WARNING: This chapter contains strong language and some sexual references.
Gloria Caldwell. Was that name supposed to mean something to Linley? She’d never seen this woman before in her life. In fact, according to her parents, except for them and Cynthia, all the vampires and werewolves were back in Duskwood, the former now owning the territory.
“Yes, we did finally reclaim that which was rightfully ours,” Gloria mused, “but I have some unfinished business to take care of that’s been a long time coming. After all these years, I've finally found you. All it took was following that mutt who couldn't keep her dear BFF out of her life.”
Cynthia. Gloria had followed Cynthia to Morningside, probably knowing she'd be looking for Allanna. So Linley had been right in her prediction that Cynthia's arrival meant something dire was impending.
Then she realized something else.
“Wait…you read my mind…”
“Oh dear, your parents really haven’t told you about me. How unfortunate, now I have to deter my plans just to give you a history lesson.”
“Give me the short version.”
Gloria threw her head back and let out a laugh that sounded not unlike the tinkling of bells. “There isn’t a short version, I’m afraid. Well, I take that back, there is. The short version is, I intend to kill you and your parents.”
Linley felt like her eyes were going to bug out of her head. That was what this Gloria Caldwell was doing in Morningside? She wanted to kill her and her parents? But why?
Gloria’s calm demeanor changed into one of pure hatred as she spat, “Your parents murdered my father! I had to watch him suffer and die, at the hands of your parents! Your mother turned into a beast and bit him, and your father drove a stake through his heart! I won’t allow them to live and you, their half-breed offspring, must also die!”
Linley wrinkled her brow in trepidation. She’d never heard any of this. For all she knew, this crazy woman was making it up. Still, what would be her motive for that? Could it be the simple fact that Linley was a hybrid, the only one of her kind known to exist, and Gloria felt threatened by this?
It made no sense. Linley’s head fogged up with unanswered questions, and the only people she could ask were her parents. The people who hadn’t told her this story from the beginning.
Still, that didn’t stop Linley from snapping back, “My parents don’t kill someone without good reason. So if they killed your dad, I’m sure he deserved it.”
This was apparently the wrong thing to say, as Gloria let out a blood-curdling scream and zipped to Craig’s side in a split second, then dragged him back to where she was originally standing. Craig didn’t know what to do, other than to keep his mouth shut.
“Oh, how sad it is for you, little hybrid,” Gloria taunted. “You can’t read my mind, so you don’t know what I plan to do. Well, I’ll be courteous and tell you – I’m going to kidnap your boy toy here, and if you want to see him again, you and your parents will meet me in Duskwood before the sun rises in two days’ time.”
“What? We can’t get there that fast! Are you nuts?!”
Gloria just laughed again and replied, “Are you forgetting your enhanced speed? The only problems you might endure are the sun. But as I said, if you really want to save this boy’s life, all three of you will meet me there.”
“Why don't you just kidnap me? Leave Craig alone!”
“Don't forget, I have the intention of killing both you and your parents. There's no point in killing just one of you and not the others. I'd rather see your father suffer as the lives of his lover and brat are taken by me, the one he should have been with from the beginning.”
“You're a sick bitch, and I'm going to fucking kill you!”
“Try, and the boy dies. As I said, meet me in Duskwood if you'd like to see him again.”
“And where the hell in Duskwood do you expect us to be?”
Gloria’s expression was smug as she sang, “How about your father’s old house?”
Then, in the blink of an eye, Gloria vanished, taking Craig with her.
“You fucking bitch!” Linley yelled into the darkness. “Get your cunt ass back here!”
But her demands went unheard, or at least unanswered. This was serious. She had no choice; she had to tell her parents. She sprinted back to her house, not even caring if anyone saw her as a blue blur flying through the night.
When she got back to the house, Linley flew the door open with a bang. Her parents were waiting up for her, as she’d told them she and Craig would be attending the post-prom party, which didn’t end for another hour or two.
Unfortunately, she forgot that trivial detail when she rushed into the room and shrieked, “Craig’s been kidnapped!”
“What?” Xavier asked in alarm.
“Some vampire bitch named Gloria Caldwell showed up at the park and took him!”
Allanna's eyes grew wide and both of her parents’ expressions turned to ones of anger and astonishment.
“How do you know that’s who it was?” Xavier asked carefully.
“Because she told me! She said if I want to see Craig again, the three of us have to meet her at your old house in Duskwood. She said she’s gonna kill all three of us!”
“What the hell for?” Allanna demanded, infuriated.
“Apparently for killing her dad. Which, by the way, thanks for telling me about. I had no idea what she was talking about.”
“We never expected her to seek us out,” her father explained. “We never thought we’d see her again. After all these years, why now?”
“She said she’s been looking for us and we were hard to find, but she found me. She showed up right there at the park and took Craig.”
“The park?” Allanna looked puzzled, and her nose turned up. “What’s that smell? And why were you at the park?”
Linley realized her slipup, but that wasn’t the pressing issue.
“Who cares? We have to save Craig!”
Her parents exchanged glances, and Linley had a horrible thought.
“You are going to come with me to save him, aren’t you?” she inquired. “You wouldn’t just leave him!”
“No, we wouldn’t do that,” Xavier affirmed, “but perhaps after we save him, if we get out of this alive, you could explain to your mother and me why you lied to us.”
“What do you mean?”
“Linley, don’t. We can smell him all over you, not to mention some, ahem, fresh blood. Plus your hair is a mess; we all know it was up before you left. It’s pretty obvious what you two were doing in the park. It’s a fairly secluded area, and the way you’re reacting over this just goes to show that we’re right.”
“Please,” Allanna begged tiredly, “at least tell us you used protection.”
“Oh for God’s sake, of course we used protection! Do we really have to talk about my sex life right now? That bitch has Craig, and who knows what she’s doing to him! We only have until the sun rises in two days! Then she’ll…well, she didn’t say exactly, but it sounded like she’ll probably kill him!”
Linley’s eyes couldn’t hold back her tears any longer. She let them out in one loud burst, not caring that her makeup was getting smeared. That was the least of her problems.
“Fine,” Allanna said understandingly as she stood up, “we’ll discuss it later. Don’t think you aren’t in big trouble, but right now, Gloria’s the problem. Even if he deflowered our daughter, we won’t let her kill anyone else. And she sure as hell won’t kill us.”
“No, she won’t,” Xavier agreed as he also got to his feet. “And we need some leverage. How about Cynthia? A werewolf’s bite’s fatal to a vampire, remember?”
“I’ll call her right now.”
A werewolf’s bite was fatal to a vampire…that gave Linley an idea.
Her father was right. Gloria wasn’t going to kill anyone else. Because when they found her, Linley, as a hybrid, was going to kill her.
Linley learned a few more things about Gloria while they waited for Cynthia to arrive. For instance, she was able to read Linley’s mind despite her blocking her because she was one of the first vampires in existence. Her father, Mortius, had been an elder, making her one as well.
And, they informed both Linley and Cynthia, because of that, her blood could overcome that of a werewolf, meaning that if Cynthia got bit by a vampire three times and then drank Gloria’s blood, she’d no longer be a werewolf, but a full vampire.
Braden and Jaden wanted to come along, but Xavier and Allanna insisted that they stay home. They knew the boys could take care of themselves.
No one knew Linley’s secret plan, however. She wasn’t entirely sure that it would work, but as a hybrid, she should be able to bite Gloria and kill her thanks to her wolf genes. She’d transform if she had to as well, but one thing was for certain – she wouldn’t live to torment anyone again.
Linley felt like her parents and Cynthia couldn’t prepare fast enough. They galloped around like imbeciles gathering weapons and trying to divulge a fool-proof plan. Stakes were sharpened and Cynthia practiced the best way to take Gloria down with the element of surprise. When they were ready at last, it was nearly dawn.
Linley’s prom night was over, and it hadn’t ended in the blissful manner in which she’d hoped. Still, she was grateful that her parents were even willing to help her rescue Craig. He was, after all, only a human, and one who’d deflowered her at that. She could sense them seething inwardly, but it didn’t take a mind-reader to know that they wouldn’t let her have it until after they’d dealt with the debacle at hand.
Xavier, not wanting to waste any time, managed to book a last-minute flight to Vegas, the town closest to Duskwood that had an airport, which would get them there faster than if they ran or drove. On the plane, Linley kept clasping and unclasping her hands. All she could do now was wait for the plane to land, and hope that they’d reach Craig in time.