Because the truth was, that if faced with the same decisions, she would have done the exact same things as her grandmother. She would become the monster everyone feared and hated. She would sacrifice the souls of her own daughter and granddaughters to ensure the safety of the whole world. Because as hard as it would be to do so, it would be even worse not to.

Mia came to her feet so quickly that the chair behind her crashed to the ground drawing Sarah and Nathaniel’s gazes.

“Mia? Are you okay?” Sarah asked.

“Fine,” Mia replied tersely. “I just need some air.”

Without a backward glance, Mia fled the kitchen and the entire house because the truth was, she wasn’t fine nor would she ever be fine again. The truth was that she was just like her grandmother. That everything they accused her of, Mia was prepared to do. To save her friends, to save her family, to save Nick, she would become a monster far worse then what the world had seen so far. She would become the evil that stalks the night, she would become the monster children hide under their blankets from, she would become devil itself if need be. To protect the ones she loved, to protect the very world they lived in, there was no sacrifice too big. No, she would never be fine again.

Next: Chapter Eight

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