“Who are you?” a voice I recognised asked. I looked up, my hair falling away to show my face and saw Matt, one of the fellow soldiers I assumed had died in the attack.
“Nicole, now can I get into some dry cloths?” I asked with a raised eyebrow. He stared at me in shock and then his arms were wrapped around.
“Nicole! I'm so glad to see you,” he whispered the last part by my ear and kissed my forehead.
“Glad to see your ugly mug too,” I replied, ruffling his hair. He pushed my hand away and shook his head. I followed him into the den, most of the previous damage had been repaired. I found myself being passed about the place with hugs and exclamation of my survival.
“So, how did you live?” Stan asked, leaning forward in the table, the old fart ever eager for a good story. He'd been the first one to find me abandoned, had he known my father? I pushed away the intrusive thoughts and sat down.
“Well, the vampires kept me their prisoner, but I outsmarted them of course,” I said with a grin, showing off a little. Stan shook his head at my vague description and Matt sat down next to him.
“Did you kill any?” he asked. I hesitated and shook my head.
“I was lucky to get out,” I finally admitted. Making everyone around me sober up a little. I saw Matt glance at my neck, seeing the marks. No one would comment, I'd been away so long they thought me dead.
“You didn't tell them anything did you?” Matt asked. I scoffed and shook my head.
“Of course not,” I said. But I saw the others studying me and knew what they were thinking. I had bite marks and looked healthy, I hadn't been mistreated. And suddenly I was back.
“I'll tell you the whole story later, in private,” I said to Matt and Stan. They both nodded. I could already sense that in my absence Matt had become their leader and I had to respect that fact. And everyone trusted Stan, though not in a fight.
I went into my old room, and dumped Cain jacket on my bed and crossed my arms glaring at it. If I kept it would be a constant reminder of him. But if I threw it out it'd be a waste of a good thing. And a small part of me wanted the reminder, a part that grew from the memories. But Lyra was a separate person. Her life ended when Sergio had her taken away. I was still Nicole as far as I was concerned. I still hated vampires and wanted them dead. The only one worth sparing could never be allowed to live, he was their prince. There was no way we could take out Sergio and not get him in the crossfire.
“Nicole, you ready to explain?” Matt said from my doorway, he had sensed my seriousness earlier and ehcoed it now. I nodded mutely and followed him into one of the war rooms. Stan was there too, looking eager. I didn't have a very good story to tell him. I explained, telling them about the capture, how I overheard Cain's plan and went along with them. And what I uncovered. I skipped the parts about our time spent together, or that we'd known each other children. Only telling them what had to be known.
“So his family killed yours?” Matt asked, his face pale from shock.
“Yes,” I replied, glancing at Stan who sighed.
“I knew your father. But when you woke up with no memories I thought it better that way. You can slap me if you thought that was poor judgement,” Stan said, pulling off his glasses and cleaning them with his top. I shook my head, smiling at him.
“I could never slap you,” I said with a laugh and turned back to Matt. I could tell he was thinking.
“Did you get close to this Cain guy?” Matt asked.
“No Matt. I'm sorry but I'm not going back there,” I said, sensing Matt's frustration instantly. I held my ground despite his many attempts to sway me. He threw up his arms in defeat and stormed off angrily. He told the others I was safe and they believed him without question. But they could tell something had happened between us.