"Esa?" Mana whispered though she knew I wasn't asleep. I growled. "What do you want to do tonight? We go go check out a movie, or go to the club or..." she cut off her train of thought when she saw the tear stains on my face. "Guess you don't feel like going out tonight huh?"
"It was him, Mana. I don't know how, but that man at the club..."
"Esa, wake up and smell the hellfire! Lasarn is gone, dead, and there's nothing that can bring him back." I could tell she was getting frustrated, so I just rolled over on the bed and ignored her. It had to be him. How else could he have known my mortal name?
I looked out the window of our penthouse apartment in upper Manhattan and sighed, almost wishing I was alive so I could end the misery.
"I just can't except it Mana. I know he's out there; I can feel it." She scoffed, sitting on the edge of my bed and putting a hand on my shoulder.
"We're demons, we don't feel anything," she laughed, trying to lighten the mood; it didn't help in the slightest. Mana was about to say something else when there was a knock on the door. Our heads jerked in unison towards the sound and a growl issued from Mana's throat. "Looks like you get another chance to find out. He's here." I leapt from the bed and bolted silently for the door.
*Don't do it Esa. You don't know what he's capable of if he can track us here.* I didn't listen to her, but cautiously opened the door and peeked one eye through the crack.
He was standing there, in old Elvin garb of leather breeches, black boots, white shirt and black belt. His hair was pulled back to expose his slightly pointed ears, and he looked at me with amused eyes.
"Since when do you hide from anything Aurelia?"
"There's no one here by that name. Aurelia no longer exists." He seemed confused, and I opened the door just enough tow him inside. In an instant my back was pressed to the wall, his hand and elbow tight on my shoulders with the blade I had given him pressed to my throat.
"What have you done to her? Where is she?" he demanded, pressing the blade harder to my throat. I knew only too well that it would break before it made a single mark on my skin, but I still shuddered.
"I did nothing!"
"LIAR! What have you done with my wife?!"
"Lasarn, I swear to you, I did nothing," I whispered. He stumbled back at the sound of his name, and I slid along the wall to the floor.
"How do you know my name if you are not her?"
"The same way you knew mine, but I watched you die, so it's impossible that you're here." A light flickered in his eyes as he knelt beside me, taking my face in his hands, he stared at my face.
"Aurelia," he whispered, and I could feel him shaking. "What happened to you?" The agony on his face make me push him away.
"I told you...Aurelia no longer exists. I'm Esasbonel now."
"You will always be Aurelia to me." He reached out a hand to touch my cheek, but I growled at him and he stopped; a look of surprise in his eyes.
"Don't call me Aurelia. She died centuries ago."
"You're vampire?" I shook my head. "Then what?'
"I really don't want to say..." My voice cracked as I had to choke back the chanting in my throat.
"You're demon-cursed...?" I couldn't hold back the pain in my eyes as I nodded.
"Mana too. Lasarn, I had hoped you'd never see me like this. I'm so sorry." This time, my voice cracked from the string of tears that trailed down my face. I had to look away when his jaw clenched with an audible click.
"That b*****d." I looked up at him, realizing his anger wasn't being directed towards me, but someone else.
"What is it?"
"Halastor must have known it was you. He wouldn't have sent me otherwise."
"Lasarn, what are you talking about?" His disconnected gaze fell on me, and an icy chill ran down my spine as it clicked in my head.
Halastor is a demon-hunter. He and his goons had been after Mana and me for years. The thought of my Lasarn working with that monster...I shuddered, flinching away when he reached for my hand.
"Honey..." he soothed, running his fingertips along my cheek.
"Get out,' I growled. "Get out right now or I will kill you." He was quiet for a moment.
"I promise, I'm not going to hurt you or Mana."
"Get out Lasarn."
"No. Kill me if it's what you want, but it's the only way I'm going to leave you again."
"Halastor could be on his way now. You have to leave, or Mana and I are as good as dead. Do you hear me? Get out...NOW!"
"Aury, I refuse to leave you again." I looked into his startled eyes, holding his face in my hands.
"Then you condemn us all. We cannot fight them. We're sorely outnumbered, and they've murdered countless others. Mana is not a fighter, and my expertise is in Vampires, not Hunters. Please, just go. I've searched too many centuries to lose you again." He pulled me against him, crushing his lips to mine for a brief moment, then looked into my pleading eyes.
"I will find you again. I swear my life on it; I love you."
"I love you too. Now please, go." He was gone before I could finish my thought, and the emptiness was overwhelming. It was only then that I noticed Mana in the doorway that led to the living room. She had a look of complete fear in her eyes, and she seemed to be frozen to the spot. Her long blonde hair hung like a curtain over half her face, so only one of her bright blue eyes could be seen. Her hands were twined together in front of her stomach, shaking.
"He's working with...?" she murmured.
"No time for that. We have to leave. Halastor is probably on his way here to make sure Lasarn finished the job. Get your things." I watched her bolt for the room and the sound of hurried packing errupted from the open doorway. I got up and ran for my room, pulling the duffel bag from my closet, shoving my things into my bag, including the stash of money in the bottom drawer that we used for escapes like this. Mana was at the door when I looked up an nodded toward the window on the other side of the room. She cautiously looked outside at the street for the hooded figures that haunted our nightmares. She gave the all-clear, and jumped out the window, landing gracefully on the tiny ledge thirty floors below. I followed her down, racing along the edge until we came about twenty feet from the end. Mana gauged the distance to the next building, then raced along the ledge, bounding off the end. I followed quickly, soaring through the air until my feet touched concrete. Crouching down beside Mana in the shadows. I peered over the edge to the ground outside the apartment building.
It wasn't the cloaks that caught my eye. This close to All Hallows Eve and everyone was wearing them. No, it was the way they moved in perfect synchronization that made me see them. There were five of them, one leading the others; Halastor. Their blood red cloaks swayed in the wind, and I faintly caught their scent. My nose wrinkled against it. As soon as they were in the building, we ran for it across the rooftops, making a mess of the trail, until we got near the airport. We always had flight vouchers on hand so tickets to sunny Atlanta, Georgia were simple enough to get.
We were on a plane in less than an hour.
As usual on these little escapes, Mana was too terrified to sleep, but it had been days since my last encounter in the dream realm, and our escape had left me feeling drained. I drifted in and out of unconsciousness, always aware of Mana's constant worrying.
It was just breaking dawn when the plane touched down in Atlanta, and we got a taxi to a low-key hotel. Mana did a thorough mind sweep of the city before passing out on one of the beds. I stayed up for the first watch, waking her at midnight before crashing myself.
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