My view of reality was foggy.
Ethan stood on the edge of the roof, his body shimmering with a silvery glow. Hundreds of vampires on the street below bowed to him as though he was a miracle made into flesh.
My magic showed me a vision of the entire city, where it seemed like every vampire had sensed Ethan’s change into this indestructible, extraordinary being. No matter where they were, they bowed. Some in fear, others in awe.
The blood that rushed through his system wasn’t merely his, but mine, too. And I felt his power like a physical pulse. The black chaos mist retreated from the humans, called away by its master, Theodore. I suspected he’d gone to regroup, laying low until he could figure out how to approach this turn of events.
Ethan’s strong, familiar voice shouted orders, commanding the vampires to cease their violence on the human population. His Romanian accent was more dominant than it had been before; the modern cadence less evident.
The vampires stood to attention, taking his orders with renewed enthusiasm, their eyes staring up at him in amazement, like he was the ruler they’d been waiting for all this time. Gone were the days of the Herringtons, of Jeremy Whitfield and his wars. A new era had begun, and the possibilities were endless.
I was slumped weakly over the edge of the building, staring down at the vampires who now organised themselves into groups as they cleared away the dead bodies and carnage that had drowned the city in a sea of blood and mess.
I wondered in horror just how many innocent people were killed tonight.
Then, arms as hard as steel wrapped around me and lifted me, and my dizzy head sank into the crook of Ethan’s neck, my safe place. My energy was vastly depleted from blood loss. He started to move at vampire speed, faster even than before. I couldn’t handle the whooshing colours, and I slipped in and out of consciousness.
Then I slept.
When I woke up my head and my eyes felt sore. It was like I’d been asleep for days. I lay naked on a bed that wasn’t my own, and a cool Egyptian cotton sheet covered my body as I stretched out my aching limbs.
The windows were wide open, and morning light shone into the room. I looked around, recognising Ethan’s bedroom in his house on the south side of the river. The house Whitfield had exiled him from.
I sat up, and the sheet fell to my waist. Ethan was lounging in his armchair by the bookshelves in front of a window. His eyes were closed, and he held his serene face up to the sun. The soft, golden light cast his features in a peaceful glow. I’d never seen him look so at ease.
I repeat, he was sitting in the sun, enjoying its warmth without any concern of getting sick.
The events that led to my being here rushed through my head, and I gasped. Ethan’s eyes flashed open when he heard my sharp intake of breath. Oh wow. They were incredible. Deep gold edged in silver. His blond hair shimmered even more so now, and his olive skin was even more flawless. He stared at me intensely, and for a second, I wondered whether or not I was safe, whether or not he was still Ethan, or something else.
“Am I safe?” I whispered, and he tilted his head questioningly in response.
“Are you safe?” he repeated back at me, his accent doing all sorts of hot things to my insides.
A long stretch of silence elapsed. I pulled the sheet up to cover my chest.
“Well, am I?” I asked uneasily.
“Lumina mea, you are safer than you’ve ever been. Do not cover yourself.”
I blushed and let the sheet drop again. Ethan stood from his chair and walked toward me. He sat at the end of the bed and ran his hand over the fabric of the sheet.
“How long have I been out?”
“About a day,” he answered, not lifting his eyes from the sheet. “I imagine you needed the rest to recuperate from the blood loss.”
“You’re probably right. My muscles are all sore.” I stretched one arm up over my head and then the other. “What happened while I was sleeping? Where is everyone?”
A look of frustration entered his gaze. “I’ve not yet located the others. I believe they fear I’ve changed into a monster and are in hiding.”
“Oh. And how do you feel?” I asked.
“I feel incredible. You have no idea the gift you’ve given me,” he replied earnestly, his eyes practically glittering.
I rubbed my arm, hesitating a moment before I spoke, “Pamphrock once mentioned that no one knew how much True Power blood it took to strengthen a vampire. It’s believed that too much might cause you to decline.”
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