Caius and Robin had vampire sprinted most of their way down the country roads when Caius thought it was safe for Robin to do so. As a new-born vampire, it could be hard to navigate at such a high speed so Caius kept a tight grip on his progeny’s hand as they sped through the night. Without knowing his destination, if Robin had not had Caius to guide him, he could have ended up ploughing through a house or speeding off a cliff.
Caius came to a stop just down the road from Mrs. Braverman’s house. Robin halted by his side and quickly released his hand from Caius’. He had been very reluctant to hold it in the first place.
“We here?” Robin asked, wiping his palm down his fleece.
Caius’ eyes were on the big white house which stuck out in stark contrast to the night. The darkness was starting to dissipate as the sun readied itself to wake. He started to head towards the house and paused at the gate, trepidation rooting him to the spot as he stared at the windows with their curtains pulled tightly shut.
“Oh my God. Gross.” Robin came up by his side, squirming. Caius shifted his eyes to where Robin’s had fallen. A mangled sheep carcass was torn open on the front lawn, its innards swarming with maggots. “That is pretty sick, dude. Did they do that?”
“Yes. It’s a precaution.”
“A precaution for what?”
“That’s a story for another night. The sun will be coming up soon. We don’t have much time.”
“So why aren’t we going inside?”
Caius’ jaw flexed and he squeezed his eyes shut as he forced himself to move forwards, pushing the gate open. What was Evie going to think when he came back with another progeny? Was she going to feel like he was trying to replace her? Because he was replacing her. His stomach knotted as he reached the front step.
He didn’t want to replace her. He could never replace her. She was his everything.
He gave Robin a sidelong glance. He was stood by his side, his eager eyes staring up at the door.
But Evie had Varsee now. He couldn’t count on her to be there when he needed her to be. No matter how much she fought against it, her tie to Varsee was too strong to ignore. Caius rubbed the spot on his chest where the bullet had broken through his ribs absently. The pain of the wooden bullet was nowhere near the hurt he felt when he had realised she had dived to Varsee’s aid instead of his.
For a hundred years in had been just him and Evie. He had to just get used to the fact that that was no longer the case.
Robin must have felt his Maker’s eyes on him because he turned. He smiled encouragingly and Caius nodded back, rapping his knuckles on the door.
He had chosen a good progeny. His responsibility as a Maker must come first now and he just had to hope Evie would understand, even if he wasn’t going to tell her the whole truth about why he was not returning alone. She couldn’t know about Guardian. He needed to stay a distant memory to her. No longer a real threat.
The door swung open and Caius bit into the inside of his mouth. When he saw that it was Varsee, he relaxed slightly.
“You’ve been a while,” she scrutinised and then shifted her gaze to his company. Robin stiffened by his side, his brown eyes huge. “And who’s this?” Varsee relaxed against the doorframe and crossed her arms over her chest. “This isn’t a hotel you know? You can’t just bring in strays.”
Caius gulped and lifted his chin in an attempt to look confident even though he was quivering inside. “This is Robin. He’s my…progeny,” he rushed.
Varsee arched an eyebrow. “I thought you were called by your Maker?”
He opened his mouth to reply but then froze when he heard footsteps coming from the living room. Evie appeared, looking radiant in a simple white t-shirt and blue jeans that actually fit her. They must have been the clothes Alexander had bought for her.
“Caius!” she gushed and ran over to embrace him. He held out his arms and let her fling herself at him, wrapping her arms tightly around his back. He stumbled back a little at the impact before nuzzling his face into her hair. He was so happy to see her. All the tension in his body had left and all he cared about at that moment was that she was safe. But then she pulled away and her hazel eyes hit Robin, who had stepped back a little, and his body went stiff again. “Who’s this?”
His eyes flew to Varsee seeking assistance. The blonde vampire gave him a quizzical look. “It’s his new progeny.”
Evie stumbled back over the threshold of the house and Varsee’s arm snaked around her waist as if to catch her before she fell. The look on her face was as if Caius had just punched her in the heart. He wanted so badly to reach for her but he knew it wasn’t the best option. By the hurt in her eyes, he knew she’d pull away and that would just be too painful to bear.
“What?” she gasped.
Caius couldn’t find words. A silence fell over them, making the sound of the wind whistling through the trees almost deafening.
Then Robin thrust his hand out. “I’m Robin.”
Evie’s eyes finally pulled away from Caius and settled on Robin. She looked at him with a mixture of disgust and horror before she turned and ran up the stairs. All three of them watched her go. Caius’ heart sank to his feet and he jumped as the bang of a door slamming reverberated through the house. Alexander shouted his annoyance from upstairs and then everything went silent again.
Varsee turned back to Caius and cocked an eyebrow, folding her arms back across her chest. The look she was giving him had him seething. It was a haughty now-look-what-you’ve-done look. Varsee had said that they didn’t need to play against each other for Evie’s affection, but it seemed now that she had found herself winning and was enjoying it.
Her eyes scanned the sky and then ushered them both in the house. “It’ll be light soon.”
Robin spun in slow circles in the hallway, studying his surroundings. “Well, when I found out I was going to be living with a bunch of vampires, this isn’t exactly what I had imagined.”
“What did you expect, gothic spires and gargoyles?” asked Varsee in her cool, collected tone but it lacked its usual soft edge. She stood inspecting Robin.
“Not exactly.” He picked up a crochet doily from the side table and studied it before putting it back in its place. “Just less frills.”
When he turned to see Varsee staring at him, he started a little then showed her a nervous smile.
The hostility in the room was almost palpable and Caius figured it was the reason Robin was suddenly so subdued. “So are you going to tell me what the hell is going on?” Her eyes flickered to Caius and Robin relaxed, dropping back against the floral wall.
“I needed a new progeny,” he said. “After you and your brother’s little stunt with the guns, I realised I need someone on my side.”
“You mean you needed a replacement now that Evie is mine?”
Caius’ jaw set. “No one could replace Evie.”
“And yet you are trying.” She glanced back to Robin.
“He needed help. I helped him,” said Caius.
“Help? What kind of help?”
“He wanted to become a vampire. And I needed someone who will have my back. Thought I could kill two birds with one stone.”
Varsee narrowed her eyes with suspicion. “You are hiding something. You must have known how Evie would take the news of you Turning another. And you love her. You wouldn’t want to hurt her. This wasn’t your idea, was it?” She cocked her head. “It was your Maker who called you. Did she put you up to this? Did she want you to continue the blood line?”
“I don’t understand why you care so much.”
Varsee took a step forwards. She was tall for a woman but Caius still had a few inches on her, yet somehow he found her looking down at him. “I care because you have upset Evie.” She stabbed her manicured finger up the stairs. “You are acting out because you don’t like the fact that I am her Maker now but that is just the way it is.” She bared her teeth and Caius flinched at the click of her fangs extending. “I am trying to be the bigger person here, Caius. I could have casted you aside when you had first barged your way into my home but I accepted you for Evie’s sake.”
“I am only still here because you know I am no threat. Evie and I might still have a link but you have showed that it is no match for what she has with you. If you want to gloat, go ahead.”
She lowered her chin and sheathed her fangs. “I don’t want to gloat. I want to nurture what is still left between the two of you. It’s special. You cannot survive in a world like this without people to love and people to love you. I want Evie to have that. And when I release her when the time is right, I want you to be there for her.” She looked him up and down, her nose crinkled with disgust. “Get your shit together, Caius. Don’t make me regret my hospitality.” She glanced back and gestured to Robin. “There’s a spare room upstairs for you.” When she turned back to Caius, she sighed. “I don’t know where you want to sleep.”
She ascended the stairs and left Caius and Robin alone in the hallway. Caius furrowed his brows with concern when he noticed Robin with his head bent and blood smeared across the back of his hand. When he looked up, smudged red tracks marred his face. Caius closed the distance between them and took his head in his hand.
“Are you okay?”
Robin sniffed with a nod and shoved his hand away. “It’s not true, what she said. You can survive without love.”
Caius showed him a sympathetic smile and patted him on the side. “They’ll get over this. It’s just a shock, that’s all. They’ll accept you.”
“I’m guessing that Evie chick is your girlfriend?” he asked, the cocky edge to his demeanour had returned and Caius couldn’t have been happier.
“Yeah.” He looked up the stairs and frowned. But for how long?
“Seems to me like you’ve got some serious grovelling to do, dude.”
“Tomorrow night.” Caius swiped his hand down his face, feeling the weight of the rising sun pressing down on him. “I need to sleep.”
“I’m still wide awake.”
“That’s because you’re a new-born. You’ve still got a human body clock. In a few weeks that’ll change and you’ll feel more urgent to sleep before the sun comes up. But once it is up, you’ll be knocked out like the rest of us.”
Robin shrugged and nodded in understanding. “Well, apparently I have my own room. You’re welcome to stay with me tonight. I’m guessing your chick won’t be best pleased if you crawl into bed with her.”
He winced at the thought of Evie kicking him out of bed but he couldn’t hide from her. “Thanks for the offer, but I’ll pass.”
“Suit yourself.” Robin began ascending the stairs and Caius followed slowly behind, his eyes drooping closed with sudden exhaustion. The lights upstairs were off and everything was quiet. He gave a sweeping gesture to the spare bedroom door and Robin nodded to him with a sad sort of smile. “Good luck,” he said before shutting himself in the bedroom.
Caius paused on the landing, his hand on Evie’s bedroom door handle. Maybe he should just stay on the sofa downstairs. He really wasn’t up for an argument right now. But he just wanted to see her. He hoped she was sleeping.
With a heavy heart, he slowly edged the door open and slipped inside. He eased the door shut behind him and slumped back against it. Evie was a lump under the heavy duvet. Her face was tucked away and her red hair was splayed over the pillow. He wished he could lie beside her and draw her close. His longing for her touch was almost a physical ache in his soul. But he knew he shouldn’t wake her so he relaxed into the overstuffed armchair in the corner of the room as silently as he could. Ancients moved with deadly stealth and Caius had never been more thankful for his featherlike footing. Evie didn’t even stir and he knew she must only be sleeping lightly, like a mortal, because the dawn hadn’t approached just yet and she was still a new-born so she could fight it till the bitter end if she wished. But she didn’t. She just wanted to hide under the covers and shut herself off from the world. Shut herself off from Caius.
He rested his head back against the high back of the chair and let his eyelids finally seal shut. But his mind was still reeling. What must she think of him? Would the fact that he now had a new progeny draw her closer to her Maker? It sure seemed that way on the doorstep. The way she had fallen back from him and into Varsee’s hold made bloody tears burn the backs of his eyes.
But Caius had accepted her link to Varsee because he knew that the fundamental thing hadn’t changed. Evie still loved him. Surely the addition of Robin in his life wouldn’t destroy that? Not after everything they have been through together. Caius had thought, without a shadow of a doubt, that their love was unbreakable. Now he wasn’t so sure.
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