The song included in this chapter is called "High For This" by The Weeknd; one of my favorites.
It just sets an eerie mood.
Anyway, enjoy :)
The interaction between Ray and Robyn was even more evident the next evening. They hadn’t returned until close to Dawn and the entire day they spent nearly attached to the hip. She giggled at things he said a little too much, when Ray wasn’t really all that funny. I could tell she was smitten, and she deserved to be happy with someone. Robyn spent most of her life just having “fun” with guys before breaking their hearts, and I could tell when she was going to do it. With Ray she seemed genuinely interested in him. I guess it was because he was a Shifter, maybe she was meant to be with a Supe. It was better, in my humble opinion, than a vampire.
Ray explained how he was from Jackson, Mississippi, where his father owned a big construction company. He said he used to stick to transforming into a wolf, in order to run with a big pack of tough motorcycle-riding leather-wearing Shifters; but when his ex girlfriend left him for one of the other members, he distanced himself and realized that lifestyle wasn’t for him. He was a loner for a few years until he heard about Cherrywood Springs and the variety of Shifters here in California. He moved here and was a lot happier ever since.
Ray continued to tell us a few facts about Shifters; he told us how the majority of them are nocturnal, which is why the nearby Shifter-owned businesses cater to the night crowd. He said they can shift at will, but on the night of a full moon they can’t fight it. He explained they had a predisposed dislike to Vampires, and vice versa. What I found the most valuable, was that he told us there are more Supes hiding out in the world than we know of. He said he had come across Witches, many of them practiced voodoo in places close to him like Louisiana (Robyn’s reaction was wide-eyed to this, I wondered if she was faking or not). He said Wiccans weren’t as intense as Witches and focused more on white magic, nature rituals and healing, but they were still considered Supes. Ray had also met a couple Telepaths, many Psychics, and a Demon in it’s purest form outside of a host. Something he never wanted to witness again, he noted with a shudder.
After being thoroughly educated, Ray made us some southern Sweet Tea that was a recipe his mother showed him. Robyn went to shower for the evening, and he gave her a bag of clothes, explaining that Jason told him how we had to uproot ourselves suddenly so he ran out to the nearest Wal-Mart and purchased us a few things to wear. I appreciated it a lot, even though down-south casual flannel and jeans wasn’t exactly my style. It would only help us blend in more. Robyn even suggested we buy some black hair dye so she could tone down her outrageous red.
Ray came outside to the porch swing and handed me a glass of his special Sweet Tea, sitting next to me. “So you and the vamp, how long you been together for if you don’t mind me askin’?”
I sipped the sweet drink, loving the coolness of it on this hot day, which was quickly turning into evening. I hadn’t watched the sunset in a while. “I don’t mind at all. We’ve been together almost five years now, if you count the two and half that he was dead and I still was in love with his memory.” I chuckled at the thought.
“You met him as a human?”
I nodded, “Yep. At an award show. He used a pick up line and I fell for it, I’m such a sucker.” Ray laughed, I continued. “He had to spend time with his Creator, some vampire nonsense I don’t get and probably never will.” I waved my hand to dismiss the complexity of the thought, “But after that long time he showed back up again and told me what he was. I accepted and here we are.”
Ray listened and nodded. “This big revelation that’s happenin’, seems rough on ‘em. We don’t really have much of a system, us Shifters, unless we’re in a pack. Even then, I can’t imagine them wantin’ to reveal us to the public. Too risky.”
“Things were better when he was hush-hush and glamouring anyone who saw us. I even turned my phone off last night, I was getting too many requests for press time.” I complained.
“Comes with your territory.” He noted, “Thing is, Vamps were fine in secret. They thrived in it since they ain’t really social creatures. I think there’s somethin’ behind this and I don’t like the feelin’ of it.”
“What could they possibly want that they can’t just take by force?”
Ray shook his head. “If you take power by force, you’ll lose. If you can make people like you, you got a wider window of opportunity to do some serious damage. Wars are messy, Vamps know that, and as much as they’re willin’ to spill blood, they’d rather play puppeteer in peace.”
The reality of what we could possibly be facing made a lot of sense, but the question was, why? Why would they want control? What for? Then again, many desires for power had no reasoning behind them.
“So...what? You think they’re gonna take over the world or something?” I looked up at Ray, who’s jaw was clenched pensively.
“If they do it right, they can.” His thick eyebrows knotted, “But if the humans gave up, there’d be a Supe war, I’d tell you that. Them Demons would love it, but I don’t know a damn Shifter or Witch who’d stand for it quietly.”
“But not all vampires are like that, Ray.” I disagreed with his insane theory, even though it made a lot of frightening sense. “Bruno just wants to live his life in peace, and so does Jason, you know that, hell, you’re friends with him!”
“You don’t understand Vamps yet, Roxy.” He grumbled, “You think you do, but you don’t. They don’t think like humans. They act like they do, but they are the greatest manipulators of all time. I ain’t never had a bad experience with any of ‘em, so I ain’t speakin’ from a place of bitterness, I’m speakin’ hard facts here. Think of the nice ones as Tiger cubs. You can raise ‘em in captivity and they’d be nice as pie but they got those instincts and they can turn on you in a second. You can’t fight nature.”
“But-” I tried to argue again, but he cut me short.
“I ain’t sayin’ your Bruno can’t be one of the Tigers that live the whole time nice as pie. There’s a story of a man who released a Lion he raised out into the wild and after the lion got violent, the man went back into the wild and first thing the doggone thing did was hug him.”
“I’m just sayin’ you can’t never be a hundred percent sure of a Vamp, I don’t care if Jesus was one of ‘em. You just can’t.”
I heard oncoming footsteps and Robyn popped her head out. “Here you guys are.” She walked out and I was pleasantly surprised by how good she looked when she wasn’t overdressed. All she wore was a pair of cutoff shorts and a plain white racerback tank. Her hair was pulled back into a single braid, still red...for now.
“He’s still asleep, huh?” I stood up, setting my now empty glass of Sweet Tea on the small table nearby.
“Like a baby...well, a dead baby.” Robyn rephrased herself then frowned at how morbid it came out. “Nevermind.”
I laughed, “I’ll head inside then, I need a nap anyway.”
I closed the screen door gently and found myself a comfortable spot on the couch in the living room. Ray had the House of Balloons album by The Weeknd playing quietly in the nearby stereo. I recall one in particular that sounded rather eerie as I nodded off, something about it...
Open your hand, take a glass, don’t be scared, I’m right here.
Even though, you don’t roll...trust me girl, you wanna be high for this...
He was tall, so much taller than me. His eyes burned an electric blue through his already cat-like Korean eyes. He watched me through his windswept black bangs, while I tried to get up, my left leg gashed deeply, bleeding profusely.
I could hear screams of terror from the other people around me who were being carelessly drained and tossed aside. Oh God where was he? I lost Bruno amongst the battlefield, and continued up the rest of this demonic canyon alone, hoping our blood bond would be enough for him to find me. I knew he could survive down there, his side was winning anyway, the vampires. But I had to keep moving.
I coughed at the sand that was swirling around from the fighting, and I tried to get up again, but I collapsed.
He smiled, the amusement evident in his otherwise evil expression. I didn’t know who he was, or why he watched me so intently.
“Please, help me.” I begged, tears streaming down my dirty face.
His head slowly tilted to the side, “No.”
I wanted to get away from him. He had to be one of them, to be so heartless and cruel. I crawled on the ground, dragging my leg, and I heard his throaty laugh at my futile attempt at escape.
“Rox!” Bruno vamped to me, kneeling down on the ground and looking over me with great concern. “Shit, come on.” He lifted my body into his arms and as he sped off I watched the man smile at me, his fangs hanging over his lower lip. I clung to Bruno tightly, feeling my head spinning from how much blood I had lost.
As if reading my mind, he stopped at the highest point of the canyon, setting me down gently. He kneeled down, his fangs extending as he bit into his wrist, opening the vein. I drank from him, feeling the numb thud of my leg tissue repairing itself at warp speed. The wounds in his wrist re-closed and I could finally breathe again. My bruised ribs had me gasping in the dust storm before.
“We’ve got to get out of here.” I sat up. The fighting was distant noise from where we were.
“I can’t do that.” He said. I looked at him curiously, wondering why he looked so forlorn for some reason.
I shook my head, “What do you mean you can’t do that? We’re out of the battlefield, we can run from this.”
“I can’t run from who I am.” He vamped closer to me and I pushed myself backwards, unaware that I was at the edge of the canyon. I felt the drop and turned around quickly, looking at the hundreds of feet it took to hit the ground. I felt a shove and I slipped off the edge, but he caught me by my wrist. I hung in the air, clutching him tightly and gasping for air. My heart raced, pebbles fell in my face from my slip.
Suddenly, I saw him. The man from before stood tall and proud behind Bruno. He slowly kneeled down to where Bruno was clutching me. I struggled trying to climb back onto the edge with my free hand. “We have won in every other state but California, and we are almost finished. Europe has been wiped clean, the other countries are quick behind.” The man’s voice was seething with venom, a vicious whisper.
“Come celebrate with your brothers and sisters, you are too young and too special to die, Hernandez.”
To my utter shock, I could see Bruno contemplating, calculating, deciding. “Bruno, don’t do this. Help me.” I whispered, pleading. Tears trickled over my cheeks, he wasn’t going to do this to me! Not after we’ve come this far!
“You promised me we would fight until the end together!” I clutched the cliff, my nails digging into the hard rock, my legs swinging desperately.
He closed his eyes, swallowing before opening them again and giving me a smile. His reassuring smile, the one that told me everything was going to be okay. “Promises are meant to be broken.”
In the next second, I was clutching nothing but the air that surrounded my fatal fall.
My lids flew open as I gasped and sat up straight, coming only inches from Bruno’s face. He jumped back and started laughing while I touched my body and looked around frantically, trying to piece together where I was.
“Were you having a sex dream? You kept moaning ‘please’, I was enjoying it!” He threw his head back, laughing even harder as he imitated me.
“No I wasn’t having a sex dream you idiot, and what are you wearing?” I lifted my brow and started to snicker myself at how he was dressed. He wore a pair of baggy black sweatpants and a hooded sweatshirt that had a picture of a red bulldog on the front, but it looked two sizes too big.
He immediately went flat-faced, looking completely unamused. “This is Ray’s idea of how I dress.”
I started cackling when he lifted his hood up to sit atop his curly mess of a fro, as if that was supposed to make him look any better. “You look...great though.” He looked me over and grinned. “I like this look on you, to be honest.”
I rolled my eyes, “That’s because you don’t remember how I used to dress.” Back when he had his memories, I was almost always in animal print and heels, red lips and all. Now I was currently dressed in a white racerback tank underneath a red and black flannel button down, and plain jeans.
I stood up and ran my fingers through my hair, giving it a bit more volume from it flattening from my sleep. “So are you ready?”
“Born ready, beautiful.”
I had looked up the address to a local store called ‘Moonstone’. It was primarily a place for psychic readings, but they sold many items used in all kinds of witchcraft and hoodoo. We had to lie, of course, and tell Ray and Robyn that we were just heading out to the library. Unfortunately Ray had strict orders to keep us safe, from Jason, so we were limited on where we could roam...especially at night.
So it was dangerous for us to have lied, but like we agreed...we didn’t want to sit back and wait for someone else to save us. It was time to actually do something.
We stood outside the run-down shop, that had all kinds of stones and gems on display in the window. “Under nocircumstances, can your fangs come out...got it?” I whispered to him, stepping aside as a woman left the store. She had a large paper bag in her hand and her face looked smeared with blood. She eyed us with large eyes as she walked away.
I looked over to see Bruno’s jaw clenched tightly. It looked like he had a mouth full of marbles that he was trying to contain. I rolled my eyes, “Seriously?”
He opened his mouth and his fangs were ejected as he shrugged helplessly. “I should stay outside.” He suggested.
I sighed, “Fine. You can feel when I’m in danger, right?”
Bruno nodded, “Yeah, I got you. Go on babygirl, I’ll be right outside.”
I took a deep breath and walked inside. I was overcome with a strong smell of herbs so much so, that I had to cough a bit to clear my senses. A woman came striding out from a beaded curtain that hid a backroom. I assumed it was where people got their readings. “Have you come for a reading?” She pressed her ring and bracelet adorned hands together.
“Uh...no.” I shook my head furiously. “I’m casting this spell and I need some help getting things.” I probably sounded retarded but how was I supposed to ask? I had never practiced witchcraft before, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
“You are a beginner, I can tell.” She lifted her brows as she strode over to me, placing her hand on my back. “You want love?”
“No.” I replied, “I do Obeah and I need to help my grandmother remember her childhood.” We had practiced this lie before we even came, so at least that came out somewhat believable.
But as soon as I said Obeah, she drew her hand back and placed it on her chest. “That is a powerful art, dear child. It is usually passed down in families, has your grandmother not taught it to you?”
“She can’t remember much of it anymore, and my mother doesn’t want me to learn it. I’m not looking to harm anyone, I just need to help my grandmother’s memory.” I was spilling out lies like a pro, and I guess I was convincing because the woman nodded her head in sympathetic understanding.
“There is no book on the ancient Obeah you ask of, only the simple rituals. I will tell you what you will need in order to regain your grandmother’s memory.” I followed the woman over to a nearby wooden table. She pulled out a napkin and a pen, and started to write onto the napkin. “This is the ancient chant, you must burn this when you are finished so none other can find it. It may backfire on you if someone does.”
“O-okay.” I stammered. Things were feeling eerie to me already, and I almost wished we hadn’t decided to do this part on our own. I should have just listened to him and gone to a professional about this first.
As the woman scribbled words down she spoke, “I have many of the ingredients you will need here, but two of them you will need to obtain yourself.”
“And those are...?”
She looked up at me and smiled before continuing to write down everything. She passed the napkin to me and I read it to myself. The ingredients needed were:
5 large black beeswax candles
Part of Grandmother’s childhood lands.
“Wait...her childhood lands?” I was confused at the last one, and absolutely disgusted with the others.
The woman stood up and walked around the store, beginning to take down the other items that were listed. “Yes, where is your Grandmother from?”
“Then it looks like you have some traveling to do, young child.” She concluded, bringing all of the items up to the front counter, where I joined her and paid for my things. Before I left, she called out to me, “Child.”
I turned around and she continued, “I must warn you, that spell is very powerful. If done incorrectly, it may have horrible results. Obeah, in itself, is something that is not often practiced by anyone who is inexperienced or has not been family-taught. If you can get any assistance from anyone in your family, it would be very wise to do so.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat. “Of course, thanks again.” I darted out of the building. Bruno was leaning against the window, and he stood up as soon as he saw me.
“We need to get fucking sand from Hawaii.” I shoved the brown bag of other ingredients into his arms as I clutched my hair and paced. “Fucking Hawaii! How are we supposed to do that!?”
“Easy. Find a souvenir shop.” He shrugged, and I couldn’t believe it was that easy.
“But I think we need Waikiki sand.”
He started walking with me while I pulled out my phone and looked up the nearest souvenir shop.
“Hawaii sand is good, Waikiki is a hot tourist spot, it’s probably from there anyway.”