Letters from New York [Blood Magic, Book 2]

Until Mills and Keel, the sorcerer-vampire bond was solely the stuff of folklore and legend – a whispered myth with one hell of a body count.

Now Mills has returned to New York City, to human life, but the bond is reawakening.

And someone knows her secret.

All her secrets…

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22. Epilogue

Epilogue

The moment Lucia vanished through the door was the moment that she disappeared from my life. Her cell number went out of service the next day, and all her social media accounts shut down soon after. She became like one of ghosts she talked to: invisible and unreachable. After a couple of weeks and dozens of increasingly futile, frustrating attempts to get in touch, I finally worked up the nerve to trek over to the psychic shop to ask after her. I didn’t get further than two steps inside the door before Lucia’s mom tromped out of her office in the back and told me that I was not welcome there. The look in her eyes chilled me to the bone. Her hatred of me had only solidified and become more caustic in the days since the attack on her business, which still bore many tell-tale marks of the onslaught it had endured. It would likely take her a while yet to replace all the curtains and mystical trinkets; workmen had only just begun restoring the building's facade.

I withered under Ms. Flores' spiteful gaze, my fragile courage all but crumbling around me. My face was slick with tears by the time I spun around, shoved the front door of the shop open again and stumbled back out onto the sidewalk. People were staring; I pretended not to notice. Let them ogle the freak: what difference did it make? I got as far as Lucia’s apartment, which was only about two dozen paces, before my wracking sobs overtook me. I crumbled onto the front steps and bawled like a toddler. I didn’t give a crap if Lucia’s mom came out to ream me out for scaring away potential customers and order me off her property, or even if she called the police about my loitering. None of it mattered.

When my eyes had run dry, I got up and dragged myself home. Usually I was on high alert when outside ‒ even though Ephraim had told me that the League of Sorcerers had captured and executed our attackers ‒ but right then I didn’t even care enough to maintain that diligence.

* * *

The days began to drag after that. Out of a lack of anything better to do, I threw myself into my studies ‒ my human ones ‒ because Ephraim had confiscated my sorcery laptop and replaced it with a boring, normal one. “Protecting you from yourself,” he’d called it, when I’d had a full-blown meltdown in protest. It was annoying, and it slammed the brakes on our developing relationship, but it didn’t stop me in the same way it might have a few months back. While I hadn’t resumed experimenting yet, I knew how to tap into the bond magic now, and that was something that no book or laptop could have taught me.

During one of my long, solitary afternoons, I rode the subway into Manhattan. As I walked through the bustling mass of shoppers, office workers and gawking tourists, I felt zero kinship. I was a danger to these people, and I would be as long as I attempted to fit in. Maybe Ephraim and Bruce had finally realized this as well, because no one was exhorting me to call Anna or Jenny anymore. And without the nagging, I didn’t. What good could come of it? We barely got along now anyway, and who’s to say one of them wouldn’t end up with a gaping bullet hole in the gut, too? I refused to set myself up for more guilt.

Besides, if what Garstatt had said was true, and I had no reason to believe otherwise, time was slowly running down for me. Most days, I could feel that countdown in every cell of my being, as if my body had become nothing more than a big, relentless doomsday clock. You know where you belong, the bond cajoled, and with whom. I still didn’t trust it completely, though  ‒ and I didn’t trust Keel either. But the dreams didn’t return, and despite the bond's urgings, my life belonged to me as much as it could, given the circumstances. In light of that, I committed to maintaining the holding pattern, for as long as it was possible. There was no rush. I could learn about who and what Keel and I were while I tried to decide what to do next.

I strode past by countless jewellery and clothing stores en route to my destination, but felt no compulsion to go into any of them. Fashion seemed trivial; something to distract the masses who’d never seen beyond the surface of this world. When I finally found the stationary shop I was looking for, tucked away on a less travelled side street, I spent a good hour picking out a new leather-bound notebook. The old one, the one in which I once used to write notes to Keel and journal about the first time the bond had resurfaced was full and, to be honest, it felt as if it belonged to a stage in my life that was now well and truly over. My post-compound existence had grown its own markers: before Lucia and Garstatt, and after them. Before I found out all about the bond, and after I did.

While it's true I didn’t love Keel anymore, I came to accept his presence as a constant, something that would always be there, hovering formlessly on the periphery of the bond. It was both scary and strangely comforting, but the thought of someday seeing him again still filled my stomach with a thousand angry fluttering butterflies. I knew that that day, when it eventually came, would be complicated and difficult, and I wasn’t ready for that yet.

Once home and seated at my desk, I chose a fine-tipped Sharpie from my pen holder, opened the journal to the first page and wrote: Keel is not evil. He is Nosferatu.

Then I wrote it twice more. If Keel and I were going to go anywhere from here, I’d do well to remember that, and to try to make peace with it.

If I could, maybe not all was lost. Maybe we could someday find our way back to a place that was civil and halfway civilized.

I turned the page and followed that up with the rest of what I remembered from my conversation with Garstatt about the bond, stuff that existed in no history book anywhere. Once I'd done that, I flipped another page and made a point-form list of everything that I had done, felt and experienced while using the bond magic to fortify the psychic shop's windows and doors, and later to save Lucia’s life.

This was likely the first text anyone had attempted to write on bond magic in a very long time; Etan’s had all been destroyed following his fall. It felt like I was doing important work, even if I might be the only person ever to see it. I wondered if someday this journal would be set ablaze, too. I wondered about “someday” a lot.

I knew my destiny, but none of the variables that would lead me there.

Once all of that had spilled from my pen, I shut the book, only to open it again a moment later. I flipped to the first blank page, now fifteen or so in, and wrote in all caps: YOU ARE STILL LIGHT.

That was important too.

was still light, and I planned to stay that way; so what if I’d decided to “embrace” my fate, as Garstatt had said, and study the bond and bond magic until my destiny could no longer be delayed. When that day finally came, I intended to meet it ‒ fangs and all ‒ at the door, as an equal, not as a slave and certainly not as a possession.

I flipped back to the first page of the journal.

Keel is not evil. He is Nosferatu.

I leaned back in my chair, and thought, God, Garstatt, I really hope you’re right.

‒ THE END ‒

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