Graciela dropped to the floor. “The monsters are going to leave me alone today. There will be no monsters under my bed. Mommy promised that they weren’t real.”
Carefully, she leaned her face further and further towards the floor. She was a vampire, she could handle anything that came her way. Why was it that she was so brave when it came to physical matters, but the monsters encapsulated her fears? Maybe it was the darkness. She could make no discernible figures out, only eyes. Those were the worst part. They came in different colors, vibrant yellows, greens and pinks. “You can do this Graciela,” She whispered to herself. “They can’t leave their darkness. they don’t like the light.”
“Please, come and play with us. We’re so lonely…” She heard their voices…low whispered dancing against her earlobes.
“They cannot hurt you,” She whispered to herself again. She checked every night, and every night it was the same. The monsters didn’t leave until someone banished them. Her parents didn’t believe that she could see them, and she knew very well that they were humoring her. But whatever they did, worked. The monsters would leave and return again the next night.
“Please, you’re so pretty girl. Come and play with us. We’re a lot of fun.”
“Be gone, monsters,” Graciela said firmly. “Leave, now.”
But of course, it didn’t work. It never did. She steeled herself, ready to be a little firmer, when she felt a tight grasp on her leg. She withheld her screech, not wanting to draw any attention to herself, and ran as fast as she could into the next room.
“Double G, they’re back! The monsters are-” She skidded to a halt as she saw her great grandfather sprawled out on the hardwood floor. “Ethan…?”
“I’m fine sweetheart,” His voice was low, like a rumble. “I’m just a little sad today.”
“Are you thinking of Double G Apollo?” Ethan couldn’t help but laugh at the nickname. Double G stood for Great Grandfather. Technically, he shouldn’t have been alive for them to be making nicknames up…but here he was.
“Always,” Ethan mumbled. “Can’t get passed your oversight, huh?”
Graciela shook her head. “No, because I like t think of him sometimes too. Mom always says that we have to look forward, but I think it’s okay to think of the past if it’s a happy one, right?”
Ethan tried to smile, but he couldn’t. He was numb. How long had he lived with Apollo?no. How long had he been in love with hi? How long had it been since he realized he couldn’t live without him? “When you think about the past, and look at the present, it makes you more sad. Doesn’t it?”
“I guess so…” Graciela mumbled quietly. She slid onto the floor next to her great grandfather. “But I like to pretend, for Pax.”
Ethan was astounded by the maturity of the eight year old girl. “What do you mean?”
“Pax is happy all the time, so I don’t bother him with my feelings,” She clarified. “Because someone needs to be happy…Aunt Astra is unhappy. Mom is unhappy. Dad is unhappy because Mom is unhappy. Grandpa is unhappy…you’re unhappy…”
“Are you unhappy?” Ethan asked, rolling over to face the girl.
“Yes.” She nodded her head. “I want to go to school like Nerissa does. I want to hang out at the park and see Auntie Ade and Uncle Erik again. It’s not fair.”
“I know, darling. It’s very unfair. You should be able to do all of those things, but right now if we let you, do you know what would happen?” She slowly nodded. “Nobody wants you to get hurt. Your mom and dad would be sad, your grandfather would be sad…even Pax would be sad.”
“Would you be sad?” Graciela asked.
Ethan pulled her in for a tight hug. “Of course I would be sad.” They staid like that for a few moments. “Now, what was all that running before?”
“They’re back,” Graciela mumbled. “Please get rid of the monsters under my bed.”
“Of course, darling. Let’s go kick some monster butt.”
Ethan kneeled by the bed and peered under it. There was impenetrable darkness. “Monsters be gone!” Ethan boomed…in the most ridiculous voice ever. “Leave my baby girl alone!”
“Double G,” Graciela whispered. “Don’t tell them I’m here!!”
“Oh, my bad,” He whispered back. Then he raised his voice again. “She is no longer in the room, so you need to go back to wherever you monsters live!”
“Check,” Graciela urged him.
Ethan dropped to his knees and peered under the bed again. “Graciela, darling, they’re gone.” Then he stood up again.
“Don’t leave!” She said quickly, grabbing his arm. “What if they come back? I need you here, okay Double G?”
Ethan nodded. “Okay, Ela. I’m not going to leave. Promise.” And he didn’t. He sat by her bed, guarding from the monsters until she fell asleep. “I love you darling,” He murmured as he kissed her forehead and left the room.
“But what if…” Jeff was cut off by ax.
“Dad, no. That’s totally not how it works! Those are the Supernatural Super Friends! No humans allowed,” He said. “I don’t make the rules.”
“I’m way cooler than all of those guys, I’m just saying,” Jeff replied.
“Well, yeah. Duh! I know that,” Pax agreed. “But they don’t. If they knew how cool you were, the show would just be called Super Friends or something.”
Jeff smiled at his son, feeling really proud to have raised a kid with such a positive outlook on life. Unlike his daughter who took entirely after her mother in the attitude department. “I think we should make our own super hero group.”
“That’s a great idea!” Pax exclaimed. “We can call ourselves the uh…Super Amazing Powerful Good guys!”
“Heck yeah.” Jeff nodded, trying to hold back his laughter. “Can mom join us?”
“No!” Pax shook his head fiercely. “Only one supernatural of each kind, that’s the rule. I can’t watch over a million people, Dad. That’s too much of a responsibility.” Jeff couldn’t hold it in any longer and he let out a loud laugh. “Dad, this is not funny! This is serious business!”
“You’re right, you’re right. I’m sorry. But, it’s bed time now, so you need to get some super rest, okay?”
Pax nodded, yawning. “Fine.” He wondered how long it would be until Pax was old enough to not need as much sleep. He couldn’t possibly be that vigilant. It was definitely interesting raising three vampire children.
Graciela stretched her arms over her head. What time was it? She hadn’t intended to fall into that deep of a sleep. “Oh!” She covered her mouth instantly. “Nerissa was supposed to come again tonight!” The first night, it was easy to sneak out of the house. Every one was so concerned about where Pax was. But today, was different. She was scared. Not of getting caught, but because of how late it was. All lights would be off. There would be none outside…She took in a deep breath. She could do this. She had to. Nerissa was coming…or rather, she may have already come and left something. She had to take it before her family found the goods Nerissa brought her! She kicked her feet over the side of the bed.
“Graciela…don’t leave us.”
“What the!” She yanked her feet up on top of the bed again. “Please stop!”
“We just want a friend…we can protect you from the darkness…”
“You are the darkness!” She looked down at the ground, paralyzed with fear. She could either stay in here, or go outside into the darkness. “Gracie, you can do this. Just breathe.” She took in a few breaths. “Gracie…you can…” With a swift movement she jumped off of the bed and ran out of the room without looking back. Her mom would be sleeping next to her dad. Thankfully, her mom had adjusted to a human sleep schedule. That’s what her grandfather had said at least. Everyone else would be asleep… Her steps out of the door were quiet and small.
“It’s so dark…” Graciela mumbled to herself. “Ok, everything will be fine. Just look for a package or something. Nerissa wouldn’t have just left. She was waiting for me…”
Graciela walked to their secret spot. The bushes. They were small enough to hide the girls’ tiny bodies, but wouldn’t be enough to hide an adult. Also, if anyone was coming they’d be able to hear the leaves rustling. Graciela scoured the ground, looking for any sign that Nerissa had been there at all. “A note, yes!” Graciela dropped to the ground and picked it up. “Lucky I’m a vampire…” Otherwise she wouldn’t be able to see what the note said.
“Dear Graciela, I was expecting much more from a vampire in the Gray family. I guess that I’m forgetting that you’re only eight years old…but you act so mature. Or at least, you think you are. Setting up these meetings to gather materials that you somehow hide from your parents. Yet you’re scared of the dark. A vampire that’s scared of the dark….go figure. By now, you must have realized that Nerissa hasn’t written this note. In fact, Nerissa hasn’t been near the house at all. She’s a little tied up at the moment. This is probably all a little bit too much for you to understand anyway, right? You should probably call your-”
“Mom!” Graciela shouted as loud as she could. She didn’t understand the full letter, but what she had read sounded menacing. “Mom!”
She hadn’t heard those voices before. Maybe she was imagining them, and this was all some kind of dream…
“I didn’t think you had it in you.”
“Knocking out a child.”
“Her mom would have come out, and she’s more trouble than she’s worth, honestly.”
“That is my granddaughter you’re talking about.” One of the men snickered. “Technically.”
“Thank you for having a hand in the bane of my existence.”
“Anytime. Now gather this child up and let us leave.”
“Graciela!” But Charlotte wasn’t fast enough. “The son of a bitch who took my daughter, id going to pay!”
“You need to calm down, Charlotte-” Jeff began but she cut him off angrily.
“My daughter has been kidnapped. My daughter, is gone. Okay, you do not get to tell me to calm the hell down!”
“We don’t know that she’s gone. She could be somewhere behind the house,” Jeff replied.
“I don’t sense her anymore Jeff…” That was a desperate plea for help. “Why would he do this? Why does he want my daughter?”
“It’s not her he wants,” Jeff muttered, holding the note in his hand. He passed it to Charlotte. “Last words?”
“Call your mom. Oh no.” She scrunched the note up angrily and tossed it on the ground. “I have to go find her.”
“You’re walking into a trap, remember what happened last time?” Jeff asked. “I have an idea. Trust me, okay?”
Jeff began to run up the block. “Where are you going? That’s your big plan, just rush into action?”
“I get it, I’m a human…blah blah blah. Fine, but did you not notice what the letter said? She thought it was a letter from that Nerissa girl.”
“So?” Charlotte asked. “Are you saying she’s in on it?”
“No.” He shook his head. “I’m saying either her parents are, or they might know something.” She was silent for a moment. “Admit it, it’s a good plan.”
“Fine, whatever. It’s a good plan.” She didn’t have time to argue. “Let’s go find them. I think they’d be somewhere-”
“I know where they are,” Jeff said.
“Do you honestly think a guy with my background in law enforcement doesn’t watch who my daughter is hanging out with? I know exactly where they are, so come on. Let’s go.”
“I’m going to warn Ade and Millie that something is wrong,” Ethan said, running beside the two. “Astra is going with you two. No butts. You need all the man power you can get, so deal with it. Alistair will stay with the kids. He’s in the most danger, because if he and Declan meet I’m not sure what will happen.” That was that. With Ethan and Jeff’s quick thinking, and absolutely no time to argue, everyone was off doing their respective tasks.