The inquiry begins.
Hudson walked over and took a seat beside her. “You could feel that?”
“Yes.” Christa nodded. “She has no will to go on. “
“Yet she did what was expected of her perfectly. She did it for those she loves.” Hudson said talking Christa’s hand in his.
When Christa looked over at him it was with tears in her eyes. “What’s going to happen?”
He smiled sadly. “We are going to hold on to hope.”
“But even if they allow both of them to continue on I just don’t believe it will be okay. Gerard isn’t Gerard anymore. People he know him will see that.”
“No, that’s not true.” Hudson explained. “The Gerard you just saw was a Healer. Yes, that is who he is now but he can appear the way he was in front of mortals. They will never suspect he has changed. Healers have the ability to change the way they act when surrounded by mortals.”
“But he isn’t the same.” Christa said softly. “You’re telling me he will be able to pretend he still loves his family like he did?”
Hudson nodded. “Yes, Healers are wonderful actors. To everyone who knew him before he will seem the same.” He paused, “They won’t know he has no true feelings for them.”
Christa shook her head. “I can’t believe that.”
“It’s true. If he is allowed to go back to his previous life for now no one will know he has changed.”
“I will know.” Christa said softly.
“And I am sorry for that.” Hudson said squeezing her hand. “But you choose to be a part of this world.”
“I wish I hadn’t.” Christa suddenly couldn’t contain her emotions anymore. “I wish I didn’t know about any of this.”
“Because ignorance is bliss?”
Christa stared at him. Suddenly her head dropped. “No, it’s not.” She whispered. “But I can’t stand this pain.”
“And that is just another thing Anna feared for you.” He reminded her gently.
Anna walked back into her room and moved immediately to the window. Her eyes were dry as she stood staring out at darkening rain clouds. She stood completely still not breathing knowing there was no reason to appear human anymore. Over and over again in her mind she was reliving the scene that had just taken place. She saw Gerard and the woman, his words echoed in her brain. For a brief moment she’s almost failed. When he had called the woman ‘sugar’ she’s almost flinched. Her child was a true Healer and that knowledge had sealed her fate. She would spend the rest of her time on this earth without love.
Slowly she turned from the window. “What are you doing here?”
Christa walked into the room after closing the door. “Hudson sent me.”
“I do not want you here.” Anna said. “Leave me.”
Knowing Hudson was just outside in the hallway Christa walked quickly over to her. They did not have much time as the one who had been stationed at Anna’s room had gone in search of Thomas to report Hudson had demanded Anna be allowed to speak with her blood bound.
"I have to talk to you." Christa said as she reached for Anna’s hand.
Anna grabbed it away angrily. “I do not want you here. He should not have brought you into this.”
“I came because I love you.” Christa said softly.
Anna shook her head. “No, your feelings for me are because of the bond. Nothing more.”
“That’s a lie.’ Christa shook her head.
“No, it is not.” Anna said. “Leave.”
Hudson had warned her that Anna would respond this way but Christa had begged him to allow her to speak to Anna. She knew time was short. “Anna you can’t give up.”
“What I can and can not do is not for you to decide.” Anna said her eyes flashing. “But I must remind you that I tried to warn you. I tried to warn you that you about all of this. Now you have seen firsthand the world of the Healers.”
“And if given the choice again I still would want to be a part of it.” Christa had to make her understand.
“That is because you are now blood bound to Marcus.” Anna said narrowing her topaz eyes. “Those words are because you are bound to him.”
“No.” Christa whispered. “He does not control my mind anymore than you.”
“Perhaps he should.” Anna said turning. “It would be easier for you to deal with all of this.”
“I am dealing with all of this for you.” Christa said. “I am here for you.”
“There is nothing you can do.” Anna said without emotion. “I made a foolish, greedy choice. I felt I could not go on without him but now that is what I will do until the end. He is lost to me.”
“He’s not lost to you.”
“Of course he is. The man I loved is gone. You saw with your own eyes what he is now.” Again her temper snapped. “But of course I am to remind myself that he loves me as his Maker.”
“Stop.” Anna said angrily. “I do not want to hear anymore. Nothing can change the outcome of this day. This is all my fault. I should have never let him know I existed. When I did so I unknowingly sealed his fate. I will now live with that guilt.”
A soft knock on the door signaled to Christa that her time alone with Anna was almost to an end. “No matter what I still cherish our friendship.” When she saw Anna’s anger she continued quickly. “Nothing can change that.”
"Then you are a fool.” Anna said shaking her head. “Because nothing good can come from this.”
“In my heart I don’t believe that.” Christa said as the door opened and Thomas’s man entered.
“It is time.” He said with a smirk. “The council is ready in the ballroom.”
Anna nodded. “Very well.”
Hudson appeared and took Christa’s arm to lead her from the room.
“Okay you can’t delay this any further." Katherine said walking into the bedroom to find Hudson and Christa. “Thomas is furious you are not down there and he said to inform you that he will begin without you."
Hudson’s eyes narrowed. “Stupid arrogant prick. He dares to treat me this way?”
Katherine sighed, “He does because he knows he can get away with it. The power he and the council hold allows it.”
“I’m fuckin’ tired of hearing about the council and their power.” Hudson exploded.
Katherine blinked. “Take it down a notch. We both know we have to play by the rules.”
“Once upon a time we didn’t.” Hudson said angrily.
“I know.” Katherine nodded. “But now we do. Let’s just hope he gets here soon.”
Christa stood nervously. “I still don’t understand why you can’t just announce His Excellence is coming. I mean they’d have to wait, right?”
Hudson sighed, “There is a reason I don’t want to do that.”
“And you won’t tell me why?”
It was Katherine who tried to explain. “Part of the reason is because of you.”
Hudson spoke up quickly. “Stop. I’ll not have her mind clouded by any preconceived notions.”
Christa glanced at both of them nervously. “What?”
“Can’t explain.” Hudson said taking her arm. “Let’s go. Hopefully I can delay this inquiry a bit longer.”
“Hudson now I’m really scared.” Christa said looking into his eyes.
He forced himself to smile. “Little One I promised that I would protect you.”
“And I believe that.” Christa nodded. “But I’m scared I will do something wrong because you two are making it sound like you think I’m going to play an important part in this.”
“You are going to play an important part.” Hudson said softly. “Just remember to listen to my thoughts. I’ll guide you.”
“So nice of you to finally join us." Thomas ground out a few moments later as Katherine, Christa and Hudson walked into the ballroom.
Christa glanced around the room quickly. There was a long table in the center behind which the four council members were seated. In front of the table were two chairs in which Anna and Gerard were seated.
Hudson smiled at Thomas. “I was busy.” He drawled placing his arm around Christa’s waist.
“I’m sure.” Thomas’s eyes narrowed. “But taking you pleasure with the blood bound could have waited.”
“Really?” Hudson smirked. “No, don’t think so.” He leaned down and kissed Christa’s neck.
Christa understood this was all an act being performed for the council. She smiled as she leaned into Hudson’s embrace.
Thomas dismissed them with a wave of his hand. Christa could feel Hudson’s anger growing.
“Now we will begin.” Thomas said standing up behind the table. “We are here to decide the fate of Annabelle Lewis and her child. A child turned without the prior consent of the council.”
Christa glanced around quickly and saw that Jacob had moved and was now standing directly behind Anna.
“Jacob your child has broken our code. Do you deny that charge?” Thomas asked.
“No.” Jacob answered in a clear strong voice, “I do not.”
Thomas’s smile looked to be pure evil. “And as her Maker you understand your responsibilities?”
Christa saw Jacob’s whole body tense. “Thomas I learned the ways of our kind long before your presence on this earth.”
Thomas nodded smugly. "Yes of course, Jacob. I understand that fact but now your age is not being called into question. However, what is being called into question is your wisdom.”
‘he’s bating Jacob’
Christa heard Hudson’s words in her head and was struggling to understand their meaning.
“My wisdom?” Jacob repeated clinching his hands tightly at his side. He forced himself to relax then placed his right hand on Anna’s shoulder.
“Of course.” Thomas smirked. “The council is trying to understand why you would have bestowed our gift on this girl who broke one of our most sacred rules.”
“Am I to understand that you wish to place me on trial at this time?” Jacob asked.
“On trial?" Thomas laughed, “This is not a trial, Jacob.”
“Of course it is.” Jacob said. “You have set yourself up as judge and jury.”
‘damn it Jacob don’t do this’
Christa wished with all her heart Hudson could hear her like she could hear his thoughts.
“Am I to understand that you are questioning this council’s authority?” Thomas’s eyes narrowed.
“I do not question the authority of the council.” Jacob said slowly. “However if you wish to call my actions into question I will not stand before a lower council. As a Pure older than any in this room I will demand to stand before the highest council.” He’s eyes narrowed. “A council of my peers.”
Christa could understand those words when she saw the reaction of the council members. Looks of anger and shock covered their faces. She noticed the woman seated at Thomas’s right looked livid.
‘he’s trying to draw attention away from Anna and onto himself. If he can get them to pass this onto the higher council he believes she stands a better chance.’
Christa nodded her head slightly so Hudson understood she heard what he was thinking.
Thomas stood abruptly. “So you do not believe those of us sitting on this council are your peers? You believe yourself to be above us?”
Jacob’s eyes flashed in anger. “Are you putting words in my mouth?"
“Well that is what you mean, isn’t it? All on this council know you yourself turned this child without prior consent. We all know you were never called to answer for that.”
"No, I was not.” Jacob said in a steady, deep tone. “Perhaps you wish to rectify that?”
The woman seated at Thomas’s side reached out and touched his arm. He sat down and listened as she whispered something in his ear. The rest of the room was silent, waiting and watching.
At last Thomas nodded then turned his attention back to Jacob. “We have no desire to call your actions into question, Jacob. What was done was done. However your child as a young Healer most certainly falls under our jurisdiction. You have no right to stop this inquiry. Not even a Pure as old as yourself can stop it.”
Christa was sure he was referring to the woman who had whispered in Thomas’s ear.
Suddenly the door to the ballroom was thrown open and Mrs. Ellis appeared. “Sir.” She said looking directly at Jacob. “A guest has arrived.”
“Damn it.” Thomas exploded. “I thought I made it clear we were not to be disturbed.”
Mrs. Ellis ignored Thomas while continuing to stare at Jacob. This enraged the Pure who was in charge of the inquiry. “You will leave us. There is no guest who is important enough to interrupt this inquiry.”
“Really?” Mrs. Ellis said finally turning her attention to Thomas. “I’m sorry but you are wrong.”
Thomas jumped to his feet. “Jacob are you going to handle this or should I?”
Jacob dropped his hand from Anna’s shoulder and turned towards the door. Before he could move Mrs. Ellis turned and bowed her head. Christa watched in fascination as two large men entered the room. She heard a collective gasp as another man came into view.
‘lower your head.’
Christa did as Hudson’s words commanded but not before she had caught a glimpse of the man she knew was His Excellence. Her breath caught and her heart began to race.
Jacob moved forward. “Your Excellence. You honor us with your presence.”
“Jacob.” His Excellence’s voice was rich and deep. “It was been too long.”
Keeping her eyes lowered Christa was still able to glance at the council members. The looks of shock on their faces spoke volumes.
“Yes.” Jacob said softly. “Far too long.”
His Excellence walked further into the room. He glanced around then moved towards Hudson. “And Marcus.” He said coming to a standstill before the Pure. “It is good to see you.” Suddenly he gaze dropped to Christa. “A mortal in my presence?”
Christa flinched in fear.
Hudson tightened his hold on Christa. “Please forgive me Your Excellence. I know you do not enjoy the presence of mortals but if you will allow it I promise you there is a reason I have brought her with me.”
Christa’s heart was still racing.
“Look up, child.” His Excellence commanded.
Slowly she raised her head. Looking into his face brought an onslaught of emotions she could not even begin to comprehend. He was without a doubt the most handsome man she’d ever seen. His hair was jet black and his eyes a piercing blue. The fact he looked too perfect made him look unreal. His eyes bore into hers. “What is your name?”
“Christa.” She whispered.
His Excellence smiled. “A beautiful name. Please do not fear me.”
“I don’t.” Christa said without thinking because the words were spoken from her heart.
Another gasp from the Healers in the room made her regret her hastily spoken words.
“That is good.” His Excellence said with a nod. “I do not want you to believe I hold hatred for mortals. I do however choose not to be in their presence in most cases. However since Marcus believes there is a reason your presence is important I will allow it.”
“Thank you.” Marcus said bowing his head.
His Excellence nodded then turned to the council members who were all still bowing their heads. “It is my wish to take over this inquiry.”
“Of course, Your Excellence.” Thomas sputtered. “It would be our honor for you to do so.” Still keeping their heads bowed the members stood and moved from behind the table.
His Excellence moved towards the table but instead of taking a seat he stood before Anna. “You are Jacob’s child?”
Her head bowed Anna responded. “Yes, Your Excellence.”
Her head slowly lifted.
“What a beautiful child.” His Excellence smiled. “It saddens me we must meet under these circumstances.”
Once more Jacob moved to stand behind Anna. “I stand with my child.” He said in a strong voice.
His Excellence nodded then turned his attention to Gerard. “This is Annabelle’s child?”
“My child, Gerard.” Anna said as an introduction.
His Excellence nodded. “A child who’s fate must be determined today. As is yours.”
Anna nodded. “Yes.” She felt Jacob’s hand once more on her shoulder.
“You acknowledge you broke one of our most important laws?” His eyes bore into Anna’s.
“Yes, Your Excellence.” Anna said without blinking.
Hudson dropped his arm from around Christa and took a step forward. “Your Excellence please allow me to speak.”
“Please do, Marcus.” His Excellence said turning his attention to the Pure.
“While it is understood Annabelle broke one of our most important laws there are circumstance I feel it is vital for you to understand about all of this.”
His Excellence sighed. “As you mentioned when we spoke.”
Hudson nodded. “Yes, Your Excellence.”
“Very well.” He moved around the table and took the seat previously used by Thomas. “I will listen before I make my decision.”
“Thank you.” Hudson said with a nod. He turned to Christa and motioned for her to join him. “First if I may I would like to explain why I have brought my blood bound.”
His Excellence nodded.
Christa stood beside Hudson afraid and confused.
“Christa was bound to Annabelle first.” Hudson said slowly. “She chose to be bound to Annabelle. She convinced Annabelle the blood bond was what she desired.”
Another gasp filled the room causing Christa’s heart to race again.
“A mortal convinced a Healer?” His Excellence’s voice held a note of disdain.
“Yes.” Hudson nodded. “But not a normal mortal.” He paused then added. “A Ingredior Utriusque.”