Ronan took Mia home shortly after. They were just pulling away when a group of black Guild SUVs pulled up next to them. Mia made sure to keep her head turned away so no one would notice her. She kept her back turned away from the window and the cap pulled down over her face.
Ronan pulled the vehicle out as soon as it was clear. He nodded at a few acquaintances before heading out. Ronan was quiet on the entire ride back as he sat in the driver’s seat with a deep scowl on his lips. His eyes never veering in her direction. She could understand. After everything she had unloaded on him today, she was surprised he even let her in his vehicle. She wasn’t so sure she would have if she were him.
Ronan pulled his car up behind the book store, near the apartment door. Mia unbuckled herself and pulled of the warm jacket reluctantly. She laid it beside her on the seat and pulled off the cap, placing it back on the dashboard where Ronan had grabbed it from.
She was just reaching for the door handle when Ronan’s voice stopped her.
“How do you fight something like that? How do you fight a killer who can drain your blod from your body without needed to touch you?” His voice was hoarse, his hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly his fists were white. She looked at him, a small pitying smile on her lips. His world had just been turned upside down. He had just learned the monsters under the bed were real. To him this may be something new, for her, she had lived with the monsters her entire life. So she told him the truth.
“You don’t. You run and you hide and you pray they never find you. There’s a reason I don’t use my magic anymore. The moment they sense me, they will come after me. And what they did to those young women will look like child’s play compared to what they will do to me,” Mia told him.
“So what are you going to do now? Run again?” His asked as he finally turned to look at her. Mia shrugged because she really didn’t have an answer. Was there a point in running? Was there any place that was safe from her grandmother? And what about this new threat? Was it all right to leave after that? Those women were around the same age as Sarah. What if it had been Sarah lying there dead? Could she ever forgive herself if she ran away and because of it, Sarah lost her life?
No, she didn’t feel right leaving. But what could she do? Whoever had attacked and killed those women was far more powerful than anyone she knew. She knew for sure it wasn’t Marco because he didn’t have even close to the level of skill needed to pull off something like that? Nor could it be William, the man she just met last night because he had been with her during the time the deaths happened. True, she didn’t know much about him and hadn’t been able to sense his level of skill or power, but to be able to be somewhere else completely while working a spell, no. That was just impossible. No one was that powerful.
So in the end, that left the killer an unknown. She knew all of her family members who were supposed Omegas like herself. None of them could have pulled this off. Her grandmother couldn’t have pulled this off. So that meant whoever had attacked those women was probably a new player on the scene. Probably someone from one of the other Families. That was sure to piss of her grandmother, one of the other Blood Magic Families butting in on her territory.
Blood Magic users were divided up in to “Families”. The reason they were called Families was because blood magic like most other magics was hereditary. So more often than not, power stayed within the family. The larger the family and the stronger the magic users, the more powerful the Family.
There were many blood magic user families, but there were five top families. Each of the five families had set territories. If you entered someone else’s territory, you better pray you have a good excuse. With blood magic users, it was attack first, then, ask questions if the person was still alive.
Mia’s family, the Dragos ruled North America. The Rosengards ruled Europe and the British Isle. The Chens ruled China. The Akachi ruled Africa. And the Salazar ruled South America. All the other countries were usually split between four or five minor families. Sometimes one of the Five Families would go in to a territory and take it over, only to leave centuries later when the territory no longer interested them. Boundary lines were constantly moving, but most people knew not to enter another family’s territory without permission first.
So, if there were some unknown blood magic user entering her grandmother’s territory, they had a lot of guts. To pull such a noticeable stunt, they were just asking to be found. Mia wouldn’t be surprised if her grandmother sent a few of her enforcers this way.
“I don’t think running will make much of a difference soon. After this attack, I think finding me, suddenly became a lot less important,” Mia said simply.
“Because whoever attacked those women, wasn’t one of my family, which means you’re about to find yourself in the middle of a territory fight between two powerful blood magic families,” Mia told him.
Ronan began to swear, “So that means that this will not be a singular incident?”
“Most likely not, if anything, this will just be the first of many,” Mia said sadly.
“Okay, so tell me how to stop it?” Ronan demanded.
“You can’t stop it. If you were to try and get in between them, you would be dead before you even realized it. Human life does not rate high on the level of importance for these people. They sacrifice people to power their magic. Getting in between them will just get you killed,” Mia said shaking her head.
“There had to be some way to stop them. I refuse to accept it and just sit around while innocent people are dying,” Ronan growled.
“The only way you could possibly stop them would be to overpower them. That is how things work among my kind. The strong rule, the weak die.”
“Then find me someone strong, someone strong enough to defeat them all!”
Mia just shook her head. How could she make him understand? There was no one stronger. Until today, she hadn’t realized that there could possibly be someone stronger than her grandmother. Yet she had seen proof that very day. They may not be more powerful than Theodora Dragos, but their skill level surpassed her grandmother’s. And sometimes that was all it took. Sometimes skill could beat power. But could one person possibly beat an army of magic users all at once. Did anyone have that level of skill?
A shiver ran down her spine as she even contemplated it. Her grandmother had killed a whole town in one night and used every drop of blood to curse one man with immortality. What could be worse than that? It scared her to even think about, and she had seen many horrors in her life time.
“Right now, our only hope is that the monster you know, can defeat the monster you don’t. As hard as it is to say this, our only hope, is that my grandmother can kill this person before they can attack again,” Mia said, “Because if this person were to attack again, who knows how much more magic they will gather. What they have now is probably enough to wipe this city and the surrounding towns off the face of the earth. If they gathered twice as much, you might as well kill yourself. It would probably be better that way.”
Ronan didn’t stop her when she tried to get out this time. He just sat there staring straight ahead. He didn’t even say anything when she got out of the car. She just watched him silently for a moment before shutting the door.
Pulling her keys from her pocket, she unlocked the outer door. She took one last glance at Ronan before shutting the metal door behind her. He had not moved and still sat there staring at nothing. She felt bad for him, but there was really nothing she couldn’t do. She couldn’t even hope of defeating her grandmother, what chance did she have against a person who would drain the blood of six women without leaving even a trace of blood. None, she had absolutely no chance.
Walking up the concrete stairs in the dim lighting given off by the wall scones, Mia headed back to her apartment. It had been a long day already and she had only been up for an hour. Her stomach reminded her of the fact that she had not eaten yet but letting out a loud growl.
“Hold on a little bit longer, there’s a bowl of soup in the fridge just waiting to be reheated,” she told her stomach giving it a nice pat.
“Did you always talk to yourself or is this something you picked up from the people you have chosen to associate with?” A thick cultured voice said as Mia topped the stairs.
Mia glared at the figure who was leaning against her front door. He looked her up and down, shaking his head before turning the knob and pushing her front door open.
“Shall we?” He said as he gestured to the doorway. Mia said nothing but walked in to her apartment first knowing he would never allow her at his back. Mia slung her purse on the kitchen counter before turning to the man who walked into her apartment and looked around the small room with its worn sofa and small television. The wallpaper which she suspected had once been white, was now a faded beige and stained yellow in some places.
“How do you live like this?” He asked as he shook he head once more. His perfectly coiffed ebony locks not moving even a millimeter. She swore if he still carried around his frilly handkerchiefs, he’d probably have it raised to his nose right now calling for his smelling salts.
“I’m surprised you were allowed to leave the manor after your last indiscretion,” Mia said coolly as she looked at the only man who had ever been able to recognize her, her father, “I thought for sure Mother would have had you chained to your study.”
“Oh, she tried,” Her father, Alexander Dragos said with a booming laugh, which never did match his preferred gentlemanly fashion. His blamed his Russian father who had been a very boisterous man before her grandmother had killed him and found herself a new husband.
“What do you want Father? I thought we agreed after the last time we met that it would be best for all if we were never to meet again,” Mia said as she ran a hand through her blond curls.
“What an unkind child you are,” Alexander simpered, but his cool gray eyes looked at her with displeasure. Alexander was an A-Level magic user. Quite powerful and skilled, but nowhere near Mia’s level. He preferred studying blood magic rather than actually using his magic. He was born seventeen hundreds and knew how to use a sword. He had taught Mia when she was a child. It was because of him that her preferred weapon was a blade. But Mia had surpassed his skill when she was sixteen must to his disdain. He never liked having a daughter who bested him.
He showed no love or affection for her or her twin sister. He had a son with another woman before he married her mother. The boy was B-level at best and was practically inept with all magical spells. But her father loved the boy. He made Alexander look good while his daughters put him to shame, much like their mother.
About a few years after Mia had disappeared, her father had found her quite by accident. He had gone off to relieve himself of his daily stresses and he liked to call it, which basically meant he was running around behind her mother’s back. Mia didn’t care. It had been this way her entire childhood, this was nothing new.
She had been working as a runner back then, delivering packages to dangerous places most normal people wouldn’t go. It was a dangerous job, but it paid extremely well. She couldn’t use her blood magic, but by then she had her own little cache of weapons she could use just as well as her blood-letter skills.
Her father had been in some sleazy bar with some woman he had probably picked up off the streets. Mia had been delivering a package to some crime boss in the back of the bar when he had spotted her. She never knew how he did it, but her father had taken one glance at her and seen through her disguise. He was the reason she had been forced to physically change her appearance rather than just create an illusion. But it would seem he could see through that as well.
Her father had been extremely drunk and the drink had given him excessive bravery. For if he had been in his right mind, he would never have tried to attack him. In a blink of an eye, she had him pinned to the scarred wooden table he and his date had been sitting on. One blade through his silk shirt near his heart, one blade next to his collar bone.
Mia had no love for her father, but neither did she have any desire to kill him. She told him straight, that if he ever came near her again, she would stab him through the heart and use his own blood to keep his heart beating while he died slowly. She had been quite convincing.
But it would seem he had forgotten her warning, “I really don’t have the patience right now to play your games? Why are you here?”
She didn’t bother to ask how he had found her. It was probably the exact same way Marco had. The only difference was, Marco had not recognized her, while her father had.
“It seems Mother has decided it was time for you to rejoin the fold. She has vowed that if you are to return of your own free will, all actions against her will be forgiven and forgotten.”
Mia just snorted. Her grandmother was hardly the forgiving type. “What game are you playing at?”
“I assume you heard about attack last night? The six girls drained of every drop of blood?”
“Well, they are not the first,” Her father said, a sneer on his lips, “In the past six months, there have been four other attacks around the country. From our gathered information, it appears to be the work of one individual. From talks with the other families, we have discovered that the Dragos were not the only ones targets. The Chens and the Akachi have suffered loses while the Rosengard lost an entire installation in the Netherlands to this person. Yet no one has ever seen the person nor have they been able to trace the person’s magic.”
“So what do you want with me?” Mia asked as she leaned against the living room window, her arms crossed over her chest.
“Your grandmother is calling in everyone. If it comes down to war, she wants to be prepared,” Her father said.
“And if I say no?”
“Then you will be dealt with like all traitors,” her father said simply, no emotion in his voice. Not even a tear in his eye to show some concern for his daughter. “Your grandmother also wanted to let you know, that if you do refuse to accept her summons, you will not be the only one to suffer her punishment. She had been keeping tabs on the boy you stole from her all those years ago. If you do not go to her of your own free will, he will also suffer the consequences.”
Rage filled Mia as the world around her disappeared and all that existed was this man and the threat he had just delivered. What she had felt that night when those two men had attacked her was nothing compared to what she felt at that moment.
The room practically vibrated with her leashed powers. The walls shook and the windows hummed. She began to glow so brightly her father had to turn away and put an arm up to block his eyes.
“I am no longer under her rule. She has no power to threaten me or those I choose to protect,” Mia growled.
“Amelia, calm down before you bring the building down around us,” Her father said. He tried to keep his tone even, but Mia could hear the underlying fear in his voice. He had forgotten what she was truly capable of. Now it was time to remind him.
There was a pounding on her door, but she paid it no heed. Whoever tried to stop her now would end up as dead as her father. He may have given her life, but she owed him nothing for it.
Mia pulled the dagger she had slipped into her sleeve in the car out of its sheath. The thin blade was a bright as the moon, reflecting the light she giving off. She clutched the leather covered hilt in her fist as she moved towards her father.
The man cowered away from her. He tripped over the couch as he tried to get away from her and landed on the hard wooden floor with a thud.
“Mia!” A voice shouted through the wooden door but she paid no attention to it, instead she advance on her father who looked up at her, his mouth quivering his eyes finally starting to tear. But it wasn’t tears for her, it was tears for himself and what was about to come.
Suddenly her apartment door crashed open and three men rushed in to the room. They came to a stop when they say her standing above her father with her dagger in hand. Mia stared at the men, their faces were familiar but in her rage fueled mind, there was no recognition.
It didn’t matter anyway, the men were of no consequence. They were no threat to her. None of them had enough magic to pose any danger to her. As long as they stayed out of her way, she would let them live.
But her father, no, that was a different matter. He knew what she looked like now. He knew how to find her. As long as he lived, he could always track her down. He would always be a threat to her as long as he was alive. So she would erase that danger.
Lifting the dagger high above her head, she looked straight into her father’s gray eyes, her gray eyes and she brought it down.
* * *
Nick was moving before he even realized it. One moment he was watching her raise her blade, the next he was tackling her to the ground. The blade went clattering to the ground, sliding across the floor, only coming to a stop when it hit the wall. His hands bracketed her wrists while he straddled her chest.
“Ronan, check on the man,” He ordered his friend as he fought to keep the fury from breaking free. Who knew such a small woman had such much fight in her. If he didn’t have a good hundred pounds and eight inches on her, he would definitely be having a hard time holding her down. As is, he was barely keeping her beneath him.
“Let me go!” She screamed as she twisted and turned beneath him. Her clawed hands kept trying to scratch any part of her she could get her hands on.
“Calm down,” He grunted as one of her knees hit him solidly in the back.
“The man’s fine,” Ronan called back. He knelt next to the man, helping him to sit up while he checked for injuries.
“Whatever you do, you mustn’t let her up,” The man said, his gray eyes wide as he stared at the woman beneath Nick.
“Yeah, kind of figured that out on our own,” Ronan replied as he looked the man over, “So what the hell did you do to piss her off this badly?”
Good question Nick thought. He noticed that the glowing was beginning to fade so he was hoping that meant she was calming down. Her struggling had not ceased, but her efforts were growing weaker. Maybe she was wearing herself out. She couldn’t possible stay it that state for long.
“I did nothing,” The man said as he got to his feet, brushing off his expensive black slacks and button down shirt. He ran his hands through his perfectly styled hair, making sure everything was in place before her turned back to the young woman who still stared at her with glowing silver eyes.
“I will kill you!” She screamed at him. “I will never let you live. Even if I have to spend the next hundred years hunting you down, I will end you!”
“I wouldn’t say that was nothing,” Ronan said dryly as he crossed him arms over his chest. Alistair who had said nothing up to this point was looking coolly at the man. He stood between the man and the door, and unless the man answered their questions honestly, he wasn’t going to get out.
“Well, she always did have a temper. Never could learn to control it,” The man said shaking his head.
“Get off of me! You can’t let him go!” Mia squirmed beneath Nick but by now the glowing had nearly faded and her struggles were now just weak attempts for freedom. She had nothing left in her. Nick loosened his grip slightly, but not enough that she would be able to break free.
“Who are you and what do you want with Ms. Carlisle?” Alistair said softly. His tone even yet firm. The man just looked at him, his cool gray eyes taking in everything, everything but the most important thing. Even in his sixties, Alistair Rosen was not a man to mess with. He was a Level-A fire user. If wanted something from you, it was best you gave it to him before you made him mad.
“I came to deliver a message to my daughter from her grandmother. She did not like what I said, and this is the outcome,” The man said as he pointed to Mia who glared back at him. Nick said nothing but looked back and forth between the man and Mia. They looked nothing alike, nothing but their eyes. Besides that, this man hardly looked like a father. If anything, he looked only a few years old than Mia herself. Just what the hell kind of genes did they have? There was no way a man with a daughter this old could look that young.
Ronan seemed to be having the same thoughts as he looked back and forth between the man and Mia. Alistair thought didn’t seem surprised at all.
“And what message would that be?” He asked simply.
“My daughter has been away from home too long. It’s time that she returned. My mother just wanted her to know the consequences if she refused,” the man said simply.
“And I take it that Ms. Carlisle didn’t like the consequences,” Alistair remarked with a slight curve of his lips.
“Obviously,” The man replied.
“Then I think you have your answer. I think it would be best if you left your daughter alone. I believe it would be quite hazardous to your health to have any further interaction with you,” Alistair informed the man as he moved out of the way of the doorway.
“You can’t let him go!” Mia howled as she began to fight Nick once again, but her efforts were weak. She was completely worn out. “He will tell them where I am! He mustn’t be allowed to live!”
“I think it would be best if you left immediately,” Alistair said with a frown as he pointed to the door, “I also think for your own safety, that you make no mention of this visit to your mother.”
The man just snorted, “Nothing is kept from my mother. She sees all and knows all. There is no escape from her, as my daughter well knows. Besides, my mother doesn’t need to find my daughter to enact her punishment. She will take it out on the one my daughter sacrificed everything for.”
Nick couldn’t help but notice that the man now looked at him, a smirk on his face, “I’m sure you will be seeing her shortly.”
“No!” Mia hollered as the man flicked one last glance at her before walking straight out the door.
“Nickolas, let her up,” Alistair ordered as he closed the door behind the man.
“You just let him walk right on out of here,” Mia said angrily as Nick carefully got off of her. He moved back to give her space to sit up. She glared at him as she pulled herself to her feet before turning on Alistair. “Do you know how dangerous that man is? And you just let him walk out that door.”
“I didn’t think it would be in our best interests to hold Alexander Dragos hostage,” Alistair remarked sardonically. Mia mouth fell open at the exact time Nick’s did.
“You knew who he was?” Mia asked.
“I’ve met him before. He probably doesn’t remember it since I was much younger than,” Alistair said with a goofy grin.
“Then you know who I am?” Mia looked in horror at the older man.
“I suspected, but your father’s presence here confirmed it for me,” Alistair nodded.
“Then why didn’t you turn me in?” Mia asked with a frown.
“Because I know there is good in you,” Alistair said with a warm smile, “You may not know it, but I saw you that night. I saw what you did. No one with a black heart could have done so much or risked so much for an unknown child the way you did.”
Mia shook her head, “I didn’t do anything good. Saving one life doesn’t make up for the hundreds I have taken.”
“Yet you feel sorrow and regret. Could a heartless person truly understand those feelings? You may not see it, but I do. You have a good heart.”
A smirk came to her lips, “A good person that was ready to take her father’s life. I believe that is called Patricide.”
Her voice was bitter and her gray eyes dark and shuttered. The glowing had completed faded and once more she was just the girl he had first seen in the book store. There was an air around her that wasn’t quite right, but now he knew what it was. She was a blood magic user, and a very powerful one at that. But was she truly the enemy? For some odd reason, he couldn’t answer that with a definite yes. A week ago he might have, but right now? No, he just couldn’t.
Like Alistair said, there was some good in her. She felt real emotions. She felt sadness, she felt sorrow, but most of all, she felt regret for what she had done. Could anyone who was completely evil, truly feel regret for their past sins? Nick couldn’t say.
He had done things he was not proud of. He had hurt people. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally was just as bad. He had been hurt and he wanted people to hurt to. He regretted the loss of a real relationship with his parents and family. But they couldn’t possibly understand what he went through, and as a child, he hadn’t realized that they were trying. So instead he had turned his back on them completely. He hadn’t spoken to them for more than a minute at a time in the last ten years. But every Christmas they sent him a card and a gift, telling him to come home. No matter what he did to them, he was still there son and they still loved him.
Had this woman ever known what love was? He wasn’t excusing her from her crimes, but just maybe if she had been raised differently, maybe she wouldn’t have turned out the way she had. Maybe if someone had just shown her some love, it would have changed her completely.
“Don’t worry too much about what you almost did,” Alistair told her with a kind smile, “Instead think about why you did it. He threatened someone you care about and you reacted. You saw him as a threat, to not just you, but to the person you want to protect. Besides, deep down, I don’t think you actually meant to kill me.”
“Sure felt like it to me.”
“No,” Alistair said seriously, “If you have truly meant to kill him, nothing would have stood in your way.”
Next: Chapter Nine