“All these years, she’s been alive. And I didn’t know it.” I whisper, with tears welling in my eyes.
My heart pounds as the truth sinks in. I thought back to all the times I have wished to see her again, and all the questions I have wanted to ask her. Finally, I understood why she has been so distant from me. I can’t bear the truth.
“I can’t believe you met her. I-I never expected her to be violent. She was never like that.” I murmur, my voice heavy with sadness. “But I guess sometimes people change.” I continue, my voice softer than before.
“You’re right. People do change.” He reaches out to cup my chin in his hand. “That doesn’t mean you have to.” He murmurs, his thumb brushing against my cheek as he smiles. “Kitten... you are perfect just as you are.”
I feel a wave of warmth wash over me with his words, and I smile back, knowing I am safe with him. I lean into his fingers that brush against my chin, and I feel my fear and doubt slowly ebb away. He smiles, his eyes shining with reassurance, but behind them is vengeance.
I take out the photo from my pocket, inspecting it. The diner is just as I remember it. The warmth of the sun and sweet ice cream we used to get, I can almost feel and taste. I let out a deep sigh, feeling a wave of nostalgia wash over me. I glance at Carter, and he gives me a reassuring smile. He’s seemingly aware of what I’m thinking, and I’m grateful for his understanding. I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, gathering my courage. I need to know why they have this as evidence, and I need to find out the truth.
After a few deep breaths, I turn to Carter. “I think we should go here,” I say, determination coursing through my veins. My eyes are pleading. “Maybe if we go. It could just maybe lead me to Rachel. Will you help me?”
Carter nods without hesitation, placing a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “Of course, I’m coming with you,” he says firmly. “We’ll figure this out together, and I’ll make sure you’re safe the entire time.”
I smile back, feeling my courage swell. I could do this. Together, we could find out the truth.
Carter jumps off the hood of his car, adrenaline coursing through his veins. Having driven for hours, I notice how he’s eager to drive again to find the quaint small diner I had to mention.
My eyes glow with sadness as he approaches me.
“Hey... kitten,” Carter calls out, a hint of anticipation in his voice. “Where’s this diner at?”
My gaze shifts away, a somber expression crossing my face. “It’s in my hometown. The place I was trying to leave behind.” My voice tinge with sadness.
A moment of silence hangs in the air as Carter processes my response. I can see he realizes that finding the diner was not only about satisfying his own curiosity while delving into my past, understanding the emotions that tugged at my heartstrings.
With a compassionate smile, Carter reaches out to me, offering a comforting hug. I can feel the warmth of his embrace, and it brought a sense of solace to my troubled heart. As his arms wrap around me, I can’t help but blush at his kind response. There was something about his gesture that makes me feel cared for and understood.
At that moment, a mix of emotions washed over me. I found myself drawn to his comforting presence, appreciating the genuine concern he was showing for my well-being. It’s an unfamiliar feeling, one that I can’t quite put into words.
“Rena... I don’t enjoy seeing you upset. Is there anything I can do?” he whispers, his voice sincere.
His words resonate deep within me, touching a part of my soul that had long been neglected. It’s as if he understood the weight of my sadness and wants nothing more than to lighten the burden.
But amidst the comfort and care, there’s an undeniable sense of confusion. I can’t deny that I like the attention, the way he makes me feel seen and valued. It’s both exhilarating and unsettling, as if I am stepping into uncharted territory.
“I’m sorry.” My voice trembling. “Would you mind if I just... hug you a little longer?”
Carter grins and gently tightens his arms around me. “Of course, I don’t mind.” As he cups the side of my face, he adds, “You can hug me as long as you need to.”
As I talk to Carter, I can’t help but feel a mix of emotions swirling within me. Being a hybrid, love has always been a complex and perplexing concept for me to comprehend. It’s something I have observed from afar but never truly experienced firsthand.
Carter possesses a charm that is both captivating and irresistible. His words have a magnetic pull, drawing me closer to him with each conversation we have. Yet, I can’t help but question my own feelings.
Are these emotions I’m experiencing genuine? Or are they a result of my fascination with the unknown?
I find myself torn between embracing the possibility of love and retreating into the comfort of my solitary existence. The fear of rejection and the uncertainty of navigating uncharted territory weigh heavily on me. But deep down, I can’t deny the growing affection I have for Carter.
Eventually, he pulls away. “Rena, you wanna leave? This means we won’t be going to Dahlia’s tonight.”
“Yeah. I hope Dahlia will understand why we are heading there or-ah, maybe not, but I’m ready to take this risk.” I laugh. “You know, she gave me the DA's address in my head. It felt like she downloaded it directly into my brain.”
Carter grins, “Kitten, all dhampirs can do that. It’s called telepathy.”
“You know, I’d rather you not use your telepathy on me. It’s a bit too intimate.” As I look up at him, I feel my cheeks blush. “At least without my permission.”
Carter’s eyes twinkle with amusement as he leans closer, “I guess I’ll have to ask for your permission before I do anything for you.”
I smirk, “I’m sure we can come to an agreement.”
His lips curl into a mischievous grin as he gazes at me. I can feel the heat radiating between us, and I can’t help but feel excited about whatever the night has in store.
Carter’s eyes met mine, “I like it when you talk like that. It makes me want to do things I shouldn’t.”
I blushed and bit my lip. “I think we’d better get moving.”
“Kitten, I’m not sure I can concentrate if you keep looking at me like that,” His voice low and husky.
I laughed, “You think that’s bad? Maybe I’ll let you kiss me.”
Carter’s eyes widened in surprise as he chuckles. “You’d better be careful, Kitten. You never know what might happen when you mess with a tiger.”
“Don’t worry, I’ve heard tigers are big softies!”
We stood there as our laughs faded, understanding we’d never get the answers we need if we didn’t take this risk. I can’t help but feel guilty that I’m going against Dahlia, even if it means sneaking behind her back and upsetting her. Carter can see right through me.
“All the jokes aside, Rena, talk to her when we get back. While I was out on the porch with Dahlia, she mentioned something you might want to know.” He pauses for a second before continuing. “I think you both have been avoiding each other, and I think you should find out why.”
I nod, understanding what he means. Carter takes my hand and helps me off the car, a gesture that shows his genuine care of my well-being.
With my hand in his, I follow him around to the passenger side. He opens the door for me, and I slide into the seat. He smiles and squeezes my hand before letting go.
As he closes the door, I look out the window one last time at the beautiful icy lake. This is a risk, but one is worth taking. Deep down, I just hope Dahlia forgives us.
It seems too coincidental to ignore. Going back to the diner is the only way to get more information and figure out what’s really going on. I need to sort this out mystery if I want to make sense of what’s happening.
Light floods the office, and a woman strides confidently to her desk. She takes a moment to admire the sight of the room, marveling at the organization and attention to detail that has been put into the filing of the cases. As her gaze drifts to her desk, she discovers that the previous documents she was looking at are gone. She looks around the room, wondering where the documents could be.
Then she remembers installing security cameras in her office and instantly checks the footage for intruders. It astonishes her to see how the man compelled her to leave the office. Then, she watches as they quickly leave the same way they entered; the file vanished within minutes.
When she recognizes the second intruder, she drops her jaw in disbelief. Quickly, she takes out her phone to make a call, and within three rings, someone answers.
“Yes, Mrs. Mcclean? Do you have what I want?” A dark eerie voice demands over the phone.
“It’s been a while since I’ve heard from you,” she replies. “I have something I want to show you, but I’m not sure if you’ll be interested.”
The man chuckles and adds, “I’m sure I will be. Let me see it.”
“I’ve sent you the video of my security footage. You remember Rococo’s, right?”
“Yes,” he replies, eagerly awaiting to see the proof. “Fuck! This is amazing!” he yells, utterly thrilled. He could not believe his eyes: the evidence was undeniable.
“There’s a chance she’ll be at this place. Keep an eye out for Vera. Be vigilant and act fast - she is far too dangerous to be left unchecked.”
A man responds, laughing sinisterly, “Don’t worry, I’ve got it under control. She won’t even know what hit her.”
Then the line disconnects.