Isaac paced in his cell, grumbling to himself. Back and forth—back and forth. As the minutes ticked away and the more laps of pacing Isaac took, he could feel what slight strands of sanity he had slip.
“Let me out of here.” He ran at the door, slamming his fists into the window of glass. Tiny spider webs appeared from the impact. Isaac howled as he slammed another fist, “I’ll fucking kill you all.”
No one replied, even as the vampires standing guard right outside the door stirred with unease.
Isaac continued his pacing, though the cell didn’t allow much movement. The room was miniscule, approximately ten feet by ten feet. The only light for the room came from the door and though it wasn’t much, Isaac’s vampiric sight saw just as well as if the room was fully lit.
By the sight of bloody scratches and dents by the door, it was apparent that humans and other creatures had been housed in this cell. Dante might act all high and mighty, but he was still a vampiric leader, which meant dominance by violence. If some creature acted up, they were sent to these cells.
Isaac wondered about all the people Dante tortured over the years.
“Hm.” Isaac snorted as he settled down on the cot and leaned against the wall.
Dante was no better than him. No, he was worse. Where Isaac was honest about his intentions, Dante lied and connived his way through everyone and everything.
At least Isaac had no ulterior motives. He just wanted to kill Dante. Maybe once Isaac killed him, he could take over Dante’s coven. At least he’d be doing everyone a service. He could also wreak havoc somewhere else and be a bigger problem to not just Dante, but other people.
That was if Isaac was still free.
Instead, Isaac was here in a vampire’s nest of an old American country town, waiting for the moment where he could plunge his hand into Dante’s chest, pull out his heart, and devour it.
Isaac wasn’t always so murderous and delusional. A century ago, he was a dashing, young man about to inherit a dynasty. He was raised as a sorcerer along with his sister and in the quaint village of Independence there was a sorcerer coven waiting to be led by Isaac.
That was until Dante destroyed that fate.
Dante, the impulsive rich boy next door, who fell in love with Valeria, a young sorceress already betrothed to another sorcerer. Dante, who was a clueless human, found out and broke apart Valeria’s and Isaac’s family, Turning Isaac and running away with Valeria.
It was Dante’s fault for who Isaac was now.
● ● ●
“Can I speak with you, Isaac?” Dante asked, interrupting a quaint conversation between Isaac and three local girls.
Around them, Valeria’s twenty-first birthday party raged on. The Castro’s vast dining area was spotted with people, all clustered together, chatting among one another.
Dante was human then, with no tinge of vampirism in his eyes. The only thing strange that Isaac noticed about Dante was how anxious the man was acting. The twenty-three-year-old looked over his shoulder and leaned toward Isaac, as if afraid someone would find him.
Isaac, on the other hand, was purely sorcerer. Though looking just as human as Dante physically, his whole body thrummed with the ripened energy of a mature sorcerer, and people naturally gravitated toward him.
Whatever secret Dante had to tell Isaac was nowhere near as important as Isaac’s secret: he was to be the head sorcerer of the local coven, a leader into a new world for the magic users.
His family wasn’t the only family of sorcerers in Independence. There were three other ones, each with at least two children, all groomed to serve Isaac and cultivate this destined future. There were eleven young sorcerers in all, including Valeria.
Five of the eleven were females and two of the girls were the ones fighting for Isaac’s attention as Dante had approached him.
Annoyed, Isaac let Dante drag him to the empty supplies’ closet.
Dante shut the door behind Isaac and stuck his hand in his pocket, pulling out a black velvet box.
“I’ve been thinking that it is time, Isaac,” Dante said. “It’s time for Val and I to truly be together. Tonight’s the perfect night.”
Isaac froze. Just earlier, before the party started, his mother talked about Valeria’s betrothal to another sorcerer named Thomas. He was twenty-two, just a year younger than Isaac and Dante, and his mother thought the man to be handsome and well-suited for Valeria.
With their marriage, Valeria and Thomas were to start the beginning of the next generation of purebloods. Their mother had even talked about the possibilities of making the coven publically known. It was a new century, a modern age, and many things were changing in both the United States and the world.
Their family accepted Dante only as a temporary nuisance. They expected Valeria to cut the ties between Dante and her in the near future and marry Thomas.
“Val doesn’t know, does she?”
“I’ve been hinting at it,” Dante said as he shoved the box back into his coat pocket. “She seemed really excited, of course. It made me believe that I should do it, so I am.”
“You’re doing it…tonight?”
“Yes, in front of everyone.”
Isaac couldn’t reply quick enough before Dante went on about his plan. The man was so excited that Isaac almost didn’t speak up.
Isaac took a deep breath and prepared himself to break his best friend’s heart.
“You can’t do it.”
Dante froze in midsentence. His eyes widened. “I—what? I can’t? Why?”
“Because, you’d embarrass her—and…” Isaac sucked in a breath. “And she is betrothed.”
“Be-betrothed?” Dante stumbled into a shelf, holding himself up by his arms. He swallowed and said, “I…I didn’t know. But…I…she loves me.”
Isaac nodded. “But no one thought it would last.”
Dante’s head shot up. His face twisted with anger. “No one thought we would last? You did, didn’t you? You thought it was real, that I loved her and she loved me—right?”
Isaac wasn’t convincing enough, for Dante shoved from the shelf and started to pace in the tiny space.
“What about your mother? She’s always liked me—I could’ve sworn she’s always liked me…and your little brother. He always runs to me when I come over. And your father.” Dante hissed through his clenched teeth. “Your entire family likes me. Valeria loves me. Why…why is this so?”
“Dante, calm down—”
“No,” Dante shouted and stopped. He lifted a fist at Isaac. “You—you all lied to me. You obviously don’t care for me as much as I believed. Val…she said she loves me…is that a lie, too?”
Isaac’s jaw dropped as Dante went back into a frenzied pace and muttered to himself, “She swore she loves me…she loves me…”
Isaac stepped forward and gripped Dante by his shoulders.
He diverted his eyes, grinding his teeth, and Isaac shook him once to gain his attention. “Listen to me, Dante.”
Dante grimaced, but fell silent to listen to him.
“Look. She loves you, yes,” Isaac said. “But this was planned for a long time. I don’t even know when it’s actually supposed to happen.”
“Do you think I can change their minds?”
“My parents’ minds?” Isaac raised an eyebrow. “I…I don’t know. I don’t see how you could.”
“Why are they so set on it?”
Isaac couldn’t explain that—not without telling Dante about their secret. He pursed his lips and sighed. “It’s tradition, I guess. That’s all I know. They haven’t said too much to any of us about it and we’ve just accepted it.”
“Wait…what about you?” Dante asked.
Isaac dropped his hands from Dante’s shoulders, raked them through his hair, and sighed. “No, I don’t have to.”
“Why not?” Dante narrowed his eyes. “Why are you any different than she is?”
“I just have a different circumstance, Dante.” This went nowhere. The party continued without them as Isaac could hear so many voices on the other side of the door.
Isaac motioned toward the exit. “We need to get back to the party. Please…let Val have her night.”
“Why didn’t you all tell me sooner?” Dante clutched his head as he continued to pace. “Why didn’t I know? It would’ve stopped it from going this far if you had told me from the very beginning.”
Isaac sighed and watched him rant.
Valeria’s and Dante’s relationship only started to bloom over the last year. Before, no one thought to mention it because it was nonexistent. When the two began seeing each other, Valeria made Isaac swear not to mention anything and she had led the rest of her family to believe that she told him.
Though Isaac promised to keep her fling a secret, their family found out anyway, and thought the fling wouldn’t last. During this time, she wasn’t around Thomas alone, denied his advances, and also made sure that Dante and Thomas weren’t around each other long enough to talk about her. Valeria was the only one, aside from Dante, that didn’t know that her efforts were meaningless, as she thought that with this new age, their parents would reconsider her betrothal if Dante showed enough promise. That, of course, didn’t happen, as their parents were stubborn.
Now, it had gone too far.
Isaac pulled Dante to his side, clutching his shoulders in a supportive, brotherly embrace. “She made me promise, begged me not to tell you, and I agreed to it. That was a long time ago, Dante…and now it’s gone too far. You’ll have to speak with her after tonight,” Isaac said. “And please don’t mention it to my parents. We don’t need a scene.”
Dante nodded and as they left the room, they were welcomed by a sea of people, all hovering around the Castro family’s large dining table. Valeria sat at the end of it, grinning over a cake made by her mother.
Dante stopped behind Isaac. He watched as the love of his life blew out the candles that highlighted the contours of her beautiful face. Valeria appeared so content at that moment. Her bright cerulean eyes looked up just in time to catch Dante watching her, and she smiled.
His heart ached as he smiled back. It thumped in his chest, lunging up into his throat. He swallowed, sucked in a deep breath, and clutched the delicate engagement box that resided in his pocket.
He had so many things to say to Valeria, all along the spectrum of pure devotion and a confused sense of betrayal.
Isaac made it halfway through the crowd toward Valeria before he realized that Dante hadn’t followed him. He turned around, watching as his best friend turned around and walked away.
Dante disappeared for the rest of that night. When most of the guests had left, Valeria came to Isaac and wondered where Dante was.
To Isaac’s amusement, Valeria said something rather ironic—that she secretly wanted to run away with Dante and now that she was coming of age, she felt that she might be able to.
“What?” Isaac asked in a loud voice. Valeria glanced behind them, where their family cleaned up the party, and moved their conversation into the den.
“I shouldn’t have to be forced to marry someone I don’t love.”
“Val, this has been planned since you were two years old.” Isaac flung his hands in the air and huffed. “The coven must live on—and it can’t if you marry Dante.”
“I don’t care.” Valeria’s hands settled on her hips and she raised her chin to Isaac with a glare. “I love him and I’m going to marry him.”
“No, you aren’t.” Isaac’s jaw clenched. He turned away from her and paced. This was going to be a disaster if he didn’t cut the situation off right at the start. “You can’t. He’s human. He won’t understand. It would be irresponsible of you to reveal us for some petty love—”
“Petty?” Valeria scoffed. “I love him! How is love petty?”
“You’re too young to understand.”
“You’re only two years older than I am, Isaac. How can you be saying that?”
“I’m the eldest,” Isaac said. “I’m more mature. I have to be, to lead everyone—”
“You think that because of that, you can boss me around?” Valeria shook her head. “You have never been in love. You don’t understand.”
“I don’t have to be to know that you’re making a huge mistake. You have been since you decided to be with him.”
“No one else seems to care too much.”
Isaac sighed and stopped pacing. He closed his eyes and took several deep breathes to calm himself, trying to find the right words.
There was only one thing to say, he concluded: “No one took it seriously, Valeria. We all agreed that you were young and needed a fling before you settled down. Even Thomas agreed.”
The tension in the air that built since Valeria dragged Isaac into the den broke. She ran at him, her heels clicking on the wood floor.
“Thomas? You’re saying Thomas knows?” Valeria screeched as she gripped his shoulders. Isaac stared down at his sister. Her fragile fingers were doing their damnedest to harm him, but all she managed to do was grip the collar of his shirt and tremble.
“I’m saying nothing’s a secret for people who keep secrets for a living.” Isaac peeled her fingers from his shirt and held her fists in his hands, keeping her from attacking. Blotches of red lit her cheeks and her eyes brimmed with tears.
Isaac sighed. “I’m sorry, Valeria, but you should know that this isn’t allowed. It’s not possible.”
“But…” Tears spilled over her rosy cheeks. “I…I love him.”
“And I’m sure he loves you,” Isaac said. “But you have responsibilities, Val. We can’t let our family down for a human.”
“But…he’s your best friend.” Valeria pulled away from him, wiped at her eyes, and frowned. “If he loves me—and I love him—why would you be okay with keeping us apart?”
“I’m not okay with it. But there are greater things than this, Val.” Isaac dropped his gaze.
Of course, he felt horrible for all of this. Dante was so close to him and Valeria ever since they were little. Even if he was human and he didn’t know of their other identity, Isaac considered Dante the only person that understood both Isaac and Valeria.
But, as Isaac had said to Valeria, there were greater things.
Valeria didn’t respond to him. She sunk into the den’s loveseat and dropped her face into her hands.
“I’m sorry, Val.”
“No, you’re not,” she muttered through her hands. “You know you sound a lot like Father sometimes.”
Isaac grimaced. “That’s a lie. I’m not Father. You know this.”
“Well, you talk and act like him,” Valeria said.
Valeria’s fingers knotted into her hair and pulled as she groaned. “I don’t know what to do, Isaac.”
“Marry Thomas? Break up with Dante?” Isaac sighed. “Or…run off with him.”
She didn’t reply for a second as she mulled over those choices. Valeria then looked up at him through the waterfall of her hair, blinking through her tears. “You…but you just said—”
“I’m just saying those are your options.” Isaac shrugged and moved toward the door. “Look, its late—”
“Isaac.” He stopped when Valeria called, turned on his heel, and waited for her to speak up. She sat back into the loveseat, straightened her skirt, and wiped her eyes.
“Listen,” Valeria said. “I…did he say anything about proposing to me?”
“If he did, why would I say anything about it?” Isaac shot back.
Valeria blinked and then nodded as she gave a slight smile. “Well…at least there’s that.”
“Anything else?” Isaac arched an eyebrow.
“We will talk about it in the morning, I guess,” Valeria said. “And—Isaac? Don’t tell them, okay?”
By them, Isaac knew Valeria meant their family. He nodded and without further interruptions, left the room.
His mother and father were in the kitchen, scrubbing the table of cake messes. They halted when Isaac entered the room and exchanged curious looks.
“Something wrong?” His mother asked.
Isaac shook his head. “I’m retiring to bed now.”
They wished him a good night as he headed upstairs, wondering in the back of his mind if they eavesdropped on the conversation.
● ● ●
Now, sitting in the dark corners of the cell, Isaac blamed that night as the start of the chaotic downfall of the trio. Inevitably, Valeria denied Thomas and their families the comfort of the continuation of their kind. Dante tried to whisk Valeria away with promises of forever.
To show for it, in the end, they were split apart and their bloodline ruined.