Anna meets someone from her past.
“It is this way.” She said softy reaching out for Gerard’s hand.
He smiled softy then nodded.
A few minutes later when Anna stopped he knew by the look on her face something was wrong, “What is it Sugar?”
She stood completely still.
Gerard followed her gaze and read the tombstones. The names were those of her parents and sister. “Anna?”
“Oh” A tear rolled down her cheek. “I did not realize what he had done.”
‘I don’t understand.”
“The original tombstones were simple crosses.” Anna whispered.
Gerard looked again at the tombstones. Her parents had elaborate matching marble headstones with their names, dates of birth and death and an inscription that read “Forever Together”. Clarissa’s headstone was marble and featured a beautifully carved angel.
“Jacob did this.” Anna whispered instinctively knowing, “He did this for me and I never knew.”
“They are beautiful headstones.” Gerard said putting his arm around her shoulder.
“Yes” Anna nodded. She lowered her head and said a prayer she’d been taught from childhood. A soft breeze blew across her face as she raised her head. Her voice was soft and sweet, “Mamma, Daddy, Clarissa, it is me, Annabelle. I am sorry I have not visited before now.” She paused as the tears fell, “I miss you all so much. I went home.” She pulled the three small stones from her pocket. “I brought a little piece of home to you.” As she spoke she moved foreword and placed a rock at the base of each headstone.
Suddenly she fell to her knees and lowered her head, “I am sorry.” She whispered brokenly, “I hope you will forgive me.”
Gerard moved towards her then placed his hand on her shoulder. His voice was low and strong, “I know you would be proud of the beautiful woman Annabelle has become. It is because of the love she learned from you that she is the person she is today.”
When Anna looked up into his face her eyes were still full of tears, “Do you believe that? Would they be proud of me?”
“Anna, they loved you of course they would be proud.” He hated the uncertainly he saw in her eyes. He looked back at the graves, “I cherish Anna and I promise I will always love her.”
Slowly Anna got to her feet and he pulled her into his arms. “Forever” He whispered praying she understood what was in his heart.
The main street of town was just coming to life as they reached the sidewalk. Anna was surprised when instead of heading back to the hotel Gerard gently pulled her the other direction.
“Gee, where are we going?”
“I have somewhere I want us to go.” He said tightening his grip on her hand.
They passed several casinos then stopped in front of a small brick building. Anna gave him a surprised look. “Why are we here?”
Gerard frowned, “Damn they aren’t open yet. I was hoping they opened at 8:00.”
“You want to get a picture done?”
He didn’t answer seeing a woman walking towards them with keys in hand. Gerard moved away from Anna to greet the woman. “Excuse me but are you going to be opening the shop?”
She shook her head; “Sorry we don’t open for business until 9:00” She was surprised to be speaking to another blood bonded human. She guessed his Master must be the same as the woman who had been at the shop last night.
Disappointment flooded Gerard, “Oh, how long does it take to get a photo done? See we’re leaving town soon and I really wanted to get a picture done.” As he explained he looked into the woman’s eyes and for the first time was able to recognize the fact that she was not mortal.
The woman started to explain she was just going in to set things up for the day when she happened to glance past Gerard and saw Anna. “Annabelle?”
Anna looked at her closely a moment, “Lily?”
“Oh Annabelle.” Lily brushed past Gerard, “It is really you. Oh, Lord all mighty.”
Gerard stood watching the woman wondering what was going on.
“It is good to see you Lily.” Anna said trying to hide the surprise she was feeling.
Lily shook her head, “Oh Annabelle, I can’t believe this. Wait.” she quickly moved back to the door of the shop and unlocked it then cast a look of distain at Gerard, “You should have told me you were making this request for your Master.”
As Lily pushed open the door Anna looked directly in Gerard’s eyes. He understood the unspoken warning and nodded. He knew they were in the presence of one like Anna so he must act accordingly.
Lily flipped on the light then once Anna and Gerard were inside she relocked the door. Then she turned to Anna, “We didn’t know what happened to you. Pearl was beside herself when they found that preacher dead and you went missing.”
Anna made sure to keep any emotion out of her voice. “His actions towards me resulted in his death. That night he attacked me in my room and I ran. He followed me down to Bennett Ave where he raped then beat me to the point of death.”
“Son of a bitch.” Lily said motioning for them to sit on one of the sofas while she sat in a chair across from them. “Never did trust that one.”
Anna nodded, “I was turned that very night.”
“There was a Healer in town?”
Anna nodded, “Yes, Jacob happened by the alley at that critical moment. He has always despised mortals who prey on their own kind. It was he who killed the Reverend.”
A look of shock covered Lily’s face. “You were turned by a Pure?”
“Yes.” Anna answered.
Gerard sat quietly wishing he could join in the conversation but he knew he must play the part of a good blood bound human.
Lily sat foreword, “Wait, you said your Makers name is Jacob?”
“Not Jacob Wallington?”
“Yes, Jacob Wallington.” Anna confirmed.
“Holy shit.” Lily said sitting back in her chair. “You are Jacob’s?”
“I had no idea.” Lily said shaking her head in amazement. “I mean I try to stay out of the Healers politics as much as possible but everyone knows Jacob only has one child. I never would have believed in a million years it was someone I knew.”
Gerard’s brow furrowed. Lily made it sound like Anna was some sort of celebrity.
Anna reminded herself to stay in the correct character, “And why is it you avoid the Healer’s politics?”
Lily suddenly looked very uncomfortable. Instead of answering she lifted her arm, pushed up the sleeve of her shirt to reveal a very strangely shaped tattoo.
“Oh, I see.” Anna said.
Wanting to change the subject Lily asked, “So the woman that was here last night is also yours?”
“Yes, Claire is mine.” Anna answered. “As is Gerard.” She said glancing over at him.
Lily smiled looking at Gerard. “Very nice. Do you share?’
Gerard bit his tongue to remain silent. He did not like sitting quietly while he was being discussed.
“No.” Anna answered without emotion. “I do not.”
Lily shrugged, “Too bad. And the woman, Claire? You allowed her to marry?”
“Yes, I have allowed her to lead the life she has chosen.”
Reaching over to a nearby table Lily grabbed her pack of cigarettes and lit one. Gerard glanced at Anna wondering if he could light up too. Right now he really wanted a cigarette. Anna nodded slightly so he pulled out his pack.
“Jacob Wallington.” Lily said softly still shocked, “No wonder you sound so different now and not at all like the young girl at Pearl’s”
As much as Anna did not want to think back to that time she still knew it would seem odd to Lily if she avoided the subject. “Yes, Jacob took me to Europe not long after leaving here. I spent many years traveling at his side.”
Lily blew out a long stream of smoke, “I am glad. I thought about you a lot after you disappeared, wondering if you’d run off.”
“Tell me of your Maker.” Anna asked.
Gerard wondered if Anna noticed the strange look that passed over Lily’s face before she answered, “I first met him here a few years after you’d gone. I was getting older and I knew Pearl was lookin’ to get rid of me.” She laughed without humor; “You know an aging whore ain’t good for business so when he asked me to go with him to Denver I jumped at the chance.”
Anna nodded, “His name?”
Lily took a deep drag before answering, “Alexander Stone. He was newly turned.” She looked down, “He turned me without permission.”
“I see.” Anna said beginning to understand why Lily was branded. “And I take it he was punished for his actions?”
Gerard was shocked to see what he thought were tears appearing in the woman’s eyes. “Yes.’ She answered looking down. “He was called before the Council and executed.”
“Why such a harsh decision?” Anna asked.
Lily continued to look down at the rough wooden floor. “As I said he was newly turned, less than 200 years.”
“I believe there must have been more to the situation to warrant such a punishment.” Anna said watching Lily closely.
Lily sighed, “He had made some dangerous enemies. I’m not sure why but Addison Collins was one of them.”
Anna knew Addison Collins and understood he would defiantly be a very dangerous enemy. He was one of the Pures that Jacob had warned her to avoid. “And Addison was on the Council when Alexander was brought before them?”
“Who was Alexander’s Maker?” Anna asked suddenly becoming very curious. She could sense something about Lily seemed wrong.
“I don’t know.” Lily answered. “He never told me.”
“Why were you not offered the protection of another?”
Lily snuffed out her cigarette, “No one offered it. I was branded and sent on my way.”
Gerard wished he could ask what all of this meant. Obviously that mark on Lily’s writs was the branding she’d received but what did it mean? He caught the quick glance Anna gave him and knew it was a warning to remain silent.
“That is unfortunate.” Anna said returning her gaze to Lily.
“Yeah, well.” Lily started to stand when she suddenly sat back down, “Damn it. I don’t care anymore. I’m tied of this. I’ll tell you the truth Annabelle. I was in love with Alex and he loved me. When we got to Denver I found out I was dying but because I was blood bound to Alex he already knew that. He said he wouldn’t let me die so he turned me but I was turned wrong.”
Anna was shocked Lily was telling her this. “Am I to assume Alex was also turned wrong but had hidden the fact?”
Lily nodded, “Yeah and he made me swear to him that I would hide the fact I was wrong.” This time the tears that filled her eyes began to roll down her cheeks. “I had to sit there while the council decided his fate and pretend I understood that he had to be destroyed. I had to pretend to be like them because I’d promised Alex.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Anna asked.
“Because I’m tired of pretending. I was branded a whore in my human life and I’m still a branded woman. I wasn’t lucky like you, Annabelle. You were turned when you were young and beautiful but look at me. I was turned after I lost my beauty. Now I pass through the years alone.”
“You could bind a human to you.” Anna suggested.
Lily shook her head, “I don’t wanna force someone to care about me but it’s more than that. Even if I did find someone I have no protection. You know what that means. At any time another Healer can take from me anything I have. If I found someone I cared about I could lose them and it would hurt. I’m wrong, Annabelle. I feel love, jealousy, anger, and compassion. I didn’t lose my human emotions when I was turned.”
Anna stared at her without blinking.
“And now you know the truth. As the child of a Pure I’m sure you’ll do what is expected of you. I don’t care. I’ll be here when they send someone to get me.”
Gerard looked over at Anna trying to figure out what she was thinking. Her face remained emotionless.
“I must make a phone call.” Anna said standing. “Could you please get Gerard ready for the photo?”
Gerard spoke up, “Uh, the photo is just supposed to be of you.”
Anna stared into his eyes. “I wish for you to be in the photo as well.”
Lily stood, “The costumes are this way.”
Gerard stared at Anna a moment longer then stood to follow Lily into the back room. When they returned several minutes later Anna had just ended her call.
“I spoke to Jacob.”
Lily nodded, “I figured you would. Any idea how long I have before they send someone to get me?”
Anna stood, “On behalf of Jacob I am offering you his protection.”
“What?” Lily asked believing she hadn’t heard correctly.
“I will give you his address in Vermont. I suggest you go there as soon as possible. Stay with him for several years. That will help to establish the fact you are under his protection.”
“Jacob Wallington is going to give me his protection? You explained to him I am branded?”
Anna nodded, “Yes”
“But why?” Lily asked, “I don’t understand.”
“I explained to him what befell your Maker. He was greatly distressed by the verdict of the lower Council. A matter of that importance should have been brought to the High Council’s attention. Jacob plans on speaking to Addison about the matter.”
“But why would he care?”
Anna allowed herself to smile, “Jacob is of course much older than Addison and he believes Addison overstepped his authority.”
“Oh Annabelle.” Lily took several step closer, “I can’t believe you’ve done this for me.”
Anna longed to tell her the truth about herself. She longed to admit she too was turned wrong but she would never do so knowing she would put those bound to her in danger. “Jacob is a fair man. I simply told him the truth.”
“Thank you.” Lily whispered.
“I must warn you though, Lily. You must continue to hide the fact you were turned wrong. If that knowledge became know I do not believe even Jacob’s protection could save you.”
Lily nodded “I understand.”
Listening to them made a thread of fear run down Gerard’s spine. Would the same be true for Anna? If the truth about her came out would Jacob be able to save her?
Anna could sense Gerard’s fear. She looked over at him and smiled wanting to change the subject now that she had done all she could for Lily. “You look very nice.”
He glanced down at the long jacket he wore. “Uh, thanks. Lily said I just have to wear the jacket and a hat cause that’s all that will show in the photo.”
“Yes, I explained to him that he will be seated and you will stand behind him with your hand on his shoulder.” Lily said wiping her eyes and smiling. “Annabelle do you know what sort of dress you want to wear?’
Anna locked eyes with Gerard, “Yes, I do.” She said softly knowing why Gerard has brought her here, “I know exactly.”
When she came out of the dressing room several minutes later Gerard smiled. “Perfect.’ He whispered.