Chapter 1 – “Now You Know”
Her mind spun as she continued to take in everything on the walls. She’d originally meant to get in and get out, but now…now she wanted all the information and they weren’t running…not now…not after this.
Her precious daughter. Her firstborn child. She was still alive and out there. It seemed like a dream that she couldn’t wake herself from. She hated to hope…again, but how could she not? There was so much right in front of her. It showed her so much of her daughter. Pictures she knew that had to have been taken in the present…
“How long do you think he’s known?” Declan asked.
No one answered.
Will’s office walls were absolutely papered in intel and photos. Some areas were layered. He had to have known for some time. How could he keep such a secret from her? Something so personal? Something so close to her heart? And how could he cause her so much pain? To keep Ashley’s existence in the present world was hard enough, but he’d kept her and Olivia apart. She didn’t understand it.
What had she done?
What horrible thing had she done to Will in order to take such wrath?
“Too long,” she breathed.
She turned and found that pretty much everyone, but Declan was searching the walls. John still had Olivia safely in his arms and he had even taken to searching the papered walls. She couldn’t blame him. This was quite a shock. For them both.
“You have to be prepared that she’s not the Ashley you remember,” Declan pointed out.
Helen nodded. “If her DNA is still altered, then we’ll find a way to bring her here and we’ll put things back. Back to the way they should be.”
“You know I’m in,” Tesla spoke up.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else,” Druitt said.
“Ditto,” Henry spoke up and motioned to Erika. “For both of us.”
She noticed that Halia looked so distant right now. Bigfoot was keeping close to her. She was sure that he wanted to be nearby in case this was just too much. He’d always been such a good friend to her…and to Ashley and Henry. “Halia, I know this much be so much for you to take in…” Helen remembered when it had hit Halia when she’d first realized it was Ashley. Halia now had two sisters. Two sisters that were alive…the three girls would be able to grow up together and Helen prayed that they’d grow to be old together.
“Now you know,” a voice said from behind them.
Helen and everyone else in the room turned towards it. She was thankful that John had moved nearby and still had Olivia; otherwise she feared that he would have killed Will in an instant. She’d been pondering the same move as well, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it…at least not until she heard the words from his own mouth.
Nikola morphed into his vampire form in an instant and had Will up against a wall a moment later. Abby stood in the doorway in shock. Helen knew that if it wasn’t her or John that someone else would move forward to do something. Anyone in that room (probably except Halia and Erika) would step forward to protect her. She knew that.
“Nikola,” she said quietly as she moved closer to where Nikola had him pinned to the wall.
“Please,” Abby begged. “Let him explain.”
“Just let me snap his neck…” Nikola growled lowly as he kept Will in place.
Helen touched Nikola’s shoulder gently. “Nikola, let him down.” And on her command, Nikola dropped him, letting him fall to the ground in a heap. He growled and moved away from her as his hands found his hips. He would be irritated for a little bit, but they needed answers first.
“Thanks,” Will muttered from the floor after coughing a bit to catch his breath.
She glared down at him. How much she hated how much she hated him in that moment. Helen had lived for two hundred and seventy-three years and in that time she’d had many protégés, but she’d had so much hope for Will…until he’d forced her away from her Olivia…twice. And to find he was hiding precious and valuable information that her eldest daughter was still out there and alive. Something that she’d only dreamed of, she’d stopped hoping after she’d laid her soul to rest.
“Get. Up. Explain,” she commanded.
Slowly, Will rose to his feet, his back was still pressed to the wall. Everyone in the room had their eyes on him. “I’ve wanted to explain this, Magnus,” Will started. “I swear.” He held up his hands in defense. “I didn’t mean to cause you so much pain.”
“Is. She. Alive?” Helen questioned with gritted teeth. Waiting for the answer was all that could keep her from flooring him in that instant. She had to hear the confirmation for herself. It had to come from Will’s lips. Nothing else mattered at this moment.
“Yes,” Will responded.
Helen brought up her fist and knocked him into the wall and onto the floor. She’d held back. She heard Abby’s gasp, but ignored her. She assumed that someone had grabbed her and stopped her from interfering. “Bastard,” she breathed. Helen’s voice rose slightly, her head raised as she turned and walked away from him. She stopped from a few steps and turned back towards Will, who was now nursing his jaw. Now she could see that Declan was holding Abby back.
“Why would you keep this from me?” she asked, trying to remain as calm as possible. “From all of us?”
“For Ashley’s safety,” Will told her. “If we were all on the search, we’d attract attention. That group that took you three…that wanted Olivia…they would have had a new target…and I honestly don’t know what state Ashley’s in. For all I know, she’s still suffering from what the Cabal did to her…which would make her capture far more dangerous than yours or Olivia’s.”
“So, you would sacrifice my baby?” she snapped. Helen had been sure that Will wouldn’t hand over Olivia to Smith, but now she wasn’t so sure.
Abby struggled against Declan. “Olivia was safe, I promised you that.”
“Abby’s right. I purposely was trying to keep everyone safe,” Will chimed in.
She shook her head and started to pace. “You thought that separating me from my newborn child was the best plan? Honestly?” Helen turned back to him. “You are…or were a psychologist when I brought you into the Sanctuary…I’m sure you know well enough the effects on especially the mother when such a traumatic event occurs.”
“I knew you were strong, Magnus,” Will said as he stared her down.
Nikola took a step towards her. “I honestly don’t see how pushing her into a catatonic state helps anyone…”
“Steady Nikola,” John said all too calmly as he moved up behind her. “Young William here obviously thinks of us as Gods… We can’t die…or be damaged in any way…”
“Well, if he thinks we’re Gods, then perhaps there is some brilliance in that damaged brain in his head,” Nikola spoke up after a moment with a grin.
“So, you used Olivia and I as a distraction? That was your plan? To hurt Olivia and I? To dangle her in front of Smith and his people?” Magnus questioned.
Will shook his head. “It wasn’t the plan at first. I had intel before you three were taken, but it didn’t really start coming in until you’d all been missing for some time. I’d thought that they’d found Ashley and taken her as well.”
“You know how difficult giving up hope to find Ashley….” Helen whispered as she stared downward. Flashes of the last time she’d seen Ashley, the look in her blue eyes right before she transported away with the other Cabal experiment and killed them both…or so they thought. “How could you take away Olivia? That joy from me?”
“It wasn’t a snap decision,” Will said. “And it wasn’t something that I didn’t struggle with…but at the time…all of you pushing back against me…to get Olivia and the Sanctuary back…it was the distraction I needed in order to find and detain Ashley for transport.”
“So, we were all just pawns to you?” Henry spat.
Helen pulled in breath and tried to steady herself. He had wanted to find and detain Ashley for transport, but had he done it? Had he had the chance? If not, she and the others would pick up where Will left off. She’d bring her family together and restore peace in her soul and at her home.
“It wasn’t a choice I was thrilled to make,” Will tried to defend.
Helen felt so many emotions flooding through her. How she wished to be able to simply fall to the floor and cry, scream, and rejoice all at the same time. “It was never your choice to make in the first place,” she said coldly. She looked straight at him. Helen didn’t know this man, this man who betrayed her and broke her heart.
“Magnus, I didn’t think it would ever go this far…”
“Where is my daughter? Where is Ashley?” she demanded. Helen moved closer to Will again. She’d beat the location out of him if she needed. She would have her eldest daughter back though.
“She’s en route,” Will tried to assure.
“She’s not herself, though,” Abby spoke up as she pulled away from Declan and moved to Will’s side.
Will sighed. “I was going to tell you the moment that Ashley got here… I needed…all of you,” he said as he looked around. “Ashley is going to need you.”
Helen tried to hold her temper back. She tried to focus on the fact that she was free and her Olivia and her friends were free and that her Ashley would be at Old City Sanctuary soon. “I hope you understand that I can’t trust you.”
“You’ve kept things from me before,” Will countered.
She shook her head once. Her voice was low and the pain and hurt which laced her voice was apparent. “Nothing like this…”
. . .