Chapter 3 already! I hope you all are enjoying my story. Please let me know what you think!
"So, what do we know? Anything?" Stefan inquired as Caroline made her way down the stairs. Adelyn was now fast asleep in bed. Caroline had done what she promised and stayed with her until the girl had fallen asleep. After making sure that the child was comfortably resting Caroline had decided it was safe to come back downstairs.
"No, not really. Her name's Adelyn Majors and she lives somewhere in town but I got that from the inhaler that was in her jacket pocket," she waved the information away with a dismissive gesture before flopping down dejectedly on the couch. "She said something about her family being out there in the woods, I think. I don't know. And I don't know if she meant that they were the ones chasing her or she was supposed to be running with them and lost them or…I don't know," she sighed. "She still seems loopy from the fever and she's probably exhausted. Maybe we'll get more out of her when she wakes up again."
Stefan nodded but was really only half paying attention. His mind was already trying to process the mystery that was this Adelyn girl. "What would her and her family be running from? Or why would she be running from her family? It all makes no sense."
"Yeah, I know!" Caroline replied, with not a little exasperation. "All she keeps repeating is 'they're coming! they're coming!' Well, who the hell is 'they?!'"
"Alright, calm down," Stefan soothed. As much as he loved her, Caroline had a tendency to get herself a bit overexcited and stressed out when faced with tense or difficult situations. He placed both hands on her shoulders, slowly trying to kneed out some of the tension he could see her holding in her frame. "We'll figure it all out, ok? When Adelyn wakes up we'll just…" But Stefan's statement was cut off by Damon rushing at full vampire speed through the front door and slamming it behind him.
"We got company!" Was all he was able to say before the door crashed in on itself and a snarling, growling beast threw itself onto the dark haired vampire. The fight that ensued was a blur of hissing, growling, snapping lunges and struggling between vampire and wolf until Damon, panting and bleeding from his shoulder, finally managed to gain the upper hand long enough to toss the raging beast out the front door again. Not bothering to give himself a moment to recover, Damon was out the door, Caroline and Stefan on his heels. With it now three against one, the wolf didn't stand a chance and it wasn't long before the wolf's dead body was laying on the ground at their feet.
"What the hell was that all about?" Stefan panted. He stood bent over, both hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. It was obvious to him that the wolf they had just dispatched wasn't some ordinary woodland creature. That, very clearly, was a werewolf and it had been a huge one at that.
"I was roaming the woods, trying to pick up the kid's trail from last night when that jackass jumped me. He was still in human form, at that point and he was ranting and raving about finding that kid. I, for one, would love to know what the hell is going on."
"So would we!" Caroline agreed emphatically. In fact, all three were heading back into the house for answers when a loud crash followed by a pained scream came from the upstairs bedroom.
The three of them charged up the stairs and into the room to find Adelyn in a heap on the floor by the side of the bed, clutching her injured ankle, clearly trying to hold back another cry of agony. "What did you do!" Caroline huffed as she rushed to help the girl back into the bed. As the blonde was just about the touch the child, though, the little girl cringed away, propelling herself back with her one good leg to cower against the side of the nightstand.
The expression on Caroline's face was pained as she backed up, giving the girl space. The female vampire looked from the terrified girl on the floor to the men on the other side of the room. She had no idea what to do with herself now.
Taking one cautious step forward, Stefan crouched down, trying to make eye contact with Adelyn. To him, she didn't look any better now that she had when she had passed out in his arms the night before and the sheer panic in her face worried him. "Adelyn," he began cautiously, pitching his voice low and keeping his tone calm. The girl was obviously still very sick and the fact that she was terrified on top of it all would do nothing to help her health situation. "Hey, we're not going to hurt you, alright? We just want to make sure that you're ok. We heard you scream when you fell."
For a very long moment the girl just sat curled up into herself, clinging to one leg of the nightstand. No one moved and the room was dead silent, the tension thick. Adelyn kept her eyes downcast, staring at the floor in silent terror. Though she wasn't looking at any of them, it was clear that she was considering what Stefan had just said. It was a tiny flicker of movement at first but very slowly she loosened her grip on the leg of the nightstand, instead moving her arm to wrap around her left knee as she pulled it to her chest. She was biting her lip, lost in thought for a moment more and the three vampire stood waiting. "Is he dead?"
A ripple of shock passed between the three adults. "What?" Damon blinked at her, incredulously.
Finally, Adelyn lifted her head with horror shining in the depths of her blue eyes. "Greg," she indicated the grounds outside with a nod of her head. "Is…is he…dead now?"
"Yes," Stefan confirmed. At this point, gaining the girl's trust was the most important thing, if they had any hope of getting answers and lying to her wouldn't help in accomplishing that goal.
It surprised all of them when this news seemed to bring some measure of comfort to the girl sitting in front of them. "Was he alone?"
All eyes were now on Damon. "Yes, as far as I know. No one else popped out of the woods to attack me."
The vampires in the room honestly didn't quite know how to react when the child's expression completely changed. She actually looked relieved, so much so that she was crying and shaking with the emotion.
"Adelyn, what is going on?!" All this mystery and suspense was killing Caroline. She wasn't one who could ever stand to be out of the loop.
"You know what? First, let's get you up off the floor, ok?" Only after getting a nod of confirmation from Addie did Stefan attempt to lift the child back into the bed. He made sure to tuck her back in before sitting himself on the mattress at her side. Caroline seated herself in a chair beside the bed while Damon seemed content to hang out by the door.
Addie busied herself with arranging the pillows and blankets just so, trying to buy herself some time while she thought about how to explain her situation and how much information she was willing to share. These three had just admitted to killing a werewolf, which meant they were hunters or vampires. Killing a werewolf wasn't something a normal human could do, even if it was three against one. Either way, there were certain things regarding her family and their traditions that she couldn't divulge. When she glanced up again, she could tell that they were all starting to become impatient with her. With a sigh of resignation she finally laid back against the pillows. "Greg was a tracker," she began. "It was his job to keep track of everyone in our pack. It was on him if anyone strayed. So…when I ran it was Greg who had to come find me."
"Ok, and why did you run from your 'pack'?" Damon inquired. Addie couldn't help but smirk at the sarcastic air quotes he used when he mentioned the word pack.
She licked her dry lips and cleared her throat before continuing. "There's this…ritual. It's been part of my family's history forever. When a member of our pack reaches puberty they have to trigger our werewolf gene. They can't remain human anymore. My thirteenth birthday…it's a month away."
Damon, Stefan and Caroline all exchanged knowing, horrified looks. They all knew a thing or two about werewolves and what triggered the werewolf curse. It was murder, literally. Adelyn was saying that her family wanted her to commit murder before she turned thirteen years old. "But that's insane!" Damon burst out.
The outburst made the child in the bed jump and that, in turn, elicited a whimper of pain. Caroline threw Damon a scathing glare before reaching out to comfort Adelyn. "Here, honey. Take another aspirin." After she swallowed the pill she sighed, looking around at the others in the room again.
"Yeah, well, that's not the worst part. I mean…we live in town, technically, so to keep the police off our backs we have to make sure that we keep everything we do 'in the family.'" Here she paused, looking around at them all again, hoping that they would catch her drift so she wouldn't have to elaborate. Clearly, that wasn't happening. "We don't just kill a random stranger for this ritual. The oldest member of the family is used as a sacrifice."
"Ok. Wait, wait wait," Damon interrupted, finally wandering his way into the room. "Your crazy pack family wants you to kill the oldest member of your family to trigger a werewolf gene on your thirteenth birthday?" Addie blinked at his assessment for a moment then nodded. That pretty much summed it right up. "Now, I've heard and seen and done some crazy, messed up crap in my time but this one takes the cake. Are you serious?! Your family is just going to sacrifice grandma to you as a right of passage? Wow, and people think I'm screwed up."
"Well, why the hell do you think I left?! I don't want to hurt anyone, let alone kill someone! And a family member….I mean…I've witnessed this stupid ceremony before and that was pretty horrible but actually killing someone," she cringed at the idea.
"Now, calm down a second. First of all, you said that the only member of your family that came after you was this Greg guy, right?"
Addie, after a moment of clear hesitation, shook her head. "He was the tracker but we don't usually let anyone wander away from home alone. Last I saw, he was with my uncle, Davis, and my brother, Will. They could pick up my scent pretty easily if they wanted to. Greg was the designated tracker but the others aren't exactly idiots."
"That's debatable," muttered Damon. Addie smirked at him again. She didn't disagree.
"So, what if we confuse the scent trail?" When everyone just blinked at her, Caroline elaborated, "you obviously can't walk but we could have someone carry you or maybe find a way to redirect your scent in another direction. If anything it could buy us some time to get you somewhere safer. You need to be away from the house at least until we're sure they've stopped trying to find you."
"No one's ever run before. I don't think they'll ever stop looking. And won't my scent just mix with someone else's if you try to hide me? That'll just make them a target, too. And anyway, they'll be able to tell the old scent trail from the newer one. Like I said, they're not stupid." Honestly, there really wasn't much they could do to throw off her crazy family…well, except…. "There's only one other thing we could do…and I can guarantee you won't like it."
The room was silent for a moment before someone got the hint. "We're not using you as bait." Stefan's tone was final.
"Told ya you weren't going to like it," Addie mumbled. "But I won't really be in any danger, not if you guys are close by. You'll step in before they can get to me."
"No. We're not sacrificing a twelve year old child to a bunch of crazy werewolves. Absolutely not."
"Ok then, how about this; we have a friend who's a werewolf. We'll ask Tyler if he has any ideas that can help us. Maybe Bonnie will have some idea or some spell or something that will help. We'll keep thinking on it but I'm with Stefan. I don't like the idea of putting you in harm's way."
Her eyes roamed the faces of all the adults in the room before she smiled slightly, brushing her hair from her face. "You're going to an awful lot of trouble to help me."
Caroline scoffed. "Well, what else are we supposed to do? We're not going to just let a bunch of crazy people get their hands on you even if they are your family." She frowned to herself for a moment. "That came out wrong."
Addie didn't respond. Her gaze was roaming the room again, taking in all three of her newfound friends. "There's one more thing…"
"Of course there is," Damon quipped.
"Like I said, no one's tried to run before and that's true but…" she tried to swallow against her suddenly dry throat, "my family is very secretive…for obvious reasons so…well…Greg and his crew only go after people for one reason. They weren't going to bring me home. They were going to kill me."