Our Story Continues
Last time, Penny discovered that a wolf can’t ignore the full moon, while Bella had a breakdown and turned to Caleb for help. Alice was arrested for the murder of Eliza Pancakes, and Lilith and Vlad’s father/daughter bonding fell apart as they raced home to relieve Gwendolyn’s very suspicious babysitters. After a public argument over the best way to free Alice, the citizens of Henford-on-Bagley are now under the impression that Vlad and Latimer are in the mafia. Caleb knows the identity of Eliza’s killer, but is that enough to stop what’s already been put into motion?
This chapter contains strong language, adult situations, violence, gore, sexual situations, depictions of grief, trauma, and severe depression.
Her gaze slid over to Vlad. He wasn’t a lawyer, but he carried himself with the aura of someone who knew the law. By that, she meant he basically disregarded every request and dared everyone in the room to challenge him on it.
“Can Miss Martin state her name for the record?” the detective asked.
“No.” Vlad answered.
“Can she tell us about her relationship with Eliza Pancakes?”
“Could she elaborate on the robbery conviction from—”
The detective finally pounded their fist on the table. “Then what the hell can she tell us?”
Alice opened her mouth to answer, but Vlad gently squeezed her thigh.
“Nothing. Not one iota. Miss Martin will not answer your questions, she will not entertain them, and once she absconds from this half-hewn wreckage you call a facility, she will not recall them. She will not be contacted, she will not testify, she will not assist with any part of your haphazard investigation. And should you find yourself incapable of following these tenets, so help me, I will return and raze this building to the ground.”
With that, he gently tugged Alice to her feet and led her out of the room. The detective ran out behind them.
“Raze this place to the ground? You can just say lawsuit, asshole!”
Outside, Vlad helped her pull a sweater on. “Are you hurt?”
“Would you like to walk to the car or wait while I bring it around?”
“Walk,” Alice said quickly, her anxiety spiking. “I don’t want to be alone. Someone is killing all the members of my old crew. Johnny. Eliza. Maybe they got Salim; I haven’t heard from him. And Gwendolyn. Oh shit! What if they try to get to me through her? We have to go! We have to—”
“Gwendolyn is safe,” Vlad said. Alice began to sputter in response, but he curled his body over hers until she was caged in. “Lilith is there, so if anyone shows up looking for you, they’ll have to go through her, and I promise you, nothing goes through her.”
“Okay.” Alice let out a small sigh of relief. “I feel weird, shaky. I think I have to pee.” Her eyes darted over to the precinct, and a small whimper slipped out. Fuck. She did not want to go back in there.
Vlad stroked her cheek. “Look at me. You are not going to pee in that poorly-constructed hovel. Just give me five minutes. We’ll go to the car, and I’ll drive you somewhere nice.”
Latimer fussed over them as soon as they walked through the door. “You did good,” he whispered as he threw his arms around Alice, “You’re alright. You’re home now.”
They looked in on Gwendolyn just long enough for Alice to confirm that she was okay. Then Vlad carried her upstairs and helped her into the shower. She swayed on her feet as he washed her hair and made his best attempt at braiding it.
“Why do I feel drunk?” she slurred before an earsplitting yawn.
“Your adrenaline,” he cupped her face, massaging just beneath her ears, “It flooded your system, and now it’s gone, so you feel a bit off-kilter.”
“Oh,” she started to sway again, “You never asked if I did it.”
“I don’t care if you did it. Do you want to sleep in sweatpants or in shorts?”
“Shorts,” she replied quickly and then frowned and shook her head. “No, I mean sweatpants. I…I think I’m cold?”
She looked flushed, but maybe it was the shower. “Alright,” he agreed, determined to give her some agency. When he’d finally gotten free from Miko, making decisions—no matter how small—tethered him to this world and helped him keep his sanity. “I’ll get your clothes and lay with you until you fall asleep.”
The sun was shining through the windows by the time they climbed into bed.
Alice slept fitfully. At one point, she woke up, panicked. “Do you think this is happening because I’m a witch? Am I attracting bad energy? Is it because I fucked up? It is, isn’t it? I fucked up, and now my whole life is ruined. I’m going to jail, and they’re gonna take my kid because I really did hate Eliza, and I’m not sorry she’s dead!”
Vlad tried to calm her, but she continued to struggle.
“They know I’m not a good sim! I have these awful, spiteful, shitty thoughts—I’m not nice, and I’m gonna be punished for it!”
“Shhh,” he pulled her back down until her head rested on his chest. “No one is nice. Especially not me. And I will use every ounce of my not-niceness to ensure you are always safe and free.”
“How? They’ll get you too,” she rasped, and he could feel her heart beating in her chest like a trapped hummingbird. Vlad knew it was to feel haunted, and so he held her tighter, his voice a whisper meant to lull her to sleep.
“Centuries ago, a being that defies logic caught me. She locked me in a cage for five hundred years. Broke my bones, clawed out my eye, took my heart. Once, the direction of the wind put her in such a mood that she peeled back my skin with a whaling knife. She made me such a thing as to give you nightmares, and now no one, not even her, could stop me from doing anything I wish to do.”
It worked. Within seconds, Alice’s eyes slid shut, and she started snoring.
“What have you gotten yourself into?” Lilith demanded as soon as he got downstairs. “Your mortal lover is no mortal; she’s teeming with magic, and so is her daughter.”
Vlad moved past her to start the coffee maker. He should amend his statement to Alice. Plenty of beings could stop him from doing what he wanted to do. Two of them were in his kitchen. “Alice is some kind of witch, and Gwendolyn just inherited her magic.”
“She’s not,” Lilith growled, “Can’t you smell it? Witches cast magic, but Alice and her child are like the essence of magic itself. They’re like those babysitters who aren’t mortal, either. They smell—”
“Ancient,” Vlad finished. “And wrong.”
“Exactly. I killed them, but I don’t think it’ll keep.”
“Speaking of which, Alice said someone is trying to kill her,” Latimer frowned, “Not that they have a chance in hell, but what is she talking about?”
“I’m not sure,” Vlad admitted. He ran through the details of the heist and Alice’s encounter with the wand as quickly as possible.
“I’ve never heard of a wand like that,” Lilith declared. “You invited this mortal into your house to give her and her suspect magic full run of the place?”
“She is not some mortal. She is my partner, Lilith. I—”
“Intend to marry her?” His daughter’s eyes narrowed to slits, “Tell me something I don’t know.”
“Alright,” Latimer held up a hand, “We’re getting off track.”
“No, I think we’re on track. Don’t you, Father?” Lilith’s eyes glittered. “You intend to marry this mortal when you’re not over your first marriage?”
“There is no wedding happening right now, and I am long over my ex-husband.” The part of Vlad that was broken and addicted to toxic things said otherwise, but that was his shit to figure out, not Lilith’s.
“My step-father, you mean, who stayed for the entire conference.”
“We’re back to that?” Vlad thrust out his arm. “We just had this conversation, Lilith. Yes, Ethren was at the conference. I admit that my corporeal form was not in the room. He probably hugged you after and said some very nice things before he fucked off.”
“He did. And yet you want me to forget him like he didn’t raise me!”
Rage hit Vlad so swiftly he was temporarily blinded. “Raised you?” he repeated tonelessly.
“Yes! My real parents wanted to teach me about magic, but they died before they had the chance. Ethren stepped in as much as he could, but you kept dancing in and out of relationships with him. And now look at me! I’m a mess! In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever be whole because of it.”
“What do you mean ‘never be whole’?” Vlad bellowed.
“Exactly what I said! Ethren saw it; that’s why he took me to the Magic Realm. To try and fix what my real parents couldn’t teach me.”
Lilith’s real father had been a powerful witch. And a layabout. Vlad loathed him with every bone in his body. He never once regretted cutting the bastard’s throat and draining him into a fountain, especially when a small boy and a toddler wandered into a tavern starving, covered in dirt, and clutching the family crest.
“I took you to the Magic Realm!” Vlad growled, “And picked up your toys and held you through night terrors and Ethren—”
“Vladislaus.” Latimer’s voice was a warning.
“He made me!” Lilith cried, her hands balled up into fists. “You said so yourself. You would have never been able to turn a witch safely without his help. He cares for me.”
“Ethren cares for himself,” Vlad spat. “The only reason he even deigns to—”
“Vladislaus!” Latimer pounded his fist on the counter. “Don’t you dare! You cross that line, and you’ll never forgive yourself, so just shut the fuck up.”
Vlad ground his teeth together so hard he thought he cracked them.
“Your father didn’t mean it. Your step-father loves you,” Latimer said, his eyes locked on Vlad’s.
It was only through sheer physical willpower that Vlad was able to nod in agreement.
Lilith checked a look of victory. “You’re full of criticism for Ethren, but if you’re so good at parenting, why can’t you hear the child upstairs weeping?”
It turned out Alice was flushed—with fever, and the house was thrown into chaos for a week.
Latimer wouldn’t leave until Vlad called Princeton, and the sim showed up at the door and packed the old man’s bags himself. “We are senior citizens,” his friend snapped, “We don’t got no business around no fevers.”
Vlad and Lilith didn’t either, but in their case, it was because they were ill-equipped. Alice begged for ice baths, but neither vampire trusted themselves to safely monitor her temperature. Instead, Vlad regularly peeled off her damp clothing and held her in front of the fireplace, and Lilith supervised her water intake with a terrifying dedication.
Gwendolyn was inconsolable. One minute, she was biting and kicking; the next—clinging onto him for dear life. He ended up holding her while he washed the sheets, did the dishes, and tried to get Alice to keep something down.
He told Alice he was a thing of nightmares, but even nightmares could be laid low.
“Salim and Alice are the only two alive,” Vlad explained as he shifted Gwendolyn to his other hip. “It’s obvious that he’s the one trying to kill her.”
Lilith surveyed them both with disapproval. “You paired rainboots with that outfit?”
Actually, Gwendolyn paired rainboots with her outfit. She insisted on dressing herself, and Vlad, who was trying to reduce the total number of meltdowns he had to suffer through, decided not to fight her on it. “Can we focus?”
“Fine. Who cares about Salim? He’s still not your biggest problem. It’s only a matter of time before the police figure out you’re not a real lawyer and show up demanding to talk to Alice.”
Vlad frowned. She was right.
“Snack!” Gwendolyn demanded.
“You just ate,” Vlad admonished, but still, he rustled up a bowl of animal crackers.
“You spoil her,” Lilith sniffed. “And what are those? Store-bought cookies? Are you trying to kill her?”
“Yes.” The bowl clattered as Vlad set it down. “That is exactly my plan. Death by cheaply manufactured cookies. I’ve decided that I no longer prefer to make her a decent meal, not because I’ve been busy, but as part of my elaborate plan to eliminate her.”
“And yet you think you’ll abscond to Brindleton Bay every weekend and make me dinner.”
“I said I would, but unless you’re leaving right this instant, I have other things to attend to.” His phone buzzed with a reminder to pick up Alice’s prescription from the pharmacy—something for her stomach and her birth control. “Can you stay with her?” he gestured at Gwendolyn, “Just give her whatever she wants. I need to run an errand.”
“Of course you do. Another item on the list for this mortal you’re enamored with.”
Vlad felt a vein in his forehead pulse. “Is that a yes or a no?”
“That’s not a way to talk to me when you’re so in need of my help.”
“Help?” he scoffed, “Is that what we’re calling it? I received less feedback from you when I took one of your classes!”
“You need my feedback! It’s obvious you should have called Caleb the second you realized Alice was magical and involved in a crime. And you’ve been dilly-dallying instead of doing the smart thing and asking Mother for a lawyer.”
“And what the fuck have you been doing?” Vlad exploded. “Because I’ve been holding Alice’s hair back as she pukes and trying to read up on a wand that doesn’t exist while holding a toddler screaming bloody murder constantly. And at any point, you, in all your graciousness, all your great magnanimity, could have made these suggestions or, here’s a thought, just fucking did it yourself!”
“Oh, now I’m responsible for your new girlfriend?” Lilith shouted before baring her teeth. “Ethren would never—”
Vlad lifted Gwendolyn out of the high chair and then turned back to face his daughter. “Get. Out.”
Whatever Lilith thought about Ethren or her birth parents, Vlad had been watching his daughter for three hundred years. He knew her, and so he wasn’t surprised when she struggled to answer his challenge.
“I hate you,” she hissed.
He grabbed his keys and Gwendolyn’s diaper bag. “Join the club.”
The proper way to respond to your ex-husband when he showed up after 180 years demanding a favor was to run him through with a sword. Unfortunately, it was hard to do that when he was pushing a stroller. “Whatever it is, the answer is no.”
“I don’t have time for ‘no,’” Vlad replied as he barged into her house.
“Did you not hear me?” Anastasia demanded, hot on his heels. “I said get out!”
His forehead creased as he took in the broken glass and overturned furniture. “Is someone trying to kill you?” He traced a gauge mark with his foot, muttering, “And do they need help?”
Fuck that toddler, Ana decided immediately. With a roar, she snatched up her sword and launched herself at Vlad, the blade slicing his arm as he made to block.
“Damn it!” he pulled a sweeping kick, “At least give me a fucking weapon!”
Ana did not. But bastard that he was, he still managed to get his hands on her other sword.
By the time they finished, they were both seething and bleeding.
“I can’t believe we used to do this for fun,” he grumbled as he sat down hard. “This is not fun, and I hate you.”
“Yes, well,” Ana jabbed her sword into the floor and rested her hand on the pommel, “The feeling is mutual. Do you know how much this suit cost?”
“Do you know what a headache it will be to deal with a scared and crying two-year-old?”
They both glanced at the toddler, who was actually just giggling and clapping her hands. “My monsters! More play! Again! Again!”
Ana gave him a wry look. “Any other false accusations you want to lay at my feet today?”
He stood, smirking, “This is the happiest she’s been all week. Maybe I should let you cut me again.”
“‘Let’ is a fancy way of describing how I nearly beheaded you. Drink?”
They walked out onto her deck, where Vlad immediately tried to keep the child from getting her tiny hands into everything.
“I’ll replace them,” he sighed, gesturing to the cookware the little demon was currently banging on. “Don’t judge me. It’s been a long week, and that child could bring even the holy mother of the occult to her knees.”
Anastasia did judge him, but not for carting around some unruly baby. “Whose child is that?”
“Whose trying to kill you, besides me?”
Her mind flashed back to Matilda’s text: Penny is off to find her fated mate. You can keep many things, Miss Hell, but never a wolf. We belong to the pack. “Did you find Lilith? Is she alright?”
Vlad winced. “She was so overcharged with magic she could have burnt Britechester to the ground. I took care of it, but she and I are at odds.”
She begrudged her ex-husband a lot of things: true happiness, a corporeal existence, but not communicating with their children. It was the one thing between them that they hadn’t burned to the ground. “Lilith hasn’t been sleeping. She just needs to get some rest, and then she’ll come around.”
“Yes,” Vlad’s expression was flat, “To her step-father, Ethren, who loved and raised her.”
“What am I? Chopped liver?”
“When it comes to Ethren? Yes. Your name didn’t even come up. And mine was only mentioned when she was chastising me for leaving him.”
Anastasia rolled her eyes. “You shouldn’t have married him. And you should definitely stop fucking him.”
“I was young and foolish when I married him, and for the record, I haven’t touched Ethren in years. I’m in a relationship. And while we’re on the topic, which one of your girlfriends destroyed your apartment?”
That was the thing about Vladislaus; he was her oldest friend. No one knew more about her or understood her better. They’d married for loyalty, not love. And they’d divorced for the same reason.
“I don’t know what you mean,” she said, pretending to busy herself with mixing another drink. “My relationship is fine. What’s this stupid favor?”
She made me such a thing as to give you nightmares. Vlad’s words filled her fevered sleep. Alice didn’t know what they meant, only that they felt good. She wanted a nightmare at her side, which was just proof of how fucked up she was.
“Why are you still lying abed when the sun is out?”
Alice sat up and rubbed her eyes. A pale, dark-haired woman—she assumed his daughter—was standing at the foot of the bed. “Uh…good morning.”
The woman clasped her hands behind her back and tilted her head expectantly. “Good morning.”
“W-where is Vlad?” Alice’s throat felt dry, and mentally, she was still a mess, but the fever was gone.
“My father is out with Gwendolyn. He left me to see after the S-M-E he’s ostensibly in a relationship with.”
“Suspicious Magical Entity, a term I recently coined because I don’t what the fuck you are or what’s going on with that child of yours.”
Alice felt a chill that went down to her bones. “There’s nothing wrong with Gwendolyn. And Vlad knows I’m some kind of witch,” Alice glanced around the room, her panic rising, “Where did you say they went?”
“I didn’t. And you are not a witch. You reek of magic, true, but not because you’re wielding it. It’s coming from inside you. My father never mentioned it, so either his sense of smell has gone too hell—doubtful since he sussed out those fake babysitters…”
“Fake babysitters?” Alice stumbled out of bed. She was still weak. Her legs shook as she collapsed against the wall. “What do you mean fake? I picked them. I checked with the agency, and I…”
I fucked up. I made shitty choices.
Her eyes squeezed shut. When she opened them, Lilith was kneeling beside her, head tilted with an odd, gleeful sort of expression. “There are so many things you don’t know, Alice Martin—about my father, about magic, about witches. Would you like me to tell you?”
The proper way to respond to your father when he showed up unannounced after 180 years was…er…well, Caleb didn’t really know the right response. “Father?”
Vladislaus slowly lowered a toddler to the ground. “Here’s your bunny. No touching anything, and before you ask, no more snacks.” He turned his attention back to Caleb, “This won’t take long, and then you can return to the sex you were having; speaking of which, do you have condoms?”
“I…what?” It took Caleb a moment to recover. “I don’t need condoms!”
“I suppose not; you are fully dressed. Still, it’s safer. Unless you want children? Are you trying to get someone pregnant?”
Caleb could hardly keep his eyes from popping out of his head. “What the fuck are you doing here? Why are you covered in plasma? And who is this child?”
The child in question blew him a kiss and began shaking the toy bunny and waving it around. His father, meanwhile, glanced down at his shirt.
“I’ve been to see your mother. The child is Gwendolyn. She’s off her schedule, chock full of animal crackers, and liable to start crying any second, though she likes sword fights. Do you keep weapons here? If she has a tantrum, you should be prepared to stab me.”
But his father had already moved on to examining Caleb’s apartment. He frowned at a broken light. “It’s good you won’t have children in this place. The stairs are awful for strollers, and you haven’t repaired a single outlet. You can’t run the fridge and microwave on the same circuit.”
“I’m not worried about a stroller.“
“Obviously not; you chose this squalid shed.”
Caleb blinked. He didn’t know which feeling was worse: being insulted or confused. “You can’t just waltz in here and—“
“I’m here to tell you about a crime.”
Caleb stared at his father. Was this a dream? Or some kind of nightmare? Maybe he was high, and he just didn’t know it. “You’ve come to my house out of the blue after a century because you committed a crime?”
“Not me, mortals. Well, not mortals, exactly. It’s…I…” Vladislaus cleared his throat. “I’ve been seeing someone. Her name is Alice. Gwendolyn is her daughter and my…mine. We’re not married. I…I haven’t asked. But I do love her, and—I said no!” His father swiftly lifted a letter opener out of Gwendolyn’s tiny hands and set it on the table. He pulled out a chair, “Sit!”
The toddler climbed up and huffed, crossing her arms and scowling. “Monster mean! Monster take my toys!”
“Monster is trying not to have your mother kill me. I’ll teach you to use a dagger when you have better motor control.” Vlad turned back to Caleb, hand massaging his brow. “Honestly, she’s a menace, and I’ve never been more proud or frustrated. Everything I read says to try gentle parenting, but I do not know if I have the patience.”
“Parenting. It’s an accepted school of thought, and really Caleb, if you intend to have children, you should know these things.”
“I don’t want children!”
This is why he was unwell. His parents were insane! Why was his father nervous? What sort of mother would let him take around her toddler covered in someone else’s plasma? How did Vladislaus even know where he lived? And what was—
“Wait,” Caleb stopped spinning in his thoughts. “Did you say you were seeing Alice Martin?”
His father looked startled, “I didn’t say her last name. How did you already know it?”
Caleb filled his father in on as much as he knew, including Alice’s innocence. Not that it mattered; his father had loved far more dangerous creatures than Alice Martin. A single murder was not enough for him to even bat an eye.
“I despised Johnny when Alice mentioned him,” his father said. “So he killed your werewolves and the one in San Myshuno?”
“No,” Caleb sighed, “Mother killed Nina. She wasn’t particularly forthcoming about why. And as for the Netherwand, it looks to be a death relic, though the Queen of the Fae said even she is too young to know much about its making.”
His father perked up, the look on his face delighted. “Right. Yes. So you’re courting Titania?”
“I am not courting her.”
“But you just said you took her to the museum so she could retrieve her stolen artifacts. You invited her on a trip to lift classified information from a military compound. You stalked and slaughtered Darrel Charm together,” Vladislaus looked confused, “Is that not dating?”
“No!” Caleb threw up his arms to emphasize his point and ward off the suspicion creeping up his spine. “It’s not! Dates are movies and dinner and taking long walks in the park!”
“Some dates,” his father corrected, “How does Titania feel about the woman in the back room? I can’t imagine she’s thrilled since Oberon fucked everyone from her advisory council to the Moon. Or do you two have some sort of arrangement?”
“I know about Oberon; I confronted him when he insulted her because I…” Caleb trailed off as the realization hit. He was courting a queen whose last lover had broken her heart, and when she asked him what came next, he’d reeled off a list of things to do for Bella and the case. “We don’t need an arrangement,” he declared hotly, “Because I haven’t done anything, and she isn’t mad at me.”
The look Vladislaus gave him was pitying. “Have you considered groveling? Or a gift? The Fae like gifts. I have a set of blades that William won off a dryad in 1683. You can have them if you want.”
“Why would you still have blades from a bet you didn’t even win? And I don’t need to buy her affection. We had a small misunderstanding which I will simply remedy by talking to her.” Caleb rubbed his eyes tiredly. “Can we just get back to the Netherwand? You said Alice touched it?”
Thankfully, his father let the topic drop. “Yes, and the wand altered her. She sees ghosts, but I don’t know if she has any other powers. Lilith says she is teeming with magic, and so is Gwendolyn.”
Caleb bit his lip. “We don’t know who Johnny was supposed to get the wand for, but as much as I dislike Salim, I doubt it was him. Alice is his ex-girlfriend and co-parent; he could go straight to source without bothering to kill the comedian.”
Vladislaus’s eyes blazed. “I’d use the term ‘co-parent’ very, very loosely. Besides, they were there to get a space artifact—something called the Ascension Container. Alice had no intention of helping Johnny. She only grabbed the wand because it called to her. Salim could still be the killer.”
Caleb pinched his lips together. After almost a year of working on this case, all he had were answers that didn’t seem to matter in the grand scheme of things—Johnny slaughtered the werewolves, his mother killed Nina, and Eliza accidentally killed herself. “There are too many unanswered questions. I…I need your help,” he blurted out, surprising himself. “The Landgraabs must have a connection that Johnny exploited; there’s no way he got a buyer for the wand alone. The military wouldn’t be involved if Alice wasn’t somehow valuable to them. I don’t trust Clive Beeden.”
Caleb nodded. “If Salim hasn’t already fled town, he will. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he heads to Windenburg.”
“Then I will be happy to welcome him.”
The look on his father’s face was terrifying, but Caleb found it only made him angry. “Are you not listening? I just said I need your help in Oasis Springs, where everything is going down! I need Salim alive until I figure out what’s going on.” He rubbed his temples again, “What am I even saying? Of course, you won’t help. There is always something and someone else before me.”
Caleb’s head whipped up. “What?”
“I’m a very good warlord, excellent gardener, but not a particularly good father,” he shifted uncomfortably. “Gwendolyn and Alice are a package deal. And even if they weren’t, I’m trying not to make the same mistakes.”
Caleb swallowed, resentment nipping at his heels. He told himself that Gwendolyn didn’t choose for her mother to be his father’s current hyperfixation. “So you’ll help?”
“Of course,” Vladislaus replied. Like it was easy, like being there for Caleb was second nature. He glanced back at Gwendolyn, who had given up her tantrum in favor of a nap. “I should get her home. Tell me the details, and I’ll be there. I’ll call Morgyn about the wand. They’re likely to have some sense of how it works and how worried we should be.”
“Let me check into that,” Caleb said, ignoring his father’s knowing look. Yes, it was an excuse to call Titania again, but he didn’t have to admit that. “I’ll tell you what I find and if we need to connect with Morgyn.”
Vladislaus picked the sleeping toddler up and smoothed her hair. “Your mother’s reasons for killing Nina may yet be callous, but she is sane. She is not me.”
With that, his father strapped Gwendolyn into the stroller and headed down the steps, his words a subtle reminder that Caleb had never feared Vladislaus’s cruelty.
Only his madness.
And the beast that came with it.
Bella kept her breathing even when Caleb came back into the room. Not that it mattered; he was so deep in thought he didn’t even seem to notice her.
She’d gotten answers to a lot of questions, but she still had others like was he ever intending to tell her that his mother killed Nina? When did he meet Titania? How long had they been seeing each other?
Actually, she could answer that last question. He’d been cheating on Bella the whole time. Using her as a distraction while her life imploded. He probably told Titania about it, and they laughed about the dumb mortal cop who was taking the fall for their crimes.
It was all lies, his sob story about being estranged from his family, his warnings. Caleb was just as corrupt as the rest of them. Maybe worse, because he pretended to be good.
And this wand? Controlling the dead sounded horrifying. Bella had seen enough movies to know that once the zombies showed up, all bets were off.
Supernaturals were dangerous; Caleb admitted as much himself. And Bella knew what happened to mortals who got caught in the crossfire. They end up like Eliza or Penny.
Maybe she was meant to cross paths with Alice. If she hadn’t made this mistake, she wouldn’t be able to save her.
But first, she needed a plan.
In addition to the CC I regularly use in the game and buildings from the Fleuralia Save File, I used the following builds and custom content. This story takes a ton of mods and cc, so if you see your work and I failed to tag it somewhere, please message me.
POSES & ANIMATIONS
Award and Applause Poses by MelonSloth
Poses Paired Walk by Mari L
Nightcall by Scorpio.whims
Father Daughter Pose Pack by Curious Simmer
Chance Encounter by StarrySimsie
Sword Master Fight 1 by Natalia-Auditore
Sword Master Tired by Natalia-Auditore
Drinking Wine by Natalia-Auditore
Drinking Wine 2 by Natalia-Auditore
Just Woke Up Poses by Radioactive
Little Monsters Poses by corgicc
Naptime by Katverse