Lumie and I stayed up a long time but both of us ended falling asleep before Vilkas got home. Dad and Pa had ushered us upstairs after the girl had said she knew Villy’s biological family. Well. Ushered me upstairs. I woke up Lumie and we mentally discussed this while we sat at the top of the stairs, trying to get a better look at the blonde lady. Lumie dropped off at two am and I had to shake her gently awake to help her back in her room. I got her tucked in, then decided to curl up in Gladdy’s bed to wait for Vilkas… but then dropped off myself. I woke up sometime after seven, sleepy, confused, and then falling out when I remembered the night’s events.
I ran out of the room and down the stairs. Vilkas wasn’t anywhere in sight though the blonde woman was sitting there eating the breakfast Pa put down in front of her. Pa smiled when he saw me and began piling pancakes on another plate. “Is Vilkas here?” I asked, going over, keeping my eye on the blonde.
“Yeah, he and your dad are taking a walk and talking,” Pa explained as he slid a plate over to me. “Is Lumie awake?”
“No, she’s still asleep.” I began scarfing down the food, still watching the lady. “Wazzour ‘ame?” I asked.
“Zaid!” Pa snapped
I swallowed my food, blushing a bit. “What’s your name?” I asked, this time without a mouth full of food.
“Bonehilda,” she replied carefully.
“Huh. Interesting name.” I went back to eating, stuffing the last bite in my mouth then holding up my plate for more. Considering all I’d been eating lately was junk food, Pa very happily plopped two more pancakes down for me. “So, you think you know Vilkas’s like, bio family? Cuz that’s like, impossible.” I froze, fork hovering over my food. “Isn’t it?” I added in a fearful whisper to Pa.
“I knew his father, and I do know his grandfather,” Bonehilda said.
It was Papa who answered my question, explaining to me what had been talked about earlier. Apparently Vilkas’s biological father died four years ago. Killed. Murdered. My brain of course brought up the image of my stalker sliding a sword through Carl Briggs’s chest. I shook my head, trying not to think of that disgusting image. But no matter how much I shook my head the blood was still spraying until I had to shove away my untouched pancakes. Pa frowned a bit when I did that though thankfully kept quiet.
“I’m sure there are a lot of questions still needing to be answered,” Papa said cheerfully. “But that’s for Vilkas, not you. Zaid, could you take a tray of food up to your sister and stay with her?”
“PA!” I whined, knowing he was doing this because Vilkas and Dad were coming back. I could see them out the window. “I wanna say hi to my brother!” I drew this word out with a full-on glare at Bonehilda who didn’t seem phased. Hmph. I got up and, ignoring Pa, went to wait near the door. “Villy!” I said, giving him a big smile.
Vilkas didn’t smile back. He looked exhausted, weary, and a bit stressed out. His eyes were slightly red and puffy from… crying? My own grin faded at the sight of him. “Hey Zaid,” he said in a raspy voice.
Dad moved in closer to me, putting his hands on my shoulders and leaning in. “Why don’t you go wait upstairs,” he said. He didn’t ask me–this was a Command with a capitol C. I swallowed, nodding. I grabbed the tray Pa had made for Lumie and scurried upstairs, feeling sick with worry for my brother.
What the heck was going on? I mean, Vilkas was gonna be twenty soon. TWENTY. That was NINETEEN years of him hanging around with no indication from this lunatic, or whoever his ‘grandfather’ was. Why now? And surely Vilkas wasn’t gonna just go. I mean. We were his family. Us. He never knew his grandfather, because his grandfather–both of them–died ages ago. Dad’s dad and Pa’s dad. Not some werewolf with a creepy blonde gopher named Bonehilda. He was a Danevbie-Greyson like the rest of us–well, like most of us but even with the ‘Danevbie’ dropped from her name, it didn’t change the fact Presea was one of us. We were… a family.
>You’re overreacting,< Lumie broke into my head, making me realize I was just standing in the hall with her food. >Even if Villy goes to see him, he’s not just gonna move away from us and ignore us. I’m starving, hurry up with the food and–<
Here she stopped talking mentally and began speaking out loud since I opened the bedroom door. “–stop being all anxious about Vilkas. Ooooh, pancakes. Strawberry syrup on them?”
I set the tray down over her lap. “Yeah.” I moved back to Gladdy’s bed, throwing myself down and scowling at nothing in particular.
“Watcher you look just like Dad when you do that, you know that right?” she asked as she carefully cut the stack of pancakes up.
I just scowled even more. “I don’t like her. Bonehilda. I hate her.” I punched the pillow a few times then got back up to pace around. I took a peek out the window, wondering if my stalker was there but I didn’t see any signs of him. Hmph. Why couldn’t he have attacked Bonehilda instead of running off–
“You talked to him?” Lumie’s jaw dropped as she realized my thought process.
“Yep, last night right before Miss Blondie showed up,” I said, peering around the yard for him. I told Lumie what was said, even though it wasn’t much, and then complained some more about Bonehilda. About what this might mean. All right, so I was scared Vilkas would just go off. He was a werewolf, wasn’t he? Wouldn’t he prefer to be in the company of other werewolves… away from people who might wanna kill him…?
“If he wanted to be away, he would have gone off as soon as he turned eighteen,” Lumie said as she got out of bed, placing a hand over her hugely swollen belly. “Stop being all worrypants! You’ll upset the baby.”
I crept over so I could give her a hug and give the baby bump a pat. “My apologies,” I told her stomach then swiftly put my barriers up. It was moments like this that made me kinda regret supporting her adoption decision. I knew it was the best option for her. I knew it was. Lumie wasn’t gonna be able to handle being a mother yet, and she did not want to be a mother yet. But sometimes I wished my little niece would be staying around. And when I did wish it, I hid it away from my twin because I didn’t want her to know I felt this way. She needed my unwavering support, and that’s what she was going to get.
Whatever was discussed downstairs made Vilkas decide to visit his grandfather. None of us were happy about this decision. Specter offered to go but Vilkas wanted to do this on his own, to all our dismay. I was worried they’d do something to him but when I mentioned my fear he just rubbed my head and promised me I’d be fine.
“I need to do this, to see,” he said. “I–I need to. I’ll call when I get there.”
And he left. Not back to college, but to wherever his biological grandfather was. Lumie fell into a state of distress at this and worried for ages about the closed adoption for her baby. She kept questioning if it was the right thing, but they had all agreed on a closed adoption. She doubted the family would want to do an open adoption. I has to keep promising her this was the best thing.
“This situation is very different from Villy’s,” I pointed out on the third day Vilkas was gone. “This is a proper adoption through the right channels, not just finding a baby in the woods. Vilkas… Villy is…”
I stopped, thinking about my brother sadly. He had called us multiple times, telling us all sorts of wild stories. An entire clan of werewolves living in a castle in the mountains. All of them with white hair and fur like him. He was the only one with blue in his hair/fur though, although apparently one of the werewolves had a very light blue hair dye in some of his hair. Villy’s biological grandfather was in charge of the clan but he was dying and apparently they wanted Vilkas to come take charge once the old man bit the dust. Vilkas didn’t say whether he wanted to or not, but he was staying for a few more days. Getting to know the werewolves, getting a feel for the place. I really hoped he was coming back soon.
“I guess,” Lumie grumbled. “It’s just I keep thinking different things. I miss Saul. Stop looking at me like that, I know he dumped me but I liked him. I–I loved him. And I lost all my friends. I only have you guys now.” She began crying, and I reached over to comfort her. “Villy won’t leave us, will he?”
“He won’t,” I promised. He can’t do that to us… he’s our family…
Of course Vilkas wasn’t even thinking about leaving. He came back after another few days and told us he was never going back there. He hated it there. His grandfather was a nutjob, acting like a king. Half the members of the clans either were jerks to Vilkas or trying to suck up to him. Bonehilda apparently wasn’t even human, she was a set of bones that could walk and talk (she had only appeared human through a potion she had taken). “It’s a total freaking medieval life there!” Vilkas said as he stomped around the living room. “And like, I’m supposedly their freaking prince. It’s insanity. It’s insanity!”
With that, he headed back to college and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
October crept on, getting closer and closer to Halloween. My stalker was back, of course. Hanging around outside at night like the… freaking… stalker he was. One night when Lumie was up I tried to show her but my stalker disappeared in the time it took her to cross the room to the window.
“I do believe you,” she promised, feeling the worry.
She was growing heavier and heavier with each passing day. As October came to an end, she barely ever came downstairs because of the effort it took her. We thought about installing her on a bed downstairs but since the downstairs bathroom didn’t have a tub or shower we decided that was out of the question. For Halloween I dressed as ‘Linus’ from the Charlie Brown cartoons, while Lumie dressed all in green and painted her huge stomach like a jack-o-lantern.
When November started, Lumie stopped doing her online classes completely and pretty much just stayed in bed almost all the time. Dad and Pa and I waited on her hand and foot, doing her bidding. Sometimes she took advantage of this when I was around but mostly she kept her requests to ones she really needed.
“Do you think I’ll ever find someone?”
It was about four days before her due date. She was looking out the window, watching the sleet try to decide if it was gonna turn to rain or snow. I went over to join her, rather surprised by this question.
“Course you will,” I said. “One day.”
“Nobody will want me.” She put a hand on her belly, frowning. “I’m like… that… old chipped mug in the back of the cupboard. I’m used. I’m used.”
I shrugged one of my shoulders. “Everyone has a favorite mug, you just need to wait and see. There’s some guy out there right now, looking out his window and sighing because all the mugs he’s seen are ugly.”
Lumie laughed and squeezed my arm. “You’re a doofus, you know that?” I just grinned back but then my grin became a forced one when she said, “What about you? What sort of girl do you want?”
I looked out the window, my smile still locked. “I don’t know,” I said, trying not to sound as tense as I felt. “Someone who will accept me for me.” Like I thought AZ did. Smart. Funny. Gorgeous. And liked me… well… pretended to like me… well… she said she started to like me… But how could I trust that? And what did it matter, she was dead. Psychostalker killed her. Murdered her. In front of me.
I closed my eyes tightly, the image of AZ’s corpse appearing before me. Her staring eyes, mouth open, blood streaming out of the chest wound. I felt so angry I wanted to punch Psychostalker even if he sworded me to death which I wasn’t sure why he hadn’t yet. I still didn’t know if he was a good witch or a bad witch, so to speak. Part of me figured he was good–or at least, wanted to keep me alive. But part of me figured that he was just biding his time… that he was part of whoever was gonna use me for bad, and was just keeping me alive till I was ready.
It was just a matter of time before he revealed which one it was.
Lumie had her baby on November twelfth. It was the middle of the day when she went into labor and we all rushed her to the hospital. I didn’t really know what to expect. I guess… we’d get there and she’d push the baby out but instead we got hours and hours and hours of waiting. The couple adopting were there too, which pleased me when I saw they were there all night long and wanting to do what they could. They weren’t just waiting at home for a phone call, they were actually staying up at the hospital with us.
After fourteen hours of Lumie crying and begging for pain medicine, it was finally time. I tried to leave the room but she took hold of my hand and said in a demonically possessed voice that if I dared leave her side she would rip my heart out. So I meekly sat beside her and let her break all the bones in my hand as she gave birth. Her fingernails dug so deep in my skin that I was soon bleeding. Glados was on her other side, holding her other hand. We had called the siblings in, of course, and they were all here except for Vilkas since he wasn’t permitted into the room while she gave birth.
Finally a little girl was born, and after she was cleaned up and cut from Lumie… she was offered for Lumie’s arms. Lumie weakly shook her head and rolled towards me, pulling me down against her, crying softly into my shoulder. “No, I can’t, please,” she whispered, sounding utterly exhausted. So Lumie’s daughter was taken from the room and out of our lives, forever.
Over the next few days, Lumie was almost completely silent unless she was crying. I knew how she felt, as complicated as it was. She didn’t feel guilt over giving her daughter to the family but part of her wished she could have kept her baby. >I know I would have failed as a mother though,< she whimpered in my head. >I’m not mature enough to handle a baby. But I wish I was.<
Slowly though she started doing better. As November turned colder and colder, as the leaves disappeared and the snow came, my sister started to finally return a bit to her old self. Not that she’d ever be her old self again. She was changed, of course. No way something like that could happen and not change her. The biggest change I noticed, though, was when Saul phoned her up and asked about the baby.
Now, we had contacted Saul during the pregnancy. We had contacted him and his family and they informed us that they wanted nothing to do with this because it was all Lumie’s fault. Saul even told his parents that Lumie had claimed to be on birth control. So there had been an agreement that the baby would be ours, and whatever decision we made it was our decision to make. So when Saul called up, asked about the baby, was informed about the adoption, and started to scream at my sister for going behind his back… I was prepared to snatch the phone from her and yell back at him.
Before I could, Lumie snapped. “We talked about what to do with the baby, Saul,” she hissed angrily. “There were papers signed about the baby being in my family’s hands!” I could hear him screaming through the phone about how he expected her to raise the baby and how she was just a selfish slut. “Well, maybe that’s just one of the few things we have in common, Saul. High expectations. You expected me to raise your baby and I expected you to be a semi-decent human being. Looks like we were both mistaken there. Don’t ever call me again.” She hung up and threw her phone on her bed, face red, eyes full of tears.
Things changed that winter, too. Not for the better. After the older three siblings came home from their first semester… Vilkas got a phone call from one of the werewolves at the castle. Of course he didn’t tell us everything that was said but throughout the Christmas season he seemed really upset and distracted about something, and was constantly in contact with the werewolf until just after the New Years when he announced he was going back to the castle.
“Not back to college,” he said to our stricken faces. “They need me. You–you guys have no idea what it’s like. They’ll just… sink into nothing without me.” He ran his fingers through his hair, looking depressed. “I know I have every right to say no and trust me, part of me wants to say no. But I can’t just abandon them. Besides, I don’t see much point in finishing college. Especially after the full moon in November.”
We all knew what had happened. He had classes in the morning after a full moon and he showed up, tired, bedraggled, but ready to do school. All the other kids felt uneasy around him till finally the teacher asked him to leave for the day since he was causing such a distraction/problem. Same thing happened when he tried showing up for his afternoon class. And in December before the full moon he was asked not to show up the day before it happened, either. He missed several classes because of all this.
“So you’re just going to go and–and be a Prince?” Glados asked in a disbelieving tone.
Vilkas shrugged. “Why not? It will be work but… what else am I going to do with my life? Seriously? No, seriously?” He looked around at all of us, meeting each set of eyes. “How many werewolves do you know working a regular job, besides at the Rag? Vampires? Faeries?” He stood up, pacing around by the fireplace. “I can answer that: none. At least, none that are known. Some faeries can hide their wings, apparently, and pass as a normal human. But Weres and Vamps are out of the freaking question. Our eyes. The mark of a vampire. We’re set apart. Cast aside. I might be able to do work… like, telemarketer or something. Or continue working at the Rag.” He stopped and folded his arms, seeming to take up the whole room. “But why? I don’t want to do those things. I don’t know what I want exactly, but maybe being there I can figure things out. And to be honest, it’d be nice to get to know other werewolves. Even if some of the ones there aren’t so pleasant.”
Pa got up and hugged Villy tightly. Presea joined him and soon we were all doing a big group hug. “No matter what, we love you,” Pa whispered.
“I know, Pa,” Villy promised, kissing the top of his head. “Trust me, I’ll be visiting home a lot and calling in, and maybe you guys can all come visit. I’m not sure if there are rules about non-werewolves visiting but…” With this he cracked a grin. “If I’m gonna be Alpha King Dude then I guess I can make the rules, yeah?”
“As long as I can call you King Dude, then,” I snorted. Vilkas cracked a grin at that and reached over, messing my hair up. I made fake protest noises but then dove into his arms hugging him tightly.
Things are weird here. Vilkas is gone, gone to that castle thing. Saya and Gladdy are back in college. Saya is nineteen already… and in a week, Lumes and I will be sixteen. It’s hard to believe it. I don’t feel sixteen. I don’t want to be sixteen. In regards to your question, yep. Nightmares are still plaging me. They’re starting to let up though. I only have a couple nightmares a week so that’s something, right?
Here’s a picture I wanted to show you! I’ve been thinking more and more about this destruction thing. Like people using me for bad. I want to protect myself. So I’ve taken up martial arts. Pa and Dad are like super happy about me doing this and honestly it’s reeeeallllly awesome I mean it is FUN. It makes me forget about my problems and I feel less stressed out after my class is done. I’ve had four classes now over two weeks, and I can’t wait till my next class. I’ve decided I want to master this sort of thing. Not like before. I mean when I keep changing my mind about things. I really want to do this, and I really like it. Plus I can protect myself and my family if need be.
I loved martial arts. The nightmares became less frequent with each class I took. Pa and Dad even bought me a training dummy for my sixteenth birthday. Lumie made a remark about spending money on something I wouldn’t need after a few months, but I ignored her. I focused all my energy and time into this. And a month after I started my classes, I was able to earn a white belt.
February wasn’t a great month for the others though. Lumie was depressed since it had been a year since she got pregnant, Presea got dumped, Gladdy got her first a-minus, and Vilkas’s biological grandfather passed away. We wanted to be there for him but Vilkas said that we couldn’t come to the funeral. We just weren’t allowed, and it’d be intrusive for those grieving though Villy did come home for a few hours. He wasn’t very upset or distraught, and he admitted he didn’t feel any fondness for his grandfather.
“But now… you’re in charge of the clan?” Pa asked.
Vilkas swallowed, nodding and looking down at his lap. “Yeah. I’m–I’m the Alpha now. People are going to look to me for guidance and I have no idea what I’m doing. I could have had a few months to learn but–but instead I went to college and now I’ve only had a month with him and–“
Dad reached over and put a hand on Villy’s shoulder. “You’re strong, smart, and a good person, Vilkas. You’ll be great.”
Just before Villy left, he and I went on a short walk outside. I had been wanting to show him my first belt but hadn’t because I figured he’d be too upset, plus we hadn’t gotten a chance to talk with just the two of us lately. But he asked me all sorts of questions about martial arts, begging me to show him a few moves. He then poked me until I did the moves on him, pointing out that if I did do any harm to him, the wounds would just heal.
“But part of the thing with martial arts is only using it to defend yourself,” I protested and then my face fell. “Of course you’re right. If any werewolves or vampires attack me, I won’t be able to really protect myself.” Suddenly I felt stupid and weak. Maybe I could fight against a witch or faerie, even, but not a werewolf or vampires. Were any of them after me? I remembered the vampire girl from a year ago. I wondered, just a bit, if she had meant any harm towards me. Had my stalker killed her to protect me? Or to keep me alive until I was ready for whatever he wanted?
“Hey,” Vilkas said, cutting my thoughts off. “Just because they heal doesn’t mean you can’t hurt them. If you flipped me over and knocked me out, you could get quite a ways away from me before I came to.” He tousled my hair again. “What Dad said to me earlier goes for you, too. You’re smart, and you’re strong. You are great.”
“I’m just the baby of the family–“
“You’re Zaid,” he said, wrapping an arm around me in a half-hug, half-headlock. “My baby brother, but still a great guy. Don’t ever forget that.” I tried to get free and then we chased each other a bit back to the house.
I did feel a lot better because of that talk, and it sorta became my mantra. Was I stealing it from Vilkas? I wasn’t sure… but it helped me. You’re smart, I thought as I punched the training dummy. You’re strong. I whacked another part of the thing. You’re great. I hit the dummy and then jumped back since it almost gave my head a whack.
Pa and Dad had been talking to me and Lumie about going back into public school but we both refused. Lumie had been trying to reach out to her old friends but most of them were ignoring her, and some of the ones that did talk to her didn’t have pleasant things to say. She was considered a slut around school now and several guys bragged about doing her. None of the girls wanted Lumie around since they were worried she’d steal their boyfriends. The only girl that did talk to Lumie was Tryshya.
I saw Lumie trying to get friends again so I started to do the same. I was e-mailing and texting Clay again, as well as Trysh on occasion. They both seemed excited for me to be in contact with them and while Trysh never mentioned my months of absence, Clay only said one thing about it which was that he had felt angry that I distanced myself but he understood why I was so depressed during that time. I felt guilty for just abandoning them both… but even now, a teensy part of me felt suspicious whenever they questioned me on how I was doing, or if I wanted to hang out. I wasn’t ready to hang out, though. Maybe soon–I promised them that. Soon.
But not quite yet.