Chapter 29: The Crimes of Omission

Start from the beginning

"Okay," I said. "Where's this safe house?"

"That is not for you to know," Ephraim said. "But I will take you there."

I shot Keel a wary, hesitant look, but he gave me another of those subtle nods. If he was terrified of my father, yet willing to go along with this, why did I have so many reservations? Probably because of what I was hiding behind these sunglasses. Of course, Keel should be worried about that too.

Ephraim was so wrapped up in secrecy, and there couldn't be any more damning evidence of just how many sorcerer secrets I'd been sharing with the enemy, or how ensnared with the half-vampire prince I'd become than my irises. Of course, we'd been avoiding the p-word too. Would admitting his lineage, the fact he was – or at least had been until very recently – the heir to a Nosferatu throne, change things? From Keel's careful omissions, I knew he thought it would. Either way, it wasn't my secret to tell, and it wasn't like there weren't already more than enough secrets to go around.

"Okay," I said, but my voice lacked confidence.

Ephraim spun on his heel and started walking; Keel and I trailed behind, just out of earshot.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" I whispered.

"No more dangerous than the rest of them."

"But he might kill you," I said.

"I'm doing nothing more than what was done to you."

It took me a moment to figure out what he was talking about. Then it clicked. The way he saw it, he was putting his fate into my father's hands much as I'd been forced to put mine in his father's. He wasn't trying to martyr himself; he just wanted me to get my life back, or at least the life he believed I should be leading. I'd told him almost nothing of my adopted human family back in New York, though there were moments I'd wanted to. Even then, common sense had dictated Keel could never be a true confidant, not while he was still dividing time with his monstrous side; it was too risky. I didn't want my friends and family to end up being his pawns, any more than I wanted them to be the king's, which is also why I hadn't called home yet. I ached to hear Mikey's voice, and Estella's, but I feared it would raise too many unanswerable questions.

"You don't have to," I said. Keel didn't need to pay for his father's sins like this. It was stupid.

"Yes, I do. Because you won't go if I won't. Now, come on." With that, he quickened his pace and closed the distance between Ephraim and us. Keel had been acting a little off ever since the episode on the roof, but it's not like we'd had much time to deconstruct it yet and Keel hadn't seemed like he wanted to. I figured he was still processing all the bombs that fallen on his world lately. As someone who'd been there, I knew that sometimes took time. And nothing else.

Once I'd caught up, I scanned Keel's face for some reason to back out of all this, but he didn't seem all that fearful anymore, just pensive and lost in thought. Thinking of becoming human? I wondered.

When Ephraim led us to a beige minivan with tinted windows, I almost burst out laughing. There was nothing about that car – nothing – that said "badass sorcerer." That was probably the point, but it didn't stop it from being a hideous suburban soccer-mom-mobile with not one iota of cool about it. Keel must've sensed I was about to say something smart assed, because he elbowed me in the ribs before I could open my mouth.

"Play nice," he whispered.

I elbowed him back.

"You're not my keeper," I quipped, half-seriously.

Keel and I climbed into the backseat. Once settled, he shoved the backpack down onto the floor at his feet. Neither of us, it seemed, was comfortable with the prospect of sitting next to my father, even for what he'd called "a short drive." Ephraim didn't climb in right away; instead, he circled around to the back and opened the rear hatch, returning with a pair of long, dark cloths. Blindfolds. A surge of foreboding shot through me.

Bleeder [Blood Magic, Book 1]Read this story for FREE!