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"Jeremy?" I called out. I was looking around the corners of his shack to let him know that I was leaving, but he had such a habit of disappearing around any one of the many corners in this place. "Dude, are you in here?"

I didn't get any answer at first. Then I slowly opened one of the doors to the upstairs rooms and peeked my head in.


Suddenly, without warning, a giant wolf's head exploded into view, barking loudly in my FACE!!!

I screamed out loud and fell back hard on my butt, but not before one of my extras activated themselves and sent low voltage electrical sparks crawling all over and through the door, shocking my attacker and sending it whimpering away from me. JESUS!

"Can you not bully my guard dogs, please? They don't like that." Came Jeremy's calm voice from above as I saw him walking in through the back of the room. "What the hell are you doing on the floor....again?"

"That thing...he tried to...."

"Attack you? No, he didn't. Grim was just being friendly. I doubt he'll be doing that again any time soon, now that you shocked the living shit out of him."

"He scared me. He was barking..."

"He's playing. He's a dog. That's what dogs do. What did you expect him to do? Ask you to dance?" Jeremy put a few bags of warm blood on the table and marked off some of his paperwork. He saw me watching him once I stood up, and he looked over his shoulder at me. "What? What is it now?"

"It's...I mean...I cleaned up downstairs." I said. "Well...Taryn came by. I figured...we could go out for a while, and maybe..."

"Bye." He said, going back to his paperwork again.

"It's ok, right? I mean, me just going back to the lot for a while?"

"What am I, you're parole officer? Just go. Try not to set Torsten on FIRE or anything on your way out, if you think you can manage that, Mr. Scaredy Pants."

I didn't know if Jeremy was trying to be cold or if just sounded that way. But...after feeling a slight warm tingling in my senses from Jenna's extra...I couldn't help but smile. Even with Jeremy's back turned to me...he still had a heart of gold beating under that black lab coat somewhere.

I started to leave, but with a giggle, I walked up behind him and gave him a loving hug around the shoulders, pressing my cheek up against his. He gasped from the shock. "Whoah! Ok...what is this? What are we doing here? You're touching me!" He cringed.

"Whatever, dude. Hehehe, just...thanks. Ok?"

"OK!!! OK!!! Can you please let me go now??? This is getting weird for me." He said. His poker face was flawless, but his deepest feelings betrayed him on a psychic level that he couldn't hide. I spared him any further humiliation, and let him go. But not before giving him a sweet kiss on the cheek. One that he very quickly wiped away with mock disgust. "God...could you slobber on me anymore? Torsten and Grim leave less 'mouth moisture' on me than you do."

"Take good care of Richie while I'm gone?" I said, backing out of the room.

"I'm not your babysitter, you know? If you're worried about him, then come back and check on him yourself. I've got work to do."

"I might just do that." I smiled. "I'll be back."

"Greeaaaat. Hey, tell me in advance so I can bake a cake and bust out the party hats." He groaned.

I swear, I doubt that I could find a more convincing act than the one Jeremy put on for me whenever I was around. But just as I was leaving, I could almost 'feel' his head turning around, his eyes watching me walk out of the room. I wondered...if maybe he'd be somewhat lonely in that place with me gone. Jeremy would rather throw something heavy at my head than admit to it...but he might even miss me a tiny bit. A couple of vampire wolves, a few blood dealer clients, and a freezer full of corpses, can't be the most entertaining kind of company for him to keep. But he makes do with what he has, I suppose. And that's far less than his heart deserves, after all he's done for just me alone.

I came downstairs and saw Taryn nervously fidgeting by the front door to Jeremy's blood shack. He grinned at me with a slight blush as I walked over to join him. "Did he say you could go?" He asked.

"Well...you know Jeremy. He says a lot of things." I hesitated, but only for a moment. I looked Taryn in the eye, and I leaned in to give him an angelic kiss on the lips.

"What was that for? Hehehe!" He asked.

"That was for being so beautiful that I couldn't help myself." And then I kissed him again. "And that...was a tease. So you'd ask me for another one later." I giggled as Taryn gave me a pinch, and the two of us went outside...enjoying our overdue reunion under a brightly starlit sky.

It may seem strange, considering how much time I spent with him, how much time I spent thinking about him, dreaming about him, trying to protect him...but looking at Taryn that night....I had truly forgotten soooo many beautiful details about who he truly was. I had taken his surreal beauty for granted. I had fooled myself into thinking that the novelty of his unconditional love for me had somehow worn thin over time. That it had become common. Every day. The idea that my Taryn's love was anything short of the most spectacular gift on God's green Earth was a blasphemy in itself. An unforgivable assumption based on nothing more than my own selfishness. Walking side by side that night with the sweetest boy in existence...the one who gave me life, and strength, and purpose...I couldn't help but feel a pinch of shame for having treated him so poorly in the last few weeks. It became difficult to even look him in the eye at first. But love kept me peeking at him regardless.

"You're beautiful, you know that?" I said. I think it caught Taryn off guard. He grinned bashfully and held his head down for a moment.

"Don't go getting me all weird and sissy-like, now. We're not home yet." He said.

I knew that we were on the street, and there were a few people around who could clearly see us...but I was compelled to kiss him on the cheek anyway. The moment overruled anything else that could make me feel self conscious about it. The sugary look of affection in his eyes let me know that he appreciated it.

"You are quite the Romeo tonight. What's gotten into you?" He asked. "Maybe you should get four days worth of rest more often."

"With or without it...I'd still be crazy about you."

"Or maybe just plain crazy." He said.

"Maybe." His green eyes met mine, and I felt a rapid burst of emotion welling up in my chest. I really did miss him. He was right there all along....how could I miss him so much? "I hear that Bryson's kinda pissed about Richie..."

"No, not really. Bryson comes off as a big old badger sometimes, but he's a big teddy bear underneath. I'm sure once he sees Richie smile at him for the first time, he'll turn to jelly and let him stay."

I smiled at Taryn. "So you're not mad? About...you know..."

He brushed some of his reddish brown locks out of his eyes for a moment. He was hesitant to answer. "Well...I'm sure it'll be ok. I mean you guys...like...you're just friends, right?" He asked.

"Yeah. Why?"

"No reason. It's just...you seemed really...'concerned' about him. I thought that maybe..." He blushed a little, and tried to shrug it off.

"Maybe what?"

"You know...that you guys...like, maybe before you met me..."

"Oh! Hehehe, awww, Taryn, no way. It wasn't like that at all. I swear." I told him, and Taryn nodded, but I noticed that he had gotten quiet. "I SWEAR! Hehehe, ok? I'm dead serious."

"Ok. I believe you." He said. But it wasn't as convincing as he thought it was. I didn't argue the point. Instead, I gently reached out and took a hold of his hand. Just the feel of his soft palm in mine...it was enough to make me feel warm all over.

I was enjoying just being close to him again, but there were things that had to be said. Things that I felt terrible about. It wasn't something that I wanted to have lingering in the back of my mind. Nor did I want it lingering in the background of our relationship. "Taryn...about....about what happened that night...you know, in the trailer..."

He immediately tried to stop me. "Justin, you don't have to..."

"No really. I mean, what I did....what I said..." I was embarrassed beyond belief, but I had to let him know how utterly sorry I was about it. "...That wasn't me. I don't know what happened, but....it just wasn't me. I don't think I know who I am any more."

"Justin...I know. Ok?" He said, and he stopped walking to hold the sides of my face with his hands. "I won't pretend to know what you're going through right now. But if you ever need help, if you ever lose your way....I'll be right here. Use my love as a light. A compass. Use it to guide you back to where you need to be. I'll never leave you."

Taryn kissed me lightly on the lips, and it made me smile. "You're so much better than I deserve."

"Funny, I was just writing the same thing about you in my diary." He smirked. "Come on. Let's get you home and into a change of clothes. I think Jun is on laundry duty tonight, so we should be able to get these in the bundle before he leaves."

"Are you saying I stink? Hehehe!"

"Well, I wasn't going to say it all out LOUD like that, but...." I gave Taryn a shove, and he accidentally bumped into a few people walking in the other direction.

"Hehehe, sorry. Excuse me...." He giggled. He could be so fragile sometimes. A little push and he practically falls right over like a domino. The other people looked back at us, and Taryn couldn't hold in his laughter for a second longer. It was so cute that I put an arm over his shoulder and kissed him hard on the cheek while he was trying to keep his balance.

It was moments like these that made the light of the morning sun seem like such a small sacrifice.

I will admit to feeling my limbs tighten up with tension as I got closer to the lot. Taryn could feel me slowing down, and he wrapped his arm around my waist to keep me going.

I could actually see the lot in the distance, and nearly stopped walking altogether. "Taryn..."

"Come on, Justy. It'll be ok."

"I....I shouldn't..."

"You have nothing to be afraid of." He assured me, but I just didn't believe him. I hurt them. I hurt my friends. And this wasn't the first time. The more the extras and the thirst for power took a hold of me, the more the madness latched itself to the most private and intimate parts of my psyche. I could feel it. All the time. Waiting. Like the dimly lit smoldering fuse on a stick of dynamite. Waiting for the slightest wind to feed it so it could spark it up and guide it to another destructive explosion. I didn't know if I could even trust myself. How could I expect any of them to trust me?

"Can't we just...go in another way?" I asked. "Maybe you could distract them for a few minutes, and I could sneak in..."

"Justin? No. I'm not going to do that. You're family. We're ALL family. A big part of being a family is making mistakes. But an even bigger part is standing tall and admitting those mistakes. And then being forgiven for them." He told me. "Nobody is going to hate you. You're important to us. To all of us. Not just me. I'm telling you....it will be ok." I fidgeted a bit, but Taryn looked me in the eyes and said, "Alright?"

I nodded. Reluctantly. And we walked the rest of the way to the open gate of the lot. I hope what Jeremy said to me about the rest was true. Because I had a lot to answer for.

It was hard for me to look anyone in the eye as I approached. But, as I looked around at the faces taking notice of my return, I don't think it was easy for them either.

Taryn was a brave little soldier at my side. Giving me every bit of energy that he could muster to help me through this. But the shame grew worse with every step. No one wanted to talk to me. No one knew what to say.

Napolean was the first to trot over to me. He sat down and looked me in the eye. With an almost invisible smile, I squatted down and rubbed him lovingly behind the ears while he tried to lick my face. If only forgiveness could come this easy for everybody else.

I noticed Doc rolling up in his wheelchair, and felt a bit of tension as he tried to find a way to speak to me. Doc...always with a smile. I missed his cheerful grin now that it was gone. "Hey...." He said.

I looked up at Taryn and stood up on my feet again. Taryn nodded. Letting me know that everything was ok. "Hey..." I quietly replied. Almost ashamed to speak out loud.

Doc was quiet for a moment, and then he faked a smile for me. He said, "You know, now that you're home and my laptop isn't acting all screwy...you've had quite a few messages from this Jeweler guy. He's getting awfully anxious to get you to meet him. I mean...he gave me a location. If....if you're interested..."

I tried to fake a smile as well. Doc seemed to be searching for one. I think it made him feel better. "Cool. I guess....I guess that's good news, right? I mean....if he can help me."

"He sounds pretty legit. Haven't heard back from Pan yet, but once he gets in contact with this elusive Erick character, maybe we can give that weird language he's been using a second look. I think Pan's been using all of his deepest connections to find him, but this guy is really secretive about stuff like this. We think he's trying to set up a super secure way of talking to us first before he even answers back." Doc said.

"What should I tell him? The Jeweler, I mean?"

"Well, for right now I've been trying to hold him off by saying that you weren't 'available' at the moment. But he keeps pushing. I noticed some tracking software popping up that wasn't in use before. I think he's trying to find you himself. I'm not sure how much longer it will be before he comes knocking on our front door."

Taryn and I looked at each other for a moment. As much as I wanted this guy to help me...I wasn't too keen on the idea of him hunting me against my will. It was an unsettling feeling in my stomach, and I asked Doc, "What do you think I should do?"

"Bryson and I talked about it. We think it's best to give Pan a little more time to locate his language expert and find out what he's been setting up before you go out there blind. I don't know....something about his aggressive measures just rubs me the wrong way." He said. I thought about it rationally, but maybe this guy knows what he's doing. My mind is already beginning to divide itself into other personalities that I can't seem to control. Maybe I should be rushing to meet him in person.

"Ok...." I said. "...I'll lay low until we hear from Pan. Maybe he'll have good news for us soon." I was still really apprehensive about speaking to anybody. But when I saw a ball come rolling up to my feet, I felt a bit more inspired to interact with someone else. I picked it up, and saw Kid chasing behind it. He stopped a few feet away from me. His quiet eyes searched mine for a moment, and then, much to my surprise, he walked forward to allow me to hand it to him personally. Strange. Kid was always the type of boy who would silently beg me to throw it to him from a 'safe' distance before. The fact that he allowed himself to get close enough to me to actually hand him something was...just plain weird.

His big brown eyes looked up at me for a few seconds longer, then he ran off to continue playing elsewhere. Was he finally warming up to me? I couldn't tell. But I appreciated the moment. It meant more to me than he could possibly imagine. It gave me hope in the concept of forgiveness from the others. No matter how awkward that process may be for the next few nights.

I looked back at Doc and said, "Thank you. I mean...really, Doc. Thanks. You did great. Really great."

I saw Doc's face turn really red for a moment, and then he smiled and said, "Cool. Ummm...yeah. Cool. So...whatever. I've gotta go. See ya." He scooted away from me so fast that I didn't have a chance to say anything further. But...his loving emotions lingered behind him. I think he really liked being appreciated. Between Doc and Kid, and my reconnection with Taryn...I was easily beginning to see why this group of misfits had become such an essential part of my life so quickly. My companions. My 'family'.

And then....

The grins were interrupted by Bryson who suddenly appeared out of nowhere. "We need to talk." He said. And he looked serious. Not angry....but serious.

"I....I uhhh..."

"Now. Let's go." He said, and started walking back to his truck. I shrugged my shoulder and tried to follow him, but he stopped and told Taryn not to come along. Just me. Yikes...this MUST be serious.

Taryn only gave a slight protest before Bryson's intentions overpowered him. And with a quick kiss and the promise that I'd be back soon, Taryn gave us the necessary space.

As we were walking, I heard some 'applause' on the side of me. Trevor and Michael were both sitting on the hood of a wreck, wicked, taunting, grins on their faces. Trevor called out, "Welcome back, 'champ'! You coming back for another few rounds, pretty boy, or are you just coming to pick up your title belt?" They laughed at me, and called attention from everyone else in the lot. Humiliating me even further.

Bryson pointed a finger in their direction, "Trevor...knock it off. Not tonight."

"Sure thing, pops. But don't turn your back on him. That boy is a feisty one! Full blown menace! Hehehe!"

"I MEAN it, Trevor!" Bryson said again, and Trevor backed off. He kept the demonic grin though. They both did.

As we walked through the center of the lot, I noticed Jenna and Jun talking softly in a corner. They stopped when they saw me. Their eyes avoided mine. Even little Gyro, who was usually so open and carefree about everything...had a slightly bashful reaction to seeing me again. It was an embarrassing spotlight that was bright enough to nearly 'cook' me where I stood. If I could have used Dylan's extra at that moment...this would definitely be the time to want to be invisible.

Bryson took me back to his truck, turning on a small light that he kept on the dashboard. "Get in." He said sternly. I walked around to the passenger side and slid into the seat of the old junker. He left the doors open on both sides, and with a deep breath he looked over at me. I couldn't quite read his expression. I just had to hope that he'd tell me what this was about before I shook myself to pieces.

"Bryson....I know that I made a big mess of things this week, and that I was TOTALLY out of line..."

"Quiet." He said. "Addressing that situation, my thoughts are very simple and to the point. If you wanna throw a tantrum, you do it AWAY from the lot. If I catch you hurting anyone of us again like you did a few days ago, you're out on your ass. Got it?" Was he serious? I couldn't tell for sure. I didn't use any extras to scan his emotions, but the physical vibe he gave me alone told me that he meant what he said. I agreed, and he said, "Good. Now...moving on, that's not why I called you in here...." He said. Bryson looked ahead to make sure no one else was listening, and he said, "...Dylan's hunger pains are becoming a problem for him now. His body is beginning to recognize the lack of new blood pumping through his veins, and he's deteriorating fast. His wounds can't be healed...." He paused for a moment, then he said, ",,,Dylan doesn't want there to be any pain when he dies. He says...." Bryson seemed a bit choked up, but he forced himself to continue. "...He says that he wants to have his sun quest tomorrow night. We both agreed that would be best. He didn't want to drag this out any longer than he already has." Bryson was trying soooo hard to be 'professional' about it all, but his emotions broke through the mask without much effort. "Justin...if there's ANYTHING that you think you can do to help him...now would be the time to tell me. Anything at all." He seemed so desperate. So unsure of how to help Dylan. I had never seen a weakness in Bryson's ability to keep us all together before. To keep us safe. For the first time...he really seemed lost on what to do. As our 'father' in darkness...I found that to be extremely unnerving.

Sadly, I shook my head. "I...I went through everything, even extras that I didn't know I had. I did what Doc told me about...creating a mental framework to categorize and remember everything, I used Jun's extra to focus on them extra hard to see if I could find some kind of combination or something that would work...but...almost everything that I have is a weapon. A stupid weapon. I hardly have anything to heal him with." Bryson continued to look forward, and I heard him sigh as he leaned back in his seat. "Bryson....I'm sorry. I just...I don't know what I can...."

"It's ok, Justin. It's ok. A vampire's heart...once it's gone...it's gone. Us trying to repair it was a long shot to begin with. I knew that..." He said. "I know because...I tried it before with Amanda. I went through all the legends, all the techniques, every possible scenario...it just didn't work. Nothing worked. I was hoping this time would be different, but...." Bryson seemed as though he was fighting back a tear or two, but he swallowed the emotion and said, "Listen...Dylan says that he wants you to be there tomorrow. He wanted to say goodbye. He was holding out for you to come home before leaving."

"I can't imagine that he would want me anywhere near him."

"Well, he does. And you're going." He said. I took in a deep breath, and felt a single tear roll down my cheek. He did his best to ignore it. The last thing he needed was for me to get him started. "Your friend, Richie....I take it...he's doing alright?"

"Umm....yeah." I sniffled. "A least, I think he is. Jeremy said it will be a while before he knows for sure."

"Good. I'm glad." He said. "You know...he won't be able to go out for a while. It'll be risky just trying to get him here to the lot. People are going to be looking for him, and that kind of heat doesn't die down easy." I nodded, hoping that Richie reacted better than I did when it came to being trapped in this tiny little space. "We'll stretch Jeremy's kindness as far as it can go, and when his hospitality runs out, we'll find a way to sneak him through the alleys so he won't be seen. I'll keep an eye on the papers to see what the missing persons search is light. I figured...we could go to the old church and maybe find him some clothes for the time being..."

"Wait...are you...are you saying that Richie can stay here?" I asked.

Bryson softly rolled his eyes. "Well, I let you stay, didn't I? No big deal. We can't just let him wander off on his own." He made it sound so 'logical' that we take him in. But deep down, I knew it was more than that. I don't think Bryson had the heart to turn anybody away. To him...the walls of the lot were as endless as the world itself. I'm glad. I wouldn't have known what to do with Richie, otherwise.

There was a silence that fell between us, but Bryson tried to keep me talking. Every quiet moment was a flurry of sad thoughts that he just wasn't ready to tackle just yet. I told him, "Doc says the Jeweler is finished with his preparations. He's ready to meet me."

"So I've heard. I can't say that I'm overjoyed though. For someone who is claiming to be the only one who can guide you through your transformation, he certainly hasn't gone to any lengths to share any information with the rest of us."

"He says he can keep me from losing my mind. He says he can help me find the Dawn..."

"What he says isn't going to hold a whole lot of weight with me until he shows his face and proves that his intentions are what he says they are." Bryson looked me directly in the eye. "Justin...I want you to wait until Doc's friend gives him a few translations of the language he's been working on. If this means trouble with the Elders...I won't be able to protect you. No one can."

I nodded. "I know. I'll be careful. I promise."

Bryson looked over my shoulder, and I turned to see Taryn practically pacing back and forth, worried about me being away from him for so long. Bryson told me to go. "Hurry up.If that boy inches any closer to this truck, he'll be pressing his face up against my sunproofed glass. Go."

I slid out of the seat and put my feet back on the ground. But I turned back to Bryson and said, "You'll....be ok, right?"

Bryson's eyes watered up, but before a tear could fall, he reached over to the dashboard and turned off the light. Leaving only his silhouette visible. "I'll be fine. We all will....in time."

I shut the door, and Taryn hurried over to hug me around the neck. He was walking with me back to the lot, but I couldn't have felt more uncomfortable with those awkward stares still watching me from every corner of that place. "Taryn...look, can we just...go back to the trailer? I just, don't wanna be out here in the middle of things right now." He could have given me some friction for it, but there must have been an extra bit of emotion in my eye, because he just kissed me tenderly on the lips and took my hand to walk back to our little habitat in the corner.

We passed Dylan's car on the way over, and I really didn't expect him to be in it at that moment, but sure enough, he was bent over and fiddling around inside. His little butt wiggling back and forth as though he had a puppy dog tail on the end of it. I picked up the pace to get by him without being seen but he caught me anyway. "Justin! Dude! You're home!" He stood up and he didn't have a shirt on. Just a tight wrapping of bandages around his chest to cover his wound. There were some brownish red patches on both sides of it where Dylan was still bleeding out little by little. But despite his predicament...he seemed like the same old Dylan. Happier even. It made me nauseous to have to look at his smile when I knew that his time with us was almost up.

Dylan gave me a hug and a grin. Looking at me as if he couldn't figure out why I was looking so down.

"I was worried that you wouldn't come back in time. I would have held on for you, though." He said. "It'll be awesome to have the vampire mimic at my party. Hehehe!"

"Yeah..." I said, turning my eyes to the ground. Taryn held onto my arm, but it didn't stop the lump in my throat from growing in size.

Dylan tried not to pay my mood any attention. I don't think he wanted anybody to feel sorry for him a all. He was keeping up a brave front. I don't know how he could manage it. "Ooh...you know what? Wait right here! I've got something for you."

He went back to butt wiggling in his car and a moment later, he came up with a box that looked almost as big as his chest. Not that his chest was all that big to begin with. He walked over to me and pushed it into my chest. It was pretty...ugh...heavy. "What...what is this?"

He opened the top of the box, and it was full of papers. Some stapled, some held together with rubber bands, others with amateur binding. "These are my prize possessions. It's all of the scriptures that I have from Vampire Mistress Velora. She's my favorite, remember?"

"Dylan...?You're...you're giving me all these?" I asked.

"Of course I am, silly. I want you to have them. She's really good. Reading her stuff...it always makes me feel like I'm in touch with everything, you know?" I didn't know what to say. But just holding the box in my arms...knowing that he was offering them to me as a parting gift...it only made my heart break even faster. "The ones I think are her best, I marked with a little 'D'. So...I don't know if you wanna start with those, or if you wanna save 'em for last."

Taryn started sniffling, and my eyes flooded over. Dylan's smile faded a bit, but he attempted to keep it up as much as he could. Taryn took the box from me, and sobbed, "I'll put these in the trailer....ok?"

Standing there in front of Dylan...empty handed...empty hearted...I was left speechless.

I didn't feel worthy of wiping my eyes. I let the tears run freely. "Dylan....I...I wanted to help you. I wanted to find some way to....to maybe..."

Dylan interrupted me. "Don't. Justin...it's alright. Really. I've had some time to think about it, and...I've made peace with it." Dylan touched my arm and smiled. "Come on...you and I both know that I wasn't cut out for this. Me? A vampire? I don't like to hunt, I feel weird showering in front of other people, I don't even like the dark. Heh...to be honest...I make a lousy night stalker." He wasn't helping. Dylan wasn't some night stalker. He was my friend. My brother. My companion. Letting him go was not supposed to be an option. "Don't cry, Justin. Ok? Tomorrow night is gonna be great. I'm gonna eat junk food and cake and we're gonna go out to the lake...it'll be fun. People leave this world every day....but so few get the opportunity to really say goodbye. I'm one of the lucky ones."

I didn't want him to smile. I didn't want him to be prepared for this. I wasn't. None of us were.

Dylan hugged me tight, and I held onto his wiry frame as though my embrace alone could somehow keep him with us. If only for a little bit longer. And when he let go, he wiped my eyes with his fingers, and he said, "Mistress Velora...when you read her stuff...you'll understand. All pain has value. All suffering has purpose. Even this." Then he backed away a few steps and said, "I've got some more stuff to go through before dawn. I don't wanna wait. Me and Dion are gonna...umm...'sleep in late' tomorrow. Hehehe!" He winked at me, but the pain inside wouldn't let me smile. Not even for a moment. "If I find some more stuff in here that I think you'll like, I'll put it off to the side until tomorrow. I don't want Trevor and Michael to get it. Those two are jackals. Screw them."

Ok...so THAT made me chuckle a bit to myself. The words sounded so strange being spoken in Dylan's voice. Hehehe, so I tearfully turned around...and I walked away, trying my hardest to not look back. I don't think I could have handled the meltdown if I looked back.

"Awww.....how very sweet..." Said a voice inside my head. A dark voice. My voice. "A few tears shed for good ol' Dylan and it's off to the beach to watch him burn alive in the morning sun. Magnificent."

"What do you want?!?!?!" I shouted...but only in my head. Am I talking to someone else? Is it really there?

"You know what we want, Justin. You, and me, and I, and we..." It said. "How many more have to meet their demise before you're ready to stand up and take your place?"

"Shut up! Shut up shut up shut up!!!"

"Who will be next? Hmmmm? Will it be Jenna? Maybe Jun? Sweet little Gyro?" The voice was becoming more warped in its tone. I couldn't block it out. I couldn't escape myself. "Or maybe...the prophecy will jump straight to the endgame and go for the heart of our lovely angelic Taryn. That is the 'goal' after all, is it not? The stakes are rising higher and higher every day, Justin. It won't stop. You can't expect to just sit back and hide from it forever. It's coming for you, boy. It's coming."

"You're not strong enough."

"You're right, Justin. You're not strong enough."

"Not....ME....you. I mean...we're not....we're not the same person! We're NOT!"

"Poor kid. I think you've gotten yourself confused. I've been here a loooong long time. I've been here since Daddy was using us as a punching bag...kicking us in the stomach while we cried on the living room floor. I have ALWAYS been a part of you Justin. You have always been a part of me too. We're inseparable, you and I. WE...are the only ones who can manage this power. Only through me can you prevent another 'accident' like the one Dylan went through. You've seen the circles, Justin. You know how this is going to end."

"Get out of my head. Get out of my thoughts!" I held both sides of my head, balling up my fists as I tried to tune out that voice. That hellish, sinister, voice.

"The clock's ticking. Taryn's life is in your hands." Then it said, "You know he's not dead....don't you? Don't believe me? Search your thoughts. Can you feel him? Can you feel him using his abilities to seek you out? He was weakened...but it won't last. He'll regain his strength and the next time you meet..he won't be playing anymore games. Next time...you won't have baby Dylan to use as a human shield. Our family is going to be systematically slaughtered, one by one...and there is NOTHING that you alone, can do to stop it." It said. "Think it over. But don't delay. Your friends are depending on you...."

"Justin?" I was snapped out of my trance, and saw Taryn standing at the door to the trailer. My eyes were red and swollen, my hands smashed up against my ears. "What's wrong?"

The voice...the voice was gone again. Or...was it ever there? What's happening to me. Why???

I'm going to try to hold out for as long as I can. But if the Jeweler is the only one able to save me from this agony, then I need him sooner than later. I don't know how much longer I can wait.....

Thanks again for reading and supporting the series! More to come soon! Feel free to let me know what you guys think at Comicality@webtv.net or stop by the website at http://comicality.gayathors.org/" and say hello!

And remember, if you like this series, or my other series "Savage Moon" (Also being posted on Kindle one chapter at a time!), then you'll LOVE my very first eBook exclusive story, "The Boys Of Widow Lake"!!! You can find it on the COMICALITY KINDLE STORIES link through Imagine Magazine! Seezya soon!