“Charlotte,” Declan began. She looked forward, avoiding his gaze. She was in her twenties, but his punishments still frightened her. Rather, it was the look of disapointment from her step dad, that tore her heart apart. She never wanted to make him angry, but it seemed that she was doing that a lot lately. She admited, she had a hot temper, but could you blame her? Her hatred for her sister seeped into everything that she did.
“Dad, I know,” Was all she said. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry isn’t good enough,” Declan said. “Your dad isn’t your punching bag. You can’t take your anger out on him. I know that you’re frustrated, but we’re a family, and we have to stick together.”
“Daddy, Adeline is the one causing this rift, not me!” Charlotte cried.
“Charlotte, calm down. Adeline isn’t doing anything to hurt you. I know that her spending time with Altiere upsets you, but he’s the only one who knows how to deal with a purebred vampire. Your father and I are taking precautions to make sure Altiere isn’t planning anything, but it’s been years and his intentions seem pure.”
“Pure? Dad, no. He’s an evil, wretched man. He only cares about Adeline because of her power, and she thinks its something else. That they share some kind of bond, or something! He is going to hurt us, and take over as ruler of Moonlight Falls and Adeline is helping him, right under our noses. And you guys are allowing him!” Charlotte cried.
“Maybe your dad needs a reliable source within that estate to relay information to us. Maybe, he needs Adeline there so that she can learn to control her power. Maybe, he gave Adeline free reign and she chose to continue her training under Altiere. Either way, she’s an adult. She can choose to do what she wants. As much as we’d like her to study with you and your sister, we can’t force her to. Just like we can’t force you to do anything you don’t want to.”
Charlotte began, “Dad is forcing me to work with this new guy, a human. But, you’re right. You can’t force me to do anything. So, I’m just going to stay here and let him explore Moonlight Falls on his own.”
“You know that he can’t do that,” Declan said. “Damian will be alerted and then a whole different problem will arise. Alistair is stressed enough. Can’t you just be nice for today?”
“I’m always nice!” Charlotte glared at Declan. “But, I don’t like this guy. He just got here and he’s already talking to me like he knows whats going on in my life.”
“Your dad told me what Jeff said, and frankly, I don’t think that he’s wrong. You need to show some respect to your parents.” He paused for a moment, contemplating whether or not he would reach Charlotte with his words. “My dad died because of Damian and my mother abandoned me. I wish I had the structure that you have in your life.”
“Daddy I-” Charlotte sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“I want more than anything to stop all of this fighting. With you and your sister, Altiere, and Damian. It has to stop, I’ve lost too many friends because of all of this. Focus on the love around you, and help others. Thats all we can do. Show Jeff around, alright?”
Charlotte nodded. “Fine, but for you. Not for him.”
“Thank you.” He kissed her forehead.
Charlotte walked into her father’s study. There was no class today, but she promised her dad that she’d meet with Jeff to work on their group project. She scoffed. Did the studying ever end? She glanced around at the familiar setting, eyes falling to the seated boy. She trudged along quietly, sliding down against the wall opposite him. He didn’t look up from the book in his hands. Charlotte grinned mischeviously, realizing he hadn’t noticed her presence. She reached for the top book in the pile that had amassed around him. She looked at him for a moment to make sure that he was still engulfed in his reading, and then dropped the very large textbook. It made a loud thud as it made contact with the ground. “Whaa!?” Jeff looked up, startled.
Charlotte let out a loud laugh. “Oh man, your face. Priceless.”
“What the hell?” Jeff glared at the vampire. “I was reading.”
“I know, which is why it was the opportune time to scare the crap out of you. Not so big and bad now, huh Mr. Cop? Humans can’t sense vampires.” She smirked as the realization dawned on him.
“So you’re saying that I can’t hear your footsteps or anything? Because thats impossible,” He answered.
“Oh, you most definitely can, but our movements are lighter, so it’s easier for us to go undetected to humans. You also don’t have heightened senses or any of that.” She shrugged. “Anyway, what are you reading?” Jeff held up the book. Legends and Heroes of Moonlight Falls. For a moment her face lit up. “I’ve got an idea, human. Come on, lets go. I’ll show you some real history.”
“What is this place? Some sort of museum?” Jeff looked around the place. it was adorned with statues and artifacts, some he had recognized vaguely.
“Exactamento. I found this place one day when I was wandering around. I was really pissed off at my sister, and I needed to cool off. So, I ran out of my house. I don’t know what happened next, but I ended up here. It’s been abandoned, but it used to belong to the Darich family. The statues you see around you are all from human worlds. A lot of people didn’t believe that they existed, but you, my dad and even my sister who has moved to one, are all proof that these worlds exist.” She stopped talking and looked to Jeff. “We don’t have the same lore and history that you do, you probably noticed that from the book you were reading.”
“We do have very supernatural myths,” Jeff said. “Vampires like Dracula, werewolves, gods, fairies. The list goes on.”
“Oh, Dracula isn’t a myth. He’s very real, or at least, he used to be before someone impaled him. He was the father of all purebred vampires for at least 2,000 years.”
“2000!?” Jeff rubbed his temple. “That’s a long time. You’ll live that long as well?”
“Nah, I’m not a purebreed. Adeline will, but I won’t.” She shrugged. “I have about as long as you do to live, give or take a few years. I’m just a bit more physically sturdy than you are.”
“What makes her different than you, exactly?” Jeff asked. “You both look the same. You’re twins, right?”
“It’s a long story, but yes. We’re twins. She has a slightly different genetic makeup than I do, which apparently, changes everything. It has to do with a special mutation in my dad. Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” Jeff said. “Whats up?”
“Do these statues mean anything to you? Are they real? I mean…do you know of these people?” For the first time since he had met the girl, he noticed the curiousity in her gaze. He couldn’t help but feel a little excited, to see a different side of her.
“This guy behind us is Apollo,” Jeff said. “The sun god. He was a massive figure in greek and roman mythology. he controlled night and day by riding his golden chariot, and some other things as well.”
“Apollo? I have to ask my grandfather about this guy, he shares the same name. I wonder if it has anything to do with that.” She studied the statue once more. “Did this guy really exist, or was it just some kind of character?”
“We don’t believe that these characters were anything but that, just characters. Except, when the stories were first recorded, people worshiped Apollo and others fervently.”
“And this one?” Charlotte waltzed over to the golden bust. “This one is significantly different. It doesn’t show the full body, and there’s an emphasis on the face-” She stopped talking when she noticed the smirk on Jeff’s face. “What?” She demanded.
“I didn’t know that you could be interested in something other than yourself,” He said. “That’s all.”
“Haha, very funny.” Charlotte rolled her eyes. “I care about a lot of things, but I don’t have to explain myself to you.”
Jeff held his hands up in defense. “No, you don’t.” He pointed to the statue. “That’s an Egyptian bust. Probably of a pharoah, I couldn’t tell you of who. These statues were buried in tombs with corpses, there was a belief that they would carry over to the after life.”
“So you mean, they dug up graves to get this?” Charlotte asked mortified. “I…that’s not okay.”
“Its the only way that we can know about the past,” Jeff said. “We don’t live that long. We don’t have elders that can tell us about how people used to live. I’m not condoning it, I’m just saying.”
Charlotte headed to the back of the museum and took a seat. “All of this history…its fascinating, but at the same time…” She stopped talking and shook her head. “It’s nothing. Forget it. I’m sorry, I don’t know how this is going to help our group project at all.”
Jeff smiled. Was the girl he saw yesterday just a product of anger? Was this girl the real Charlotte? “You know, it’s better than nothing. I haven’t been in school for a while, but I’m sure that brainstorming is a good place to start.”
She looked at him curiously. “How old are you exactly? I probably should have asked sooner.”
She could have sworn she saw him shift uncomfortably, but she wasn’t sure if that was just her imagination, so she didn’t say anything. Jeff looked away for a moment, hoping his confusion didn’t line his face. How old was he? He didn’t even know, Mason just brought him here somehow. How old was she? Damn. He blinked. “Twentyfour?”
“Is that a question?” Charlotte asked.
“Shh!” Charlotte commanded, jolting to her feet. “Someone is coming. A werewolf.”
“Werewolf?” Jeff asked. His mind started racing with images of what one must have looked like. Sharp teeth, hairy bodies….
“Yes, stay quiet. It’s coming this way. Don’t worry about it, I’ll get rid of the sorry sap.”
“You?” He asked. “You couldn’t even read me the first time we met.”
“Oh, shut up. I’ll leave your ass here to deal with the threat yourself. Let’s see how great a human fares on his own.”
“I was only joking!” Jeff said quickly. “But, don’t worry about me. I can outsmart a lot of people, and I’m agile.”
“For a human,” Charlotte stressed. “A werewolf is on another level entirely! Now, shush.”
As soon as the man walked into the room, Charlotte pounced. She bared her teeth and lunged at the man. He took a step back in fright, and then raised his hands in defense. “I come in peace.”
“That was your big tactic?” Jeff whispered.
She whirled around and glared at him. “How many times do I have to tell you to leave this to me?”
“Turning your back to a possible enemy isn’t smart,” Jeff said. “At all.”
“I can sense his movements, Mr. Police Officer!” She placed her hands on her hips.
“I don’t mean to interrupt, whatever this is, but I was looking for Charlotte, which I’m assuming is you?” The man asked.
She turned back around to face the stranger. “How do you know who I am?”
“I’m an old friend of your fathers, both of them.” He said. “Patrick Black. Pleasure to meet you.”
“Patrick Black?” Charlotte’s eyes widened. “You’re joking, right?”
“No, its really me,” He stated.
“How? You’re supposed to be dead!” Charlotte exclaimed. “How do I know that you’re really who you say you are?”
“You talked to Miles a while ago? Blonde hair?” Patrick asked. “We’re working together. I don’t have any proof that it’s really me, so I’m asking you to trust me. I can’t reveal myself to your dad yet. I…” He stopped talking. “Well, this is rude of me, I didn’t even ask your name.” He looked at Jeff.
“Oh, I’m Jeff Bennett.”
“Nice to meet you both. You look like just the pair to help me. I’m looking for my friends and sister who have disappeared. Katrina Black, Hayden Side and Robin Darich, the owner of this very museum. They disappeared a while back and neither me nor Miles can locate them. Finding them is crucial to proceeding with our plan to diminish Damian’s rule.”
“You mean, you’re working to stop him too?” Charlotte asked. “Of course, I’ll help you!”
“Wait a second,” Jeff said. He contemplated whispering it to Charlotte, but it was better tat patrick knew Jeff’s concerns. “Why can’t she tell her dad?”
“Why are you so obsessed with what my dad has to say all the time?” Charlotte asked. “You’ve known him for like two days!”
“He’s being nothing but kind to me. Your grandfathers have opened up their home for me. I can’t disrespect them by going behind their back,” Jeff said. “Especially since this seems like it involves your whole family.”
“Let me handle this,” Charlotte said angrily. “You just got here a few days ago. You don’t know my family like that.”
“How do you even know that this guy is legit?” Jeff asked, angrily. “You could ossibly be putting your wole family in danger!”
“He’s right,” Patrick said. “Your concerns are valid, but theres a reason I can’t involve Alistair, Declan and Sienna. It isn’t because I’m trying to hurt them. In fact, they’re the family that I wished I had. It’s because, I don’t want to draw any attention to your family that I’m saying this. Damian has been watching your dad since he first arrived in Moonlight Falls. Hell, he had his eye on the Grays even before that. He wants whats going to keep him in power, and having Alistair as the Keeper now, is not good for him. He just needs one opening to exploit, and then he’ll crush your dad. We can’t have that. Thats why I need you. You seem to be good at flying under the radar.”
“What do I have to do?” Charlotte asked, ignoring Jeff completely.
“If you find any information about Robin, Kat or Hayden, let me know. Here is my number, it’s untraceable. You can contact me here by text or a phone call. Other than that, keep this quiet. If Damian finds out, we’re screwed.”
“If thats it, then I can do that,” Charlotte said. “I’d be more than happy to help you find your friends. I know that Miles used to be my dad’s classmate when he studied under my great grandfather, Lucas.”
“Lucas was a great man, and he taught Alistair and Declan everything that they needed to know. Your family is full of good people. I’m happy that Alistair and Declan finally found their peace. I promise you, that I mean no harm to your family, and if something comes up that puts you in danger, I will reveal myself and take the brunt of the pain. But, for future references, not everyone will be as trust worthy as I am. Listen to the human boy, he seems to know his stuff.”
“See?” Jeff asked, satisfied.
“I didn’t get a bad vibe off of you, and I’m pretty perceptive,” Charlotte argued. “Besides, this, whateverr it is…” She looked at Jeff. “Isn’t going to last passed our group project.”
“Ah, Lucas’ famous group projects? Of course Alistair would implement them.” He laughed. “It brought him and Declan really close, and they hated each other. A lot. History tends to repeat itself.”
“We don’t have any of this now,” Charlotte said, motioning around the museum. “So maybe you’re wrong.”
“Maybe I am.” Patrick shrugged. “But if I’m not, there’s going to be a good friendship from this project.” He headed for the door. “Best of luck to you, and I will be in touch.”