“With all the risks they were taking, love was probably the most dangerous choice of all.”— Kristin Hannah
Emmy & Connell's Home
Unbeknownst to Ezzy had Michael not gone to the ferry landing to get back to Moonwood Mill after leaving her home, instead, hours later he was still lingering around the island, hidden from view, thinking about the limited options he was now left with.
Darkness was falling, as was snow, when Michael stopped his pacing outside of Emmy and Connell’s home, where Connell couldn’t believe his eyes as he looked out an upstairs window to see who was banging on their door. Stepping out onto the balcony he yelled down just loud enough for Michael to hear.
“You have some nerve daring to show up at my doorstep, wolf! What do you want? Instant death?!” his tone almost a dangerous hiss and clearly not intended to be welcoming.
“I wanna talk to you, fang. Come down and talk like a man, if you dare.”
Before his words echoed out, Connell was in front of him, using vampire speed.
“Don’t ever dare me, puppy, or I will do much worse to you than a rolled-up newspaper! You better keep your voice down, so you don’t wake my wife and children. I’ll ask again; what do you want? Belly scratches? Play fetch? A quick death maybe? I think it’s called euthanasia in canines like you.” Connell ranted.
“Try it and you wouldn’t live long enough to watch me die, fang. Cut the crap, I am not here to measure dick sizes with you, I want to have a serious talk, man to … well … let’s be generous and call you a ‘man’ as well.” Michael replied, matching Connell’s hostility
“I have nothing to discuss with the likes of you. I am already getting nauseated by the smell of wet dog now.” Connell said coolly.
“Maybe you should make sure your zipper is closed all the way and it’s not your own stench of decaying corpse that’s making you sick. Look dude, what I want from you is to see if there is there ANY way we could find some common ground to coexist. Get along somehow WITHOUT whatever you wanna call what we just did again interfering in our respective relationships?”
“You cannot be serious!” Connell exclaimed after an exasperated sigh.
“Do I look like I am joking to you?!” Michael challenged.
“You look like a joke to me! Is this your idea of a prank? Have you forgotten who I am?”
“No. Need me to bow to you? Call you prince? Kiss your ring? Worship your fangs? What do you need from me? Look Chompy, don’t misunderstand me here. I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire, I know the feeling is mutual, and I am fine with that. I don’t want to be your friend, I am not asking you to prom, I am asking for a truce. So, what will it take, vamp?”
Connell furrowed his brows, tilting his head briefly, then crossed his arms.
“For some odd reason I want to hear why.”
“Take a really wild guess.”
“You care this much about her that you’d swallow your pride, come crawling to my doorstep, begging for a truce? Why not just try to kill me? Isn’t that the usual way of your people to deal with uncomfortable circumstances? All brawn, no brain Neanderthals who are not known for finesse or living with compromise, let alone drawing within the lines morally. I didn’t think your kind even knew what a truce was.”
“No need to be a dick about it, fang. We all have black sheep, given, some more than others. I know as much as you vampires like to act as if you were the most refined and sophisticated of all the species, you have your messy dark secrets of your own kind going off script too, dangerously so, and I also happen to know that YOU are one of the secret clean-up crew to keep the shit contained and off the radar, especially the radar of the mortals cos if they heard of any vampire killings, your asses would be hunted again as they used to be. To be frank, I would love nothing more than to rip you to shreds right here, right now, but it would hurt Ezzy, cos for some odd reason she seems to like you, and it would break her sister’s heart and make two babies half-orphans. So, what would be the easiest – and undeniably most pleasant way for me – is unfortunately out of the question, since it would defeat the purpose.”
“Okay, makes sense and you thinking you’d even stand a chance to live long enough to seriously harm me if you tried to attack is simply adorable. You really do not know who I really am. But why all this though? I know you have been seeing her for many months, Esmée, she flat out told me the last time she came visit Emmy, when I could smell you on her again and tried to talk some sense into her about you, but all I got was stubbornness and a snappy attitude along with a timeline of almost a year that she said you now have been sneaking around so close to my home and family unbeknownst to me which left me weak in the knees. Why do you suddenly worry about what I might think or do when for almost a year you couldn’t care less?”
“Because you’re not the only one who was without a clue here, Connell. Until you and I ran into each other at Ezzy’s home, I was just as blissfully unaware that there was a vampire in her life. I would have never guessed this would ever be something to consider as far as Esmée is concerned. Had I even suspected it, I would have never pursued her then.”
“One? Try at least two vampires in her life, not counting the rest of my family, who occasionally visit, as family does. One of my daughters is like me, Michael. And Ezzy has distant relatives who are also vampires, who occasionally come visit her parents. You see how I can’t help being apprehensive having someone like you around? Ignoring your presence, I think, would be what the mortals consider Russian Roulette.”
“Come on man, I wouldn’t hurt a helpless child or butcher relatives in front of the woman I love or her sister whom she is so close with! Now, not punching your smug face through to the back of your skull right now admittedly takes a lot of restraint, but I would never touch a child, no matter the species! Never! Plus, remember, my kind can’t teleport. A tiny island with crappy ferry service isn’t a logical battleground for me.”
“Would you remember all that though, once your … your … werewolf instincts take over? From what I know about your kind, all it takes is a full moon and all bets are off.” Connell stated.
“Partially true. For inexperienced, young wolves that is true, they are at the moon’s mercy and unable to control their rage. I can control and restrain myself. I am only ever dangerous when I WANT to be. Or need to be. Unlike you vamps, we’re not always just ready to go, we have to transform and that doesn’t feel good, nearly every bone in our bone breaks and realigns. A great incentive to learn control quickly. We’re not as brainless as you may thing, fang.” Michael said.
“Hm. All right, that also makes sense. What still doesn’t is why does it suddenly matter to you if we get along? I still have a hard time making sense of it.”
“Because while it started as something casual between Ezzy and me – I never meant to get invested and doubt she did – we both recently realized how much we both care about another. After you and my little showdown at her place some weeks ago, she now has doubts about how to fit me in her life, because of you. You were here first; you are locked in by marriage and kids. Normally that would mean I count my losses and move on, but somehow, I just can’t. Especially now. She introduced me to her daughter just before I came over here. She changed her mind about wanting to be a part of that little girl’s life because of a talk she and I had, she wanted me to know that, and that she trusts me around her baby. She kissed me in a certain way tonight that would have had me agree to anything right then and there – before driving the dagger in my heart by telling me she will have to set me free cos she can’t give up her family, which includes you. She and I both are no longer happy being just fuckbuddies, and there is nowhere else to go for us, because of YOU. You see the common denominator here? If you don’t agree to deal with me being around without it turning into a bloody royal rumble each time, I am losing Ezzy, so I am at the end of my road here.”
Connell looked at him, his eyes narrowed, rubbing his fingers together, contemplating.
“Okay wolf, here’s what we’ll do. Let me in your head and I will give you my answer.”
“WHAT?! Hell no! I can’t trust you not to fuck me up, compel me or do some weird-ass vamp shit to me! I am still a werewolf, man!” Michael ranted, while shaking his head.
“My point exactly! You are a werewolf, and I am a vampire, as is part of my family! Us getting along, you and I, is against our nature! You want me to trust you around the most precious people I will ever have in my life, my wife and children! I don’t think you realize what you are asking of me there, what kind of stretch that would be for me, not only because I am not just some random vampire, but the grandson of their leader, and therefore held to much higher standards. I can’t take that sort of risk without proper reassurance that you are not planning something dire and are just trying to fool me into letting my guard down, leaving me exposed. If I were to place my trust into you and it turns out to have been a misjudgment on my part, the price I’d have to pay would be tremendous. I heard you about not hurting women and children, and about Ezzy, and maybe I believe it, but I have to see for myself what you’re made of. It’s the only way. The ONLY way.”
Michael shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the next.
“How does that work? Is it dangerous for me?” Michael asked.
“No. It’s safe and painless, unless you fight me. All you have to do is stand there and relax, I’ll do the rest. Your safety solely depends on what I find in that skull of yours. If I see anything endangering my kin, you won’t have to worry about anything EVER again!”
“Hm. And if you don’t find anything like that?’
“If you come back clean, save the type of things you and I both probably harbor, as I doubt any occult, regardless of species, can live in a world of mortals, most of them hostile towards anything that differs from them, without having a fair share of proverbial – and sometimes even literal – skeletons in their closets, then you’ll get your truce. Make no mistake, wolf, even if that were to happen, a truce between us, I will keep a close eye on you. You and I, we will NEVER be friends, I will NEVER like you, a truce will merely mean I will tolerate you. I don’t want your furry buddies showing up on this island, the truce applies ONLY to you. The moment I spot one single werewolf who is not you they are dead without any warning! But I get the conundrum you are in, been there myself, similar situation, and unlike popular belief, vampires are not heartless monsters.”
Michael rubbed the back of his hand across his mouth, looking at Connell, then back at Ezzy’s home. He sighed hard, then nodded.
“Okay fine, vamp, do what you must. But I need your word first. Shake on it, like an honorable man, this is me praying you have such a thing as a code of honor among your kind and it means something.” Michael said, defeated.
“It does mean something, wolf. My word is law, you can take it to the bank. Come inside then but keep it down.”
“Why inside? Why not right here? How long is this gonna take?” Michael’s tone reflected distrust.
“Aww, the big bad wolf is scared. No worries, you can trust me. Or maybe you can’t. Only one way to find out. Is she worth it? Think, Michael. Do you really think I would butcher you in the home where Emmy could walk into the scene at any minute? She will never see me do what I have to do sometimes, even though she knows what that is, but seeing it would kill the innocence within her, she’d never be the same. To answer your question, it doesn’t long, but people take to it differently. I have no clue how it will affect a werewolf, never heard about this done to one, but some mortals, witches and vampires downright keel over afterwards from the strain of trying to resist, in case that were to happen to you, I don’t want to have to carry your smelly, flea-ridden limp body out of sight. Itching all over just thinking about having to touch you at all.”
With an uneasy feeling inside, Michael followed Connell into his home, hoping he wasn’t making the biggest – and final – mistake of his life.