Three figures stood in the living room while gazing at the woman lying on the couch.

She wore simple grey sweat pants and a sleeveless top, both stained in blood.

Of the three figures, one had clothes that were also stained with dried blood.

”Enlighten me, brother. In what universe would snapping your beloveds neck be the best solution to calm her down? ” Richard asked.

Edward ground his teeth and faced his elder brother.

”Well won you do me the honours and tell me what I should have done, my all knowing brother? ” he said.

”You acted rashly this could- ”

”IT COULD WHAT, RICHARD?! Damage our relationship? I panicked! The one thing I did not wish for her just happened tonight! ”

He then grabbed Richards collar and bellowed.

”Tell me I was wrong now, brother? Do you still think we are dealing with some random Progenitor? Hmm?! Its him! Only he would do something like this! To spite me! To spite us! ”

Richard remained silent.

Pepper only looked at Edward with sympathy as she couldn find the words to console him.

Edward released his brother and went over to Marcy.

He stroked her cheek and sighed.

”What do you intent to do if its really him then? ” Richard asked after a long pause.

”It depends. Does the current series of events warrant your involvement in searching for this bastard? ” asked Edward without turning his head.

Daniel chose silence as his answer.

”I have endured different shades of pain, brother. Through thick and thin Ive powered through all the embarrassment the world has thrown at me because you were by my side. And now that a common threat descends upon me and my beloved you turn a blind eye? ” Edward asked with a bitter tone.

Richard walked up to the window and lay his hand on the frame. He took a deep breath and gazed outside.

”Do you want us to be here when she wakes up? ” he asked.

Pepper was puzzled. She had thought for sure their brother would choose to change his mind, but he actually changed the subject.

Edward was even more so dumbfounded. He glared at his older brother and ground his teeth.

”No. Id prefer for both of you to not be here, ” he replied.

”Very well. Pepper. Lets go, ” said Daniel as he wore a stern face and walked out of the door without looking back.

Pepper hesitated, but in the end she opted to follow.

”Just call if you need me, brother, ” she said to Edward, who merely nodded.

She left afterwards, leaving Edward who sat on the table and continued to gaze at the woman on the couch.

Marcy was breathing.

Her heart was beating at an irregular rate, and it seemed her body was adapting, changing and improving.

Edward could see dark veins dancing at her neck, eyes and mouth.

She had become a Royal Vampire. A vampire only second to Progenitors, those said to carry the purest of vampiric blood.

She had become like him, something he dreaded.

What she had experienced when she first woke was the evolving of her basic senses and the first experience at thirst that burnt from her chest.

Imagining the sweet Marcy that he had just been talking to a few hours ago turning into a blood-thirsty beast was an unbearable experience for Edward and he had twisted her neck to cause her to turn unconscious to which she was recovering from right now.

Quite frankly he had contemplated on killing her.

To relieve her of this burden.

However, he realised that it was not his choice to make.

***

Richard and Pepper walked along the street under the night in silence.

Pepper had a ton of questions for her brother. To her, Richard was the more level-headed of her brothers. He was by no means a moral saint. He could execute questionable deeds as much as Edward, some even more atrocious as she had witnessed in her century of life.

However, what set him apart was the fact that he had boundaries. He was charming, he was friendly and he wouldn resort to the shedding of civility unless something he truly wanted was at stake.

And that was the problem.

No one knew what exactly he wanted.

He was the type you called when you had a problem, and he would solve it, only to leave immediately after.

Before she could open her mouth and ask, Richard spoke first.

”Lets find a place to dine and talk about your endeavours, ” he said.

Giving the small prescribed itinerary, the two walked for a while until they reached a certain small time restaurant.

It was neat despite its lack of renown in the stars department. There were black and red tiles, glistening with a spark of cleanliness, friendly as well as tidy waiters and clean wooden tables covered by matching black table cloths with red embroidery at the fringes.

Large windows were on the walls with the restaurants name and also allowing for the customers to have a fresh view of the well-lit street. The glass on the window made the distant lights into a bokeh that turned the scene into an even more vibrant.

”Have you turned into a cheapskate in the time weve been apart? I thought youd take me to a 5 star restaurant at least, ” said Pepper with a smile.

”Simple places like this are the best venue for catching up with family. The rest I will supplement with love, ” Richard replied while caressing her hair.

Pepper shook her head with a grunt.

”Ive dated hundreds of dudes and that defence is still the weakest Ive heard, ” she said.

They sat on one of the tables and ordered their respective meals.

”While we wait for our food, would you care to tell me what youve been up to? ” Richard said as he sat upright and gazed deep into his sisters eyes.

”Ease up on the fatherly gaze. I haven been doing anything too bad. ”

”I was already suspecting you to be playing the international role of Vamp Hooker. ”

”Oh my gawd, thats how low your opinion of me has become? What happened to pampering me as the baby sister? ”

”Because last time we were together you hadn reached a full century yet. ”

”Okay okay, enough with that! ” Pepper said with a short laugh.

”Well, If you really want to know. Since we split, I followed your advice and went to school. Schools, actually. You were right. Its definitely not the same as living in a single generation, but I finally felt like life was worth living. The friends, the experience and even the knowledge. ”

”Just like you said, only we who get to live for centuries can admire the evolution of man. We see how they grow, what they build and it becomes like watching a film. ”

Richard smiled as he heard her say that.

”Interesting. Im impressed. Im glad it was a… helpful experience. Though, I doubt that was all, ” he said.

”Fine, fine! Before finally overcoming my existential crisis, I had loooooads of sex and alcohol. There, I said it! And you know that guy who said All is vanity? He wasn lying. It gets boring after a time, ” said Pepper as she lay her head on the table.

Richards smile became even wider.

”Im not judging you. What I care about, is seeing you grow. The light in your eyes is still there. You did well to keep it. Ive seen my fair share of vampires who turned depraved after a point. What was the most worthwhile thing that you noticed? ”

Pepper wore a contemplative look and then sighed.

”There are few of those. Frankly, Im still trying to find out if Im right, but when you found me I didn embrace my femininity. I saw it as a weakness. I thought hanging out with the men, as the century I was born in demanded, was the only way for me to find happiness or validation. ”

”I guess what Im saying is, I recognised that women have strengths that men don and the opposite is true. Embracing myself as I am helped me get through my phase.And basically you guys are overrated. ”

Richard finally laughed, much to Peppers delight.

”Thats good, sister. ”

”Yeah, ” she said. ” Can I ask my own question now? ”

”By all means, ” the man in white replied with a slight smile.

”Why won you help us search for this guy? Why are you so hell-bent on avoiding a Progenitor so badly? Edward really needs you right now. We both know whats going to happen when Marcy wakes up. Edward will be heartbroken or worse, ” she said with a look of concern.

Richard kept his smile and looked at the table cloth. He grabbed a napkin and held it tight.

”Im afraid, ” he said.

Pepper was shocked to hear this piece of news.

”Afraid? ”

”Yes. Afraid. Afraid that following this path will force me to take four centuries worth of steps backwards. Ive done everything in my power to move on. The memories of when we were turned do nothing but bring me grief. It was the start of a pathetic life that I slowly moulded into something I could control. Its best to continue enjoying life as it is. ”

”And what exactly is this enjoyment you talk about? I can hardly get you to laugh, brother. ”

”I wish it was that simple. ”

”What makes it complicated then? ”

Pepper was confused. Before she could receive a reply, the waiter brought their food.

”Now, then. Lets eat, ” Richard said with a smile, dispelling the serious vibe that Pepper had tried to cultivate.

***

Richard was still sitting on the lounge table with a solemn expression as he stared at Marcy, whose eyes began twitching as she slowly began to wake up.

The man took a deep breath and swallowed some saliva. It was time to make a decision…

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