Luna awoke to find Marko getting dressed. She rubbed her eyes. “Where are you going?” She felt hurt, and exceptionally stupid.
“This isn’t what it looks like, Lu,” he said. “I have to get home tonight.”
“Why?” She asked.
“I have to be home, I can’t really explain why. People worry if I’m not back by sunrise,” he admitted, with a smile.
“So you’ve got a protective family too?” she said dubiously.
“Something like that. But I’ll be back tomorrow. I’ll come by at nine for you.”
“In the morning?”
“No, evening. I have stuff to do during the day.” He put a hand on her shoulder, she shrugged away. “But I promise…” He tailed off, noticing the picture of her parents on the bedside table.
She frowned, following his gaze.
“Why’ve you got a picture of Star and Michael with you?” he demanded angrily.
“What? How do you know who they are?” She responded, frightened by his anger as much as his recognition of her parents.
“Why do you have that picture?” he asked again, his fingers digging into her shoulder.
She blinked back the tears. “Let me go! That hurts!”
Marko suddenly let go of her. “I’m sorry, Lu. I didn’t mean to scare you. I just never expected to see Star and Michael again.”
“How do you know them? You must have been a baby when they were last here.” She rubbed her shoulder, Marko had left finger marks.
“I’m sorry I hurt you.” He moved to touch her cheek, and bit his lip when she flinched. “I’m sorry. I really am. It was a shock to see a picture of them. How do you know them?”
“They’re my parents,” she said, confused. Too much had happened in the past few minutes. She rubbed her eyes again and sat up. “Can I have one of your cigarettes?” she asked.
He lit two and passed one to her. “I can’t believe Star and Michael are your parents,” he said in a tone she neither recognised nor liked. “I knew you reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t place it…”
“How do you know them?” She asked once more, noticing that he still hadn’t answered. “They’ve not been back to Santa Carla since they left over sixteen years ago. You’d have been a kid at the time. Did Mom baby-sit you or something?”
“Something like that,” he answered, then looked straight at her. “They can’t possibly support you coming here, bad things happen, Lu. It’s a dangerous place.”
“They died,” she replied shortly, inhaling deeply on the cigarette.
His eyes filled with concern. “I’m sorry that you’re hurting over that.”
She let him take her hand, but wondered about his wording.
“Why did you come to Santa Carla, Luna?”
“What do you care?” she snapped suddenly. Sick of everything in her life, the death of her parents, the lies and deceit, the fact that Marko was going to sneak out without saying goodbye after she had given her virginity to him, and now that he knew her parents it was too much.
“What do you care? You were about to sneak out, away from me, probably to your real girlfriend or something? What gives you the right to know about my life? So what, you met my parents. Big deal! I lived with them for sixteen years, it didn’t stop them lying to me! What gives you the right to know about my life, when I don’t know anything about it either, except it was a big fucking lie!” She tapered off as the grief and pain caught up and sobbing overtook her.
Marko took the weeping girl in his arms and gently soothed her until she was calm again. “I don’t know what to say, Luna. I just want you to be safe, and it’s not safe in this town. I can’t think of one good reason why you should be here.”
“My father.” Her answer was muffled by Marko’s chest.
“Michael?” He asked.
“No, Michael was my… I called him Dad, but I just found out that he wasn’t my father. My Mom wrote in journals. My father is some guy she got mixed up with.”
“Mixed up with how?” Marko asked, mentally calculating.
“He had a gang. There were four of them. I think they were on drugs or something, it’s not too clear.”
“Did your mother mention any names?”
“No, she uses initials in her journal. His initial was D, if that means anything to you—what am I saying? You were a toddler at most when my Mom was around, like you’d remember anything.” She laughed, but it wasn’t funny.
She met his eyes, and didn’t like what she saw. He smiled gently at her, and whatever she had seen was gone. His eyes softened and filled with concern for her.
“Are you sure you should be here, Lu? I remember what happened to Michael’s Grandpa after he and Star left.” He winced. “What if their enemies are still here? You’d be in danger.”
“I can’t imagine that they would be,” she replied, touched.
“Does anyone know you’re here?”
“My uncle knows I’m taking a time out.” She sighed. “But no, he doesn’t know I’m in Santa Carla.”
“Sam must be worried about you,” he said.
“You’ve got a good memory.”
“One of my skills.” He gave her a distracted smile. “But you said that you called Michael ‘Dad’. Why upset yourself looking for a guy that you might not find? He won’t live up to Michael, I assure you.”
“Do you know something that I don’t?” she asked suspiciously. “Because you seem awfully keen to get me to leave. Or maybe you want me to leave so you can go back to your girlfriend.”
“Luna, you’re my girlfriend—if you want to be,” he quickly amended. “You’re the only girl I want, I promise you. I’m just worried that something might happen to you. It scares me that you’re here alone.”
“I’m your girlfriend?” she whispered.
“If you want to be,” he replied softly, stroking her face. “It’s been a long time since I’ve cared for anyone except myself. But I care about you, and that’s why I don’t want you to stay in Santa Carla.”
She kissed him and Marko pulled her into a tight embrace. Again she wondered if she could fall in love with someone she’d only known a day and a half.
She got an answer when Marko murmured into her hair, “Truth is, I’m already in love with you. It’s crazy, but I am.”
Marko left Luna’s motel room with only half an hour before sunrise, his mind was whirling. He had just fallen in love with his pack’s enemy. Luna technically hadn’t done anything wrong, but he doubted David would see it that way.
David! There was another problem. Luna was sixteen, Star had left Santa Carla seventeen years ago, and stated in her diary that ‘D’ was the father. He doubted that it could be anyone other than David.
Which was confusing him, as he was always led to believe that vampires generally couldn’t have children. There were several occasions that he had read of in David’s books, but in those cases there had been years of chanting, sacrifice and ritual to prepare for it.
He had to get Luna to leave Santa Carla. That was the only possible solution. If David found out that Star’s daughter was so close by he would kill her. Marko couldn’t guarantee that he wouldn’t kill her even if he knew that Luna was his.
And Luna would never forgive him for being a vampire. One that kept her mother captive for months. Not to mention he had been present when David had killed Michael’s Grandfather and Mr and Mrs Frog.
Why hadn’t Star and Michael warned Luna what a nasty place Santa Carla was? Why had Star kept journals? Why couldn’t they all let the past die.
He thought back to the time when Star and Michael had fled for their lives from Santa Carla. The emotions came back strongly. He had been mad enough to kill them. Taking the lives of Mr Emerson and the Frogs hadn’t bothered him in the slightest. It had felt justified. It had been fun. He had wanted to kill the remaining Emersons, and the Frog Brothers too.
Meeting Luna hadn’t made him see those events in a different light. He hadn’t changed. He was still a vampire. He was just now torn between protecting her, and telling his pack what was happening.
In truth, he owed his pack his loyalty, not a girl he had met only a couple of days ago. But he loved her. And he didn’t want anything to happen to her.
So he’d convince Luna to leave, and David would be none the wiser.