“What are you looking at?” Lucas asked the seated werewolf.
“Oh, uh, it’s just weird, seeing you dressed so…” he looked at the man. “Informally.”
“Well, you did wake me up. It’s nearly three in the morning,” Lucas answered. “So, I assume you have something important to say.” He glanced at Sienna who was sprawled on the couch, a look of defeat on her face, Declan, frustration ruining his features, and the general confusion that must have been written all over my face. Not to mention, Patrick Black was here, and that seemed to be a dead give away. “And by the looks of it, it’s nothing good.”
“Sir, I apologize for coming into your home and waking you up,” Patrick said sincerely. “But, we have a bit of a problem. Aria is back.”
Lucas’ face seemed to harden. “That’s what I thought. I sensed her presence, but I didn’t think she’d be a threat. I take it, the truth about her curse came out?”
“Yeah, I shouldn’t be upset, but I am,” Sienna mumbled. “I just found out that I can’t have kids with the love of my life.”
“Sienna,” Patrick sighed. “I love you.”
“I know.” She nodded. “We’re just going to have to talk about this when this situation with Alistair is over.”
“Alistair?” Lucas turned to me. “What happened with Aria? Is she after you?”
“Mhmm,” I muttered, rubbing my eyes. “Sorry, I’m a little tired. it’s been a long night. But, basically, she told me that if I wanted to find my siblings, I’d have to marry her, because she knows where they are. Or something.” I left out a yawn.
“I understand that you’re exhausted Alistair, but you must cooperate with me for a little longer. This is very serious, Aria is Damian’s daughter. She is a purebred Vampire, which is very rare, even in Moonlight Falls. She has the power to control you and make you feel things that you wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to. She is dangerous, Alistair. Not only that, but you have made a promise to the guardians that you can not go back on. Once you sleep with a purebred vampire, the ability to reproduce is taken away. Many many years ago, a witch mated with a vampire, which created what you would call a genie. This pairing was a rare one, the chance of having a genie is very very miniscule, but still, the council of vampires did not like the new occult. So, they approached the head of witches, my great great grandfatehr and asked for a spell to be casted on all of the purebred vampires, preventing them to reproduce with other occults.”
“Sir, if I may interupt for just a moment,” Patrick began.
“No need to be so formal Mr. Black. Sienna is like a daughter to me. If she trusts you, then I would like to get to know the real you.”
“Thank you sir.” He looked away, embrassed. “I just, I don’t fully understand. She is unable to have a child, but how is it that I’m not able to? And Alistair won’t if he…you know?”
“It’s a curse on my side of the gene pool. The witches used it as a form of punishment for those who mated out of their occult. My ancestor would have had it done for every race, to keep purebred occults but he died before he had the chance, and my great grandfather implemented a new sytem. He didn’t agree with it, but it was too late to reverse the Vampire’s curse,” Lucas told the group. “That’s why I like to refer to us as mages, because witches have a negative connotation due to some unorthodox practices in the past.”
“That is so twisted,” I said. “Like something out of an anime or video game.” I saw Lucas roll his eyes. He hated when I’d mention virtual worlds, because I had such exciting things happening to me in the real world. The only thing was in the real world, I wouldn’t respawn, and that made me want to stay clear of the danger.
“Unfortunately, that is the case. We cannot even risk that sentiment, Alistair. You need to be able to have children to continue your legacy. The guardians, as you know, can be just as unethical, and a destruction to their plans means a destruction of yours. Everyone you love, and centuries to come will suffer. I wish I could tell you that you could stay here and we’d figure it out but…” Lucas looked to Declan. “Does Damian know?”
“Patrick said that David was there, and so I’m sure he knows,” Decaln answered.
“I know you’re going to hate me for saying this, and I don’t expect you to accept this willingly, but you have to leave the first thing in the morning. Please put finding your siblings on hold. Go back home, and live your life as you would have before you came here.”
“You’re serious?” I fumed. “You know I can’t do that. I only came here to find my siblings! I don’t care about anything else.”
“I promise you Alistair, the consequences if you were to fall to Aria’s temptaion would be dire. Angel is a vicious fairy, despite her good looks. She will eat you up and spit you out all over everyone you care about. You can not even risk-”
I cut him off. “I don’t give a crap about that! I will not fall to temptation, and I will find my siblings! I’ll make a deal with her. There’s got to be a way-”
“Alistair!” He said sharply. “She knows just what to tell you. She will get what she wants, and it doesn’t matter how strong you think you are. I cannot protect you from her, and I cannot protect you from Angel. You can go back home and we’ll get you back here when we feel it’s safe.”
“And what if it’s never safe? You expect me to move on without my siblings? I can’t do that Lucas, I just can’t abandon my family!” I began to breath heavily, holding my heart. “I know what I have to do. I won’t fall temptation to Aria’s will. I need the information, and according to you, it isn’t safe to be here anymore. So, why can’t I just go to her?”
“How long do you think it will be until Damian comes here to get you?” Lucas asked. “Either way, you can’t stay.”
“Hide me like Ethan did for my dad,” I said suddenly, remembering the page in the book Xerxes had given me. “Why can’t you do that?”
“Alistair,” Sienna said quietly. “Lucas can’t do the sealing spell.”
“Dec?” Sienna looked up at him. “Everything will work out.”
“The kid will be fine. He’ll be thanking Lucas for this one day,” Patrick said. “I wish I had someone looking out for me.”
“There has to be another way,” Declan said. “The halfbreed should be able to find his siblings. Sienna, if you were in trouble, wouldn’t you want me to come find you?”
“Of course I would, but I’d understand if you couldn’t,” She said quietly. “His siblings would understand.”
“Declan, there isn’t anything Lucas can do for him. If he stays here, Damian will attack him. If he goes to Aria, there’s a high chance that she’ll destroy his life. She wouldn’t be after him specifically for no reason, you know that. We just don’t have the time to think of a better solution,” Miles said quietly.
“You too, Miles?” Declan looked over at him.
“I’m sure there is another way, but Lucas is doing the best he can.”
“I just feel like Lucas is jumping the gun, we can take on Damian. If we all stand together, we could stop him,” Declan said.
“Dude, it’s impossible. Damian is too powerful. You’re fighting for a lost cause,” Patrick said.
“Yeah, maybe you’re right,” He mumbled before laying back onto the makeshift bed in Lucas’ living room.
I stared straight ahead. I was so angry that my hands were shaking. I dropped the topic and accepted Lucas’ ridiculous plan. I didn’t want to go through with it, but I honestly had no idea what other options I had. I wondered if I’d be able to sneak away to find Aria myself. If she had the answers, the consequences wouldn’t matter, as long as I was able to restore my family. “Mind if I join you?” I looked up to see Lucas.
“I really don’t want to see you right now.” I let out a small grunt.
“I know, but I need to see you.” He took a seat anyway and looked at me. “I know I don’t show it, but I love you Alistair. I will stop at nothing to protect you. You remind me so much of Ethan, and he had so much potential that he gave up. I just wished he would have stayed with me, I would have forgiven him for anything he did.”
“Dad was a free spirit, he would have done anything to protect his family. He wouldn’t have left if he didn’t think he’d be hurting you,” I said.
“I know that, and I see that quality in you. I need you to understand that I’m doing the best I can with you. I’ve lived hundreds of years, yet I have never had to deal with someone like you, so you’ll have to excuse my inexperience.” I couldn’t help but laugh. I was seeing a completely different side of my grandfather, and I loved it. He was the father figure I needed right now. “I want you to know one thing Alistair, I understand how important your family is to you, and I promise you that I will not stop the search for them while you’re gone. I just need to make sure that you’re safe. Please, I owe it to your father to do this for you.”
“You don’t owe him anything,” I said quietly. “He never blamed you.”
“I owe him a lot, because I could have done something-” Lucan began but I stopped him.
“If you hadn’t done what you did, he wouldn’t have met my dad and I wouldn’t be here.”
I could feel him pat my head tenderly. “Are you up for a little trip? I have to show you something. Those documents from nearly a year ago.”
I nodded. “Yeah, let’s go.”
“Hello boys, lovely seeing you here at the vault,” Aria’s voice was playful and her eyes sparkled.
“You weren’t joking when you said we had no time, huh?” I looked over at Lucas whose demeanor hadn’t changed at all.
“Aria, what are you doing out so late, it’s almost morning,” He said.
“Oh, that isn’t a problem anymore. I can stand in the sun as long as I want. It’s actually really nice. To think I’ve been missing the feeling of sun on my skin all this time. But, I take it you’re not here on a leisurely stroll. You need to acess the vault?” She asked.
“Yes, and I assume you’ve got your father’s keys?” Lucas asked.
“Oh yes, daddy gives me everything that I ask for. But I’m afraid that you’re going to have to wait because Cora is in there with a friend of mine, and it’s really quite funny that you’re both here because I’d love for you to meet her.” Aria smiled happily. “Have you thought about my proposal?”
“Oh, Mr. Nair do not leave on our account.” It was Cora, still in the dress she had been wearing at the lounge. I desperately wished I’d never come in contact with her at all.
“Ahh, you’re done!” Aria clapped happily. “Hello Pepper darling, my name is Aria.”
The orange girl didn’t move, her eyes darted around frantically, as if she was looking for something. Finally, she looked up at me and I felt my breath get caught in my throat. “Alistair?” She moved one foot forward before Aria pushed her back violently.
“He is mine, so don’t get any ideas.”
“How do you know my name?” I asked.
Lucas grabbed my shoulder, a look of realization spreading across his face. “Did you have an imaginary friend growing up?”
“An imaginary friend?” I repeated. “Yeah, her name was Pepper.”
“And you forgot all labout her, right?” Aria asked. “You grew up and realized that all she’d ever be was imaginary…”
“There’s a difference,” I said harshly, looking at the girl behind Aria. I knew it was Pepper. I had practically grown up with Night, I knew that imaginary friends could be brought to life, but I wondered why Aria would bother doing that. had she wanted me that bad? “I wasn’t allowed to make Pepper real.”
“Because your dad hated imaginary friends, right?” Aria smirked. “Why would you let him dictate who you can and can’t be friends with?”
Pepper was silent, and she looked down. “It had nothing to do with that. Sure, my dad was distrustful, but Night had more than shattered that terrible assumption. There was just so many of us, and we all had imaginary friends. If we brought Pepper to life, we’d have to bring Ryder and Amelia to life and it was just my two dads. It’d be impossible. Pepper, I never forgot.”
“You just stopped seeing me,” She said quietly.
“I had to move on, you must understand that,” I begged her to look at me. “If I could have brought you to life, I would have.”
“Enough of this,” Lucas said sharply. “She’s coming with us, and we’re leaving right now.”
“Oh, no you’re not taking either of them, Lucas. I’ll tell you why. Alistair, your siblings are in Imagionationland! Yay, now you know,” Aria said.
“Imagination, what?” I looked at her. “You’ve got to be mkaing that up.”
“Oh no, I’m not. It was actually Amelia’s idea, she convinced Bailey to make her real and then you know Ryder followed suit and then Night and Scarlett had to go and save the day. You know how you Grays are, always making mistakes and saving the day.” Aria stroked Pepper’s arm lovingly. “In order to get into Imaginationland, you need an imaginary friend. I have yours, so unless you marry me, you’re not getting in.”
“Why do you want to marry him?” Lucas asked.
“It’s none of your business Lucas, honestly. I have my plans, and you have yours. The only thing is mine are being carried out and yours are not. Oh, and Pepper isn’t leaving my side because rumor has it, whoever awakens the imaginary friend gets their loyalty. When you meet your great grandfather Emit, ask him about Puzzle and Mason. It’s quite the tale.”
“Lucas…” I whispered. “Please let me go.”
“No, absolutely not. You know I can’t let you,” Lucas said.
“If you love him, let him go.” Aria smirked.
“You know then, that I’m not going to let you tell me that I’m not going. You know that I’m going to marry her,” I said harshly. There was no question in my mind, no doubt. I needed Aria, and apparently, she needed me. At the end of the day, no matter how many times I tried to skirt the issue, it’d still fall back to this.
“Alistair, I wish you’d listen to reason. Think about this. You can’t marry someone you don’t love.”
That was when I let out a blood curdling scream and fell to the ground. I was having another vision.
“What’s wrong?” Night frowned. “This is an exciting time, but you’re not happy.”
“I’m really happy,” Scarlett said in the same deflated tone. “Truly, I am.”
“No….you aren’t.” He approached her and held her tightly. “Stop pretending that you’re okay, when you’re not. Please, just talk to me.” Scarlett didn’t say anything, but Night could see the tears hitting the cutting board under her. He slowly turned her around to face him. “Scarlett…”
“Just leave me alone!” She said angrily. “I’m fine!”
“No, you aren’t!” Night said firmly. He pulled her close to him. “I love you Scarlett. No matter what you do or say, I will never leave you. I care so much about you.”
“Where’s my brother?” Scarlett tried to blink back the tears but they ended up streaking down her face. “Why isn’t he here right now? Dad said he would come for us, and he isn’t here…”
He lifted her chin and looked into her eyes. “He is coming for us darling, I believe in him one thousand percent.”
“Well, it’s too late,” She mumbled, avoiding his eyes.
“No, it’s never too late.”
I could feel my body rocking back and forth and I couldn’t hold back the tears. “No Scarlett, please don’t stop believing in me. I’m here. I’m here.”
“Alistair,” I could hear Lucas’ voice but it was getting further and further away.
“Well, looks like this is where we take our leave! Sorry, Lucas. You seem like a nice man. if you weren’t a witch, we could have be friends!” Those were the last words I heard from Aria’s mouth before my vision became blurry and I lost my breath.