This is another original story and as far as where it fits in the wider narrative of the book, I’m not sure. It takes place on a quiet day when things suddenly go from bad to worse. So far, Gwendolyn has been more passive, this story sees her take a more active role.
P.S. – It is fairly long, unlike the earlier ones.
Gwendolyn was a little concerned. For one, Jeffery seemed even more on edge of late and second, there was more security around the house. But when he didn’t say anything to her, she decided to ask him. He was dismissive saying only that he was just taking precaution since Elena was back in town and she still had enemies, people who would not hesitate to hurt their family to get back at her. Gwendolyn felt that he wasn’t telling her the whole truth but decided not to press the issue, he was leaving for a business trip for a few days and they could have this conversation after he came back.
After he left, Gwendolyn decided to call Elena home so she could have a chat with Eve. The last few times they met, Elena had insisted on meeting Eve at the Academy and Gwendolyn suspected that Jeffrey had something to do with that development. She had seen a side of Jeffrey that she suspected existed but had never seen before. A side that didn’t hesitate from manipulating his children. A side, she suspected Elena was more adept at handling.
She made the call to Elena and invited her to come over, and while there was some hesitation, Gwendolyn eventually persuaded her to visit Eve. Having fixed a time, she then went about her daily work, since it was a weekend, the girls were still in bed and she wanted to give this little piece of good news to Eve. Elena would come later in the afternoon, so they had some time to themselves…
They had just finished their lunch when Gwendolyn looked out at the grounds and frowned. There should have been two men there but she couldn’t see either one of them. Then she felt Eve stiffen.
“Mama, I think there are vampires here. They are close, I can smell them.”
Gwendolyn did not waste time questioning her daughter further, she simply gathered Amy and Eve and rushed them to the master bedroom on the floor above. It wasn’t very secure but it was better than being sitting ducks in the living room. On her way, she grabbed the biggest and sharpest knives from the kitchen. She knew that it wouldn’t be effective against the vampires but it would buy them precious time. As soon as they were inside, she locked the door behind them and placed a call to Elena. She picked up immediately.
“Hi Gwendolyn, I’m almost there-“
“Elena, there are vampires here, I think they are already inside the house.”
There was a short silence.
“Where are you and the girls?”
“I’ve got them with me, we are in the master bedroom on the first floor. I don’t know how long it’ll keep them out.”
“Don’t worry, I’m almost there, I’ll take care of it. Don’t come out of the room for anything.”
They waited in the room; they could hear the vampires in the house, there seemed to be quite a few of them and they didn’t bother trying to keep the noise down. The vampires didn’t yet know where they were and that was the only advantage they had. She held Amy and Eve close to her and sat as far back from the door as possible while still keeping her body between the door and the girls.
It was only a few minutes later, though it felt like hours that she heard something crash against the door. She knew that the vampires had found them and it was only a matter of time before they broke down the door. Gwendolyn pushed the girls behind her and picked up the knives she had taken. Just as the first vampire came through the doorway, something crashed in through the bedroom window. Elena immediately rolled to her feet, a knife in each hand. She took down the vampire closest to her and spun to tackle the one who was racing towards her.
Watching Elena fight was like watching a very intricate dance. She didn’t waste energy on useless movement. Every move was designed to cut and disable the enemy. With five vampires dead at her feet, there was a moment of respite. Elena looked the Gwendolyn first, her eyes flicked to the knives and Gwendolyn thought she saw what looked like respect shine in her eyes, but it was so fleeting that she couldn’t be sure. She looked at Amy and Eve and her eyes lingered almost as if Elena was committing them to memory.
“They’re ok, we’re fine. You reached just as the vampires broke down the door.”
She didn’t know what made her say it, except she knew it was very important. It made more sense, when Elena’s shoulders relaxed a little. Before she could reply, another vampire came to the doorway, he was tall and very muscular and there were more vampires standing behind him. He smirked at Elena.
“Guild Hunter, you should know that even you can’t take all of us. You will die and then we will take our time with girls and the woman.”
Gwendolyn sensed a change in Elena’s body language, she couldn’t say what it was, but she had a feeling that the vampire had just made a very serious mistake. Elena glanced at the three of them and what Gwendolyn saw in her eyes, made her press her back more firmly against the wall. Her eyes were feral and full of rage and a thin ring of silver around her pupils seemed to become more pronounced.
She turned back, her body perfectly still, not a single movement wasted. She was coiled and ready. She waited a beat and then launched into the attack. The vampires never stood a chance. The ones in front didn’t even have enough time to react; the ones at the back, always seemed to reach the space where Elena had been, always just missing her. But that was enough to give her the time to neutralize them. She was efficient, very efficient. When there was only one vampire left alive, Elena simply walked to his cowering form and knocked him out. Just as he slumped against the door, the remaining bedroom window blew inward, but the shards never hit any of them and Raphael stepped inside.
Elena was still standing perfectly still. When Eve went to go forward, Raphael motioned to Gwendolyn to hold her back. They could see that while Elena had managed to kill all the vampires, she had sustained injuries as well. There was blood running down her arm and there was also some damage to her wings though Gwendolyn couldn’t say how serious they were.
She finally turned, as if she sensed Raphael standing close to her and Gwendolyn was glad that she had Eve pressed firmly to her side. Her eyes looked empty but she motioned to a vampire slumped against the wall and said in a hollow voice, “He’s still alive, I need you to find out how they knew and why they attacked.”
Raphael seemed to see something in her that Gwendolyn couldn’t. He didn’t even look at the unconscious vampire, but he jerked and Raphael hit him with a ball of energy leaving only ash where the vampire had been.
He walked to where Elena stood, stiff and covered in blood and drew her in his arms. Gwendolyn knew that they were a couple but in that moment, she saw the depth of Raphael’s love in the way that he held her, he was gentle, as if he was holding the most precious treasure in the world. And she went into his arms as if she belonged there all along. Gwendolyn could see as she gradually relaxed and leaned her head against his chest. His wings came around her, shielding her from view.
“You’re safe for now but the house is compromised. Those who sent these vampires will not be easily deterred. I want you moved to my estate.”
Gwendolyn finally found her voice. “No, that’s ok, we can move to a hotel-“
“A hotel won’t be safe enough. It seems that Jeffery has angered some rather dangerous people with a recent deal and they won’t give up easily. They need to be dealt with. I insist.”
Gwendolyn could only nod; she knew that Raphael was only giving her the illusion of a choice. She didn’t miss that his eyes seemed to burn when he mentioned Jeffery; it was perhaps for the best that the two hadn’t come face to face yet. She also noticed that throughout the entire exchange, Elena hadn’t uttered a word, in fact she hadn’t even moved.
“I’ll get us packed up.”
“Illium and Janvier will escort you to the estate, Janvier knows the way. Jeffery will need to informed, I will have someone handle it.”
He lifted Elena into his arms and stepped out of the balcony and flew off. He had said all he needed to and his immediate concern was Elena. Gwendolyn wondered what it would feel like to be so cherished, to be loved so much. She shook herself; she didn’t have time for this. She ushered the girls to get their packing done.
Having packed up all they needed, they had just entered the living room when a tall and muscled vampire entered the house. He smiled at Gwendolyn and made sure to keep a safe distance from them, as if giving them time to get used to him.
“I’ll be your chauffer for the day, ladies. And how you are you, little Eve?”
He flashed a full smile at Eve and hugged her when she stepped forward. Eve knew him from the Academy where he sometimes trained the younger hunters. He looked at Gwendolyn.
“Shall we go, are you ready?”
“Yes, we can leave. Will we be taking our car?”
“No, we’ll take mine, it’s faster.”
He smiled at her and stood aside, motioning her to walk before him. She put her arms around and Amy and walked past him, he followed, holding Eve’s hand in his. Once they were all seated, he started the car and they were on their way.
“Will Elena be okay?”
Eve sounded worried but Janvier looked at her in the rear-view mirror and smiled.
“Elena’s tough, she’ll be fine. Don’t you worry cher. She had a few injuries, nothing a little rest won’t heal.”
Eve still looked unconvinced.
“I don’t want her to be hurt because of me Mama. I’ve never seen her like that, ever.”
“Shhh honey, she’ll be fine, you’ll see. Besides she’s with Raphael and he’ll keep her safe. You weren’t scared of her, were you?”
“She protected us, she made sure that none of the vampires got close to us. I’ve never seen anyone fight like that.”
All of it was true but what made it even more surprising was that it was Amy who said that, Amy who neither spoke to Elena nor about her. But Eve visibly calmed hearing her words.
“We’re nearly there and you can see her for yourself cher, she’ll be glad to see you.”
“Raphael said that he’d have someone inform Jeffery about what happened, but I doubt his plane has landed yet.”
“Don’t worry Mrs. Devereaux, we’ll have someone meet him as soon as he lands.”
Gwendolyn settled back in her seat and pulled both Amy and Eve tighter against her. She shivered at how close she had come to losing them today.
When they pulled over in front of Raphael’s beautiful house, a meticulously dressed vampire met them at the door.
“Very good to finally meet you Mrs. Devereaux, I have had rooms prepared for you and the girls. Come, you must be hungry. I will have someone take your bags to your rooms. If you’ll follow me.”
Gwendolyn and the girls fell in line behind him with Janvier bringing up the rear. The inside of the house was even more beautiful than its exterior. It was warm, lived-in; it was a home, not simply a house. Montgomery escorted them to the beautiful dining room; the full windows bathed the room in light, heightening its beauty. The table was laden with simple yet delicious food. Gwendolyn wasn’t hungry and suspected she wouldn’t be for some time but the girls needed to eat so she sat with them and ate a little. She was still too unsettled but tried to present a calm face. After eating, Montgomery led them to their rooms.
“Is Elena all right, will I be able to meet her soon?”
Montgomery looked at Eve.
“I will you let you as soon as she wakes and then you can see her.”
Gwendolyn stayed with the girls in their room. She wasn’t sure she was ready to leave them alone. Feeling a little claustrophobic, they decided to go for a short walk, Eve offered to show them Elena’s greenhouse. They were just rounding the curve that led back to the house when they saw Raphael speaking to another angel. This one she had seen numerous times in news. He was very popular especially with his beautiful blue wings, blue-black hair and his easy smiles. She tried to recall his name but couldn’t remember. They stopped speaking when they saw Gwendolyn and the girls.
Eve ran towards the blue-winged angel and he scooped her up in a hug, spinning her around, making her squeal.
“Hey there Evie, I think you’ve grown taller.”
Raphael nodded at Gwendolyn when she was close enough.
“Jeffery was informed and he is on his way, he will be here by tonight but he’ll come by tomorrow to pick you up.”
Gwendolyn read between the lines, he had been told to come the next day and even he knew not to try the patience of an Archangel. Eve and Amy stood next to her, silently watching the exchange.
“How is Elena feeling?”
Raphael looked at Eve.
“I know you were hoping to see her but she’s resting to recover from her injuries. I don’t think you will be able to see her. But you can come when she wakes up. She’d like that.”
“Was she very seriously hurt?”
Eve looked scared and Illium took over, answering her. Raphael was intimidating at the best of times but right now, with Elena hurt, he wasn’t very concerned about making an effort to seem approachable.
“Some of her injuries were serious but nothing too bad, Evie. I’ll fly you here when she’s up, I promise.”
Eve nodded and relaxed. Montgomery informed them that dinner was ready and she led the girls inside even though she could see that Eve clearly wanted to spend more time outside. The events of the day were catching up with her and she needed time to regroup. They had a quiet dinner. It was just the three of them since Raphael didn’t join them.
Gwendolyn decided she would stay with her daughters, so they stayed in her room. She doubted that she’d be able to sleep at all but sleep came and though it was short, she felt better the next morning. Things seemed calmer and she felt more in control unlike the previous day. She was informed that Jeffery would be coming to pick them while the girls were still asleep. So she woke them up and went down for breakfast. Montgomery was perhaps the most genteel person she had ever met, she hadn’t encountered his perfect manners before which made her very curious as to how old he was, but she refrained from voicing her question.
Soon, it was time to go, Jeffery was almost there but instead of letting him come inside, his car was stopped at the gate. Montgomery informed her that they would be driven to the main gate. She didn’t question why he wasn’t permitted here. This was Elena’s home as much as Raphael’s and he wouldn’t permit Jeffery to be anywhere near it unless Elena decided differently. Raphael would not let Jeffery get close to Elena’s refuge and taint it. That he was allowed at the gate was all the concession that Raphael was prepared to give.
As they left, she was once again struck at the similarities and differences between this house and her own. They were both old and beautiful buildings but here she could feel the love that bound Elena and Raphael together, there was an ease inside, a comfort that was sorely missing from her own. Her home was fraught with tension, there was love but there was also a tense undercurrent. As she got into the car with the girls in tow, she wondered, not the first time in the recent months, just who had lost out when Jeffery cast out Elena.