“Have you any idea where she’s gone?” demanded Stefan, slamming his goblet down on the table, splashing red wine on his crisp white cuff.
“None,” replied Meryn for about the hundredth time that week.
“And you had no idea that she still had full use of her magic?”
“And you have no inkling as to how she managed to break free of those chains?”
“Magic,” answered Meryn calmly. “She’s stronger that we gave her credit for, Stefan.”
Both Trine and Jem sat in silence, waiting for the battle of wills between her father and his mother to abate. It had been raging for a week with neither of them giving an inch, both as stubborn as each other.
“Then our priority has to be to find her,” stated Stefan bluntly.
“At last, we agree on something,” replied Meryn, a little hint of warmth creeping into her voice. “But we won’t do that by sitting here, Stefan. Why not let our children return home? They are our best chance of locating her.”
“No one leaves!”
“Stefan,” began Meryn, steeling herself for his response. “By your own laws, you cannot hold them here any longer against their will. It’s been six full lunar cycles. They’re not facing any charges. By law, they are free to leave.”
Both Trine and Jem held their breath. This was the moment that they had been waiting for all week.
Stefan’s shoulders slumped forward as he buried his face in his hands. It was a look of utter defeat.
“You’re perfectly correct, Meryn,” he conceded with a long sigh of resignation. “All of you are free to leave whenever you wish.”
“Thank you,” said Meryn softly, reaching out to touch his hand.
“Thank you,” added both Trine and Jem in unison.
“I’ll stay,” announced the older vampiress. “I’ll continue the training of the novices who helped to heal Anna. Some of them are showing real promise. I also have some work to finish.”
“This is your home,” said Stefan. “You’re welcome to stay as long as you like. The same goes for all of you.”
“And we appreciate it,” said Jem sincerely. “But Trine and I would like to go back to the beach hut. We stand a better chance of tracing Anna from there.”
“When will you leave?”
“Tonight,” answered Trine without hesitation.
Stefan nodded, “You’ll enjoy a glass of wine before you leave?”
“Of course,” said Trine smiling at her father. “I don’t want to leave with any ill-feeling in the air.”
A fine drizzle of rain greeted them along with the first gold glow of sunrise as they landed in the small courtyard beside the beach hut. Instinctively, they both took a deep breath, breathing in the salty sea air. They smiled at each other.
They were finally home.
When they entered the hut, everything was just as they’d left it. The air felt stale and slightly damp. Even although it was the height of summer there was a definite chill about the place.
“I’ll light the stove,” said Trine.
Before she could move towards the kindling basket, Jem grabbed her wrist, “I’ve a better idea that’ll keep us just as warm.”
With a smile playing on his lips, he led her into the bedroom, allowing the heavy curtain to swing closed behind them.
Alone in her mausoleum, Anna sat on the stone bench her cloak wrapped around her, deep in thought. Initially, she had hesitated about returning home, but she missed her own space. It had taken her a day or two to recover from her journey then to clean and tidy the tomb and to sort through her meagre possessions. There were still many of her things missing but the runner hadn’t found her secret storage space above the door. Her most valuable belongings were still safe, the protection spell on them intact.
As she sat staring down at the stone floor, the dark angel tried to scan her own body to assess how well healed her wing truly was, Since her return, it had ached and felt bruised. All she could detect was scent of the sea moss that had been used to seal the wounds. She had tried to hunt the night before but had lacked the stamina to fly very far. A couple of sheep from a nearby field had had to suffice.
After all those long months of incapacity, the dark angel had a deep craving that needed to be satiated. A deep craving for human blood.
Naked, the runner slipped out of bed, taking care not to disturb the sleeping ice maiden. He paused to watch her sleep, smiling to himself as he recalled how satisfying their earlier lovemaking had been. Silently, he made his way through to the main room of the hut then, taking great care not to make any noise, he opened the drawer of the small table beside the stove and lifted out his mobile phone. Praying that it still worked, he switched it on. No power left in the battery.
“Time to try this magic shit,” he muttered to himself, frantically trying to recall the incantation for restoring power and praying that it worked for electronics as well as people.
A few moments later the phone screen lit up with the manufacturer’s logo. Ignoring the messages that flooded through, he found Google and typed in the website address his mother had given him. Holding his breath, he recorded the reference number and the password she’d chosen then he waited. A small circle spun round on the screen as the site searched for the information.
After what felt like an eternity, a map appeared on the small screen then a small flickering green light.
Their plan had succeeded. He knew exactly where the dark angel was. The debate now though was when should he reveal this information to Meryn….