No Guarantee

Rage and disbelief were the first emotions that exploded from inside of Harper. Any other emotions that followed were drowned out by the anger that continued to build with each passing second. Hazel eyes stared straight back into the dark orbs of the elder vampire, still and seemingly calm. One talent Harper had mastered over the years was keeping her outer appearance stoic despite what was going on inside her head. Despite this practiced skill, she couldn't hide her true feelings from Maxwell, the man who'd helped her cope with this life since the beginning.

"Harper, please understand that I had no other choice," Maxwell pleaded as he watched for any movement of Harper's body. His close watch heeded nothing. Harper remained as still as a marble statue. "Richard informed me that the murders were indeed committed by Lucas and Alyssa. He told me that they struggle with their bloodlust worst of all of them. Granted, they all feed on humans, but it's harder for the two to control themselves."

Maxwell's words swirled around in Harper's mind, but they didn't stick. She understood why he had agreed to this arrangement, and she had to admit she could not think of any other way either. How else could Lucas and Alyssa learn self-control besides living with those who could? The Callahans didn't feed on humans, which made them even more in control of the painful hunger that existed in each of them than the Collins. The only reasonable conclusion would be to send them here. All of this arose in Harper's mind, but none of it meant anything. The only thing that mattered to her now was how Lucas and Alyssa had wronged her in the past.

"Harper, say something." Maxwell shook the woman's hand slightly. "A silence lasting this long from you concerns me."

"I'm always this quiet," Harper said dryly as she finally blinked for the first time in four minutes.

After releasing a short sigh of relief, Maxwell's hands moved to cup Harper's face. "True, but in this matter, you being quiet isn't a good sign," he told her. He paused before adding, "Are you going to be okay?"

It took another long wait on Maxwell's part before Harper responded again. Her lips barely moved as she spoke. "Maxwell, I hope you understand when I say that I cannot guarantee good behavior from me while they are here." She took a deep breath, even though it wasn't necessary since her body no longer required oxygen. Her eyes dropped to the floor for a long moment before lifting again to meet Maxwell's waiting gaze. "I would casually disappear during their stay, but I do not wish to leave Emily. And I know my sister enough to know that I could not ask her to come with me without an unending string of questions."

"Emily is quite the curious one," Maxwell said during the short pause.

Harper didn't crack a smile or nod or react in any visible way to the comment. All she did was continue to stare straight back at her father figure. "I cannot forgive those murderers for what they did to Emily." The woman's voice suddenly took on a darker tone, making her words sound more menacing. In the same action, her once bright eyes grew dark as well. "What's worse is I can't explain to Emily why I feel this way towards Lucas and Alyssa. I have to keep my hatred bottled up because Emily can't remember. I am not trying to act like an unreasonable child. I am only warning you now that I can't guarantee any hospitality coming from me."

Maxwell was not surprised by Harper's warning. He never expected her to show their soon-to-be company any kindness whatsoever. Both Harper and Emily had been scorned by Lucas and Alyssa's past actions. "I understand, Harper," he said, his voice echoing the sincerity meant through his words.

"That's all I ask," was Harper's reply. It was then that she got to her feet and turned to leave the room. Maxwell did not try to stop her, so she continued up the staircase and to her room.

Despite the rage boiling in Harper's chest, she managed to remain exceptionally quiet as she moved down the hallway. She closed the door behind her with very little noise. When she turned her back on the door, Harper was met with the sight of her younger sister sleeping peacefully in the bed. Her eyes lingered on Emily's innocent face for countless seconds before Harper finally moved to the bed herself. She moved to get back under the covers, but she knew she would not be able to sleep that day. Knowing that her sister's attackers were coming to stay in the same house as them kept any trace of sleep at bay.

- - - - -

"Max! Max!"

Emily raced through the big house in search of her father. She had not found him upstairs and now her search of the bottom floor was turning up nothing. "Where the hell is he?" she muttered to herself as she gave up and collapsed on the couch in the living room.

"He went to the Collins' home," said Elizabeth as she entered the room. "He left about an hour ago."

Emily sat straight up when she heard Elizabeth's lovely voice. She smiled gratefully at the older woman. "Thanks, Lizzie," she said scooting over to make room. Elizabeth sat down on the couch next to her. "Why did he go there so early?" It was only six o'clock in the evening. The sun hadn't been down for very long, so Maxwell must have left soon after sunset.

"Two members of the clan will be staying with us for a while," Elizabeth answered, though her face lacked a smile, which was usually always in place. So when she wasn't smiling, everyone noticed. And Emily was no exception.

"Is it really that horrible?" she asked with a small frown of her own. "Am I going to have to go bar hopping with Alex and Conner to avoid the horrible situation at home?"

Elizabeth couldn't help but smile slightly at Emily's naivete. "Maybe," she said. "But you'll have Harper to go clubbing with. She'll save you from going with your brothers."

"Good. Conner's one thing, but Alex is a real pain in the butt half the time," Emily said as she fell onto her back again. "Speaking of Harper, where is she? I haven't seen her since I got up either. Did she go with Max?"

This question brought a puzzled look to Elizabeth's face. She wasn't aware that Harper was gone. She only assumed she was still sleeping. Maxwell hadn't mentioned taking Harper along with him to retrieve Lucas and Alyssa. "I don't think she did, sweetie. Maxwell didn't say anything about Harper going with him. Maybe she's just out with Conner or something." This was highly doubtful considering Conner had left with Alex just a half hour before. Harper was not in their company, and neither boy mentioned her going with them.

Emily didn't seem to think anything of it though. She assumed her sister was fine wherever she was. "She'll be back soon," she said. "I'm sure she just went for an evening run or something." WIth that, Emily dropped the subject an reached for the television remote. It didn't take her long to find one of those teen dramas she loved so much. After getting excited over the fact it was an episode she hadn't seen, Emily sat up and hugged a pillow to her stomach. Her eyes were then glued to the TV screen.

"I'll be in the library if you need me," Elizabeth said as she stood up to leave the room. Emily acted as if she hadn't heard her, and she may possibly have not heard her. When it came to those shows, Emily truly acted like the sixteen-year-old she was when she was turned.

The End

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