WARNING: This chapter contains sexual content and references.
Because it would look suspicious buying a returning plane ticket the same day of their arrival, Xavier drove slightly past Vegas and booked a three-bedroom hotel suite for the night. He and Allanna would share a room, Linley and Cynthia would share another, and Craig would have the third.
Along the way, after getting a new outfit (Linley remained crouched down as a wolf in the car, unwilling to let anyone see her naked, so her parents stopped at a thrift shop and got a cheap outfit for her to wear for the time being), Linley thought about what Gloria had said. The only way to kill her, or one of her kind, was to either rip her heart from her chest or cut off her head. Both scenarios were gruesome to think about, and Linley couldn’t help heaving a shudder as she replayed the events of that afternoon over and over in her head. Gloria had intended to do just that to her, and she was very fortunate to be alive.
Craig was equally fortunate, but he didn’t realize it until after he’d been placed in his respective bedroom in the hotel suite. Linley stayed by his side, willing him to wake up, and when he did at last, still in his prom tux with his hair all tousled, it was all she could do to keep from hyperbolically jumping on him.
“Where am I?” Craig asked as he looked around, a look of bewilderment plastered on his face.
“You’re in a hotel,” Linley said softly, afraid to even get close to him. What must he think of her now? And what must he think of the supernatural world that shouldn’t exist to him?
She’d soon have her answer.
Craig sat up and felt his head swimming. He had no idea what Gloria had hit him with, but it was powerful enough to leave him with a throbbing migraine.
“Where’s Gloria?” he asked as he finally looked at Linley.
“She’s gone,” Linley replied truthfully. She could see the pain behind Craig’s eyes. “Did you want some pain killers?”
“No, but I want to talk to you.”
Linley curled a leg under her body and bit her lip. She tried not to be so ostensive about her nervousness, but she could only imagine what Craig wanted to discuss with her.
“How did you find me?” was his first question. And a silly one at that. Gloria had told Linley where to meet her with her parents.
She reminded Craig of this fact, who nodded, seemingly still recovering from his initial shock from being at the hands of a psycho daddy’s girl vampire. He then asked, “What about your parents? How’d you talk them into coming for me?”
“It wasn’t that hard. They know you’re important to me, and they want to see me happy. Plus, they didn’t want Gloria around anymore. They’ve known her for a long time, and she’s always been a problem. They hoped they’d never see her again, but then she showed up here after 17 years and I guess that gave them enough reason to go after her. They didn't want her to kill anyone else.”
“And uh…where are we exactly?”
“We’re just outside Vegas. We’re going home tomorrow. Dad’s looking at getting us a flight back to Morningside.”
Craig finally stood up off the bed, prompting Linley to rise as well. Craig sauntered over to her and looked her in the eyes.
“Linley,” he said, “I don’t know how long I was knocked out, and I don’t know when she did it, but before she did, that Gloria chick told me all kinds of things. Like how to become a vampire, and she told me the history of the whole vampire and werewolf war, and then she even went on about how she’d drink all my blood if you and your parents didn’t show up. I can’t believe I’m even gonna say this, but I was scared. I didn’t know what the hell was gonna happen to me or if you and your parents would even show up. And then she read my mind and found out I know all about you and your family, and she said I shouldn’t know because I’m a human, so she said she’d either turn me into a vampire or kill me. But it got me thinking…maybe she’s right.”
Linley’s heart skipped a beat. “What could she have been right about?”
But just then, there was a knock at the door.
“Linley?” her mother’s voiced asked. “Is Craig awake?”
“Yeah,” Linley answered in what she hoped was a calm demeanor.
“Good. Listen, Cynthia will take care of him. Your dad and I want to talk to you.”
Linley knew what that meant. They wanted to discuss how Linley had lost her virginity to Craig in a public park on prom night. She’d hoped they’d at least wait until they returned to Morningside, but there was no point in procrastinating.
Reluctantly, Linley excused herself and followed her mother to the suite’s master bedroom. Her father was already there, straddling the desk next to one of the two chairs. Allanna sat in the closest chair, leaving Linley to sit in the one right in the middle of her parents. How appropriate; she’d always felt like she was caught in between her family and the balance of nature.
“Let’s not beat around the bush,” her father began. “I think you know why we want to talk to you.”
“I think I do, but why don’t you tell me just in case I’m wrong?”
“Well I hope there’s nothing else to discuss. We’ve got two serious situations here, both of which are your doing.”
“Obviously, you and Craig had a real good time in the park on prom night, and that’s bad enough because you’re only 17. But I’m guessing he didn’t force himself on you, considering how easily you’d be able to fight back.”
“Dad, I was in on it as much as he was. And I’m sorry, okay? But we love each other, and we told each other that…”
“What?” Allanna interjected. “Linley, you’re only 17 years old and you’ve only had one boyfriend. You seriously think you’re in love? I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it. And didn’t I tell you that guys will say they love you just to have sex?”
“Craig’s not like that! He was my first, and I was his! If I didn’t trust him, there was no way I would have let him screw me!”
“You don’t need to be so crude,” Xavier said dryly. “You said you used protection. Did you, or are you just saying that to humor us?”
“I swear to God we used protection. We’ve had this planned for a while. We wanted it to be special and safe.”
“You were planning on having sex this whole time and you never talked to us about it?” Allanna demanded. “Linley, I know discussing that subject isn’t the most appealing to a teenager, but don’t you trust us?”
“When it comes to Craig, it’s hard to. I mean, for crying out loud, you barely wanted me to be friends with him when we were 13. I could only imagine what you’d say if you knew we were planning to have sex.”
"Well, maybe you should have listened to us. What was Gloria talking about? He tried to kill you once? And you just forgave him?! What if you hadn't been a hybrid? You would be dead! Is that bastard really worth it?!"
"Don't say that! He didn't know what I was! He figured it out by himself and when I didn't die from the stake, he..."
"It doesn't matter. I can't believe you were so...stupid!"
“All right,” Xavier said as he put his hand up before Linley could scream in retaliation. “We trust that you were safe having sex, and that’s very important. But we do have a more serious issue at hand. It seems you broke your word to us, Linley.”
Linley's fingers tensed up as she gaped at her father, perplexed. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you remember that your mother and I asked you not to reveal our existence to Craig? Now he knows about you, and about us. He knows there are vampires, werewolves, and hybrids in this world, and that’s not for a human to know.”
“That was an accident.”
“You accidentally told him about yourself?”
“No, not exactly. I told you, he figured it out himself when I didn't die from the stake. And besides, he kept the secret. He never told anyone.”
“That you know of.”
“Damn it Dad, he wouldn’t do that! I wish you’d just trust me! You don’t trust me so of course you don’t trust him!”
“Don’t raise your voice to me, Linley. And no, I don’t trust him right now, because he deflowered my daughter, tried to kill her, and knows all about us. Not to mention the pickle he just had us in with Gloria.”
Linley stood up, fuming. “That wasn’t his fault, it was Gloria’s! The bitch showed up out of nowhere because of something you did, and took him! He was innocent!”
“Stop shouting,” Allanna commanded as she also stood erect. “He’ll hear you.”
“I doubt it. He’s just a human, he doesn’t have our super healing skills. All I ever wanted in life was to be normal! If I wasn’t some freak of nature, I could have had that! Why’s that so hard to ask? And you guys are fine ones to talk about using protection! You didn’t use protection when you got knocked up with me, Mom. I know, because you had no idea what the hell you’d give birth to because hybrids had been extinct for so long. Gloria told me all about it, and you know what, even though she was a bitch, she was right about a lot of things.”
“Linley, that’s enough!”
Linley just held up her hand defiantly. “No, I don’t want to talk about it anymore! Just leave me alone!”
Storming out of the room, Linley’s first instinct was to go back to Craig. But she was afraid of what he’d wanted to say to her before, and she couldn’t handle any more bad news tonight. She finally dashed into her own bedroom and slammed the door, though she couldn’t lock it without incurring further wrath from her parents since Cynthia had to share the room with her.
Curling up on the bed, Linley thought about the wish she’d made on her thirteenth birthday. She’d wished for nothing more than happiness, and it had seemed to be going so well for her. Now, in one night, everything had spiraled out of control. Prom night was meant to be a night to remember. But for Linley, a lot of it was a night to forget.
Linley didn’t know when she fell asleep, but when she opened her eyes again, it was morning. She’d slept in her clothes all night, and Cynthia was breathing evenly next to her in the bed. Sitting up and yawning, Linley staggered to the bathroom to perform her morning ablutions. She didn't even bother changing her clothes. It wouldn't have done her any good regardless, considering she'd only purchased one new set.
After washing her face off and brushing her hair, Linley walked into the main room of the suite and saw her father sitting on the couch. He looked at her with hurt and betrayal in his eyes, but Linley said nothing. She didn’t have any regrets when it came to Craig, and she opened her mind so that her father knew that.
After a quick breakfast, the party of five piled back into the car and Xavier headed for the airport. The car ride there, and the plane trip back to Morningside, were both long, quiet rides filled with tension and trepidation. When they returned to Morningside at last, Craig asked if Linley could come over to his house for a while so that they could talk.
Obviously reading his mind about what he wanted to discuss, Linley’s parents obliged and dropped them both off at Craig’s doorstep (much to Linley's surprise considering they didn't even trust him). Craig wordlessly led Linley inside to the kitchen, his parents both at work, where at last he turned to face her. She was surprised he didn't hasten to remove his tux first, but something in his eyes made her not bring it up.
“Linley,” he began tentatively, “I tried to tell you something last night, but your mom came in, and then you didn’t come back to the room.”
“Yeah, we had a bit of a falling out, so I just went straight to bed. I’m sorry.”
“Well, listen. What I said before…I said I loved you, remember? I want you to know that I meant it. I really did, and I’ll always love you. But…”
Craig looked down and muttered to the floor, “But I think Gloria was right about one thing. I don’t belong in your world. I’ve never been so scared in my life and I never want to go through that again. We’re too different, and I think it would be best if maybe we just…stayed friends.”
Linley couldn’t say that she was particularly surprised. She was devastated of course, for she’d hoped that this wouldn’t happen, but alas, some things couldn’t withstand certain hardships. Linley couldn’t say that she blamed Craig one bit.
There wasn’t much else left to say (apart from Linley threatening Craig's life if he ever told anyone about her, which caused genuine fear to flash in his eyes). The two said their farewells and Linley exited the house, preparing to return to her own house. She didn’t want to, knowing that her parents would be there waiting to chastise her some more. She could turn into a wolf, but for the first time in her life, she didn’t feel like running through the forest with no particular destination. Running for pure pleasure didn’t seem to appeal to her anymore.
She tried to hold back the tears that threatened to spill over, and that made her mouth feel dry. She caught her reflection in one of the windows and saw her eerie yellow eyes glowing back at her. She allowed her fangs to emerge and immediately regretted it. She’d hated being a hybrid her whole life, and Gloria had referred to her as a half-breed. That was one other thing she’d been right about. Linley felt like she didn’t belong anywhere – not with humans, not with vampires, and not with werewolves. She was the only one of her kind, and she felt more desolate now than she ever had in the past.
Her mouth even more dry, she decided that, because Craig didn’t want to be in her world of monsters anymore, she might as well start living as what she was – a monster, a killing machine feared by humans who were unfortunate enough to know that such creatures existed.
She had something else to occupy her time now. It wouldn’t be pretty, and it would be frowned upon, but it was better than wallowing in self-pity. Craig was gone, and with him, so were her hopes that her wish might come true. She wouldn’t know true happiness, so why quibble over it? It was time to give in to her animal instincts.