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Word Count: 1922

~Meara

Reluctantly, I follow Sire inside.

The place really is beautiful in a haunting, unsettling kind of way.

The architecture is from another time, and yet everything appears to have been built recently. When I step inside, plush rugs soften my feet, warm tones guiding me through the great hall.

I note the furniture I pass by, finally seeing some hints of age.

"This place is dusty..." I note.

"It's been abandoned for centuries, apparently," Sire says with a shrug.

He pauses, looking around at the vaulted ceilings, decorative furniture and wide windows. Something flickers in his eyes as he relives memories that must have felt like yesterday for him.

Hurt, pain. I can tell he's feeling it all.

"How does it look so good?" There's not a hint of peeling paint, of faded furnishings. Everything is vibrant and lively, but it doesn't feel lived in. It feels vacant and chilling.

Sire sighs through his nose. "Magic."

"You told me you needed magic to walk again, to regain your strength," I remember.

He's still not wearing his shirt, his skin tainted by that horrid water, hair still wet from standing in the rain. It's starting to get frustrating trying to keep my eyes away from examining his strange tattoos.

"I did say that," he responds. He still speaks without emotion. I can't tell if he's dazed from being awoken or if he is just like this naturally...

"Where did you get that magic from?" I ask warily. Images of him viciously slaughtered the nearest witch comes to mind.

My gaze drops to his hands. Not entirely spotless, but void of any blood at least.

He tilts his head. "What's your name?"

"Come on..." I press, hating that he's avoiding the question.

"It's just a name."

I sigh. He isn't going to relent until he gets his way, which I assume he is used to getting. If this beautiful, opulent manor is any indication, he wasn't just powerful, but a revered and successful Alpha.

"Meara," I finally admit.

For the first time so far, his lips quirk up slightly. A smile. It reveals a deep-set dimple in his right cheek that causes my heart to stutter.

His smile quickly fades as I set my hands on my hips, tapping my foot impatiently.

"I was able to draw power from the original spell the witches cast. But I shall need to replenish my strength soon," he explains.

He doesn't look terribly drained or weak. He looks like a strong, capable man. But Hazel's warning rings clear in my mind that Sire's version of weak is not the same as ours.

"How are you going to do that?" I question. Does he have a hidden cage of witches he's going to kill in here? Did they survive with magic too?

He raises a brow. "Would you like me to show me?"

"Not if anyone has to die."

He frowns a little. A couple lines taint his perfect skin, right between his brows. Then they vanish, and for a moment he even looks a little amused.

"They don't. Follow me."

He doesn't wait, stalking off down a corridor that cuts straight through the house. I break off into a little jog to keep up with his large strides, curious and apprehensive about where he is taking me.

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