“If you love something, set it free …” they say.
Old adages and rhymes may be poetic, but also in my experience are miles away from reality.
The baby squirrel fallen from the nest you ended up raising, the little bird with the broken wing you nursed back to health, as soon as you release them, they quickly forget all about you and all you did for them. Sure, it’s human nature to want to see things that make us feel better, and any squirrel chattering in a tree, every little winged lookalike to the one we saved, to us suddenly is them thanking us over and over again. Reality check for you all: they don’t, it’s not even them. Setting loved ones free is just another way of saying you break up. Much like the forest creatures, they only scurry off, and forget you and all you ever did for them, all you once were to them. So, ergo, the key is to keep them from leaving.
See, we all love a good story, a tale, a once upon a time …
So, here is one for you. Once upon a time there was a beautiful young witch and a dangerous, dark vampire, who fell in love and had the most beautiful love story, the real deal, a love that was forbidden, yet was filled with passion, true love, having to sneak away from the big bad rules to be together. The two secret lovers were my parents, Seraphina and Caelan, and from that love sprung a love child, a little girl. Me. Not so little anymore, and now painfully aware that love stories rarely ever have a happy ending unless you made sure they do.
My parents didn’t.
Some say their love had always been one that couldn’t be, shouldn’t be. Set up to fail before it began. Maybe. Who’s to blame? Hard to pinpoint one single guilty party. Maybe my mother didn’t try hard enough. Maybe my father gave up too quickly. Maybe it was the world they lived in. Maybe it was fate. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.
All I know is that I no longer believe in fairy tales, in happily ever after and most certainly not in letting go of something you really want. Oh no.
So, I won’t.
I believe in the adage that anything worth having, is worth fighting for. There are many things I really want. Sadly, most of them I cannot have, no matter how much of a fight I were to put up.
There is, however, one thing I can have, if I play my cards right. Originally it was a bit of a game, but it has grown into much, much more than that for me. First of, I need to explain a bit more.
I am a real life witch. Witches aren’t those ugly creatures you scare children with for Halloween or in old stories. We are children of Gaia, nature itself, and what many consider magic, is ancient knowledge mixed with a strong skill to manipulate things, physically but also of the mind. If we cannot move or transform something with our minds, we corrupt yours into thinking we did.
My mother is like me, a witch, a very powerful one, she is why I am what I am. Yes, on that little picture below that is us, mom and three year old me, still full of dreams and happy thoughts, long before I realized I would never have the kind of happy home I thought I had. Don’t be mislead by the scenic picture, looks can be deceiving. It wasn’t all ponies and rainbows growing up. Mom tried, I give her that, but trying wasn’t enough and didn’t translate in a perfect and happy childhood for me. I didn’t have an unhappy one, just one that felt … lacking. Usually what’s missing was HER.
My father, however, is a vampire.
Something I wished I were. To me, they are the ultimate being, superior to all others. Creatures of the night, they, too, can dominate and corrupt your mind, take all they want, more than you want to give.
Vampires follow strict rules, but one gone rogue would be the single most dangerous creature you could ever encounter. Nothing, absolutely NOTHING could save you from them.
Strength, power, mystery, darkness, rawness of being, all things I admire, mostly because I was made to feel weak and powerless most of my life.
Not on purpose, mind you. My mother did her best to raise me well, even though I could always sense her inhibitions about the part of me that reminded her of my father. She’s says it’s the way I move sometimes, gesture, my stubbornness, but I know it’s mostly my eyes, they are his, and the single one thing I love about myself. They are the vampire part of me, help me see in the darkness like only vampires can. And I know I have an inner darkness, that’s from him. Witches are creatures of light. Vampires are darkness.
My father, on the other hand, always treated me like a priority. I am his perfect little angel, he is my prince, the first man I ever loved, superior to any other man that may ever enter my life, my dark angel, even though many call him the devil. Not me.
It’s true, he can be brutal, but he would never bend a single hair on me. That’s right, I used to be one of those little girls that wanted to marry their dad once they grew up. Silly, of course, but it did leave me with very clear ideas of what a future partner should be like. Above all, vampire. I always felt most comfortable around them. What others considered scary, I found fascinating.
Still, I wasn’t like them, I didn’t look like them, so … the older I got, the more I found myself excluded yet again, since vampires are notorious for keeping everyone who isn’t like them away from their secrets. The more you dig, the more you try to find the truth, the more everything is hidden behind a thick wall of fog. No matter what spell I tried, no matter how I begged, pleaded and whined, my father would grant me any wish, except this one, I was and remained an outsider to his secrets.
So, from an early age I dedicated myself to becoming as strong as I could be with the means available to me. In my case, that was magic spells, potions, manipulation. My mom was delighted about her daughter being such an eager student. At first I was like a pretty doll, a performing monkey, always asked to show up all the things I could already do that people 4 times my age hadn’t mastered yet, other witchfolk just flocked to our home to see the little girl that could. Until they started to realize how powerful that made me and became worried I could use it to my advantage.
Naturally the stream of visitors seized. The only reason people are still including us was because my mother used to be their Grand Mage, my uncle is now, and they have to be nice and inclusive out of respect.
And then, as such stories usually go, my mother met my step-dad, they only dated for a little while before they got married and not long after she had twins with him, Magus and Morwyn, both with magic skills. Yeah, that there on the picture below is them, complete with the proverbial black cat, Salem, how cliché, I know. They are a living, breathing cliché. Note my absence in the picture, it’s descript of everyday life. I just can’t with any of this and stay away as much as possible. Sure, my step-dad is nice enough, but in my book, he can’t hold a candle to my real dad. And those step-siblings are just … urgh. Yeah, yeah, I am that evil girl who doesn’t absolutely love love love her poor lil step-siblings. Boo-hoo, cry me a river. So what? As if anyone in my shoes would, if they are honest. They are annoying and take away what little time I had with my mom now too. Even if she’s talking to me, I can always tell she’s distracted by trying to keep an eye on the little ones.
Anyway, suddenly my mother discovered her motherly side and wanted to be there for her kids and not be distracted trying to rule the Magic Realm. So she stepped down, from one day to the next, handing the proverbial scepter to my uncle. Uh, hello? Thanks for the heads up! What about me and my future? Maybe I wanted to be Grand Mage one day. Besides, what’s with the mother of the year BS all of a sudden?! I don’t recall her ever being there 24/7 to wait at my hand and foot. She was absent, when I wasn’t used by her as a pawn in their quarrels, I was dumped on my father to watch, while she tended to Grand Mage business, until she had time to be a mother again, which wasn’t often. I thought the silver lining for me would that one day I would inherit all that power.
Instead, now my uncle is the Grand Mage. After him it will be his son, my cousin Lysander, who is about to have a son of his own with his wife so no way the title and power would ever swing back over to this side of the fence. You see where this is going? Nowhere fast for me, that’s where.
To make my idiotic life a complete fail, daddy had decided to marry some mortal woman around the same time my mom pulled what would become my step-dad out of seemingly thin air. But he included me again, unlike mom. I was in the audience with the rest of the guests when she did a quick exchange of vows under some trees in the forest. Wow.
Daddy’s wedding was an event, a huge deal. Unfortunately for me, vampire weddings are for vampires only, unless you are part of the bridal party, and I was too little for that, but daddy insisted on me being there, he demanded it. So I was.
On daddy’s wedding day my dad turned his bride into a vampire and I just about melted for jealousy and for how romantic I found that. I wanted to be one so badly, but supposedly that couldn’t be done. Well, it’s not Rhiannon’s fault, that’s my step-mom’s name, she is nice enough and makes my daddy happy, and eventually they had a child as well, a little boy, Connell. Yes, another one of those step-siblings. Daddy promised me there won’t be any more. So far he did what he always has done, he kept his word. At least Connell is pretty well behaved for a toddler. My grandparents see to that.
Below on the pic that’s 12 year old me next to my aunt Scarlett and cousin Vivien, looking up at my handsome daddy.
Below you see me dancing with my daddy just on some random day. There was no music, no occasion, no reason. Just because we both felt like it.
Note how his attention is on me, not the baby step-brother in the crib. If this were my mom, she’d be staring at the sleeping baby while mostly ignoring me.
Everyone in this pic is vampire, except me.
That little girl with the cell phone is my cousin Caitlin, the other cell phone addict my cousin Chase and the handsome guy in the white hoodie is Colton. Remember that name, it will come up again.
To me it’s everything that my father did not suddenly direct all his attention on my new step-brother, like my mother had with the twins. He kept his job – he hunts other vampires on orders of his father, the highest ranking vampire, called the Grand Master Regent, aka my grandpa Caleb. He totally managed his time to be a dad and do that, without problem. Take a page out of his book, mother.
Above all, I still mattered, was still his princess and still am, even with Connell being a pesky, needy toddler now too. Just another brownie point for daddy. Or a thousand.
Why am I telling you all this, you wonder? Who of us doesn’t have a screwed up family?
Simply so you understand better why I am doing what I am doing now. Oh, I know you mortals always condemn what you don’t understand, and none of you understand us witches. Never have, never will, but worth a shot anyway.
There is one thing in this world I want, truly want, which, for a change, isn’t completely out of my reach even though it will take finesse to get it within my grasp. An obsession, but also a means to an end. Don’t you dare judge me, after all I already told you about myself.
My object of desire is a person, a young vampire. I have known him all my life, but like most, he doesn’t see me. Not really. Most vampires hate witches, you see, don’t want them among their kind, so the few kids around my age left to play with when visiting my dad were either cousins or their friends.
Such a friend of a cousin is my object of desire, my Romeo, my biggest goal yet. His name is Colton Vatore, yes the same last name as my father, but only a very VERY distant relation at this point. I don’t care about that, besides, suits me just fine.
I’d much rather have been a Vatore than a Latimer all my life. The name Latimer used to mean something. Now, not even my mother is a Latimer anymore. She took my step-dad’s name, Bartholomew, even though back when I was little and daddy wanted me to have his name, she refused it, kicking and screaming. So proud of her name. Yeah, right. I can see that. I’ll leave the pride-swollen chest about that Latimer name to my uncle and cousin. May they be happy with it for all I care.
Anyway, Colton is everything you think of when you imagine a vampire. Dark, brooding, tall, handsome, pale, with eyes so deep and dark they are almost black, yet still in a way with a preternatural glow. A body of a male model, tattoos, guitarist in a up-and-coming band … the stuff every teenage girl’s dreams are made of. Including mine. Soooo handsome, so sexy, the way he moves, talks, his voice … hmmm. Colton is EVERYTHING.
Oh, I forgot to mention one of the less obvious obstacles. I am only 16. Now, while I have been told all my life that I am an ‘old soul’- whatever that really means – 16 is underage no matter the species, soooooo … yeah.
I will say, though, that witches don’t have the vampires’ eternal life, but we do live significantly longer than most mortals. Also, at 16 or 17, most of my fellow witches have a betrothed, one of our kind.
For me, that is literally the last thing I’d want, one of my kind. No, thanks. Yikes! If it sounds like I don’t like my own kind, you’re a genius. I don’t. Not one bit. Their entire way is just … urgh. Maybe it’s the part of me that’s vampire, it’s in me, just not strong enough to give me any real powers.
No, my ambitions are different. I go to a regular school, with mortals, for a sense of normalcy, but those boys my age don’t interest me in the slightest, so immature and boring, even though they were helpful to make sure I know what I was doing when I finally got my hands on Colton alone to charm my way into his heart, by way of his pants. Let’s be honest here, that’s how it goes for someone his age. He’s 19. No worries, it was just a kiss. Baby steps.
I had to wait a long time, too long, but finally my moment arose. There he was, in all his depressed glory, heartbroken, brooding, sad.
Naturally I couldn’t come at him with fanfares to confess my love and desire for him. Slow and steady wins the race. So I did what I always do, wait for my opportunity, while carefully and strategically laying out breadcrumbs, and mind you, he followed them.
When we kissed it felt exactly like I hoped it would. Gave me hope.
Like I had expected, he freaked out eventually and then disappeared.
But let me tell you, this isn’t the end. I can feel it. He’s licked blood, pun fully intended.
This was only the beginning.
The beginning of the story of the young vampire with the tortured soul and the witch who will save him from himself and from the world.
Yes, I know, sounds exactly like my mother and my father.
But this time … this time …. the ending will be different.
This time, the witch ends up getting the guy. My guy. My prize. My Colton.
This time, I will end up with rights to live in Forgotten Hollow, rights that nobody can deny me. I will live there, and walk proudly.
You have seen nothing yet.
But you will.
They all will.