The Hangman's Noose

Billie Black and her friends are closer than ever before to rescuing their loved ones whom were stolen from them years ago. A journey around the country proves perilous when the coven and their allies come face to face with their greatest enemies.

A band of men hell bent on killing all that is unnatural to them - Witches, Vampires, Werewolves and many other Supernaturals flee from their path or die at their hands.

Billie can't rest till she knows her lost loves are safe but new knowledge shows they are defenseless. Learning all they can about these men they seek a weakness a chink in their chain of command and only one man may show them mercy in spite of his beliefs.

Now Billie must lead them all to safety or perish in the Hangman's Noose...

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9. Together At Last

When we arrived home Nana and Riona leapt from their seats excitedly when we appeared, with Dulcie and Matilda close behind them I noticed they weren’t alone.  Faith and Leonard sat at seats around the dining room table before joining my family in the living room.

“How did it go?” Nana asked.

“It went great.” Brian gushed.

“Yeah, except for the Preachers.” Added Willem.

“Preachers?!” Riona screeched.

“It’s all right.  Billie stood up to them.  She was amazing.” Riley said proudly before kissing me hard.

“Why is she in wolf form?” asked Leonard, Rowanne growled quietly.

“I forgot to pick up her clothes.  She didn’t have time to turn back.” I explained as Rowanne disappeared to change.

“I suppose we should talk.”

“Not right now, Leonard.  Okay?  I just got my aunt back.”

“Will someone please tell me what happened?” Nana shouted above the excited chatter in the room.

 

Brian sat Nana down to tell her all about the Preacher’s showing up and what the infamous Quinn De Witt had to say as I teleported my aunt up to my room.  Midnight sat perched on the window ledge, ever watchful over our home, and turned to me to speak through our magic bond.

“He’s been watching the house.” Midnight said.

“Christian?”

“Yes.”

“When?”

“He left about an hour ago.  I saw a shadow in the house across the street, I sensed his presence.  He may have hurt, or killed, the residents.”

“Has he been in here?”

“He hasn’t tried to enter.  Though, I do not know if it is his choice or whether Jo’s guards are too strong for him to penetrate.”

“He’s been in before though.”

“The guards are to ward off evil.  I believe, sense Mr Smith’s fit earlier, he may have weakened them from within.”

“Keep an eye out.  If you see him again, come find me.”

“Don’t say anything to Nana just yet.  We just got Sophia back; once she’s awake we’ll have a celebration.”

“I won’t say a word.”

“Keep an eye on Matilda too, okay?”

“What happens after?”

“After?”

“After the celebration.  What shall you do then?”

“We hide.  The Preachers have been recruiting and I pissed them off.  No matter how impressed our friends are, Midnight, I antagonised some dangerous men.  It won’t be long before they come after our coven.”

“Billie?” Nana startled me.  “Are you all right, dear?”

I shook my head.  “I’m running out of time.”

“What do you mean?” She still didn’t know about Liv’s premonition.

“I’ve not got enough time left to keep you safe.  Keep you all safe.  Soon we’ll have to leave here.  Do you understand?”

She sighed, “I do.  I knew it wouldn’t be long before they found us.  They found Rose after all.”

“Exactly.”

“When?”

“Soon, not tonight or tomorrow though.  Not until Sophia is awake and at full strength.”

“We’ll come back some day when our kind are no longer under constant threat.”

“I hope so.”

“You did well tonight, sweetheart.  You really are a true leader.  Your father would be so proud of you.  The way you stood up to them… I can’t believe how far you’ve come.” She smiled.

“But I only made matters worse.”

“May be, maybe not.  Time will tell.”

 

 

We all took turns watching over Sophia throughout the night whilst the others slept.  There was no change in her condition at nine the next morning.  It hadn’t taken either Ruby or Vincent this long to awaken, none of us could fathom how Sophia could still be asleep unless someone had recently administered more medicine to keep her out.

 

The vampires, Willem especially, were always on hand to make sure the worst didn’t happen.  None of us spoke our need of them aloud so as not to upset the twins but, the truth was, I wanted to make sure they were around in case Sophia started to slip away.  There was no reason why she should; she was perfectly healthy after all.  But still, we waited.

 

At 12:45 Ruby, Vincent, Nana and Faith sat with Sophia whilst the others went to the shops or, in the vampires’ case, hunt.  Only Faith and Leonard stayed at the house.  My old Principal and former flame in a past life found me staring into space as I sat on the stairs with Midnight in my lap.

 

He looked forlorn as he silently held out a cup of herbal tea to me before sitting down next to me.  Midnight hissed and spat at him before leaping from my lap to trot off to the living room window.  Sipping on the hot, sweet tea, I noticed Leonard watching me out of the corner of my eye.  He was sitting quite close to me but never once touched or brushed against me as he almost cramped himself against the wall.

“You know, I’m not made of glass.” I complained.

“Yes, but, I forget my strength sometimes.”

“I don’t think you’re strength was the problem the other night.”

Leonard sighed, “Yes, you’re quite right.”

“Leonard, you’ve been a Sun-Walker for over a century or two and you were an Eve-Walker four a couple hundred years before that.  You, more than anyone I know, understands control.  I thought you had it till you snapped my neck.”

“I am sorry.”

“I’m not fishing for an apology.  I know you’re sorry.  You were angry with me.”

“Yes, I have been.  I didn’t realise exactly how angry I was.”

“I’m sorry I got Faith hurt.  I tried to protect her.  I swear I only heard the gun go off once.”

He smiled tightly at me.  “You weren’t the first person I tried to attack, Billie.  It doesn’t matter whether I was angry at you or not, someone would’ve gotten hurt.”

“Right, that’s the other thing I wanted to talk to you about.”

“What?”

“You haven’t been taking good care of yourself.  I rarely ever see you leave to hunt with the others.  Why aren’t you with Riley and Willem now?”

“Why aren’t you asking Faith this also?”

“She hunted the night before last.  You haven’t been out for over a week and we have hardly any blood left for you here.  Why are you still here?”

“I don’t want to leave you open for an attack without defence.”

I had to laugh, “Leonard, there are three witches upstairs and one vampire.  We can fend for ourselves.  Besides, it’s not like I can’t take care of myself.”

“If I can hurt you, Billie, any one can.”

“Accidents happen, Leonard.  There are casualties in war.  Besides, I already know my fate.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asks as I rise with my empty mug in hand.

“I spoke with Liv Tyler recently, she had a premonition.”

“What did she say?”

“More or less the same as my spirit children said on Samhain.”

“Billie?”

“I don’t have much time left.”

“And how do you expect me to go out there and hunt now that you’ve said something like that.”

“You have to.  Can’t have any more accidents, no offence.”

“I won’t leave you.”

“Don’t worry about me, Leonard.  I know what I’m doing and I’d die if it meant saving all those I love, you included.  I’ve made my peace with that.”

“Billie…”

“May be, with my death, Josephine will finally have the peace she deserves.”

“She is still with you?”

“Oh, Leonard, you never learn, do you?  I am Josephine.  Go hunt, that’s an order.”

 

As I rinsed my mug out in the sink, Rowanne came through the back door as she stowed her cell away in her back pocket.

“I’ve just been speaking with my Pack-master.  They know there’s something going down with the Preachers.”

“You have a Pack-master?”

“Yeah, it’s my Dad.  Anyway, there has been some attacks on another pack in Rhode Island recently so they’re on their way to Penn Gate for me.”

“You’re leaving?”

“No, never.  They want to help us.  Strength in numbers, you know?”

“Right, good.”

“No change in Sophia?”

“None so far.”

“So what do we do?  Do we wait or do a spell?”

“If she’s not awake by tonight then we do a spell.”

“Great, the pack ought to be here in a couple days’ time.” She frowned, looking confused as she glanced around at our surroundings.

“What’s the matter?”

“Where are they going to sleep?”

“Oh, I don’t think they’ll be staying here too long, Row.  I really don’t think we’ll be safe here for much longer.”

“Are they closing in?”

“Not just them.”

“Hart?”

“Midnight has seen him.”

“But Nana’s wards…”

“Might have been weakened since Leonard’s fit the other day.  Midnight said so himself.”

“What do we do?  Where do we go?”

“I’m still figuring that out.  Tomorrow, I want you to take Ruby and Vincent out, okay?”

“Where?”

“Get some camping supplies.  I think, no matter where we go, it’s best if we stay on the road.  No houses or hotels.  And we don’t go to any of our friends.  We don’t need to be taking this to them.”

“I understand.  So how much stuff do you think we’ll need.  Well, let’s see there’s almost twenty of us, not including your pack.”

“They’ll probably have their own gear.”

“Do you want to check in with them just in case?”

“Sure.”

“Take Brian with you.  You can use his truck and my car if you need.  Take Matilda too, get her out of the house.”

“Will she be safe?”

“She’ll be with you guys.  We won’t know how the wards are until they are tested.  Just stick together and you’ll be fine.”

“I’ll go call my Dad back.  Do you need anything else?”

“No.  I’m going to recruit Ruby and Vincent to write an awakening spell for their Mom if there isn’t one in the Black Craft.”

 

Rowanne nodded then quickly ducked back outside with her cell pressed to her ear already as I started to ascent the stairs once more.  Leonard was gone.  He wasn’t on the lower floor or upstairs.  Perhaps he’d taken my order to hunt and left?  The others, however, were still gathered around Sophia’s bed in my room.

“Vincent, Ruby?”

“Yeah?” Ruby asked.

“Could you guys go through the Craft and see if there’s any spells that might wake your Mom?”

“Is that safe?” Vincent asked.

“If there isn’t one in there, you can write one yourself.  You can make it up and it’ll work.  Just be specific what you ask for.”

“Okay, we’ll go work on it now.”

 

They took the old spell book from me and left the room to find stationary.  Nana smiled proudly at me as Faith looked fit to fall asleep.

“Faith?”

“Hmm?” she mumbled.

“Why don’t you go get some rest?”

“I said I’d stay with you guys.  Leonard’s gone to hunt as well, after all.”

“Well, at least lie down on my bed.  You look uncomfortable sitting there.”

“What are you going to do dear?”

“I’m going to check in on Lexi and Lee.  See how they’re feeling.  Then I’ll go help Ruby and Vincent, if they need it.”

“Well, come back and keep me company once you’re done, okay?”

“Of course.”

 

Before I left, I noticed Midnight sitting at my window once more.

“Any sightings?”

“None so far.”

“Find me if you see him.”

“I will howl at the moon much like you’re dog-related cousin.”

“No jokes.” I moaned, scratching his ear playfully.

 

Lexi and Lee had been camping out in Dulcie’s room along with Matilda since the house had become even more crowded.  Since Dulcie, Torsten and Matilda were at the shops, they had the rooms to themselves.

 

As I approached the bedroom door, however, I saw Lexi drop a bag onto her camp bed.  They were both packing.  Not that they had much with them.  Most of their belongings were still in their dorm rooms back in Salem.  But here they stood filling their bags and getting ready to leave.

“What the hell is this?” I found myself shouting.

“Look…” Lexi started to say.

“You’re leaving.”

“Well, yes.”

“You weren’t going to say anything?”

She sighed, “I wrote a note.”

“We need to stick together, Lexi.  Do you have any idea how dangerous it is out there?”

“We’ll be together.”

“Where would you even go?”

“Back to Arizona.  My parents made room for Lee and his grandmother too.  She’s already on her way to them.”

“What can I do to convince you to stay?”

“There’s nothing that you can say, Bill.  Look, I appreciate your hospitality, I really do.  We both do.  I’d probably be dead if it weren’t for you.  But I feel like the Preacher’s are closing in on us.  There’s been too many nearby appearances not to mention that psychotic vamp that’s for you and Matilda.  I miss my family too.”

“We’re leaving as well, Lexi.  As soon as Sophia is awake and on her feet, we’re out the door.  I’m very well aware it’s not safe here.  Can’t you just hold out a little longer?”

“It’s not just that, Bill.  I’m eighteen and the first born of my generation.  I haven’t taken my place as coven leader in our family.  My uncle has already stepped down.  They need me.  They need their leader.”

“Lee?”

“I miss my Gran, Bill.  She’s been my constant support for a decade now.  I need to know that she’s safe.  I need to learn all she knows about the Rockwell Craft.  The book may be lost to us but she still has its learnings.”

“I understand.”

“If you need anything… I know you have the Cains nearby but, if you need help…”

“I know.  Thank you.”

“Well, we’re all set.  Don’t want to be in your hair any longer.”

“Let me take you home at least.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, of course.  I’d be worrying about you if I let you go out to catch a flight or whatever.  Just go set up a map so I can see where I’m headed and I’ll call the others back so the house is a bit better protected.”

“Thanks, we’re on it.”

 

Lexi and Lee trudged downstairs with their bags laden upon their shoulders as they headed to use Brian’s laptop in the kitchen.  I called Dulcie and asked her to round up the others to come home – I didn’t want to leave the others unprotected.  But Nana was unhappy at Lexi’s sudden decision to leave.

“Have you spoken to them?”

“Of course I did.  But they don’t belong here, Nana.  Lexi is the leader of her own coven.”

“It just seems a little sudden.  Does she really know what she’s doing?”

“We can’t ask her to stay, Nana.  She should be doing the same I am.  Protecting her coven.”

“Do they know she’s on her way?”

“They’re expecting her.  I’m going to teleport them to Arizona.  We can’t have them making their way out on their own.  It’s too dangerous.”

“What about you?  How will we know you’re safe?”

“I’ll teleport straight into their house and then come right back.  I’ll be fine.”

“You’ll call if you run into trouble.”

“I won’t be gone long enough to run into it.”

“Promise?”

“Of course.”

She sighed heavily, “Okay good.  And we’ll be fine here too.”

“Are you okay, Nana?”

“No, no I’m not.  Every time someone leaves this house I worry they might not make it back.”

“Well, you’re not getting rid of me so easily.  I’ll be gone five minutes maximum.”

 

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