So … I kind of cheated.
Yes, I booked a ticket to a city hundreds of miles away, but I also added a stop in Chesterport first. I couldn’t just leave without seeing my dad, and I definitely wanted to check on Florence and make sure she was settled at her grandma’s house.
I was delaying my journey by a day. It wasn’t a huge deal.
On the bus ride, I distracted myself from the memory of Ethan’s face as I walked away from him by reading one of the books Gabriel gave me, A Short History of the Twelve Families. If I was going to evade being captured by these people, then I needed to learn everything I could about them. The book contained a full chapter on each family, accompanied by a family tree. The family names included Girard, Ridley, Petrovsky, Dragu, Forbes, O’Quinn, Kanumba, Diego, Baumann, Patel, Tanaka, and Williams. I studied each one, wondering which family my mother came from.
By the time I reached my stop I’d read all about the Girards and how they’d traced their origins to French witches from the middle ages. It was truly astonishing. I didn’t know anyone who could trace their family that far back.
As the bus came to its stop in Chesterport, I shoved the book in my bag, climbed off the bus, and started the short walk to my dad’s house. The town was quiet and softly lit by streetlamps. Unlike in the city, everyone here was tucked safely in bed by this hour. Normally, I wouldn’t be on edge walking through the town at night, but there was a vampire governess who’d set her sights on me and I wasn’t able to confirm if Rita’s hex had worked. What if it didn’t and Antonia was sending out a search party at this very moment?
Well, it wouldn’t be easy to find me. No one knew where my dad lived, and though Ethan might be able to sense my whereabouts through our blood connection, he’d promised he’d keep my location to himself until the connection faded.
My heart squeezed at the thought of it fading. There was something oddly reassuring about him being able to find me if he needed to.
I reached my dad’s house and dug out my key, quietly letting myself in. The house was dark, the only source of light coming from a dim lamp left on in the living room. Upstairs, I heard his loud snores. I’d sent a text earlier, letting him know I was on my way, but he must’ve fallen asleep. I carried my bag up to my old bedroom and flopped down onto my bed. The sheets smelled fresh and my heart gave another squeeze—this time at the thought of Dad preparing the room for my visit.
I closed my eyes, but it was hard not to see Theodore’s crazy face every time I did. I needed to quit worrying. Yes, he’d killed my mother, but he’d been banished to a hell dimension, and whatever that entailed, I was fairly certain he couldn’t come for me again.
Finally, exhaustion pulled me under, and I fell asleep in my clothes. The next morning, I woke up to the smell of brewing coffee and fried eggs. I smiled fondly. My dad made a mean breakfast. I quickly washed and dressed, then headed downstairs.
“You hungry, sleepyhead?” Dad asked with a warm grin as I entered the kitchen.
“Starving,” I replied, walking around the counter to hug him. My stomach gave a hungry grumble as I eyed the bacon, eggs, and freshly buttered toast.
“It’s good to see you, honey,” he said, giving me a squeeze before letting me go. Emotion clogged my throat because he sounded like he’d missed me. I’d missed him, too. I didn’t want to leave so soon after arriving, but I knew I had to.
He eyed me as I withdrew to sit on one of the kitchen stools. I lifted a fork and ate a slice of bacon.
“Is something wrong?” Dad asked, running a hand over his salt and pepper stubble. “You look stressed.”
I swallowed another bite, wanting to tell him the truth but not sure how he’d take it. It all depended on how much he really knew about my mother.
I cleared my throat. “Dad, I need to ask you a serious question.”
He studied me closely now. “Okay.”
“How did Mum really die?”
His expression clouded as his complexion paled. “Why do you ask that?”
“Just tell me. I know she didn’t die from cancer.”
“Tegan, I’m not sure what’s going on with you, but—”
“Somebody took her, didn’t they?”
Dad turned away now, his shoulders tense. When he turned back around, he looked perturbed. “Who have you been talking to?”
“I’ve made some discoveries about myself recently. About Mum, too. I know she was hunted and that the person who hunted her got her in the end.”
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