I’m a day late but here’s an extra long chapter of An Empty Grave.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in this situation before, but believe me when I say that having a hybrid vampire with super hearing has it’s perks when you have a body stashed in your trunk.
We’ve only made it about an hour into the drive – we weren’t sure where to go, I just know we had to put as many miles between Chase and us as we could before the sun started to set. Anyway, we were driving, listening to one of Hayden’s pop playlists to help her stay awake. An hour in, she shuts off the music, her hands tightening on the steering wheel.
“What is it?” I ask.
She keeps her focused eyes on the road. “Killian’s phone went off.”
We’re silent as she listens. A minute later she says, “His contact was able to trace the cells from the douche-vamps phone. He thinks the witch is in Louisiana.”
“Louisiana? Like New Orleans, Louisiana?”
Shaking her head, she responds, “No, a small swamp town. A place called Breaux Bridge. Can you look it up on your phone, see how long it takes to get there?”
I nod, pulling out my phone to figure out where the hell we even are.
“Was he able to get an actual address?”
“No,” Hayden says, shaking her head. “But his contact knows someone there that we can find. They might be able to take us there.”
“Yay,” I reply. “Another contact. Hopefully this one doesn’t take a chunk out of me, too.”
“We handled that guy. We’ll handle this one, too.”
“Uhh, it looks like it’s about six hours away. Looks like it’s a good thing we headed south.”
My phone rings, showing Duke’s picture on the screen.
“You’re going to stay on this highway for a while,” I tell Hayden as I answer the call.
“So, you couldn’t let me know that Chase was on his way?” I ask, crossing my arms and leaning back in my seat.
“Well, hi to you too, sis. Missed ya.”
I don’t miss the snark in his tone, and I narrow my eyes even though I can’t see him.
“I’m sorry, do I not have a right to be upset?”
“Not anymore. Not since you left him behind so it looks like he’s off your hands.”
“He’s called you already,” I scoff.
“Yup. Where exactly are you headed?”
“Ahh, see I’m not gonna tell you. Because then you’ll just tell Chase, and I’ll have to ditch him again. Why go through all the trouble?”
“If it makes you feel better I wasn’t the one that told Chase your location. Deklan did.”
“Deklan did?” I asked, shocked. Deklan was the one who feared the sire bond between Chase and the Aldinn the most.
“Yup, looks like he trusts him. Maybe you should, too.”
“I’ve got to go, Duke. I’ll call when it’s over.”
“B – ”
I hang up before I can hear the rest of his sentence.
“You good?” Hayden questions quietly.
And to be honest, I am. I can’t let Chase into my head. I can’t let myself think about him and all the shit that he’s been going through. The moment we left Evanston, I’ve done my hardest to not let him into my head. Because I’m on a mission. There’s a plan and if I let Chase into my head, the whole thing will get derailed. I don’t have time for love or pain. The only thing I can focus on is finding whatever I can to kill the Aldinn.
“Should I pull into the hotel? You think we’ll be here past the night?” Hayden asks, peering out the windshield.
It’s just past noon and we’re in the center of this tiny little swamp town.
“I guess. I’m assuming the person we’re meeting is a vampire so it looks like we’ve got some time to kill. Might as well try to sleep as much as we can before tonight.”
Hayden steers the car across the street, and I grab my wallet from the backseat and step out of the car. After the room’s rented, Hayden and I grab our bags and step into the small dingy room. I turn on the air conditioner that rattles loudly and then strip off the comforter of the single bed in the center of the room before step into the bathroom.
“I’m going to shower,” I tell Hayden as she strips off her boots and slips onto the bed.
She nods, and I close the door sealing me inside. I step up to the mirror above the sink and pull of the bandage at my neck. I’ve got stitches sealing up to the two small puncture holed in my neck. There’s redness around the wounds, but otherwise it’s healing nicely. It barely hurts anymore.
I take off the rest of my clothes and get into the small shower, aiming the head low to not get my neck wet. The bathroom is an aqua color but the walls are dusty and the tub is grimy. I had to take a shower since I didn’t take one at the other hotel in the past two days, but it’s not going to be pleasant. I use the toilet trees I have to clean my body, and then I hop out quickly. Wrapping a towel around my body, I walk out into the bedroom, finding Hayden already passed out on top of the sheets.
Once I’ve changed into clothes, I lay out beside her staring up at the ceiling. I try to fall asleep. I will my mind to shut off and my eyes to close but nothing happens. All I keep thinking is today might be the day we find something that kills the Aldinn.
A knock on the door has me jumping onto my feet. I quietly approach the door with a stake in my hand and look through the little peephole in the door.
I swing the door open, finding it dark outside.
“It’s time to go,” he says, nodding to Hayden who is still asleep on the bed.
“We’ll be ready in five,” I assure him and close the door.
“Hayden,” I say approaching her side of the bed and touching her arm. “Time to get up.”
She nods too me and slowly gets up while I go over to my bag of clothes. I pull up a pair of jean shorts and a loose tank top. It’s not the best outfit to hide stakes but it’s hot as hell in Louisiana and I can’t image wearing anything more. As Hayden changes quickly I pull on socks and a pair of converse and then I slide two stakes into the waist of my shorts, and my knife into my back pocket. Two minutes later, Hayden and I are ready and I pull open the door to find Killian waiting patiently with his hands in his pockets.
“Do you need to shower or change?” Hayden asks as we step out into the humid Louisiana air. At least the suns not out to make it worse.
Killian shakes his head. “I did before we left this morning.”
“So, where we going?” I ask.
We all start walking towards the car. I climb in the back while Killian climbs in front of me, with Killian in the drivers seat.
“I’m not entirely sure myself,” Killian says as he starts the car and heads out of the parking lot.
“Well, that sounds reassuring,” I mutter.
Killian doesn’t respond to me but focuses on driving. We drive through the small town until we come to a house with trees surrounding it. Killian puts the car in park and we wait.
“What are we waiting for?” Hayden asks.
Right as she says this, a woman comes out of the woods carrying a stack of firewood.
Ignoring the both of us, Killian jumps out of the car and approaches the woman. She sees him and takes a step back in shock. Then she drops the firewood and jumps into his arms a large smile on her face.
“Should we get out?” Hayden asks me.
“Yeah,” I tell her.
She climbs out of the car and I follow both of us slowly approaching the pair in front of us.
The woman pulls away from Killian and looks at us questioningly.
“This is Hayden and Bianca,” he says, glancing at us.
Her eyes meet mine. “They’re human.” She looks to Hayden. “Sort of.”
Killian steps away from her, closer to us.
“This is Maude. I knew her back when I turned.”
“What are you doing here, Killian? It’s been a long time.”
He nods. “I, uh – we’re looking for the witch.”
Maude eyes widen. “What witch?”
“The witch. We know she’s here and I was hoping you could help us find her. Please, Maude.”
Maude bites her lip and looks away.
“This is the Huntress,” Killian says, gesturing to me.
Maude’s eyes swing back to me, widened in shock.
“She wants to kill the Aldinn. I know you didn’t want this life and we can change that but we need to find the witch.”
She still looks unsure.
“There’s a war going on right now, Maude. If you’re not with the Aldinn, you’re against them. And they will come for you. But we might be able to change that.”
“Please, Maude,” I try.
She meets my eyes again and nods.
“Fine. I’ll take you to her but that is it, I come back and y’all are on your own.”
We all nod.
“Follow me this way.”
She spins on her heal and heads back into the forest, her stack of wood forgotten.
Hayden and I share a look and then we follow Killian as he jogs to catch up to Maude.
We walk a mile through the thick wooded forest until we reach a swamp and a fan boat.
Maude turns and gestures for us to get on.
“Watch out for Alligators,” she says as I step onto the boat. “I’m sure even the Huntress will have a hard time against them.”
“Good to know,” I say as I take a seat next to Hayden on the front seat.
Maude climbs up into the backseat and starts the boat, the fan sputtering to life and running loudly. The boat jerks forward and then move fluidly through the water. I keep my wide eyes peeled and searching through the green water to see if there are any alligators. Since Maude mentioned it, that’s all I can seem to think about.
We cross the large swamp but I can’t even pretend to know where the hell we are. She steers us round trees, past logs, through the marsh until we come to what seems like the other side of the swamp. There’s a dock stretching from the land, and Maude plants us next to it.
“You have one hour,” Maude tells us as I step off the boat. “If you’re not back here by then, you’ll have to find another way back.”
“We’ll be here,” Killian says. “Thank you.”
“It’s just up ahead. It’s the only house,” Maude tells us.
Hayden and I start walking up the dock, until we hit land and then the three of us walk together.
“Where the hell are we?” Hayden asks, voicing the question that’s been echoing in my head.
“Somewhere hidden,” Killian responds.
We spot the house ahead. It’s a tiny little cabin with one light on inside.
Killian steps up to the door and knocks on it. We wait for an answer but after a minute we get no response.
I step away from the two and take a look around, finding for the most part nothing but trees. I go around the cabin and find a large green house.
“Guys, this way,” I call out, and take a step up to the door. There’s a light on inside and I can see movement through the foggy windows.
Slowly, I open the door.
“Well,” A voice says. “You must be the Huntress. I’ve been waiting for you.”