AUTHOR'S NOTE: Sorry guys. I missed you. We just had a lot going on, and so things got put on the back burner, and then they got taken off the stove all together, and now things are back and I'm feeling pretty good, and I think I have the time to update at least fairly regularly. I hope you're still here. I hope you're ready to keep reading along. It would break my heart if you didn't want to anymore. So anyway, as always, I'd absolutely love it if you'd read, enjoy, review, follow, and/or favorite this thing. As always, I own absolutely nothing, but wish I did. As always, much love to you and yours from me. ~Billie
I sighed heavily as I waited in Amelie's private room located in the Glass House. There were only three vampires in the town who knew its whereabouts, and one of them was dead. I lay back on the sofa and stared at the ceiling, replaying the events of the past few months in my head. How had I been so weak? How could Naomi have taken me over so fully? My head throbbed, but I had to remember. I had to know. I couldn't let it happen again.
It had been my fault - that much I remembered. I had been so overcome with the need for power, so sure of my hold over Amelie that I'd overstepped my bounds. I'd become foolish. When Naomi had shown up at my doorstep what felt like years ago, I had thought I was strong enough to overwhelm her. I was not. Her strength had slapped me down as if I were a child and she my mother.
Now that her hold on me was weakening, I was livid. Not only with Naomi for playing me for a fool, but also with myself for being so damned foolish. I had spent a great number of years in my life being a servant, and an even greater number of years being a leader. I knew the difference between a good leader and a weak one. I'd been exceptional at finding and exploiting weaknesses. I had been prideful in my belief that I was going to be able to exploit Amelie's trust in me. And her devotion.
Instead, my great pride had been my downfall. I had been worse than a servant, I'd been a blood slave. Naomi made me weak, sick, desperate for more. Even her blood itself was vicious, parasitic. With her in my veins, she had turned me into a virtual corpse, rotting from the inside out. She had perverted my very soul.
But now, I had Amelie within me. Where Naomi's blood had festered like an infection, Amelie's blood sang through my veins, bringing back my strength, my freedom of will, my health. While my head still felt as if it were going to explode, I knew the pain would lessen. My thoughts were clearer than they'd been since before the draug. I knew what I was. I knew who I was. And I knew now, more than ever, why Amelie was touted as an amazing leader by those whose opinions actually meant something - because she was.
Amelie had always been strong, but in my own conceited mind, I thought she was only feigning strength to hide her weakness. I believed that she had allowed certain individuals to poison her mind - to weaken her position. I had believed that her concessions to the humans who populated our city were because she was incapable of ruling with an iron fist - that she allowed them just enough power that they would not rise against her, and therefore would not learn that they could defeat her.
Even when I saw her exercise her right as Founder and lay low those who opposed her, I had always thought it was because those who opposed her were weak. I had always believed that I would be able to best them as well, because, in my mind, Amelie was weaker than me.
But now, now I knew just how wrong I had been.
Amelie had broken a hold on me that had been repeatedly reinforced for months with one taste of her blood. It would have taken me months, if not years, to break a hold as powerful as the one cast over me with my blood. Not only that, but there was a strange feeling of simply being better now that Amelie had fed me. That freedom Amelie offered that I'd always taken as being a symbol of her weakness now felt as if it were strengthening me - helping me to achieve a power far greater than I'd ever achieved before.
The feeling caught me off guard as I suddenly realized what the freedom really was - it was faith. I suddenly had the faith that I would be able to be who Amelie needed me to be; I would be able to be who Morganville needed me to be. As I rested and turned over the last few months in my head, I realized the entire town was falling apart not because of what the humans had been doing, but because of what we vampires were doing. Humanity wasn't failing us, we were failing them.
But was it too late to save Morganville?
Even if it wasn't, how would we go about doing it? Amelie was dead, as far as the town was concerned. We couldn't even begin a whisper campaign that she was still alive because we didn't know who we could trust, and the last thing we needed was Naomi and her hounds searching us out. Myrnin, Amelie's closest friend and greatest supporter, truly was dead. I closed my eyes and imagined how infuriating his commentary would be if he could somehow see what was going on in my head. I could imagine his laughter and his snarky comments about how I was too ignorant to see the answer when it was so clear to him.
The worst part was if he had been here, he probably would have come up with an idea that was not only completely ridiculous, but that would also work. And I would be too stubborn to listen to him, and Amelie would calmly chide me for being stubborn and she would, as always, take his side. And the damned solution would work. And then I would have one more reason to hate him with his silly smirk and his terrible fashion sense and his brilliant but broken mind.
I was struck with the sudden realization that I would miss the madman.
Piggybacking on that realization was the fear that I was going insane.
We had chosen to meet back at Glass House for a reason. There was only one single person in the entire town who even began to think along the same lines as Myrnin - Claire. But I hadn't found her when I'd checked the house earlier. No one had been home. I assumed they were laying low somewhere, waiting for the sunrise, but even now, the house was entirely empty. Still, the children who made this house their home wouldn't stay gone long. And as irritating as every single one of them was, they were some of the only individuals who had the unique advantage of knowing both sides of the spectrum.
Claire, with her knowledge of the internal working of the town's security system and the portals was our greatest of assets. She was intelligent, sympathetic to both humans and vampires alike, and, though she didn't realize it yet, after working with Myrnin for the last two years, she was in the unique position to "channel" his thoughts and to assist us in figuring out a solution to the problems we faced.
Michael, having been human so recently, was another great asset. He had kept ties with humanity. He understood the plight that the humans were experiencing just as much as he realized the need for we vampires to have a safe haven to call our own. While he didn't necessarily like the way things were, he at least understood why they were the way they were. We had been foolish to not consult him before on how to make things better here in town.
Eve, too, had reason to make Morganville work. Though I hated the thought of her and Michael's relationship, it gave her a perspective that even Claire didn't have. Claire had formed bonds with certain vampires, yes, but she did not love one. At least, not the way that Eve loved Michael. Mrs. Glass, for all her bravado, was in a position to not only try to make things best for humanity, but to also make things best for the vampires - it was pivotal for her and Michael's relationship that he be able to function just as well, if not better than she. After all, he was the dangerous one.
Even Shane, with all his anger and rage would be an asset. Not only did he have contacts with those who were most dangerous to my kind, but he was a sympathetic figure in the eyes of most of the town. A troubled boy who had suffered most terribly at the hands of a system that simply did not work. He was, for all his negative traits, a likeable young man. He was a hard worker, and he was strong not because he was truly physically powerful, but because he had learned that strength through suffering. Regardless of what I told myself, deep down I knew that he and I were quite alike in that aspect.
I checked my phone, only to find nothing from Amelie. She had assured me she would send me a sign when she had recovered from the faux staking I had given her in the square the night before. It was taking everything I could to remain where I was and not go out searching for her in fear that she was somehow in harm's way. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of my blood rushing through my veins, singing to me a song of faith and hope, telling me that Amelie was not only far stronger than I had ever imagined, but far stronger than I. The faith I felt stirring within me told me to wait. That my patience would be rewarded.
It was then that I heard the car pull into the backyard. I stood and watched as Shane and Hannah Moses emerged from the shed out back, Hannah carrying a young woman who appeared to be minutes from death. Behind them both came a man who looked vaguely familiar, but whose name and face I couldn't quite place. I heard them enter the house, but didn't leave my hiding spot as they rushed around, grabbing what I could only imagine were whatever weapons the occupants had hidden throughout the house.
Shane came up the stairs to the second floor. I heard him walk across the hall. I heard him open Claire's bedroom door and speak her name. The tightness in his voice told me he had expected her to be home. I heard the tension in his steps as he left and entered what I assumed was his own bedroom. He didn't know where she was, either.
The man I couldn't quite place came up the stairs about that time, and it sounded as if he and Shane began to load something into bags. Soon, they headed back down the stairs and I heard the front door open and then shut for a second time. I couldn't see from the room where they went, and I couldn't yet allow myself to be seen by anyone other than the occupants of Glass House, so against my body's urging to go out and find out what was going on, I remained in Amelie's haven of a room, waiting for the woman who had saved me to come back home so that together we could save the town she loved above all else.