138 years later
Las Vegas, Nevada
“How are you doing?”
Abigail Yager barely understood those words as the doctor stood over her bed, injecting her with a substance that could very well be lethal. But if it worked, it would be worth the risk. “What?”
“Abby? Can you hear me?”
She blinked slowly and tried to focus on Hannah’s question. Everything was blurry. Even so, she could see the way the light played in Hannah’s blond hair, and the concern on her little sister’s beautiful face. “Um… yeah.”
Hannah cursed. “You’re killing her. Stop!”
The doctor didn’t listen.
Hannah started for him, but before she could reach his side of the bed, her older brother Kurt intercepted her. “Stop it, Hannah.”
“We don’t know what that will do to her. She’s human!”
Kurt shook his head. “She needs it. If it strengthens us, it should do the same with her. Besides, it’s too late. At this point it’ll either help her or she’s dead. Plain and simple.”
Could there be any less care in his tone?
Hannah shoved Kurt away. “I’m ashamed of you. After all she’s done for us, you still see her as nothing but a human.” She returned to Abigail’s side and took her hand. “Stay with me, Abby. Don’t leave me alone with an insensitive prick as the only member of my family.”
“I’m not a prick!”
Hannah ignored him. “I need my big sis. C’mon, girl. Don’t let me down.”
Abigail couldn’t really follow the angry exchange they were now engaged in. Honestly, all she heard was her heart pounding in her ears. She saw images of her past playing through her mind as if they were on a DVD. The old two-story house where the three of them had grown up. Of her and Hannah sneaking up past their bedtime to whisper and giggle about their latest celebrity crushes.
So many happy memories of that time…
Her thoughts turned to Kurt and Hannah’s mother and father who’d taken her in after her own parents had been slaughtered. They, too, had died a few years ago from their curse, and there was nothing she wouldn’t do for her adoptive siblings.
And you just might be paying the ultimate price.
Was that the doctor’s voice?
The thrumming grew louder as she felt something shatter deep within her body. Arching her back, she screamed as every molecule seemed to catch fire.
“What’s happening to her?”
“Get your sister out of here.”
Abigail heard Hannah protesting as Kurt jerked her from the room and slammed the door behind them. Tears streamed from the corners of her eyes. She could no longer see anything, and yet she saw everything. There was no way to describe it. It was as if she had a mirror to the world.
“Breathe,” the doctor whispered. “Just breathe. I’m not about to let you die.”
That was easier said than done. Pain lacerated her body. It was as if she was burning from the inside out.
Unable to stand it, she screamed until she could stand no more. This was it. In spite of what he said, she was dying. She had to be. Surely no one could withstand this much pain and live. There was no way she’d survive.
In fact, she felt the darkness coming for her. It was swallowing her whole. Piece by piece. Shredding her completely.
She turned her head from side to side, trying to breathe. Something had its hands on her throat, choking her.
Was it the doctor?
She couldn’t focus. Couldn’t see.
“Stop!” Her cry echoed in her ears.
Then as quickly as it’d come, the pain left her- like a bird that just shot skyward for no reason. It was gone.
Her throat was so dry now. She tilted her head to meet the doctor’s gaze. Concern etched his brow as he lowered the mask on his face.
“How do you feel?” There was only the smallest bit of his fangs showing as he spoke. Something else flashed. A memory of him that was gone so fast, she couldn’t grasp it.
Was it important?
“I need water,” she rasped.
“Do you crave anything else?”
“Yes,” she breathed.
Abigail licked her lips as the memory of her birth parents’ deaths seared her. Even all these years later, the memory was perfectly intact as if it’d only happened yesterday.
Barely four years old and dressed in her red Sesame Street pajamas, she’d hidden under the bed while the man her parents had called a friend had mercilessly slaughtered them with a shotgun. Those horrendously violent sounds were forever etched in her brain. From where she’d been, she’d seen the man’s black cowboy boots that had caused the floorboards in her room to squeak while he searched her room. Terrified, she’d watched him track blood all over her pink princess rug. She’d held her favorite teddy bear to her mouth and bit him hard to keep from crying out and betraying her location. He’d paused before her dresser and there in the mirror she’d seen his face so clearly. So perfectly.
And as she heard those heavy footsteps leave her home, she’d sworn one thing.
To find that man and kill him as brutally as he’d killed her parents. To make him beg for a mercy she had no intention of giving him.
Retribution would be hers…
“Abigail?” The doctor forced her to look at him. “What else do you crave?”
“The throat of Sundown Brady.”