Elliott’s throat was on fire, and his head felt like it was about to split in two.
She was dying. Mia was dying, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. His brain was pounding in his skull as white blotches filled his vision. He found it difficult to breathe or even speak.
He intensely needed to scream, to howl, to make any noise at all, but his own body betrayed him. His throat was closing up. It was like he was choking on something. What had they done to her?
“Lucy!” he screamed in his head, hoping his half-sister was near enough to hear him.
It wasn’t long before she was by his side, screaming something he couldn’t understand. His ears were ringing, and nothing made sense. She shook him, desperately trying to get him to respond.
Her eyes quickly filled with understanding, and tears pricked their corners. She blinked them away and, when she realized he wasn’t coming to anytime soon, shifted into a wolf and ran back into the woods. She returned a few moments later, holding their bags in her teeth.
She shifted back and changed into the clothes from her bag before walking to the nearest tree and sitting by the trunk. She wrapped her arms around her knees and brought them to her chest, watching her brother with dread-filled eyes.
He rocked back and forth, trying to steady his breathing.
“Please, Mia, don’t leave me,” he whispered to himself.
As the last of her life force gradually drained, Elliott could feel the breath returning to his lungs. Although the pain had dissipated, there was now an emptiness he could feel in his very soul. Whatever connection they had before was gone, and the tears wouldn’t stop falling from his eyes. There was now a piece of himself missing, and that hole could never be filled.
He would never again see that embarrassed smile she gave him after they kissed or feel her melt into his touch when he stroked her hair. Never hear that melodious laugh when he joked with her or smell her sweet cinnamon cookie scent.
He uncurled himself from the ball he was stuck in and sucked in a huge gulp of air. It tasted stale in his mouth. Lucy jumped at the noise and was immediately by his side again, dropping his bag next to him and hovering her hands over his shoulders.
“Elliott?” she said hesitantly, the sound no more than a whisper escaping her lips.
He turned his head slowly towards her, a dull pain still resonating in the back of his neck. He let his tears overflow down his cheeks as he took in his sister’s worried face.
“Elliott… tell me she’s not…” she begged, her voice wavering as she was on the verge of tears.
He shut his eyes tight in pain as he remembered Lucy was there for Ava’s death, too. She knew what this was the moment she ran up to him.
He couldn’t form the words as he rolled over into her arms and sobbed.
She hugged him tight, tears escaping her eyes as well.
Why would they suddenly kill her after all this time? It made no sense to him. Was it because he had come after them? Was he that close to finding her, that their only option was to kill her? What did they have to gain from that? Surely they would know he’d be out for blood now.
“Why… why would they do this?” Lucy asked through her sobs, her thoughts echoing his own.
“I don’t know…” he whimpered. After a few moments of silence, he caught his breath again and sat up, wiping his tears off on his arm. “But there’s no way they got away from us in time to kill her. You went after the redhead, right?”
“Y-yeah. I almost caught her when I heard you scream.” Lucy sniffled.
“And that boy didn’t seem like the type to kill, so…”
“There’s more than three of them…” Lucy said with wide eyes.
He nodded at her.
“We have to go after them…” she said after they sat in silence for a few moments. “We can’t… we can’t just let her death go unavenged.”
He moved out of her arms and attempted to stand. Pain radiated throughout his body, and he fell back on the ground. He lay on his back and placed his arm over his face in defeat.
“I can’t, Lucy…” he gasped, still trying to regulate his breathing. “My whole body still feels like it’s on fire.”
“Then when you’re ready.” She nodded.
“We need Mom and Tristan if we’re going after a whole group of vampires…” he thought aloud. His mother and brother would surely help. Then he thought of his friend and said, “Maybe even Zeke.”
He tossed his arm off his face and stared up at the starry night sky. There was no moon to light up the forest. Just darkness, like he felt inside.
“We’ve got to find where they’re hiding first,” Lucy said, following his gaze up towards the stars.
“And when we do, I swear I’m going to kill every last one of them,” he growled and sat up. “And then I’m going after my father.”