Vanquished

By: AE Watson

(The Blood Trail Chronicles Book 2)


Chapter One





The cold breeze coming off the garden and forest swept against my back as I spun around in a slow circle, taking in the view of the cottage. It was strange for me to look upon it and know it belonged to the witches.

It was like seeing everything without the veil that had been over my eyes. A veil of lies and deceptions.

My mother’s death and the witches’ confession about my family’s troubled past were nothing compared to the loss of my virtue, along with any possibility that I might be able to be with the man who took it—Grayson. The man who reached over and took my hand in his as we walked in the witches’ garden. The man who I was starting to love in a way I didn't want even him to see, especially considering his thoughts for our future. It was a type of love I had never felt before, based on feelings that were tied to being an adult and sharing something intense.

I strolled along, glancing about, letting Grayson lead me toward the witches’ cottage. There was no stopping my future, though it was not the one I had planned. It wasn't even the one I feared. This was an unknown life—one I couldn't even have dreaded or made up in my wildest imaginations.

My future was likely not going to be with him because I would always be on this blood trail homeward, seeking vengeance and retribution for my family, until the very end of it all. And maybe even the end of me.

“Millia.”

I looked up abruptly, still sort of lost in thought, to see the stoic face of Maddox who was standing in the doorway. I bit my lip and offered a small wave.

His dark-blue eyes were filled with concern. “You all right?”

Grayson glanced back casually, giving me a strange expression. I furrowed my brow at them both. “Fine.” What was he really asking?

Maddox eyed me up a little before he turned back to walk into the cabin. He paused just as a breeze swept past me. His back went rigid, like he had just realized something vexing. I cocked an eyebrow as he turned back to us but glared at Grayson. “What did you do, you fool? She’s ruined!”

“I told you it was a bad idea,” Grayson whispered and slowly stepped to put me behind him. I didn't know what he meant for half a second until the words “she’s ruined” rolled about in my head. Grayson placed his hands behind his back, gripping to me and preventing me from moving.

Was he protecting me from Maddox?

“Not here.” Grayson shook his head. “Maddox, we need to talk about this like civilized gentlemen.” I could hear a smile in his voice, like he was taunting and not sincere. “You need to keep the beast in check, Brother. Or it will likely enrage mine as well.”

“Don't call me brother.” Maddox spit and I could see a subtle tremor in his skin. “You have defiled something to which you had no rights and she is ruined.”

“Defiled? Really?” I stepped in between them both. “What are you two doing? Are you going to fight because—”

“Stop!” Maddox snarled, “Go in the house.”

“You don’t tell me what to do! You can’t fight one another like boys.” But they ignored me and stared each other down instead. I shook my head. “Please, don’t do this.”

Grayson gazed at Artan. “Get her out of here.”

“Artan, don't. Grayse, just stop,” I pleaded but Grayson didn’t even flash his grin when I called him Grayse. Artan snorted and leapt, his talons grabbing like they had done before when he was angry with me. He lifted me into the air, and no matter how hard I kicked and screamed, he continued to fly. I watched below as Maddox shifted into a wolf mid air just as Grayson grabbed him, throwing him to the ground.

A sigh slipped from my lips as I hung limp in my dragon's feet and let him fly us around in circles, as everything below got smaller. But even smaller I could tell Grayson was the superior fighter. “Artan, please take me back down,” I begged as my insides ached. Unable to tear my gaze from them, I forced myself to watch the battle between the two men.

It ended only when the witches came running out and the cottage, firing magical sparks made of color. Artan growled and snorted as if he were telling me what a fool I’d been.

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