Claire coaches Christa in the ways of the Healers.
They moved to the same small bench they had sat on last night and got comfortable.
“Sure you’re feeling, okay?” Christa asked looking over at Claire.
“My stomach was a bit unsettled this morning but I do feel much better now.” Claire answered with a small smile.
Christa nodded then looked around. “This is really a lovely place.”
“It is.” Claire sighed, “Christa there is much we need to discuss. I understand right now with the bond so strong you feel completely sure of the choice you have made.”
“I do.” Christa answered quickly. “This is what I want to do for Anna.”
“Yes.” Claire nodded, “I understand that but you must remember that Anna was hesitant to allow this. She is worried the blood bond will interfere with your life and if at any time she feels that it is interrupting your life she will let it fade.”
Christa frowned, “It won’t interfere with my life. If anything it has just made things much better for me. All my life I’ve felt different and now that I understand I was right about a lot of my feelings it’s made me feel sorta..” She searched for the right word.
“Vindicated?” Claire suggested.
Christa thought a moment, “Well maybe a little. There have been times in my life when I’ve mentioned that I believe there is more to life than just what is on the surface but I just get that look like I’m sorta crazy.”
Claire had worried this might be the case. “Has your husband made you feel that way?”
“Oh no.” Christa answered too quickly then sighed, “He hasn’t meant to I know. It’s just that Ray’s sorta a no nonsense kinda guy. He has trouble believing in things that aren’t black and white, you know what I mean?”
“Yes, I understand.” Claire said slowly, “And I fear that may present a problem for you. Now that you understand about Healers will it be difficult for you to keep that information to yourself?”
“No.” Christa said emphatically. “I understand I can never tell anyone what I know. I understand how dangerous speaking of what I know would be.”
“It would be dangerous.” Claire stressed, “But Anna would be the one who would suffer the most. Healers have very strict penalties for those who break their code. By not controlling your mind Anna has broken a serious rule.”
Christa grew very serious, “What exactly would they do to her?”
Just thinking about this made Claire’s stomach begin to churn again, “She would be taken before the Council and it is my fear they would discover that Anna is not like them. If that should happen then her fate would be decided. I have never heard of a situation where death has not been the ruling.”
“But how do you kill an immortal?’ Christa whispered her voice shaky.
Claire looked down, “They are decapitated.”
“Oh.” Christa blinked rapidly. “Oh, shit.” Suddenly her earlier euphoria was gone and in it’s place fear. “God, Claire. I don’t want to ever do anything wrong that would hurt Anna.”
Claire reached over and touched her arm. “You must be careful at all times. You are special, Christa. Anna could sense it when you first met. She told me of the conversation between you two the one that resulted in her erasing your memory.”
A small smile appeared on Christa’s face, “But she couldn’t completely erase my memory.”
“Yes.” Claire nodded, “And it was then she knew for certain you are different. It was wise she blood bonded you to her.”
“That’s what Hudson said too.”
Claire sighed, “Yes.”
“Don’t you like him?” Christa asked softly.
“It is not that I do not like him.” Claire struggled to explain, “He seems to have a genuine affection for Anna.” She thought a moment then decided to share something very important with the woman, “He has bound Anna and Gerard to himself.”
Christa gave her a puzzled look; “He could do that to Anna?”
“He is a Pure. They can bind those Healers who are turned to themselves.”
“But why did he do it?” Christa asked.
“To protect her. He understands just as Jacob that Anna was turned wrong. By binding her to him he has given her more importance in the Healer’s world. She is bound to two of the oldest and most powerful Pures.”
Christa struggled to understand, “So they both know the truth and protect her. Doesn’t that go against their nature?”
“Very much so. However they are very different. Jacob as Anna’s Maker has a strong love for her that can be explained. Hudson on the other hand is completely a Pure. Human emotions are alien to him. He does not feel love but undeniably he does feel something for Anna. I pray that feeling proves to keep her safe.”
“So Healers feel no emotions?” Christa asked wanting to understand.
“Pures are born without emotions and those turned lose their ability to feel human emotions.” She paused, “I should say most emotions unfortunately some do seem to feel greed and jealousy.”
“But Anna’s didn’t lose her ability to feel emotion?”
“I have leaned that Anna struggles with emotions. I do know that towards most humans she does not feel emotions like you and I do. However, because of this she feels sadness.”
“Wait.” Christa said struggling to understand, “I don’t get it.”
Claire sighed, “It seems that when she was turned some of her emotions were lost. The ability to feel friendship is an emotion that disappeared. However I believe as she becomes more and more involved with Gerard and his world she is slowly beginning to find certain emotions again. While I understand this fact pleases her it also makes it more dangerous for her.”
“Because she’s not supposed to feel anything for humans, right?”
“But she fell in love with Gee.” Christa smiled softly.
“Yes, she fell in love with a very young boy. She looked into his eyes and knew in that moment he was her soul mate.”
“Oh.” Christa said in awe. “He was a boy when they first met?”
“Yes, Anna first laid eyes on him when he was with his grandmother. She watched him grow into a man from the shadows.”
“But why didn’t she met him sooner? I mean he didn’t know she existed until recently did he?”
“No, he never knew Anna was there watching over him. She wanted him to live his life as a human something she was denied.”
“Because she was turned at such an early age.” Christa said beginning to understand.
“Yes. There has always been such strong regret for the life she lost. I am sure she felt cheated. Anna has never shared with me the story of how she became a Healer. I simply know that Jacob was her Maker and I have always understood he turned her to save her from death.”
Suddenly Christa sat up straighter, “It happened here in Colorado, didn’t it?”
Claire nodded, “I believe so. I do know her family died when she was young. And as you and I both know that young girl in the photo at the museum in Cripple Creek was indeed Anna.”
“She was…” Christa hesitated to say the word.
“I am sure it was not a life she chose for herself. I am sure it was forced upon her by circumstances beyond her control.”
Both women sat silently for several minutes lost in thought.
“So why isn’t she like the others?’ Christa finally asked.
“I do not know. But to Healers she would be considered turned wrong. That in itself would be enough to have her existence terminated.”
Suddenly Christa felt a strong sense of resolve, “Then we must do everything we can to protect her.”
Claire smiled, “Yes, we must. That is why I need to make sure you understand how important your actions have become. Like me you must play the part of a correctly blood bound human.”
“I can do this.” Christa said from deep emotion.
“I believe you can.” Claire nodded.
“Okay so tell me what to do.” Christa said nodding towards the jewelry store where last night she had identified the Healers mark.
Claire sat back making herself more comfortable on the wooden bench. “When you first walk in the bond will make it possible for you to identify the person inside who like yourself is blood bound to a Healer.”
“I saw someone just this morning that I knew just by looking in their eyes they were different.” Christa said excitedly.
“Good.” Claire smiled, “But just remember that does not make that person an ally. You must be very careful at all times. They will be able to sense the truth about you the same way you can about them. Also as the knowledge that you are bonded to Anna becomes know there will be much curiosity about you.”
“Anna is well known in the Healer world. She is the child of Jacob, the only child.”
“He’s never turned anyone else?”
“No, only Anna. The fact that a Pure as old and powerful as Jacob chose her makes her very special. However it also makes her a target for Jacob’s enemies.”
“Why does he have enemies?” Christa asked.
Claire smiled sadly, “The Healer world at times is not all that different from the human world and as I said before some do exhibit greed and jealousy. Jacob is powerful and because of this many of his actions have never been called into question. That angers some. The fact that he turned a mortal at such an early age was never questioned.”
“They don’t turn the young?”
“It is usually frowned upon.” Claire explained, “And now days it has become practically unheard of to turn a human without prior consent of the council.”
Claire sighed, “There is so much you still don’t know.”
“But I’m learning.” Christa said with determination. “Okay, so I’ll just know when I walk in who is like me, what then?”
“The person will acknowledge you with a nod. You do not need to ask for anything they will know why you are there. They will give you what you require; you pay whatever the item they hand you is worth and thank them.”
“Wait, what do you mean? What item?”
Claire smiled, “Depending on what business you are in determines what they will give you. The last time I replenished Anna’s supply was at a florist shop. I was handed a plant with a green watering tube.”
Christa smiled in understanding, “It was in the tube.”
“Yes. Once I got back to the RV I transfused it into one of Anna’s injection bottles.”
“And she injects herself?”
“Many times she does however I believe Gerard has taken over handling it for her at times.”
“Wow.” Christa said shaking her head, “This is all so surreal.”
“But it is very real.” Claire reminded her. “And you must always remember that.”
“Right. Okay what if for some reason I get asked who I am bound to?”
Claire was glad to see Christa was thinking ahead, “If you know you are dealing with a mortal who is bound to a Healer and they would ask you any question you must know how to answer correctly. If you are asked who it is for they are trying to trick you. That question is never asked.”
“Okay but what if they did? How do I respond?”
“You look them in the eyes and say that you will report the question immediately then turn and leave.”
Christa nodded, “Okay.”
“And then that is exactly what you would do. Anna would handle it.”
“Has that ever happened to you?”
“Once.” Claire admitted, “And Anna did handle the situation. I went back into the store with her and believe me the look on the woman’s face was priceless. She recognized Anna immediately and knew she had made a grave error questioning one who belonged to her.”
“We do belong to her, don’t we?’ Christa asked softly.
“Does that thought bother you?’ Claire asked looking into her eyes.
“No, actually it makes me feel proud. Anna is an incredible woman.”
“But she does not believe that about herself.” Claire said sadly, “She has never truly been able to accept what she is.”
“I believe it has to do with her human life.” Claire said, “However I have noticed a change in her since Cripple Creek. I believe whatever happened there has helped.”
“You think she finally faced something from her past?” Christa asked.
“I believe that is what happened. I believe Gerard’s love enabled her to face the past.”
Christa suddenly felt a wave of sadness which showed on her face. Claire saw and understood. “I too worry. There are times I can not imagine Anna continuing on alone.”
“How sad.” Christa said blinking back tears. “How horrible it will be for her to watch him grow old and die.”
“She will of course have to leave his side before that happens.” Claire said softly, “When it becomes apparent she is not aging she will have to remove herself from his life.”
“But not totally right? I mean it will look like she’s gone but she’ll still be with him.”
Claire shook her head, “Knowing Anna she will once more watch him from the shadows. My heart hurts to think of her alone once we are all gone.”
Christa tried to put into words the sadness she felt but it was impossible. Once more they sat in silence. Finally it was Claire who spoke.
“I know the question that is on your mind. You wonder why Gerard could not just be turned so they could always be together.”
“Anna is considered too young to turn another. However there is much more to it that that. There would be no guarantee he would be turned like Anna. As a matter of fact the chances of that happening are very, very slim. If Gerard was turned he would be nothing like the man he is now. He would not feel the human love he feels for Anna or for anyone. The love he feels for his mother, father, for Mikey would be gone. Anna knows this and she would never allow that love to be taken from him.”
“Oh” Christa whispered, “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“But Anna has.” Claire said, “Believe me, Anna has.”
Anna looked up from the book she was reading when she heard Claire and Christa’s voices getting nearer.
Christa smiled as she walked up the steps of the cabin. “Hello.”
Anna glanced at Claire who had just stepped onto the porch and saw a smile on her face. “She did very well.”
Christa nodded while taking a small bottle of jewelry cleaner from the bag she was holding. “No problem at all.”
“Thank you.” Anna said looking into her eyes.
Christa grinned, “Don’t thank me. I was happy to do it.” She turned to Claire. “So show me what to do now.”
“There is no need.” Anna said reaching her hand out for the bottle.
Christa shook her head, “No, I want to do this.” She hoped Anna would understand it was important to her to handle this completely.
“All right.” Anna said slowly. “It is in my bag inside.”
Claire touched Christa’s arm, “Come, I will show you.” She smiled at Anna as Christa walked into the cabin.
“Hey you guys really miss out.” Alicia said joining Claire, Anna and Christa on the porch about an hour later. “That cave is fuckin’ cool.”
“It was.” Mikey agreed with a nod.
Bob brushed past the couple and went to his wife. “How you feelin’?” He asked looking deeply into her eyes. He hadn’t wanted to leave her but had somehow just known she wanted to stay behind to spend time with Anna. He’d been slightly surprised that Christa had stayed with them too. It seemed to him that lately Christa was spending more time with them, which puzzled him.
“I feel much better.” She said standing then moved quickly into his arms.
Bob hugged her tightly. “Wanna head back to our cabin or go shopping.”
“Shopping, shopping, shopping.” Alicia chanted happily.
“Shopping sounds nice.” Claire smiled.
Gerard sat down in the spot next to Anna on the glider that Claire had vacated. He put his arm around Anna and gave her shoulder a tight squeeze.
“We’re supposed to meet Jamia and Frank at the van in a few minutes.” Mikey explained.
Ray put his hand out to help Christa stand. “I wanna change.” He said, “It’s getting to warm for his.” He said looking down at his long sleeve shirt.
Christa nodded, “Okay. I think I’ll change too.”
As they stepped off the porch Mikey looked at his brother. “So guess we’ll meet you guys in a few.”
Gerard sighed, “I’ve got such a headache.”
Anna glanced over at him, “Oh, then we should stay here.”
Alicia frowned, “But there is shopping to be done.”
Mikey rolled his eyes, “I’m sure you can shop without them. You never have a problem shopping.”
“True.” Alicia laughed, “Hope you feel better, Gee. We’ll all meet back up here later and decide where to have dinner.”
Gerard nodded, “Sounds good. I think if I just chill out for a couple of hours I’ll feel better.”
Once the couples had left Anna turned to him. “So you are not feeling well?”
He grinned, “You know I was lying, right?”
“Yes.” Anna said, “Did you not wish to go shopping?”
“Actually I wish to do something much more fun.” He had been aching to get back to Anna since they’d left.
Anna nodded but did not smile.
Suddenly Gerard felt badly he’d let his own feelings make the decision not to go. “Hey if you wanna go with the rest of them we can.”
“It is not that.” Anna said softly.
He gave her a confused look, “Than what?”
“It does not matter.”
“Yes it does. Look I’ll be honest all I could think about was getting back here to you and before you say it has something to do with you know what that ain’t the case.”
Anna smiled slightly, “You know what?”
“Yeah, you know what I mean. It doesn’t have anything to do with the bond. All it has to do with is I’m fuckin’ in love with you and want to be with you.”
She wished she could believe him but there was something in his eyes that made her believe otherwise. “Gee, tell the truth.”
He started to say something but snapped his mouth shut. He knew he couldn’t lie to her. “Okay to be honest I keep thinking about what I saw last night. I know this sounds fuckin’ wrong but watching you and Christa together was pretty hot. I don’t know why at the time I didn’t feel like this but since this morning it’s all I can think about.”
Anna sighed, “Because your body is craving the blood.”
He thought a moment before asking “Is that bad? I mean really, is it?”
“No.” She said slowly. “I just wish I could explain to you how it makes me feel.”
Gerard did understand, “Like if it wasn’t for the blood bond I wouldn’t want you.”
She started to stand but his arm shot out to stop her.
“Anna, please don’t feel like that because it’s not true. I wanted you before the bond. I fell in love with you before the bond. Why can’t you just try to look at it as something very special we have that adds to our relationship?”
She considered his words. Was he right; was it just something special that added to the love they shared?
“Well?” He knew she was thinking it over.
Suddenly she stood and this time he didn’t try to stop her. His heart sank as he watched her walk inside the cabin.
“Shit.” He muttered. He sat for a few minutes then got up to follow her inside. “Anna?” he called out.
“In here.” Her voice answered from the bedroom.
“Anna, can’t we talk about this?” He walked over to the door and pushed it open. He was about to say ‘please’ but the sight before him stopped the word. Anna was standing before him wearing the silk teddy she’d purchased not long ago.
“You want to talk?” She teased.
Gerard shook his head, “Fuck no, Sugar.”
Anna smiled, her eyes flashed, “Perhaps you should lock the door?”
“Yeah.” He nodded feeling his pulse quicken.
“Be quick about it.” Anna said opening her mouth so he could see her fangs extend.
Gerard moaned, “Yeah, be right back.”