Of course I knew of the events in Sunset Valley before she arrived. At least, the version the media was reporting. A group of rouge vampires who hated the idea of a vampire “cure” went on a rampage in the city that created and manufactures the cure, destroying the laboratories and killing most of the residents, be they human or vampire. And then disappearing completely.
It was shocking to me that Donatello had gone through so much effort to kill one girl. Sure, we all knew the prophecy surrounding Marie, but she was still just a fledgling. Had they left her alone, she never would have found reason to make their destruction her mission. It wasn’t just witches who could test fate.
I had expected her to arrive at my home sooner or later, but not with the little red head child who looked so much like the little human I has raised decades ago.
“Just a few nights.” She asked of me. “Until I can find a family to keep Jakelene safe while I do what the fates asked.”
“You’re... just gong to leave your daughter with a stranger’s family?” I couldn’t believe my ears. When my biological daughter had been born I hadn’t been prepared to be a father, but to leave her with someone else... it hurt my heart even now to think of it.
“Would you prefer I take her to Bridgeport?” She laughed. “I’m sure that’s much safer for her. The closer I am to her, the more danger she’s in. I’ve preformed the metamorphosis spell on her. She’s human, she’s got different DNA then me. She may look like my mother, but if she never sees me again she will be safe. It’s the most I can do for her.”
It hurt me to agree with her.
As Marie slept, I kept baby Jakelene occupied. Considering the chaos my kind had caused her, and all she’d already seen, I was amazed at how she took to me. Always smiling, always happy. Plus there was the added bonus that she was adorable.
I don’t even remember when I decided I wanted to raise her. It just seemed like the natural decision.
Marie stayed with me only two days, most of which she spent grieving for all she had lost. She’d made the mistake of falling in love when she knew Angel would die. I couldn’t help but pity her.
At least until she told me her plan.
“You’re... going to kill them all?”
“The fates want every member of the council dead, so I'll do my best..” She answered, smiling. “But I could never hurt you after all you’ve risked to aid my family. Otherwise, my plan is to kill every last vampire in that city. Elder or no. They’ve gotten too big for their britches, and they’re going to regret the day they decided to hunt me down.”
“Marie... I know you’re in pain. But the decision to go after you was made by only a small group of the elders. You can’t really blame every vampire in the city of Bridgeport for their decision. They’re simply innocent bystanders to all this.”
“A group of those ‘innocent bystanders’ destroyed the city I was raised in. One of them killed my husband. I do not pity them.”
Nothing I said could dissuade her from her new mission.
When I awoke from my slumber the following morning she was gone.
And the baby she had left behind was crying for my attention. It shocked me how much Jakelene looked like her grandmother. After my Sifton had moved out to be on her own I’d suffered from a severe case of empty-nest syndrome and adopted a human girl named Olivia. Of course I hadn’t known she was a witch at the time, but when I learned of her powers I’d had no choice but to train her myself. Perhaps if I hadn’t convinced her to travel to bridgeport with me for the elder meeting she never would have met Beau Merrick’s son...
Bah. Stupid guilt.
Note to self: Oatmeal does in fact have an expiry date. Check Jakelene for brain damage when she is older.
“I used to be a doctor, you know. Before I was voted onto the council of elders. I miss saving lives. Maybe you can be a doctor too one day.”
“Thats my girl!”
I was lucky that Marie decided to begin her attack as soon as she reached Bridgeport. The other elders were too distracted to dig into my newest adoption. Sure they nicknamed me the human sympathizer but I could take it. Jakelene was now under the protection of my name and no vampire could hurt her or her children.
Benedict Delacroix asked that I take her to Bridgeport for her education, but I refused.
Education in Bridgeport was a one way trip into vampirism and hedonism. I swore to give Jakelene a normal human life, and I am a man of my word.
Her birthday came too soon for me. But at least I was happy to learn she hadn’t inherited her mother’s aging condition.
Rebellious, like her rockstar father had been. I was going to have my hands full with this one. Wonderful.
When I heard Kurt and Lillian Dawn had adopted a young boy from India I sent Jake over to make friends. The Dawns were a good family, the wealthiest in town actually. Kurt was high up in the secret service, and Lillian was a strong business woman. The boy they adopted would grow up well in that environment and do something spectacular with his life. Exactly the kind of kid Jake should be friends with.
I could have done without Liliian question Jakelene about her life with me, but I supposed she was just doing the same thing I was. Ensuring her children didn’t befriend the wrong crowd.
Eventually we passed whatever test Lillian was putting us through, and Jakelene was allowed to continue playing with Aarun.
“Where you really there during the mummy infestation, Mister Archer?”
The only time Jakelene ever needed my help with homework was during history. I was constantly referring her to my library of history books but she seemed to prefer hearing some accounts directly from me. “Oh yes, Jake. They happened when I was still young and wrinkle free.”
“Woah. You’re OLD.”
“Yes... yes I am.”
I sometimes wondered if I’d made a mistake by telling her about her birth father and his family. I’d been researching the Starr family ever since Gregory told me of his daughter’s vision, and I knew Jake would stumble upon the records some day... could I really trust her to keep her mouth shut at school? One thing was for certain. Telling her anything about her mother could prove dangerous.
Kurt and Lillian do have one biological child, by the way. A girl named Reina. Much younger then Jake and Aarun, but still close enough in age to be a playmate.
I bought Jake a telescope for her birthday. In retrospect, that was probably a bad idea...
“Mister Archer! Someone moved in next door! She’s a vampire just like you and she has such beautiful red hair! She saw me and waved so I got scared and came inside. Who is she?”
I made up some excuse about her likely being just an old friend and sent Jake off to bed for the night. Surely it wasn’t Marie... but who else could it be? Neverglade was MY property. Very few vampires dared move here without seeking me out for permission first.
... Fucking Donatello. Of course he’d send one of his daughters to spy on me.
“Miss Devlish, to what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Mister Archer, has no one taught you to knock before entering a lady’s home?”
“I see no lady here.”
“How hurtful. Well, you’ll be happy to know that while I left under father’s request he does not actually know that I am in Neverglade. Bad things are going down in Bridgeport and he sent most of my sisters and I away.”
“That girl you tried to protect. She’s killing them all. Dear Mr. Todley tried to escape with one of his wives and she murdered them both before they could leave the city limits. Daddy is in hiding and so are many of the others. I want nothing to do with my father’s legacy, so as soon as I was out of the city proper I headed in the opposite direction from my sisters.”
“Well I do not want you here.”
She smiled in a way that made me sick to my stomach. “Mister Archer the first time you took Olivia to Bridgeport she and I were the same age. We played together as children, and I have a wonderful memory. She looks so much like the little girl you are taking care of now. Would you really want that little tidbit to fall into my father’s ear?”
She had me trapped and she knew it. Stupid vampress.
For almost an hour I stayed in Jakelene’s room, just watching her sleep. The older she got, the more she looked like her father. But so little like her mother, as if Marie had just removed every trace of herself from her daughter. The metamorphosis spell was not a complicated one... but to work such a permanent effect on just a toddler... Marie had gone through a lot of trouble to keep her daughter safe. I wasn’t about to let all that effort go to waste.
“... And that is why your everyone wants to kill your mother, and why she had to leave you behind.”
“So she’s a mass murderer?”
“Some would say that. I prefer to call her a victim of fate. I just wanted you to know who she is and that there’s a good chance her enemies will come after you. You need to be careful when you’re not at home, and always trust what I tell you.”
“Okay, Mister Archer... Can I go back to sleep now? It’s 3 am. I’m tired.”
Poor Reina never quite clicked with Jakelene. Every time my little red head is over at the Dawn house, she has a tendency to monopolize all of Aarun’s attention.
Eventually though they girls did make an effort to at least fake a friendship. “S-so you really live with a vampire? What’s he like? Isn’t it scary?”
“Not really. Mister Archer is a vegetarian vampire. He doesn’t drink from people. Plus I’ve lived with him my whole life. I don’t think he’s scary at all.”
I only ever let Jakelene watch TV while I was in the room with her. Just in case the news showcased a story on Marie. The deaths and disappearances of vampires come up a lot, but Marie was never mentioned. Thank goodness for that.
Again, her birthday snuck up on us.
Oh Watcher she was going to be a handful.