Marcus and Casey make Annie an offer.
“You know I was thinking.” Casey said smiling over at Annie. “Would you mind if we just called room service and had dinner here?”
Annie shook her head, “That would be fine with me.” She paused then added, “And of course privacy is good so we can talk.”
Marcus walked over the desk and found the menu. “Here, just tell me what you’d like.” He said as he handed it to Annie.
“What I would like is to know what you are.” Annie blurted out before she could stop herself.
Marcus turned away from her to stare at Casey.
“Let’s forget dinner for now.” Casey said talking control of the situation. “Come, sit.” She gently took Annie’s arm to lead her to the sofa.
“I’m really sorry.” Annie whispered. “That was rude.”
Casey took her hand. “Annie, Marcus is very special and not just to me. But before I even begin to try to answer the questions I know you have you must understand. I love Marcus with my whole heart and soul. You have nothing to fear from him.”
Annie looked deeply into Casey’s eyes and could see the words she spoke were from her heart and were true. “Okay.” She forced herself to look over at Marcus. “I really am sorry.”
Marcus smiled, “Hey, it’s okay. I understand but believe me you have nothing to fear.” He paused then said slowly. “I had great respect for your grandmother.”
“You knew her?” Annie asked.
He nodded, “Yes, I did.” Looking at Casey he waited for her to take the lead in this explanation
“Marcus knew Aunt Claire.” She took a deep breath, “He also knows Anna and Gerard.”
A look of shock covered Annie’s face but only for a moment. She looked into Casey’s eyes. “I know I should be surprised but somehow I’m not. Now I understand the feeling I get when I look at the photo. It’s like I just somehow knew Anna was different.”
Casey reached out to take Annie’s hand. “Anna is immortal.”
Quickly Annie glanced over at Marcus. “And so you, right?”
He was surprised at how well she seemed to be taking all this. “Yes, I am immortal. I am a Pure.”
Casey took over, “There are mortals and immortals in this world. We live side but side yet mortals don’t realize this.”
Annie spoke up. “Well some mortals do.”
“Before we get into that you should explain a bit more.” Marcus said softly.
Casey nodded, “Right. You see the immortals are known as Healers.”
“Why?” Annie asked.
It pleased Casey that Annie was curious and seemingly unafraid. “Because they have a wonderful gift. They can heal mortals.”
Annie looked at Marcus. “How do you do that?”
He sighed, “Our blood when given to a mortal in need can heal them.”
“Your blood.” Annie repeated slowly.
Casey spoke quickly, “I know it sounds strange..”
Annie shook her head, “Yeah, it does but…wait did Anna heal grandma?”
“Annabelle saved your grandmother’s life.” Marcus said softly.
“That is why they were so close.” Annie said slowly as the truth started to reveal itself.
“They shared a blood bond.” Casey said squeezing Annie’s hand gently. “Aunt Claire was a little girl who’s seen her mother’s boyfriend stab her mother to death. Anna found Aunt Claire alone and dying. The bastard had stabbed her numerous times then left her for dead. But Anna healed her.”
“Did grandpa know that?”
Casey shook her head, “No, Aunt Claire couldn’t tell him. You see, the Healer world must remain hidden. However he understood there was a closeness between the two that he never really understood but he accepted it.”
“Wow.” Annie sat back against the sofa cushions. She thought a minute and then so many questions came to her she didn’t know where to begin. “Okay, so Anna is a Healer.”
Casey and Marcus both nodded.
“Like you?” Annie said to Marcus.
He shook his head, “Not exactly. Annabelle is a turned Healer. I am a Pure. I was born a pure. She was turned before death could take her by another Pure, Jacob.”
“Like the vampire myth?”
Casey could sense Marcus’s displeasure at that thought so she spoke quickly. “The vampire legends were started long ago by morals who hated the immortals. They were jealous of their immortality and their gifts.”
Annie considered her words. “I can see how that would happen.” She said softly. “But the blood thing, I mean Anna used her blood to heal grandma. So I’m guessing Jacob used his to turn Anna?”
“He couldn’t heal her.” Marcus explained, “Death can’t be stopped passed a certain point. Anna was a beautiful young girl who’d been brutally beaten. Instead of letting her die Jacob turned her.”
“When was that?” Annie asked.
“Back in the 1800’s.” Marcus answered.
“Wow.” Annie said again. “So because he turned her she became a Healer?”
“She became immortal.” Casey answered. “And when Gerard was near death she turned him.”
Annie shook her head, “This is so unbelievable.”
Casey looked into her eyes, “Do you doubt what we’re telling you?”
“Oh, no.” Annie said quickly. “I didn’t mean it that way. I just mean my whole life I knew there were supernatural things.”
“We aren’t exactly supernatural.” Marcus said.
Annie grinned, “I didn’t mean that in a bad way. I think this is incredible.”
“There is so much more you don’t understand.” Casey said capturing Annie’s attention.
“But I’m not crazy.” Annie said softly. “Right now that’s one of the most important things for me. I really thought I was.”
Marcus had a question that he wanted answered. “When you look at me what do you see?”
Annie smiled now feeling more comfortable around him. “First off I get a weird feeling. I wish I could explain it. But more than that I don’t see any color. See when I look at people I see this weird mist of color around them. You don’t have one.”
“Have you encountered others that are like that?” He asked clearly fascinated by this young girl’s gift.
“A few.” Annie admitted. “But no one I really know just strangers I would pass on the street.”
“And what do you see when you look at Casey?”
The question caused Casey to look over at him.
Annie smiled, “Casey has always had a strange mist of color around her. One side of her has color the other is almost clear. I can see the mist there but it’s almost translucent.”
“I walk in both worlds.’ Casey said softly.
“What?” Annie was confused.
Casey smiled, “That’s another whole discussion. Right now we need to concentrate on this one.”
Suddenly Annie felt slightly nervous. “Why are you really here? Why did you come to see me?”
“I knew you needed me. I could sense it.”
“Because my life is so fucked up.” Annie said looking down.
“It was because you were confused.” Casey said gently. “But it doesn’t have to be that way.”
When Annie looked up her eyes were filled with tears. “I don’t understand. From what you’ve told me I now realize there is so much more to this world but still no one would believe me. They’ll still think I’m just crazy because I can sense things that they can’t see.” She sighed, “You know when grandma was alive she understood. Even though I’m not the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter she got that I was different. But now she’s gone…..”
Casey reached out to brush a tear from her cheek. “You can be among people who understand you are different.”
Annie gave her a confused look, ‘What do you mean?”
‘are you sure about this?’
Casey turned her attention to Marcus having heard his question in her head. “Yes, I am sure."
“How come you can hear his thoughts?” Annie asked.
Marcus laughed, “Again that is another story and believe me having her hear my thoughts can be trying at times.”
“Is it because you two are bonded?”
Casey answered, “Marcus and I do share a blood bond but that’s not why I can hear his thoughts.”
“What exactly is a blood bond?”
“We have shared blood.” Marcus answered watching the girl’s face closely to see how she would react.
“Oh.” Annie said softly. “So not to be rude but do you have fangs?”
He made eye contact with Casey then turned his attention to Annie. Slowly he opened his mouth to reveal the fangs. All the time he was watching Annie closely in case she suddenly tried to bolt from the room. He need not have worried.
“Wow.” Annie said staring at the fangs until he closed his mouth.
Marcus laughed, “I was afraid you’d freak.” He admitted.
Annie grinned, “Nope I think I’m too stunned to freak.” She turned to Casey again, “So why do you have this blood bond?”
That question was slightly more difficult to explain. “Like I said there is a lot you don’t understand yet.” Casey said slowly. “But for my mother she was blood bond to Anna and Marcus so that she could be a part of their world.”
“You’re mom was blood bound to him?”
Marcus answered, “IT was a honor to be blood bound to Casey’s mom. She was a beautiful, unique woman.”
“Just how old are you?” Annie asked.
Again Marcus laughed, “Older than you can imagine.”
Annie grinned, “Wow you must have a lot of stories.”
“Indeed.” Marcus nodded. “Indeed.”
For several minutes no one spoke. Claire and Marcus both understood that Annie needed time for all this to sink in. She finally asked, “Okay so why are you telling me all this? I mean I’m not supposed to know, right? You said the Healer world had to remain a secret.”
“I feel it’s right for you to know.” Casey answered.
“What did you mean when you said I could be around others who understood I am different?”
“Anna and Gerard are now living in Scotland.” Casey explained, “They have been given the great honor of raising the newest Pure born to this world.”
“Pures are born?”
Marcus took over at this point. “Yes, Pures are born into this world by mortal mothers. And before you ask let me just say we have no idea why the Supreme Being made this so.”
“Supreme Being, you mean God?”
Marcus nodded, “God is the name some use.”
“So mortals and immortals have the same Maker.” Annie said more to herself than to Marcus and Casey. She was trying to sort this all out in her head. “But Healers are immortal with the power to heal mortals. How do you decide who to heal? I mean you can’t possibly heal everyone. People have to die.”
“Mortals do die.” Marcus said relieved Annie was handling this so well. “Healers must decide who to heal and that is not easy. Once, a long time ago, the knowledge of who to heal came naturally to us.”
“But it doesn’t now?”
He sighed, “Sadly no. Even Pures like myself have moments when we are unsure.”
“You hate that, don’t you?” Annie asked staring at him.
“I hate that we seem to have lost our way.” Marcus admitted. Since meeting Casey he was finding it easier to admit certain truths. “Once we instinctively knew our place in this world. But that has changed.”
Casey touched Annie’s hand to get her attention. “We are offering you a chance to be among people who will understand you are different than most mortals.”
“You want to take me to Anna.” Annie said as the truth suddenly came to her.
“If you’d like we could take you to Scotland. I’m sure if I spoke to Clark and explained to him I knew of a family with a baby who needed a nanny he’d agree.”
Annie looked down, “Uh how do you even know Anna would want me around?”
Casey used her finger to tilt her chin up. “Annie she loved your grandma. I know in my heart her death was one of the hardest things Anna has endured.” She paused then decided to tell her the truth. “Anna was with her when she passed. She came to tell her goodbye”
“But if she loved her why didn’t she turn her immortal?”
Marcus felt he could answer the question. “Anna loved Claire. But she knew in her heart Claire was meant to be a mortal. When she healed Claire as a child she gave her the chance to have a wonderful life. Because of Anna Claire met Bob.”
“She loved grandpa so much.” Annie whispered.
“Yes.” Marcus nodded. “Gerard told me later that one of the last things Claire said to Anna was to thank her for her beautiful life. One that she never would have had if Anna hadn’t healed her.”
Again Annie fell silent considering all she’d learned. After several minutes she said in a clear, determined voice. “I would like to meet Anna.” She paused, “It just feels like what I should do. What I’m meant to do.”
“There is something else you need to understand before you make this decision.” Marcus said slowly hoping Casey would take over.
And she did. “Annie, mortals are not allowed to know of the Healer world unless they are blood bound to a Healer.”
Annie titled her head, “I don’t understand.”
Marcus felt it was his place to explain. “Healers can sense when a mortal recognizes them as more than just a mortal. While I know you’ve said you believe you many have encountered Healers you didn’t know just what they were. You only sensed they were different. But now you know the truth. A Healer would know this.”
“Okay.” Annie said slowly trying to understand. “They would get that I know they are a Healer.”
“Yes, and if you were not blood bound they would immediately seek out the Healer who had revealed the truth.”
“Oh, and that Healer would be in trouble?"
Marcus nodded, “Yes, that Healer would be held accountable for their actions. The Healer world has strict rules in place regarding such actions.”
“So I have to ask again, what exactly is a blood bond?”
Casey looked at Marcus.
He sighed, “It binds the mortal to the immortal. The immortal is able to control the mortal’s actions and thoughts in order to protect our world.”
“You mean if there is a blood bond the mortal is controlled? Their thoughts and actions aren’t their own?”
Casey smiled, “If that is what the Healer chooses to do. However if the Healer has complete trust in the mortal they don’t have to control their thoughts or actions. Anna didn’t control Aunt Claire like that. She let her make her own choices.”
“Do you make your own choices?’ Annie asked Casey.
“Yes.” Casey smiled “But my situation is a bit different.”
“And you don’t want to explain that to me.” Annie said knowing it was the truth.
“Right now I think you have enough to think about.” Casey said. “You need to decide if you want to retain your knowledge of the Healer world.”
“But what if I don’t?”
“Then I can completely erase it from your mind.” Marcus answered. “Tomorrow you will only remember we had a nice dinner and you and Casey caught up on old times.”
“You can do that?”
Annie stared at him a moment then said, “But I want to meet Anna. I want to remember all of this.”
Casey spoke softly, “Then you need to be blood bound to a Healer.”
Annie looked into Marcus’s eyes. “Does it hurt?”
He wanted nothing more than to put this young girls fears to rest. “Only for a moment.”
“And you won’t control my thoughts?”
“I promise you, I would not do that. If we get to Scotland and you meet Anna then decide this is not what you want then you can return home.”
“But without the memories?”
“Without the memories of the Healer world. You will simply remember that you met a family in Scotland but decided you did not want to be a nanny to their child.”
“And you will talk to dad?” Annie asked Casey. “You’ll make sure he’s okay with me going?”
Casey nodded, “Yes, if that’s what you want.”
Annie grew silent, lost in thought.
“I’m sorry you must make this decision so quickly.” Marcus said believing Annie was struggling with the decision.
She surprised him by saying, “This is what I want. It feels right.”
“And you are not afraid?” Marcus asked.
Annie’s mind was suddenly at peace something she hadn’t felt it so long. “I won’t lie I’m a little nervous. But I’ve always felt a special kinship to Casey. When I was a little girl I’d imagine she was my older sister.”
Casey’s eyes grew misty. “I’m sorry I haven’t always been there for you.” She said sadly. “But I went through a lot of the same emotions you have. When I was younger I hated that I wasn’t like everyone else. I hated that I could sense things others couldn’t. It made me feel like a freak at times. I’m not sure how I could have dealt with it if it when mom died if it hadn’t been for Aunt Claire.”
Annie nodded, “Yes, it was much easier for me when grandma was alive too.” She impulsively hugged Casey. “I’m sorry about what I said earlier, about you not being at grandma’s funeral. I know how much you loved her.”
Casey hugged her back. “When I said she’d understand it was because I had gone with Marcus, I’d gone to see Anna.”
Annie sat back then looked at Marcus. “Do you think Anna will like me?”
He smiled, “I believe Anna will love you. However that brings up another fact you must understand. One that is you must understand for your safety and for several others.”
“Okay.” Annie said slowly seeing how serious he’d become.
“Healers are not meant to feel the love humans feel for each other. We feel a special closeness to those bound to us but human love is viewed by our world as wrong.”
Casey sat back wondering exactly how Marcus would explain this.
He sighed, “The belief is that feeling mortal love is wrong because it is a weak emotion which clouds our judgment. Pures are born without the ability to feel human love. Turned Healers also lose the ability to feel the emotion. If they do not they are considered ‘turned wrong’.” He paused, “And they are destroyed.”
This caused Annie to inhale sharply. “You destroy your own kind?”
“They are not our kind, they are considered flawed.”
“Wow.” Annie said slowly. “That seems wrong to me.”
“I’m not sure we need to get into this any further.’ Casey said softly.
“She must understand, you know that.” Marcus frowned. “If we take her to Gerard and Anna she has to know the truth.”
“You guys lost me again.” Annie said watching them.
Marcus looked into her eyes. “Annabelle and her child Gerard are both wrong. They both still feel human emotion, a fact that must remain hidden or they would be destroyed.”
“Because they feel love?”
“Because they feel the human emotion called love.” Marcus nodded.
“So they have to pretend they don’t?”
Casey spoke, her voice will with sadness. “Yes, they do. Anna has struggled with this since being turned.”
“But she loved grandma.” Annie said still not understanding.
“She did and that was accepted because they had a very deep blood bond. But Anna nor Gerard ever lost their ability to still feel love without that bond.” Marcus said hoping she’d understand.
“That seems so wrong they have to pretend.”
Casey sighed, “Yes, but it’s what they must do and those who love them have to understand this. You have to understand and accept this fact in order to keep them safe. You need to understand because when around other Healers or blood bounds they must act differently.”
Annie surprised them both by picking up on a fact they hadn’t discussed. “Wow, and they are raising a Pure? That has to be hard for them. I’m sure they love the child but they can’t show it?”
“To the Healer world they are simply pretending to love the child because they live among mortals. Healers love their own in a unique way just not with a mortal love.”
“I’m sorry.’ Annie said slowly "But I’m not sure what the difference between the two emotions is.”
“Human love and the love Healers feel for their own?” Marcus asked trying to make sure he understood her question.
Much to his surprise Casey laughed, “That is a hard thing to understand.”
Marcus bristled, “No it’s not. Healers emotions are superior to those of mortals.”
Casey smiled at him then turned to Annie. “Pures feel very superior. I believe it stems because in so many cases they truly have the power of life over death for mortals but even they need to realize that the power they hold over most mortals isn’t lasting. They can prevent a death for a certain time but ultimately death does come.”
“Is that what you really think?” Marcus asked in shock.
She knew by this thoughts she’d surprised and hurt him. “Marcus, that is true.’ She said softly. “Healers have a wonderful and unique gift. You have the power to heal mortals and give them more time on this earth but ultimately mortals die. That is how it must be.”
He stared into her eyes wishing he could hear her thoughts. “You believe that is why we feel we are superior?”
“Isn’t it?” Casey asked.
“Well now you’ve just made my kind sound like a bunch of egotistical morons.” He sputtered.
“I never said that or thought it.” Casey said placing her hand on his arm.
Again she’d completely thrown his thoughts into turmoil and for now he couldn’t deal with that. “We must handle this situation now.”
Casey, hearing his thoughts, understood. However when she turned to speak to Annie the young girl spoke first.
“Uh, you two sorta confuse me. I thought you and I were sorta alike but now I get you’re different than me.”
“She is indeed." Marcus said with a quick nod. “But that is not important now. What is important is you must decide what you want.”
“I want to learn more about the Healer world." Annie answered without hesitation, “I want to be a part of it.”
“You understand this means you must be a blood bound?”
Annie nodded, “Yep, I get that. My grandma was one and that’s what I want too.”
Marcus spoke to Casey through his thoughts while Annie waited. Once Casey nodded to him he continued, “Is it possible for you to stay with us tonight?”
“Sure.’ Annie answered, “I just need to call my roommate and tell them I won’t be home so they don’t worry.”
“You should do that now.” Marcus said. “Casey and I will return in a moment.” He stood then took Casey’s arm to lead her into the bedroom.
“You are absolutely sure about this?” Marcus said in a low voice once he’d closed the door.
“ Yes I am." Casey answered without hesitation. “Annie needs Anna and I believe Anna needs her. Since she left Claire she’s not had anyone she could really confide in.”
He sighed, “She has Gerard.”
Casey laughed, “Men, I swear. You don’t understand. Woman need other women they can confide in.”
He still didn’t understand. “Why can’t she simply confide in Gerard?”
Casey placed her arms around his neck and kissed him gently. “Because that’s just how it is. Trust me we are doing the right thing.”
“I do trust you.’ Marcus said as he held her tight. “But blood bonding this girl to me…”
“Will be a good thing.” Casey said, “Besides it is just for now. Once she gets to Scotland she’ll form a bond with Anna.”
“There is still much more she needs to know about our world." Marcus said as he nuzzled Casey’s neck.
“Yes and we’ll explain it to her. Tomorrow Annie and I will visit Clark. I’m sure he will agree to her taking the job in Scotland. He told me how concerned he is about Annie. When he sees how happy and excited she’ll be about the idea he’ll be happy too.”
“I hope so.” Marcus felt his fangs extend. Holding Casey this close was beginning to affect him. “Come lets do this. I will bond with her then she will sleep.”
Casey purred in his ear, “But we won’t.”
“Of hell.’ Marcus said as he took a step back. His eyes turned topaz. “Yeah, lets do this.”
They walked out of the bedroom expecting to see Annie sitting on the couch where they’d left her. It was a shock to see the room empty.