I tried to reason and come up with a logical explanation for everything that had taken place in the past twenty-four hours: everything from learning about the accident, to meeting Chloe Cast, our until-recently mystery blondie, to finally another piece of mystery. Who exactly is Chloe Cast and what is she running away from? What merited making a seven-hour road trip from South Dakota to Minnesota? I had no idea, but Chloe Cast had made that journey with no memories of her past, with only an intense fear of whatever was pursuing her, if anything. I took it as destiny that she had stumbled across us, a not-so-typical supernatural crowd, and I felt it was our duty to take her back home, at least to fully uncover who she really is.
I glanced at the window for the umpteenth time.
"Jayden, Rayne is not going to suck Chloe dry, okay? If he attempts anything like that, I'd know and my hands will be around his neck in a split of a second," said Rosa.
"We can't afford to lose Chloe to that blood-sucker," I said. "Besides, we must be extra careful with him. We don't know where he comes from or what his past was. We don't know if he once belonged to a vampire's nest and if so, why is he here in this god-forsaken part of Minnesota? A guy with his looks ought to be displayed somewhere else, like, I don't know, Hollywood or something. Rosa, it's not like you can pick up any stray dog just because you feel like it. Some of them might turn out to be very dangerous."
Rosa rolled her eyes. "Give it a rest Jayden. Just like you have this feeling we have to help Chloe, I have this feeling that we can trust Rayne. He seems to know a bit more about Chloe than what he wants to admit."
I pondered. "That is certainly true. He just decides to omit stuff. I say we make this trip to Chloe's hometown. If danger still lurks around, we'll be able to protect her. I've met very deadly snipers in some of my trips."
Rosa bit her lip, a clear indication that she was unsure about something. "I don't know Jayden, should we make Chloe go through this after her accident? We could wait for a bit before making our move..."
"Now is the perfect time." I argued. "The faster we know who Chloe is, the better for us. For all we know we might all be in danger. Besides, I want to get to South Dakota before the cops notify SDPD about the car crash. I'm sure they've run the license plate in the database and it will lead quickly to Chloe."
Chloe made her appearance back to the house. "Hey, I felt you guys mentioning me several times."
I nodded, maybe a bit too eagerly. I couldn't help it, we had a plan, we had a direction, it would be a waste not to take advantage of this rush of adrenaline.
"Would you like us to escort you to South Dakota?" I asked. When I noticed the look of fear and confusion in her eyes, I added. "We'll be there with you. We'll help you get back your memories."
"I don't know. I don't want to put you guys in danger or anything. You've done enough for me." Chloe said.
"Don't be silly," said Rosa. "If anything, Jayden here thinks it was destiny that brought us together."
"Except for the vampire. Destiny can seriously screw us up sometimes," I said.
"You better know of some very good boxer because I might just used you as a punching bag." Rayne had just stepped into the house. His face, which read hunger and blood-thirst just moments ago had turned to his usual impassive demeanor.
Rosa rolled her eyes, again. "Guys, please focus."
"We'll leave for South Dakota tonight, if there is no problem. It's a seven hour drive so we'll probably get there by early morning. I can get us a car." I said.
I felt Rayne's hard stare on me all the time. It was like he disapproved of going to South Dakota and finding who Chloe was. But I sense there was something more, something he was hiding. I didn't mention anything to Chloe, since I didn't want to alarm her any further. I prayed that Rosa had noticed that too, and she did because she returned me a look of intense worry and alertness. We exchanged a glance and mutually agree to keep an eye on Rayne.
The ride to South Dakota was mostly quiet, except for the continuous scowling that had happened at the front seats. Rayne was mostly mumbling about my driving habits, which basically was going 20 mph above the stated speed limit. We needed time, so I dismissed his argument with mumbling about him. We tried to kept it as low as possible for fear of waking up the girls soundly sleeping in the back seat.
The little town of Ipshen, South Dakota was far from a vibrant small town community. It was almost in a perpetual state of abandonment with few inhabitants coming and going from dilapidated buildings that flanked an equally low-maintained street. I remember the days when I was travelling with a group of friends and ended up in Magick, a place where magical people went to have a family meal. My friends saw them as normal human beings, but I saw more in them, something more supernatural in them. I hoped that Chloe would be able to find her answers today because if not, curiosity might take the better of me and I'd shift into Chloe's mother, whom I had seen for a brief second all these years ago, and spill all Chloe's past from her mouth.
"Hey, where are you going?!" Rosa was calling me as I made my way through the pedestrians. Everybody followed reluctantly.
"Where are we going smart boy?" Rayne asked. "Are you lost, are you sure you don't want to turn into a Lycan? I'm sure their nose comes in handy." He chuckled.
"Whatever, who the hell laughs at their own jokes anyway?" I retorted. "Anyway, I'm sure this restaurant is here somewhere...uh..oh.."
The once vibrant restaurant was not nothing but ashes. The once majestic restaurant was now a pile of wood for the fire for the fast approaching winter.
Rayne's head snapped up, and Rosa's went up a little while later.
"Blood," they both said in unison.
I shuddered. "What the hell happened here? For some reason, I sense vampire's duty behind all of these."
"Are you implying something, boy?" Rayne snarled.
"Don't patronize me just because you've lived longer! I've lived more, what with sharing and being that person I shift into."
Rayne and I might have very well started a fight right there and then when Rosa stepped in between the two and pointed at something that lay on the middle of the debris. It was an old book with hard-cover leather binding. It had a protective bubble around it, explaining why it had survived the ferocious fires. Magic wasn't unusual though highly discriminated and their practitioners were executed in the spot.
"The grimoire," Chloe whispered as she walked through the debris to the book. There was a hint of recognition that the book ignited. It was like the book could tell Chloe everything she wanted to know about herself, her family, anything.
She was immobile for the longest time, just staring at the book. I grew impatient and reached out to the book. The force field around the book caught me like a whip slash and I was thrown back flying five feet from the ground. Everybody was startled. Rayne was highly amused. I stood and brushed away the dust, wishing it was the bruises I could get rid of.
"Did you guys just see that? That book just threw me through the air, like a dummy."