“Okay.” Essie turned on her heel, her ebony dreadlocks whipping behind her, and she made her way to the farmhouse exit. It was always the same thing with him. All I am is some stupid human servant to him, she thought. I mean, that has to be it. That’s the only reason he decided to take me in.
She turned the corner and bumped into Tristan. It was almost a common daily occurrence yet this time, seeing him shirtless improved her mood slightly. Her eyes moved from the healed bullet wound on his chest then to his face and his eyes seemed to glow from underneath the brim of his black cowboy hat.
“Where is Dusk sending you off to now?” He gently pushed a stray dreadlock back over her right shoulder.
“Yeah, I bet we’re out of here once he finds that new wraith he’s been looking for.” He gave her a sideways smile.
“That’s all he’s ever talking about now. Have to admit. It’s a little annoying.”
“Well, you know how Dusk is when it comes to orphan wraiths,” he replied. “He did the same thing for me and Maddy. He did the same thing for you.”
“Orphan wraiths,” Essie spoke slowly. “I’m not an orphan wraith.”
“Orphan, yes. Wraith… not yet.”
She rolled her eyes. It was typical of Tristan to flirt with her. He laid it on super thick. “While, it’s always a pleasure to see you, Tristan, you’re blocking the door.”
“Oh, am I?” He smirked at her, eliciting a similar response.
“Yes, you are.”
He rubbed his hand alongside her right arm. “I could come along if you want some company.”
She felt a sudden pull toward him and immediately she knew exactly why.
When Dusk first welcomed her into the family, he set down one rule that Salome, Tristan, and Maddy had to follow. Wraiths survived by feeding, or what they called, leeching, from humans and animals. By using their hands, they were able to draw the very essence from a body into their own, to replenish them. They were never to leech from Essie unless she wanted them to and she never wanted them to.
She stumbled back from him, having recognized that he had just broken Dusk’s rule, and in her attempt to escape, she fell to the ground.
“Essie! I’m sorry.” Tristan immediately went to her side. “It was an accident.” He attempted to help her to her feet but she pushed him away.
“Really?” She stood up.
“Sometimes, I just lose control.” He smiled sheepishly as her. “My bad.”
“Sometimes?! This happens at least twice a week! You’re over a hundred years old, Tristan. You should have control over that by now! I may be human, but I’m not a free meal you can tap into whenever you feel like it!” She shoulder checked him as she stormed toward the exit. This would never happen if I was a wraith. He would never be able to do that to me. None of them would.
Now outside, she made her way across the property and to the main road. Lost in her own thoughts, she didn’t see Maddy who sat cross-legged underneath a huge oak tree at the edge of the property.
“He fed from you again, didn’t he?”
Essie halted at Maddy’s voice.
“What was his excuse this time?” She grinned.
Essie looked to the clear dark sky above.
“If I were you, I’d leave this hellhole.”
“And why is that?” She knew that Maddy detested being part of the wraith family. She didn’t care for Dusk’s rules and found them too constraining for her particular lifestyle.
“You already know why. I’m tired of the whole ‘family’ thing.”
“You want to do what you what. I get it.”
“Not only that but Dusk always feels that he has to bring every stray wraith he finds into the fold. Like he’s a savior for our kind. And then, there’s you.” She stood to her feet and brushed the dirt from her pants. “A human who will never have the same rules that we wraiths have.”
“Maybe that’s what I want.”
“You? A wraith?” She approached her. “Remember what I told you when we first met.”
“I remember the part where you said you were gonna’ eat me.”
“No, not that. Right after Dusk swooped in and saved you from me.”
“You told me I was better off on the street, begging for change, then being part of this family.”
“And I also told you that you would never be one of us but you didn’t listen. You thought Dusk would actually turn you.” She shrugged. “Now look at you. Tristan leeches from you like you’re his own personal feeding bag. Dusk orders you to do this and that and for free, I might add. Salome doesn’t say a word about how you’re treated and me…”
“I still hate you.” Her stormy brown eyes narrowed.
“The feeling is mutual.”
“But I know a girl’s desire when I see one,” she added. “You do know that any wraith can turn you? All it would take is for one to drain you dry. Tristan could’ve done it back there, just now, if you didn’t shit your pants.”
Essie shoved her hands in her pockets.
“I could do it right now.” Maddy smirked. “Do you want me to turn you?”
Essie paused in thought. Maddy was right. Any one of them could turn her, not just Dusk, but he was the oldest and the strongest. She didn’t want any run of the mill wraith to give her what she desired. It had to be him.
Maddy tilted her head back and laughed. “I would never turn someone like you.” She spun around. “God, you’re so desperate.” She headed back to the farmhouse.
Until… one of her kind is murdered by a mysterious man in a black mask.
With only Carter, an unlucky human witness, by her side, Faye must find a way to prevent the body count from rising and protect her family’s secret identity. As the man in the black mask lurks in the shadows waiting to strike again, her choice becomes a matter of life and death.
In the face of true evil, being normal is overrated.