Monsters Among Us

This is the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo back in 2012. Since I almost lost my computer once (and I love this story), I wanted to post it somewhere where I could easily retrieve it.

PLEASE NOTE that it has not been edited (as of 1/14/16) and it might be a little messy but it's a first draft. ^^

Disclaimer: There are four characters in this story that will probably seem familiar. That is because they are based off of four people. They are as follows:

  • Jazz is Jen. She is a werewolf.
  • Amelia is myself. She is a witch.
  • Naomi is Nichole. She is a pharaoh.
  • Karin is Katie. She is a dragon.

No other characters are meant to depict any other "real" person.


The detective threw down the manila folder.

"Do you know what this folder contains?" He asked as he pulled the adjacent chair out from the table. The metal legs of the chair scraped painfully against the concrete floor. His suspect sat across the table, glaring at him with her purple tinted eyes. Her long black hair with strands of grey fell along her shoulders. He had initially wondered why a girl so young (she was in her mid-twenties) would be going grey. But he kept such inquiries out of the interrogation.

"No," the girl answered flatly.

"It contains," the detective told her, his words slicing through his clenched jaw. "All the reports against you." He opened the envelope with such force that the folder slapped against the black metal table. He sent her a momentary glare over the top of his spectacles before he looked down at the pages and recited. "Obstruction of justice. Violation of parole. Shoplifting. Grand theft auto. Refusing to provide proof of registration for a handgun." He looked back up at her. "Are you starting to get the picture?"

The girl took a minute. All the while she continued to stare at him. She had a brilliant poker face, showing no change in affect. "You forgot speeding."

"I also forgot blackmail," he snapped. "And attacking a fellow officer."

"He deserved it."

"You broke his nose."

The girl shrugged. "Like I said: he deserved it."

The detective lost patience. Flipping the folder shut once again, he sighed and sat back in his chair. His rotund frame was more apparent in his new found position. For the first time, the girl took her eyes off the detective's face in order to glance judgmentally at his weight. The detective didn't notice due to him rubbing his forehead, allowing himself one moment of stress relief.

"I don't understand you," he groaned, sitting forward in his chair. One of the girl's eyebrows rose. "I don't understand any of you. You all think you're punks and you're better than the law."

The girl shook her head. "I don't think I'm better than the law."

"Then you think you're fucking above it." The detective snapped fiercely, almost surprising his suspect. She frowned and was about to shake her head again but she was cut short. The detective leaned closer to her across the large interrogation table. He glared at her, his eyes and nostrils ablaze. He smelled of stale cigarettes and weeks old coffee. "Just tell me where the little girl is and we can let you out of here."

"There is no little girl." The woman stated. That was not the best response to give the already overtired and overworked detective.

"Now listen, you little bitch," the man said, standing up. He pounded his fist on the table as he hovered over her. "You fucking tell me where that little girl is!"

Before the conversation could go any further, the door to the interrogation room opened. "That's enough, Detective Grimly." The suspect glanced over her shoulder at the person who commanded such an entrance. She assumed the shorter man to be the chief. "She has a lawyer."

Detective Grimly glanced up, caught off guard. "She didn't ask for an attorney."

"She didn't need to," the chief sighed. "But her attorney's here and the discussion ends."

The woman's attorney moved to her client's side and stared daggers at the detective. The new woman looked cold, her auburn hair pulled tightly back. Her black suit looked jagged against her body. She held a small suitcase in front of her waist. The detective may have thought the young attorney attractive if the hairs on the back of his neck didn't suddenly stand up in attention.

"Fine," Detective Grimly snapped. He moved to the table and grabbed the manila envelope, throwing one more seething glance at his black-grey haired suspect. Following his chief, the two policemen left.

As soon as the door was shut, the attorney turned her attention to the suspect.

"What the hell were you thinking?" The attorney hissed. She pulled up the adjoining chair and sat beside her client, facing her. Her client shrugged noncomittally.

"I was bored."

The attorney rolled her eyes. "Jesus Christ, Amelia. Every time you get bored you always have to get caught by the cops."

Again, Amelia shrugged. "But they're so fun to annoy."

The attorney sighed heavily and pulled out her hair. "I don't think I can come for you next time. This is getting to be too much. The moon's almost out."

"I'm sorry. I really am. I promise I won't do it again, Jazz."
Jazz just shook her head and made to leave the room. She wanted to believe her best friend, but she had learned early on: it's hard to trust the words of a witch.


The sun began to shine over the mountains as Naomi sat, still awake, at her computer. To an outsider, she was not doing anything important. She wasn't a student, so she wasn't doing research or pulling an all-nighter. She had always been a creature of the night, even in the old days. She used to get chided by her nurse, who would remind her that she should rest and be prepared for her people.

Naomi, even back then, had a hard time listening to the wayward advice of others.

Sighing heavily, she leaned back in her chair and rubbed her eyes. Perhaps it was time to sleep a little. She knew her friends were still not back but she was not worried. With friends like hers, it would be silly to worry.

Her phone's main screen came on and started to buzz on the desk beside her laptop. She sent a momentary glare in its direction before she reached out and picked it up.

I found her. Bringing her home now, but everything should be alright by morning. - J

Naomi rolled her eyes. She cared not what happened to her friends; she knew they were more than capable of taking care of themselves. Still, she thought as she got up from her chair and headed towards her bed. It was nice to know they are headed home.

Naomi awoke several hours later to the smell of coffee wafting into her room. She smiled sleepily as she pulled herself from bed. She may have spent hundreds of years on this earth, but she still loved her coffee in the morning. Throwing on her robe, she went downstairs to the kitchen. That was where she encountered Amelia.

"Where were you last night?" She asked as she walked past her friend and grabbed the milk carton out of the fridge.

Amelia shrugged. "Just out."

Naomi shot her a suspicious look. "Doing what?"

Amelia smiled at her friend's tone. Sidling up to her, she put her head on her friend's shoulder. "Were you worried about little ol' me?" She asked sweetly. Naomi scoffed.

"Like that would happen," she grumbled dismissively. Amelia shrugged and moved away while Naomi poured herself some coffee. Amelia allowed several minutes for the coffee to kick in before speaking again.

"Jazz had to come and bail me out."

Naomi closed her eyes and gently placed the coffee down on the counter. "Again?"

"I was bored." Amelia said lamely.

Naomi turned abruptly to her friend. "Don't you know what danger you could have caused? It's not exactly the middle of the moon's phases. What if she had changed while she was in there?"

"She wouldn't have." Amelia defended. "Besides, if she was in danger of that, she wouldn't have bailed me out."

"Yes, she would have. And she would have destroyed half the town in the meantime. You know she can't control it, no matter what she says otherwise." Amelia frowned and stood facing her friend, her stance defensive.

"I think she can."

Naomi shot a skeptical look at her long-time friend. "Oh, really?" Amelia returned a curt nod. "And what evidence do you have in support of this assumption?" Naomi's eyebrows raised higher the longer Amelia took to answer. After several minutes of debated silence, Naomi nodded her head. "That's what I thought." She picked up her coffee and walked past Amelia, headed back towards the stairs to the second floor of their house. "Until Jazz can show that she can control it — which we both know is close to impossible — you need to stay out of trouble when it's this time of the month."

Amelia stood with her back to Naomi and said nothing.


Later that afternoon, Amelia got off the public transport bus downtown. iPod headphones in her ears, she casually strode down the bustling streets of the small metropolitan city. She was headed to the a little cafe called Buscemi's when the back of her jacket was caught on something. Believing it to be a pickpocket, Amelia swung around, ready to attack the individual. Right before she struck, she recognized the person standing behind her. Shock ran across Amelia's face.

"Jazz," Amelia said with surprise as she pulled the headphones out of her ears. "You startled me."

"I noticed" Jazz replied as her sharp eyes scanned over the headphones Amelia carried, heavy metal music still blaring from the minute speakers. It was only then that Amelia noticed the speckles of a familiar color on her best friend's clothes.

"Jazz," Amelia whispered, stepping closer to her friend. "Do you know you have blood on your clothes?"

"Huh?" As Jazz examined herself, Amelia took a step back, concern painted on her face.

"What's wrong, Jazz? You…you're really pale. Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." Jazz replied dismissively. "I just really need some coffee. Care to join me?" Without waiting for a response, Jazz slipped by her friend and went inside the cafe. Amelia followed, a few steps behind. She took advantage of the long line at the counter to pull her friend to the side.

"It happened again, didn't it?" Amelia whispered. Jazz shrugged.

"Seems to have." Her attitude was really calm and absent considering the circumstances. This concerned Amelia greatly.

"Why are you so nonchalant about this?" Amelia whispered, her voice hinting at mild panic. "You just killed someone."

A customer in front of them caught the last few words of the latter sentence and, unable to help himself, shot a glance backwards at the two girls. They both noticed and took a couple more steps away.

"I did not." Jazz said, her patience wearing thin. "At least, I doubt it. It was probably small game or something. No one said it had to be….well….you know."

"How can you be sure?"

Remembering the other people around them, Jazz glared coldly at her friend. "This really isn't the place where we should be discussing this, Mia. So can we just let it go and collect our coffee? People are already getting in line before us."

Knowing the sensitivity of their conversation, Amelia could do nothing but bite her tongue and remain in stubborn silence. The two women said nothing else to each other as they stood in line for their beverages but Amelia became more tensed the longer they were in the public eye.

"I just don't know what we should do."

It was much later in the day and the sun had almost faded over the horizon. Because of the status of the moon, Jazz had quarantined herself in their basement a half hour earlier without saying a word.

Naomi glanced over at Amelia, who was sitting cross-legged on Naomi's bed, hot cup of tea in hand. Turning back to her computer screen, Naomi muttered, "I told you she couldn't control it."

Amelia looked down as if she could see through the floors of the house down into the basement. She looked concerned. "What if she —"

"She won't get out." Naomi said, knowing where her friend's thoughts were leading. "We reinforced it, remember?"

"Yeah, I know. But…" Amelia paused, trying to think of the safest way to say what was on her mind. "But what if the blood lust myths are true?" She finished in a hushed tone.

Naomi turned once more at her friend and allowed herself several seconds to stare at Amelia. "Myths aren't real. They may have been formed on same basis of reality but they've been reinvented in the minds of humans for so long that they're usually incorrect. You should know that better than anyone else. I mean you don't use a broom to fly, do you?" Amelia twitched involuntarily at the question. She detested that myth almost as much as the one about all witches eating babies and little children. The ideas were absurd.

"But Jazz's…." Again Amelia paused, considering the right description. "condition is different than ours."

Naomi shrugged noncommittally and returned back to her computer. "Not so different. But we'll keep an eye on her for the next couple of days; see if anything changes." The two friends retreated into silence and, after several minutes, Amelia removed herself from Naomi's bed and headed towards the door. As she entered the hallway, Naomi's voice called her back.

"You shouldn't feel guilty about what happened."

Surprised, Amelia stopped in mid-step. "Guilty?"

"Because Jazz had to go bail you out again. Granted, you shouldn't have gotten into trouble in the first place," Amelia rolled her eyes. No matter how distant Naomi became with her past, she was always the ruler — always looking out for her people. "But it's not your fault if she killed someone."

Amelia's brow furrowed displaying her mild confusion. "You think I feel guilty for someone's death?"

It was Naomi's turn to be confused. "Don't you?"

Amelia shook her head. "No, not really. I just don't want Jazz hunted down. It would be a shame to have to move again." With that, Amelia faded around the corner.

Naomi swiveled her chair around once again to face her brightly lit monitor. She slowly shook her head. She'd known Amelia for several years but she was still no closer to understanding her.

Bethany was sitting on a cot in a dark room. Her legs were pulled up to her chest and she sat, shivering. It was not as though she were cold — it was impossible for her to feel cold — but she was young and very, very frightened.

There was little noise around her. Occasionally she would hear men shouting from far away (she could never make out their words) but she didn't think anyone else was being held there.

It had been two days since she woke up in that strange place. She didn't remember much about how she came to be there. She had tried to recall the events but the last thing she could remember was that she had been sitting near her mother and then she remembered a lot of black. When she woke up again, she had no idea where she was but she felt it was far away from home.

She had tried to escape several times since she arrived but the room seemed to be proofed against her. It was less of a room than a prison cell. She had no toys to keep her company, there were little lights and the bed she had was a thin cot with an even thinner blanket. She had a pillow but, when she laid on it, it felt like rough paper and she didn't like using it.

Bethany had had little to go on about what her kidnappers looked like than their hands shoving sustenance through the door. She had thought this silly, for she rarely had to eat. She would let the food pile up as she remained on her small cot.

Bethany sat and thought about her parents. She wanted to cry for them. She missed them so much but — she felt guilty for thinking such a thing — it was almost a relief to be away from their crying. They always seemed to cry. If they weren't crying, they walked around the house speaking little and looking vacant. Bethany had thought how odd it was that they looked more like ghosts than she did.

The door to Bethany's prison started to make noises as the ancient locks started to unlock. She instinctively pressed herself closer to the wall at her back and stared openly at the door in terror. She didn't know who was trying to get in, but she was sure she didn't want them to enter. Enter they did, however, but they remained to the shadows of the hallway as the door creaked open.

"Hello, Bethany." The voice was deep and gravely and gave Bethany invisible goosebumps. She said nothing to the person in the doorway and continued to stare. Not expecting a response, the shadowy figure continued to speak. "I bet you're wondering what you're doing here." Bethany still gave no response. She still remembered her parents' advice to never talk to strangers, and this person seemed especially strange. "Would you like anything?" The strange man tried again.

Finally Bethany found her voice. "Where are my mum and dad?" She asked quietly.

"Your parents are fine. Don't worry about them."

"I want to see them."

"You can't." The man replied, a little roughly. He seemed to notice his tone and paused a moment to take a deep breath. He tried smiling, but Bethany could barely see the action from out of the shadow. "Is there anything else you would want? I have noticed you haven't been eating."

"I don't need to." Bethany muttered.

"Well, 'need' is a funny word." The man said, stepping a little closer. His figure still remained hidden by the shadows but Bethany could make out a little bit more of his outfit. She didn't like the suit the man was wearing. It made him look even more out-of-place. Why would a kidnapper wear a suit? "You may think you might not need to eat but, in fact, you don't need to eat a lot in your condition. But you do need to seek nourishment. Otherwise you will get weak."

"I won't die." She replied, a bit snappy.

"No, but you won't feel like yourself." The man replied, losing patience. "I think you should eat something. Is there anything I can get you?" Bethany took a long time to think that question over. Finally she replied.

"I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

The man smiled again and Bethany received a fresh dose of goosebumps. "Whatever you wish." He replied silkily and left the room, locking the door behind him.

When Bethany was sure the man was gone, she began to shiver again. That man scared her and if she had her way, she never wanted to see him again.


Jazz was racing through a section of enclosed woods. The full moon's light followed her as her paws flew across the muddy ground. As she reached farther into the forest, the trees began to converge onto the path. It wasn't too long before the trail dead ended into miles and miles of endless growth. Not wanting to chance running into civilization, Jazz halted her retreat and cautiously turned her head back.

The moon shown brighter than ever and glistened off her gray and auburn fur. Jazz looked back into the darkness of pine and birch before she turned around to face the way she had come. She continued to back away slowly into the enclosure of trees. Her eyes remained held fast onto her predator.

All of a sudden, Jazz heard the crackling of twigs and the crunching of dried, dead leaves. Distracted, Jazz turned her head to focus on the new creatures in her forest. She let out a loud yelp of surprise as something struck her. Her vision became blurred as she quickly lost consciousness.

Jazz awoke in a cold sweat, panting for air.. Her eyes frantically searched her surroundings in order to identify where she was kept. She sighed heavily in relief when she recognized her lodgings as her own basement. Tossing herself back onto the cot she kept in the basement when she changed, Jazz went to rub her eyes. It was only then that she remembered her hands were shackled to the stone wall. Jazz quickly found the key and unrestrained herself. She got out of the cot and hurriedly put on the clothes set aside. Rubbing her arms from the cold, she headed towards the stairs only to be surprised to see Amelia descending them.

"I thought you didn't like to come down here." Amelia shrugged in reply though she did not deny the truth. Their basement had always reminded Amelia of a recurring nightmare she used to have as a child and she avoided this area of the house unless she needed to be there.

"I thought you might want some breakfast." It was then that Jazz noticed the tray Amelia held in her hands was piled high with food: pancakes, scrambled eggs, coffee, orange juice and heaps of bacon. Jazz's stomach growled and the sound echoed in the narrow stairway.

"I am starving," she admitted. "But let's go upstairs; it's freezing." Amelia only too readily agreed and the two best friends ascended the stairs together.

When Jazz was reunited with her food at the table, she showed no hesitation in digging in. Amelia said nothing as her friend ate — only sat in the chair across from her with her own cup of coffee. She knew how hungry werewolves got after they transformed and she knew Jazz well enough to never disturb her while she was eating.

After several long minutes, Jazz was finished. She smiled contently and relaxed comfortably back into her chair. She sipped at her coffee. It was then that Amelia felt it safe to bring up the conversation.

"Naomi talked to me this morning before she left for work."

"Oh?" Jazz said blandly as she took another sip of her steaming beverage. Her eyes, however, were watching Amelia with curiosity. She was a little surprised to find Amelia looking grim.

"It's about the other night. The night you changed and woke up covered in blood." Jazz let her friend's segue sink in and she slowly leaned closer in her chair, placing her coffee mug down onto the table. As carefully as she could, she asked:

"What about it?"

"Well," Amelia began to search through her pockets. "Naomi found this article." Locating said article in her jackets front pocket, she slid it across the table. Jazz promptly picked it up and scanned it. Her facial expression became more stoned as she continued to read. Amelia, meanwhile, waited in anxious silence for her best friend to speak. When Jazz was finished reading, she tossed the paper dismissively back onto the table.

"So?" She asked defensively.

"You may have killed that man." Amelia replied, shocked that her friend wasn't affected by the news. Jazz shrugged.

Amelia's mouth fell open. She wouldn't have believed this to be her best friend's reaction to taking someone's life. Jazz had always been so level-headed and empathetic with people. That was one of the things Amelia loved most about her best friend — that Jazz was so different than herself.

Jazz, knowing Amelia's conflicted reaction, sighed heavily. She leaned closer across the table and placed her right hand on top of Amelia's left. "It's not as if this is the first time this may have happened." Seeing the confusion and worry on Amelia's face, Jazz continued. "I may have killed people before. I really have no way of knowing. I'm a werewolf. When I changed — before I even knew what was happening to me — I often blacked out and awoke somewhere strange. And a lot of time, I had blood on me. It used to scare me, but I know that it's something I can't always control. So…so what if I've killed people? I mean, you've killed people before and you've never blacked out."

Amelia shook her head. "It's not the killing that bothers me, Jazz. I just don't want to see you in trouble."

Jazz grunted and sat back in her chair, folding her arms across her chest. "You get in trouble all the time."

"Yeah, I know. But with you it's different." Jazz's eyes faded into slits as she coldly stared at her best friend. Amelia quickly continued. "If I get caught, I have ways of getting out of trouble. Even if they find out who I really am, I could make them forget like that," Amelia snapped her fingers. "But what if they find out about you and Naomi or I aren't around?"

The pep talk did little to soothe Jazz's annoyance. "I can take care of myself," she grumbled. "Do I need to remind you that I'm older?"

Amelia sighed, exasperated, and rolled her eyes. "I'm not treating you like a child. But how can you stay safe if they find you?"

Jazz stood up from her chair abruptly and removed her coffee mug and empty plate. She stared down at her best friend, still angry. "It won't happen. And even if it did, I'm sure I'll find a way to stay safe." Without another word, she placed her dirty dishes in their kitchen sink and swiftly walked past her friend a second time to go up to her room. A minute later, Amelia heard Jazz's door shut with a slight slam.

Amelia sighed heavily and remained at the table, looking out at the falling leaves of autumn. Not knowing what else to do and feeling restless, Amelia shortly left the house in search for some chaos to cause.

Amelia had her headphones in her ears but it was only a ruse; no music was actually being broadcast. She was walking downtown through the sea of people. She kept her hands in her jacket pockets and, to an outsider, appeared to have little to do with the surrounding crowd.

But Amelia was crafty and had been doing this for a very long time. People wouldn't find out until later that their valuables were missing from their person. Even when they did notice, they would not recall a young mid-twenties woman with black-gray hair passing them.

What Amelia was doing had nothing to do with magic. She would not have wasted the energy on a something so trifle. She had learned early on that it was simple to remain hidden in plain sight and take advantage of those around her. Humans were easily distracted and made for even easier prey.

Amelia couldn't remember when her hobby started. She wasn't a kleptomaniac — she traded in the items for cash and had no compulsion to steal. She did this to maintain her modest living. It wasn't as if she abhorred normal work — after all, both Jazz and Naomi had their own jobs in the 'real world' — but Amelia was good at what she did, and she profited nicely from it. To her, it was just another freelance job.

As it neared the end of the lunch hour, a lot of people on the streets began to disappear back into their places of business. Amelia decided to call it a day, estimating her earnings around two hundred dollars for a little over an hours' work. Her stomach began to rumble and, before stopping by her usual pawn shop to sell her goods, she stopped into Buscemi's for a chai latte.

It was of very little surprise to her that she found Detective Grimly in the cafe. He was accompanied by a younger woman whom Amelia assumed to be his partner. Amelia didn't try to resist her desire to make her presence known to the two detectives. She walked up to their table and roughly patted Grimly's shoulder. "How're you today, copper?"

Grimly's head instinctively swung around and, as recognition swept over his face, his eyes narrowed. His cheeks started to puff a bit and his skin began to turn a remarkable shade of crimson.

"Hello," he grunted, unable to hide his distaste in seeing her. His partner exchanged confused glances between the two.

"I see you're having a doughnut," Amelia smiled. To anyone else present, Amelia was simply making polite conversation but Detective Grimly knew better. His body tensed and he struggled to keep his hands from turning into fists. "Good man."

"Is there something I can help you with, miss?" Grimly asked through gritted teeth.

"No," Amelia continued to smile. "Just thought I'd say hi. Have a nice day." She then turned her attention to the woman sitting across the table from Grimly. "You too, ma'am." Grimly's partner nodded in response, still confused about the encounter.

After Amelia was out of earshot, the woman leaned forward over the table. "Who was that?" She whispered.

Grimly shook his head, his rage slowly subsiding. "Never mind her, Simone."

"But what was — "

"I said never mind." Grimly snapped, shooting an irritated glance at his partner. He picked up his coffee and downed the last of it. "It's time to get back," he informed as he stood up and began to collect his trash.

As Grimly waited by the door for Simone, he stood back and carefully watched Amelia. She was still standing at the counter, entertaining the cashier while she waited for her beverage. Again no one noticed anything wrong with the encounter except for Grimly. He diligently watched, hoping Amelia would slip up and make a mistake. Perhaps she wouldn't pay for her purchase. But as Grimly watched, Amelia not only paid for her drink but placed a generous tip into the jar in front of the registers. She smiled again at the cashier and the two exchanged polite farewells.

"Ready to go?" Simone asked. Grimly shot one last look at his suspect. Amelia was innocently heading towards a table by the window.

"Yeah." He replied slowly and held the door open for his partner as they left.


Naomi was busy at work. She had patients to look after but she didn't feel like working. She was good at her job but she found the so-called illness complaints from a lot of her patients quite absurd. She was very familiar with the label "hypochondriac" and knew of several by name. She sat back in her desk chair and casually tossed the medical folders onto her desk. One such hypochondriac (her name was Michelle) had come in earlier that day complaining of abdominal pain. Naomi knew the routine — Michelle would complain and complain until someone came to run some tests. Naomi had realized quite early on that Michelle knew very little about medical practice. She did not even know a real needle from a prop needle. Naomi had found a prop at a trinket store and had used it on Michelle. She claimed to be giving Michelle a small dose of morphine to "help ease the pain a bit". Michelle bought it hook, line and sinker. In under five minutes, she was calling Naomi a miracle worker and saying how she was cured.

One of Naomi's superiors had found out what Naomi had done and had a small talk with her. She was told that her actions were unethical, but in no way illegal. She was warned of the consequences of what would happen if Michelle had ever found out about Naomi's phony shots. Naomi decided not to worry about the effects. Michelle had come in several times for Naomi's "miracle treatment" and so far was believing the cure every time.

Naomi could not understand this century's way of thinking. It was not as if she did not have faith in the medical profession — it was simply that people assumed they knew a lot more than they actually did about medical science. Online medical sites for self diagnostics did little to cure that blinded ignorance.

Naomi sighed heavily and glanced over at the clock. It was already after four p.m. and she could be able to leave soon. Just as Naomi began to relax for a few minutes, her desk phone rang. Glaring at it, she breathed deeply before picking it up. "Hello?" It was her director. Naomi nodded her head. "Yes, ma'am. I'll be right out there. I was just getting some coffee." Naomi hung up the phone and rested her forehead on the desk, sighing. It looked like today would be another long day.


"Is that really all you can do for me?"

Jarrod sighed and shook his head. He cast a quick glance at his low-lit shop and leaned forward across the counter. "You know as well as I do, Mia." His voice was barely a tone above a whisper. "You didn't get these from a family member who died. I figured that out a long time ago. There's no way a person has that many deceased relatives."

Amelia's eyebrows raised. "Lizzie Borden did."

Jarrod returned his friend's stare. "Lizzie cheated. She killed her family." Amelia shrugged helplessly. She'd known Jarrod too long to pretend that he didn't know what she did for a living.

"But just one fifty? How about two hundred." Jarrod sighed again.

"The cops are going to start getting suspicious."

A smile played across Amelia's lips. "You let me handle the cops."

"What if someone comes looking for their items?" Amelia groaned. She was becoming tired of the repertoire.

"You know as well as I do how you play this. Don't play me, ok? We've known each other too long."

Jarrod remained silent, keeping his eyes focused onto the counter top. He was having an extensive inner debate. Finally he sighed and, as usual, gave in. "Fine. Two hundred."

"How about two-ten?" Jarrod glared at his friend but she only smiled. "I'm kidding," she assured him. "Two's fine."

"Fine. Just wait here a moment and I'll get the money." Amelia nodded and Jarrod slipped behind the adjoining wall and disappeared into his office. While Amelia waited, she took some time to look at some of the merchandise Jarrod put on display. He did get a lot of decent items from law-abiding citizens. Amelia was busy admiring a small copper chest that looked East Asian in artistry when a bell chimed at the door to announce a new customer. Automatically Jarrod called out from his office, "Be with you in a moment!" Amelia glanced at the new person and stared for a moment. The action was involuntary. There was something about the man that made her feel a little uncomfortable. She couldn't pin down what it was but she quickly peeled her eyes away from the man before he noticed she was watching him. He was dressed in a sleek black suit and wearing a black fedora. He looked like one of those P.I.'s from the onslaught of detective literature that were popular in the forties and fifties. He remained to himself, glancing around the shop as he waited for the owner to reappear.

A moment later, Jarrod came back from his office. Not recognizing the new customer, Jarrod decided it was best to keep his relationship with Amelia low-key. Because of his profession in the pawn shop industry, he was wary of anyone who may want to take a legal interest in his merchandise.

"Here you go, ma'am," Jarrod said, handing over an envelope filled with Amelia's cash. As the envelope exchanged hands, Jarrod continued. "I hope everything works out for you."

Amelia smiled politely at her friend. "Thank you so much." She played along. "I hope so too." She then turned and left the pawn shop. As she passed by the unknown visitor, she received an involuntary shudder. She couldn't help but glance back at the man as he walked up to Jarrod. She didn't like the aura of the new person and couldn't help but sense a feeling of dread and loss. Attributing the emotions to the inability to always control her witch empathy, Amelia gave the matter little more thought as she headed back towards home.


After Amelia left the pawn shop, Jarrod helped the new customer as promised. The gentleman walked up to the counter and removed his hat. "What can I do for you?" Jarrod asked.

The gentleman reached into his inner jacket pocket and removed something. It appeared to be a small notebook. Jarrod's heart rate jumped ten beats per minute as the stranger flipped open the small memo pad and retrieved a pen. Jarrod's hazel eyes scanned the man's attire once more and panic started to set in. Jarrod knew nothing Amelia had sold him since the first day she'd walked into his shop had actually belonged to her.

The newcomer's eyes glanced at Jarrod. "Don't worry," His voice was rough. "I'm not here to bust you on anything. I just want to ask a few questions about the girl who just left."

Jarrod's stature eased a bit. "Th- the girl?" He stammered.

"Yes, the girl. The youngish female? You must have noticed her. She was quite attractive."

Jarrod blushed, mostly out of embarrassment. He shrugged and focused his attention on the counter. "I don't know her."

"Oh, that's good then." The unnamed man closed his notepad and returned both it and his pen into his pocket. Almost in an afterthought, he said, "It's best not to get involved with that type of person."

Jarrod's brow furrowed in confusion. "'That type of person'?" He repeated.

"Yes," the gentleman gave him a curt nod. "She's highly dangerous."

Jarrod chuckled involuntarily and shook his head. "Amelia isn't —"

"Amelia," the man's eyebrows raised in interest. Jarrod turned a brilliant shade of red and his lips pursed. He inwardly berated himself for slipping up. Leaning forward, the man continued. "I thought you said you didn't know her."

Jarrod's panic returned and he struggled with his to reply. "Well, I…" his voice trailed off, his mind a complete blank. "I mean, she's come in here a few times."

The customer's memo book returned and he began writing down a few notes. Trying to distract him, Jarrod became somewhat defensive.

"I'm sorry, I don't think you told me who you were."

The gentleman paused and, after a moment, he reached back into his jacket pocket. He removed something and flashed it quickly at Jarrod.

"My name's Agent Torres."

Jarrod tensed. "Why are you looking for Amelia?"

"Well," Agent Torres shrugged as his put his badge back into his pocket. "If I had simply been looking for her, my job would have been easy. She just left here ten minutes ago." He also placed the notebook and pen back into his pocket and returned his Fedora to his head.

"So you're just here to warn me about her?" Jarrod was still suspicious.

Agent Torres fixed his steel eyes on Jarrod and Jarrod felt an involuntary chill rush over him. "She is very dangerous." Torres said levelly. "Her and her friends. You seem like a logical person. If you want to remain out of harm's way, I suggest you cut off any ties you may have with that girl and her friends. Good day, Mr. Shields." He tipped his hart and before Jarrod knew, the man had vanished.


Detective Grimly sat in his '97 silver Saturn sedan outside Jarrod's pawn shop. He lifted his coffee cup to his lips and took a small sip. It was cold. Frowning in disgust over the temperature of his coffee, Grimly cleared his throat and sighed. His eyes, however, remained fixated on the front door of the establishment. He had been tailing Amelia for over an hour. He was off the clock and no one knew about his undercover mission. He knew that if his superiors at the precinct ever got word of what he was doing, he could easily be fired. But Grimly was an old fashioned cop and knew his instincts. And he knew he could eventually catch Amelia doing something illegal. He just had to be patient.

A few minutes later, Amelia left Jarrod's shop. She pulled her jacket tighter around her as she braved the mild wind and she headed south on Main Street. Because of her police records, Detective Grimly knew she was headed towards home. She walked at a brisk pace through the near-deserted streets. After a few blocks, Grimly decided it was safe to return to following her.

Grimly made sure to remain at a safe distance. He was extremely interested in catching her, but he knew he knew he should remain out of sight until he needed to make his presence known. After all, the element of surprise was never something to overlook.

Grimly was at a stop light when he saw Amelia turn around completely. She had passed a couple estimated to be in their early forties. Had she not taken something from that man as she passed him? Had he imagined her hand reaching into the man's pocket and swiftly removing something from it?

He almost had to smile as he watched Amelia continuing to walk. She showed no sign of having committed a crime. Most people would be paranoid they had been seen by somebody; constantly looking over their shoulders and dipping into dark alleyways in an attempt to hide from an invisible pursuer. But Amelia continued as she did before; her pace never slowed nor quickened. She never once glanced over her shoulder.

A polite beep of a horn behind him caught Grimly off guard and hurdled him back to reality. Glancing up at the light, he noticed it was green. Waving apologetically to the car behind him, Grimly continued to drive after Amelia.

He knew the way to Amelia's house. He had driven by there a few times in order to see where she lived. He continued down the shortest road distance to her house and nearly lost her. She had skipped down a side street and he just barely caught her in his rear view mirror. As soon as he could, he parked his car and continued on foot.

He walked at a safe distance for several blocks before she stopped altogether. He halted and tried to blend into the shadows but she was quick. She turned and glared at him.

"Why are you following me?" She asked.

"Following you?" He scoffed. "Whoever said I was following you?" Amelia rolled her eyes.

"You were outside the pawn shop when I left." Amelia pointed out as she started to walk up to him. "You followed me in your crappy car until Sunset Drive. Then when I came down Colony, you parked your car and followed me on foot."

Grimly laughed aloud. "What a ridiculous accusation. Especially coming from a felon."

"I'm not a felon." Amelia stated calmly. "Besides. If you really weren't following me, how did we end up in circles and back to your car?"

"Huh?" Confused, Grimly turned around. Just as promised, his car was sitting by the curb where he had parked it. "How…"

"Magic," Amelia replied drily. "Now I'm gonna ask you again: why were you following me?"

Grimly swallowed and tried to cover for his utter shock at being caught so easily. "I wasn't following you."

"Again, I call bullshit." Amelia persisted. "Why were you following me?"

Knowing there was no point in lying anymore, Grimly decided to do what he did best and play offense. "Why did you steal from that older man?"

Amelia's eyebrows lowered. "Stole? What did I steal?"

"You stole something," Grimly said as he took an aggressive step closer to his suspect. "I know you did. I may not have been able to get you on that kidnapping charge, but I sure as hell can get you for theft."

"I did not kidnap any little girl. It's not my problem if you don't believe me." Grimly said nothing but simply shortened the distance between himself and Amelia and soon had her hands restrained behind his back. For an overweight cop, he was pretty fast. "What the hell are you doing?" Amelia demanded, struggling to get away from him. Grimly ignored her and pushed her front up against the nearest wall. Holding her hands against her lower back with one hand, Grimly started searching her pockets for the latest stolen item. Amelia continued to struggle but it did her no good.

Finally Grimly found what he was looking for. Smiling smugly, he held up the item on his finger for Amelia to see. "You didn't steal anything, huh?" He chuckled darkly. "So can you explain to me how a man's gold Rolex just happened to find it's way into your pocket? Did a little raven bring it to you?"

Amelia glared at the Rolex and, in extension, Grimly. He roughly let her go by giving her a little show of force against the wall. She turned, then, furious with him.

"Where are you taking that?" She demanded.

"Back to its proper owner." Grimly replied, showing off his superiority as he gazed at the retrieved object. He held it up to the light and let it shine. "Or maybe I'll just put it into the evidence file against you."

"You can't do that." Amelia growled.

"Yeah," Grimly ignored her comment and continued his gloating. "And maybe I should just take you down to the station for some paperwork. What do you say to that?"

"You can't."

Grimly laughed. "I'm sure I can. I caught you with a piece of stolen property. That should be enough to hold you for a good long while." He slipped the watch into his jacket and stood back smiling down at her.

"Alright," Amelia sighed, losing patience. "Let me put it to you this way: you won't be taking me down to the station."

"Why's that?" Grimly asked innocently.

It was Amelia's turn to smile. "'Cuz I won't let you." Grimly was caught in a moment of confusion and mild worry. He couldn't forcefully take Amelia in. If he did, he would have to explain to his superiors how he had come to witness Amelia stealing. But he didn't need to worry for long about the consequences. Amelia's violet eyes flashed and she started to mutter something under her breath. Before Grimly could react properly, wind had started to swirl around Amelia. Her eyes grew more dangerous to parallel the sinister smile that spread across her lips. As she continued to mutter, the wind grew stronger and, to Grimly's surprise, began to envelope him. He opened his mouth to let out a startled yell but his voice was absent. His fight-or-flight instinct had been engaged and he quickly sought to overpower the invisible force restraining him. He had no luck. In mere moments, the wind faded and dropped Grimly to the ground.

Amelia walked close to him and bent down to rescue the fallen watch. She placed it back into her pocket and patted Grimly gently on the shoulder. "Don't worry, detective. The shock will wear off in a minute or so. You'll never remember what happened, so don't bother trying. It was nice seeing you again." Grimly lay motionless on the pavement watching Amelia's silhouette fade away into the dying daylight. He soon shut his eyes and remembered nothing else.


When Amelia had returned home, Jazz was just finishing up her dinner. "Where have you been?" Jazz asked curiously as Amelia shut the door behind her. Amelia shrugged.

"Out." She replied.

Jazz paused from picking up her dishes from the table. She stared at her best friend. "Doing anything illegal?"

Amelia frowned and shrugged again. She made her way to the fridge and got herself a can of soda. "Only to the humans."

Jazz sighed heavily, shook her head, and joined Amelia in the kitchen. She placed her dishes into the sink and turned to lean her back against the counter. She crossed her arms around her front and continued to stare at her roommate. She was about to lecture her on what she had done but knew there was no point. Instead, she changed the subject.

"I wanted to apologize about our conversation this morning." Jazz said. "It was wrong of me to snap at you. I know you just wanted to make sure I was alright."

Amelia smiled shortly and nodded her head. "I'm sorry too. I shouldn't have just assumed you killed someone."

"Well," Jazz smiled and turned back to the sink to start washing her dishes. "I may have before, but they announced on the news this morning that it was a random hit-and-run. The cops are out looking for the driver."

Amelia couldn't help herself. She grunted. "Not all the cops," she muttered. That caught Jazz's attention.

"What do you mean?"

Sighing, Amelia told her best friend the entire story. Jazz listened in silence as she finished washing her dishes. When the tale was over, Jazz turned to her friend.

"You really need to be more careful."

"I know that but — "

"No, you don't know that." Jazz snapped impatiently. "That detective's obviously got it in for you. You got away this time but only because you cheated. What if he comes after you again?"

Amelia smiled and walked up to her best friend, putting her arms around her and hugging her. "I'll be more careful." She said quietly into Jazz's ear. "I promise."

Jazz wiped her wet hands on Amelia's forearms, causing Amelia to disengage again. Jazz chuckled. "I'm just warning you. We all agreed to look out for each other so you can't just ignore me when I tell you you need to lay low. Alright?"

Amelia nodded slowly and resentfully agreed. She knew she had to be more careful but something about that detective irked her. She couldn't help but play on his obsession and see him fail.

"So what do you want to do tonight?" Amelia asked, changing the subject. "I was thinking a movie?"

Jazz wiped her hands on a towel and shook her head. "Can't. Tonight's a full moon, remember?" She glanced at the clock illuminating the relative time on their stove. "In fact, I should be getting down there soon. Don't forget that we need to take out the trash tonight, okay?" Amelia smiled and again nodded her head. The two friends exchanged goodnight and Jazz soon disappeared into the empty basement.


Grimly woke up approximately an hour after he was attacked by Amelia. He was drenched in rain from the light drizzle falling from the overcast sky. He sat up and felt a sharp pain issue from his lower back and head. He sighed heavily as he struggled to his feet. "Where am I?" He muttered. He looked around and saw the streets were completely deserted. His car still sat on the curb behind him, raising even more questions. "How did I get here?" He stood and tried to recall the events but all it did was cause him pain. Shaking his head, he searched his pockets for his keys and, upon finding them, staggered towards his car and headed towards home.

While he traveled, Grimly continued to try and recall what had happened. He had a vague recollection of wanting to find Amelia and follow her, but the last thing he could remember was saying goodbye to his fellow officers at the station. How he ended up all the way across town and four hours later didn't measure up.

Grimly gave up trying to remember what had happened as his Saturn pulled into his driveway. There were no lights on in the house, but that was something Grimly expected. He lived alone, three years divorced. He had no children and rarely had visitors. Like any stereotype of a cop, he was devoted to his work and had a very limited scope outside of his career.

When Grimly had exited his vehicle and made his way towards the front door, he stopped abruptly when his front porch light came on. He didn't have a sensor on the light. As he paused and watched the house in suspicion, the foyer light also clicked on. Grimly's hand automatically went for his gun in its holster. He snapped back the holding strap and placed his hand around the butt of the weapon. He was about to remove it when his front door opened. A gentleman wearing a black suit greeted him in his own house.

"Hello, Detective Grimly," he introduced. "My name is Agent Torres." The stranger removed something from his pocket and flashed the detective his badge. Grimly eased a little, but kept his hand trained on his weapon. "Would you like to come in?"

Grimly was not used to strangers inviting him into his own home and he took a step back. "Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?" His voice was razor sharp.

"My apologies," Torres said politely. "But I think you might want to come in. We need to talk." Torres stepped aside, still holding open the door for the detective. Hesitantly, Grimly entered his house and allowed Torres to shut the door behind them. Once secured inside, Torres turned to Grimly. He saw that Grimly still kept a close hand on his gun. Sighing, Torres nodded towards Grimly's holster.

"You might wanna ease up there, detective. I'm not here to hurt you." Grimly was still suspicious.

"You're in my home and have me at a disadvantage. I'm not moving my hand until you do some explaining." Torres frowned and nodded his head.

"Fair enough," he walked past Grimly and headed through the narrow hallway and into Grimly's kitchen. He continued to talk as he walked which forced Grimly to follow him. "I may have some information that you may find desirable."

"And what would that be?" Grimly was still tense as he joined Torres in the kitchen.

"It's about the girl you've been chasing: Amelia." Torres folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the island set in the middle of the kitchen. Grimly twitched at Amelia's name.

"What about her?" He asked gruffly.

"I know you've been chasing her for the last couple weeks."

"I have reason to believe she's kidnapped a child."

Torres' eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Oh, really?" He asked softly, looking thoughtful. "I had no idea. Well, then I suppose I shouldn't have to warn you about her being dangerous."

"I know she's dangerous." Grimly snapped. "She has a rap sheet longer than my arm. And that's only in this state." Torres nodded, not acting shocked by the news.

"She likes toying with people." Torres admitted. "Her and her friends….they're not good people."

Grimly stood back a moment. His hand finally dropped from his holster. Torres noticed and failed to hide an inward smile. "Her friends? You mean she has accomplices?" Torres shrugged and put his hands on the island behind him.

"Of sorts," Torres replied. "They're not an organized crime syndicate, if that's what you're thinking."

Grimly was confused. "So they all act alone in their crimes? Are you sure they're not part of a bigger gang ring?"

Torres chuckled and walked towards Grimly. "I think you're focusing on a very small picture, detective," Torres' voice was patient. "The only way they resemble a gang is that they look out for each other. But, like I said, they are in no way organized. In fact, aside from Amelia's history of theft and mild violence, none of them are doing anything against the law."

Grimly's brow furrowed. "So what leads you to believe they're dangerous? Do you have reason to suspect that her friends are hiding the girl Amelia kidnapped?"

Torres' voice remained silky but he was starting to lose patience. "You don't understand," his voice had a bit more force to it. "Her friends are not breaking any laws whatsoever. They appear to be decent people. They both have jobs, they both pay their taxes, they both stay out of the public spotlight. It is only Amelia who has done anything wrong as far as the law is concerned. But it is the three of them that are dangerous people."

Grimly thought he was beginning to understand, but couldn't be sure. "Why do you suspect that?"

"I don't suspect. It's a fact." Torres replied flatly.

"Well if you can't give me any kind of hard evidence," Grimly shrugged. "I'm afraid I can't help you." Torres smiled and the action gave Grimly a slight chill that he couldn't explain.

"You can help me. But I want you to understand that what I am asking you to do is not technically legal."

Grimly knew what that meant. He shook his head and put a few more steps between him and his intruder. "Then I can't help you. I'm not going to be involved in anything that's illegal."

Torres' smile widened. "And stalking Amelia is legal?" Grimly paused.

"How did you…" his voice trailed off and he paused. His demeanor changed from fear to confusion. "I haven't done that."

"Of course not." Torres nodded. "You don't remember doing it." Grimly didn't follow. He couldn't deny that he hadn't thought of following Amelia, but thinking was not illegal. Torres skipped over the minute explanation and stepped closer to Grimly. He put one arm around Grimly's shoulder and reached his free hand into his side pocket. "I still think you'll want to help me."

"Look, Agent Torres, I told you I want nothing to do with anything illegal."

"But you want to catch Amelia," Torres retorted. Grimly didn't bother trying to deny an infallible fact. "I can give you something that will help you. You can't take her on all by yourself." Grimly laughed.

"She's just a kid." Torres laughed in return.

"She's no kid. And I wasn't exaggerating about her and her friends being very dangerous. I was coming here just to warn you about them, but I think I have a better idea in mind now."

Grimly's eyes narrowed once again in suspicion. "And what's that?"

"I think you can help me." He removed an object from his pocket and held it up for Grimly to see.


Naomi was only an hour from leaving the hospital. She had been mandated to work an extra shift due to her cover having called out with the flu. She was exhausted and hungry but decided to remain focused.

She was just leaving the break room when her vision suddenly went black. She no longer saw the hospital around her. She saw an outdated kitchen in a modest house. She didn't recognize the kitchen or the two gentlemen standing in it. She heard muffled voices and saw the thinner man hold up something to the older, overweight person. She saw the overweight man's eyes widen. After several more seconds of voices hard to make out, she started to understand them as clearly as if she were really standing in the kitchen.

"I want you to have this," the taller man said.

"What is it?" The other gentleman asked.

"A name is not important, detective. Just know that it's highly important. It will come in handy against the girl." He handed over the small object to the detective and the other man took it. He still seemed confused.

"But what am I supposed to do with it?"

"You'll know when the moment comes," Torres said softly. The detective glared at the other man.

"That doesn't mean anything."

The taller gentleman lost patience. "Just keep it with you at all times, alright? Amelia will come for it." Naomi tensed when she heard her friend's name. "And once you have her, you can find a way to lure her other friends. No doubt they will try and rescue her."

The stoat detective studied the object in his hand suspiciously as the taller gentleman removed himself and walked across the kitchen. "I still don't understand." The older man said.

"Grimly," the younger man said impatiently. "If you want to catch Amelia, you need to do as I tell you. It's very simple."

"What is your interest in her?"

"That's privileged information." The younger man said. "Can I count on your help, or should I seek it somewhere else?"

The older man, Grimly, seemed only too eager to help. He wanted to catch Amelia and, it seemed, he would team up with anyone who would give him that opportunity. "I'll do it." He agreed.

The next thing Naomi knew, she was hearing her voice faintly. "..Naomi?"

Blinking her eyes several times, Naomi came back to reality. She looked around and saw two nurses standing cautiously in front of her. "Hmm?"

One of the nurses, a young girl in her early twenties, looked scared. Her friend, Rosa, took a step towards Naomi. She put a comforting hand on Naomi's shoulder. "Are you alright, hon? You're eyes went all black and you were unresponsive."

Naomi closed her eyes and sighed. She had never had a vision in front of her coworkers before and she wasn't sure how to explain it. She cursed Ra as her brain quickly tried to come up with a reasonable explanation. "I…I'm trying out this new medication," she nodded reassuringly. "I'm really sorry about the scare, guys, but I'm fine."

The two women nodded but didn't seem to completely believe her. "Would you like to go home?" Rosa asked helpfully. "You only have an hour left and I'm sure we can cover for you."

Naomi's mind went immediately to Amelia and she nodded her head. "Yeah, I think I will go home. My doctor said the side effects will wear off soon enough, though."

Her coworkers nodded again as Naomi forced a smile and turned away from them. She had to go warn Amelia about what she had seen. She recognized the name, Grimly, from what she had heard about the night Amelia was interrogated. Whatever that man had, it could not bode well for her friend.

Naomi only worked a short distance from the home she shared with her friends so she pulled into the driveway a mere fifteen minutes from leaving work. She walked in to the house to hear howling from the living room. Surprised, she walked in to find Amelia curled up on their couch and watching a movie. Amelia, seeing her friend home, pointed the remote at the television and paused the film.

"I thought you weren't supposed to be home for another hour." Amelia greeted her.

Naomi sighed and sat down in the loveseat adjacent from her friend. "I left early," she replied. "I had a vision."

Interested, Amelia leaned forward. "You haven't had a vision in months. What was it about?"

"It was about you." Amelia looked shocked. "Well, you weren't in the vision. But I saw that detective that has it in for you."

Amelia smiled. "Ol' Grimly?"

Naomi glared at her. "He was with another man. Someone I've never seen before. I didn't like the vibe he gave off. He was…" Naomi paused, searching for the right word. "Shifty." Thinking about the man, Naomi felt a chill rush through her. She shivered. Amelia's mind instantly went to the man whom she'd seen earlier in the pawn shop. Worry spread across her face.

"What did he look like?" Amelia pressed.

Naomi shrugged. "He was just dressed in a black suit. I don't remember his face." Amelia sat back against the couch and gazed off towards the window. Watching her, Naomi's curiosity was peaked. "Have you seen him before?"

Amelia then told her friend about the encounter in Jarrod's shop. The more Amelia revealed, the more concerned Naomi became. "I doubt it's the same person." Amelia shrugged. "How could it be? Maybe it was just a different guy. There's lots of shady humans out there."

Naomi shook her head. "I don't think we should be taking this so lightly." Amelia shrugged.

"I don't think we should get worked up about it. It's probably just a fluke." Again, Naomi stared at her friend.

"Have my visions ever been a fluke?"

Amelia shrugged innocently. "How should I know? You've been alive for thousands of years." She smiled at her friend, intent on lightening the mood. Naomi wasn't to be persuaded.

"I still think we should all be more careful. This man gave something to your detective friend. I think it has something to do with you. He said you would try and retrieve it from him."

"Well, if it's mine," Amelia replied casually.

"You need to be more careful, Mia." Naomi snapped. "I think you need to lay low for a while." Amelia groaned and rolled her eyes.

"Jazz told me the same thing earlier."

"So don't you think you should listen to us?" Amelia glared at her roommate.

"I'm not one of your servants, Naomi. It's been thousands of years since you were a pharaoh and yet you still think your power means something."

"If you keep acting rashly like this, Mia, things are going to get ugly very fast. We can't afford to get caught. We had a near miss with Jazz the other night and we can't afford to have random humans sneaking around us. You've already caused enough harm gaining the attention of that detective."

Amelia shrugged. "I already took care of him."

"Evidently not." Naomi again snapped. She paused for a few minutes, letting her anger subside. Breathing deep, she continued. "I just think you need to be careful. Stay here for the next couple of days. At least until things simmer down." Amelia said nothing but slowly nodded her head. It was not wise to usurp the authority of someone of Naomi's kind. They have a thing for curses.

"I will," Amelia replied.

"Good." Naomi allowed herself to relax. She glanced at the paused screen of their T.V. "What are you watching?"

"The Wolfman." Amelia replied. "I thought it was appropriate." She smiled at her friend.

"And where is the wolf?"

"In the basement. I assume she's been asleep for some time. I haven't heard anything."

Naomi shrugged as she stood up. "She's been under a lot of stress. It's better that she remains calm during the transformations." Naomi's eyes glanced out the window at the sky. "We still have three more nights of this." Amelia nodded.

"She'll be alright. Are you going to bed?"

Naomi nodded. "I work at eleven tomorrow. I have to think of a way to explain to my coworkers about what happened."

Amelia was shocked. "They saw you having a vision?"

Naomi nodded regretfully. "I don't know what I'm going to tell them."

A playful smile spread across Amelia's lips. "I have a nifty spell I can use." Naomi shot Amelia a dangerous glance.

"Don't even think about it." Amelia pouted in forced agreement. "Something like that can be traced really easily. I hope you haven't been using it."

"No," Amelia lied. "Of course not."

"Good. We don't need to draw anymore attention to ourselves." She walked up to her friend and gently patted her on the head. "Goodnight, Amelia."

"'Night." Amelia returned. The sounds of The Wolfman followed Naomi up the stairs to her room.


Amelia finished her movie and started the motions of shutting off the television, killing the lights and putting her dishes in the sink. After that was all finished, she stood in the middle of the darkened kitchen, listening. Naomi's bedroom lay right above the kitchen and the door to the basement was only four paces behind where Amelia stood.

For three minutes, Amelia stayed in the darkness, listening intently. No sound came from above and the only sound radiating from below was the occasional rattling of chains.

A smug smile consumed Amelia's face. Silently she grabbed her jacked from the closet in the adjoining room and slipped out of the house. She was not thrilled about going against the advice of her friends, but she had to reclaim what belonged to her.


Amelia's car parked across the street from the police station twenty minutes later. She got out of the car, locked it, and headed into the building.

It was shortly before midnight and the policemen on staff were scarce. Amelia slipped by the front desk past a man desperately pleading with the woman on duty to let him slide on a parking ticket.

Amelia soon found her way to Detective Grimly's desk. There were papers sporadically placed in no sensible organization. One single photo frame sat on the desk facing the empty chair. It was an older photo, Amelia surmised, based on the tan tint to the picture. It showed a young woman standing next to a much younger and thinner version of Grimly.

"What are you doing here?"

The voice startled Amelia and she almost jumped. Glancing beside her, she found herself face-to-face with a young cadet. She paused for a moment before smiling. "Hi. I'm from the state trooper's office. I was told I would find Detective Grimly here."

"Grimly's off this evening," the man replied, glaring at her suspiciously. Her folded his arms across his chest.

"I know that now," Amelia smiled innocently. She took a step closer to the cadet but he returned by taking a step back. Frustration almost overtook her but she struggled out another smile. Losing patience, she took a quick step closer to him and placed her left hand comfortingly on his forearm. "Listen," she said, her words gentle and silky. "I really don't have time to be messing around with you right now," Her hand squeezed tighter around his forearm and he struggled for a moment before his eyes became slightly clouded. "So do me a favor, love, and just go away. And tell your copper buddies that I'm here on official business so they shouldn't disturb me." She waited for his acknowledgment which came out in the form of a sloppy nod. She smiled sweetly. "Thank you." She let go of his arm.

When the minute hypnosis wore off, the young cadet simply delivered a curt nod to Amelia and walked away.

Amelia turned back to face the desk and rolled her eyes as she sighed heavily. "That was close," the muttered. Feeling confident that she was covered, she started searching through Grimly's desk. She was careful not to disturb too much of the area in case he was smarter than she thought and noticed the change. It wasn't until she got to the third drawer that she found what she was looking for. It was locked, but that was a simple parlor trick for Amelia. She quickly ushered up the smallest amount of magic and the drawer sprang open eagerly.

Amelia's violet eyes fell on the object she was looking for. She assumed it was the item that belonged to her, although she couldn't recall ever seeing it before. She removed it from the drawer and frowned thoughtfully as she studied it. She helped herself to Grimly's chair and scrutinized the detail. It was a small decahedron that had strange but enticing markings all around it. The longer she held it, the more fascinated she became with it. She started to question whether she hadn't seen it before; whether she didn't have it all this time. The rational part of her knew that was crazy because she had just taken it from Grimly's desk…but she knew it was hers. It belonged to her, and only her. It was her One Ring.

As Amelia stood up to leave with her reunited object, she suddenly felt a flash blow through her. It shocked her system so much that she fell back into the chair. Her eyes clouded over and her body started to seize. In her mind, images were flashing about. She saw the genesis of the decahedron; she saw her parents; she saw images popularized about witches and how everything had been foretold long ago. She saw so much and nothing in one short moment and then it was over.

Amelia, in a daze, came to to find herself surrounded by police officers. Her first instinct was to protect herself and run but she noticed they were all just watching her in concern.

"Is she alright?"

"Should we call an ambulance?"

She heard muffled voices all around her. The young cadet stepped through the crowd and put his hand on her shoulder. "Are you alright, miss?"

"I'm fine," Amelia said while swiftly sliding the object into her pocket. She managed an apologetic smile at the crowd and stood up slowly. "See? I'm OK. Sorry about the scare, people." Cautiously, the staff slowly dispersed. Once they were all gone, Amelia relaxed against the desk and breathed deeply.

"Do you need any water?" Amelia glanced up and her eyes once again fell on the cadet.

"I'm fine," she said sharply. "I'll come back tomorrow looking for Grimly." Without another word, Amelia slipped out of the police station and headed home.


Detective Grimly awoke the next morning to a buzzing noise coming from his bedside table. Groggily he felt around for his cell phone and answered it. "Hello?" He choked out.

"Detective Grimly, this is Agent Torres," Even over the phone, Torres' voice called for attention and Grimly couldn't help but sit straight up in bed as if Torres were right there. "We have some information we'd like to share with you, but you must get here as soon as you can."

Grimly glanced over at his clock. "It's three o' clock in the morning." He stated.

"I know, and we're sorry for waking you. However this is about your little pet project."

Grimly paused for a second to think it over, but there was no alternative. "I'll be right there." He said hurriedly and hung up the phone.


Less than an hour later, Grimly arrived at Torres' teams headquarters. He rushed in and demanded to see Amelia. Torres frowned at him.

"See her?" He repeated. "I'm afraid you misunderstand me, detective. Amelia isn't here."

Grimly was confused. "Then why did you call me?"

"There's been a breakthrough." Torres said proudly. He pulled out a chair for Grimly and, suspicious, Grimly slowly accepted. Once he was seated, Torres began to explain. "We placed cameras throughout your office. Nothing too high-tech, but after we placed the object in your desk, we had to make sure we knew when she would show up. And I must say," he chuckled inwardly. "It didn't take her as long as I suspected." Over Grimly's head, Torres nodded to one of his coworkers. Taking his cue, the coworker flipped on a monitor in front of Grimly's chair and started the playback.

Grimly watched the events that unfolded at his police station only hours before. The longer he watched, the more furious he became. When it was finished, Grimly's cheeks were deep magenta and his hands were clenched so tightly, his knuckles were beginning to turn white. "What was that?" Grimly finally choked out.

Torres chuckled lightly. "You don't understand, do you? It was a breakthrough."

"How is that a breakthrough!?" Grimly screamed, standing up so abruptly that his chair flew back behind him. Torres was shocked. "She broke into my place of work, flirted with one of the new cadets, pick-pocketed my desk and stole something from me. Where is that mentioned in the definition of 'breakthrough'?!" He was so angry, his whole near-200 pound frame was shaking.

Torres smiled and took a step closer to Grimly. "You don't understand," he spoke gently. "Her actions have propelled our entire investigation. She's escalated events faster than she can possibly understand, and it's all because of you, my friend." He clapped Grimly on the shoulder and allowed himself to laugh in triumph.

Grimly was starting to wonder, in the back of his mind, if he didn't just make a deal with the devil in Agent Torres. Shoving the thought aside, he expelled more of his anger. "Why didn't you simply arrest her?" He demanded. "You're all agents, right? Which means you have the ability to arrest people? If you were watching her break into a police building and into a police officer's desk, why didn't you intervene?"

Torres paused and considered the detective thoughtfully for several minutes before he replied. He sighed gently and placed his hands together.

"This is so much bigger than you understand." Torres shook his head and almost looked apologetic. "Don't beat yourself up over it, Grimly. It's impossible for you to understand because you really don't know everything that's going on here."

"Then fill me in," Grimly said impatiently. Torres chuckled.

"I can't. At least not yet. You would never understand. But you have to trust us."

Grimly glared at him. "Why?"

Torres smiled; a grin that sent several chills rushing down Grimly's spine. "Because without us," Torres said, his voice icy and but somehow enticing. "How else would you hope to catch Amelia? We have things under control here, detective, I can assure you." He placed his arm around Grimly's shoulder and started to walk him towards the door. "Don't get too worked up over the events of tonight, Grimly. In the morning, I promise you will never remember a thing."

When Grimly awoke the next morning, his memory was fuzzy. He tried to remember why it was that he was sleeping in his day clothes (with his shoes still on, no less) and how he came to wake up at eleven in the morning and miss half his shift at the police station.

Grimly had put a call into the office and had made up an excuse about being sick and sleeping through his alarm. He didn't think the chief bought such a flimsy explanation, but he was relieved when the chief told him to stay home. Grimly had spent the better part of the rest of the day trying to piece together the events from the previous night. What he remembered did not sit well with him. He had been alright with the idea of working with a guy like Torres. After all, it had been difficult not to take the man up on his seductive offer of helping Grimly track down Amelia. But Grimly was beginning to question the relationship as a beneficial one anymore. After the events from the previous night, he doubted if Torres was someone he should be connected to.

After thinking over his position for several hours, Grimly finally convinced himself to make a phone call. It took him a while to locate the business card Torres had given him but once he hand, Grimly picked up his phone and dialed the number. He cried out in outrage when he heard the familiar automated message call out from the receiver: "The number you have reached is not available at this time. Please hang up and…" Grimly slammed the phone down back onto its cradle and growled. He started to storm out of the room when the ringing of the phone brought him back. Surprised, he turned to it and picked it up. Apprehensively, he answered it.


"You called?" He recognized the voice as the one belonging to Agent Torres. Grimly's eyes narrowed in confusion.

"Your number said it was out of service." A chuckle returned to Grimly.

"A mere technicality, detective. Now what can I do to help you?"

"I wanted to see if we could meet somewhere. I needed to talk to you."

"I'm afraid I'm busy at the moment, detective. Perhaps it's something we can talk about over the phone?"

Knowing it was not the most tactful solution, Grimly settled. "I don't think we should work together anymore."

There was a deafening silence that fell between the two people. Grimly started to feel uncomfortable as if Agent Torres were standing in front of him and staring him down. When Torres finally spoke, his words were sharp and vicious. "Why is that, may I ask?" Grimly took a few seconds to reorganize his thoughts and find his voice again.

"I just think there is something shady about your organization. You won't even tell me what it is your organization does, or who you represent. Besides the fact that you ignored every restriction set in place and you put up cameras in my office."

"That was for your own benefit, Mr. Grimly." Torres' tone did not become any softer. "They were there to see if Amelia would try to take item you had. Don't you remember? You agreed to help us help you in tracking her down. You would not have found us without her and now that you have, you want to claim that we are acting out of order?" The more that Torres spoke, the louder his voice became until he was nearly shouting over the phone. Grimly shrunk back instinctively.

"I just think we should part ways here." Grimly said weakly. Torres chuckled darkly.

"If you wish, detective." Torres responded in his best veiled gentle tone. "But I suggest you reconsider. If you wish to do so, contact me before tomorrow with your reply. I look forward to hearing from you." Without waiting for any more conversation, Torres had hung up the phone and Grimly heard nothing but dulled silence before a bland dial tone kicked in.


Time was a funny thing. It passed without anyone noticing and it was as much a trickster as a sneaky street magician trying to slip away some of your money. Still, it was something Karin had used to her advantage. Time was at her mercy and, being that she was somewhat of an adopted street performer, she was delighted to keep time under raps.

Karin finished her routine by breathing fire out of her mouth and relighting a soaked torch. The crowd cheered wildly as Karin smiled and bowed. "Thank you," she called out, extinguishing the torch in the nearby bucket of water. She smiled and thanked every person who tossed money into her hat as the crowd dispersed. A quick glance at the hat told her she'd made about $500 in that performance. She smiled. It was easy to remove people from their money when your skill was as visual as hers. Once the last customer had left, Karin picked up her tools of the trade, called a cab and headed off to the bus station.

Karin made it to the bus station and bought a one way ticket north. She was on her way to see some old friends, she conversationally told the ticket woman as she scheduled in Karin's tickets. "I haven't seen them in a couple years and it'll be nice to be reunited." The ticket woman smiled politely at Karin and nodded, saying nothing. Karin decided to change the subject. "How long is the trip, do you know?"

"It's about three and a half hours." The woman replied. "Depending on the traffic."

"Is there a lot of traffic this time of day?"

The woman paused in her work and frowned thoughtfully. "Two o'clock on a Wednesday morning. No, I don't think there would be a lot."

"But enough time for a nap." Karin concluded. She smiled sheepishly. "I kinda need one," she confided. The woman again smiled politely and nodded without another word. Karin wondered if she was forbidden to discuss anything non-transportation related, or if she simply chose not to. A few minutes later, Karin's tickets were printed out and the woman handed them over the counter to her.

"The bus should be arriving on schedule in the next ten minutes. You should be on your way in about a half hour."

"Thanks." Karin smiled and accepted her tickets. She walked over to an empty seat in the bus terminal and sat. The woman behind the counter took an hour after Karin's departure to notice that her slim gold banded watch that had been on her wrist was missing.

Karin smiled as she gently cradled the lady's watch in her pocket. It probably had not been the wisest idea to steal it from the woman, but her skills were a little lacking and she couldn't allow Amelia to best her at petty theft. Besides the watch had been so shiny. She had to possess it.


Amelia quietly slipped back into her house to be met by Jazz. Day had broken as Amelia pulled into the driveway. Jazz knew instantly that Amelia had went against her suggestion and she sighed heavily at her best friend.

Amelia, knowing she was caught, guiltily slid against the wall and remained silent with her head down.

"Where the hell were you?" Jazz hissed.

"Why are you whispering?" Amelia asked.

"Because Naomi just went upstairs with her coffee and I don't want her to find out what you did." Jazz snapped. She roughly passed her friend and made her way to back to the stairs when she abruptly turned. "You know," she added. Amelia turned to face her friend. "I can't believe you. I really thought this time that you'd listen to us. But I know now that it's impossible for you. I thought maybe since we're like you, maybe you wouldn't treat us like you do the rest of the humans. But I guess we're no different from them."

"Jazz, it's not —"

"Spare me your excuses, Amelia. I don't want to hear them. You've lied to us too much for too long and it's not important to you anymore whether we're in this together or not. You put yourself in constant danger and you're bringing even more danger on us." Jazz laughed aloud and threw her hands up in hopelessness. "And I thought you were worried about me the other day."

"I am worried." Amelia said defensively, hurt. Jazz laughed again.

"You're not. If you were, you would think twice about putting us more in the spotlight." She saw Amelia open her mouth to speak and she glared at her friend. "Don't bother," She said icily. "This conversation is through. I don't want to talk to you until you figure out where your priorities are. And if they aren't with us, you might as well just leave." Knowing it would do more harm than good to say anything in her own defense, Amelia remained silent as her best friend left the room. Not too long after, Amelia followed suit and secluded herself in her own bedroom to sleep.

An hour later Amelia still lay on her bed, hopelessly awake. She was still staring at the object she had stolen back from Grimly. She was fighting with her missing memories, trying to recall where she had seen it before. She had a gut wrenching feeling that it definitely belonged to her so she had to have seen it somewhere.

Both Jazz and Naomi had left for work so Amelia was a little surprised when she heard the front door to her house open. Instantly concerned that someone was there to attack her, she jumped up from her bed and thrust the decahedron back into her pocket. She calmly opened her bedroom door and silently began to descend the stairs. As she made it to the bottom, she was immediately approached by a familiar face.


Amelia paused at once and stared dumbly at the intruder. "Karin?" She choked out. Karin's smile widened and she nodded her head.

"What's up?" She said cheerfully. "Do you guys have any food? I would kill for an apple." With that said, she made her way into the kitchen. Still trying to recover from the shock, Amelia slowly followed. She found Karin as her old friend snagged a McIntosh apple from the produce basket on the counter and bit into it. Her eyes rolled back in bliss and she bounced around happily as she ate. "I love apples." She said through a mouthful of fruit. It took several bites for Amelia to finally settle back down to reality.

"Karin…" Amelia started slowly. "It's not as if I'm not happy you're here..but what exactly are you doing here?"

"I came to help you." Karin replied. She then found her way to the dining room table and she sat while still munching on the apple. Amelia looked at her quizzically.

"Help?" She repeated.

"Yeah," Karin shrugged. She paused her eating long enough to look Amelia in the eye. "I know I have a reputation of not working well with others. I can't help it. It's my nature. But we're friends — have been for a long time — and when I heard that you guys were in trouble…"

The latter part caught Amelia's close attention. She pulled up a chair for herself and sat next to her friend. "What kind of trouble?"

"You don't know?" Karin laughed, thinking her friend was playing off a joke. When she noticed Amelia was serious, the smile disappeared and Karin found herself sliding back in her chair. "…oh… Well," Karin cleared her throat as she tried to think of a way to diverge the topic of conversation. "You are in trouble, right?"

"Well…sort of," Amelia admitted. "I have this detective on my back but he's just annoying and not dangerous. And we thought Jazz had killed someone a little while ago, but it turns out she had nothing to do with it. And Jazz and Naomi hate me at the moment…but none of this is new."

Karin couldn't help but keep the smile beaming on her face. It had something else to do with her nature: she was a bragger. "You really have no idea, do you?" She sat back in her chair comfortably and smiled.

Amelia glared. She adored Karin, but the gloating always became aggravating very quickly. "What do you know?"

"Remember," Karin said, adjusting her stance to lean in closer to her friend. "This is all speculation. I'm a street performer. I hear things." She shrugged. "And I heard that someone's harking after you here and I came to check up on you. And, I admit, get in some of the action. My life's so boring."

Amelia paused a moment and stared at her friend. "You breathe fire on the streets to onlookers who give you lots of money."

Karin waved her hand dismissively and shook her head. "That's because they think what I do is difficult. It's too easy just to take things from people."

Amelia did a routine glance around the room and immediately noticed there was a missing item. "You took Naomi's bracelet that she left on the table."

Karin's grin spread across her entire face. Her eyes danced in playfulness as she dangled said bracelet out in front of Amelia. "Did I?" She asked innocently. Amelia glared at her again before snatching the bracelet from her. Karin laughed. "And hear I thought my skills were rusty. Now seriously, Amelia. Someone is after you and you will need me."

"I already told you I knew about that."

"The detective you mentioned?" Karin scoffed. "No, he's not who I mean. Well, he's not unless he is moonlighting as a representative from a secret underground organization. And he's not just after you, specifically. He's after all of you."

Amelia rolled her eyes. "'Secret underground organization'? C'mon, Karin. That's lowbrow. We're not characters in a comic book; how can we draw the attention of some secret organization?"

"I know it sounds stupid," Karin conceded and she shrugged. "But that's all I know right now. I haven't had time to do any leg work. As soon as I learned about this, I did another show to get ahold of some petty cash and I came here. Do you know of any reason why they'd be after you?"

Amelia's mind instantly flew to the object hidden in her pocket. Hesitantly she began to tell Karin everything that had happened the night before. When she got to the point in the story about the unknown object, she removed it from her pocket and laid it on the table. Karin stared at it for a while before asking, "What is it?"

Amelia shrugged. "That's just it: I don't know."

"But you took it?"

Again, Amelia shrugged. "I take a lot of things. But this is different, Karin. I mean, when I picked it up…." she hesitated, unsure how to explain the events. "It did something to me."

"Did what?" Karin's curiosity won out and she picked up the object thoughtfully to study it closer.

"I don't know. I saw a bunch of things in my head. Images, memories… and when I came to, I think I remember hearing someone say I had a seizure."

Karin's orange-tinted eyes flicked towards her friend. "A seizure?" She repeated skeptically.

"I doubt it was an actual seizure," Amelia replied. "I don't have a history of epilepsy. And it wasn't like I was overwhelmed with stress or strobe lights. I just saw a bunch of things all at once."

"Well," Karin said thoughtfully as she placed the object back down on the table. "I think we should keep it."

"What about Jazz and Naomi?" Amelia asked, worried. Karin shook her head immediately.

"Don't tell them."

"They already know I have it."

"No," Karin reminded. "They know you went out last night and they think you know where you went. You said you didn't tell Jazz what you had and she didn't ask. I think it's safer if they don't know."

Amelia sighed and rolled the object in her hand absentmindedly. "I don't know," she muttered. "I've already done enough damage to them. I can't lie to them again."

"Alright," Karin sighed and stood up from her chair to look for more food in the kitchen. "But you need to trust me that it's dangerous. I think, until we know what it is and why they wanted you to have it, we should keep it between us."

"What makes you think they wanted me to have it?" Amelia asked. Karin laughed.

"If these people are who I think they are, you wouldn't have gotten away unless they wanted you to have it. Now," Karin took another bite of a different apple. "Since we have the rest of the day to ourselves, I think we should go see what ol' Jarrod's up to. I haven't seen him in a while."


Jarrod had opened his shop only ten minutes prior. He glanced out of the large store windows and knew that today was going to be a slow one. Sighing heavily, he stepped back into his office to make a fresh pot of coffee. Right as he pushed the on button and the coffee started to percolate, Jarrod heard the front door open. "Be right there!" He called out as he shoved the coffee tin back into the small cupboard. He smiled as he left the doorway of his office. "Can I help you?" Jarrod froze when his eyes fell on the customer. The person could only be described as a figure. Dressed all in black with no skin showing, the figure looked ominous. Jarrod instantly thought the same as what would occur to any shop owner: he was about to be robbed at gun point. Before Jarrod could think to act on anything, the figure pulled down its black hood and revealed the face of a man. He looked in his late twenties, but it was difficult to determine his age. He had a shaved head with tribal looking tattoos imbedded in his skull. When he looked at Jarrod, Jarrod was surprised to notice that the man's eyes were two different colors. The one on the right was a navy blue while the one on the left was a deep crimson. The man said nothing for several moments; only stood in Jarrod's presence and soaked up the fear in the room.

Jarrod slowly began to settle back down into reality. His voice wavered as he spoke. "Is there anything I can help you with?" Instinctively he backed up against the wall and kept as much distance between himself the the visitor as possible. The man smiled and Jarrod noticed, with quite a bit of shock, that the man's teeth were all jagged and pointed.

The door suddenly opened again while Jarrod was pinned against the back wall in fear. Agent Torres stepped into the shop and promptly locked the door behind him. Walking up to the counter, he stood next to the sharp-toothed man and smiled. "Hello, Jarrod." He said smoothly. Jarrod's eyes flickered towards Torres and he involuntarily shuddered. "We have come to ask you a few questions."

"He—he's with you?" Jarrod choked out.

Torres frowned thoughtfully and shrugged. "In a way," he replied. "He's my security."

"For what?" Jarrod asked, never daring to take his eyes off the greater evil for more than a few seconds.

A slim smile slid across Torres' lips. "In case you fail to cooperate. But as I said before, Mr. Shields, you seem like a reasonable man. So I feel certain you will cooperate with us." Torres raised his hands and tugged his form-fitting leather gloves tighter over his palms. "Now," he said casually. "I want you to tell us about all contact you've had with the girl named Amelia and any of her accomplices."

"I told you before," Jarrod said with as much courage as he could muster. "I don't really know her. She comes into my shop from time to time but it's not like we're friends."

Torres' eyes gleamed but he still looked very dangerous. "Oh, I doubt that." He said softly. He watched Jarrod for several seconds before he tsked and shook his head. "People shouldn't lie to me, Jarrod. I know when they're lying." Jarrod's heart raced in his chest and the pulsing of adrenaline made him begin to sweat.

"I'm not lying." He replied weakly. Even he didn't believe that lie.

"I like you, Jarrod. As much as I can, anyhow. With that in mind, I want to give you one last chance to recant your previous story. If you refuse to give us the correct information, I'm afraid my little friend here is going to have a bit of fun tonight. And trust me: he's been begging for some fun for quite a while, so I can assure you he won't be gentle." Torres stepped up to the counter, placed his hands on the glass, and leaned closer to Jarrod. Jarrod had nowhere to go. "What is your relationship to any of the people I have mentioned to you before?"

Jarrod attempted to stall for time. "Why do you think you can get information out of me?" He asked. As he spoke, a little more of his courage and defiance came back.

Torres chuckled. "You're running low on time, m'boy. My friend here is getting more excitable by the minute." Jarrod could tell what Torres was saying was true. The strange man was starting to almost shake with anticipation, staring hungrily at Jarrod. Every instinct Jarrod had was screaming for him to run away but he knew it would only be hopeless. Swallowing hard, he forced himself to meet Torres' gaze.

"I told you," he said firmly, having to concentrate on every word he said to steady his voice. "I don't know anything about Amelia or her friends."

Torres smiled sinisterly. "Well," he resigned. "If that's how you want your loyalties to lie….but don't say I didn't give you the proper chance to save yourself." Torres turned his back and started to walk towards the front entrance. As he walked past his cohort, he muttered, "Your turn."

Before Torres made it to the door, the strange man had lunged over the counter and jumped Jarrod. Jarrod cried out, but Torres had made sure that his screams would not be heard by anyone.


Twenty minutes after the attack, Amelia and Karin left Amelia's car a block away from Jarrod's shop. They talked and compared theft notes as they walked, occasionally making each other laugh. They bustled through the wind and approached Jarrod's shop. When they got there, they saw nothing amiss with the place. There was no sign of destruction and everything seemed normal. The door was again unlocked as they stepped in.

"Jarrod?" Amelia called, quickly closing the door behind herself and Karin. There was no usual reply, so Amelia shot her friend a curious look and tried again. "Jarrod! It's Amelia. You didn't step out for a while, did you?"

"Oh, look!" Karin cried out excitedly and rushed over to the far wall where Jarrod kept most of his gold collection. "Shiny!"

Amelia couldn't help but smile but she rolled her eyes at her friend's antics. "Aren't we here to see Jarrod?" She reminded. Karin looked back at Amelia and pouted.

"But….shiny…." she repeated, her claws on the glass. Amelia smiled again.

"Fine. I'll look for him. He should be around here some place." Amelia started to walk towards the counter in search of the shop owner. Over her shoulder, she called back at Karin: "And no stealing!" Karin froze immediately with a thin gold bracelet hanging delicately between her fingers. With much difficulty she placed the bracelet back into it's display. No sooner than she had done so then she heard Amelia's scream from the direction of the counter. "Karin!" She screamed so loudly that her voice cracked. Karin instantly raced to her side.

"What is it?" Karin asked concerned. Amelia said nothing, just stared straight ahead. Karin followed her gaze and her eyes fell on the body. She gave out an involuntary shriek and instantly took a step back as her hand flew over her open mouth.

Jarrod lay in a bloody heap on the floor. His throat, cheeks and wrists were covered with small, razor sharp cuts. Amelia remained in shock while Karin fought to regain stability. When she could think a little more fluently, Karin cautiously stepped up next to her friend. "Is he alright?"

As if on cue, Jarrod coughed. The action was covered by the gurgling sound in his throat. He choked out some blood as his eyes struggled to open.

"I don't think alright, but he's alive." Amelia sighed in semi-relief. She rushed behind the counter and sat next to her friend. Karin followed shortly after. Amelia then looked at her friend. "What should we do?"

Karin shrugged. "Call the cops," she replied matter-of-factly.

Amelia shook her head. "We can't do that."

"Why not? That's what humans do when they find a friend in danger, Mia. They call the authorities." Amelia shot a glare at her friend but again responded with a shake of her head.

"Don't you remember my whole story about Grimly? He knows that I come here. He knows I talk to Jarrod. What if…"

"Ah," Understanding washed over Karin's face and she nodded. "So you think you're little detective buddy did this?"

"Well, not did it, no. But maybe he had something to do with it." Karin shook her head doubtfully but let the conversation end for now. Her gaze focused on Jarrod as she ran through the options of what to do.

"We need to take him in ourselves." Amelia said.


"Because we can't risk Grimly finding out that we know what he did. Maybe he'd come after us."

"Amelia," Karin sighed, but bit her tongue on furthering the conversation. After stalling for another minute in order to think of another option, she could come up with no other solution. They had to get Jarrod to the hospital immediately. "Fine. I'll go get your car." She held out her hand for the keys and Amelia gratefully handed them over.


An hour later, Amelia and Karin were sitting in the waiting room of the hospital. They had spoken little since getting Jarrod inside and with the doctors. They had written in as much information about Jarrod as they could provide and waited for any word about his condition. The tension was high in the empty waiting room. Amelia kept rubbing her hands together and Karin sat, silently, in deep thought. Finally she was the one to break the silence.

"Do you think we should talk about what we saw on Jarrod?"

Amelia immediately shook her head. "I don't wanna talk about it." She replied hurriedly.

"I think we have to."

"Why?" Amelia snapped, glaring at her friend. "It's pointless. Plus it's ridiculous." Karin held up her hands hopelessly in defeat and fell back into silence. After several minutes, she started muttering quietly to herself.

"Razor thin cuts. Lots of blood."

"Stop it." Amelia warned.

Karin, as usual, did as she wanted and continued to think aloud. "And I hate to say it, but I'm pretty sure on his wrists — "

"I said stop it." Amelia's voice was dangerous.

"Bite marks." Karin concluded.

"I said stop!" Amelia screamed. The expended energy from Amelia billowed out in all directions and broke two tabletop lamps sitting in the waiting area. The receptionist barely noticed, fully concentrated on her paperwork. Karin leaned a little closer to her friend and whispered:

"Do you really think it's wise to start using magic in the middle of a human-run hospital?"

"I don't care," Amelia hissed through clenched teeth.

"Yes, you do." Karin retorted. She relaxed back against her chair. "And I know you don't want to think about the reality of what attacked Jarrod, but I think we still have to discuss it." Amelia refused and remained in stubborn silence for several minutes. Finally she sighed heavily and shook her head.

"I shouldn't even have to dignify this by saying it but I will tell you: it isn't possible."

"What isn't possible?" Karin asked innocently. Amelia glared coldly at her friend for being forced to utter the thought aloud.

"It's not a vampyre." Amelia spat out.

Karin shrugged. "I hope not. Vampyres are disgusting. But," she sighed. "Based on all the information we have about his attack, we need to at least consider the possibility —"

Amelia shook her head. "No. Vampyres aren't here. There haven't been vampyres anywhere near here for years. If there were any, Jazz would know about them."

"She would know if they had been here a while." Karin pointed out. "But what if they had just arrived." This new theory caught Amelia's attention and she stared at her friend for a moment.

"Like the decahedron." It was Amelia's turn to think aloud. "I know that wasn't here days ago. But why would a vampyre come now?"

Karin shrugged again. "That's a good question, but I don't know. I've heard that a lot of the old school vampyres have died off. They're not a classy species anymore. A lot of them are just trash. So maybe that means that someone brought one here…? But then why would they attack Jarrod?" Karin sighed and gave up. No matter how much they tried to piece together, they always ended up lost. There were way too many questions to be answered.

The two friends fell into silence once again, both pondering the possibilities. Finally it was Karin again to break the quiet. "You don't think Jarrod is a —"

Knowing where the question was going, Amelia laughed aloud. "A vamp? No way."

Karin shrugged and stood up from her chair. "Well I'm out of ideas for now. How about we get some coffee in the cafeteria? Jarrod should still be with the doctors for a while." Amelia nodded in agreement and the two women left the waiting area.

When Jazz returned home from work, she found herself alone at the house. Both Naomi's and Amelia's cars were missing from their driveway and all the lights were off. She felt a cold chill run through her as she walked up the short walkway to the front door. Instinctively, she glanced behind her to see if anyone was following her. She saw no one and, reluctantly, she returned her focus to her front. As she continued to walk, she could feel the tiny hairs on the back of her neck begin to stand up. She shivered but tried to ignore her emotions as she unlocked the front door and stepped inside.

It was a little after three p.m. but the overcast sky outside made it seem like night was steadily approaching.

Jazz glanced into Amelia's bedroom when she ascended the stairs and headed for her own. Her heart fell in her chest when she saw the door was shut. The house felt very large and abandoned and Jazz worried that her best friend really had left them for good. She tried to tell herself that it would be better if Amelia would leave for a while, but she knew even her thoughts were lies. Sighing heavily, she stepped into her own room and shut the door.


Naomi was on break in the cafeteria when she came upon a familiar face. Walking up to her, Naomi announced her presence. "Amelia? What are you doing here?" The young woman that was sitting next to Amelia at a table turned her head to look at Naomi. Naomi was even more shocked. "Karin?"

Karin smiled happily. "Hi, Noms." She said affectionately. She patted the seat next to her. "Come sit with us." Naomi did, unable to take her eyes off of the friend she had not seen in years. Before she could find her voice to speak again, Karin carried on the conversation. "Amelia and I were just discussing some issues that have seemed to come up."

Naomi's eyes flickered towards her roommate and friend. "Issues?" She repeated.

Amelia forced a small smile and nodded. "With the detective," she replied nonchalantly. Picking up her styrofoam cup of coffee, she took a sip. She swallowed before continuing. "And with Jarrod."

"What's wrong with Jarrod?"

"Well, that's why we're here," Karin admitted. "Jarrod was…attacked."

Naomi's mouth fell open. "What? When did this happen?"

Karin chuckled. "You work here, don't you? Shouldn't you already know this?"

Naomi shook her head. "I work with mostly patients, not in the E.R. What happened with Jarrod?"

Karin and Amelia shrugged in unison. "We don't know." Amelia spoke. "Karin showed up this morning after you and Jazz left for work. She mentioned how she hadn't seen Jarrod in a long time, so I took her over to see him. But it was the weirdest thing, Naomi. Nothing in the store was disturbed. It was almost as if someone went in there just to attack him."

"We think it was a vampyre." Karin confided before taking a sip of her coffee. Naomi almost choked on her tea and Amelia glared momentarily at Karin.

"You don't need to bring that up again." Amelia hissed.

"Why not?"

"Because these humans might think we're crazy." Amelia snapped, her voice low.

"No. You calling these people 'humans' will make them think we're crazy." Karin pointed out calmly before she turned her attention back to Naomi. "But seriously. We're thinking vampyre."

"That's not possible." Naomi replied.

"That's what I told her." Amelia said.

"Based on the wounds," Karin continued calmly. "It seems to be the only explanation."

"Unless it was someone who was trying to make it look like a vampyre." Naomi pointed out. Karin paused for a moment in thought before she brought up a logical paradox.

"If someone were to make it look like a vampyre attack, why would they attack Jarrod?" Naomi opened her mouth to respond before she realized she didn't have an alternate motive. "Jarrod's not supernatural and I doubt he dabbles in the supernatural. Well, except for Amelia." Amelia shot a glare at her friend, to which Karin ignored. Amelia furthered Karin's train of thought.

"The only other thing we could think of is that someone would want to rob Jarrod. He's not exactly sitting on top of a treasure trove, but he may have some things in his shop that could be worth a bit of money. But nothing was taken from the place."

"Well, one thing was." Karin muttered. Both Naomi and Amelia stared at their friend. Knowing she was caught, she picked something out of her pocket and laid it on the table. It was the same slim gold bracelet she had picked up from the counter at Jarrod's shop.

"Karin!" Amelia hissed, snatching the bracelet away. "I thought I told you not to take anything." Karin shrugged dismissively.

"You can't tell a dog not to bark, or a horse not to run."

"You can, actually." Amelia snapped. Karin shrugged once more.

"I'm telling you that's my nature. That's all."

Amelia rolled her eyes but let the discussion drop. She turned back to the real topic but before she could say anything, Naomi said it for her. "There are no vampyres anymore."

"You guys keep saying that but obviously you have to be wrong."

"There haven't been any real vampyres in a hundred years." Naomi pointed out. "How could one suddenly turn up?"

Karin shrugged. "Time machine?" It was Naomi's turn to roll her eyes. "Look, I know it sounds ridiculous but even Amelia saw the body —"

"Don't call him that." Amelia whispered.

"Fine. Jarrod. Amelia saw Jarrod's wounds. They have all the classic markings."

Naomi sat in silence for a while, her mind trying to work out everything that had been brought to her attention. She kept shaking her head and muttering to herself: "It isn't possible."

After a while, Karin stood up from her chair and broke Naomi's thoughtful trance. "If you want to come up with a different theory, please let us know. I hate vampyres and I would really hate to have Jarrod to be the victim of a creature so lame. But, until we find any contrary evidence, we might have to deal with this, Noms." Karin patted her old friend on the shoulder as Amelia also stood up from the table and stood beside her friend. "We'll be out in the waiting area if you need us."

An hour later, Naomi passed by the nurse's station to overhear two nurses talking in hushed tones. She overheard a conversation about a patient with suspicious wounds all over his body with apparent bite marks on his wrist. Shocked, Naomi quietly slipped into the shadows to hear more without being detected. She heard the room number and immediately went off towards the ICU.

None of the on-duty staff asked Naomi if she was supposed to be in that area of the hospital. They seemed not to even notice she was there. Wanting to keep it that way, Naomi slipped into Jarrod's room.

He was covered with tubes and needles. He looked in bad shape, but Naomi could tell from a quick look at the readouts that he was stable. Pulling up a stool, Naomi sat herself next to her friend's bed and reached out for his hand. She held it absentmindedly as her eyes surveyed Jarrod's wounds. The more she saw, the more she was beginning to believe in Amelia's and Karin's theory. It went against everything she knew as fact. Vampyres were long gone from this region. She had heard rumors that they still existed in small hordes in other parts of the world (mostly in Russia and Siberia. The cold was a perfect place for the undead to live), but she never gave the rumors much thought. She considered them naive romantic fallacies of those humans fortunate enough to never have to deal with that species. Vampyres were neither romantic nor seductive. The few she had had the displeasure of meeting in her prolonged lifetime had been little more than lower intelligence beasts who did whatever they wanted simply because they had no self-control or intelligence to tell them otherwise.

Still if it was true that a real vampyre was responsible for Jarrod's injuries then… Naomi sighed in exasperation and put her head down on the side of Jarrod's hospital bed. She was exhausted from the long hours of work and the longer stress put on her brain. The logical part of her knew she shouldn't entertain wild ideas of children, but she knew equally that she couldn't deny the truth of what she was seeing.

Jarrod suddenly stirred in his bed. Naomi looked up, surprised. Jarrod's mouth open and he breathed heavily several times. Finally he whispered a single name before he fell back into a deep sleep. "Amelia?"


Naomi and Amelia were still sitting on the living room when Naomi returned from her visit to Jarrod. She offered no pleasantries but sat down and went straight to business. "It might have been a vamp." She admitted, looking disgusted at having to say her thought aloud. Amelia was disappointed, hoping Naomi would have come up with another theory. Karin, on the other hand, was elated.

"I told you." She smiled happily. Naomi shot her a cold glance.

"I don't think this is what we need to be happy about." She warned. Karin shrugged.

"I take it where I can." Knowing both of her friends were busy staring daggers at her, she backed down. "OK, I know this is serious. Had to lighten the mood. Anyway, now what?"

Naomi looked confused. "What do you mean, 'now what'?"

"What do we do?" Karin asked. "Do we go trying to track it down? Do we try to find the person who did this? Do we create a small but organized stakeout at Jarrod's shop and hope the beast comes back for more? You know they're blood thirsty."

"You both will go back home." Naomi said firmly. "I get off in three hours. Jazz should be there. make sure she's safe and I'll see you there." She fixed her friends with a very stern gaze until they both sheepishly agreed. As they started to head out the door together, Naomi called after them. "If anything comes up with Jarrod, I'll let you know." Amelia and Karin nodded in unison as they walked away.

As soon as they were outside the hospital doors, the two women stopped and stared up at the sky. It was starting to darken again into night. After a while, Amelia broke the silence. "I liked the idea of doing a stake-out."

"Agreed. But I don't think it'll do any good. At least not tonight. The vamp already ate and wouldn't return. Besides, we really should check up on Jazz and make sure she's ok."

Amelia nodded. "Good point." As she started heading towards the parking lot and her car, she continued in an after-thought. "After all, it would suck to have to listen to Naomi lecturing us."

Karin chuckled. "Yeah, that too."


Jazz had been trying to talk herself into heading towards the basement for the better part of an hour. Yet she still remained standing in the middle of the kitchen in wait. She wanted to make sure her friends were alright before locking herself up for the night. The rising moon, however, waited for no one and started it's steady climb into the sky. Jazz sighed heavily in resolution. It would be too risky to wait any longer.

She turned towards the basement door and was about to take a step when she heard soft footsteps land on the linoleum behind her. Before she could turn, someone clamped their hand around her mouth. She tried to bite at them but they were holding some kind of kitchen cloth. Her eyes started to flutter and she realized too late that she had been forced to inhale chloroform.

Her body collapsed on her attacker before too long. He brought her safely to the floor before standing over her. He smirked at her vulnerability. "Have fun tonight, my pet." He said in a rough voice before he swiftly left the house without a trace.


Five years prior…

Jazz was on vacation with her then boyfriend, Carlos. They had traveled to Costa Rica for a relaxing vacation and to see all the wildlife. Since Jazz was a little girl, she'd always loved animals. She didn't grow up on farmland although her small hometown was had a lot of farmland on the outskirts. Even so, her parents maintained their fair share of pets. They always had several chickens, roosters, rabbits, dogs, cats and, at one point, two chinchillas.

Jazz had known since she was little that she wanted to work with animals. This interest opened up a lot of career options for her.

Carlos' and Jazz's vacation had taken place shortly after their high school graduation. Their first day on vacation had been stressful. Dealing with airport security and spending an hour waiting for their flight and another several hours stuck in coach made them both exhausted and a tad irritable. But once they had landed in their destination and Jazz had time to look around at where she was, she could feel all her excitement rush back to her in a wave of adrenaline.

They had made it.

Carlos and Jazz found their luggage and had arranged for a car to take them to their hotel. Once they had settled down, Carlos joined his girlfriend in front of their room's window. They had a beautiful view of the city below. Carlos put his arms around Jazz's waist and held her.

"I love that I'm here with you." Carlos cooed in Jazz's ear. Jazz hummed affectionately.

"Me too." She turned to face her boyfriend and wrapped her arms around her shoulders. "This is going to be the best vacation ever." She leaned in and placed a soft yet quick kiss on his lips. "I think first thing tomorrow we should go to the concierge and see what type of safari-like adventures they have." Excited, Jazz pulled away from Carlos and went to sit on the bed. Carlos shortly followed her lead.

"What about our plans for this evening?" Carlos asked, staring at her lovingly. Jazz glanced over Carlos' shoulder to the digital clock sitting on the nightstand. It read seven: thirty-seven, local time. Back home, it was after nine-thirty. Jazz couldn't help but admit she was fatigued from the day's journey but she tried her best to ignore her body's complaining.

"I'm hungry." Jazz replied. "What about you?"

Carlos smiled and shrugged. "I am a bit," he admitted as he reached out to hold Jazz's hand. "But I'm also really exhausted. So how about we order in room service and stay right here?" He leaned in closer and planted several small kisses on the nape of her neck.

"I don't want room service." Jazz replied, slowly peeling herself away from her boyfriend. It was not as if she were rejecting his show of love, but she knew what he had in mind and she didn't want to spend their entire vacation in another beautiful country in their hotel room. She wanted to explore. Pulling away from Carlos, she gently placed a hand on his chest and held him at bay.

"Why don't we go down to the ocean? They're bound to have a cute little restaurant there." Reluctantly Carlos gave in with a nod of his head.

After Jazz and Carlos had finished their meal, they decided to take a short walk on the beach. They were from the coast, but it was nice to feel the sand of another country through ones toes. It was also a plus to not have to be bundled up in heavy clothing while walking along the waves of the Atlantic, as they needed to do at home. They held hands and talked quietly to one another. Jazz's heart was full and she felt as if she were flying. It was only their first evening, but she was so blissfully happy to be in such a beautiful country with the man she loved.

As the two lovers continued to walk, the sky soon darkened as it gave way to night. But there was more than enough light to see by with the full moon shining brightly and reflecting off the glass-like waves of the sea. Jazz stopped for a moment as she looked out at the ocean. She was transfixed at the sight.

"Isn't it so beautiful?" She asked of Carlos. Carlos wrapped his arms around her.

"It is." He replied softly. "Almost as beautiful as you." Jazz rolled her eyes but couldn't help but giggle. Carlos slipped away from his beloved and grabbed her hand. "Now I hate to ruin this moment between you and the scene, but can we please go back to our room now? I am really tired." One look at her boyfriend told Jazz he was speaking nothing but the truth. She had forced him to adventure with her long enough. Smiling softly, she nodded her head. Grateful, Carlos led her back in the direction of their hotel.

It still took them nearly twenty minutes to walk back the way they had come to get back to their hotel. As they walked, the sky became darker and the moon's light seemed to show brighter. There was an unspoken haste that the couple made as they headed towards the street. They wouldn't have been able to say what it that made them hurry; perhaps it was the air. But something about being out in the night made them instinctively. And it did not help that they couldn't help but notice no one else was out on the beach with them. On a beautiful and clear summer night, one would expect several couples to find seclusion on the beach, but no one else was there.

When they finally found their way off the beach, the couple paused for a moment. After several seconds of silence, they both burst out laughing as if sharing the same joke. They both knew they were thankful they were alive, though they couldn't explain why. They had been in no immediate danger, but finding their way back to the artificial land made them feel as if they were safe.

That was when the attack happened.

Something from out of the shadows leaped on the young couple. It first hit Carlos and threw him to the hard pavement. Carlos was thrown with such force that he landed on his arm and scraped it up from shoulder to just below his elbow as he skidded several inches. Shocked and beyond words, Jazz simply stood there gaping. Her synapses were not firing fast enough for her to react to what had just happened. The thing that had attacked her boyfriend took advantage of Jazz's apparent vulnerability and leaped on her, also knocking her to the ground. Instincts took over and she immediately started to fight off the beast that was on top of her. She could hear Carlos' cries of anger and challenge in the distance but Jazz was powerless in anything but trying to fight for her life. She struggled with the creature for a number of minutes. She could not get a clear look at its features to identify it, but she was sure it was some kind of animal. She knew it had large claws because they kept digging into her skin.

The creature suddenly straightened up in its attack and let out a short howl at the moon. It was then that Jazz got a good glance at it. What she saw horrified her. It looked like a wolf, but unlike any wolf she had ever seen in her life. Perhaps it was a mangy dog that had attacked them both. Before she could wriggle free from the creature, the wolf-like-animal leaned down over her and bit her on her upper arm. Its teeth slid easily into her skin and Jazz could feel her blood start to flow from the wound. She let out a cry of pain.

That was when Carlos jumped the animal. He took his shot while the creature was distracted. Wrapping his arms around the animal's middle, he tried to lift it off of his girlfriend. Unfortunately he wasn't strong enough and the creature was quick to fight back. It roughly shoved Carlos away and Carlos landed hard on the pavement several yards away.

All of a sudden the creature seemed to lose patience with the couple. Without another attack, it simply took off running into the night, leaving behind an unconscious man and a bleeding woman. Jazz wondered in fear if anyone was ever going to help them and, right before she blacked out from her injuries, she realized no one would be coming.

Two days later, Jazz awoke in a strange location. She bolted upright in bed in alarm and felt sharp and searing pains burst from all over her body. She started to recognize her location was a hospital and it was only then that her memories started floating back to her. Tears running down her cheeks from the pain, Jazz found the 'call nurse' button by the hospital bed and pushed it. After two minutes, a pretty nurse walked into the room.

"Ah, you're awake." The nurse said happily. "How are you today?" She instantly walked up to Jazz's bed and straightened out her blankets and fluffed her pillow for her.

"I don't know," Jazz replied, her voice weak. She coughed in an attempt to clear her throat. "Where's Carlos?"

"Carlos?" The nurse asked absently. She took a few moments to run the name through her head and match it with a patient. "Oh, yes. Carlos." She smiled. When she remembered the last news about the young man who had come in on the same night as her patient, the smile instantly vanished from her face. "I'm sorry, sweetie." She said soothingly, resting her hand on Jazz's shoulder.

"Sorry?" Jazz asked, hoping she wasn't understanding the nurse correctly. Maybe she just couldn't remember a patient named Carlos. "Why sorry?" Despite her overwhelming desire to hear Carlos was fine, Jazz's voice rose in panic.

"He didn't make it." The nurse replied softly. Jazz kept shaking her head. Maybe the nurse remembered the wrong Carlos. After all, Carlos was a very common name. The nurse, however, had had her position for many years and saw all the signs of denial running through her patient's face. As the nurse pulled up a chair, Jazz continued to shake her head as giant tears pooled from her eyes. "I'm really, really sorry, m'dear. Everyone did everything they could but his injuries were too extensive." Jazz's head shaking became more vehement and her tears ran heavier. The nurse sat with her in silence for several minutes, extremely empathetic yet silent. After a while she left Jazz's side after patting her on her wrist. She made a mental note to check up on her patient after Jazz had had some time to mourn and rest.

A few days had passed and Jazz's physical wounds were beginning to heal. Her emotional ones, on the other hand, felt as if they were growing deeper by the day. She didn't want to stay in Costa Rica longer than she had to, now that Carlos was gone. But as the time passed, her depression over the incidence soon gave way to anger. She wanted to find whatever had done this and kill it. She had never felt such rage against an animal before, but losing a loved one can make a person do dangerous things.

One morning, her nurse had come to check up on Jazz. Jazz had learned that the nurse's name was Valerie. Jazz liked her. She was kind and empathetic and gentle. She felt that they had become almost friends through the tragic ordeal.

"How are you today, love?" Valerie asked, smiling. She brought in Jazz's food on a tray.

"I'm alright," Jazz responded in her usual manner. "What's for breakfast?"

"Scrambled eggs and ham. I know how you like the scrambled eggs so I had the chef give you some extra." Jazz smiled warmly at her nurse while Valerie set the tray down on the hospital retractable table and moved it towards her patient. Jazz moved into a more upright position and began to ready herself for the food. It was weird that she had experienced an increased appetite since her attack. Usually when Jazz was upset, she would have difficulty forcing herself to eat; but this time it was different.

Jazz smiled up at Valerie before she started eating. "I really appreciate everything you've done for me." Valerie looked shocked at the compliment but immediately tried to hide her reaction behind a smile.

"It's part of my job, sweetie. Besides you've been through so much and I feel as if it's my duty to help alleviate some of the pain."

"Well, I appreciate it anyway." Jazz said before she could not hold back from eating anymore. Valerie watched her for a moment, smiling.

"I'll be back in a little bit to get your tray." With that, she left the room while Jazz tore into her meal.

As promised, Valerie returned twenty minutes later to collect the dishes. When Jazz saw her enter, she decided it was time to address some things she had on her mind. "Valerie, I was wondering why none of the authorities have been into see me." Valerie froze for a moment but quickly covered it with another of her famous smiles.

"Why would they come into see you?" She asked sweetly. "Do you feel like you need them?"

Jazz shrugged. "I just thought…well…" She allowed herself a moment to think of how she was going to admit what she was thinking. "Because of the attack with that animal they'd want to question me. They haven't come by at all?" Valerie shook her head and a small frown found it's way onto her lips.

"No, sweetheart, they haven't. But I don't think it's necessary. In fact attacks do happen from time to time and it's tragic, but there's nothing the police can do about it."

"Then what about Carlos?" Jazz pressed. "Wouldn't I need to have some kind of paperwork to take back with me to say he's dead? Have they contacted his parents?" Valerie's lips began to purse but she soon delivered a thin smile.

"I'll look into it." She said. "For now, I must get back. I will let you know what comes up." Valerie started walking towards the door but Jazz called her back.

"There was one other thing." Valerie stopped in mid-step and slowly turned back to her patient. "I was wondering if I could go outside for a little while."

"I don't think so, hon." Valerie replied. Jazz's eyes narrowed in confusion.

"But all I want is a little fresh air. I assure you, I'm feeling a lot better."

"I don't think it's a good idea." Valerie repeated, a little testily. "But, if you insist, I will bring it up with the doctor."

"Thank you." Jazz replied but Valerie had left the room before she heard her.

Jazz rested her head back on her pillow and ran through the events of her conversation with Valerie. She frowned as the events replayed in her mind. She had been in the hospital almost a week but she couldn't remember Valerie ever being short with her or impatient. Shrugging, she assumed her nurse was just having a rough day. Resolving to think nothing more about it, she rolled over on her side and closed her eyes, soon falling back asleep.

Several days past again with the same routines. Valerie would bring Jazz her meals while smiling and they would talk small chit-chat as Jazz hungrily ate. Jazz would keep thinking about that strange conversation, but she waited to bring up the topics again. As she waited, no authorities came to see her and there was no update about her being able to see the outside.

When Jazz felt it was appropriate to bring up the conversations again, she did so gently. Valerie responded in the same manner and resolved to track down the answers for her. But Jazz was always left hanging.

Then one morning, Jazz awoke to realize that she'd been there for nearly a month. A strange feeling engulfed her as reality hit her in gusto. She had been too used to the daily routine her life had taken on since she first met Valerie, but there seemed to be no point anymore for her to stay. Her wounds had healed nicely and she was no longer in pain. One glance at the clock told her Valerie would not be arriving to her room for another ten minutes so Jazz decided to exercise her own personal freedom in getting up from her bed. The floor beneath her bare feet was cold and she shivered a little as the change in temperature rushed through her. But she felt much better in just a few steps. A smile played on the sides of her lips as she walked over to the window and looked out. She looked enviously at the beautiful sky and the people on the streets below. She longed to be out in the fresh air and heading home.

After a couple seconds, her smile faded and her heart began to sink in her chest. She stared out the window, engulfed in confusion. None of the people below were moving. It was almost as if they were all part of a flash mob until Jazz noticed the ocean's waves also weren't flowing.

Jazz's heart rate and breathing increased as she fell into panic. Everything started to make a little more sense: why she was shunned from going outside, why she the authorities had never contacted her. She was a prisoner.

Jazz nearly collapsed from the overwhelming reality crash and she stumbled towards her bed and roughly sat down. Her breathing was still increasing and she was on the verge of hyperventilating. Closing her eyes, she forced herself to take slow, deep breaths. It was a challenge, but she was eventually able to calm herself a little. Her breathing became more level, her brain started to refocus and her heartbeat returned to normal. She struggled to keep her panic at bay, but she was a strong woman and knew it was important not to show what she had discovered to her captor.

At precisely eight-fifteen in the morning, just as every day, the door to Jazz's room opened and in stepped Valerie with a fresh tray of food for her patient. Jazz struggled to keep her anger grounded and she fought to smile.

"How are you today, love?" Valerie asked, same as she did every day.

"I'm alright." Jazz responded in the same usual way.

"Are you hungry?" Jazz shrugged, the first time ever delaying a meal from Valerie. She said nothing and only stared straight ahead. Valerie waited several moments for a response but never received one. It was only then that the nurse noticed Jazz was not laying in bed as she had all those days past. Valerie froze and simply stared blankly ahead waiting for Jazz's outburst. It never came however, and Valerie decided it was safer to set the tray down on the bedside table and leave quietly.

Jazz waited several minutes before she got out of her bed again. Her stomach was growling but she ignored it. She needed to find out what was going on before she dared ate anything. She hoped there was a simple explanation for everything that she was experiencing but she wanted to be prepared in the event that her instincts proved correct.

Walking silently to the door, Jazz slowly twisted the knob and opened it. She expected florescent light to fall in from the hallway but darkness only met her. She peered out in the hallway and waited several moments before she dared step outside her room. As soon as her foot made contact with the floor beyond her room, Valerie met her at the door. She blocked Jazz's access to the outside and wore a smile. Unlike the other times, however, her smile was cold.

"Can I help you, sweetie?"

Jazz glared coldly at the person she had believed to be her friend. "I want to leave." She said sternly. Valerie's smile grew and she shook her head.

"I can't recommend that course of action for you right now, sweetheart. Why don't you relax and eat your breakfast? I can tell you're hungry and you need your rest."

"I'm not hungry." Jazz replied flatly but her protesting stomach quickly gave her away. Valerie's smile widened and she stepped closer to Jazz, pushing her patient back into the room where she wanted her.

"Your body says otherwise," Valerie said sweetly but her tone sent a quick shiver down Jazz's spine. "I suggest you eat and get some rest. I don't want to have to call the doctor on you." The latter statement brought back some of Jazz's anger.

"I have been here for a month," she growled. "And I don't recall ever seeing a doctor."

"You have been sleeping a lot." Valerie explained calmly. "It's understandable that you have never seen him."

"Then bring him to me now." Jazz demanded. "I want to see him."

Valerie's smile never faltered from her face and Jazz was beginning to grow suspicious. It seemed unnatural that someone would continue to smile while their patient was behaving poorly. All the trust she had placed in the nurse over the past couple weeks had vanished. She no longer felt as if her best interests were in mind and she was beginning to suspect that her suspicions had been right all along; Valerie had never been a nurse.

"The doctor is busy with other patients at the moment." Valerie replied calmly. "But perhaps I can arrange for him to visit you when you're feeling a little better."

"I want to leave." Jazz said.

"You can't leave without the doctor's permission." Valerie stated. "Now I suggest you sit down and relax. Have some food and we'll talk about this when you've had some time to adjust." Jazz was not ready to listen to Valerie, however, and attempted to demand again that she wanted to leave. After a short time, Valerie began to become impatient. She picked Jazz up with remarkable strength for an older woman and she placed her firmly down on the bed. She warned that she had restraints and would use them if necessary but she was quite confident Jazz would stay where she belonged. Before Jazz could object any further, Valerie had left the room, clicking the lock closed behind her.

Over the next two days, Jazz was treated like a real prisoner. Food was brought in at the usual times but there was no longer any small chit-chat between the two women. Valerie had started to continue their repertoire but soon stopped when she realized Jazz was not willing to reciprocate. At all other times, Jazz's room remained locked. She kept finding herself going to the window in hopes that she would see something different outside, but the scene always remained the same.

On the evening of the third day following Jazz's outburst, Valerie opened the door and was followed by a younger man. His presence was striking albeit a little disconcerting. Jazz felt the hairs on the back of her neck prickle as he walked up to her bed. The air in the room also seemed to drop a few degrees. When he smiled gently at her, she couldn't help but notice that his eyes did not share his lips' action.

He pulled up a chair and sat beside Jazz's bed. He was dressed in pressed gray slacks, a white shirt and a tie all under a white doctor's coat. A stethoscope hung carelessly around his neck. "How are you today, Jazz?" His voice was soft but had a note of roughness to it.

Jazz said nothing and only watched him with growing unease. After waiting for a reply that would never come, the man continued. "My name's Doctor Torres, Jazz. Valerie here said you wanted to talk to me?"

Jazz shot a quick glance at the nurse who held her position by the door. "A doctor, huh?" Jazz replied flatly. She then decided to change her tone. Planting a sarcastic smile on her face, she asked only too sweetly: "So tell me, Dr. Torres: what took you so long to come see me?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Well I've been here for a month." Jazz replied. "This is the first time I've ever seen you." Dr. Torres faltered for a moment but all too quickly recovered.

"You have not seen me," he answered. "But I have been here."

"Uh-huh." Jazz's flat tone prevailed but she pressed that line of questioning no further. Sighing, she glanced down at her hands. "What can I do for you, doctor?"

Happy the conversation had returned to a topic he was willing to discuss, Dr. Torres smiled. "As I said, Valerie said you wished to see me. And I wanted to check up on you after the…" He paused, considering the right word. "Incident the other day." Jazz nodded but her lips remained tightly closed.

"Well I'm fine." She lied, tossing the doctor a minute smile. "At least I will be fine when I can get out of here."

Dr. Torres looked shocked and he threw a glance at Valerie who responded with a hopeless shrug. "Well, Jazz," the doctor continued gently when he focused his attention once again on the patient. He reached out his hand and gently patted Jazz's hand but she quickly pulled herself away from his touch. "I promise you that you can leave here soon."

"How soon?" Jazz asked, her voice sharp.

"Within the next couple of days, I should say. I just ask that you remain here for a few more evenings to gather up your strength."

"I can assure you, doctor," Jazz said angrily, losing patience. "That I am quite well. I have enough strength now and I really just want to go home."

Dr. Torres nodded absently. "In a few more days." He repeated. "Then you'll be ready." He stood up then and started to walk towards the door. Valerie followed him. Jazz tried to demand them to come back but they ignored her and disappeared out of the room.

As promised, a few days later Dr. Torres returned to Jazz's room. She had eaten little more than to satisfy her basic hunger in suspicion that Valerie and Dr. Torres were drugging her food. She had begun to feel more anxious and took to pacing her room, trying every possible way of escape again and again but to no avail.

Dr. Torres smiled at his patient as he walked into the room. Jazz only glared at him coldly, her brown eyes watching his every move from her post on the bed. "Morning, Jazz." His air had not changed from their first meeting. Jazz did not trust his attitude or his smile, because neither appeared nor felt sincere. She noticed again that the smile he wore on his face did nothing to diminish the vacant look in his eyes. Torres waited for a response from Jazz but one never came. He shrugged shortly and walked up to her bed. She subtly inched away from him as he came closer. He did not openly acknowledge her obvious detachment and instead continued to talk. "I have some good news for you. Today is the day that you will be released."

Jazz simply stared at him, frozen. She had hoped what she heard was the truth but didn't want to count on it. Perhaps she had just heard what she wanted to hear. "Are you saying," she asked softly after a moment. "That I'm free to go?"

Dr. Torres chuckled. "In a way," he replied elusively. "Yes. Your treatments are complete and you're able to leave whenever you wish." Jazz sat still for another few moments, allowing the words to sink in. When they had, she enthusiastically removed herself from the bed and went looking for her clothes. Valerie was standing beside the open door, holding her wardrobe for her. Jazz snatched the clothes from the nurse and rushed into the bathroom to change. She wanted to be on her way as quickly as possible in the off-chance either person would change their mind. She could hear muffled voices between the two people outside the bathroom but she ignored them. She thought that she overheard something about a tracer, but she didn't bother thinking about what they were saying. All she wanted was to go home.

When Jazz emerged from the bathroom, the conversation between the two people abruptly stopped. They both turned to her and smiled but Jazz felt uncomfortable. "Thanks for helping me." She forced herself to say, hoping it would bring some closure between herself and the people standing before her. After all, she never wanted to see either of them again.

"It was our trouble, sweetie." Valerie replied, her smile growing. Jazz had never noticed how fake Valerie looked. But perhaps before she was blinded by her kindness — before she knew why Valerie was even keeping her there. There were many questions Jazz still had no answers to, but she didn't want to get any explanations from Dr. Torres or Valerie. "Have a safe trip home."

Jazz stepped around the two. She felt it eery how they both followed her as she left. They made no physical movements towards her, but their eyes were constantly watching. As soon as Jazz felt safely out of eyesight, she broke off in a jog towards the exit of that strange location.

She emerged just outside a busy street. She was shocked to see that it was nighttime. She had sworn it was daylight when the doctor and the nurse entered her room a mere twenty minutes before. Still, she tried not to digest what she saw around her. All she wanted was to find the airport and get out of there.

She was unlucky in finding a cab so she decided to walk. She had a GPS locator on her phone and, using it, she soon found that the closest bus station lay just across the small park across the street from where she stood. She bolted across the hard pavement, her shoes slapping the road as she ran. She made it to the east entrance of the park and paused for a moment to catch her breath. It was then that she realized she was actually outside. A smile spread across her face — the first time in days — and she sighed happily. How she had longed for the fresh air.

When she had properly caught her breath, she continued her walk across the park. The moon had risen and was slowly engulfing the sky in its brilliant full phase light. As she stepped into the light, something began to happen to her.

First, she froze. Her bones began to expand and she started to panic. She had no idea what was happening to her and her breath grew more erratic. The muscles in her body felt like they were bubbling as they stretched over the elongated bones and snapped. She began to grow taller and her clothes started to stretch out. She started to scream but her screams soon faded away into howls. Her wolf form was born and was fully awake. Her clothes lay in rags about the ground. No longer having control over her base instincts, she ran off on all fours through the small park. She felt alive as she ran.

Back in the present…

Jazz's eyes snapped open. She had already transformed and she was feeling mighty hungry. Rushing through the open door, she felt the breeze run through her fur. Once again, she was very much alive and was more than willing to remain that way at any cost.


Amelia and Karin returned a short time later and the first thing they noticed was that the front door was ajar. Instead of worrying if there was an intruder inside, the first thing they both said was, "Jazz." As soon as the car was parked, the two friends bolted from the car and ran inside. They screamed Jazz's name, hoping they would find some evidence that she was safe locked up at home. Instead, they both found evidence to the contrary. In the middle of the living room lay tattered pieces of Jazz's outfit under a small note:

Your friend is finally free.

Amelia and Karin both looked at each other, too shocked for words.

An hour later, Naomi returned home. She was oblivious to the events that had transpired since Amelia's and Karin's return home. In fact, she was in a light mood when she walked through the door, preparing to deliver good news about Jarrod's condition.

She was shocked, then, to find that Karin and Amelia were talking in hushed tones to each other in the living room.

Watching them in confusion, Naomi finally announced her presence. "What's up, guys?"

Amelia's and Karin's conversation abruptly stopped and they both turned to look at her. They both said nothing but instead pointed to the floor of the living room. Still confused, Naomi looked down and saw the shredded clothes and note. She leaned down and picked up the note to study it further. Her eyes scanned it several times before she glanced over the paper at her friends.

"Why didn't you tell me about this?" She asked icily.

Karin shrugged hopelessly. "We didn't want to bother you at work," She replied lamely. That made Naomi even more short-tempered.

"This is something I need to know about." She snapped. "So you're telling me Jazz is out there right now in her wolf form and neither of you thought to tell me, or go look for her?" The two other women bowed their heads slowly in shame. Neither could say a word. Aggravated with both of them, Jazz bowled up the letter in her hand as her hand turned into a fist and she gritted her teeth. She was about to say something to both of them before she decided against it. Growling, she stormed past them both and hastily walked up the stairs to her room. A few seconds later, Amelia and Karin both heard Naomi's door slam and they both cringed in unison.

Upstairs, Naomi was furious. She threw herself down on her chair and sighed heavily, growling as she did so. She knew that Amelia and Karin were not the ones responsible for Jazz's escape, but they should have told her about it as soon as they had found out. This is something that Naomi had been worried about for some time. She knew Jazz had been a werewolf for several years, but she was still in the infant stages of the transformations. She could not control the desires of the wolf, nor the carnal violence.

Naomi took a couple deep breaths to steady her thoughts. She needed to do something. She was used to the spotlight and the responsibilities that came with being a ruler, but she always needed to plan for the best strategy. She needed time and, unfortunately, they did not have that luxury while Jazz was on the loose.

Trying to think quickly, the same idea kept returning to her mind: they needed to find Jazz. Naomi had no idea where Jazz would likely be. What she was accustomed to in her human life was necessarily what the wolf would find comforting or adventurous. Naomi tried to think of every possible place where transformed Jazz could be and she immediately succumbed to being overwhelmed. But, as always, she struggled through the stress and the apparent impossibility to come up with a logical decision.

Detective Grimly was at his desk right before the shift change. He had a cold cup of coffee sitting next to his paperwork and his eyes were scanning the filled pages of his current open case file. He had read, re-read and re-read again the words more times than he could remember and each recollection seemed to bring him further and further behind.

The parents had reported the child missing, but no one was able to figure out who had taken her. The police had interviewed everyone in the case and no one had seemed the least bit suspicious. On top of that, every one who had been connected to the child in any way seemed to have a strong alibi.

Grimly was exhausted and the bags under his eyes showed it. He was frustrated with the facts and didn't know what to do about finding the missing child. He looked again at her picture and he almost began to cry. She was so beautiful and happy that he couldn't believe anyone would be so cruel to take her away.

The detective's head was swimming with so many thoughts that he didn't hear his partner calling his name until she was beginning to lose patience with him. "Grimly!" She nearly shouted into his ear. He jumped and looked up at her, surprised to see her. "We got a call. Let's get going."

Grimly stared at his partner blankly and blinked. "A call?"

"Yeah," His partner started to lose patience again. "Something about your little friend? She was seen with another woman wandering through the park."

Grimly paused. He knew it wasn't illegal to walk through a park and there certainly wasn't a curfew in the city. Even so, not caring about the details, Grimly stood up and grabbed his jacket that had been hanging up on the back of his desk chair. "Let's go." He said shortly and led the way out of the police station.

On the way to the park, little was said between the detective and his partner. Grimly preferred it that way. It was not as if he didn't like his partner, but he always had too much on his mind to worry about petty conversation. His partner seemed to agree or, at least, didn't bother changing their routine. They both listened to the occasional dispatch call over the scanner but that was the only sound that remained inside the vehicle.

When they'd reached the park. In one motion, Grimly parked the car, switched off the engine and removed himself from the vehicle. His partner joined him just as quickly as they headed into the park grounds.

"Why did we get a call about Amelia?" Grimly finally asked. He felt he had to; to gather all the facts.

"I just knew you wanted to know if she was around."

Grimly paused in mid-step and his eyes narrowed. He turned to face his partner and stared at her suspiciously. "So we didn't get a call?"

"We got a call about a woman matching your friend's description walking through the park with another woman."

"But what were they doing?" Grimly asked slowly and clearly. He had never known his partner to play games or be incompetent before. His partner shrugged.

"They were walking and shouting. I don't know. I just know we got a call."

Grimly was becoming more suspicious by the second. He took a couple steps closer to his partner and continued to stare her down. She met his gaze and looked like she was losing patience. "Why don't you know the facts about the phone call?" He asked quietly. "My partner would never not get all the details right before we took off."

Sighing in disgust, his partner's posture relaxed. "Screw this," She muttered and right before Grimly's eyes, her form started to shift and transform. He stared dumbly, his mouth falling open. Within a span of less than a minute, the person he knew as his partner had changed into another person entirely. It was a woman who was about the same height as his partner, but had brilliant red hair and sharp green eyes. She glared at Grimly. "Who knew you would be clever enough to start looking deeper into this?"

Grimly soon recovered and snorted at the suggestion. "I'm a detective. So who sent you? Torres, I'm assuming?"

"It doesn't matter who hired me," the woman replied passively. "I just know that I was supposed to bring you here. It would have been much easier if you were willing to be fooled."

"And why's that?" Grimly asked. It was at that point that the woman smiled.

"I wouldn't have had to get my own hands dirty. It's such a shame, too. But we can't have you running off and possibly escaping." Grimly soon became seriously aware of the dangerous situation he was in and instinct took over. He turned to run but before he could get a single foot off the ground, he found himself facing dirt. Before he even knew what was happening, pain exploded in his brain and the cuts rushing up all over his body seemed to open to the night air like flowers to the sunlight.

He screamed, but they had made sure that no one would be around to hear him.

While Naomi was quarantined in her room, Amelia and Karin sneaked out of the house.

"Where are we going?" Karin hissed as Amelia shut the door behind them as silently as she could manage.

"We're going to find Jazz." Amelia replied matter-of-factly. Karin rolled her eyes.

"Well I knew that," She snapped. "But where are we supposed to look?" In response, her friend smiled and held out her open palm. In it lay the shimmering decahedron.

"I think I can use this to locate her." Silently the two women slipped away behind their house in order to find an enclosed spot for them to work unnoticed.

The first thing Amelia did was light a fire. Karin sat and watched her friend's every movement. Amelia walked around the fire, every once in a while leaning down to pick up something from the ground and cradle it gently in her hand. She circled the fire again and again, humming to herself and occasionally muttering words just under her breath. Finally she stopped and faced Karin, the fire remaining between them as a barrier. "I may need your help with something." Amelia admitted.

"Alright." Karin agreed.

"Stand up," the witch instructed. "And stand about the same distance away from the fire as I am." Karin did so and awaited further direction. "Now when I throw the dirt up into the air, I want you to ignite it all before it hits the fire."

Karin couldn't help but laugh. "You're kidding, right?" Amelia glared at her friend.

"The magic of your dragon abilities needs to combine with the natural flames and it will create a transformation portal in which we can use." Amelia explained quickly, losing patience. "Just trust me, OK?"

"Alright," Karin shrugged. After all, they had nothing to lose. Amelia held up her enclosed fist and watched her friend expectantly. When they were both on the same cue, Amelia flung the dirt up into the air. Right before it fell into the fire, Karin casually blew on it. The dirt ignited into a radiant gold coloring. As it showered into the fire Amelia had built, the two fires merged as Amelia had predicted. The flames started to grow hire and burn in a brilliant blue light. After several minutes, the flames started to die down and glowed white.

"Was that supposed to happen?" Karin asked a little breathless from the experience.

Amelia shrugged. "I hope so."

Karin was shocked. "You hope so?" She repeated.

"I've never actually tried this before." The other female snapped as she removed the decahedron from her pocket. "But it should work. Now, just let me finish the speaking part of the ritual and we should be able to transform this object."

It was then that Karin decided questions needed to be answered. "What exactly are you trying to do?" She asked gently.

Amelia swayed slightly from side to side as she apprehensively held the object over the flames. "I'm not sure." She admitted. "I'm hoping that this object will behave properly and allow us to transform it into a tool in order to find Jazz."

"But you don't know." Karin added flatly. She hoped that her friend would disagree with her, but Amelia did not.

"I don't." Her violet eyes suddenly left the flames and locked onto Karin's. "But there's only one way to make sure we're doing this right. Now stand back." Then, as an afterthought, she added: "Just in case." Karin did as she was told and Amelia began to chant again just above her breath. Karin couldn't make out the words but she could certainly witness the effect they had. The flames started to lick hungrily towards Amelia and, more importantly, towards the object Amelia was holding. Amelia didn't shy away from the flames and allowed them to slowly graze against her forearm. She winced through the pain but didn't back down. She started to repeat the chant, this time a tempo louder. The flames flew higher and burned more of her, eating away at her clothing, but she still continued. After several minutes, Amelia suddenly stopped chanting and threw the decahedron into the fire.

Nothing happened.

Karin waited several seconds before stepping forward. Her friend, meanwhile, remained motionless and stared at the fire. "That's it?" Karin asked. But before the words had barely escaped her mouth, the fire suddenly extinguished.

Again, Karin waited for something more to happen. And again, Amelia remained still and patient, simply staring. Karin's patience soon ran dry and she started to get angry. "All that for nothing?" She demanded. "We don't even get a clue?"

"Hush." Amelia replied. Karin blinked several times, unsure if she heard her friend correctly. She knew she understood the word but it was the tone of Amelia's voice that she was uncertain about. When Amelia's eyes suddenly focused on Karin, the fire had seemed to infuse with her irises and they were burning. Her voice sounded as if Amelia was speaking with four different vocal cords all vibrating at the same time, in different notes. Amelia smiled as she looked down at her friend. "The fire has accepted our gift." Amelia explained, her voice still in multiple. "In return, they are using me as their vessel to find your friend."

Karin rolled her eyes. "It's all show boating with you witches and your craft, isn't it?" She muttered. "Still, if it worked, I won't complain. Where is Jazz?"

"She is far away and all alone."

"Oh, here we go with the riddles." Karin said drily. The spirits controlling Amelia ignored her comments.

"She is in a forest, but it is not a forest. She is fleeing from a nightmare she can not awake from."

"Can you please speak plain English?" Karin pleaded. Again, the spirits ignored her.

"She is being chased by past and present and she needs to be found. Danger is in her near future and she has no ability to change it."

"So we need to find her." Karin said. It was spoken as a statement but implied as a question. Amelia nodded.

"We need to hurry." With that, she turned and began walking at a swift pace. Karin hurried after her.

Jazz was running wild through the trees but she knew she was no longer alone. She could feel something watching her. She knew it was not human. She knew what it felt like to be watched by human eyes and this feeling was completely different, albeit somehow familiar.

Stopping in her pace, Jazz dared to look behind her. She saw nothing but long shadows of the trees basking in the moonlight but something within the shadows started to move. Jazz's body tensed up and she began to growl at the foreign intruder. She backed slowly away from the mobile silhouette but it did her no good. She soon found herself surrounded by other beings who had seemingly arrived out of nowhere. They ambushed her. She tried to fight and was able to scratch one of them but in the end, her struggle was futile. She lost consciousness and knew no more.


Amelia and Karin were walking through the darkened streets. From what little Karin could remember from the area, she thought they were walking towards the park. Amelia walked several paces in front, silently leading the way. Occasionally she would pause in her journey and look around. But she always sniffed the air lightly and continued to walk forward.

After a while, Karin decided to distract herself from the cold and quiet with a little chit-chat. "Where are we going?" She ventured. Amelia said nothing. Frowning, Karin allowed the silence to settle over them again before she tried her second attempt. "Does Jazz usually come this way?" Again, Amelia volunteered nothing. Another pause and Karin sighed heavily. "Are you sure you know where you're going?" Her tone was a little less than patient.

"We are going in the right direction." Amelia-plus-the-spirits replied. Karin almost smiled. It was easy enough to get a witch talking: simply imply they don't know what they're doing. Amelia suddenly stopped so abruptly that Karin nearly ran into her. Karin took a step back to balance herself and waited for an explanation. One never came and Amelia didn't simply return to her walk as she had before. Instead, she did something unusual. She groaned softly and placed her hand on her forehead.

Karin moved a little closer; enough to see her friend's face. "Are you alright?" She asked, concerned. She knew merging with another power was never an easy adjustment.

"I'm fine," Amelia replied, surprising Karin that her voice was no longer spoken in multiples. Amelia closed her eyes and continued to rub her head, taking deep breaths.

"Are you still with the spirits?" Karin asked. It was then that Amelia's hand flicked to her side and her eyes snapped open. They were, again, glowing and Amelia's voice sounded sharp when she spoke.

"Of course we are." Amelia replied, the multiple tone having returned. "It's silly that a dragon would be worried about the functionality of a witch. So how about you stay back like a good puppy and allow us to work until you are needed." Karin glared angrily but bit her tongue. She knew she could not defend herself; it was not Amelia who felt that way. The quickest way to find Jazz would be to let the spirits reign for as long as they needed to. Struggling with the action, Karin slowly bowed her head in compliance, all the while keeping her eyes locked on the spirit-Amelia. Taking this as due obedience, spirit-Amelia returned a curt nod and continued on as if nothing had happened.

"You better find Jazz," Karin muttered under her breath before standing upright and following the witch. "Or else I'll kick your ass so quickly out of Amelia, you'll explode into fairy dust."


Naomi fell down on her bed and stared blankly up at the ceiling. Nothing she could think of could aid in finding Jazz and she didn't know what else to do. Overwhelmed, she decided to clear her head and relax. She reached for her iPod, chose her favorite playlist and set the device down at her side. She closed her eyes and let the music wash over her. It was not too long before she found herself drifting off to sleep.

Roughly 2,000 years ago…Egypt

Naomi was called Sekhet and was one of the princesses of the high pharaoh of Egypt. She was always a kind child and she possessed incredible intelligence. Even as a young girl, her nurses had commented on how she was very much like her father. She always embodied grace and nobility and, unlike her father at times, she was very compassionate to those around her. That did not mean that she did not possess the backbone required of a ruler; she always seemed to be less cruel with the individuals around her, regardless of their station.

When Sekhet was fourteen years of age, an fire broke out in the pharaoh's palace. It killed Sekhet's nurse whom had been with Sekhet since she was three years old. It also killed several servants. Part of the palace had endured severe constructional damage and had collapsed. A few of the servants were trapped. When Sekhet came across them, she was both mortified and disgusted with the servants around her who were running off rather than providing help.

"Sekhet!" Her father, the pharaoh, entered the room where Sekhet had attempted to help the people in need. "Come with me immediately. We need to leave."

"These people are trapped, father." Sekhet replied as she continued to pull heavy rubble away. The pharaoh, losing patience with his daughter, walked briskly up to her and snatched her wrist.

"We have to go." He said impatiently. "We can get new servants."

Sekhet glared angrily at her father. "They are not just servants," She snapped, unable to control her harsh tongue. "They are people, father."

On instinct, the pharaoh slapped his daughter. "A person of your prestige and class should never utter such nonsense." He replied warningly, speaking through his clenched jaw. "Now we must go unless you want to die with the slaves." He roughly tossed her hand aside and stormed out of the room. Sekhet glanced several times between the exit to the room and the destruction of the palace. Finally she whispered her apologies to the trapped people and fled the room.

That would be the single hardest thing she would ever have to do. She would regret it for the rest of her life.

As Sekhet ran after her father, the fire seemed to spread throughout the palace. Sekhet could feel beads of sweat trickle down her forehead and neck. It had already been a hot summers night before the fire started, so the rise in temperature made the climate almost unbearable. Sekhet coughed through the smoke that bellowed in from the halls. Still, she continued on. She almost thought she had lost her father when she turned the corner and found him laying in the middle of the floor.

Sekhet stopped immediately and stared in horror at the sight. She knew immediately that he was dead but she couldn't understand why. It was not until a small amount of shock began to fade that Sekhet had the piece of mind to look around at her surroundings. She could still hear screams from the slaves that fled the palace, but it was a girl around her age (she guessed) who caught her attention. She was standing over the body of the pharaoh and glaring down at him.

When Sekhet's head had cleared a little more, she found her natural regal instinct and demanded of the other girl: "Who are you?"

The girl looked up at Sekhet for the first time, her orange eyes shining. She smiled in a way that scared the young Egyptian princess.

"My name's Karin," the girl replied fluidly. "And I just killed your father."


Naomi awoke with a jolt. For a minute she thought it was the dream that had forced her to awaken but she soon realized that was a silly assumption. She had had that dream several hundred times since the actual events had occurred and she had never been forcibly awoken from it before. Also, her phone was ringing on the nightstand beside her bed. She reached for it and answered the call right before it was dropped.


"You need to get down here."

Naomi paused a moment and blinked several times in confusion. "Karin? Where are you?"

"In some park." Karin replied.

"Why are you whispering?"

"Long story. Short version is that Amelia got the brilliant idea to possess herself with the spirits of some ancient bitches and now I'm forced to play babysitter to their delusions of finding the wolf."

"Are you close?"

Karin scoffed. "How am I supposed to know? I don't even know what these spirits are thinking or what kind of divine hokum they think they're working off of. I just know that they're beginning to piss me off. And…" at that, Karin's voice faded away. Naomi waited apprehensively for her friend to continue, but she never did.

"And what?" Naomi finally asked impatiently.

"And," Karin's tone showcased her distraction. When she spoke again after a few seconds, her voice sounded concerned. "I think there's something wrong with Amelia."

"What is it? What's happening?" There was suddenly a click and Naomi nearly screamed in anger. Shoving her phone into her pocket, she grabbed her jacket and hastily left the house.


Karin stepped cautiously up to her friend. "Amelia," She said softly. "Are you alright?" Amelia had doubled over onto the ground. She was clutching her forehead as she had done before, but she was now also shaking and groaning in pain. She did not respond to her friend but seemed to succumb to more pain as the seconds passed by. Growing even more concerned for her friend, Karin also kept caution as a top priority as she knelt down beside Amelia. She reached out a hand and gently placed it on her friend's shoulder. "Amelia?" She repeated, her voice even more quiet. When her hand made contact with Amelia's skin, she received a shock of electricity and immediately pulled away.

"Get away from me!" Amelia screamed. Her voice still came out in multiples, but her own voice seemed to be the dominant presence. Karin was able to control her shock and allow it to subside but she did as she was told. She could plainly see that something had gone horribly wrong in the plan.

"We need to get you back to the house." Karin said patiently.

"I will not go anywhere." The spirits replied, having overcome Amelia once again. Amelia's eyes burned brighter than before and sweat began to form over her forehead. As she turned to face her dragon friend outright, Karin noticed that Amelia's skin started to take on a crimson hue. Knowing what it was like to feel on fire from the inside, Karin grew more worried. No matter how strong Amelia was, she was unable to control what was happening to her internally and Karin knew somehow she had to break the link between her and the spirits. Using her best tool at her disposal, she attempted to distract the spirits' attention as her mind searched for the best solution.

"So are you no longer interested in helping us find our friend?" Karin asked pointedly.

"Your friend was weak." The spirits replied vainly. "She got herself kidnapped." At this, Karin's eyebrows rose in surprise.

"Kidnapped? I see."

"Now that your friend is safe where she belongs, I see no reason to remain here with the likes of you. Dragons are pointless creatures, only looking out for themselves and whatever valuables they can steal." Karin smiled and shrugged.

"Hey, whatever works." She said casually.

"You will not be able to find your friend."

Again, Karin shrugged. "Perhaps not," she admitted. "But it won't stop us from trying."

"They will soon come for all of you." Karin laughed, taking the spirits by surprise.

"Well you can tell your little buddies that we're waiting for them." The spirits using Amelia sneered at the confidence presented to them.

"You're lying."

Karin shook her head. "Nope. You don't understand how our relationship works. You attack one, you attack all." Her thoughts were beginning to come in order and she focused on the only real solution she had to the problem at hand. It had the potential to hurt Amelia, but it was far better than the alternative.

"That's such a trivial feeling." The spirits continued to demean. "However it makes sense. You will be all too easy to fall."

"You know it's funny," Karin stated casually, changing the subject. "It's really true what they say about witches. I thought perhaps A
Amelia was the only one but it's a basic fact that you're all too arrogant to see the real truth of the matter."

"Which is?" The voices scoffed.

"That you probably shouldn't leave a dragon defenseless in front of its enemy." Karin replied. "It may feel it needs to defend itself. Or, more likely, it may get bored." With that, she breathed a little bit of fire onto Amelia. It caught onto her clothes and the spirits started to scream. They used fire as a tool but were defenseless against it used as a weapon. They feared it more than vampyres. In under a minute, the spirits had fled Amelia's body from safety. As soon as Karin was sure they were gone, she rushed up to her friend and immediately snuffed out the flames. Amelia collapsed from the mental ordeal she had just undergone. Karin was able to catch her before she hit the ground but she was helpless otherwise in reviving her. She knew the dangerous effects the blood boiling could have on an individual and she was in no hurry in creating more danger to her friends.

Karin held Amelia for several minutes as she looked around. She could sense no further danger at the moment but she also could not sense Naomi. Annoyed with her oldest friend, she sighed in frustration. Her eyes scanned Amelia and she did some quick calculations. She knew the odds of being found by someone truly dangerous were higher now that the third attack had already taken place. Not seeing an alternative, Karin glared at her friend.

"You're going to have to owe me big time for this one, Mia." Sighing heavily, she closed her eyes in concentration. After several seconds, her shoulder blades began to morph and her coat started to tear. She cringed as her wings started to grow and expand. When they were at full length, she opened her eyes once again. She shot one last glare of annoyance to her witch friend before lifting her up and flying into the night sky. They headed back to the house and, with any luck, back to Naomi.

Karin landed safely with Amelia in Amelia's backyard. She immediately retracted her wings and cringed in mild pain as they faded back into her body. She detested using them and thus did so only in urgent emergencies. With Amelia still passed out, she carried her awkwardly into the house and laid her down on the couch in the living room. It was then that Karin decided to go looking for Naomi. She hurried up the stairs to Naomi's room but found no one there. Her heart fell in her chest. Perhaps something had happened to Naomi as well. Was she also taken? Had someone attacked her?

Reaching into her pocket, Karin urgently pulled out her cell phone and called Naomi. Her heart seemed to stop beating as the phone rang but relief washed over her as the call was answered.

"Karin?" Karin beamed.

"Hey." She returned softly.

"Where are you? I'm almost at the park."

"Come back home." Karin replied.


"Because something bad happened with Amelia." Karin replied. Before Naomi could interject, Karin continued hurriedly. "Don't worry — she's here with me. I can't explain it over the phone, so just hurry back here and I'll tell you what happened."

By the time Naomi got back home, fifteen minutes had passed. She rushed into the house short of breath to see Karin pouring herself some tea. Confused, Naomi closed the door behind her.

"Where is she?" Naomi demanded. Karin nodded towards the living room. Naomi hurried in followed by Karin shortly after. Naomi knelt down on the floor beside their couch and put a hand on Amelia's forehead. She pulled it away in surprise to find that it was still quite hot. Glancing over her shoulder at Karin, she said, "Tell me everything." Karin nodded without a word and sat on the couch opposite and began to recall all the events. When she finished, Naomi said nothing. Her chestnut eyes were staring down at the floor as she absorbed all the information. Karin knew her friend well enough to know that she would need time to work everything out. In the meantime, Karin quietly sipped her tea.

Several minutes past before Naomi said anything. "Has she said anything since you got back?"

Karin shrugged. "She was muttering things when we were in flight, but I couldn't make out anything clearly. They just seemed to be broken sentences and a lot of disjointed words." Naomi nodded her head slowly. She looked as if she understood when, in reality, she didn't know what was happening to her roommate.

"What should we do?" Naomi finally asked, her voice quiet. It was a rare occasion to see her friend at such a loss for a solution. She was normally the person with all the answers. Still, Karin knew that all the events were a bit out of Naomi's normal problems.

"I think we should keep an eye on her." Karin replied. "But we shouldn't try to wake her. Her body went through hell because of those spirits and she could go into shock if we awaken her too soon." Naomi nodded in agreement. All of them were far from being human, but they still had to live in their human bodies which were all subject to the same reactions. After a while of thoughtful silence, Naomi finally looked at her friend and managed a weak smile.

"Have any more of that tea?" Karin returned the smile and nodded her head. She got up from her seat and lead her oldest friend out of the room.

From her unconscious position on the couch, Amelia opened her mouth and one name escaped her lips: "Malina."


Amelia was raised in an abusive home. Her father was a drunk and abused her mother. She had an older sister and they would spend the time their parents were fighting inventing games for each other to keep their minds off what was happening. After her parents divorced when Amelia was little, her older sister, Emile, went to go live with their father. Her mother was verbally abusive towards Amelia. She would never hit her, but when Amelia's mother was stressed out she would talk down to Amelia. She would make her only remaining daughter feel guilty for being herself.

Amelia had always been intelligent. She taught herself to read and write before she was in pre-school. However because of her parents abusive streaks, Amelia had always been a shy child. She was emotionally removed from those around her. She would often get into trouble at school and a lot of her teachers would assume she was stupid simply because she was too shy to talk.

These events only served to fuel Amelia's rage at the world. She hated being stereotyped into a person she wasn't but it seemed no matter how hard she tried to fight, she would always be dragged down by those around her. Before she reached her teenage years, Amelia had become the type of person most people believed she was.

Despite everything, Amelia remained intelligent. She would hide in her books as an escape from the cruel nature of those around her. As she grew into more of a teenager and reached high school, the books she read became more dark and malicious. She had spent several long years alone with her mother who had knocked her down to being a submissive and incredibly angry young woman. She sought out books on witchcraft. She had always had a passive interest in books about the occult, but she had never before actually considered using them to her advantage.

However after one evening from returning home from school, Amelia walked into her house to find her mother in a drunken stupor. As soon as she was spotted, her mother started screaming at Amelia about how she was an ungrateful child and never did anything for anybody else. When Amelia tried to defend herself against such outrageous accusations, her mother only screamed at her. "Do you think you're smarter than me!?" She shouted. Amelia, confused and hurt by such accusations from a person she loved, tried to deny it. Drunk and not in control of the basic emotions running rampant through her, Amelia's mother staggered to her feet from the couch in the living room. "How dare you stand there and say you're better than me?" Amelia, frightened and even more confused, had said no such thing. Not knowing what to do, her instincts took over and she started to slowly back away from her mother. This seemed to trigger something vicious in her mother, for Amelia's mom suddenly raised her hand and slapped Amelia hard across the face. Shocked, tears started to well up in Amelia's eyes. This, too, seemed to only fuel the anger rising up in the drunken woman's body. She raised the bottle in her hand and smashed it against the wall. She held it up as a weapon as she stepped towards her daughter. Amelia still tried to back away. She glanced over her shoulder to find an escape route and that was when Amelia's mother struck. Slashing the broken glass bottle in the air, the jagged edges made contact with Amelia's face and cut her deeply. The young teen could feel the blood pooling out from her injury and she staggered back. Her mother took the action to her advantage and overpowered her daughter. Amelia fell to the floor and the attacks from the bottle kept coming.

Amelia's instincts had taken over. Since she could not flee from the attack, she knew there was no alternative then to fight back. It took most of her strength to push her mother off of her and, when she did, the woman fell. Because of her inebriated state, her reaction time was severely slowed and allowed Amelia enough time to run from the room. She ran up the stairs as fast as she could to her bedroom and slammed the door. She grabbed her desk chair and pushed it against the knob of the door, securing it in place. Her heart pounded faster in her chest as she heard the hard footsteps of her mother coming up the stairs.

"Amelia!" She was shouting. "You little bitch. Get out here right now!" Scared, Amelia backed away from the door. She kept her eyes focused on it and continued to distance herself from the monster out in the hallway. She backed up so much that she was caught by surprise by her bed. Falling onto it, she landed on the jagged edge of something hard. Surprised, she tore her eyes away from the door just long enough to look down. She smiled at what she had found.

A book of black magic myths and spells lay on the top of her blankets. She had nearly forgotten all about the book. It had been an interesting read but she was skeptical of the actual reality of the books' spells. She shot one last look at the door as her mother made her way to the top of the landing. Her mother started to pound on the door and continued to shout her name and scream horrible things at her daughter.

"Well," Amelia said quietly, taking a deep breath to steady her voice. "I guess there's only one way to see." Amelia opened the book and it appeared that the pages started to flip through themselves. When it stopped, Amelia's eyes fell on the more dangerous and deadly of the spells in the book. In the very back, right before the index, lay one spell. "Destiny for the Un-doer," Amelia whispered and frowned. She had noticed that a lot of the names of spells in the book did not sound intimidating. They were not written in Latin; they mostly sounded as if they were written by a hippie. Ignoring the name, Amelia's eyes read on. As she did, her mother's violent attacks on the door became more strategic. Her anger seemed to grow the longer she was removed from her daughter. Amelia was well versed in ignoring her parents' outrage, however, and continued reading. She soon felt something awaken inside of her. It was almost a feeling of euphoria and zen. Her heartbeat slowed to a calm, her breathing steadied and her whole body finally began to relax. She felt elated; it was the first time she had been without anxiety since long before her parents had started fighting when she was a little girl. Her outward appearance also began to change. As her power awoke inside her, Amelia's hair started to darken. It became jet black and her eye color changed from a dark brown to light violet. She started to hum as she felt the magic sweep through to her fingertips.

When she had finished reading, she remained sitting on her bed. From there, she patiently waited. It wasn't too long after that Amelia's mother finally broke through the door. It swung open with such force that it sent the desk chair flying against the nearby wall. Her mother was breathing heavily and she looked very much like an angry predator.

"That was very wrong of you, Amelia." She breathed out angrily. She was even more angry when she realized that her daughter was no longer crouching in fear. She was sitting very casually on her bed, a smile on her face. Amelia's mother's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What's wrong with you?" She snapped. Amelia chuckled.

"For the first time ever, mother, nothing is wrong with me."

"What happened to your hair?"

Amelia shrugged. "Thought I would try something new." Amelia stood up from the bed and her presence enveloped the room. For the first time ever, it was Amelia's mother that was the one to shy away. Amelia, recognizing this, smiled. "You won't ever harm me again, mother. I am not your little toy, or your pet that you can kick around when you feel angry with how the world's treated you."

Amelia's mom was still drunk and, thus, still ignorantly short-tempered. "The world has shown me no respect—" She started but her daughter cut her short.

"How do you expect to gather respect from anyone when you refuse to give any?" Amelia asked coolly. "What admiration I had for you as a child is gone. You have done nothing in the last several years then to shut me down and make sure I would never stand up to you. Well, your time for domination is up."

"How dare you talk to me like that." Her mother began the usual routine, her voice like ice. "I am your mother!"

"And I am your daughter." Amelia retorted. "And I've grown tired of this little game." With a single wave of her hand, her mother did not have time to scream before her throat was slit and she fell to the ground, dead.

Amelia walked over her mother's body, not even looking down as she passed by.

Amelia traveled for years living on her own. She never stayed in a single place for too long. She made no attachments and even the ones she did make were artificial at best. She took care of her basic needs and became very skilled at pick pocketing.

Three years after the death of her mother, Amelia was sitting alone at a cafe just outside the city of Durham in northern England. She had been staying there for just shy of a months time and was thinking about where she should wander to next. She was thinking Australia or perhaps Puerto Rico. She loved England but had grown tired of the colder weather. As she sipped her tea and watched the university students pass by, someone sat down at the table with her. Not easily surprised, she glanced over and her eyes fell on an older woman. Amelia guessed her age to be around mid-thirties but the woman gave off an aura of being ancient. Curious, Amelia put down her tea saucer and kept her eyes locked on her new stranger.

"Can I help you?" She asked. The woman smiled.

"American." She said. Confused, Amelia's eyes narrowed.

"Excuse me?" She snapped. The smile on the woman's face only broadened.

"Oh, you have bite, child. I like that. I only meant your accent: you're from America, yes?" Still distrusting, Amelia took up her tea again and sipped it dismissively.

"So what if I am?"

"Well I think you're the girl I've been looking for." The woman replied. Amelia's eyes met her visitor's once more and she stared blankly. She said nothing so the woman volunteered more. She leaned in closer on the table and spoke in a lowered tone. "My name's Malina. I heard all about your work with your mother. Brilliant, if I do say so."

Amelia glared at her in warning for a moment before glancing around quickly to see if anyone had overheard. When she was confident no one was listening, she hissed at the woman at her table. "How the hell do you know about that?"

Malina chuckled lightly and waved her hand dismissively. "Don't even worry about it. It's not important. And don't worry about the people around us: they have no idea what we're talking about. But I'm sensing my original instinct was right. You are the girl I've been looking for."

Amelia relaxed a little bit but still kept her guard up. Sliding back against the chair, she humphed. "Why were you looking for me?"

"Because you have some very…" Malina paused, thinking of the right word. "Unique set of talents. I want to help you."

"Help me how?" Amelia grunted.

"Help you hone your skills. You need discipline and control. I see that you've done well for yourself. And, I admit," She chuckled once again. "It was not an easy task to track you down. But I notice you don't use your talents much unless you have to. Is that right?"

"I don't want to hurt anybody." Amelia replied curtly. She did not look at her visitor's eyes but kept her eyes focused on her nearly empty cup of tea. She swirled the liquid around the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup.

"That's a good ideal to have." Malina commented. "We don't want you to hurt anyone either."

Amelia stopped watching her cup and looked up again. "'We'?" She repeated. "Are you some kind of recruiter?"

"Well….of sorts, I suppose." Malina replied. Amelia gave her a curt nod and stood up from her chair. Picking up her messenger bag, she placed it on her shoulder.

"Nice talking to you, miss." Amelia said dismissively. "Thanks for the tea." She then walked off and headed across the busy street. Malina tossed some notes on the table in payment for Amelia's drink before she hurried off after the young woman.

Malina caught up to Amelia when she was hastily walking through the narrow streets that lead down towards the river. She put her hand on Amelia's forearm and tried to pull her back. Amelia turned, her eyes blazing, and she glared at Malina. Malina, overcome by the sheer anger pent up in the young woman, allowed her hand to drop. She did nothing as she watched Amelia fade around the corner of the enclosed city.

As soon as Amelia was gone, another smile found its way across Malina's face. "Don't worry, young one. You will join us soon enough."


Months later brought Amelia to Greece. It was mid-September and she was walking through the streets of Rhodes. She had not heard from the strange woman since that afternoon in Durham and she had almost forgotten about her.

Amelia stopped by a little tourist area for lunch. She was not hungry but she was running low on funds and tourists were always the easiest people to steal from. She had traveled to many different countries but she had found one thing in common with most countries: the locals tend to disregard complaints about tourists who lose items on their trips. They always tell the same lies about finding their missing items as soon as possible but they know there's little chance in that happening.

Amelia was surveying the crowd inconspicuously when someone approached her and stood at her side.

"Hello, Amelia."

Startled, Amelia turned to find herself facing the mysterious woman from England. When she recognized her, Amelia's posture grew suspicious. "Following me?" She asked. Malina smiled and shrugged casually.

"Trying to," she admitted. "Like I said: you're a tough one to track down."

"Then maybe you should take the hint and leave me alone." Amelia snapped and started to walk away. This time, however, Malina did not let her out of her sight.

"I'm afraid I can't do that, Amelia." She replied. Her pace kept up with Amelia's and the two women walked briskly through the ancient streets.

"And why not?"

"Because I am here to help."

Amelia suddenly stopped and turned to face her stalker. "Help who?" She asked, still glaring. The smile returned to Malina's face. Amelia didn't trust a person who smiled too much.

"I believe relationships hold up best when both parties are honest with one another. So I will tell you the truth. I am here to help you, but I am also looking out for the best interests of my employers."

"Who are they, then?"

Again, the smile. "You will soon meet them, I guarantee it." Malina replied without answering the question. Amelia continued to stare at the older woman and remained silent but Malina was satisfied that at least her target was not again running away.

"What happens if I come with you?" Amelia finally asked.

"We will give you a free place to stay, free food. You will have to be under my tutelage but I'm sure you will find that an agreeable arrangement. I can teach you many things about your skill that you aren't even aware of."

Amelia paused for a moment, allowing the words to sink in. Finally she said aloud what she had suspected all along. "Are you like me?" Malina nodded.

"I am."

"So you're saying you can do what, exactly? We can have a bounding moment over fighting and spells?" Malina chuckled.

"Of course not. I won't lie and say that it would be against everyone's best interests if we bonded, but that comes with time. And that is in no way a requirement. Even so, I think this is the best course of action for you." Malina reached into her jacket pocket and removed something which she then handed over to her young recruit. "My card," She explained as Amelia accepted it. "I will give you time to think it over. It's only fair. You weren't willing to listen to me in England, but perhaps time has changed your mind. I won't bother you again until you contact me." Amelia looked down at the card. It had only Malina's name and a phone number where she could be reached. Amelia recognized the number as an American number. When she looked up to ask Malina some more questions, she found herself alone on the busy morning streets of Rhodes.

Against her better judgment, Amelia made a phone call that night when she made it back to the hostel. The phone rang several times and each time it did, Amelia swore she would hang up if the call wasn't picked up before the next ring finished. But each ring kept her waiting.

Finally the call was received. "Hello, Amelia."

Taken aback, Amelia swallowed hard. "How did you know it was me?" She choked. A light chuckle answered her.

"I knew you would call. So. Have you made a decision yet?"

"I want to know more about what you're offering."

"Certainly, m'dear." Cooed the voice on the other side of the phone. She then began to tell Amelia everything.

Three months later…

Amelia was busy cleaning off her desk when she heard a shout from the hallway and a loud crash. Alarmed, she briskly crossed the room and opened the door. Out in the darkened hallway, she found Malina standing next to a skinny man who was struggling against what looked like an armed guard. Amelia watched the scene for several moments in confusion before she asked, "What's going on here?" Surprised by the sudden voice, Malina saw Amelia and froze for a moment. She quickly recovered and smiled.

"It's nothing to worry about, Mia. Honest. Just someone needing some restraint. Close the door like a good girl and wait for me to come back." Amelia watched her tutor quizzically but slowly obeyed. The door shut, leaving Amelia's vision blind to the events going on, but her ears were still able to hear. She heard lots of screaming, shouting and what she thought sounded like beating. The noise seemed to stop for a while before she heard very clearly: "Ow! It bit me!" Amelia immediately rushed to the door and placed her hand on the knob but before she could turn it, the door's deadbolt clicked shut. She fought with the door for several minutes as she heard the rush of footsteps outside her door. No matter how hard she struggled, she could not seem to get the door open, however, and she finally sighed in defeat.

Over the last three months, Amelia did not feel like she was contributing much. She had only once met the man who ran this organization but she was not very impressed by him. He seemed like a very normal man who had an unending hunger for power. She had learned a few things from Malina but, on the whole, she was not allowed to associate with other people in the organization. She had thought this strange at first, but Malina assured her it was only for her own protection.

Amelia retained her own mind and, although she acted like she was in complete cooperation with everything that was taking place, she couldn't keep herself from being suspicious. Amelia was inherently skeptical and she knew something very odd was going on with this organization. She would hear shouts even in the middle of the night and the struggle with a so-called prisoner outside her door was not the first she had witnessed since arriving. The restraints never seemed to be placed on the same person and Amelia couldn't figure out what was making the people act the way they were.

Still, Amelia was willing to swallow her pride and act her way into the naive hearts of those in charge if it meant figuring out what they were up to and getting away from them.

Amelia waited in her room for Malina to return. She was usually back there by seven-thirty in the evening but, because of the struggle in the hall, Amelia suspected she would be late. That proved a true assumption when Malina did not return to Amelia's room until well past nine o' clock.

"Sorry I'm late," Malina replied, almost as an afterthought. "I got held up." She looked a little disheveled. Amelia wanted to ask who that person had been in the hall but, struggle as she had to do, she remained silent.

"Are we going to practice any more tonight?" Amelia asked.

"My, aren't we an eager one?" Malina asked, smiling. Amelia shrugged.

"I get bored." She admitted. "So can we practice?"

As of 2/22/16: I have not finished this chapter. However, since it has been a little less than three and a half years since I have written it, my memory of any planned events is understandably gone.1

That being said, I will definitely return to this chapter at a later date. But until I can figure out where the missing pieces are, I will let it remain as it is written for now.

This is not the end of the story. However, I was informed that I could not continue posting on this page because it contained too many characters. If you wish to read further, please click here: Monsters Among Us (Part II)

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