Chapter 30: Slide Away

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This isn't how this is supposed to end.

Bruce may have been in my way, but he wasn't covering my mouth or restraining my hands.

"Stop! You're going to kill him," I screamed at Ephraim's back, as I drove my fingernails deep into my palms.

The room went silent, even Keel's legs stopped knocking against the wall as he perked up at the scent of my blood pouring into the air, then Ephraim let go of him and turned on me. If he'd ever had any love for me, it had must've shrivelled up and died, because there was no trace of kindness in him now.

"And why shouldn't I?" he demanded. "Or perhaps you would like to go first?"

I recoiled at Ephraim's bluntness. Family was supposed to have your back. How could I be so hated for surviving?

I looked past him at Keel, who was sitting crumpled on the floor, massaging his neck with his hands and staring up at me with an expression that couldn't be mistaken for anything but "What the hell are you doing?"

But I knew what I was doing. Sort of.

I was going to get us out of here.

Before Ephraim got within arm's reach, I threw up my shield. He stopped moving, sensing the sudden shift in air pressure and the faint crackle of magic surging out of me.

"You'd dare use your powers against your own kind?" he yelled, his brow furrowing on his head.

"I'm not using them against you," I said, anger bristling. "I'm using them in self-defence. If I was using them on you there'd be a whole lot more stop, drop and roll going on."

Ephraim's face hardened. Keel gaped at me. And Bruce retreated several paces down the hallway.

"You might as well be feral." Ephraim spat the words at me.

I scowled, refusing to lose my temper completely. That would do nothing but prove him right. I needed to think like Keel, be a tactician, not a hot-head. "So what? You're going to be our judge, jury and executioner. What the hell does that make you?"

"The one who needs to correct this..." he paused, disgust wafting off of him, "travesty."

"This travesty?" I shouted. "You don't know anything about us."

"I know everything I need to know," he said. His dismissive attitude implying this was black and white, and if something or someone didn't fit into one of those two categories, then it needed to be eliminated. I got that, but it was a messed-up way to look at the world. Though not an entirely unfamiliar one.

"You think you're better than the Nosferatu, but you're not," I told him, as I began to inch my way towards the front door. "You have the same idiotic rules and mythologies." If I could manoeuvre past Ephraim and get closer to Keel, I could extend my shield around him too. When it came to sorcery, I knew I was outmatched by my father, but still, it might buy us some time.

"You've been poisoned by him." Ephraim made sure he was staring right into my red-ringed eyes as he said it. "Soiled."

"And if I am?" I fired back, still moving, using our argument as a distraction. "Whose damn fault is it I was kidnapped by freakin' vampires anyway? The way I see it, I'm alive, I'm not chained to a wall anymore and I finally have a guy in my life who's willing to stand up for me and not lie to me."

"A guy who is going to tear your throat out – or worse." His gaze shifted to my scarred arms. "But you should already know this."

I did. It was my worst fear. "But he can become human."

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