First off. I'm so sorry that I didn't put this up earlier. I've had a problem with uploading and then I had writers block and then I went on holiday… but whatever. I had another version for this chapter – but I messed it up totally. So. Roll tape. Let's get this chapter on the road. I know you've waited for this so I'm sorry and I hope it lives up to expectations. One other thing. I know I haven't been spelling Mary-Lynnette right, but my computer spellchecker has both 'Lynette' and 'Lynnette' – but I know now that it's two n's. I'll try and get it right this time.

I own no one in this except Jared Lovett. The paragraph in italic is a clip from Daughters of Darkness, pages 208-209. And as you can see (or rather read) later on, Jared is pretty insane (if you didn't know that already).

Dedicated to everyone who reviewed and waited for this chapter! I hope it's okay…

Also. Fanfiction took the italic off some of the thoughts - so its a little messed up. I hope it doesn't make much difference.

The woods…

Ash was lying on the ground. Dead or possibly dying. But Mary-Lynnette hadn't time to think about that. The boy – the wolf – before her was talking. The guy that she used to think was her friend… possibly even a future boyfriend. How crazy she'd been to ever think that…

She was fumbling with the cords binding her hands, but all her senses kept feeling was the bark of the cedar tree behind her. Come on… just a little bit more…her fingers were working their way out, sweat helping them shift a little.

It had all happened so fast. She'd been tied up by Jeremy, and to have him standing there before her – telling her everything because he'd thought he'd gotten away with it… But he hadn't. Not if Mary-Lynnette had anything to do about it.

She'd loved Jeremy as a friend. But her heart burned more for someone now than it had ever done before. Her eyes shifted to the blond boy lying limp on the ground, covered in soft pine needles where he fell. I love you… Mary-Lynnette thought. And I didn't even tell you… and now it's too late.

She felt sick suddenly as a wave of nausea slapped her body. She shut her eyes – trying to gather her strength and send it pulsing down to her hands. She resigned herself to one last tug… And then her binds came free. Her hands were loose, ready and able. She flexed them behind her back for good measure but kept her face a mask. Jeremy had been talking all this while, but Mary-Lynnette had paid no attention. She'd been thinking… and thinking pretty dark thoughts at that.

I need a weapon. To save Ash, or at least give him vengeance… I need to protect myself. Her senses were vampire – but only for the rest of the night. She and Ash had exchanged blood earlier and the rush of adrenaline gave her a thrill she'd never felt before. Power. The ability to do something in this sort of situation. Strength like nothing she'd ever imagined. And a thought whispered to her that she was invincible and if she held out… just prayed that Ash would be safe… then he would be, and so would she.

Jeremy stepped back. Relief washed over Mary-Lynnette – for one second. Then she saw with horror that he was plucking at his shirt, pulling it off. And underneath… there was no skin. Instead there was hair. A pelt that twitched and shivered in the night air. "I followed you here and I fixed your car so you couldn't leave," Jeremy said. "I heard you say you wanted to be a vampire."

Jared growled. She'd actually said that? Actually said she wanted to be a vampire? But he'd heard her, and he'd become desperate. At the thought of having some vampire scum kiss her he growled ever louder – but he kept it in a low thrum, just as if he were speaking normally. He didn't want to scare Pretty Girl. Not now. Not now he was so close to making her see. The vampire beneath him was still unconscious. Stupid vampires. Stupid vampires always think they're better than us 'wolves. And stupid vampires make pretty girls want to be stupid vampires.

Jared growled again and Mary-Lynnette flinched. She was blabbering that she had just been talking. Jared narrowed his eyes. By saying that she made him even angrier. Because she'd called him Jeremy. She'd done it about four times now – not that he wasn't used to her calling him Jeremy. But when he and Pretty Girl were together – a couple at last – he knew that she'd still call him Jeremy. I'll have to kill him too, Jared thought and felt a ripple of displeasure. He liked toying with his twin – it was fun to see him so upset.

But when Jeremy was gone, Jared could tell Pretty Girl that she had him instead and he would tell her to call him Jared. He had to convince her now… convince her enough so she would be his. Pretty Girl couldn't turn into a stupid vampire. Pretty Girl had to be a werewolf. Just. Like. Him.

Jared opened his mouth to continue where he left off. "But that was a mistake. Werewolves are much better. You'll understand when I show you. The moon looks so beautiful when you're a wolf." He hoped he'd snag her with that. He knew Pretty Girl liked the moon. Liked the stars. So why did she like stupid vampires like Redfern scum? Jared wanted to kick the boy at his feet. But he couldn't, because he'd lose Mare. And he didn't want to lose his future mate…

Careering off the path, the wolf panted aimlessly – passing two boys lounging by a wood fence, talking about packing up and leaving Briar Creek. For an instant, Jeremy Lovett almost stopped and listened – ready to wave off Todd Akers and Vic Kimble, but he couldn't. There was so much at stake… Oh, Mary-Lynnette.

The blond and brown-haired jerks turned, jumped at the sight of him and scrambled up the fence, pointing furiously down the path, hoping the threat would obey. Easy guys, Jeremy thought, almost to himself. I'm only passing through. And he did just that – sprinted to the end of the gravel lane that was a bad impression of a tourist track. After all… tourists didn't come any more. Ever since that hiker…

Jared. Again. Try not and think about it. He's evil. It doesn't matter if he's your brother. He's a murderer and he'll kill Mare if you don't pick up the pace. Jeremy narrowed his eyes. He was almost sailing through the air, feet hardly touching the ground. If only the ground was mossy and easier to walk on… if only he had longer legs… no, if only he could levitate… he could get to Mare in time. It might already be too late.

Mary-Lynnette sat up. Smoke was in her throat, and when she tried to yell "Jeremy!" it came out as a hoarse croak.
The wolf still didn't come out. And no wonder, with a silver knife in its chest and fire all around it. Mary-Lynnette sat, arms wrapped around herself, and watched the car burn.

Jeremy. You're gone… Mary-Lynnette realised, gazing at the burning fragments of the car with Ash at her side, holding her hand – trying his best to sympathise, even though he would never understand what she was going through. Mary-Lynnette tried to reason with herself and be happy – she was a heroine. Ash was alive and it didn't matter that Jeremy was dead because he'd been a bad guy all along… he'd been a murderer.

But somehow, it didn't seem to fit. All that time – that sweet guy she knew. She tried to convince herself that it was because he'd acted so odd… so different. She thought she knew the truth at that instant – with her car exploding and the werewolf trapped inside of it. Mary-Lynnette wasn't about to discover the truth about Jeremy Lovett for a lifetime yet. She'd thought she had it covered. She was wrong.

To her, Jeremy Lovett was now dead – a thorn in her side which had been removed. The wound still hurt but it would heal. And it did. Within a few months. She didn't know that at that instant, another werewolf was watching across the clearing in complete and total shock.

She… killed… him. Jeremy collapsed onto the ground, panting and crying with the pain of having to run so far for so long, and to see his Mary-Lynnette… spoiled. She'd never be the same Mary-Lynnette now that she was a killer. And not only that… she had the strength to kill him. To her, Jared was Jeremy – and so by stabbing Jared, she thought that she'd killed her friend. And to Jeremy, that was enough.

She stank of vampire blood. She'd exchanged blood with Ash. Does that mean… it's all over? Jeremy wondered. I can never protect her? Slowly, his pelt and muzzle evaporated, and his tail jutted back into his body. The night seemed to darken around him suddenly and the moon was a bloody head hanging in the night sky. Why… why is the moon red?

Jeremy sighed and looked closer at the scene before him. His brother was lying somewhere in that burning funeral pyre that had been Mary-Lynnette's pride and joy – but he felt no sorrow. It saved him the job of killing him. Jared was mad – he had been since he could speak.

His eyes shifted to the couple sitting on a mound of grass, a safe distance from the fire. So they were both fine… Jeremy tried to convince himself that that was a good thing, but his heart wasn't in it. How could Mary-Lynnette betray him so easily? Without hesitation? Had she really changed that much?

Jeremy looked even closer. No. No, she hadn't. How could he tell? There was his Mary-Lynnette. And she was crying. It broke his heart to watch her suffer. His heart ached to hold her and promise never to scare her ever again. I love you, he whined and a tear ran down his cheek.

But then instinct took over and he snorted, sitting up in a hurry. She'd chosen Ash, and Jeremy wasn't about to become second best. Never cry over spilt milk, as Mare used to say. But if Jeremy could help it, it wouldn't be milk that would be spilt. He narrowed his eyes – his sensitive bubble evaporating so easily. He allowed his spirit to be engulfed by the hatred he felt for his brother, for Ash. She's mine, Dracula, he grinned. And if I have my way it won't be milk that'll be spilt… it'll be your blood.

He knew he wasn't a killer, but Mary-Lynnette drove him to do things that he could only dream about. He had to have her, end of story. She was his soulmate; they were destined to be together! Ash and Mary-Lynnette couldn't be soulmates because… well, it was too much of a coincidence that he stumbled in on her and they fell in love. Besides, he wasn't even her type.

Jeremy grinned again. By the end of the year – Mary-Lynnette would be his. But the smile faltered and he bowed his head. She'd become a werewolf and then she'd see. And if he could help it… if Ash didn't get in the way, he wouldn't harm him.

It was only at that instant, when Jeremy realised that he'd begun to hatch a plan to murder Ash, that he realised some of Jared's spirit had been reborn into his.

Inside the fire…

Jared was dying. He knew. He could feel the silver, feel the flames… and Pretty Girl had done that. He'd been wrong, wrong, wrong! And he would get revenge.

Enlightening him for an instant, he smelt something over the smoke and fire, Ash's expensive cologne, Pretty Girl's hair and the wooded undergrowth. It was a 'wolf. And not just any 'wolf – his twin, Jeremy.

Perfect. He smiled, letting himself fall into death, eyes shutting briefly. He was no witch, but he knew a trick or two. The old trick of the werewolves. To have your own spirit, reborn into another.

So long, brother. Jared grimaced.

"The power of my soul, I grant unto thee. Reborn me in thy body – so mote it be!" he roared, though the words were not made out over the echoing call of the fire. And with that, Jared Lovett was swallowed willingly into the flames – and was prepared to, within a number of weeks, drown his brother's soul out of his own body completely.

"Mare?" there was a knock on the bedroom door. Mary-Lynnette groaned and rolled over. "Mare? Mare, are you awake?" Mark.

"Go away!" Mare whined, head pressed into her pillow. Nevertheless, the door opened. Mare waved a hand, annoyed. "Go! Haven't you got a show to watch with Jade?" she cried, hair sticking up all over her head. "The 'I Need To Spend Time With My Girlfriend In Order For My Sister To Get Some Sleep' show!"

Mark smirked. "Wrong. It's the 'Wake Up, Mary-Lynnette' show because you've just got yourself a letter." At this Mary-Lynnette whipped round, pressing a pillow to one side of her face. She was pale and tired, her hair was a mess and she felt like she'd gained fifty years – but her eyes still lit up.

Mark sniffed the envelope and wrinkled up his nose. "Hm, smells like aftershave. Did he spill his bottle over the envelopes or some–"

"Give me that!" Mare hissed, lunging out of bed and snatching the letter from her brother before he could open it. Mark made to leave the room and waved, shutting the door behind him.

"I knew that would get you up!" he laughed. Mare could hear Jade's high-pitched giggling downstairs and let out a sigh. She hoped Jade didn't take her sarcasm the wrong way. She was perfect for her brother. But that wasn't what was important. What was important was…

The handwriting on the envelope was lazy and careless – a little scruffy, but with elegant slopes where he'd written the Y's in her name. He really tried to be serious and levelheaded now – even if it was only communicating through letters. And Mare could never write to him back because he moved on a lot – never staying in one place long enough for her to send him a letter just in case the Night World caught hold of him.

Mary-Lynnette tore open the envelope hungrily. As soon as she read the first sentence she was sucked into a vortex immediately. For the five minutes it took to read the letter she was with him – there, right next to Ash. Ash Ash. Ash. Ash! She was with him and they'd never be apart.

Then came the second time she read it. And then the third and fourth. And with each time she drifted further and further away from him. She'd been suddenly so happy, and now she was lonely.

Reading the letter for the fifth time – she read aloud, and each word made a tear trickle down her cheek. Why did she always feel this way? What was the point in reading it if it would only make her cry? Make her miss him even more and regret ever sending him away?

The last time she'd threatened to shred the next letter. Mark had said she'd never have the guts to do it, and he'd been right. Mare bowed her head, and folded the letter up, not finishing it. Tucking it into her desk drawer with the rest of them, she brushed her hair and went downstairs to get some breakfast… most probably a round of granola bars. She wiped her eyes and smiled. Well, she thought, I am watching my weight.