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"Ronan! Hey Ronan, wait up will you!" Sam's voice carried past the garden statues and to my ears as he jogged up behind me, my entrance back to the villa not going unnoticed by his eager eyes.

"What do you want Sam? As you can see I'm not really in the mood for a chat right now."

"Nice to see you too, best friend."

"Cut the bullshit Sam, what is it?"

He chuckled, his jawline arching as his head tipped backwards, face to the sky, long hair trailing down past his shoulder blades. I halted my brisk pace to compensate for his interruption, hoping he would stop laughing and tell me what it is that he wanted me to know. He knew not to talk to me when I came home from a trip.

"Look, sorry Ro, it's just that your father's been on my back of late about staying out so late, I was hoping you might be able to talk to him about loosening the reigns a little on my curfew." He lowers his gaze to reach my eyes and scratches the back of his head, his 6'2 frame making his goofy, boyish charm looking a little awkward against his muscled, athletic body. "I'm 17 now Ro, I want to be able to go out."

I closed my eyes and ran my fingers through my Raven black hair, nodding my head as I uttered the words, I was sure to regret. "Yeah alright. But you owe me."

His arms wrapped themselves around my lean 5'8 body, lifting me dramatically off the ground and spinning me around until I was sure I was close to vomiting. The busts of statues in the garden surrounding us beginning to blur as he spun faster and faster, once, twice, three times he spun until I couldn't hold it in much longer. "God Damnit Sam! PUT ME DOWN." He immediately stopped spinning, the sudden movement jolting me forward in his arms and flinging me onto the gravel beneath our feet.

"Shit, sorry Ro, I was just excited. This means I can finally ask Alicia out to the school formal in January, apparently its winter wonderland themed!" Ugh, I forgot how cliché high school was. The metallic taste in my mouth from blood after falling onto the ground was no match for the dull ache slowly edging its way up my spine. I must have landed on my tailbone.

Dusting myself off, I leaped up off the gravel, careful not to show any pain from the fall. The last thing I wanted was for Sam to think he'd hurt me. "Yeah, it's all good Sammy. Just make sure you put out the trash this week, Doing some of my chores seems like fair payment to me."

Before he could reply I bounded up the steps and strode inside the Villa's marbled archway, It's grandiose decorations lost on me from years of living in it's over the top luxury. I didn't care for flashy things, I preferred an understated taste. Lacing my way through the open courtyard, I knocked on the heavy oak door that signified the entrance to my father's quarters, the slow groan of the bolt being slid back and the door being pulled open revealed the weather beaten, greying face of my father. The man I preferred to call Nelson.

"Ahh, Ronan. I wondered when you would be returning to us. How was your trip, did you find anything noteworthy?" His face cracked into an easygoing smile, as he gestured for me to enter his office and sit in one of the leather chairs resting before his desk. I knew better than to trust his faux display.

"Before I tell you of the last few weeks away, I would request one thing of you."

"Anything dear, what do you ask for?"

"Sam's curfew needs to be lifted, he grows weary of being the only one forced to return home before midnight. I mean really Nelson, at his age I was staying away from home for months at a time on tasks. You need to trust him more."

His face wrinkled up even further. " I do wish you would stop calling me by first name Ronan. What happened to calling me Dad?"

I gave him a pointed look. "Did you really expect me to call you my father again after all that you have put me through? It's a miracle I'm even sitting in this room with you. If it wasn't for Sammy, I would have been gone long ago."

He gave a defeated look before continuing. "I suppose so. But Sam is a different matter. He doesn't know of the dangers out there, and I'll be damned if I let him get hurt!" he stood up from his chair before acing over to the bookcase, filled with leather backed books. "You are trained for fighting Ronan, that boy just isn't cut out for it. Christ, he couldn't protect himself against a stray rodent if he came across one." My surprise at his protectiveness over Sam must have shown on my face as he looked at me with an honest smile. "I do worry about you two kids Ronan. Even if you don't know it. You were two years old when we found Sam abandoned behind the farm house out back. You grew up together, he's your brother, even if not by blood, at least by bond; I know you would do anything for him, and as his adoptive father, so would I. That being said, you are right. He's a young man and he deserves some freedom to have fun, I can't keep him cooped up out here forever."

I reluctantly nodded my head in response; I never knew how to react when Nelson got all emotional like this. 17 years ago we found Sam dumped out behind an old farmhouse on the property; he was barely a few months old and near starving. Since then he had been raised as my brother and over the years became my best friend, he knew we weren't technically related and he knew that I went on a lot of 'trips', he just didn't know it was because my father and I were hunting vampires.





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